A Healthy Bride
By Felty Yoder
May 1, 2013
This article was originally, written for a local newspaper in the Salem KY area.
We would do well to pause for a time from our many activities and consider where we stand in our spiritual life, to see whether or not we've made any progress in the last year, or years.
We know the secular world has been advancing so fast in the last 150 years that it's hard, if not impossible, for anyone to keep up with the "latest." On the other hand, it is obvious that the Church of Jesus Christ has come far short of the excellence that Paul writes about in Ephesians 3:20: "Now onto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." We must admit we have seen very little of this power of love that Paul is writing about.
Although the secular world has gone beyond what could only have been imagined a generation ago, are we then to believe the kingdom of darkness has a greater potential than the kingdom of light? I don't think so. We have not come anywhere near unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. I cannot think of anything more descriptive of the sad state of affairs of the church in our day than the figure we have in the first eighteen verses of John 5. Jesus went up to Jerusalem to a feast of the Jews. By the sheep market (or gate) is a pool, in the Hebrew tongue called Bethesda (House of Mercy), having five porches A great multitude of crippled, blind, and paralyzed people were lying there, waiting for an angel to stir the water. The first one to step in would be made well of whatever disease he had.
Here is the picture: Jesus is the gate to the sheep. At the House of Mercy, the sheep market, people sell their souls from one denomination to another. In the presence of the five porches, the five helps, where the fivefold ministries move the Living Waters every Sunday morning, we have a multitude of impotent folk, lame, diseased, and helpless. We also have restlessness, contention, envy, strife, and bitterness. The list goes on and on of deeds that hinder our walk with Jesus.
Now there was one man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus asked him if he wanted to be made well. Since the man had no one else to help him, Jesus told him to rise up, take his bed, and walk. This happened on the Sabbath. When the Jews who followed the scribes and Pharisees, the theologians of their day, saw the man carrying his bed, they said it wasn't lawful to do so on the Sabbath Day. When they learned that Jesus had told him to do so, they sought to slay Jesus.
Jesus told the Jews that he was only doing what the Father was doing. This, however, did not satisfy the Jews who imagined they knew the will of God better than Jesus did. They sought all the more to kill him, not only because he had broken the religious order of the day, but also because he was making himself equal with God.
The number thirty-eight appears in another Scripture which fits in beautifully with this picture. In Deut. 2:14 the Israelites had come to the doorstep of the Promised Land, but they drew back in unbelief. In consequence they had to spend thirty-eight years in the howling and barren wilderness, because they didn't believe they could overcome the enemy.
The fact of the matter is, we must meet the lowly Nazarene like the man at the pool did. When He tells us to get up and move on, we must heed His command, and do His will as He did the Father's will. Then we can have victory and make progress.
If we don't believe in taking up the battle and gaining the victory over sin, we will be wasting our life in the wilderness, not going anywhere. Or we will remain with the rest of the helpless and unbelieving at the House of Mercy, entertaining the thought that Jesus will come momentarily and rapture us. The Jews had little to offer the suffering at the pool.
In the same way the church, as a whole, has made little headway in the last 1,650 years by reading the scriptures through the lenses of the theologians who would have us believe they understand the will of God better than Jesus did.
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