By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4, NKJV)
Vital teaching is given here on the nature of faith and worship that is “by faith.” First, we learn what is evident from Cain and Abel; not all worship pleases God (Gen. 4:4-5). Why? Because not all worship is “by faith.” Faith results from hearing God’s word and following it (Rom. 10:17). Abel did that, but Cain did not. Like Abel, we must hear and follow God’s word concerning acceptable worship. Otherwise, we follow Cain’s path of worthless, faithless worship. Second, God testified Abel was righteous based on his gifts. God said Abel’s “by faith” worship pleased Him (cf. Heb. 11:6). The question for us is, “Who is bearing witness that our worship is by faith and pleasing to God?” We can rule out our personal feelings. Cain felt his worship was good (see his angry reaction, Gen. 4:5). Acceptable worship is not defined by how a person feels about it, or by how he feels when he offers it. Billions of souls feel their worship pleases God, yet that does not make it so (Prov. 14:12). God’s word testifies that worship in spirit and truth is “by faith” (Jno. 4:23-24). All other worship, by definition, is not by faith. What is God testifying about the gifts we bring Him? Are they “by faith,” or are they faithless?
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39–42, NKJV)
Many emphasize “witnessing” for Jesus, and “giving their personal testimony” of Christ to convince others to believe. But, today’s passage shows a personal testimony did not cause others to believe. It was “His own word” that led many Samaritans (in addition to the woman at the well, Jno. 4:5-26) to believe Jesus is “the Christ, the Savior of the world” (v. 41, 42). They did not believe “because of what (she) said” (v. 42). It is not her word, my word, or your word that produces faith – God’s word does that (Rom. 10:17). The power to convert and save lost souls in Christ is in the gospel. The gospel saves when it is believed and obeyed (Rom. 1:16-17). Personal testimonies focus attention on self (a “personal” experience). The “testimony of the Lord” (the gospel, 2 Tim. 1:8) focuses attention on Jesus Christ, His atoning sacrifice, and His call to believe and obey Him for salvation (Heb. 5:8-9; Mk. 16:15-16; Matt. 11:28-30). Believe because of Christ’s word, and then your faith will be in Him and not in another.
40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. 41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” 42 And many believed in Him there. (John 10:40–42, NKJV)
In reaction to His teachings, the enemies of Jesus took up stones to stone Him and tried to seize Him (Jno. 10:31, 39). But, it was not yet time for Jesus to lay down His life, and so He escaped them and went beyond the Jordan where John had taught and baptized (Jno. 10:17-18). Many of the people believed in Jesus because of what John said about Him. John had testified the truth about Jesus (Jno. 5:33). He proclaimed that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jno. 1:29, 36). In addition to John, the words and miracles of Jesus and the Old Testament Scriptures bear witness that He is the Christ (Jno. 5:34-39). The gospel calls on us to assess the body of evidence left in the pages of inspiration to also believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Jno. 20:30-31). The gospel calls on us to believe in Jesus Christ because of the word of truth that proclaims Him to be the Christ, the Savior of the world (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18-25).
1 You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. 2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. (Exodus 23:1–2, NKJV)
Israel was strictly charged not to 1) Spread falsehoods, 2) Support unrighteous witnesses, 3) Join others in committing evil, and 4) Affirm what is false and influence others to pervert justice. Honest people continue to earnestly avoid speaking and promoting falsehoods against others. So, shouldn’t we be just as concerned with not advancing falsehoods about God? Yet, untold millions of otherwise honest people see no problem with accepting and spreading false teachings as if they belong to God. By affirming doctrinal error as truth, they influence many others to twist the truth. False teaching in the name of God is a sin of injustice against God. We are sure this does not go unnoticed by the Almighty (Matt. 7:21-23). Before you assign a doctrine and a practice to “the will of God” you must be sure His word supports it (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Examine the Scriptures to see if what you or others are saying about God and His will is true (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1, 6). Accept no counterfeit gospels. They are false reports that bring souls under divine condemnation (Gal. 1:6-10).
26 But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (John 15:26–27, NKJV)
Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to His apostles to be a Helper, a Comforter, after He left this world (John 14:16-18). He fulfilled His promise to them (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4, 33). The Holy Spirit has given powerful testimony of Jesus Christ to the world. By His miraculous revelation, inspiration and confirmation, the Spirit of truth bears witness of the gospel of Christ through the apostles He empowered (Acts 1:8). The testimony borne by the Spirit of truth is not a personal impulse, feeling or revelation uniquely given as personal experiences to each individual. His testimony is the gospel He gave the apostles which they preached to the world (Jno. 14:25-26; 16:8-13). To refuse their word for a personal testimony that contradicts the Spirit’s testimony in Scripture is spiritually destructive: “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Hebrews 2:3-4) The New Testament is the Spirit’s testimony to the world. What a comfort the Comforter has given us!
John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” (John 1:15, NKJV)
Jesus bore witness to the truth that He is the light of the world, and His testimony of Himself was true (John 8:12-13). Even so, additional testimony was given to convince people that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten of the Father (John 5:31-35). The testimony of John corroborated the incarnation and glory of Jesus as the only begotten of the Father, whose Light brought life, grace and truth to the world (John 1:6-9, 14). John ranks Jesus higher than himself (he is “preferred before me”) because He (the Word, the only begotten Son of God) existed before John and created John (John 1:1-3). The Lord’s forerunner bore testimony that Jesus is eternal God who became flesh. As it is testified, “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17). To think of Jesus as merely a good moral teacher misses the mark. His claim, as well as John’s testimony, was that He is God. If He is not, then He is not good, and He is not moral. If He is God, then He is the source of grace and truth who must be honored above all. The evidence is overwhelming – Jesus is Immanuel (“God with us”).
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” (John 1:6–9, NKJV)
John the baptizer was the Messiah’s predicted messenger, the forerunner who testified Jesus to be the Lamb of God and the Son of God (John 1:29-34; Malachi 3:1; Mark 1:1-4). John’s work prepared the people to believe in Jesus as the Christ (Luke 3:3-6). John testified that he had been sent before the Christ, the One who came from heaven and who is “above all” (John 3:28, 31). John further testified that Jesus spoke the words of God that bring life to all who believe in Him (John 3:34-36). As John called sinners to repent and to believe on the One who came after Him—Jesus, he drew attention to the Light that the Word brought into the world. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16). Allow the Light that Jesus brought into the world to shine in your heart and life. Believe in Him and let His light of truth guide your feet in the way of peace (Luke 1:79).