John 3:11 “speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen”

“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.” Reference: John 3:11

I recently noticed that I am now able to speak and testify about Christ Jesus without shame. This was not always true for me. I had this hesitation and uneasiness about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I now understand that my shame and discomfort was not about Jesus, but about the churches that I had been involved with. I felt pain about the discrepancy between church life and God’s will. I would look at the words of Jesus, then look at the church, and then feel sorrow. I wanted to share the Good News of Jesus with people in need of salvation, but I kept finding myself sadly making excuses for church theology and practices. Then, I read the 24 points of the 1995 Mennonite Confession and realized that it was OK to be embarrassed about the churches I had once called home, because their thinking and behavior did not line up with God’s will as I read it and understood it from the Bible. I now call myself a Mennonite, even though I lack a near-by Mennonite church. I am pleased to say that I can say YES! When reading Romans 1:16 (NASV), “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” because I “can speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen.”

I thank God for leading my wife and me to the discovery of Mennonite and Anabaptist faith and practice. Amen!

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Welcome to a new contributor

I’d like to welcome John P. Thomas as a new contributor to the “a simple desire” weblog. John’s been prolific in his comments recently, and I’m excited about his joining as a co-author.

Best,

Will Fitzgerald

What ever happened to Nicodemus?

Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. (John 3:11)

This comes in the middle of the late-night conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the ruling council. Nicodemus professes he doesn’t understand what it means for a person to be born from above, born of the spirit. But Jesus won’t allow him to simply profess ignorance: Jesus says he and his disciples have been speaking plainly about what they had experienced and knew, and there were those–Nicodemus included–who seemed  purposely and willingly obtuse, preferring the darkness they knew to the light coming into the world.

This seems harsh. But Jesus is not dealing with trifiles about the theology of spiritual regeneration, but the very real chance that Nicodemus and others like him would miss the opportunity to be part of God’s kingdom, and sometimes (but only sometimes) strong measures are needed.

We don’t really know what happens to Nicodemus. He speaks a good word in Jesus’s favor as Jesus’s life became increasingly in danger (John 7:50-51), and, and Jesus’s death, he helps prepare Jesus’s body for burial (John 19:39). One charitably hopes that Nicodemus did see the light. But some prefer to remain on the edges of things, and maybe he never did enter in.

A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill:
O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master’s will!

Arm me with jealous care,
As in Thy sight to live;
And O Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!

Help me to watch and pray,
And on Thyself rely,
Assured, if I my trust betray,
I shall for ever die.

(by Charles Wesley)