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Do Nothing of Ourselves

(emphasis added)

Doing the will of God is essential to being saved. Some people believe and teach that man can do nothing in order to be saved (Calvinistic approach). Not so, according to the Lord:

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matt 7:21-23

We see from above passage, “many” people have their own ideas about doing the will of God, and will be very surprised at judgment. How can we be sure we are doing the will of God? We need to look to Jesus for the answer. He said that he came to do the will of his Father in heaven.

“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” John 4:34

Paul said that when Jesus came to earth “God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim 3:16), and Paul further said that “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead [deity] bodily” Col 2:9). But he humbled himself and came in the role of a servant of God:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Phil 2:5-8

Being the servant of God, he experienced the same problems as we do, and “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). How was he able to do this? Let’s look primarily in the book of John, which is rich in revealing the nature and wisdom of Jesus, and consequently, the nature and wisdom of God. First, we see Jesus set his heart to please his Father: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).

Hereafter we will show that Jesus, the servant of God, dedicated himself to please the Father and do his will:

He did nothing of himself -- but did just those things that the Father directed him to do. He imitated his Father and did what he did.

And he judged nothing of himself – but judged all things by what God said.

And he spoke nothing of himself -- but spoke just what the Father taught him to say.

As a result of Jesus following that pattern – he was perfectly united with his Father and pleased Him in all things. And to please God, we are told to follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus, because Jesus walked in the footsteps of his Father:

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:” 1 Peter 2:21-23

We can never please God, if we choose to walk in our own way. The prophet Jeremiah said:

“O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Jer 10:23

So, let’s look in detail about Jesus’ way to please his Father. He always totally and strictly followed the will of his Father in heaven. The book of John is filled with statements where Jesus would absolutely refuse to do, judge, or say anything “of himself.”

Firstly, His own will had to be set aside -- he determined to “do nothing of himself”

“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” John 5:19

For clarification, this phrase, “The Son can do nothing of himself” sometimes appears, as in John 5:30, in the form of “I can of mine own self do nothing” (in the KJV). This is also translated as “I can do nothing on My own initiative” (in the NASV). And is translated as “I can do nothing on my own authority” (in the RSV).

So, Jesus never acted on his own, “of himself.” He never acted on his own, on his own initiative, or on his own authority. He always followed his Father’s lead, like a child imitates his Father. Jesus told the Jews, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). But understand that no man was ever more qualified to act “of himself” if he had so chosen – called Immanuel [God with us] at birth (Matt 1:23), was God [Deity] manifested in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16), and had in him all the treasures of wisdom & knowledge (Col 2:1-3).

But Jesus in the role of a servant chose to “do nothing of himself: but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). In so doing Jesus was confident -- that as a result of always following his Father’s lead -- God would be with him – and would not leave him alone.

“And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” John 8:29

Secondly, as a servant of God, concerning Jesus’ judgments about what he should say and do – he once again said that “I can of mine own self do nothing.”

“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” John 5:30

Jesus was confident -- that when, of his own self, he would “do nothing,” his judgment would be just and he would be doing the will of God. So as a servant of God – He always carefully made judgments based on what he heard from the Father. “As I hear, I judge.” Jesus absolutely refused to make judgments by his own authority.

Today, many people act according to their own judgment as to what to do and say, and don't follow the will of God – this is the reason we have so many religious groups. Many times, men do what they want to do when it comes to the worship of God.

For instance, the New Testament authorizes Christians in ten different verses to sing and make melody in our heart to the Lord.

“And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” Matt 26:30

“And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” Mark 14:26

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” Acts 16:25

“And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.” Rom 15:9

“What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” 1 Cor 14:15

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” Eph 5:19-20

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Col 3:16

“For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” Heb 2:11-12

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Heb 13:15

“Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” James 5:13

But some people make a judgment that it will be beneficial to make melody on mechanical instruments of music in worship (because they say they like it, or that they think it improves the mood). Actually, the use of instruments of music in worship did not become a practice for centuries after Christ. It was borrowed from the carnally oriented worship found in the Old Testament.

Reference: “Instruments In Worship.” Source: The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, General Editor

“Instrumental music was an essential feature of Hebrew worship. The early Christian church, however, rejected instrumental music, largely because of the pagan associations of many instruments. Thus, its church music consisted of exclusively unaccompanied singing. Later centuries again saw the use of instruments in worship, especially the organ. In the twentieth century, music for worship has been accompanied by the widest variety of instruments playing in a wide variety of styles.”

Also, some men make a judgment that it will be beneficial in worship to have feast days, candles, incense, ceremonial washings, and ecclesiastic robes in worship (because they think it will help to direct the mind to God). Once Again, all these things are borrowed from the carnally oriented worship imposed on the Israelites in the Old testament until the time of reformation.

Heb 9:9-10 “Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.”

Rather, in worship to God, we with Jesus should say, “I can of mine own self do nothing.” As we hear what God’s word says, we should make the judgment that this is what is pleasing to Him.

“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” John 5:30

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John 17:17

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Prov 3:5-6

Thirdly, as a servant of God, concerning his mission of coming to earth, Jesus said, “I am not come of myself.”

“Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.” John 7:28-29

“Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” John 8:42

So, Jesus did not come of his own initiative or authority, but was sent by God. He wasn’t sent to earth to build an earthly empire with an earthly throne.

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” John 18:36-37

He was sent by the Father to seek and to save the lost. This was his work (see below):

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” John 9:4

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

Concerning the mission of the church, each one of us also should say, I am not come of myself into God’s kingdom to do what I please. We should “do nothing” of ourselves, but only as the word of God directs us.

The Lord’s churches (congregations) have been commissioned by the word of God to serve as the pillar and ground of the truth, to uphold and support preaching of the truth that men will be saved and saints edified.

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Tim 3:15

“Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.” 2 Cor 11:7-8

And, also the churches are directed by the word of God to care for the needy saints.

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” 1 Cor 16:1-2

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:” 2 Cor 9:1

So, we are not come of ourselves and should do nothing of ourselves, but by God’s direction preach the word and minister to the needy saints. God has not authorized the church to build recreational facilities, or kitchens and fellowship halls, or get involved in social projects, turning the church into a poor man’s country club (as is the manner of some).

Families and children have a need for social and recreational activities, and we do have the home, the school, the community, and many social and recreational organizations for such (not sponsored by the church).

Fourthly -- As a servant of God, concerning Jesus’ words that he spoke, he said, “I do nothing of myself” -- he only carefully spoke as the Father directed him.

“I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” John 8:26-28

“I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.” John 8:38

So as a servant of God – Jesus did not speak anything of himself, as he said: “I have not spoken of myself” (KJV), “on my own initiative” (NASV), “on my own authority” (RSV) – but always carefully spoke just what his Father taught him to speak.

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” John 12:48-50

“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.” John 14:10

“He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.” John 14:24

As we also speak, we should be able to say, I have not spoken of myself, but as the Scriptures of God speak, I so speak.

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” I Peter 4:11 [utterances of God,Thayer]

And we need to do this voluntarily and willingly, and with a love for God. We don’t want to be like Caiaphas, the wicked high priest, who unwittingly “spake he not of himself” but prophesied (by the hand of God) that Jesus would have to die for the people (see John 11:47-52).

Unfortunately, when men speak today about Jesus and the Bible, all too many times they add/interject their own uninspired, speculative, private interpretations into the text and change entirely the meaning of the passages. The apostle Peter warned us about this:

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:19-21

Note that God’s inspired word is a sure word. It didn’t come by the will of man. It didn’t come through some man’s private interpretation. When men interject their own uninspired, speculative, private interpretations into the text, they change the Scriptures into a text of their own making, and it becomes no longer sure. It becomes a text of their own will, not the will of God.

An example of men interjecting their own private interpretations into God’s teaching is what we see them doing on the subject of justification, and is as follows: “Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort” (Reference Article IX, Discipline of the Methodist church. Also reference Article V of Hiscox’s Standard Manual for Baptist Churches for similar claim). What the Bible actually says is as follows (and as in a multitude of other passages):

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” Rom 5:1

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” James 2:21-24

But, we see that men have interjected their own private interpretations into God’s teaching, and have added the word “only” to God’s word, and this change directly contradicts the word of God.

Another private interpretation interjected by men into God’s teaching is on the subject of grace and is as follows: “We believe the Scriptures teach that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace” (Reference Article IV of Hiscox’s Standard Manual for Baptist Churches). What the Bible actually says is as follows:

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” Eph 2:5

But men have interjected their own private interpretations, and have added the word “wholly” to God’s word. “Wholly” is actually added as a hand-me-down doctrine of Calvinism, which says that man is totally incapable of doing anything toward his salvation (Total Hereditary Depravity). That is the foundation of the Calvinistic TULIP theory.

What the Bible actually says is that we are saved by a number of things, as follows:

“by grace ye are saved” Eph 2:5 [grace saves]

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” Mark 16:16 [belief and baptism save]

“And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” Luke 7:50 [faith saves]

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:17 [Jesus saves]

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21 [calling on the name of the Lord saves]

“… Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” Acts 2:40 [save yourselves]

“Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” Acts 11:14 [words save]

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” Acts 16:31 [belief saves]

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Rom 5:10 [Jesus’ life saves]

“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” Rom 8:24 [hope saves]

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel ………. By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” 1 Cor 15:1-2 [the gospel saves]

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5 [Salvation is based on God’s mercy – not based on our goodness]

“… receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:21 [word saves]

“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” 1 Peter 3:21 [baptism saves]

So we see that Jesus said “I have not spoken of myself,” but spoke just what the Father told him to speak. And to insure the accurate delivery of God’s word to man -- Jesus sent the Holy Spirit (the revealer of God’s word) to the Apostles to guide them into all truth.

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16:13-15

Jesus said that concerning the delivery of the Word, the Holy Spirit also would honor the Father. And Jesus said concerning the Holy Spirit “he shall not speak of himself.” He would not interject himself into the word and speak of his own authority – but he would accurately deliver to the Apostles the word that Jesus received from the Father – and in so doing he would glorify Jesus (who glorified God).

And when the Apostles delivered the word, the truth (as inspired by the Spirit) in the New Testament – they used the very words given by the Spirit -- to make it truly the word of God.

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Cor 2:13

And as a result of this meticulous care -- the will of God has been accurately delivered to us -- called the perfect law of liberty

“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:25

And we have a complete and perfect guide in matters of faith and practice (untainted by men).

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Tim 3:16-17

So, let us cling to the Spirit inspired word of God, and never add to or take away from it.

Jesus never claimed that the doctrine he taught was his own, but rather the Father’s. He said, “My doctrine is not mine.” And he said he would not speak of himself, because that would seek glory for himself and not for the glory of God.

“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” John 7:16-18

The wicked Jews followed the example of their father, the devil, and got in real trouble.

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:41-44

Never imitate the devil! The devil is just the opposite of Jesus. The devil does speak of himself, and not of God! “He speaketh of his own.” He added one word to God’s word, and told Eve “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen 3:4), and changed the truth of God into a huge lie. Do not speak of our own, or we will be found a liar like the devil.

We need to follow the example of Jesus -- and very carefully and meticulously:

Do nothing of ourselves -- but do just those things that the Father directs in His word (John 5:19)

And judge nothing of ourselves – but judge all things by what God says in his word (John 5:30)

And speak nothing of ourselves -- but speak just as the Father has taught us in His word (John 8:26-28).

As a result of Jesus following that pattern – He was perfectly united with his Father.

“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. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” John 17:20-23

If the World would follow that pattern, there would be no religious division. The Father has spoken through his Son Jesus (see Heb 1:1-2). “Hear ye him” (Matt 17:5).

Allan Martin

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