Of all the signs as to whether a man is a child of God or a child of the devil, none is more certain than whether or not the Word of God is heard.

Always—and especially now—God is testing our faith. And the devil is tempting us to sin.

Always—and especially now—we all have really good reasons not to hear God’s Word.

Maybe you’re a high risk individual.

Maybe you just don’t like the pastor.

Always—and especially now—you can very easily justify the many and various reasons you have to completely ignore the Word of God.

Such is the doctrine of man.

Because when and where God’s Word is heard, when and where it’s believed and kept, there is eternal life.

But when and where God’s Word is not heard, the doctrines of man break in and steal. There’s no such thing as neutrality with respect to God. You’re either hot or cold or He will spit you out (cf. Revelation 3:15-17).

Where the Word of God is not heard—there’s only idolatry and vain worship that leads to eternal torment.

Jesus says, “Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God” (John 8:46-47).

The Word of God speaks, but the Jews don’t listen. They say, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?… Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham [and the prophets] who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?” (cf. John 8:48-53).

The Pharisees and the Jews don’t believe in God, because they don’t believe in Jesus.

Theirs is vain worship, leading to eternal torment.

Of all the signs as to whether a man is a child of God or a child of the devil, none is more certain than whether or not the Word of God is heard, trusted, kept, and believed.

Always—and especially now—we all have really good reasons not to hear God’s Word.

And—you should step back and observe what God is doing in, with, and under temporal suffering.

He hasn’t taken the Gospel away from you, but He has given you a few weeks where it’s really easy to completely forget about God.

Only a few people at church at a time.

And everything’s on Facebook anyway?

No one will know if I sleep in. If I don’t participate in that strange internet thing.

No one will know if I don’t read my Bible, study the Word of God, pray for the congregation, or help those who’re in need.

No one will know.

That’s the temptation—to think our circumstances so unique and severe that our responsibility to hear the Word of God gladly doesn’t matter.

That’s the vain worship and idolatry.

I say all that to any who would use this current tribulation to avoid God’s Word.

But I also realize there are those who legitimately fear dying.

A defeated enemy, death is still an enemy.

And so I say this to those who’ve been recently reminded that God knows the number of our days and that time marches on.

To comfort those in fear and sadness, unless it’s your last day on earth, all things are in God’s hands and you can meet with no offense.

For those who hear the Word of God and believe, you’ll make it through every single day of your life until you go to be with Jesus.

He who knows all things, He who numbered the hairs on your head, He knows both the end of your earthly torment and the end of your earthly life.

Fear not.

If one end is near, so is the other.

When his dearest beloved suggested that he should curse God and die, Job said, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:9-10).

If you want Christ, you must also take up your own cross and follow Him. If they tried to stone Jesus because of His doctrine, they’ll come for you and yours as well.

So many oppose the Word and will of God!

But what is that to you?

As for the Pharisees in today’s Gospel lesson, so for the Jews in general, Jesus hides Himself.

He withdraws.

As He hid from them once, He is hidden from all blaspheming hearts now. For 2,000 years, the Jews have had no real kingdom, no real priesthood, no real temple.

And that’s a warning to us all.

If we’re ever found to be unfaithful or ungrateful like them, we should expect our Lord to spare us no more than He has spared them.

Worship the Lord your God.

Trust Him, and serve Him only.

Hear Him. Conform your life to the image of Jesus the Christ. Conform your life to His Word.

And He promises to pour out—abundantly—His grace and mercy—His peace.

He promises that you, on the Last Day—on your last day—will enter into eternal life.

Jesus says, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death…If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad” (cf. John 8:49-56).

That is, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (cf. Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3).

He heard, and He believed.

By faith, Jesus wasn’t hidden from him like the ram caught in the thicket.

By faith, He knew the sacrifice that was to come.

By faith, Abraham heard, believed, kept the Word of God, and—sins forgiven—entered into eternal life.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).

They picked up stones to throw at him, following their father the devil.

But from them, He was hidden.

Always—and especially now—God is testing our faith. The devil is tempting us to sin.

Always—and especially now—we all have really good reasons not to hear God’s Word.

So many oppose the Word and will of God.

Depending on the state, abortion providers, package stores, and marijuana dispensaries see an ever increasing flow of foot traffic, while church’s are deemed inessential.

But what is that to you?

Will you have Christ the Crucified but not a cross of your own? “Shall [you] receive good from God, and shall [you] not receive evil” (Job 2:10)?

He is not hidden from us.

Church is essential, because Jesus is essential.

His Word is essential.

Of God, we hear the word of God and keep it.

And Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51).

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Judica (Lent 5) Sermon, 2020
John 8:46-59
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt