Good morning, everybody. It is my honor and privilege to be here, and I’m so excited, so thankful that I could be here. My kids and Amy are traveling, and our church, we used to worship in Torrance, and I spent a good portion of a year looking for a church building, and about a hundred different options were all closed doors. And then this option came through a brother at our church who knew Pastor Max at Pepperdine, and we ended up here. And I’m still wondering, like, why is the Lord sending us to Culver City?
I lived here quite some time ago. Why is he sending me back? One clear reason, I think, is to meet Pastor Max and Amy. They’re a great pastoral couple. Jackie and I, we’ve really enjoyed getting to know them. I see Jesus in the midst of their marriage, and I’m so thankful that I can now meet all of you and get to know all of you more.
So, if you could turn your Bibles with me to John 5, I apologize for not getting the text earlier to Barbara.
She asked for it earlier in the week, and I don’t know, I’m hard of hearing at times. So, when I ask the Lord, “What should I preach?” I’m not hearing clearly until I get on my face Saturday night, and it’s John 5.
“Of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If anyone comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you, Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believe Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?
43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:43-47, ESV)
Okay, let’s pray. Father, we humble ourselves before you. We’re not here to hear Ray. We’re here to hear from you, Lord. We’re all children of God. We all want to strain to hear your voice and your voice alone. Jesus, you’re the shepherd.
May you speak in a way that all of us, your sheep, can hear your voice. We pray that you would meet us, Lord. We’re not here to gain information, a principle, a lesson, an application. We’re here to meet the living and resurrected Lord Jesus. Pray that you meet us now. Lord, we open up our hearts wide. You’re knocking on the door of our heart. We sense it, Lord. We want to open up our hearts wide so that you may come in, rule, and reign over us. Please have your way in this time.
We give you this time. I give you my voice. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.
The main question I want to wrestle with today is: how can I seek the glory and how can we seek the glory that comes from the only God? That’s from… verse 44 that we just read.
If I were to phrase it a different way, how can I live a life that is pleasing to God, such that at the end of my life, I will see the Lord, I will see God, my Heavenly Father, and He will say, “Good job, good job. I honor you, you did well, you did well, son.” How can I seek the glory that comes from the only God? How can I live a life that is pleasing to God?
Chapter five, the context is a healing of an invalid.
If you’ve been in church, it’s a very familiar story. He’s been there at the pool of Bethesda for 38 years, thinking that there is healing there. And most of us, before we knew Christ, we were before the pool of this world. We thought there’s healing somewhere here. And at some point, if you are a believer, you realize there is no healing in this world anywhere. You tried in this pool, it was not there. You tried in another pool, it wasn’t there.
And at some point, Jesus met you, and this is what’s gonna happen in this story to the invalid. And Jesus happened to heal the man on the Sabbath day. And there are religious leaders who are upset that a law was broken. And a healing was done on the Sabbath, and this is the context in which Jesus shares the verses that I read.
And what kind of a person is this that knows the Bible inside and out, who goes to the synagogue, or maybe for us, who goes to church every single week, and all they care about is the rules being kept, versus a man in need, who needs healing, who needs to meet his Savior? It says in John 5:37, “There are some in the body of Christ that think that this is the source of eternal life.”
That if they search it, that if they study it, that if they know this book backwards and forwards, it is a guarantee that they will have eternal life. It is not true, brothers and sisters, it is not true. Eternal life is only found in the person of Jesus, and all of Scripture points to Him. All of Scripture points to Him.
And Jesus says to these people, who are experts at the Scriptures, who have been searching for answers of life, eternal life, and they are the ones in positions of authority. They are up there behind a pulpit every Sunday, and they are preaching from the Scripture and they don’t know the Savior.
Because they think that by studying it, by becoming an expert of Scripture, by becoming a Bible teacher, that that guarantees that they have eternal life and that the teaching that is being preached, well, the hearers will also receive eternal life. It is not true.
Jesus says, “All of it is talking about Me, and yet you don’t come to Me. Receive life.” It reminds me of Luke 24 when Cleopas and his friend were on the road to Emmaus. Jesus meets them, the resurrected Jesus meets them on the road, but their eyes, spiritual eyes, were closed. They had no idea who they were talking with.
It says in Luke 24:27, “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them, and their eyes were open and they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight.
27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. (Luke 24:27-31, ESV)
They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”
32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32, ESV)
I so wish that this Bible study sermon was recorded for us because this is spirit-filled preaching. It’s not expositional. It’s not verse by verse. It’s not like mechanical and technical.
It is Jesus from cover to cover, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, showing how every scripture from Moses to the prophets points back to himself. And how do you know that you may meet Jesus?
Not that your head is stimulated and you’re learning facts about Jesus, but your heart is burning. It happened to me a Sunday ago or two Sundays ago. It was three in the morning on Sunday and I had no idea what I was going to do. going to preach. I was so sleepy and I wanted to give up. And thankfully, I have an afternoon service. So, if I give up on Sunday morning, I wake up, I still have a few hours that I can rely on. And this Sunday, I didn’t have that.
And I was so, I was just struggling, Lord, what do you want to say? And then, just instantly, He met me. And He showed me the passage about the salt that has lost its taste. And if it loses its taste, it’s useless. You should just throw it away. And the Lord met me in that moment and my heart began to burn. And within five minutes, I had the message. And then I preached. And to me, that’s what I’m looking for. Every time I open up Scripture, I’m looking for that encounter with Jesus.
So, that my heart burns. That I’ve met Him. I’m not meeting Him through my mind because I tend to be academic. And that was my previous exposure to Scripture. I went to church. I grew up in church. It was so boring. It was so boring. My heart was not burning. My mind was turned off. I was falling asleep. I was a kid. And so, my parents just brought me. I just did it out of habit. But definitely, I didn’t have this type of Luke 24 encounter. I went to college.
I threw away my faith because I did not see Jesus growing up in the home. It was just a Sunday routine that we went to… went through. And so, when I went to church… went to college, I said, forget this. This is not truth. This is not meaningful. It doesn’t… it’s not relevant for a 17-year-old, 18-year-old. And so, I just dove into the world. I want to enjoy myself. I’ll get drunk. I’ll go to parties. I did that for a year. Thankfully, the Lord intervened. He met me. I was about to leave.
live with some frat boys, and maybe I would have been lost at that point if I ended up living with those guys. But the person who had our rent money, he was a day late paying the rent. This was up in the Bay Area. And the landowner said, I don’t trust you guys. Because she interviewed us. She interviewed all these students on the campus. And we wore suits. We said we’re premed. So she thought we were trustworthy, reliable people. And then the person who had our rent checks, he was a day late.
She threw us out on the street. And so we were homeless for the summer. I was taking summer school. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I spent time in different places. I ended up in a house filled with about 20 Christian brothers. And God saved me through that reintroduction into true faith. And I remember the day that I met Jesus. And it was exactly like Luke 24. The pastor was preaching, talking about sinfulness. And the Holy Spirit started to convict me. My heart was starting to come alive.
I had this sensation of burning. And so when he said, whoever wants to give their life to the Lord, at the end of the service, it was as if I’m the only person in the room. It’s like a spotlight was shining on me. And everything else went dark. And I could hear the shepherd’s voice calling by my name. Ray, come forth. Give your life to me. And I gave my life to him. This is November 1993. And it was this type of burning encounter with the Lord Jesus.
What is the biggest obstacle to having an authentic, consistent, faithful connection with the Lord Jesus? What is the biggest obstacle for an authentic, consistent, faithful connection and belief in the Lord Jesus?
It’s a passage that we read, John 5:41-47. It is, we are seeking the glory from men. When we seek the glory from one another, from that point, spiritually, our eyes close. Our heart closes. We cannot perceive the things of God any longer if we are seeking glory from one another.
Because these were experts of scripture, Jesus, He knows the hearts of men. He sees into their heart. He’s saying, “This is the problem. The reason why you cannot see me as your Savior that you’re reading about, teaching about every week at the synagogue, is because you seek the glory from man.” And if we seek the glory from man, from that point forward, our eyes are shut.
After I got saved, I had a wonderful season with the Lord Jesus, where I just couldn’t, I was in love.
And before that, I grew up in the 80s, and so for me, I thought love was through a woman. And I would listen to Peter Cetera and REO Speedwagon, and I was in my room. I’m imagining I’m in a dungeon. One day, God will, I will set myself free from this dungeon, and I will meet a woman of my dreams. I will sweep her up, and that will be salvation for me. That is how, in the 1980s, with all the romantic music, that’s how I thought my life would pan out.
And I met the love of my life, November 1993. He swept me off my feet and I couldn’t stop fellowshipping with him and loving on him and being in his presence. So between classes, I’m just reading his word. After classes, I’m going to Berkeley Marina. I’m sitting by the rocks and you see the San Francisco Bay and I’m seeing the lost San Francisco City. I’m praying for the city. And every lunch, I’m evangelizing my friends, every lunch, or I’m meeting with a brother and we’re encouraging each other in the faith.
And it was that type of intentional living that happened, and I was the shyest kid. I was the shyest kid. I could tell you some embarrassing stories, but I won’t, but I was the shyest kid. So, for me to be here is a mini miracle. Public speaking is the last thing on earth I would ever want to do. I’m perfectly fine sitting back there where Sister Barbara is. I’m comfortable in the back row.
And yet, the Lord, He started changing my heart. And He said, “you got to talk about me.”
You got to preach this. And I did, naturally, because my heart burned. I didn’t, no one had to tell me to do it. It was just burning and it’s just coming out. How can it not come out?
And then a thing happened as I graduated. People saw my zeal for the Lord and they said, “Why don’t you come and serve the college students as part of this church?” And that was when things went south very quickly. Because I started becoming man-centered.
It was, it happened to be a very man-centered church, and it was always glory from one another. Like, who is evangelizing the most? Who is doing the best? And if you’re not doing the best, like, you’re like nobody. It’s that kind of an environment.
After I had that wonderful season with the Lord, now I’m, I’m like working for the church. And, and, and it’s like this type of glory of man seeking. And for that long stretch, for decades, spiritually, my eyes were closed.
And I look back, why did it happen?
It’s because of John 5. I wanted my pastor, my leader, to approve of me. Before, it was like when I’m a little kid, it’s like I want my parents to approve of me.
As I got a little older, okay, that’s no longer interesting. I want to, I want my friends to approve of me. And then maybe one day a girl to, to like me.
And now that I’m growing up in the church, now I want people in the church to think well of me.
And I want, I want to be approved in the church. And it is the glory of man that was, that caused me to lose touch with my Savior for a long stretch, for a long stretch. But Jesus is such a good shepherd.
When one of His sheep gets lost, what do we read in Luke 15? He comes to find, He comes looking for us. And Jesus came looking for me. And He found me. And He put me back on the path of loving Jesus and proclaiming the name of Jesus.
And so, I asked the Lord, “How can I live a life that pleases you, Father? At the end of my life, I want to hear from you. I want to hear from Jesus, ‘you’ve done well. Good job.’ What kind of life should I lead? Like, if everyone in the world thinks I’m great, does that guarantee that God will lead me?”
And so, I asked the Lord, “How can I live a life that pleases you, Father? Will God think I’ve done a good job?”
Is it possible that everybody in the world can think I’m a loser? And yet, God can say, “you’ve done well.” John 12:26 is the answer that the Lord gave me.
How can we live a life that seeks the glory of the one and only God? John 12:26 is, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me, and where I am there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him, will glorify him.”
26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:26, ESV)
How will the Father say, “Good job, Ray,” if I’ve spent my life following Jesus?
Not following ideas about Jesus, not following a program related to Jesus, but following Jesus. Wherever Jesus is, and I’m with him, then the Father honors me and says, you’ve done well. So it may not be my choice how my life turns out or what season I’m currently in, but as long as I’m discerning, Jesus says, I’m here, Ray, do this with me. Father says, I honor you, Ray, because you’re following my son, you’re listening to my son.
That is the only way we can guarantee at the end of our lives, our Father will say, “you’ve done well.” Another way to put it is John 1:38. Jesus is starting to call some of the disciples who eventually became apostles.
John 1:38: Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi,” which means teacher, “where are you staying?”
38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” , “where are you staying?” (John 1:38, ESV)
And as we approach Christmas, there may be many things on your wish list.
But as a believer, there should be one thing and one thing only that we should answer. What are we seeking? What do we really want? And we should say, it’s you, Lord Jesus. It’s you, Lord Jesus. I want you, Lord Jesus. I want to follow you, Lord Jesus. I want to abide in you, Lord Jesus. I want to remain with you, Lord Jesus. Wherever you go, I’m there. It may not be where I want to be, but if you’re there, I want to be with you. Because I’m seeking you, Lord Jesus. Where are you staying?
I’ll go there. If it’s Culver City, I’ll go there. I don’t know why, but Lord, you sent me here. I’ll go there. If you’re there, Lord Jesus, I’ll be with where you are.
What are you seeking? The Lord is asking all of us today.
John 1:29. The next day, he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, ESV)
And then John 1:35. The next day, again, John was standing with two of his disciples.
And he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. (John 1:35-37, ESV)
As Baptists, we love John the Baptist. In this passage, these verses are talking about John the Baptist. And John the Baptist had a thriving ministry until Jesus came. His ministry was just to prepare the way. Just make a straight path for the Lord. Baptism and repentance. That was John the Baptist’s ministry. It was thriving as soon as Jesus came.
John the Baptist’s assignment was over. And I appreciate his heart.
He is not seeking the glory of man. You can see it through His response. When Jesus arrives, John the Baptist says, “Okay, I’ve done my part. Look to Him. Jesus, look to Him.” When his own, John the Baptist’s own disciples who are trained up, so these are His church members. When, when He says, “Behold the Lamb of God,” the two people go and follow Jesus. He didn’t say, “No, where are you going? Stay with me.” He doesn’t say that. I so appreciate the fact that John the Baptist is leading and providing this type of example.
He says, “I’m, I’m not about the glory of man. I’m not trying to become famous in the eyes of this world. It’s not about how big my ministry is.” He says, “Let me, let me just point to the Savior. Oh, He’s here. There He is. Go follow Him.”
It wasn’t just John the Baptist who had this heart. It was also Apostle Paul. 1 Corinthians 2:1 says, “And when I came to you, brothers, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.”
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, (1 Corinthians 2:1-3, ESV)
And my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5, ESV)
Oh, Paul was a learned man. He was an educated man. He had many degrees. But when he met Jesus, he said, all of it’s rubbish. All of it’s rubbish.
This will not enhance the ministry of the kingdom. I got to throw it all away. And he said, “I need to be trained a different way directly by the resurrected Jesus who he went away with in Arabia for three years.” I bet he was meeting the Lord Jesus for those three years.
And now he comes in his ministry and he says, “When I’m with you, what was I talking about? I didn’t want to know anything except this one thing. I knew nothing except one thing. I preached one message, Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2, ESV)
And he says, “I’m not clever like other wise men. I’m not using any gimmicks. I’m not throwing in my academic knowledge in the sermon. That’s not the kind of message I was preaching.”
Actually, when people listen to Paul, they might think he’s not a great speaker. They might not think he’s so impressive. He says, “I’m not trying to impress people.”
He says, instead, “I came with the power, with the Spirit of God and with power.” And he says, it was deliberate so that the faith would not be in Paul, the minister, the preacher.
It would be on God himself, Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:3. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
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.
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 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. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4, ESV)
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake.
For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:5-6, ESV)
We see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We gaze upon the glory of God, the fullness of God, in the face of Jesus Christ. There’s nobody else to look to.
No pastor, no theologian, not your favorite speaker on youTube, there’s nobody else to look to except Jesus Christ because you see the fullness of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So if you and I want to get to the end of our lives and hear the words, well done, well done, how can we do that? By seeking the glory that comes from the only God, not from man.
We need to shut out the noise because there’s a lot of Satan will pull us back into this game of seeing how we’re received by men, what have we achieved by this age and midlife crisis, all of this is because we’re seeing this pull of man-centered living. If you fall into that trap spiritually, you become blind. Instead we say none of that matters, let’s just shut out the noise and we focus on Jesus Christ and we follow Jesus and God says that man, that woman, I will honor. Okay, let’s pray.
God’s word says, Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me.”
20 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, ESV)
Father, we thank you for your message. We understand now that the number one obstacle for having an authentic, consistent, faithful faith in the Lord Jesus is because we seek the glory of people. We care so much about what people think, think about us, what they say about us. If they reject us, we want to prove them wrong.
We want to silence them. We want to vindicate our worthiness. There’s so many traps of the enemy that want us to know the scripture inside and out and yet be thoroughly man-centered and utterly blind. Father, we reject this type of living. We want to be Christ-centered. We want to be God-centered. We want to say, Lord Jesus, where are you going? Where are you staying? I’ll go there. Jesus, I want to follow you. I want to live for you. I want to serve you. I want to remain with you.
I want to trust in you and follow you all of my days. That is the only guarantee, Father, that when we reach the end of our lives, we will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Son, daughter, you’ve done well. You followed my son. You listened to my son. You exalted the name of my son. You’ve done well. Thank you, good job. Now, enter into heaven and spend eternity with the resurrected Lord Jesus, whom you’ve been waiting for.” Jesus, you’re knocking on the door.
door of all of our hearts this morning, we pray that those who don’t know you personally would open up their hearts and say, Lord Jesus, I surrender and repent. May you come in. May you rule and reign. I want to eat with you. I want to fellowship with you. Wherever you are, that’s where I want to be. I want to start a relationship with you, starting from this moment. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
And I’ll be right here if you would like to receive prayer, if you’d like to accept Christ as your personal Savior, Lord, if you’d like to get baptized by immersion, if you’d like to become a member of this church, please come forward. I’d love to pray with you.