Want to start a big fight? Call someone a liar. Better wear a football helmet and a Kevlar vest if you try that line. It’s amazing how something as ubiquitous as lying bothers us so much. Research shows that people do it several times a day. It is even posited that lying may be a form of social lubricant that facilitates normal, effective relationships in our society. Some researchers believe that strict honesty can actually be detrimental to relationships. Yet we hate discovering that we’ve been had or defamed. Lies hurt and according to the book of Proverbs, God hates lying with a passion. Look at these two passages:
These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16 – 6:19 KJV)
Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight (Proverbs 12:22 KJV)
It seems clear that God is not fond of lying. Here he uses the term abomination. The definition of abomination is “a thing that causes hatred or disgust.” To God, lying is as disgusting as the stench of garbage and on par with idol worship. The Bible goes so far as to say that God is the very antithesis of lying. In John 14: 6, Jesus declares himself to be the truth. The Bible goes further to say, in Hebrews:
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: (Hebrews 6:17 – 6:18 KJV)
So we see two important facts; God hates lying and God cannot lie because he is the truth. This is the backdrop for my discussion in this post. You probably think my title is blasphemous. One shouldn’t joke about God! Well, this is not a joke and you’ll soon see why the title is both serious an accurate.
If you turn to John 14, you will find one of the most tense exchanges ever between Jesus and his disciples. The discussion began in the previous chapter and now escalates. In this segment, Jesus spins off a series of bold statements and major promises in response to statements and questions from Peter, Thomas, and Phillip. We’ll look at those later. Then in verse 13, we read the most troubling statement in all scripture:
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it (John 14:13 – 14:14 KJV)
I’ll bet it’s silent on your side of the screen. You’re probably practicing some spiritual version of “if you ain’t got nothin’ good to say, don’t say nothin’.” I’m asking you to be brutally honest as we deal with this topic. You’re not sure how to relate to that passage. You don’t want to doubt God, but you have prayed, said “in the name of Jesus” and you didn’t get the loan. You did the same and that loved one died. You tried it and whatever you asked did not come to pass. You examined all the parameters outlined in the promise and hunted for any open or hidden rebellion and things seemed to be on point. The only conclusion is: God lied. How could that be? You probably think I’m about to jump into defender-of-God mode, but I’m not. He can afford a much better lawyer than me. So I’m not going to waggle my finger in your face and tell you that if you are confused about what the word is saying it’s your problem, not God’s. Where does that leave you? I want to share some insight and hope in this post that will challenge you and encourage you.
What You Need to Know
If we start with the premise that the word is truth and true, what does Jesus mean in this verse and why doesn’t it work for us? First, we have to start with some foundational understandings. Without these, we have no basis for discussion. In this domain certain facts are undebatable: As we saw, Jesus is the truth and God cannot lie. The word of God is truth and Jesus is the Word. God is love and wants us to share in the joy and power that are his, as his children. God gives gifts to his children and he delights in being our father. He gives wisdom, liberally. He loves us beyond all human measure.
With all this in mind, Jesus made a bold, unambiguous promise that few of us have seen fulfilled. Why? Could it be that we are focused on the smallest part of the passage? There is a HUGE point Jesus is making here and we are doubting God’s honesty and perhaps his existence, based on a somewhat shallow reading of his word. We have become cynical about the veracity of the word and we respond to it negatively but in politically correct ways in public, all the while doubting it and avoiding it in our private moments.
We keep the Word like those old console TV/radio/stereos they used to make. Eventually, they broke down and didn’t work, but it was nice furniture so we kept it in the living room to hold pictures and potted plants. In our thinking, the Word doesn’t work, but it’s great devotional poetry, makes a great impression sitting on the coffee table, and looks good on Facebook with golden sunsets, angel wings, and doves.
Let’s go back a bit to John 14:4 to start connecting some dots. Jesus says this: “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him” (John 14:4 – 14:7 KJV)
In this statement about where he’s going and the way, Jesus initiates a discussion. The discourse becomes fiercely interactive. Thomas and Philip are fed up with the cryptic comments and want concrete revelations from Jesus. Jesus just told them that they know something and they push back saying, “No, we don’t!” Remember where their minds were and you’ll understand how confused they felt at that moment. All that week, every event pointed to Jesus setting up his kingdom. With that in mind, the disciples were planning their futures in the new royal court–wouldn’t you? But as their minds turned to thrones and crowns, Jesus spoke of crosses, death and leaving. Why is he talking about this stuff and how can you be leaving when YOUR new kingdom is about to start? So as events moved in the direction of triumph, Jesus’ words went somewhere else, which brought the confusion to a boil. This direct and unvarnished debate leads to Jesus’ most powerful description of the father’s intent for the relationship he wants with us. In this section, we see the background for the promise he made. But let’s look at a set of verses that help us understand God’s desire and the promises Jesus made:
My Father, which gave them (his sheep) me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one (John 10:29 – 10:30 KJV)
If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him (John 14:7 KJV)
Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake (John 14:8 – 14:11 KJV)
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (John 17:20 – 17:21 KJV)
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me (John 6:53 – 6:57 KJV)
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love (John 15:5 – 15:9 KJV)
The Oneness Factor
Do you see the point? Here is a critical factor in the misunderstanding that leads us to believe that God has lied to us. Getting what we ask for is the fruit of a relationship that is steadily growing tighter and stronger with trust and confidence flowing back and forth so that it’s hard to tell where God ends and we begin. We get what we ask because we are so full of God that it’s no longer a request; it’s really God working out his desires through us. At that point you realize the glory and power of the flow that happens as a result of your oneness with the Godhead. All barriers are gone. All impediments of unbelief are obliterated.
But here’s the other aspect of this promise; these prayers are matters of community. God wants to set up a web of power, a network of love that amplifies and projects his saving grace to a lost and hungry world and ricochets from one saint to another. The love and power of the father flow unrestricted through every aspect of our lives. This is what Paul meant when he said in Philippians 2 that it is God working in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. This is what Jesus spoke of in his promise. This is why the promise is not a lie. Oneness is God’s passionate desire 24/7. How passionate are we about oneness with him or more importantly, with each other? Our oneness with each other, through him, is how the world learns to believe in him. He has made crystal clear what his desire is. He is working now to fit us for fulfillment of that great promise in John 14:13.
Chosen and Ordained
When we judge God and his word as untrue or faulty, we put ourselves in his place. We seat ourselves on the throne and pronounce him as unfit to lead us. We declare that we know truth better than truth himself. This is why Jesus took the time to set the relationship parameters straight. Take a look at this passage from John 15:
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another (John 15:16 – 15:17 KJV)
Though he spoke of his 12 disciples, what he says applies to us today. The relationship with God is his doing, not ours. But we are not just chosen by him, we are ordained as well. Ordination is not what we think. The original word carries the meaning of being put in a prostrate position or on your back looking up. The idea is that submission to oneness is like submitting to re-creation. Just as Adam lay prostrate before the creator before the breath of life was breathed into him, we also must die to self-will and lie prostrate before God forgiven, humble and ready to receive the breath of life.
The prostrate position is the submission to or obedience to his commands. The obedience is the evidence of the growing oneness. Obedience is the definition Jesus gave of abiding in him as he abides in his father and his father abides in him. So we must abide in him and he, in turn, abides in us. And note that Jesus’ concern here is the issue of love as the supreme test of obedience.
Tying Things Together
I’ll conclude with this. What would happen if we put as much emphasis and weight on oneness, submission, abiding, and cleansing as we do on receiving? Most often we call for fulfillment of the promise that if we ask anything in Jesus name, he will do it. when we are facing a panic. It is then that we realize that the quality of our bond with him and our fellow believers is shallow and shaky. At that point, we either pour on the emotion to force the issue or we pray a vague, sheepish prayer not believing there is much of a chance we’ll get a response. Then we accuse him of lying to us when in reality, we know we have no oneness with him or our brothers and sisters, which is the channel for the fulfillment of the promise. We then make the promise void and God a liar in the public arena.
If we want to see this promise in John 14:13-14 become a reality, It time to focus on our oneness with him and the believers. This is a supernatural work that will require an intensity of prayer above all that you have done before. Engaged this way, we’ll never see him as a liar again!