Jn.18:33-34 Therefore, Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”
1Cor. 12: 3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. Theme: The Most Important Question of your Life
How many of you have had days when the dominate consciousness of the day was that life just posed too many questions; far too many. It may be a two year old who responds to every answer you give with, “But why, Mommy?” From that all the way up to incredibly complex issues such as terminal illness, life presents us with a multitude of questions.
How many questions do you think you have been asked at this stage of your life? How many questions do you think you have asked up to this point in your life?
If you had to categorize all the questions of your life from the least important to the very most important- what would that most important question be? You might be amazed. I will suggest (and this may come as a real shocker) that there are questions of greater importance than:What should I wear today?
I just read to you from the scripture the most important question you will ever be called to answer. It is the question at the very core or heart of the human experience. No one can finally escape it. If we don’t face it in this life, we will in the next. It’s the question that is never going to go away.
When the Jews delivered Jesus to Pilate, this representative of the government of Rome was brought face to face with this most important question. Pilate did everything in his power to evade the issue; to avoid the question; to deny it. When he had run out of options, he simply resorted to washing his hands before the public as a symbol of releasing himself from the responsibility set before him. But mere ceremony cannot resolve this issue nor answer this question.
Pilate asked the first question: “Are you the King of the Jews?” We need to see that the core reality of this question relates to the identity of the Christ. Jesus responded to Pilate’s question with a question: “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about me?” There is another translation or paraphrase of this that reads: “Are you speaking this out of your own conviction….?”
In bringing these two questions together here is what I want to present to you. ‘What is your core conviction concerning the identity of the Christ?’ This is the most important question we will ever be called upon to answer.
The answer to this question involves far more than right words. The far greater issue has to do with the heart and the conviction of heart out which the words are born. This is exactly what Paul had in mind when he wrote: no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
We all know that both Christian and non-Christian alike can speak the words- Jesus is Lord.We can even speak them as Biblical doctrine or Biblical theology. We can speak them out of a sense of religious tradition or Christian heritage. We can speak them as points of our parents or grandparents faith. We can speak them as an academic exercise.
To speak these words from any or all of these positions is at best the exchange of information; something we have been told and are now passing along- it is an exchange from mind to mind; an exchange on the soul level.
The Bible makes it clear that we are triune beings- meaning that we are a unity of three parts. Those parts are spirit, soul, and body. It is important to understand how your spirit, soul and body relate and what the God ordained order and function of each part is. Obviously, that is a whole study in itself.
What I will remind us of is that none of us is our body. For some of us that is incredibly good news. But beyond the humour, we live in a culture that defines life and being as nothing more than body- the physical part. For that reason billions of dollars are spent annually to beautify the body while absolutely no investment is made regarding the health and welfare of our spirit.
At the end of the day- and make no mistake about it, the end of the day will come for each of us- the body is returning the earth from which it came, the spirit is returning to God from Whom it came, and the soul is continuing on in an eternal state. Let me ask you: Where do you think the investment needs to be made?
The apostle Paul used this phrase: ‘Speaking by the Spirit of God.’ This is a whole new reality. It transcends the intellect, reaches far deeper than the emotions and even reaches well beyond the will.Speaking by the Spirit of God means that you have heard the Spirit of God Himself speaking within your own spirit.
It is only at that point that Biblical truth becomes more than mere information passed from mind to mind; it becomes personal faith or living conviction. (By that I mean, the conviction out of which you live). Some people will express that like this: I know that I know, that I know, that I know. It is only out of that reality, or within that dynamic of Spirit revelation that we are able to say as a point of absolute knowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.
The expression or communication of this conviction concerning who Christ is will involve mymind, emotions and will, but the source of the conviction is not my mind, nor my emotions, nor my will: the source is the Holy Spirit revealing the identity of Christ within my very spirit.
This means that my thoughts, my feelings, and my choices cannot change truth at this level of S/spiritual reality and revelation. Moreover, it means that my mind, my emotions and my will must be brought into conformity with the revelation of truth being unveiled by the Holy Spirit within my spirit.
I don’t do this very often (and I think you will understand why), but occasionally I try to reflect upon forty years of sermons. The reason I don’t do this too often is because some of those sermons are just too embarrassing to look at. What I do recall, however, is the multitude of settings in which those forty years of sermons have been presented. From Africa to the Caribbean to coast to coast in Canada and many of the American states I can tell what I have found to be true. It is the same thing that was true when Christ was here in the flesh- and all you have to do is read the records of the gospels to discover it.
You will always find three groups of people around the Lord Jesus: those who are always pressing into deeper and deeper relationship with Him; those who are honestly and openly hostile toward Him; and those in the middle- somewhere between pressing into Christ and being openly hostile towards Him.
Would anyone care to hazard a guess which of these three groups would be the larger? It is always the group in the middle. The deception of the middle is that it is a place of safe neutrality; a place where we never cause offence by demanding too much in relation to the Lordship of Christ.
Jesus dispelled this deception of the middle when he said: “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” For all who felt they could sit on the fence- the fence just disappeared.
If we take these three groups of people back to our original text and to that most important question in life- how does it all look? Those who are pressing deeper and deeper into relationship with Christ are those who have become convinced and convicted by the Holy Spirit that Jesus is who He claimed to be.
Those who are openly hostile are those who have absolutely no Spiritual revelation of who Christ is- or it is possible they do have some sense of who He is and are choosing to fight the truth.
But those in the middle are by far in the most troubling position. They have what I call a soulish relationship with truth: Truth is what they think it is, what they feel it is, or what they choose it to be. But in all of that activity of mind, emotion and will there is very little ongoing, deepening Holy Spirit revelation. And at the end of the day these people cannot say with that deepest possible sense of conviction and reality that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is possible to be totally familiar with Christ on a soul level, while remaining disconnected and detached on a spirit to Spirit level.
That is the issue this question of Christ is designed to deal with and challenge. When we speak truth are we speaking it out that deepest possible level of conviction created by the revelation of the Holy Spirit within our spirit? Has truth become a point of personal faith, personal knowing and personal conviction resulting from the direct and immediate personal ministry of the Holy Spirit? OR- as it was with Pilate- are we merely speaking, echoing, or parroting what others told us about truth?
This message began with a question, and I will now close it with another question: How do I know the actual reality of my conviction concerning the identity of the Lord Jesus? Begin where I too must begin- how do I react and finally respond to the growing and ongoing demands of the truth of His Lordship within the daily details of my life?