"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Christcentric | Main | Images of the Savior (19 -- The Call of Moses) »

    "You Are From Below, I Am From Above"

    From his blog at Dr. James White writes:

    I was reading John chapter 8 when I encountered these familiar words from Jesus' encounter with the Jews, "And He was saying to them, 'You are from below. I am from above. You are of (from) this world. I am not of (from) this world" (καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς· ὑμεῖς ἐκ τῶν κάτω ἐστέ, ἐγὼ ἐκ τῶν ἄνω εἰμί· ὑμεῖς ἐκ τούτου τοῦ κόσμου ἐστέ, ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου. John 8:23). I was struck once again by a theme I have pointed to many times in my preaching. We are so often used to hearing Jesus speak in the context of His divinity that we often do not "hear" how very strange His words would have sounded in their original context. We know Jesus is the Incarnate Lord, the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, and so these kinds of words do not amaze us. But we must put ourselves in the context of the Jews standing in the gazofulakion, the treasury room of the Temple. And I think what caused me to especially focus upon this text at this time is my upcoming debates with Muslims.

    If you can, put yourself in the original context, and "hear" Jesus speaking. What do you hear? What strikes you? Is there not a clear, strong differentiation between the Lord's view of Himself, His self-understanding, and that of everyone around Him? Are these the words of a man who sees Himself as "one of us" in the sense of origination? Surely not. The "below/above" and "this world/not this world" couplets are meant to communicate Jesus' divine origin very strongly. Jesus is not merely saying, "I am in harmony with God, and hence have a heavenly connection, one that you could have as well, if you only chose to do so." He is not saying, "I am a prophet like many before me." No, He is about to say (v. 24) that His opponents will die in their sins: "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins, for unless you believe that ego eimi, (ἐγώ εἰμι) I am, you will die in your sins." One's eternal destiny, even one's forgiveness of sins, is tied to faith in Christ, and more to the point, faith in what He reveals about Himself. The "I am" saying here (note v. 28, 58, 13:19, 18:5-6) aside from going directly to Yahweh's self-identification in such texts as Isaiah 43:10, flows naturally from the assertion to be "from above" and to be "not of this world."

    Isn't it just here that the enemy has been so insistent upon attacking the once-for-all-delivered-to-the-saints-faith? The list of falsehoods concerning the person of Christ propounded down through history (let alone today) is long indeed, but all the heresies of the past and present share this one consistency: they refuse to allow the Scriptures to speak fully in defining Him. The Jews rejected His self-identification in this text as well (8:58-59), and they are followed by the entire Muslim world today. The "Islamic Jesus," though a virgin born worker of miracles, is not divine, but is a "mere rasul, a mere prophet." But what "mere rasul" (إِلَّا رَسُولٌ) speaks to his fellow creatures and says "you are from below, I am from above"? What mere prophet has this kind of self-awareness? Obviously, no sinner can say the words Jesus said, and, of course, this is exactly why Muslims reject the testimony of John, for they, like the Jews of Jesus' day, have a particular traditional understanding of who Jesus can, and cannot, be.

    If today you embrace faith in Christ, obey Him as your Lord, love Him as your Savior, and rejoice in the fact that He is the God-Man, let your heart be filled with thanksgiving that He, by His Spirit, has opened your heart to see the very "Lord of Glory" (1 Cor. 2:8).

    Posted by John Samson on August 15, 2008 01:42 AM


    The recent book by Iain Murray "Messenger of Grace" about Lloyd-Jones included a sermon CD by the Doctor on John 8:21-24. I haven't listened all the way through but it is most sobering. A great addition to the book. In the part I've gotten too he describes what it is for a man to die in his sins, I can only imagine what it was to hear MLJ as he actually preached the sermon.

    Isaiah 53;2-5 He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

    OT predicted the rejection of Jesus. It is little wonder if it is not by His grace, I would also reject Jesus. Salvation is not choosing heaven, avoiding hell, it is seeing my own sin for the first time and realize how filthy I am and how clean He is. After the Fall, the harmony and love relationship between God and human and human and the rest of His creation was destroyed. We don't love the way God intends. We still retain certain qualities of God as we are made in His image. But the corruption turns pride in Him to pride in self that we think we are God. We always think about how to please ourselves (eros). The 'I' becomes so big. We put Jesus in a box and think He should be the way 'I WANT' it to be. He should come to serve me and be my genie, give me all my 'petitions'. Our reality is distorted as Christ is exactly the opposite as what corrupted human expects God to be. But God is just yet merciful, He does not abandon us even if we don't follow the rules, He sacrifice Himself in order to restore our fellowship with Him. If one thinks there is no need of a humble Christ, that person does not know what sin is and does not know what holiness is.

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