Know Where You Came From—Know Where You're Going
Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true.
For I know from where I came, and where I go… [John 8:14]
Oh, how we can overlook incredible and important truths in the word of God! I bet I'd read this verse a hundred times; and until I heard it as a part of a teaching, did I finally receive revelation from it. Understanding such a simple statement from the Lord, I know where I came from, and I know where I am going unlocks so many doors to reaching your full potential in Christ. One key to walking in the fullness of Christ can be summed up in this passage from John 8. Jesus knew where He came from, therefore, He knew exactly who He was, and He also knew where He was going, so He wasn't concerned with receiving anything from the world. How powerful these truths are!
The purpose of my book By the Grace of God I Am What I Am was to reveal the importance of knowing who you are in Christ, but in this book, I want to share with you how this knowledge applies to realizing the victory of your new life in Christ. If you cannot grasp who you are in Christ, then how will you fulfill your purpose of being transformed into the image of Christ? Because as he is so are we in this world. [1 John 4:17] I discussed Jesus' temptation in detail in By the Grace of God I Am What I Am, but I'll summarize it for the sake of context. When the Lord was tempted in the wilderness, the devil first attacked His identity because if Jesus had not been rooted and grounded in who God said He was, He would never have fulfilled His calling. The Father had already proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God, (Matthew 10:17) so the devil's strategy was to get Jesus to doubt His identity. The devil's first words were, IF you are the Son of God… [Matthew 4:3] and then repeated the question in verse 6.
Of course, the devil had nothing in Jesus and because He knew where He came from, Jesus quickly rebuked the devil with the written word of God. Knowing His identity as the Son of God, Jesus had no reason to prove who He was—especially at the prodding of the devil. The Lord relied and trusted in what His Father had said. That was enough. Let me repeat this… Jesus heard His Father's words and trusted in them only—despite what the devil was saying. We have the word of God in the Bible and as Jesus trusted in the words of the Father, we should trust in them too.
In the last temptation in Matthew, the devil took Jesus up into a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. The devil promised to give Jesus all these things if He would fall down and worship him. (vv. 8-9) Do you think Jesus gave any thought to the devil's offer? Nope, because He knew where He came from and knew exactly where He was going. The things of the world didn't appeal to Jesus. He didn't seek honor and glory from men. Even when they tried to make Him a king, He fled into the mountains to fellowship alone with the Father (John 6:15).
Furthermore, the Lord tied our ability to believe to where we sought honor and praise as Jesus said, I receive not honor from men. How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only? [John 5:41, 44] Therefore, we should seek the honor that comes from what God has said about us in His word—especially as it concerns who we are in Him. There is no shame in seeking acceptance among men, but their acceptance or rejection of us should not be an emphasis in our lives, because as Jesus said, How can you believe?
Being a man-pleaser hinders your faith. If your goal is for everyone to like you, you're setting yourself up for failure and frustration. Even Jesus, who walked in perfect love, could not accomplish this; and if He couldn't, you can't. As Jesus lived according to what His Father said about Him, we should live the same way. God has called us highly favored and His acceptance of us in the beloved is the rock upon which we build our lives (Ephesians 1:6).
The truth of knowing where you have come from and where you are going is greater realized the night before the Lord was crucified. At the Last Supper, Jesus was with His disciples, and after eating, He washed all the disciples' feet. If you read carefully what the Scripture teaches, the Lord's actions were a byproduct of knowing who He was, what God had given Him, where He had come from, and where He was going.
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He rose from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. [John 13:3-5]
I don't know if you realize the enormity of this act of humility and love. In today's society, condemned murderers on death row are treated to a special dinner and granted special requests on their "last day." Not only had God in the flesh humbled Himself to wash the disciples' feet, but Jesus did it at the time when most men, knowing they would die the very next day, would seek to be honored by his friends. Jesus didn't say, "I'm going to Jerusalem where I will suffer many things for you. Therefore, you must prepare a great feast and honor Me because of what I will do for you."
Instead, He chose to once again humble Himself in order to teach the disciples how they should do the very same thing. After the supper, He laid aside his garments and took a towel and girded himself. Jesus laid aside the fact that He was God (His garments) and wrapped a towel (symbolic of servitude) around his waist. Jesus said, For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them. [John 13:15, 17] (See also Philippians 2:5-10)
The Lord was so very secure in who He was and where He was going, that honor and praise from men, and the things of the world were of no interest to Him. He truly defined this verse of Scripture: He has showed you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. [Micah 6:8]
Many people have been taught and believe that the example Jesus was giving them was one of humility and service, and this is true. However, we see that humility and service are fruit of what He would communicate to the disciples immediately afterward. While the Lord was able to lay aside His garments and become a servant because He knew where He had come from and where He was going, He was encouraging the disciples to do the same.
Jesus said, Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. [John 14:1-4]
Knowing the disciples were about to face the most troubling time in their lives (dealing with His death and the subsequent persecution because of Him) the Lord first said, Let not your heart be troubled. Sadly, often when I share the truth that we can either let our hearts be troubled or not—that we have a choice to doubt, fear, worry, be depressed, and give place to shame—I'm often cast as unsympathetic and without compassion. Most people don't want to hear the truth that will set them free. They want you to give them sympathy and perhaps "pray for them" that their circumstances will change.
Even though Jesus calmed the storm, and I believe that faith can move mountains in your life, I truly believe He would have preferred His disciples to simply exercise faith and let not their hearts be troubled instead of reacting in fear and accusing the Lord of not caring (Mark 4:35-41). Circumstances in our lives, especially those relating to other people and the choices they make, are not easily changed because the Lord does not force His will upon people.
However, YOU can change how you react to these circumstances, which is to your benefit and also to the benefit of the other person. Most people allow others' actions to control them, which gives the other person power. This power lies in the fact that they can trouble you. But if you let not your heart be troubled, you eliminate the power this person has over you. Do you see what great wisdom this is?
Because I don't want to change the subject of what I'm trying to teach her, I'll make this brief. I want you to consider this statement… It's not what people do or say that causes you to be hurt, angry, fearful, depressed, discouraged, but rather, it's what people do or say TO YOU that causes you to react negatively. If you were to remove YOU out of the equation, most likely, you wouldn't be bothered by what others do. Only because what others do affects YOU is why you get so upset. Most people don't get angry when a car cuts off someone else in traffic, but let them cut you off, and your temperature rises. This is why dying to self, and living for God is so important. A dead person doesn't get offended because he's dead.
The teaching of dealing with offenses doesn't come from the standpoint of the other person and their offense, but rather this teaching deals with you and how you perceive what people say or do to you. God doesn't want you to focus on changing others—that's His job—rather, He wants you to focus on Him so that you can be transformed.
So Jesus said, Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. It is clear that letting our hearts be troubled or not is a faith issue. If we believe what God's word says, then we should not let our hearts be troubled. In contrast, if we do let our heart be troubled, it means that we are not in faith, but unbelief. To give the disciples an assurance, the Lord speaks of the magnificent future in eternal life. We have eternal life now and we can experience heaven here on earth as this is the Lord's will (Matthew 6:10) but we will have the fullness of God's presence after we depart from our flesh.
God has provided healing and wholeness in your physical body here on earth. God has provided peace, joy, and prosperity while we live here on earth. The Bible says that God, according as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who has called us to glory and virtue. [2 Peter 1:3] However, we also see that some of these things like healing for example, are not manifested in the flesh as God would have it, and people die from disease. God's word also says that the life span of man is at least 70 years (Psalm 90:10), but we see that some of God's people die untimely deaths. Even though God's word and promises are true and are for us in this present world, these promises sometimes do not come to pass. God said, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. [Hosea 4:6]
However, even if these promises do not come to pass in your life here, your future is so glorious that life in this flesh pales in comparison to the glory that shall be revealed in you (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18). And this is what Jesus is talking about when He says, In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.
Every fear known to man is rooted in the fear of death. The atonement and redemption of Jesus Christ is supposed to free us from the bondage of fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15) but we see that because of unbelief in His promise of the glory that shall be revealed in us, many Christians are extremely fearful of death.
Yes, they sing the song, "When we all get to heaven what a day that will be." But if the doctor tells them they have a terminal illness, they cry like a baby and have body parts removed and undergo poisonous medical treatments just to keep them from going to heaven so soon.
If we truly believed in God's promises of the glorious afterlife, we would not fear death. I'm not saying that we should embrace death, especially as a result of sickness. Death and sickness are our enemies. God has a purpose for us remaining in this earth, which is to enjoy our lives here in fellowship with Him (this is why He created us—to be here) and also to reveal Jesus to others. His promises can make us thoroughly furnished unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
But sadly so many people seek the Lord for healing only when they need a miracle instead of having a proper revelation of the truth of healing and health either to keep them from getting sick, or to be healed if sickness comes.
In addition to not fearing our own death, the Lord also tells us to Let not your heart be troubled when it comes to the death of a loved one. If we truly believed God's promises of a mansion in heaven, we would not be saddened at the loss of a loved one. Again, when I share these truths, many people view me as being unsympathetic, but this is directly from the word of God—the mouth of Jesus Himself.
Please take this in the love that compels me to write it. Grief over the loss of a loved one is not grief for the person who died. Rather, you're grieving for yourself—for your own loss. Therefore, your grief is based on self-centeredness, which is the root of all our problems. If you truly believed your departed loved one was with Jesus in heaven, you wouldn't be sad for them. You would rejoice.
Now I'm not saying that grief in this way is sinful or bad, but I say these things for you to recognize the truth that Jesus said, Let not your heart be troubled. You have the choice to allow grief to have place in, and in some cases destroy, your life. Of course, we will miss our loved ones, but our faith should rest in knowing where they have gone, and where you're going and that you will see them again.
In fact, Jesus said the same thing to the disciples, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world gives do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard how I said to you, I go away and come again unto you. If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said, I go to my Father, for my Father is greater than I. [John 14:27-28]
Especially in the death of a child, I've heard people say something like this, "Oh, they will never experience their first kiss, their first love, graduation, marriage, the birth of a child or anything we have in this world." While they "miss out" in a lot of what this world offers, they also miss out in all the heartache, fear, sickness, worry, betrayal, and all the other rotten things of this world too!
If we were to compare, I believe we would all agree that being with Christ is far better. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, we should understand this as well, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor. Yet, what I shall choose I do not know. For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. [Philippians 1:20-24]
Finally, the Lord reminds the disciples that they know this truth when He says, And where I go you know, and the way you know. But sadly, the response of most Christians are much like that of Thomas in verse 5, Lord, we know not where you are going, and how can we know the way? The Lord points them back to what He said in the beginning, You believe in God, believe also in me. His immortal words do not only represent how we come to the Father, but also how we walk in Him. Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me. [John 14:6]
Jesus is reminding them of everything He promised them—that if they would set their affections on things above, not on things on the earth, that as they had therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so should they walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, they would be victorious regardless (Colossians 2:6-7; Colossians 3:1-2). Either way we win! We can't lose for winning!
Brothers and sisters, by knowing who are in Christ, where we came from, and knowing where we are going, the things of the world like fear, shame, depression, worry, and doubt should have no place in us. In Christ, we are new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) and therefore, our pasts should have no bearing in our lives. We should do what the apostle Paul urged: But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:13-14]
Washing the disciples' feet did not make Jesus a humble person. Rather, as I will teach in the next chapter, humility is a byproduct of what I believe the Lord is trying to convey through this book. First, Jesus was in close and intimate relationship with the Father, which manifested in the great love He has for us. Second, Jesus knew exactly who He was, and was confident in His identity as the Son of God. Third, because He knew where He came from, and He knew where He was going, He laid aside the glory that was due Him so that He could minister and serve the people He created. Humility is not an act of servitude, but the driving force behind the act. And this driving force was the fact that He trusted in who His Father said He was.
When a crisis comes, the Lord is reminding you to Let not your heart be troubled because you know where you've come from, and you know where you are going; and because you know who you are in Christ, you can be more than a conqueror in every crisis—to the pleasure and glory of God.