COMMITTED to train men and women
to have minds for the Lord Jesus,
hearts for the truth, and
hands that are skilled to the task.

Sermons on John

THE FUTURE IS UP TO YOU

Before we go into our biblical text, let me quote Chris Hedges, a war correspondent who witnessed plenty of power struggles:
“Not having to make moral choices frees you from a great deal of anxiety. It frees you from responsibility. And it assures that you always be wrapped in the embrace of the powerful as long as, of course, you will do or dance to he the tune of powers play… When you do what is right, you often have to understand that you are not going to be lauded and praised for it. Making a moral decision always entails risks, certainly to one’s career and to one’s standing in the community.” Chris Hedges

“It is perfectly possible for a man to be out of prison and yet not free- to be under no physical constraint and yet be a psychological captive, compelled to think, feel and act as the representatives of the national state, or of some private interest within a nation wants him to think, feel, and act… To him the walls of his prison are invisible and he believes himself to be free.” Aldous Huxley “A Brave New World Revisited”

“So, you see, that the world is governed by very different personages to what is imagined by those who are not themselves behind the scenes.” Benjamin Disraeli (1801-1884)

“The world is divided into three kinds of people – a very small group that MAKES THINGS HAPPEN, a somewhat larger group that WATCHES THINGS HAPPEN, and a great multitude that NEVER KNOWS WHAT HAS HAPPENED.” Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler (1862-1947)

Pastor Erwin Lutzer in his book subtitled “A defense of Christ in an Age of Tolerance” writes this hypothetical story:
“In A.D. 303, the Emperor Diocletian has issued a new order, requiring all people to attend the religious/political ceremony designed to unify the nation and revive lagging patriotism within the empire. Specifically, this ceremony involves burning a bit of incense and saying simply: CAESAR IS LORD. Those who do this receive a seal of approval; those who don’t might well be put to death.
Christians discussed the issue and what their response should be. The answer is not as obvious as it seems. For one thing, they actually would not have to stop worshiping the true God; after they have sworn their allegiance to Caesar as Lord, they are free to privately worship whatever god they wish. Every religion is tolerated; freedom to choose ones own god is generally accepted. Indeed, there is richness in diversity.
Second, this was not simply a religious decision, but a political one. Caesar was convinced that it was not possible to be a good citizen without affirming his lordship. The argument was that if one had allegiance to a god above Caesar he could not be trusted in time of national emergency, a war, for instance.
Third, this requirement was but once a year. Even if one did not tell a lie, forgiveness through Christ was readily available. Why not argue, as some did, “For a moment my mouth belongs to the Emperor, though my heart always belongs to Christ.”
Rome was cruel. Many converted pagans who were now in the church had observed firsthand the brutality of the Roman citizens.
If Christ were seen as one option among many, Christians could give allegiance to other expressions of the divine. Why not find common ground, the central unity of all religions.
So the choice, strictly speaking, was not whether the Christians should worship Christ or Caesar; it was whether they would worship Christ AND Caesar.”

Edward Gibbon in “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” stated:
“All religions were regarded by the people as EQUALLY TRUE, by the philosophers as EQUALLY FALSE, and by the politicians as EQUALLY USEFUL.”

GOD SEEKS OUR WORSHIP

Worship has its focus on what we do with our lives.

John R.W. Stott
“Christians believe that true worship is the highest and noblest activity of which man, by the grace of God, is capable.”

Chuck Swindoll in his study Bible writes:
“It is attributing supreme worth to God, who alone is worthy of it. When we worship, that’s what we’re doing.
The purpose of the church is to cultivate worshipers. It isn’t a place to make business contacts or to go to check something off the weekly list or to bring your kids so they get something out of it. No, it’s a place to learn about our God so that our worship and understanding of Him become increasingly deeper and more meaningful. It’s a place where we give Him our praise and our gratitude.
Why is worship so important? Because it turns our full attention to the only One worthy of it.”

Jesus was using the element of water as a metaphor to describe a spiritual reality, something that would meet not just a need of the moment but a need for all eternity.

Chuck Swindoll has a wonderful commentary on verses 19-20
“Oh, you’ve been to seminary. You must be extremely smart. Let me ask you something I’ve always wondered about. How do you reconcile the great existential problem of God’s sovereignty and the free will of man?”
Only in her culture, the great debate revolved around the most appropriate place to worship an omnipresent God.

John 4:23-24
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,
for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

“IN THE BEGINNING”

Christianity Today Magazine published an article titled:
“The Epidemic of Bible Illiteracy in Our Churches”
“Christians claim to believe the Bible is God’s Word. We claim it’s God’s divinely inspired, inerrant message to us. Yet despite this, we aren’t reading it. A recent LifeWay Research study found only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. Over 40 percent of the people attending read their Bible occasionally, maybe once or twice a month. Almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible—essentially the same number who read it every day.”
……Our lack of biblical literacy has led to a lack of biblical doctrine. LifeWay Research found that while 67 percent of Americans believe heaven is a real place, 45 percent believe there are many ways to get there—including 1 in 5 evangelical Christians. More than half of evangelicals (59 percent) believe the Holy Spirit is a force and not a personal being—in contrast to the orthodox biblical teaching of the Trinity being three Persons in one God. As a whole, Americans, including many Christians, hold unbiblical views on hell, sin, salvation, Jesus, humanity, and the Bible itself.

Chuck Swindoll in his commentary on this subject writes:
“When Moses told the story of creation, he drew upon the literary symbol of light to communicate an important truth. After the formation of space and matter, the Lord filled the void and formless earth with light – literal light, yes, but not merely illumination. Before He fashioned physical sources of light on the fourth day – the son, moon, and stars – He filled the universe with the light of His presence, with truth, the foundation upon which everything else would be built. Before giving the world order (dividing day from night, sky from earth, dry land from ocean), the Lord suffused every atom with His truth so that everything would reflect His character.”

IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF THE WORLD

In the World, but not of the World!
These are hard sayings and for many of us difficult to understand. Yet, at the same time, it is imperative that we take a closer look at the words spoken by our Savior Jesus Christ during His great intercession recorded here in the Gospel of John.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus was constantly a witness of God’s faithfulness. Whatever He said, whatever He did on this earth, it always pointed to the Father’s faithfulness.
Let me explain a very difficult subject regarding glory. When we seek glory, we do so at the expense of the glory of God. Not so with Jesus, because the glorification of the Son is the glorification of the Father. In other words, when the Son is exalted, so is the Father, because they are ONE. Here in this prayer, Jesus simply asked the Father for His glory back because He knew that He must be lifted up on the cross in order to be lifted up in the sight of the angels.
Jesus was ready to go home to be with His Father once again because His work on earth for which He came was about to be finished. He was the witness of the Father’s faithfulness without exception. He finished the work the Father has given Him.
According to Jesus own words found in verse 17, sanctification comes through the Word of God. The Word of God is the instrument God uses to separate us from this world system we are living in. It is that truth that eventually defines godly relationships. Or saying it another way, you cannot have godly relationships without being in the truth. And you cannot understand what a godly relationship looks like without understanding the content of the Gospel, the Word of God.
Neither can you and I understand what it means to LIVE IN THE WORLD BUT NOT BE OF THE WORLD apart from understanding the Word of God. It is the Word of God that will separate us, that will sanctify us, that will protect us from the Evil one.
This world may call us whatever they want, but a Christians true IDENTITY is not found in this world, but is FOUND IN CHRIST ALONE. We may live in spiritual Babylon today, but we are not OF SPIRITUAL BABYLON.
Understanding and Obeying the truth, the Word of God, will sanctify us, will separate us, will protect us from ever becoming a part of spiritual Babylon, becoming a part of this world. Daniel understood this and so should we. We are living in this world to glorify God. We can endure all things THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS US. Daniel could endure, so can we. Daniel never compromised the Truth, instead he studied and obeyed the truth.

I Also Send You

What a week it has been for those who followed Jesus and those who came to the temple in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Three full days have passed since the masses demanded that their King should be crucified. The Romans, as prophesied in Scripture long ago, did the gruesome task and killed the Prince of Peace, not knowing that with it they would zeal their own fate as a nation.
We need to understand that Jesus work on the cross was finished just prior to giving up His Spirit into the Father’s hand. There was no more punishment to be paid for our sins. IT IS FINISHED.
Letting Jesus body hang on the cross for a longer time period or to be thrown on the garbage dump WAS SOMETHING THE HEAVENLY FATHER WOULD NEVER HAVE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN TO HIS SON. The work was done. And it is here where two disciples, secret disciples, stepped in and asked for the body of Jesus from Pilate.
Mary Magdalene is the person from whom Jesus cast out 7 demons. She was the first person mentioned to be at the tomb which was at that time already empty. When the angels asked the question: WOMEN, WHY ARE YOU WEEPING? She did not reply because of GRIEF.
Mary recognized the risen Lord when He called her by name. She recognized HIS VOICE. A typical characteristic of a sheep in relation to the shepherd. In other words, John did not write these words of God on paper that people might believe the right things, that they might be orthodox, or that their theology might be sound.
He did not call Jesus Master or Teacher or Messiah. Thomas called Him Lord, which is the same word translated from the GREEK Old Testament YAHWEH. Thomas confessed that Jesus was Yahweh, His God, standing before him in the flesh. Thomas confessed the deity of Jesus Christ. Jesus never rebuked him for it.
Listen, there is a more important purpose, a purpose beyond coming to the knowledge of the truth of Christ.
“…and that believing you may have life in His name”.
That’s exactly what Jesus said earlier, found in John 10:10b
“ I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

God’s Appointed King

Probably over one billion people on this earth will celebrate Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday over the next eight days. However, way too many do not understand the historical and spiritual significance of what truly took place over 2000 years ago in and around Jerusalem. The Apostle John is giving us many details of these days Jesus was spending with them, and all four gospels record the event described in our text.
6 days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. Needless to say, people heard about what Jesus had done and wanted to come and see this resurrected Lazarus for themselves.
When I observe what is going on in the USA today I cannot help to believe that the church in this country has been placed on a reservation. We are allowed to exist, we are allowed to practice our faith, and we are allowed to pray in our churches. But we are forbidden from moving off the reservation and into the public square to make public proclamations of faith. We are not allowed in a public event to pray in the name of Jesus. The sad part of all this is that not just secularist are howling when we dare wander off the reservation to proclaim Jesus as the ONLY SAVIOR OF THE WORLD, but most mainline denominations do the same. WHY? Because they also, like the religious leaders of Jesus’ days, enjoy peace on the reservation and they certainly do not want to become targets of the RULING GOVERNMENT. We do not want to disturb the peace and want to live in peace and enjoy prosperity even if it means that we have to live on the reservation.
Mary saved this perfume for Jesus burial, but somehow she was not willing to wait until they buried Him. She wanted to give this gift to Jesus NOW. Mary knew that she could minister to the poor tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. But Jesus would not be here always. As Lazarus was watching, the one who just a few weeks ago was rotting away in a tomb, Mary poured this costly perfume on the feet of Jesus.
I wonder how many times we are busy trying to do some humanitarian outreach in the name of Jesus, while totally ignoring to love, worship and exalt Him with our devotion.
The people’ interest in Jesus is based upon a false expectation. Jesus is God’ appointed King, and as such, he does never come to do the masses’ bidding. He came then to Jerusalem to fulfill the Father’s mission, much more glorious than any of us could ever envision.
They rejected Him, because their expectations were not met. Yet through it all, he brought salvation to all people. He became the chief cornerstone.

WHAT SIGN Do You Show Us?

Last Sunday we heard John the Baptist introduce Jesus to the Jews by proclaiming: BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.
Every miracle, every sign Jesus performed during His entire ministry on this earth was done so with a very specific purpose. God never does anything without a specific purpose. In this case, the Apostle John is revealing to us that Jesus did this signs and miracles not for their own sake but to point to something that was SIGNificant. These signs always pointed to Jesus Himself, the only one able to represent God’s kingdom. The only one God the Father ever said: THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED.
Why did God chose a wedding for His son to perform the first sign during His earthly ministry? And why did God chose to turn water into wine for thirsty guest? Why not turning water into grape juice?
WHAT SIGN?
He became the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins. He has done away with the Old Testament requirements. No animal sacrifices, no temple tax, now show bread, no altar of incense, no Holy of Holies, no ark of the covenant. He nailed it to the cross for good. He is the firstborn of many brethren. NOW THE CHURCH IS THE TEMPLE OF THE LIVING GOD.
What sign do you show us? For you and me, it means to be reminded that we are the newly raised temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in us, and because of that we are here to glorify God in our body and in our spirit.
Jesus’ signs pointed toward something much more SIGNificant than the sign itself, it pointed toward the glorious truth WHO HE REALLY IS, the Redeemer, the Savior of the World, the Only begotten Son of God, fully man, fully God. The KING OF GLORY.