Jesus challenges those who are not completely convinced that He really is Who He says He is, for He confronts the skeptical with the scary truth that…
“If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (Jn. 7:17, emphasis mine).
For only by an act of God’s sovereign free grace can one will and do according to God’s good pleasure (Phil. 2:13), because only those who have been granted true, saving faith in Jesus will be able to discern truth from fiction, and only they will be able to endure faithfully in Christ to the very end.
Jesus had even previously revealed who it is that will do His will when He said:
“This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40, emphasis mine).
And the immediate context (v. 39) also reveals that it is God’s will that none of those, whom He has given to the Son, will ever perish, because Jesus died on their behalf so that they will definitely be raised up with a glorified body. And only those, who have been given spiritual eyes to see, will savingly believe with the heart that Jesus is their only hope of being raised to everlasting life. Their ability to even be willing to trust in God’s merciful and divine intervention’s of saving faith, repentance and thanksgiving, comes from Him alone.
“Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee” (2 Chron. 13-14, emphasis mine).
But the unregenerate are willfully ignorant of the fact that it is clearly one’s duty to put complete trust in Jesus Christ no matter what, even before one knows for sure that He came specifically to save them or not. For only when one gives up their own futile attempts of trying to be chosen by God, in order to whole-heartedly be at God’s mercy and sovereign disposal, can one know for sure that Jesus is faithful in His promises to save such, and only then can one fully know that He is sovereign in salvation.
After Jesus challenged those who resisted putting their complete trust in Him and His righteousness alone as their only hope, they then began to falsely accuse Him, and they even began to plot sinister schemes to try to catch Him in His words so that they could twist them and turn Him in to the authorities.
Because those who refuse to renounce their own self-righteousness and self-will are those who still think they can come to God on their own terms. And so, they will fight tooth and nail to try to retain their desperate delusion. They are those who think that God is somehow obligated to save them based on their own works, “positive confessions” and “sovereign freewill,” for they are not completely convinced….that the sovereign God of the Bible really is Who He says He is.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am” (Jn. 8:58, emphasis mine).
Hebrews 11:6 says that, “he that cometh to God must believe that He is.” Again, the divine design of this grand truth reveals that only those who have true, God-given, saving faith will accept God’s written testimony of Himself. Those who don’t will end up worshipping a god of their own imagination, either a god that winks at sinful worldliness, and/or a god that appeals to human “freewill” and glorifies man’s natural abilities, because the natural, unregenerate man wants to believe that his own unaided will is the determining factor in salvation, rather than God’s sovereign free grace that must regenerate man’s fallen will to comply with His.
So now we come to the fuller context of John 7:17, where in the very next verse Jesus addresses this very thing, for He says:
“He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory” (v. 18).
Self-righteous Pharisees seek their own glory and are ruled by their own emotions and their own self-will, whereas those who follow the true Jesus of the Bible seek to glorify Him and the One Who sent Him, while denying their own self-righteousness and inordinate affections (Col. 3:5).
A parallel passage that stresses similar principles is where Jesus says:
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt. 6:33, emphasis mine).
Here again, He makes the point that only those who seek for a perfect righteousness outside of themselves, in the one true King of kings, Who rules and reigns in the hearts of His people, are the only ones who will find out that He is, indeed, faithful to all of His promises, and that He does, indeed, manifest Who He really is to such people, through His Word and the witness of the Holy Spirit, evidenced in their radically changed lives that yield the fruits of righteousness, along with the persecution that inevitably follows.
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).
But these things are purposely hidden from those who would rather lean on their own understanding (Mt. 11:25). As a result, the true doctrine of Christ will anger them and will become like foolish parables to them (Lk. 8:10). For the mysteries of the kingdom are given only to God’s elect and to them only, not to those who’d rather serve a god that doesn’t really exist, a god that allows indulgence in a sinful and worldly lifestyle, a god that’s not sovereign in the salvation of a chosen people, a helpless god that waits on pins and needles to be chosen by a “sovereign people.”
Amazingly, if it wasn’t for Jesus’ confrontations with such worldly, hypocritical Pharisees, we would have never been presented with such depths of truth. These are also in Scripture to encourage those who follow Jesus, to never back down on the truth no matter how many emotional manipulations, false accusations and cruel reproaches we receive when standing for His cause.
It is such a comfort to know that these are a true Christian’s badge of honor, for Jesus experienced the same. And the worse the persecution gets, the heavier the weight of glory that awaits us in Heaven (2 Cor. 4:17). Truly, God works all things for good for those who love Him… those who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
Copyright ©2020 by Lee Anne Ferguson.