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Knowledge or Life? (John 5)

Often, we make general statements, like, “Take time to read your Bible.” And this is a good instruction, if our spiritual footing is soundly anchored in a living relationship with Christ. The problem is that, in our finite and physical world, we cannot always see the spiritual foundation each person is standing on. To use an analogy, you may watch someone building an addition on a house, and you may see concrete footers, evenly spaced in the ground, where they will attach wooden posts to support the structure. All you are able to see is the concrete above the ground. Yet, so much depends on what is happening below the surface! If the holes were dug about four feet deep, by all means, proceed with the building process. But if they were dug only a foot deep, the structure you build over it will be dangerously compromised! You have got to do the hard work of digging deeper, or anything you build on top will amount to nothing.

As always, the right outward action alone is not what Jesus prescribes, but He insists on the correct unseen motive beneath the surface as well. He calls us to right motives paired with right actions, not one or the other. Our Lord lamented the reality that many were approaching the Word of God in order to accumulate knowledge, rather than coming to the One about whom the scriptures speak. He tells the Pharisees, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

We might easily begin to feel that our source of life is in gaining more and more understanding of the truths of the Bible. Learning is a good thing, just like building an addition on your house. But without the deep foundation of coming to Christ with all we have and all we are, our learning of truth will be futile. If my effort to learn does not cause me to come to Jesus, to draw closer to Him, then what value does it have? Jesus also challenged them by saying, “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent” (5:38). The Holy Spirit desires to write the Word of God on our hearts! It needs to be alive in us. This only happens when the goal of our Bible reading is coming close to Jesus. We say, “The One I am reading about is risen and alive. I can go to Him right now, and He will comfort me, convict me, forgive me, and transform me. All I have to do is come to the Living Person behind the words.”

What do you seek? When you open our Bible, when you read a devotional, when you fast and pray? Don’t stop short, being content with information. Go, run to the Fount of Life. Ask the Spirit to speak to you. Ask Jesus to search you with His Word, and be vulnerable. Thank the Father for His amazing grace, and for the privilege of tasting eternal life in the resurrected Christ.

Alex Mack

Teaching Pastor

The Rock Church

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