The Gospel of John: Guardian of our Salvation!

“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:11)

Jesus had been with His disciples for close to three years. In that period of time they had grown to love and depend upon Him. In fact, it was during Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17) that Jesus had to continually encourage His disciples, due to their growing grief and troubled hearts because He announced He would soon leave them.

Jesus continued to pray on behalf of His disciples. He prayed that “I am no longer in the world.” Similar to His previous announcement that He had already overcome the world (John 16:33), Jesus stated that His departure back to heaven was an accomplished fact. His death, burial, resurrection and ascension was a certain and sure accomplishment.

However, while He acknowledged that He was no longer in the world, Jesus also recognized that His followers were: “but they are in the world.” Once again, we must recognize that the word “world” does not solely mean this inhabited planet but rather the fallen world system of thought and behavior which is in continual rebellion against God, His Word and His followers.

Jesus, in announcing that He would soon return to the Father, He prayed that God the Father would protect the disciples: “Keep them in your name.” To keep (τήρησον; tereson) means to guard and protect. This is a strong request by Jesus to the Father. In your name refers to the character and person of God.

Bible teacher Robert Rothwell writes, “In the Old Testament, the name of the Lord frequently appears as a stand-in for God Himself or for one or more of His attributes. Thus, to trust in the name of the Lord and not in chariots is to trust in God Himself for protection (Ps. 20:7). Similarly, to say that the name of the Lord is a “strong tower” in which the righteous find safety is to say that righteous people are protected by the mighty power of God (Prov. 18:10). Given that background, for Jesus to pray that we would be kept in the name of God is for Him to pray that we remain united to God through trusting in Him.”

These who Jesus prays for are those who the Father has given to Him. Jesus’ prayer is that believers in Christ would be in unity with one another as they are in union with Christ and with the Father. The unity of which Jesus prays appears to be one of desire and purpose: to glorify the Son.

While the church is composed of many members, we are one body of believers (I Corinthians 12). Every disciple is valuable, protected by God the Father and interceded by God the Son.

Take time today to recognize and acknowledge the scope of our salvation involves both heaven and earth.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: Intercession.

“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” (John 17:9-10)

One of Jesus’ ministries while He was on earth, and which by the way continues today while He is in heaven, is the ministry of intercession. To intercede is to intervene or to mediate on someone’s behalf. In His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus stated that He was specifically praying for His disciples: the eleven in this particular context and by extension all those who would follow Him.

I John 2:1 says, My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The word “advocate” (παράκλητον; parakleton) means intercessor and helper.

Hebrews 7:22-25 says, “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

Jesus said, “I am praying for them.” The word praying (ἐρωτῶ; erotao) is a present, active verb meaning to continually ask or to request on behalf of someone. The personal pronoun “them” refers in the text specifically to the eleven.

However, Jesus then said, “I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” By His next statement, Jesus indicated that He was not only praying for the eleven in the upper room but also for all those who God the Father had given Him unto salvation. This includes believers today.

Jesus also said that He was not praying for the world. The word world (κόσμου; ksomou) means those who belong to the fallen, rebellious and evil system of thought and behavior which is in opposition to God and His followers.

Jesus again announced that God the Father gave to Jesus those who follow Him. Prior to belonging to Jesus, believers, or the elect, belonged to God the Father (John 17:2, 6). Believers in Christ presently belong to both the Father and the Son.

The result of belonging to Jesus is so that He would be glorified, honored and praised. To glorify (δοξάζω; doxazo) means to praise and honor Jesus because of His glorious greatness. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, this is the believer’s ultimate goal and purpose. “Q. 1. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

John Calvin writes, “He (Jesus) openly declares that He does not pray for the world, because He has no solicitude but about His own flock, which He received from the hand of the Father. This is a most excellent testimony for confirming our faith: that Christ never will cease to care for our salvation since He is glorified in us.”

As another commentator explains, “Jesus makes it very clear in His High Priestly Prayer that He is praying not for the world but for those the Father has given Him out of the world (John 17:9). The primary focus in verse 9 is on His first disciples, but Jesus later extends the prayer to cover all who believe through the witness of the disciples (v. 20). Jesus, in other words, has a special work of intercession only for Christians—both those who already believe and for those who have been chosen by God and have not yet come to saving faith (but will surely come to believe).”

Do you realize that Jesus is interceding for you right at this moment? He does so for all true believers in union with Him. Take the time today to thank Jesus for His faithful ministry of intercession. As musician Carolyn Gillman wrote:

And He’s ever interceding, to the Father for His children;
Yes, He’s ever interceding, to the Father for His own;
Through Him you can reach the Father, So, bring Him all your heavy burdens;
Yes, for you He’s interceding, So, come boldly to the throne.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: Words of God.

“For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” (John 17:8)

Today’s text, from the Gospel of John and Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, contains several significant verbs, or action words, involving not only God the Father, but also God the Son , God the Holy Spirit and those who are followers of Jesus Christ. The words to which I refer are as follows: given, gave, received, come, know, came, believed, and sent. Let’s take a look at each of them.

  • This word is from the Greek δέδωκα; dedoka. It is an active verb which used here is in the perfect tense. The perfect tense in the Greek language means a past tense completed action which has continuing results in the present and future. Jesus stated that He had “given” or granted to the disciples the words or revelation from the Father. That action not only had an impact in the past but continues to have impact in the present and future lives of current and future disciples of Jesus.
  • This word is the same basic Greek word (ἔδωκάς; edokas) as the word given but in the aorist active tense. The aorist tense means an act that occurs at a particular point in time in the past and which involves the entire being of those involved. Jesus indicated that the words He had given to the disciples were the words God the Father “gave” Him. Jesus does not indicate exactly when the Father gave the words to the Son to give to the disciples: only that the Father did so.
  • The word received (ἔλαβον; elabon) is also an aorist active verb. It means to accept and to take hold of. Jesus said the disciples received the words which Jesus had given them and in which God the Father gave to Jesus. To receive not only means to receive and accept an object but also the benefits in which the initiative of such benefits rests with the giver.
  • Have come to know. This four word phrase in the English is only one word in the Greek (ἔγνωσαν; egnosan). It too is an aorist active verb. It means to understand, perceive and comprehend. The disciples had come to understand a truth or a reality. What exactly was this truth the disciples had come to know?
  • Once again the aorist tense is used with the word “came” (ἐξῆλθον; exelthon). The word means to depart out of or from someplace or from someone. In this verse’s context, Jesus stated He came from God the Father. He came from heaven to earth.
  • The sixth word is taken from the Greek word ἐπίστευσαν; episteusan. It is translated “they have believed.” It also is an active aorist tense verb which means to trust in, commit to, depend upon and worship a particular object. The object of the disciples faith is God the Father and His work through God the Son.
  • The seventh and final word is an aorist active verb as well. It is from the Greek word ἀπέστειλας; apesteilas. We derive our English word “apostle” meaning sent one. It means to send someone out with a message. Jesus said God the Father sent God the Son with a message. The message was the gospel, or good news, of salvation from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin by faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

John Calvin writes, “It is because they, the disciples, have received the doctrine which He taught them. But that no one may think that His doctrine is human or is earthly in its origin, He declares that God is the author of it, when His says, ‘The words which thou gavest me I have given to them.’ The meaning therefore is that Christ was a faithful witness of God to the disciples so that their faith was found exclusively on the truth of God since the father Himself spoke in the Son. The receiving, of which He speaks, arose from His having efficaciously manifested to them the name of His Father by the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus was affirming the true, saving faith of the disciples. May this also be said of us by the Savior that He has given us the words the Father gave Him, and that we have received them and have come to know in truth that Jesus came from the Father and that we have believed that the Father sent God the Son.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

LORD’S DAY 3, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will examine the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 3 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer.

Q. Did God create people
so wicked and perverse?

A. No.
God created them good1and in his own image, 2 that is, in true righteousness and holiness, 3 so that they might truly know God their creator, 4 love him with all their heart, and live with God in eternal happiness, to praise and glorify him.5

1 Gen. 1:31.
2 Gen. 1:26-27.
3 Eph. 4:24.
4 Col. 3:10.
5 Ps. 8.

Q. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?

A. The fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise.1 This fall has so poisoned our nature2 that we are all conceived and born in a sinful condition.3

1 Gen. 3.
2 Rom. 5:12-21.
3 Ps. 51:1-5.

Q. But are we so corrupt
that we are totally unable to do any good
and inclined toward all evil?

A. Yes, 1unless we are born again by the Spirit of God.2

1 Gen. 6:58:21Job 14:4Isa. 53:6.
2 John 3:1-8.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: God the Father’s Sovereign Grace.

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.” (John 17:6-7)

The sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners is once again acknowledged in the Gospel of John. As before in John 1:12-13, 6:35-66, and 10, Jesus speaks of God the Father’s sovereign grace in His High Priestly Prayer.

As commentator explains, “The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17 can be divided into three basic sections: Jesus’ prayer for Himself (vv. 1–5), Jesus’ prayer for His first disciples (vv. 6–19), and Jesus’ prayer for the wider church (vv. 20–26).”

In today’s passage, we see Jesus begin to pray for His first disciples, revealing two particular truths. First, that the disciples are a gift from God the Father to God the Son and second, that the disciples had kept the Father’s word. Let’s examine each point specifically.

First, Jesus said ““I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me.” To manifest means to make known, to make plain or to reveal. Jesus had revealed the name, or the person, of God the Father to the disciples who God the Father had given to God the Son: Jesus Christ.

These first disciples, as by implication all other disciples of Jesus, God the Father gave to God the Son from out of the world. The word “world” again refers to the fallen, anti-God system of rebellion and rejection of God as Lord and Savior of sinners. These eleven men, along with Jesus’ other true followers at this time (Acts 1:15) always belonged to God the Father. Now they belong to God the Son.

Dr. John MacArthur states that, “Again, the Son emphasized that those who believed in him were given by the Father (see note on v. 2). “They are yours” (cf. v. 9) is a potent assertion that before conversion, they belonged to God (cf. 6:37). That is true because of God’s election. They were chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), when their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 17:8). Cf. Acts 18:10, where God says he has many people in Corinth who belong to him but are not yet saved.”

Second, Jesus prayed, “and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.” Even though the eleven disciples understanding of Jesus’ person and work was at this time rudimentary and undeveloped, it was still genuine and true.

Professor Robert Rothwell explains that, “Despite their failures, the disciples (except Judas) remained with Jesus, knowing that He is the source of eternal life (6:66–69). And ultimately, they did this because God had chosen them, for many heard Jesus preach and yet did not believe.”

John Calvin comments, “Jesus points out the eternity of election and secondly, the manner in which we ought to consider it. Christ declares that the elect always belonged to God. God therefore distinguishes them from the reprobate, not by faith or by any other merit, but by pure grace. The certainty of that election by free grace lies in this, that He commits to the guardianship of His Son all whom He has elected.”

Today’s text, among others, indicates that the true children of God should be the most humble of people. This is due to the truth that salvation from beginning to end, from first to last, is of God.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: The Glory of Christ.

“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:4-5).

The Greek word doxa occurs three times in various forms in John 17:4-5. Translators render it as the words glorified, glorify and glory. We derive our word doxology, meaning praise, from this Greek word. Let’s take time to examine each way this one word is used.

First, the word glorified (ἐδόξασα; edoxasa) is an aorist active verb indicating that Jesus had accomplished the task of glorifying the greatness of God the Father with His entire being. Jesus did this not only in the work laid before Him, namely the crucifixion and resurrection, but also in His sinless life and ministry following His virgin birth incarnation. This was the work God the Father gave to the Son and the Son accomplished the work the Father had given Him.

Second, the word glorify (δόξασόν; doxason) is an aorist active imperative verb indicating that Jesus is asking, commanding if you will, God the Father to glorify the greatness of Jesus in the Father’s own presence or company. One commentator writes, “This is an interesting request, for glory is a divine attribute, and since the Son of God is fully God, He possesses an inherent divine glory that cannot be augmented or diminished (1:1–18). So, if Christ possesses glory at the time of His High Priestly Prayer, how can He pray for God to give Him glory?”

The answer is that Jesus had willingly and submissively veiled His inherent glory with His humble humanity at His incarnation. The Apostle Paul presented this truth in Philippians 2:5-11. Jesus revealed His inherent glory to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-7).

Professor Robert Rothwell explains that, “Jesus’ prayer for His glorification is also a prayer for His humanity to share fully in the divine glory. As the incarnate Mediator between God and humanity, He asks to be glorified in both His divine nature and in His human nature. Consider the basis of His request. Jesus prays for His glorification because of the authority given to Him to give eternal life to the elect and because He has accomplished the work given to Him (John 17:2–4). Christ refers to His work of securing righteousness for us and atoning for our sin, which the Son of God could accomplish only as the incarnate Mediator. Why? Because atonement requires the Son to possess a human nature, since it is impossible for the Son to suffer according to His divine nature. Humanity can suffer; God cannot. Without the incarnation, the Son does not have a human nature, and without a human nature there is no atonement.”

Finally, the word glory (δόξῃ; doxe) is a noun meaning splendor, brightness, amazing might, praise and honor. These are qualities Jesus said He possessed with God the Father prior to the creation of the world. Jesus indicated that He is eternal with God the Father (John 1:1-2).

John Calvin writes, “This is a remarkable passage which teaches us that Christ is not a God who has been newly contrived, or who has existed only for a time; for if His glory was eternal, Himself also has always been. Besides, a manifest distinction between the person of Christ and the person of the Father is here expressed; from which we infer that He is not only eternal God, but also that He is the eternal Word of God begotten by the Father before all ages.”

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!      

The Gospel of John: The Only True God.

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:1-3).

What is meant by the phrase “eternal life?” It is found not only in today’s text but also in one of the most familiar verses in the Scriptures: John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Defined, eternal life is from the Greek adjective αἰώνιος (aionios) meaning an unlimited duration of time and the Greek noun ζωή (zoe) meaning a living creature. In John 17:3, Jesus also defines eternal life as knowing the only, true God. One biblical scholar explains that eternal life is a personal relationship of intimacy which is continuous and dynamic.”

To “know” (γινώσκω; ginosko) means to be acquainted with, to be familiar, to acknowledge and to understand. Within this context, this present active verb relates to the believer knowing God continuously. The person who knows God has an ongoing personal relationship with Him. This relationship is only possible through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-10).

To know God means you acknowledge that He is the only God (Isaiah 45:18-19; 46:9-11). Only (μόνος; monos) means the only one in a class. God alone is God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To know God also means you acknowledge that He is the only true God. True (ἀληθινός; alethinos) means real and genuine.

Jesus also taught that this acknowledgment of God included Himself: the Son of God who God the Father sent to the earth to provide redemption (Galatians 4:4). There is no other way God the Father is known except through God the Son and by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8).

John Calvin taught that, “He who separates Christ from the Divinity of the Father does not yet acknowledge Him who is the only true God, but rather invents for himself a strange god. This is the reason why we are enjoined to know God and Jesus whom He hath sent, by whom as it were, with outstretched hand, He invites us to Himself.”

Taken together, Jesus taught that possessing unlimited and eternal life was to continuously acknowledge the God of the Bible as the only, true God who exists. There are no other gods which are true or real. The God of the Bible, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is it.

John Calvin explains that, “We ought first to know that we are all in death, till we are enlightened by God, who alone is life. Where He has shone, we possess Him by faith and therefore we also enter into the possession of life. This is the reason why the knowledge of Him is truly and justly called saving or bringing salvation.”

I have asked this question many times: Do you know God as your personal Savior? Have you placed your faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ for eternal life? May the Holy Spirit enable you to do so today.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: All Authority to Give Eternal Life.

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” (John 17:1-2)

When Jesus prayed His High Priestly Prayer, He asked God the Father to glorify Him in order for Jesus to glorify the Father. How would our Lord glorify God the Father? Jesus gave the reason when He prayed, “Since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

The word “since” (καθώς; kathos) is a conjunction which means inasmuch or because. Jesus gave us believers the reason why He would be able to glorify God the Father. The reasons given are two-fold.

First, “you have given him authority over all flesh.” The Father gave the Son authority. The Father appointed the Son with a right to rule or possess a jurisdiction. The adjective “all” means that this authority is comprehensive. It is total and complete. It covers the category of “all flesh.” The word “flesh” (σάρξ; sarx) in this particular context refers to mankind, human beings and nations. The Father gave complete authority over all mankind. This truth parallels Psalm 2:1-12 which says:

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

The second reason Jesus gave concerning how He would glorify the Father was His authority, “to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” The authority that God the Father gave God the Son was for the purpose of giving eternal life. In other words, this refers to the salvation of sinners from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin. Jesus is the only one capable of accomplishing this supreme task due to the fact that He alone provided a substitutionary atonement for sinners on the cross (Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

However, this salvation is not just a possibility for anybody but rather a certainty for the elect of God. Jesus acknowledged that those receiving eternal life would be those who the Father gave the Son. This parallels what Jesus said in John 6:35-66. Everyone who God the Father would give to the Son would receive eternal life. Salvation is truly a gift from God through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

John Calvin writes, “The kingdom of Christ extends, no doubt, to all men; but it brings salvation to none but the elect, who with voluntary obedience follow the voice of the Shepherd.”

God’s grace unto salvation is for those who the Father gives to the Son. Thank God today that not only He has given you the gift of salvation, but also that you are a gift to the Savior.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: The Lord’s Prayer.

“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,” (John 17:1).

Growing up I learned and memorized a portion of Scripture commonly referred to as The Lord’s Prayer. Recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4, it is a series of statements Jesus gave His disciples instructing them, and eventually all disciples of Jesus, regarding how to pray. It has even been memorably set to music. The prayer is as follows:

“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

Now, not wanting to be overly technical or just plain picky, I should point out that while this portion of Scripture is called The Lord’s Prayer, it is in reality the disciples’ prayer. It is what we are to pray. Since this is so, is there truly a prayer in the Bible we can call The Lord’s Prayer? A specific prayer which originated from the heart and soul of Jesus? Yes, there is and it is found in John 17.

John 17 contains what is commonly called Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. It is a prayer in which Jesus not only prays for Himself but also for His disciples: then and in the future. It is filled with soaring biblical truth.

We identify Jesus’ words as a prayer in light of John 17:1 which says, ““When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said.” Jesus had just concluded His Upper Room Discourse with His disciples. He then looked to heaven and began to speak a prayer. It should be noted that it is most likely that His disciples heard Him speak this prayer.

John Calvin comments that, “Christ prayed, lifting up His eyes to heaven. It was an indication of uncommon ardor and vehemence; for by this attitude Christ  testified that in the affections of His mind, he was rather in heaven than in earth. He looked towards heaven, not as if God’s presence were confined to heaven, for He fills the earth (Jeremiah 23:24), but because it is there chiefly that His majesty is displayed.” 

Jesus said, “Father.” This address to God the Father certainly parallels how we should begin our prayers and to whom our prayers should be addressed: to God the Father. In using the term “Father” Jesus was acknowledging, as should we, that God the Father possesses supernatural authority and supreme love and affection for His children.

Jesus then said, “The hour has come.” This is a phrase we have seen many times thus far in John’s Gospel. It occurs as early as John 2:4. It refers to the time of Jesus crucifixion and death on behalf of sinners. (See John 12:23; 13:1). Jesus acknowledged to the Father that this specific time had arrived.

Jesus then prayed, “glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,” In the strongest possible terms, Jesus prays that the Father will honor and praise Him. This is in order that Jesus may in like manner honor and praise the Father. There is a mutual connection between the two.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The very event that would glorify the Son was his death. By it, he has received the adoration, worship, and love of millions whose sins he bore. He accepted this path to glory, knowing that by it he would be exalted to the Father. The goal is that the Father may be glorified for his redemptive plan in the Son. So he sought by his own glory the glory of his Father (13:31–32).”

Jesus’ words remind me of the angelic praise declared in the presence of the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)

Jesus would certainly bring God the Father glory by His death, burial and resurrection. We ought to pursue the same goal: to glorify God. I Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: In This World, You will Have Trouble.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I recently visited a friend of mine. At the time, she was residing at a local rehabilitation center (i.e. nursing home) following a recent fall in her home resulting in a broken hip and the subsequent surgery to repair the break. While her body was battered, bruised and recovering from being broken, her spirit remains strong and resolute.

I’m sure you recently read about missionary John Allen Chau, 26. He perished on November 16, 2018 in a deadly bow and arrow attack by tribesmen desperate to keep him off their remote North Sentinel Island home off the coast of India.

Both my friend’s physical injuries, and a missionary’s death, illustrate in part what Jesus said to His disciples in the upper room just hours before His crucifixion. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The only lasting source of peace and tranquility we may possess in this world is in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

Jesus made a truthful statement to the disciples. It is a statement which continues to ring true for disciples of Jesus today. The truth is this: “In the world you will have tribulation.”

The word “world” (κόσμος; kosmos) in this context refers not only to living on this planet. Rather, Jesus spoke more significantly of living as a Christian in the midst of a fallen world system of thought and behavior which constantly expresses a hatred for God and a rebellion against His Word.

Jesus said that in this fallen world, His disciples would face tribulation. Jesus did not say that His disciples might have tribulation, or could have tribulation, but rather would have tribulation. Jesus did not speak about a possibility of tribulation but rather the probability and even more accurately, the certainty of tribulation. This is a promise from God that we don’t often think of but which is just as certain as every other promise God has given.

The word tribulation (θλῖψις; thlipsis) may refer to suffering, distress, affliction or persecution. It may concern physical suffering, emotional distress, and even spiritual and physical persecution for one’s faith in Christ. It is a rock your world kind of trouble.

Have you ever experienced such trouble? I’m sure you have. I know many people who have and who are experiencing such tribulation. What are believers to do “when” such tribulation occurs?

Jesus’ answer to this question hinges on the singly conjunction “but.” The word invokes a contrasting idea to what has previously been stated or said. Jesus told His disciples “But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

To take heart (θαρσέω; tharseo) means to presently and actively be courageous and to be bold. Jesus issued a command and not a suggestion or a request. He commanded the disciples to be people of strength and fearlessness. His words echo Joshua 1:1-9.

The reason for such courage and strength is because Jesus has overcome the world. Notice that Jesus did not say “I will overcome the world” though He would. Rather, He said “I have overcome the world” because He already had. The word “overcome (νικάω; nikao) means to conquer and to be a victor. Jesus has come and ruined Satan’s kingdom (Matthew 12:25-29) by His substitutionary atonement on the cross and His bodily resurrection from the dead.

One commentator explains that, “Jesus’ confidence that the Father would be with Him, we see in today’s passage, led Him to encourage the disciples that their upcoming failure to stand with Him would not be the end. Jesus was about to overcome the world, so He called the disciples to “take heart”—be confident and encouraged—in the midst of tribulation (John 16:33). When they would fail, they would be able to repent and return to God and be pardoned, for Christ would have overcome the world. When the world would assault them mercilessly, they would be able to escape total despair, for Christ’s overcoming the world would mean that nothing would finally be able to destroy them. The same is true for us today. When we face tribulations because of our own sin or the hostility of others, we are sustained by knowing that Christ has overcome the fallen world, including our own fallen selves.”

John Calvin writes, “As our sluggishness must be corrected by various afflictions, and as we must be awakened to seek a remedy for our distress, so the Lord does not intend that our minds shall be cast down, but rather that we shall fight keenly, which is impossible if we are not certain of success. For if we must fight, while we are uncertain of the result, all our zeal will quickly vanish. When, therefore, Christ calls us to the contest, He arms us with assured confidence of victory, though still we must toil hard.”

What, you may be thinking, are the weapons of our warfare? 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

John Calvin concludes, “We are beyond all danger, even in the midst of the combat.”

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

                                                         

LORD’S DAY 2, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will examine the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 2 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer.

Q. How do you come to know your misery?

A. The law of God tells me.1

1 Rom. 3:207:7-25.

Q. What does God’s law require of us?

A. Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22:37-40:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind.’1
This is the greatest and first commandment.

“And a second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’2

“On these two commandments hang
all the law and the prophets.”

1 Deut. 6:5.
2 Lev. 19:18.

Q. Can you live up to all this perfectly?

A. No.1

I have a natural tendency
to hate God and my neighbor.2

1 Rom. 3:9-20, 231 John 1:8, 10.
2 Gen. 6:5Jer. 17:9Rom. 7:23-248:7Eph. 2:1-3Titus 3:3.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: Do You Now Believe?

His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” (John 16:28-32)

Self-assurance in our own abilities to both come to God and be saved or to understand all which God is doing in our lives as believers is a fool’s errand. It is a task of activity which has no hope of success.

Self-assurance refers to confidence in one’s own ability or character. As believers in Christ, we must place our confidence in God’s ability to draw us to Himself (John 6:35-66) and His never changing holy character (Isaiah 6:1-7). This was a lesson the disciples took a long time to understand. Perhaps, we as well.

The disciples correctly acknowledged that Jesus was God in that He knew all things (divine omniscience) and that He came from God the Father (divine origin). However, Jesus knew their limitations far better than they did.

Jesus predicted, hours before it actually occurred, that these very same disciples who so assuredly expressed their belief in Christ in the upper room, would soon flee from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane and at the foot of the cross. The only exceptions being the Apostle John and possibly Peter (18:15-27; 19:25-27; I Peter 2:21-25).

Robert Rothwell writes, “During most of Jesus’ earthly ministry, we see that the disciples misunderstood the nature of our Savior’s work. Even Peter, who before Christ’s resurrection understood Jesus perhaps better than did any of the other disciples, did not grasp the necessity of the atonement (Matt. 16:13–23). This failure to accept Jesus’ declarations regarding the purpose of His work betrayed their ignorance not only about Jesus but also about the Father. After all, not to see the necessity of the atonement evidences confusion about God’s holiness and what He demands to be reconciled to His creatures.”

The only one Jesus could truly rely upon was God the Father. However, how often do we humbly come to the Father for reliance instead of relying upon our own strength and understanding of life’s situations? It is easy for us to presume to know more than God does. How ironic it is for us to criticize the eleven disciples for such hubris when we often are guilty of the same sin.

May we humbly strive to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) and resolve never to think that we have learned all which God would have us to know and understand. Our Lord’s classroom is still in session.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: Figurative Language.

“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” (John 16:25-28)

What did Jesus mean when He used the phrase “figurative language” (NKJV) or as used in the ESV “figures of speech?” The phrase is from the Greek word παροιμία (paraoimia) meaning a parable, an allegory or a proverb. It also may refer to use of obscure words which are full of veiled or hidden meanings. John Bunyan’s masterful work Pilgrim’s Progress would qualify as an allegory or a parable, specifically concerning salvation.

Jesus had used figurative language to describe His person and work. Examples would include His seven “I Am” statements comparing Himself to bread, light, a gate, a shepherd, resurrection and life, the way, the truth and the life and a vine. (See respectively John 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14 and 15). These figures of speech were hard for the disciples to understand while Jesus was with them (Mark 4:10-20). The disciples would understand these allegories following His death, burial and resurrection and with the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:13-14; Acts 2).

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “They (the disciples) would actually understand the ministry of Christ better than they had while they were with him, as the Spirit inspired them to write the Gospels and epistles and ministered in and through them.”

The phrase “in that day” again refers to the Day of Pentecost (16:23) and the arrival of the Holy Spirit. It would be the initiation of the church age and the Spirit would enable each believer in Christ to boldly approach God the Father in prayer (Hebrews 4:14-16). Answered prayer from the Father would be based solely upon the imputed righteousness of Christ to the believer and the resulting glory and honor and praise of God the Son.

Theologian Robert Rothwell writes, With the outpouring of the Spirit, the disciples will enjoy a greater understanding of our Savior’s person and work. We can see this in the history of the Apostolic period. The same disciples who once could not accept that Jesus would die became mighty preachers of the cross (Matt. 16:21–23Acts 2). In fulfillment of today’s passage, they finally understood. Jesus spoke to them plainly.”

Can you recall in times past when you didn’t or couldn’t understand the Bible? However, when God saved you the doctrines and teachings of Scripture same alive and clear. Thank God at this moment for the illuminating ministry by the Holy Spirit on behalf of believers in Christ.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: Asking and Receiving

“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24)

The day to which Jesus referred to was the Day of Pentecost. It would become a day in which the disciples’ hearts would rejoice and their joy would never go away (John 16:22) because they would become permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13; Romans 8:1-9). The Day of Pentecost would also inaugurate what is biblically known as the “last days”  which follow the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s arrival (Acts 2:17; 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:2; James 5:1-3; 2 Peter 3:1-3; I John 2:18).

Jesus said that on that Day of Pentecost the disciples would ask nothing of Him. This would be the case because Jesus would no longer be with them physically. However, the object of their prayers would be God the Father as Jesus taught in Matthew 6:9-13.

Jesus then invoked His familiar statement revealing His own authority as God: “Truly, truly, I say to you.” What is the true truth Jesus gave His disciples then and now? “Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”

Jesus’ statement was a cause and effect declaration. It would involve His disciples’ responsibilities as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). To do the ministry God called them to do, all disciples of Jesus would have the privilege of calling upon God the Father in prayer in order to accomplish His work.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “They would be His ambassadors and therefore had the right to ask the Father for whatever they needed to accomplish His will. The words in My name are not a magical formula which enable the user to get his will done; instead those words tied the requests to the work of the Son in doing the Father’s will (cf. “in My name” in 14:13–14; 15:16; 16:24, 26). Up to this point the disciples had not prayed in the name of Jesus. Now they are to do this since Jesus’ death and the Spirit’s coming would enable them to enter into God’s new program of the Church Age. Answered prayer brings complete joy (cf. 15:11; 16:22) because God is at work in them.”

What was true for the disciples of Jesus then is equally true today. We pray to God the Father, in the name of God the Son, and in the power of God the Holy Spirit. The purpose of such a discipline and privilege is to hallow God’s name and character, to display His authority in our lives and to do His will. This brings lasting joy.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: Precious Promises While in the Depths of Despair.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:20-22)

When God’s Word gives us particular and specific promises, it is very wise to pay attention to what God says. Such is the case in today’s text when Jesus gave His disciples, the night prior to His crucifixion, several precious promises. What makes these promises that much more significant to observe is that they are given in the anticipated reality of the disciples’ deep despair because of Jesus’ death on the cross.

First, let us make sure we observe that once again Jesus invoked His own authority when He spoke these words to the eleven. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you.” He spoke with the authority of God, for so He is.

Jesus then told the disciples that they would weep and lament. To weep means to cry and to lament means to mourn for the dead. The weeping and lamenting by the disciples would specifically be because of Jesus’ death.  However, by contrast Jesus said the world would rejoice. The fallen world system, which hates God and rebels against Him and His Word anytime it will and can, would be glad that Jesus would die.

The disciples would be sorrowful and distressed by the crucifixion, but their sorrow would turn into gladness and great happiness. In other words, joy! We know this is true because of the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the grave.

Jesus used the illustration of a woman giving birth to a child. While in labor, a woman experiences labor pains. They can be quite painful. However, the pain while giving birth to her child is soon replaced by the birth of her child. Whatever pain and sorrow she felt is exchanged by the great joy and happiness of a living and healthy baby.

Jesus acknowledged the disciples were sorrowful in the present but also that they would soon rejoice within their souls in the future. They would see Jesus alive again. Their joy would soon replace their sorrow and no one would take their joy away.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Today’s passage records for us what our Savior said about the disciples’ grief. First, Christ told them their sorrow would be temporary. They would lament and weep for a time, but then they would be joyful (vv. 20–21). Why? Because while He would leave them temporarily in His death, He would be restored to them in His resurrection. They would see Him again and experience a joy that no one would be able to take away (v. 22). Of course, Jesus did not mean that they would never experience sorrow again. His point was that they would have an abiding joy because they would know Jesus had conquered death and hell. We can endure every trial knowing that we will live eternally in the new heavens and earth (Rev. 21).”

Whatever sorrow we have experienced, whether due to the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or friendship, or pain because of illness, Jesus gives us a lasting joy which no one can take away. Hallelujah!

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: The Work of the Holy Spirit.

“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. Concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;” (John 16:8-11)

The Word of God, and specifically the New Testament, reveals many works of the Holy Spirit. We may be most familiar with the Spirit’s work among believers. This includes regeneration, sealing, indwelling, gifting, baptizing, and filling.

However, He not only works among believers in Christ but also among unbelievers. Today’s text gives us three specific areas in which the Holy Spirit works upon the lost. He convicts the world of sin, He convicts the world of its lack of righteousness and He convicts the world in judgment.

First, He convicts the world of its sin. The word convict (ἐλέγχω; elencho) refers to a rebuke, a reproving and a reproach. The word world (κόσμος; kosmos) in this context means the fallen world system of thoughts and behavior which are rebelliously anti-God. The word sin (ἁμαρτία; hamartia) means to engage in wrongdoing and evil.

The Holy Spirit points out to sinful people when they have done wrong or how they have sinned against God. The reason the fallen world sins is because it does do not believe in Jesus. The world is not committed to, dependent upon, trusting in or worshiping Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior.

Second, He convicts the world of righteousness. The Holy Spirit not only points out to sinners what they have done wrong, but He also shows them what God requires. The word righteousness (δικαιοσύνη; dikaiosyne) means doing what God says is right or righteous from His Word.

More than being a source of moralistic, therapeutic deism, the Holy Spirit brings sinners to an understanding that their self-righteousness before God is comparable to a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6).

Thirdly, the Spirit convicts the world concerning judgment. This refers to the Spirit’s evaluation of a person’s standing before God. The word judgment (κρίσις; krisis) is a legal decision handed down from a judge. As Satan, the ruler of this world, stands condemned before God, so too are those who reject Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

As one theologian explains, The death and resurrection of Jesus were a condemnation of Satan (12:31; Col. 2:15), the prince of this world (cf. John 14:30). By Jesus’ death, He defeated the devil, who held “the power of death” (Heb. 2:14). (Though defeated at the Cross, Satan is still active [1 Peter 5:8]. But, like a condemned criminal, his “execution” is coming [Rev. 20:2, 7–10]. People in rebellion should take note of Satan’s defeat and fear the Lord who holds the power to judge. As the fact of coming judgment (both Satan’s and man’s) is proclaimed, the Spirit convicts people and prepares them for salvation (cf. Acts 17:30–31).”

Immediately prior to my conversion, the Holy Spirit convicted me in all three areas. He convicted me that I was a sinner. He convicted me that my righteousness fell far short of God’s righteousness. He convicted me that I was destined for hell.

It was in His sovereignty that God by His grace regenerated me by the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8). He made me spiritually alive (Ephesians 2:4). He clothed me in the righteousness of Christ (Zechariah 3:1-5). I no longer stood condemned before God.

Do you have this assurance that your sins are forgiven? Do you know that you are no longer condemned? Is the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin, righteousness and judgment even at this moment in time?

If so, repent of your sin and trust in Jesus as your Savior and Lord. May the Holy Spirit regenerate and enable you to become a child of God.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!