John 2:23 ¶ Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. 3:1 ¶ There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
The chapter divisions are not, of course, inspired by the Holy Spirit in the way that the content of the verses is. They were inserted by Archbishop Stephen Langton around 1230. And they are essential, for how could we all wind up at the same passages, at the same time if they were not there? But there are some few which were ill placed. And this passage is one of them. For John chapter three should begin with John 2:23.
For John 2:23 begins to relate the account of the superficial ‘belief’ regarding miracles. And if you start there, you can see how the matter in the first verses of “Chapter Three” relate to that beginning subject. Also just notice the word, “men,” or “man,” as you read down, uninterrupted by the misplaced chapter division. Jesus knew all men (2:24). Then he knew what was in man. (2:25). And then, There was a man. (3:1)
And also take note of the matter which was on this representative man’s mind. He wanted to discuss these miracles that thou doest. (3:2). But knowing this man’s heart, and therefore fully knowing his need, the Lord brings forth his glorious statement of John 3:3. And by that statement alone, turning the conversation away from miracles to the need of regenerating grace, we clearly see that Miracle Belief is not a means of salvation. For one could see and be moved by the miracles but still need salvation by grace alone!
Miracle Belief could only produce stony ground faith! Matthew 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Miracle Belief could flare up in a realm of excitement, receiving Christ’s words of healing “with joy,” but it would not be a lasting belief. For the same gang which once cried “Hosanna to the son of David,” later cried “Crucify him!” John 19:15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. For afterward these are developed into the unchangeable state of the dog and sow! 2 Peter 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
“Almost persuaded,” harvest is past!
“Almost persuaded,” doom comes at last!
“Almost” cannot avail;
“Almost” is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail—
“Almost,” but lost! P.P.Bliss 1871
Let us now read a few verses in this Book of John which will shed more light on this belief from miracles. We shall discover that the miracles were to cause Israel to know that Jesus of Bethlehem and Nazareth was their Messiah! But having that information did not produce saving faith! John 6:14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
John 7:31 And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?
Our Lord made this clear in the following verses as he required a continued obedience to himself, and not just a temporary, fanciful excitement from viewing his miracles. John 8:30 As he spake these words, many believed on him. 31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
Israel did not crucify the Lord Jesus because they did not know who he was! They crucified him because they did know who he was, but did not approve of their Messiah being of such a lowly estate! Isaiah 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
Peter also made it plain that his miracles clearly showed him to be “approved of God,” as he preached the very first gospel message on Pentecost. Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
And here is another passage which reveals the failed salvation from Miracle Belief. John 12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
But how is that a failure to receive a full and complete salvation? Take notice of these words: Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. But they did not confess him!
This is a most important matter! For confession “is made unto salvation!” And without their confession on earth, there will be no confession in the hour of judgment of Christ’s owning them! Luke 12:8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: 9 But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.
We must also take careful notice of our John 2:23 and 24 verses. For therein is the same Greek word, translated into two different English words. It appears in English as “believed” in John 2:23. “…many believed…” But in John 2:24 it appears as the English word, “commit.” But it’s the exact same Greek word! What does this mean?
It means that their ‘belief’ from miracles was not returned in kind by the Lord’s ‘belief’ in them! They “committed” to him in only a shallow, Miracle Belief! Therefore he only “committed” physical miracles, and not the miracle of the spiritual new birth unto them! Since they only approached him on the ground of inordinate affections, his response to them was on the same ground. Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
There is a demon faith! For demons are said to ‘believe’ in God! Therefore if one just ‘believes’ in there being a god, he has but a demonic faith! James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
The faith of belief in who the Lord Jesus is, comes from the revelation by the Father. Matthew 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
And just a bare mental ascent of the truth of the gospel is still not a saving experience! For without faith it is impossible to please God! For there have been those who have given a mental agreement to the facts of the gospel who failed to receive a full and eternal salvation! Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
For even though this Miracle Belief is enough to convince those without true faith that they are indeed true christians, it is never enough to have ever deceived the Lord God! Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Salvation comes by hearing, not by seeing! Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. How was the world created? – By the word of God! Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. And the same God uses the same method in the creation of the regenerated soul!
For a regenerate soul is a ‘creation!’ Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. And in the same way that the Lord commanded the light of the sun to exist, that’s the same way he brings forth the light of God’s glory in the heart of the sinner. 2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But then where does the hearing come from? That Romans 10:17 verse tells us! It comes from the word of God! But that is not the Bible! Many have heard good gospel sermons who were never regenerated thereby. The Lord warned us of this! For far more come to the Scriptures who will not come to Him! John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
For having the written words without the Person of the Living Word making them effectual works death! 2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. The study of the Scriptures, only by the intellect can never produce spiritual life. It is only by the Lord’s word made effectual to the heart which enlivens. John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
There is great and eternal danger in mere Miracle Belief! Consider carefully these words of our Lord. John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. For Miracle Belief could only bring them to see that he was Messiah. But it could not bring them to fully accept him as Saviour! Knowing that he was Messiah was only a fact, but, as we have seen, the demons believe in the fact of there being one God. Therefore believing facts about God does not save!
To know and submit to him as very God is that which saves the soul. John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
It is “whosoever believeth into him who shall not perish, but have everlasting life!” John 3:36 “and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Pastor Gene Breed
December 10, 2020