Religion or Christianity?
A Sermon on John 5:31-35
31“If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. 32There is another who testifies about Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true.
Testimony of John the Baptist
33You have sent messengers to John, and he has testified to …
31If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.
32¶ There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. 33Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34But I …
In part five of his series on John 5:31–35 in this sermon titled “Religion or Curiosity?” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones completes his exposition by exposing the wrong response to the truth of the gospel. By focusing on John the Baptist and his ministry, hearers responded to the parts they found favorable but did not listen to the whole truth of the gospel that he presented. As one examines John’s ministry, initially a favorable response to the truth is found. The man, the prophet, and the message tickled ears and fancied the listeners’ curious nature. But the favorable response to John’s light of truth only lasted for a season. The people marveled at him and his words as they longed for a messiah to heal their worldly problems. But John’s message, a preparation for the gospel and Jesus, was a message of repentance and it was not received well. John’s message extinguished the light of their joy. Thus, Dr. Lloyd-Jones asks, “Will your favorable response to the gospel be only for a season?"
- Religion has a general appeal that is not necessarily saving. There is an interest in religion that proves useless.
- One can go far under a general religious appeal yet have nothing. The people rejoiced yet it was temporary.
- True experience continues and persists. "He that continueth to the end shall be saved."
- The people were interested in John himself. He was a "burning and shining light." His striking personality attracted them.
- The people were interested in John's message about the coming Messiah. They had waited 400 years for a prophet.
- The people felt a temporary influence of the Holy Spirit under John's preaching. There is a power in spiritual atmosphere that can temporarily influence without saving.
- The interest in John and his message was superficial. They were attracted to spectacle and excitement. They did not understand.
- The people ultimately disliked John's real message of repentance. They wanted a political Messiah, not a call to repentance.
- The changeableness was due to a failure to understand the truth and urgency of the message. Sin, wrath, and the cross were not grasped.
- Mere general interest in Christianity is not enough. Understanding is essential, especially of sin, wrath, and redemption in Christ.
- The only sure test of understanding is repentance, faith in Christ, and persistence in following Him.
The Book of John
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.