The Gospel of John: Greater Works!

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

Jesus continued to instruct His beloved disciples in the upper room. This followed His various announcements concerning Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial and Jesus’ intention to go to the Father and that sinners may only do the same through personal trust, commitment, dependence and worship of Jesus Christ alone (John 13:21-14:11).

Jesus then instructed His disciples of three additional truths. We know that what Jesus said is truth because He said it wherein He also prefaced His statements with the phrase, “truly, truly” for additional emphasis. Notice that once again Jesus invokes His own authority as God with His use of the pronoun “I.”

The first truth Jesus said in today’s text is “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” Jesus said that those who belong to a particular class of people, that is those who believe in Him, will also do the works that Jesus has done. In fact, not only will believers do the works Jesus has done but they will also do greater works.

Jesus was not referring to His work of redemption which only He accomplished on the cross. Neither was He referring to a greater number of works or more spectacular works.

Rather, Jesus meant that the works the disciples would perform following Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:1-11) would be greater because they would be done in what is referred to as the church age. The birth of the New Testament church began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) with the particular outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s ministry which is unique to this period. This includes the Spirit’s indwelling, baptism, regenerating, sealing, gifting, and filling of each believer in Christ.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Jesus did not mean greater works in power, but in extent. They would become witnesses to all the world through the power of the indwelling and infilling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and would bring many to salvation because of the Helper dwelling in them. The focus is on spiritual rather than physical miracles.”

Secondly, Jesus said “whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Jesus made the first of two statements concerning prayer at this point in His discourse. His statement that whatever you ask in my name refers to praying in submission to and in recognition of Jesus as Lord and Savior. If believers pray according to the will and Lordship of Jesus Christ, Christ will fulfill the request. This will be done for one singular purpose: that the Father will be glorified in what the Son accomplishes at the request of believing disciples.

This parallels what the Apostle John records in I John 5:14-15 which says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

Finally, Jesus said “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Again, this statement refers to the will of God when Jesus used the phrase “in my name.”

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “In My name (vv. 13–14) is not a magical formula of invocation. But the prayers of believers, as Christ’s representatives doing His business, will be answered. John expanded this teaching in his first epistle. He wrote, “If we ask anything according to His will … we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14–15). To ask Me for anything in My name means to ask according to His will (cf. “in My name” in John 15:16; 16:23–24, 26).”

Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” May the Lord Jesus Christ be pleased with the work He does in and through His disciples. May we as disciples seek to glorify the Father as we serve the Son.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: Whoever Has Seen Me has Seen the Father.

“If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (John 14:7-11)

From the very beginning of his gospel, the Apostle John has set forth that Jesus Christ is the perfect expression and representation of God the Father. That is to say that Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, God in the flesh or in human form (John 1:14). Jesus Himself stated that He and God the Father are one (John 10:31). When Jesus stated that God was His Father He made Himself equal with God (John 5:18).

Jesus also revealed His identity as God by His teaching and work. Whether it was with the Woman at the Well (John 4) or with the multitude following the Feeding of the 5,000 (John 6), Jesus’ instructions and miracles directly pointed to His revelation of Himself as the second person of the Trinity.

Therefore, Jesus tells His disciples in the upper room that those who have seen Him have also seen the Father. This revelation has occurred both by Jesus’ words and works.

Jesus said these words immediately after saying that He was the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Jesus wanted His disciples to know and realize that He was not simply one way to God, or even the only way to God, but that He is God and the sinner’s salvation rests solely in His person and work.

Dr. R. C. Sproul states, “The sense here is that the disciples have known Jesus but have not yet truly realized that in knowing Him they know the Father. This is all about to change, for the disciples will soon enjoy a new realization that knowing the Son necessarily means knowing the Father. “From now on you do know him and have seen him,” our Savior says (v. 7b). This refers to our Lord’s impending atonement and how it will make plain to the disciples the kind of God they serve. In the giving up of the Son for our salvation, the disciples will see God for who He truly is—the God who holds nothing back in order to save His people but who even sacrifices His Son to redeem us. The Father does not spare His own Son, and the Son freely offers Himself up for our redemption, showing us the lengths to which He is willing to go for us and, therefore, His perfect mercy (Rom. 8:31–32; 1 Peter 2:24).”

In effect, only by knowing Jesus as our Lord and Savior may we truly know God the Father.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art –
thou my best thought, by day or by night;
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father; thine own may I be,
thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always;
thou and thou only first in my heart,
high King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of All.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:5-6)

Today’s text contains the sixth of the seven “I Am” statements the Apostle John recorded Jesus saying. The previous statements are found in John 6:35, 8:12, 10:7-9, 10:11-14, 11:25. The seventh is found in 15:1-5. This sixth “I Am” statement is arguably the most familiar of the seven.

Jesus informed His disciples while they are celebrating the Passover meal that He was going away (John 13:31-38). He informed them that He was going away in order to prepare an eternal dwelling place for them and all other believers (John 14:1-3). He even declared to them that they knew where He was going and how to get there.

Obviously, Jesus was teaching about heaven and going to God the Father. However, the disciples did not understand and grasp the significance of Jesus’ words. They were thinking literally. Thomas indicated this by his own words. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

This was the occasion in which Jesus made the following statement. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus does not refer to any other authority other than Himself when He makes this declaration concerning His identity.

Jesus said, “I Am the way…” Jesus used the same structural phrase (ἐγώ εἰμί; ego eimi) as previously noted by the apostle in five previous statements. He identified Himself as Yahweh, the self-existent God (Exodus 3:1-14). He then added the words “the way.” It is an emphatic structural form indicating that Jesus is the only road, path or thoroughfare to God.

Jesus then said, “I Am the truth…” At the same time that He is the way, Jesus is also the truth.  This refers to that which is real or that which corresponds to reality. He is truly God and what He says is true and real about how to be reconciled to God.

Thirdly, Jesus said, “I Am the life…” At the same time that He is the way, and the truth, Jesus is also the life. Jesus is the only way to truly be alive: physically, spiritually and eternally. He is not only the source of life but also the only way to truly experience life as it was meant to be lived: in fellowship with God the creator and sustainer of life.

Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “This is the sixth “I am” statement of Jesus in John (see 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 15:1, 5). In response to Thomas’s query (14:4), Jesus declared that he is the way to God because he is the truth of God (1:14) and the life of God (1:4; 3:15; 11:25). In this verse, the exclusiveness of Jesus as the only approach to the Father is emphatic. Only one way, not many ways, exist to God, i.e., Jesus Christ.”

Dr. R.C. Sproul writes, The only way to get to heaven, the only way to be reconciled to God, is through Jesus. So, while the disciples do not yet fully know where Jesus is going, they know the way to get there because in knowing and belonging to Jesus they will be taken to the Father as well. This point is confirmed in John 14:6, which features one of the most important teachings regarding our salvation in all of Scripture. Jesus proclaims Himself as the way, the truth, and the life—the only way to the Father. Here we read perhaps the boldest declaration of the exclusivity of Christ ever spoken. There are no alternatives for redemption other than Jesus; only He can reconcile us to the Father.”

John Calvin comments that “if any man turn aside from Christ, he will do nothing but go astray; if any man do not rest on him, he will feed elsewhere on nothing but wind and vanity; if any man, not satisfied with him alone, wishes to go farther, he will find death instead of life.”

Finally, Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” This statement is known as a universal negative. There are no exceptions in coming to God the Father except by faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only source of life in all of its forms.

I recall an individual telling me once that there were many ways to get to the City of Detroit. You chose the way which you prefer. He then stated that it was the same with God. There were many ways to get to God. You choose the way you prefer. No one way is better than any other way to get to heaven. They are all equal.

The image of the wagon wheel comes to mind. Imagine the outer diameter of the wheel represents humanity. The inner hub represents God. The spokes, which are all of equal length, connect the outer rim to the inner hub. The spokes symbolize all the different, but equal, ways to get to God.

However, we must never deny the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the only way to God the Father. This is what Jesus taught. This is what the Bible teaches (John 10:7-9; Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:24; Acts 4:12).

Let us resolve to never compromise this truth regarding the exclusivity of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: Let Not Your Hearts be Troubled.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

In the midst of uncertainty, John 14 provides the eleven disciples who were with Jesus in the upper room, and Jesus’ disciples today, comfort. This comfort for Jesus’ disciples is not only in the future return of Christ but also during a disciples’ life here on earth amidst toil and tribulation.

John 14 provides the church today with a series of wonderful passages of biblical truth and encouragement. How ironic for that to be the case when you understand the historical context in which Jesus’ discourse occurred.

Dr. John MacArthur contributes valuable insight when he writes, “The scene continues to be the upper room where the disciples had gathered with Jesus before he was arrested. Judas had been dismissed (13:30) and Jesus had begun his valedictory address to the remaining 11. The world of the disciples was about to be shattered; they would be bewildered, confused, and ridden with anxiety because of the events that would soon transpire. Anticipating their devastation, Jesus spoke to comfort their hearts.”

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” The word heart in the Greek (καρδία; kardia) refers to a person’s mind, emotions and will. In other words, a person’s inner self or soul. Jesus said to His disciples then, and now, to not let your inner self or soul be troubled (ταράσσω; tarasso), meaning mentally distressed.

What are disciples to do instead? Since they believe or trust in God the Father, they are also to believe and trust in Jesus Christ. To believe (πιστεύω; pisteuo) means not only to trust, but also to commit, depend and worship Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

As one commentator writes, Have the same trust in Me. What less, and what else, can these words mean? And if so, what a demand to make by one sitting familiarly with them at the supper table! Compare the saying in John 5:17, for which the Jews took up stones to stone Him, as “making himself equal with God” (John 14:18). But it is no transfer of our trust from its proper Object; it is but the concentration of our trust in the Unseen and Impalpable One upon His Own Incarnate Son, by which that trust, instead of the distant, unsteady, and too often cold and scarce real thing it otherwise is, acquires a conscious reality, warmth, and power, which makes all things new. This is Christianity in brief.”

Jesus then makes this remarkably remembered and endearing statement. “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Notice how many times Jesus uses the personal pronoun “I.” Six times in verses two through four. Christianity is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. If we uttered these words as our own we would be blaspheming. However, for Jesus to utter these same words and promises is the essence of biblical truth and the gospel.

Dr. MacArthur explains that, “His departure would be for their advantage since he was going away to prepare a heavenly home for them and will return to take them so that they may be with him. This is one of the passages that refers to the rapture of the saints at the end of the age when Christ returns. The features in this description do not describe Christ coming to earth with his saints to establish his kingdom (Rev. 19:11–15), but taking believers from earth to live in heaven. Since no judgment on the unsaved is described here, this is not the event of his return in glory and power to destroy the wicked (cf. Matt. 13:36–43, 47–50). Rather, this describes his coming to gather his own who are alive and raise the bodies of those who have died to take them all to heaven. This rapture event is also described in 1 Cor. 15:51–54 and 1 Thess. 4:13–18. After being raptured, the church will celebrate the marriage supper (Rev. 19:7–10), be rewarded (1 Cor. 3:10–15; 4:52 Cor. 5:9–10), and later return to earth with Christ when he comes again to set up his kingdom (Rev. 19:11–20:6).”

The way that Jesus refers to is His own substitutionary death, burial and resurrection on behalf of sinners. This salvation becomes a reality for sinners through the instrument of God-given faith and faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Its basis is the sovereign grace alone. Its purpose is that God alone would receive all the glory.

Take some precious moments today to thank Jesus for preparing a place for you in heaven. Take time to thank God the Father for graciously choosing you to be a recipient of His love and mercy through Jesus Christ. Take time to praise and glorify God for this unspeakable gift.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: Where are You Going?

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” (John 13:36-38)

Even those with just an elementary knowledge of Scripture have probably heard or read about Peter’s three-fold denial of Jesus Christ immediately prior to His crucifixion. Equally true is people’s awareness of Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s self-same denial. The account, which is also recorded in Matthew 26:34-35; Mark 14:30-31; Luke 22:33-34, occurred during Jesus’ upper room discourse with the disciples.

If you have been following our study in the Gospel of John, you know that we are presently in John 13. The apostle writes that Jesus humbled Himself by washing each of His disciples’ feet: including Judas’. He also announced that one of His disciples, Judas, would betray Him.

With emotions running high, as you might imagine, Jesus then stated, in John 13:33 that He was going away and where He was going the disciples could not come. As usual, Peter spoke first in response and said, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”

Notice that Jesus did not say that Peter, and presumably all of the other eleven disciples, could not ever go to where Jesus was going. He said, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Take note of the word “now.” The word “now” is an adverb and means presently or immediately. We should also note that the personal pronoun “you” remains in the singular form indicating that Jesus was particularly speaking to Peter at this moment.

Jesus told Peter that while He was going to go to the Father, Peter could not go at this time, but would do so “afterward.” The word “afterward” is also an adverb and means later. Jesus was saying to Peter that while Jesus’ earthly work was coming to a conclusion, Peter’s was just set to begin. The apostle would have much to do before it was time for him to follow Christ to heaven. This would include Peter’s own martyrdom (John 21:18-19).

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “His (Jesus’) work was nearly finished; theirs was just beginning (Matt. 28:16–20Mark 16:15Luke 24:47). Particularly, Peter had a work to do (John 21:15–19). Only Jesus, as the sinless sacrifice for the trespasses of the world, could go to the cross and die (1 Peter 2:22–24). Also, only he could be glorified in the presence of the Father with the glory that he possessed before his incarnation (see John 12:41; 17:1–5).

However, and this is where the text takes a decisive turn, Peter was not satisfied with Jesus’ answer. He once again sought to elevate himself and boldly announced “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.”

Ouch! In response to Peter’s dramatic declaration was Jesus’ reasoned response pertaining to Peter’s trust and confidence in his own strength. Jesus used the familiar phrase “truly, truly” to emphasize that His predictive words were emphatically true. Rather than lay down his life for the Lord at this moment in his life, Peter would deny he even knew Jesus. It would be an act similar to Judas betraying Christ. Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Peter is undoubtedly sincere, but he does not know his own spiritual weakness and vulnerability to fear.”

Do you know your own spiritual weaknesses and vulnerabilities? Whatever we do for the Lord, we cannot and must not seek to so in our own abilities and strength. We must ever recognize our dependence upon Him. We must always recognize our responsibility to glorify Him.

2 Corinthians 4:5-7 says, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

As clay pots, let us continually depend on the One who uses us for His own glory. He even uses our failures.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: Love One Another.

“Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:33-35)

What did Jesus mean when He said to His disciples “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another?” The commandment to love God (Deuteronomy 6:1-5) and to love one another (Leviticus 19:18) were not new commandments. See Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:1-8.

In fact, Matthew 22:34-40 says, “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Even the Apostle John in his first epistle writes, “Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (I John 2:7-11)

Therefore, what did Jesus mean by His statement. Dr. John MacArthur sheds light on this question when he writes, “Jesus’ command regarding love presented a distinctly new standard for two reasons: 1) it was sacrificial love modeled after his love (“as I have loved you”; cf. John 15:13), and 2) it is produced through the New Covenant by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jeremiah 31:29-34; Ezekiel 36:24-26; Galatians 5:22).”

The unction or desire to love one another does not exclusively or solely come from an outward source, the Word of God, but also from an inner desire produced by the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is this self-sacrificial love of the will which should be a distinguishing mark of each believer in Christ. This is why Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Sometimes it is hard to love fellow believers in Christ. They do things which hurt. They say things which may hurt even worse than the things they do or do not do. I know! There have been brothers and sisters in Christ who have hurt me deeply. Not only does Jesus’ commandment keep me from continuing to be angry and bitter at the hurts I have received, it reminds me that as I have been hurt so I also have hurt others. I can only say that to those who I have hurt, it was not intentional. Yet, unfortunately it was still real. For that, I ask for your forgiveness.

Let all of us strive to love one another. The Apostle John explained it this way under the Holy Spirit’s direction. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (I John 4:7-11).

Take time today to contact someone and tell them that you love them with the love of the Lord. Don’t delay. Do it today. You may never get another opportunity.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: I will Glory in the Cross.

“When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.” (John 13:31-32)

As we have previously noted, repetition in the Bible is a sure sign of emphasis. In other words, God wants us to pay attention to what He is saying and one of the best ways of doing that is by repeating a particular word or phrase again and again. No pun intended.

Such is the case in John 13:31-32 where we find the word “glorified” or “glorify” occurring five times. The word glorify (δοξάζω; doxazo) means to praise, honor and to acknowledge an object as truly great or wonderful. We derive our English word doxology from the Greek word for glorify.

When Judas the betrayer had left the upper room to fulfill his God ordained activity  (John 13:21-30), Jesus proclaimed that He was now glorified. He used the familiar “Son of Man” title of deity in identifying Himself. However, how was Jesus glorified by Judas’ act of betrayal?

With Judas’ departure, the final events began to transpire which would lead Jesus to the cross, the grave and eventually to the empty tomb. All of these events, and their underlying purpose, would prove to bring honor, praise and greatness to our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Pastor Burk Parsons writes, “Certainly, we do not want to minimize the sheer awfulness and horrific nature of Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion. Yet, given what we read in today’s passage, we must also note that the death of our Lord was both the greatest travesty in human history and one of the greatest moments of glory ever seen. After Judas’ departure from the Upper Room, Jesus said to His disciples, “Now is the Son of Man glorified” (v. 31). This is a reference to the atoning death of Christ, which was imminent. John’s gospel tells us in several ways that the death of Jesus was a moment of supreme glory for our Savior. When Jesus asks for the Father to glorify Him at the right hour, that right hour is the hour of His death (17:1). When Jesus spoke of His being lifted up to draw worshipers to Himself, He was speaking of being lifted up on the cross of Calvary (3:14; 12:27).”

How did the cross bring glory to Christ? The Bible gives us four reasons.

First, the cross glorifies the justice of God (Galatians 3:10-14; I John 2:2; I John 4:10; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17). Jesus would become the propitiation for our sins. He would receive the righteous judgment and wrath of God in the place of sinners like you and me (2 Corinthians 5:21). Soli deo Gloria!

Second, the cross glorifies the almighty power of God who raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:24; Romans 6:3-5). In rising from the dead, Jesus conquered spiritual, physical and eternal death. Soli deo Gloria!

Third, the cross glorifies the supreme wisdom of God the Father (I Corinthians 1:18-31). What the fallen world despises, God glorifies: the preaching of the cross. Soli deo Gloria!

Fourth, the cross glorifies the love of God (I John 4:7-10). Soli deo Gloria!

Dr. R.C. Sproul concludes by saying, “Without the cross, there is no Christianity. In the atoning death of Jesus is revealed the glory of our Triune God, and if we do not preach the cross, then we are failing to glorify our Creator. When we share the gospel with others, we must emphasize the atonement, for in the atonement we see the character of God in His mercy and justice fully revealed.

When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain, I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

See from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet?
Or thorns compose, so rich a crown..

Oh the wonderful Cross, oh the wonderful Cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
Oh the wonderful Cross, oh the wonderful Cross
All who gather here by grace, draw near and bless Your name.

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: The Betrayer. Part Two.

Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.” (John 13:26-30)

The historical context is most important when examining any text of Scripture. This is certainly the case with John 13:26-30. What was the morsel of bread which Jesus gave to Judas?

For the host to dip a piece of bread in the common bowl (or on Passover, no doubt bitter herbs in a container of something sweeter) and hand it to someone was a sign of honor to the person receiving it. Giving the morsel to Judas was also an unspoken answer to John’s question as to the identity of Jesus’ betrayer (John 13:25). Finally, the morsel was also the Lord’s final extension of grace to Judas. The host’s giving a morsel of bread to a guest was a sign of friendship. It is ironic that Jesus’ final act of friendship to Judas signaled Judas’ betrayal of friendship.

Pastor Burk Parsons explains that, “The disciples also became troubled at the words of Jesus concerning His betrayal. They were able to get the disciple whom Jesus loved—John, author of the gospel account we are studying—to ask Jesus to identify the traitor (vv. 22–25). Jesus replied that it would be the man to whom He gave a “morsel of bread” after dipping it (v. 26a). The Greek word translated by “morsel of bread” does not have to mean bread—it can refer to other foods. Some commentators suggest Jesus was actually referring to the bitter herbs that the Jews would dip in the Passover charoset sauce, which was made from fruit. In any case, the passing of the food to a specific person makes the betrayal of Jesus all the more heinous. Hosts of a meal typically did that for the guest of honor, so the one whom Jesus singles out to honor is the same man who hands Him over to death. A greater betrayal can hardly be imagined (v. 26b).”

Judas became so determined to continue down his path to ultimate destruction that John writes, “Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him.” Judas had given himself completely over to Satan’s control and Satan gladly entered this willing vessel.

Jesus then said to Judas “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Jesus was undoubtedly in sovereign control of the events which transpired including Judas’ betrayal. The Apostle John adds that no one else understood why Jesus spoke to Judas in such a manner.

Dr. John Walvoord adds that, “Since no one grasped the significance of Jesus’ words, even the beloved disciple must have missed the intent of the sop until later. As Judas … went out, no one thought anything but good of him. They assumed that he, as the group’s treasurer (cf. 12:6), was going to buy food for the Passover feast or to give something to the poor. He had deceived his peers but not Jesus. And it was night in any other Gospel might simply be a time notice, but in John’s Gospel it probably also has symbolic significance. Judas was leaving the Light (8:12; 12:35, 46) and going out into the darkness of sin (3:19).”

People may deceive us, but not Jesus. We may deceive other people, but not Jesus. Let us resolve to live righteously today and honor the Lord who was dishonored on our behalf.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: The Betrayer. Part One.

“After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” (John 13:21-25)

Has someone ever betrayed you? A betrayer is a person you trusted and in whom you had placed your confidence who violated that trust and confidence. Synonyms include the words disloyalty, treachery, bad-faith, faithlessness, falseness, duplicity, deception and double-dealing.

While Jesus was in complete control of all the events leading up to and including His crucifixion, He was still troubled (ταράσσω; tarasso) and greatly distressed in His mind, emotions and will. This is the same word used of Jesus in John 11:33 and 12:27. It will also be used by Jesus in John 14:1 and 14:27.  As one commentator explains, Being human, Jesus was troubled over Judas’ soon betrayal of His love and friendship. Being divine, Jesus knew in advance that it would happen. Jesus sensed the spiritual hardness and deadness which sin had produced in Judas.”

Jesus then spoke in a familiar way by invoking the phase “truly, truly.” As we have already noted in previous texts from John’s Gospel, the phrase emphasizes that what Jesus was about to say was an important reality which was not to go unnoticed. Jesus said, ““Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” This was not mere speculation of Jesus’ part. He providentially knew that Judas’ betrayal was a certainty. This was a serious statement by the Lord.

The disciples, with the obvious exception of Judas, were in shock. “The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.” The word “uncertain” (ἀπορέω; aqporeo) means to be perplexed. In other words, the eleven did not know what to do or how to respond to Jesus’ statement.

Finally, Peter motioned to John. “One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking.” Peter wanted to know who it was who would betray Jesus.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that Simon Peter, the leader and perhaps the most emotional disciple, wanted to deal with the traitor. Luke 22:38, 49–50 mentioned that the disciples had two swords! The disciple whom Jesus loved was evidently John, the author of this Gospel. John and Judas were reclining next to Jesus, but Peter’s position at the table was not near enough to ask Jesus privately. So he motioned to John and asked him to ask Jesus whom He meant.”

John, in response to Peter’s request, complies. “So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?”

The IVP Background Commentary of the New Testament says, “Men would recline on couches at feasts (women would not dine in the same room with a gathering of men outside their family). Each person would recline slightly behind the person to his right; thus John could lean his head back and be even with Jesus’ chest. (They would lean on the left elbow with the right arm free and so could not cut up their food; it would come presliced at the banquet.) This beloved disciple (presumably John) has one of the most honored positions at the feast, along with the person on the left—perhaps Judas, as some commentators have suggested, given verse 26.”

When we meet again, we will see how Jesus identified His betrayer.

When someone hurts you, either physically or emotionally, it is hard to experience and often times harder to understand. There is a sense of violation. Thoughts come to one’s mind that raise questions about the sincerity of the betrayer ever having been a friend in the first place. There may also be emotional thoughts which prompt you to never again trust another individual. You vow never to allow yourself to be hurt again in the same way. What should you do?

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Romans 12:9-21 says, Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Ancient words, ever true.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

  

 

The Gospel of John: The Providence of Christ.

“I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (John 13:18-20)

How many times have you heard the expression “God is in control?” You may have even read it here in one of my blogs. You may have either heard me teach it in a Bible study I led or a message I preached. No matter when or where you have either heard a pastor preach/teach these words or an individual write these words, the phrase concisely expresses the doctrine known as the Providence of God. What is meant by providence?

Providence is a compound word literally meaning “to see before.” Biblically, providence refers to not only God being the creator of the universe but also its sustainer. In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28; Hebrews 1:1-3). Providence also refers to a truth called divine concurrence. Divine concurrence means that God is working in and through His creation and His creatures to bring about what He has planned.

The New Bible Dictionary explains providence as the unceasing activity of the Creator whereby, in overflowing bounty and goodwill (Psalm 145:9 cf. Matthew 5:45–48), he upholds his creatures in ordered existence (Acts 17:28; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3), guides and governs all events, circumstances and free acts of angels and men (cf. Psalm 107; Job. 1:12; 2:6; Genesis 45:5–8), and directs everything to its appointed goal, for his own glory (cf. Ephesians 1:9–12).”

Divine providence must be distinguished from the following philosophies: (a) pantheism, which absorbs the world into God; (b) deism, which separates God from the world; (c) dualism, which divides control of the world between God and another power; (d) indeterminism, which holds that the world is under no control at all; (e) determinism, which proposes a control of a kind that destroys man’s moral responsibility; (f) the doctrine of chance, which denies the controlling power to be rational; and (g) the doctrine of fate, which denies the controlling power to be benevolent.

Though we will not be able to exhaustively examine divine providence in this brief article, we do see it expressed in today’s text as well as throughout the rest of Scripture.

Within the context of John 13:18-20, Jesus was speaking to His disciples in the upper room on the evening before the events leading up to and including His crucifixion. He wants them to know, and this included Judas Iscariot, that He as God was in complete control of what would happen in the hours to come. He stated three aspects of divine providence which directly involved Him.

First, Jesus chose His disciples. “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen” However, among the twelve there was one who Jesus had not sovereignly and providentially chosen to be one of His followers. We know this individual to be Judas Iscariot (John 13:10-11; Mathew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6). The eleven received mercy while Judas received condemnation.

Second, Jesus chose Judas to fulfill a particular purpose. Even Judas and his subsequent actions were under the providential plan of Jesus Christ. “But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.” Jesus quoted from Psalm 41:9 in explaining to His disciples, including Judas, that nothing was then, and is now, outside of the Lord’s control.

Dr. R.C. Sproul explains that, “Jesus quotes Psalm 41:9 where David complains that one of his meal companions lifted up his heel against him. In the ancient Near East, to eat a meal with someone was a sign of friendship and trust, so it was especially terrible for someone who sat at your table to betray you. David was the greatest king of ancient Israel, so the psalm indicates that his betrayal was not incompatible with his position. The same is true of Jesus. He would be betrayed, but that would not make Him any less the King. Moreover, Psalm 41 also predicts the final triumph of David over his enemies. By quoting the psalm, Jesus indicated that despite His betrayal, He would have the ultimate victory over His betrayers.

Third, Jesus continues to sovereignly direct and work through the ministry of His disciples as God the Father chose to work through God the Son. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Dr. Sproul comments that, “To reject Jesus as Judas did was really to reject God, for to receive Jesus is really to receive God as Lord (John 12:44). Jesus said a similar relationship exists between how people receive us and how they receive God (13:20). When people receive Christians and the gospel they preach, they receive Christ, and in receiving Christ, they receive God. People might reject us in a manner similar to how Judas rejected Jesus, but ultimately they are rejecting God.”

Chapter Three of the Westminster Confession of Faith says, “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass (Ephesians 1:11); yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, (James (1:13); nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. (Acts 2:23).”

I do not know why God ordains certain circumstances to occur in our lives. I do take comfort that while men may take council against me, God purposes it for my good and for His glory (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28).

I encourage you to rest in the truth that God is in complete control of everything which has happened, is happening, and will happen in your life. We may not always understand what happens to us, or why for that matter, but we do know that God is providentially working all things in our lives for His glory.

Soli deo Gloria!