I am currently reading thru the Gospel of John. There has been so much talk the past few weeks of who will get in heaven or go to hell (if there is either of those 2 places-and I certainly believe there is) from Rob Bell's newest book, LOVE WINS, that I decided I just wanted to hear JESUS' words. From Him, not from what someone might think he is saying.
Mind you, I have read LOVE WINS and I understand the controversy surrounding it. I don't believe Rob Bell is a heretic. But I'm not sure any of us can speak for JESUS. WE can conjecture what he says into what we believe to be the truth.
In actuality, The Scriptures say "WHO has known the mind of the LORD? Or WHO has been His Counselor? ROMANS 11:34.
From that specific verse, I believe we can guess-sometimes with much accuracy what Christ's words might mean, but ONLY HE knows what He really means. But this isn't about Rob Bell, or his book, or if he is a universalist or not.
This is just about what I've seen JESUS say-in His Words. And by John (the disciple who Jesus loves- now who wouldn't want to have that be their tagline?...missy, the disciple Jesus loves.) Well we can all have that tagline, because we all are loved by Jesus!!
This morning I read from John 8 "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free".
That truth is simply to me saying: the truth is Jesus loves us, loved us so much, He left his heavenly home, came to earth to identify with us as a human, but because He was also God, loved us so much that He Paid the price for our rebellion and sin, by taking our place as He died a horrendous death on the Cross. That truth set my life free. Free from trying to earn God's love and favor. Free from trying to be someone i am not. Free to accept God's love and His Forgiveness and to live by His Grace. To me, JESUS is the truth.
HE later goes on to say in John 10, that HE IS THE GOOD SHEPHERD. The Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep...that's us. And that His Sheep know Him and know His Voice. So that we recognize Him and recognize truth when it hits us right between the eyes.
Ezekiel 34:16 says that this Good Shepherd "will seek for the strays and bring back the lost"
He is searching and seeking for ALL OF US. All of mankind. Because without Him, we are all straying and we are all lost. I love that He keeps on looking for us. EVERY single one of us. None of us are beyond His Reach. And He will keep on searching for us.
Then I got to John 11. This is the story about Jesus raising Lazurus from the dead.
We first here that Lazarus is sick from messengers sent by his 2 sisters, Mary and Martha.
Jesus loves this little family. But He stays 2 more days where He is and then decides to go to Bethany where they live.
The New Living Translation says in John 11:5-6 "So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days."
WHAT?? He didn't go right away??? But He loves them.
IS that why He doesn't answer all my deep felt prayers immediately?? Because HE KNOWS what I don't? That He has greater plans than what I can see? That He knows what will bring GOD the glory?? I have to believe He does. That His purposes and answers are always to bring the Father glory.
The story then goes on to say that as Jesus shows up, He is met by Martha, and then Mary, who both said to Him : "LORD, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died."
Jesus answers Martha with
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die." (verses 25-26)
HE then goes to the tomb, asks people to roll away the tomb (even with Martha telling Him it will really really stink because Lazarus has been in there for 4 days already) and in a voice that is heard, probably with force, in a loud voice calls "Lazarus, come out!"
And out walks the dead man who is now alive.
CAN YOU ONLY IMAGINE?? Try and put yourself into this story. How does someone who has been dead four days come out of the tomb alive?
It must have been mind boggling to say the least. Crazy, unbelievable!!
But I am trying to identify. And I get it a little. I am a bit like Lazarus. Altho not physically dead, I was almost spiritually dead, when the Good News of Jesus rescued me...from a life of drinking and partying in college. From a kind of life I was spiraling towards. He rescued me and let me know that I could live...really live.
And that His Truth would set me free....over and over again, for the past 39+ years and for however long I have left on this earth. His Truth will free me- from my fears, my mistakes,my wanting to have control. His Truth will free me to be who HE envisions me to be.
And that's the Truth.