Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 17, 2016
As we begin this morning, I want to talk about the central philosophy of Cornerstone Church. It is the philosophy that holds up the Cornerstone Community. It is the philosophy that is implemented week after week, month after month, and year after year. It was a philosophy that was implemented this week at Camp Cornerstone.
This philosophy is the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and by God’s Word, I mean the Bible. Cornerstone Church’s philosophy, our strategy, our practice, is to open up this book and read the Words of God, and let these Words shape us into who God desires us to be.
Why? Why do we put so much emphasis on this book? The answer is simple. Because God puts so much emphasis on this book. Listen to what is says in 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 – “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
These sacred writings that Paul is speaking about is the Word of God. The Bible. It is the Bible that makes you wise to salvation. Meaning, the Bible reveals to you that you are a sinner who needs saved. And then, once again, the Bible tells you about the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ.
Second, once you are saved, you are not done with the Bible, you are only just beginning. For the Scriptures, we are told are “profitable.” Meaning the Bible is useful, valuable, beneficial to you. Useful for what? For teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness. It is useful in that it helps you to live life according to God’s good purposes and design for you. The last verse says that it helps you become complete and equipped.
I don’t know about you, but I desire those are two things, completion and equipped. There are so many times in life that I feel ill-equipped and incompetent for what life has for me. Maybe I feel like I am failing at being a husband, or failing at being a father, or that my life seems out of sync, or I am depressed, the list can go on and on, this is what the Bible helps us with. The Words of God shapes us, refines us, builds us up, molds us into the person that God desires us to be. It is the Word of God that saves us and sanctifies us.
The bottom line is that the Word of God is for everyone, not a select few. All of you should be reading this book every day for the rest of your life. As Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
So if you ever plan on coming to visit us at Cornerstone Church, which we hope that all of you do, this is what you can expect, the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. So what I am going to do today, God willing, is to demonstrate this in the preaching and teaching of John 9:1-12. So if you have a Bible, please turn with me to this passage.
John 9:1-12 – “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
Why is this Written?
As we begin, we should remind ourselves who wrote these words we just read. They were written by the Apostle John. John was qualified to write these words because he was an eye witness. In 1 John 1:1, John tells us, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—” John was present when the events of John 9 occurred.
So as we study God’s Word, it is important to understand what John is doing. He is not writing a theological discourse. He is not expounding on some philosophical thought about the inner workings of the universe. What John is doing in John 9 is reporting the news. He is giving an account of what he heard and what he saw. It would be the same as if you were an eye witness to a car accident and an officer asked you to write out a statement of your observations.
This event is just one of thousands of events that John would have seen during his three years of following Jesus while he was on this earth in the flesh. John, in writing this Gospel, only wrote seven. Why only these seven? John tells us why in John 20:31, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John was writing with a purpose, and the purpose was so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ. The “you” that John is directing his writings to is you; all of you who sit within earshot of my preaching. And I want you to feel the force of John’s words. The goal of today is for you who don’t believe in Jesus, to believe in Jesus. And you who already believe in him, to believe in him even more. And why is believing so important? Because by believing you will have life. So the stakes are high today, as they are every day.
The Works of God on Display
To understand the flow of what occurs in John 9, it is helpful to know what happened in the chapter preceding it, chapter eight. In John 8, we see Jesus making some astronomically big claims about himself. In John 8:12, Jesus stands in front of thousands of Jews in the midst of one of the largest festivals of the year and cries out “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” He then goes on to say in John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” And with this statement, Jesus was declaring that he is the “I Am.” The name “I Am” was a tile reserved for God alone, Yahweh. Jesus, in chapter 8 was proclaiming his divinity.
So the question at the end of chapter eight is, “Are these things true?” Is Jesus the light of the World? Is Jesus the “I Am?” Is Jesus God? Or is he a liar or a lunatic? Chapter 9 is to help us with those questions. Chapter 9 is the physical proof that supports the previous spoken truth.
In verse 1, what do we see, or perhaps better still, what does Jesus see? Jesus sets his gaze upon a blind man. Jesus is the instigator of this event. And his disciples pick up on it, and they ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Why did they ask that question? Because that was the common belief of the day. Most likely it was the common teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees; that the individual trials and tribulation were always correlated to a specific sin of you or your parent. It was somewhat along the lines of the false teaching that is so prevalent today, Karma.
What is important, however, is not the disciples question, or the cultural misunderstandings of trials, but what is important is what Jesus says in verse 3, “ Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The reason that this man was blind from birth, was not because of Karma, it was for this moment. Think about the implications of this.
This man was born blind. Psalm 139:13 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” This man's blindness was not an accident. God purposed him to be blind, designed him to be blind. Why? So that Christ could use him in his weakness to display His power, through His Son.
Because of his blindness, we can only imagine how hard his life would have been. We are told in verse 9 that he was a beggar. He had to depend upon the scraps of this world to live. There is no doubt, that his life would have been full of many challenges, both physical and emotional. I would guess there were many days that he would sit in darkness, perhaps weeping, crying out to God, “Why? Why did you make me this way?”
If I were to guess, every single person in this room has had a conversation with God like this, “Why? Why are you allowing this pain in my life? Are you punishing me? Why?” Let me tell you something, your trials and your tribulations are not accidents. God does not make mistakes. What ever your circumstances, you need to know that God has given you your lot in life, not because you drew the short straw, but because he wants to do something marvelous in your life to show those around you how awesome God is.
Blind from Birth
So why does Jesus pick this blind man out of all people to display his glory. Because, spiritually speaking, his condition describes all humanities condition. Every person who has been born has been born spiritually blind. We are unable to see past creation to the Glory of God. Why? Because because of sin. Sin has blinded our eyes, and this reality is true for everyone from the moment of birth. Psalm 51:5 says “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” If you recall back in John 3: Jesus says “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” If God does not give them spiritual sight they are blind to the things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says this, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” The natural person is everyone who has been born of women. You and I, and all of humanity. We are “not able to understand.” Why? Because we are sinners and therefore, we are blind to spiritual realities. Therefore, we are like the blind beggar, struggling to get by. Not really living, just surviving, eating the scraps of this world.
When it comes to believing in Christ, this is the issue…the blindness of humanity. Why don’t people believe in Jesus? They can’t see him. Why do some of you not follow Jesus? Because you have never seen Him. 2 Corinthians 4:4, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Sure some of you are religious, but being religious doesn’t save you. Hell will be full of people that are religious. Religion doesn't save, Jesus saves. And he stands before you today with his eyes fixed on your and you are oblivious. The problem for you, or your family, or your friends, or your neighbors, or your coworkers is that they have no clue that they are blind. They think they are just fine. No worries. No problems. Living the dream.
So what does it take? It takes Sovereign Grace. It takes the Potter to pick up some mud and put them on your eyes. Look at Verse 6, “Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent).” This blind man was entirely passive in this interaction. He did not choose Christ, Christ chose Him. It was not the blind man’s will, it was God’s will. We saw the same thing in in John 5 when Jesus heals the invalid and the pool of Bethesda. The invalid was just lying there and Jesus walked by a number of people to pour out his sovereign grace upon just one person. We see the same thing in our text today in John 9. And the physical miracle points to the greater spiritual miracle of salvation.
And this is a reoccurring teaching throughout the Gospel of John. John wants everyone to know that the reason a man believes and follows Jesus is not because the man was smarter than everyone else, but that it is because God has poured out his mercy upon you. John 1:12, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 3:8, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 5:21, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. “ John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:70, “Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you?” John 8:47, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
Over and over and over, we see the Gospel of John proclaiming that all of the glory goes to God for salvation. In fact look forward to John 9:32, “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.” Oh the depths of the spiritual truths of this man's comments. No one, no thing, no philosophy, no religion can give you spiritual sight, it is only the power of Christ that can free you from the prison of your darkness.
In Luke 4:17, Jesus is in his hometown of Nazareth and while in the Synagogue reads from the book of Isaiah these words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” It then goes on to say in verse 20, “And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Go, Wash in the Pool
So where does this leave us? It leaves us with the question, has God put the mud of your sin upon the eyes of your heart? Has Christ approached you on the curb of your life to rescue you from surviving so that you can start living?
How are we to know? The same way the blind man knew. He obeyed. Verse 7, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.”
As Christ spoke to him and commanded him to rise and go wash his eyes, he did not hesitate. He heeded the Words of Christ as they were spoken into his life and he submitted to his commands. He followed Jesus Word.
So the questions is, will you? Jesus commands that you should turn from your sin and follow Him. To do all that he commands. That is the test. Will you listen to the voice of Jesus and repent of your sin and trust Christ as your Lord and your Savior? If you do, then the light of Christ has shown in your heart. If you don’t you remain a beggar and will remain in the darkness grouping about.
Jesus is the light of the World, he is the I Am, he is God, you were created for Him and through Him. If you life is not entirely oriented around Jesus, then you are merely surviving, and your are not living. Today, that can all change.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20).