The question is sort of an enigma or even an oxymoron. We wonder how this could be true, but it is sadly to say frequently true. Too often it is difficult to distinguish Christian believers from non-Christians. Why? Values and behaviors seem similar. Church groups are plagued with the same problems as secular groups. Christians are promised a new life in Christ but sometimes this new life is not much different from the old life of the world.
The apostle Paul confronts this condition in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 3:1. “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ.” Two thousand years later this same condition exists. Paul identifies some believers as “worldly Christians” who are like infants in spiritual development. Their guide for living is the ways of the world rather than the way of Christ. They are friends of Jesus but not true followers. Jesus is their Savior but not yet their Lord. The Bible is not their instruction book for life. They stay tuned to the message of the culture not the Word of God. They do not renew their minds with the Scriptures.
When we come by faith to know Jesus as our Savior, we are led by the Holy Spirit into a new life. The Bible calls it being ‘born again’. We have a new purpose, serving God and building His kingdom. We have a new joy, forgiveness of sin. We have a new power, the Holy Spirit. We have a new life, one that is good, pleasing, and eternal. It is a transformation that is as real as a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. Worldly Christians are intended to be transformed into the spiritual Christians, new creations in Christ, His ambassadors.
In this era of political correctness and so-called religious tolerance we are led to believe that all religions lead to God and we often hear it said, “we are all children of God.” Unfortunately, this is not true.
It is completely correct to say “we are all loved by God”. God “created us in His Image from before time began”, formed us “fearfully and wonderfully” in our mothers’ womb, knew us “before one of our days came to be”, and loves us with an unconditional, everlasting love. It is quite humbling to realize that we can do absolutely nothing to make God love us more than He does now, and also there is absolutely nothing we do that will make Him love us LESS.
However, the Bible is very clear on this: “that whoever believes and receives Jesus has the right to be called a child of God.” (1 John 5:1) They are actually “born again” into God’s family, with God as their father. Trusting in Jesus is the only way for this to happen. Now we are loved as a precious child by the most loving and perfect Father who created us and knows us completely and will provide, protect and guide us. Not only this, but since you are God’s child, a member of the Royal household, you are also an heir to God’s eternal kingdom with all its rights and privileges. You are a child of the King – known, loved, gifted and cared for – now and forever.
Isn’t it wonderful to be able to relax and trust that all is well, regardless of what you see, because you know your Father is taking care of you? If you do not have that peace, you can have it today…surrender your life to Jesus, and become a child of God.
This is a very profound question and deals with both Christ’s purposes and integrates into Jewish traditions and Pharisee beliefs.
As background, the incident takes place in John11:1-43 and should be very carefully read. Jesus had two previous occasions where He brought dead people back to life; Darius daughter in Mark 5:35-43 and the widow of Nain’s son in Luke 7:11-17.
In each of these cases the dead person had been dead for a short period, one day or less. Hence, the Pharisees were saying they were only ‘sleeping’ or in a coma or such and were not really dead. Most significantly however is the Jewish tradition and teaching that a dead person’s spirit remains over the body for a period of three days after death and then departs.
Now with Lazarus, Jesus was across the Jordan, a two days walk to Bethany where Lazarus’s body lay. When the messengers came reporting all to Him, Jesus deliberately remained and did NOT begin his return to Bethany. When He finally did arrive FOUR days after burial, not three, to negate any doubts by the Pharisees, Lazarus was already embalmed with spices and wrapped with burial strips and in his tomb. It was then He called him out of the tomb and Lazarus was returned to life, with his burial wrappings still on him. Lazarus, alive again, became a part of the Jerusalem believers’ group.
This incontrovertible miracle so marveled and infuriated the Pharisees that that they now began their plan to have Jesus killed. Read about it in John 11:45-54.
Perhaps the best answer to your question is that stated by Jesus, as recorded in John 11:42, in His reply to His previous statement, John 11:11, “…I am going there to wake him up” which is “…I said this for the benefit of the people standing here that they may believe that You [the Father] sent Me.”
Do you have the joy of being committed to Jesus as your Savior and know for certain that you have eternal life? You can. Just invite Him into your life today. He is waiting. None of us know if we have tomorrow!