Sunday, September 25, 2016

Reading the Church's Bible, 2

Why Should We Even Read the Bible?

Introduction: The Question
Last week we talked about why we read the Bible—“why” in the sense of “for what purpose”? I suggested (based on Jesus’ words in John 5) that the Scriptures are intended to bring us to God through the person of Jesus Christ. I added (based on Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 3) that they are also intended to teach us how to live as God’s people. We can see these two purposes for reading Scripture in the Great Commission (Matthew 28): Jesus told his followers to “make disciples of all nations”, baptizing those who come to faith in Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus has told us to do. The Scripture bring us to Jesus in conversion and then helps us to grow spiritually as followers of Jesus.

Many people around us, however, have a more basic objection. They wonder why we should read the Bible at all. The Bible was written over a period of about a thousand years, finishing about 1,900 years ago. What can such an old book have to say to us today? It was written by people in very different cultures from ours, in very different times from ours. Many people around us think the Bible is simply irrelevant. Why should we even read it at all, let alone make it our guide for faith and life?

Towards an Answer
To read the Bible with the eyes of faith requires an encounter with Christ. God saves us by grace through faith, and in faith we begin to read the Bible and find God there. This is not something that one can prove with human reason. We cannot say to people, “Here are the reasons,” and prove to them with human logic that this book is God’s Word for us today.

At the same time, our faith in God is a reasonable faith, and trusting the Bible is consistent with human reason. We would expect this to be true, since God made human reason. Here is a beginning step, then, towards believing in Christian faith by reading the Bible. In the passage that we read, Paul makes it clear that the centre of Christian faith is the person of Jesus Christ—Jesus lived in Palestine, Jesus died on the cross, Jesus rose from the dead. This is where our faith begins. Paul argues in the rest of the chapter that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the founding truth of Christian faith. If the resurrection did not happen, he says, our faith is misplaced and “we are of all people most miserable” (vv 14, 17). But, Paul says, Jesus did rise from the dead, so that our faith is true (v 20).

This is the key point. Dead people do not rise to new life. We know that, and the early church knew that too. Sometimes people think that the first Christians were just na├»ve and did not really understand that resurrections don’t happen. But of course they knew well that this event was not normal. That is one reason that they found the appearance of a healthy, glowing Jesus, full of life before their eyes over a period of 40 days, to be so amazing.

So if it is true that Jesus rose from the dead, we have something quite unique in history, something that changes everything that we think we know from nature and human reason.

I often quote C.S. Lewis in my sermons. Lewis was one of the greatest Christian writers of the 20th century. As you may know, however, he was an atheist before he was a Christian. Born in 1898 in Belfast in an Anglican family, he lost his mother to cancer when he was 10 years old. His father sent him off to boarding schools in England, where for a variety of reasons he became an atheist. He fought in World War One (which reinforced his atheism), and after the war attended Oxford University. After he graduated he found work at Oxford as a tutor in Philosophy, and then as a professor in Medieval English Literature in 1925.

His life at Oxford included friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien, who was a convinced Christian and Roman Catholic. Along with various other influences, their conversations and arguments opened Lewis up to the possibility that Christian faith is true. As began to read the Bible again, he realized that, if the resurrection of Jesus were true, then the Bible as a whole is true and God himself is real. He resisted accepting the resurrection because he saw where the logic of the resurrection would take him.

One day he was talking with a friend, an atheist (I think he was himself a professor of history at Oxford) who unintentionally helped Lewis move closer to Christian faith. Here is how Lewis describes it in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy:
Early in 1926 the hardest boiled of all the atheists I ever knew sat in my room on the other side of the fire and remarked that the evidence for the historicity of the Gospels was really surprisingly good. “Rum thing,” he went on. “All that stuff of Frazer’s about the Dying God. Rum thing. It almost looks as if it had really happened once.” To understand the shattering impact of it, you would need to know the man (who has certainly never since shown any interest in Christianity). If he, the cynic of cynics, the toughest of the toughs, were not—as I would still have put it—“safe,” where could I turn? Was there then no escape?

There were other factors in Lewis’ conversion—especially his friendship with Christians and the discovery that the authors he liked best were all Christians. But this realization that historical evidence was on the side of the resurrection was an important piece. This is not of course hard proof that God exists, but once one accepts the reality of the resurrection of Jesus, then the door is open to faith in Jesus as God’s incarnate Son.

So How Do We Read?
Once we decide that we can and should read the Bible, we have the further question of how to read the Bible. This question requires a further series of sessions on its own, so I make only a few brief comments. I note two basic ways: critical reading and devotional reading. By critical reading I mean trying to understand what the original authors meant. By devotional reading I mean listening to Scripture seeking to hear God’s Spirit speak to us directly.

Critical Reading
Critical reading is necessary whenever we preach or teach from the Bible. If we want to apply what the biblical authors say to our own lives, we must know what they intended to say to their audience. We must know what the passage meant in its own literary and historical context before we can hear it speak clearly to our own time. Sometimes we want to derive rules for living directly from the Bible without paying attention to these critical questions, but of course we must study the original setting to know what was being said.

A good resource if you want to go into more depth for critical reading is a book by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart titled How to Read the Bible for all Its Worth. Fee and Stuart give good insight into the various kinds of literature in the Bible. We have letters and poetry, stories and history, legal material and parables, gospels and apocalypses. We read each of these differently. For example, poetry and law are quite different, and we do not read poetry like law, or law like poetry. We learn to read the gospels in paragraphs, not verses, looking for each complete episode as the writer puts it together. We learn to read letters as what we call “occasional documents”—something written for a specific occasion. We don’t have time to explore these different kinds of literature this morning. It is enough to note that we should know what we are reading before we are sure we know what it says.

Sometimes we refer to the unchanging nature of God’s Word. As we read the Bible, we see many things that are different from our time, so we may wonder how we can talk about God’s word forever true. We recognize, then, that what does not change is the principles that are being expressed in different situations. For example, 1 Corinthians 11 tells us that women should cover their heads in church. If we read this as a simple instruction, we miss the principle that Paul is applying. In Corinth there was a lot of disorder when Christians met together. In chapters 11 to 14 Paul deals with communion meals, with head coverings, with tongues and interpretation in worship, with prophecies, and with spiritual gifts. He concludes these chapters by reminding his readers that God is a God of order (which we know from many other places in Scripture). His concern with the various instructions about speaking in tongues and covering one’s head and so on all have to do with this principle: That order in church life reflects and demonstrates the presence of God’s Shalom.

There is more in these chapters than just this principle, but you see the idea. The principles undergirding all of Scripture are principles that are true always. So critical reading helps us find these principles by helping us understand the passages in their original context.

Devotional Reading
Critical reading can also be devotional. That is, as we seek to hear God’s Word clearly in its own context, the experience draws us closer to God. But we can also read the Bible devotionally without always asking what the original language said or what the historical context was. For example, I have heard many people appeal to the verse from 2 Chronicles 7: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Now reading this verse critically we observe the context in Solomon’s dedication of the Temple, and the fact that the prayer refers to an extended drought within the Promised Land. It fits into a cycle of grace and disobedience as part of the Deuteronomic promises.

Reading devotionally, however, we hear it speak to our own fears for our own country at critical moments in our history. It is dangerous to build doctrine on devotional reading, because we may misread the verse in its original context. At the same time, God does speak directly to us through devotional reading, and God wants us to listen for his voice as we read our Bibles regularly. This kind of reading is an act of and aid to faith. In devotional reading we do not come to the Bible with questions of historicity or accuracy or anything else. We come rather as part of our relationship with God, desiring deeply to hear God’s voice.

I suspect that the kind of conflict we have been experiencing may either separate us from reading the Bible simply to hear God’s voice, or it may drive us back to the Bible because we realize that we are in crisis. I pray that it drives us back to the Bible and back to God.

Richard Foster tells a story that describes what I mean. It appears in his book, Finding the Heart’s True Home, in a chapter on what he calls “meditative prayer”. I have given this example before, but it shows what I am talking about more clearly than anything else I can think of.
Allow me to tell you the story of Jim Smith, a former student of mine. … Jim went on to do graduate work …. By the second year, however, he was struggling to maintain his spiritual life, and so he decided to take a private retreat. He arrived at the retreat house and was introduced to the brother who was to be his spiritual director ….
The brother gave Jim only one assignment: to meditate on the story of the Annunciation in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel. That was it. …. For the first couple of hours he sliced and diced the passage as any good exegete would do, coming up with several useful insights that could fit into future sermons. The rest of the day was spent in thumb-twiddling silence.
The next day Jim met with the brother to discuss his spiritual life. … Jim shared his insights, hoping they would impress the monk. They didn’t. … “Well, there is more than just finding out what it says and what it means. There are also questions, like what did it say to you? Were you struck by anything? And most important, did you experience God in your reading?” The brother assigned Jim the same text for that entire day. All day Jim tried doing what his spiritual director had instructed, but he failed repeatedly … and still it was lifeless. Jim felt he would go deaf from the silence.
The next day they met again. In despair Jim told the brother that he simply could not do what was being asked of him. [The brother replied,] “You’re trying too hard, Jim. You’re trying to control God. Go back to this passage and this time be open to receive whatever God has for you. Don’t manipulate God; just receive. Communion with him isn’t something you institute. … All I want you to do is create the conditions: open your Bible, read it slowly, listen to it, and reflect on it.”
Jim went back to his room and began reading. …. By noon he shouted to the ceiling, “I give up! You win!” …. He slumped over the desk and began weeping. A short time later he picked up his Bible and glanced over the text once again. The words were familiar but somehow different. His mind and heart were supple. The opening words of Mary’s response became his words: “Let it be to me…let it be to me.” The words rang round and round in his head. Then God spoke. It was as if a window suddenly had been thrown open and God wanted to talk friend to friend. What followed was a dialogue about the story in Luke, about God, about Mary, about Jim. The Spirit took Jim down deep into Mary’s feelings, Mary’s doubts, Mary’s fears, Mary’s incredible faith-filled response. It was, of course, also a journey into Jim’s feelings and fears and doubts, as the Spirit in healing love and gentle compassion touched the broken memories of his past. Though Jim could barely believe it, the angel’s word to Mary seemed to be a word for him as well: “You have found favor with God.” Mary’s perplexed query was also Jim’s question: “How can this be?” And yet it was so, and Jim wept in the arms of a God of grace and mercy. …. They talked about this—God and Jim—what might be, what could be. Jim took a prayer walk with God, watching the sun play hide and seek behind the large oak trees to the west. By the time the sun had slipped below the horizon, he was able to utter the prayer of Mary as his own: “Let it be to me according to your word.” Jim had just lost control of his life, and in the same moment had found it!

Conclusion
We must read critically: The original meaning is essential to understanding how Jesus calls us to live today, and the principles that God’s people applied in their lives still live for us today. We build church doctrine on critical reading of the Scripture. This is a task that we engage in together as the community of faith. There is space at the table for experts and non-experts, people who have studied Greek and Hebrew and those who know only English (not even French or German!), people who have read the Bible many times and those who are just beginning. We all work together at the task of hearing God speak to use.

We must also read devotionally: God wants to speak to us deep within where no one else sees. This is a task we can do together and on our own. When you have many people in the church who grew up in Christian faith, the danger is that we may live on the memory of past encounters with God and lose sight of the Risen Christ within our own lives. Then the passage we read at the beginning speaks to us anew: Jesus lived; Jesus died; Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the apostles and the disciples … and last of all has appeared also to us, even though we were born too late to see him on this earth. We see Jesus again, on our knees and in our homes, praying and reading and asking God to touch our hearts.

Different people have different passages that speak most clearly to them. For me it is verses about the cross, and especially about how Jesus bore the cross for us and how he calls us to bear the cross for him. For each of you there are other passages we can share with each other as we encourage each other to walk faithfully with Jesus. In our darkness and fear we turn again to God’s Word and ask God to bring us back to Jesus.


Steinbach Mennonite Church
25 September 2016
Text: 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11
The Resurrection of Christ
15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Reading the Church’s Bible, 1

Introduction
One of the issues our congregation is dealing with is the basic question: How does the Bible function in our lives? The “Confession of Faith in Mennonite Perspective” gives this summary statement about the Bible:
We believe that all Scripture is inspired by God through the Holy Spirit for instruction in salvation and training in righteousness. We accept the Scriptures as the Word of God and as the fully reliable and trustworthy standard for Christian faith and life. Led by the Holy Spirit in the church, we interpret Scripture in harmony with Jesus Christ.
A clear statement, but we may still wonder what it means. This morning I want to reflect on Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 3 and Jesus’ words in John 5. We could call this a consideration of Scriptural authority, or a reflection on the nature of the Bible. I have chosen to call it, “Reading the Church’s Bible” (after a course title at Providence Seminary).

Jesus
I start with John chapter 5. Jesus had healed an invalid lying beside the pool of Bethesda. This person had been an invalid for 38 years and was lying beside the pool hoping to get in “when the water was stirred” (verse 7). The episode closes with Jesus’ words, “Pick up your mat and walk” (verse 9). Because this healing took place on the Sabbath, some Jewish leaders asked him what he thought he was doing carrying his mat around—an action against the rules for keeping the Sabbath holy (verse 10). The resulting interaction led them to Jesus, and they started to attack him (verse 16).

Jesus said that his authority to heal and to forgive sins came from his Father, that is, from God (verses 17). The Jewish leaders realized that Jesus was claiming equality with God (verse 18), so that they “tried all the more to kill him.” Verses 19 to 47 give Jesus’ responses to their attacks on him. He observed that there were several testimonies to his identity as the Son of God: John the Baptist was one; his miracles of healing and forgiveness were another; the Scriptures themselves were another. In this context then we hear Jesus say, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

Some people read this statement to mean that the Scriptures do not give life. I don’t think that is what Jesus is saying. I think he is saying rather: “You’re right—the Scriptures bring you to life; but if you were really studying the Scriptures you would realize that I am Life.” Later in John’s Gospel Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). So the Bible is not our Life, but it brings us to Jesus, who is our Life. Without the Bible we have only our subjective experience of God’s presence, and Scripture shows us a more objective picture of who God is, as revealed in Jesus.

This is an important point, because the conversations we have been having in our church have an impact on our spiritual life with Christ. We pray earnestly, and we want to do God’s will, but we may find ourselves feeling the hurt of all that has been said and done. Our relationship with Jesus may suffer. When we feel the darkness of this world, we turn again to Scripture, not so that we can prove that we are right or that someone else is wrong, but so that Scripture can take us back to God, who comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ. We read the Bible in order to meet Jesus.

Paul
The letters to Timothy were written late in Paul’s life. The verses we read give us almost his last will and testament. (Consider the 4: 6-8, which follows: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”)

Now Paul would not have said that reading the Bible was the centre of the Christian life. He expresses the centre of his own life elsewhere, for example in Romans 1:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
From a more extensive passage (2 Corinthians 5: 11-21), in which Paul describes his passion for the gospel, I note especially the following:
… Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. … All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the [ministry and message] of reconciliation…. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
The gospel of God, the ministry and message of reconciliation: This is the centre of Paul’s message and of Paul’s life. So then why does he refer to the Scriptures in 2 Timothy 3? For the same reason that Jesus did in John 5. The Scriptures reveal God and God’s will for our lives. The Scriptures describe the gospel of God and give content to the ministry and message of reconciliation.

I want to focus now on the words he writes to Timothy in verses 14-17:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Timothy had studied the Scriptures from his childhood. He knew the Bible stories. He knew what we call the Old Testament thoroughly. Paul encourages him to continue such careful study, because the Scriptures make one “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Do you hear the echo of Jesus’ words in John 5?) Then Paul describes the Scriptures more thoroughly.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

You see, then, what the Bible is for. (Note that we extrapolate from Paul’s description of the Hebrew Scriptures to the Bible as a whole). It is for “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”, that is, it is useful for what we might call disciple-making. You remember that the Great Commission does not deal only with conversion (“baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”), but also with nurture (“teaching them to obey everything I [Jesus] have commanded you.” So the Bible is intended to bring us to Jesus, and to teach us how to live as God’s children (as followers of Jesus).

Sometimes we look at the Bible as a manual of instructions for the situations we face in life. I have a manual in the glove compartment of my car. It is useful for a Toyota Corolla, but if you have a Ford Fusion, it won’t help you as much. The problem with manuals is that they work for one specific situation. The Bible is much more than a manual. The Bible describes itself as the Scriptures that introduce us to Jesus and to the good news that in Jesus God has reconciled the world to himself. As we walk with Jesus and read the Bible, we learn more and more about how Jesus wants us to live in this world.

A Simple Point and a Problem
All of this is fairly obvious, I think. Next week I will talk about the different kinds of writing that we find in the Bible—from songs to laws, from love letters to practical letters, from gospels to apocalypses. Today I want to note just one thing about all of this: The Bible is true. That is what Paul means when he says that the Scriptures are “God-breathed”. The Bible says what God wants it to say. This is a simple point, but sometimes it trips us up.

The problem is that we read the Bible as though it speaks with one voice throughout. The Bible brings us the Word of God from a wide variety of human authors. Peter says this about Paul (2 Peter 2: 16): “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Peter and Paul write quite differently, because they are different people. Similarly in the Gospels Luke writes a more educated Greek and John writes a simple Greek. The Scriptures are “God-breathed”, but they speak with human voices. Jesus is God’s Word—fully human and fully divine. So also the Bible is God’s Word—a blend of divine inspiration speaking with human voices.

The Bible uses the language and cultural forms of the human authors and their audience. If you have ever moved from one country to another, you have probably been surprised by something that does not mean what you expect it to mean. That also happens in the Bible. Here is a simple example, told to me by a friend from the Middle East. You remember the story of Lot in Sodom in Genesis 19. Because of Sodom’s wickedness, God sent two angels to Sodom to warn Lot to get out of town before judgment. Lot took them in as his guests and gave them supper. After they ate, the men of Sodom came to the house and tried to abduct these men (not recognizing them as angels). Then we read these words:
Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
We read this story and wonder how Lot could consider giving his daughters to these terrible men. But my friend said something like this: “You think it means that he was willing to give them his daughters. But this is just how we talk in the Middle East. What it really means is that the law of hospitality is so strong that he could no more give his guests to these men than he could give his daughters to them.” In fact, we have a similar form of speech in our own culture; it is called sarcasm.

This change does not affect how we understand the whole story, but such misunderstandings can occur anywhere in the Scriptures if we read too quickly and don’t listen carefully. How do we avoid this problem? By reading carefully and repeatedly. I have a friend who did his Master’s thesis at Providence on the Gospel of Mark. The first step he took before trying to write the thesis was to read the gospel through in one sitting. Three times in a week. For ten weeks.

When we read over and over, we focus less on individual verses that we might take out of context, and we begin to hear the whole Gospel. We will still get some individual passages wrong, but we will get the whole message right. You see, alongside the many voices of Scripture, we hear always God’s Spirit speaking through the authors. It is one of miracles of inspiration that the whole Bible does tell one coherent story, speaking through so many different people. If you want to know that story and learn to live by that story, you have to read the whole Bible and listen to the whole Bible.

I think of my grandparents’ generation in the Brethren in Christ. Many people had only book: the Bible. For some their formal education stopped with Grade Eight, but they read the Bible. I have studied more than they—going on to seminary, but they read the Bible constantly and thoroughly. I suspect that they often read more clearly than I do.

A Concluding Thought
As we read the Bible together, we will sometimes disagree about what it says. We also disagree about how we can read the Bible. Some say that the Bible is plain and needs no interpretation. Others say that the Bible is complicated and we cannot understand it. Both are right. In its overall message the Bible is clear—even if we have some disagreements. In many places the Bible is complicated—but in fact those places are fewer than we might think.

We do sometimes disagree about what the Bible says. I have worked most of my professional life as a seminary teacher among people with whom I disagree. I am convinced that Jesus’ call to peace is integral to the message of the gospel. Reconciliation with God includes reconciliation with people. Most of my colleagues, however, see peace as a goal to work towards rather than a life to live now. They are not pacifists; I am. Yet we continue to work together. We live and work together as brothers and sisters of Jesus, children of God, saved by the blood of Jesus on the cross, gather around the communion table, reading the same Bible, willing to follow all that Jesus commands us to do.

The first thing that the Bible is meant to do, then, is bring us to Jesus. Then it teaches us how to live—using stories and examples from history. Precise lessons may be complex and we may disagree, but they always fit into the whole story of God’s reconciling ways. In our own struggles here and now, let the Bible call you back to Jesus, to walk with him until he returns.

Steinbach Mennonite Church
18 September 2016
Texts
2 Timothy 3: 10-17
A Final Charge to Timothy
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

John 5: 31-47
Testimonies About Jesus
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true. 33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”