A Man Sent From God I - RR197B3
The media player is loading...
|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission|
Let us worship God. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him, He also will hear their cry and will save them. Oh Thou that hearest prayer unto Thee shall all flesh come. Let us pray.
Our Lord and our God we give thanks unto Thee that Thou dost hear and answer prayer. And so we come our Father to commit unto Thee ourselves, our hopes, our joys, our fears. Hear the prayers of all of us and in Thy mercy and grace give us that which is needful. We thank Thee our Father that day after day we live, move and have our being in Thee whose mercy and grace we already know in Jesus Christ. Teach us to walk day by day in the fullness of trust, in the fullness of hope and faith and love. Grant us this in Christ’s name, Amen.
The scripture this morning is John 1:15-34 and we shall deal with this this week and next. Our subject: A Man Sent from God. John 1:15-34.
“ John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
The credentials of John are very, very strongly stressed
The credentials of John are very, very strongly stressed by the New Testament. They are from God. Malachi 3:1 speaks of John’s coming as God’s messenger. John in verse twenty one denies that he is Elijah come back to earth but our Lord says if ye would receive it this is Elijah which was for to come. Moreover our Lord says of John that he is a prophet and more than a prophet. But this is not all. Our Lord declares that John the Baptist is the greatest man of the entire world’s history before Himself. At the same time he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. Furthermore all who believe in Christ will not only do His work but John tells us subsequently greater works than these shall he do. The believer is called to a dominion work. To bring all the world and all things in it into captivity to Christ. Great as John the Baptist was we are all called to greater works. Notice that our Lord’s emphasis is on works. This is because faith without works is dead. Our works reveal our faith, a bad faith manifests bad works. In brief John is important and Christ says he is, at the same time, our Lord says that greater works are required of us. We must not construe this works as miracles. John was not a miracle worker, he did summon men to a living, working faith. In Luke 3:1-18 we see very clearly that this was John’s message. John’s witness of Jesus begins with a threefold emphasis: First the coming one is the man whom the prophets spoke and John says this was he of whom I spake. He cites Isaiah as a prophet of Christ’s coming in verse 23. [00:08:30]
Second the coming one is greater than John and He is
Second the coming one is greater than John and He is the focus of John’s preaching and work. Third the coming one is not only greater but also preexistent, he was before me, a fact stressed repeatedly by John, here in verses eighteen and thirty. In verses sixteen and seventeen the apostle John again speaks. John the Baptist’s testimony is the witness of all believers, all of us have received of Christ’s fullness, that is, His grace and truth according to verse fourteen. The fullness of the Godhead is in Christ, Paul tells us and from Him among other things we receive life, peace and joy and also the gift of the Holy Spirit. We also receive grace for grace, grace is even added to grace. We receive grace because He gives it, not because we merit it. All this is possible only because He is God incarnate. Because of His fullness we are inexhaustibly supplied. His fullness means that which fills and God alone can so supply man’s need. The law was given by Moses we are told, that is, it came through Moses. Moses gives us God’s very words, we are told over and over again the Lord spake unto Moses or God spake all these words, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. He is the incarnation of grace and truth because He is God the Son. Grace and truth cannot exist in abstraction from God. He is their only source, therefore in Christ the fullness of grace and truth walked the earth. The Greek word translated as truth can also be translated as reality. Truth and reality are not abstractions in the bible. In modern man’s thinking truth and reality can be two different things. [00:11:22]
The truth can be an ideal and the real something bad
The truth can be an ideal and the real something bad but for the bible neither can be defined apart from God. He is truth and He is reality. It is truth, it is reality thus that we see in Jesus Christ. Anything in separation from him is a lie. The law given by means of Moses was an expression of God’s grace and truth given to covenant man. Now that grace and truth, that reality, comes into the world in all His fullness. In verse eighteen John sums up all that is sad in verses one through seventeen and prepares us for all that is to follow. The invisible God is incarnated in Jesus Christ. He is the declaration of God, the word declared is our English word exegesis. An exegesis is to bring out the meaning of the Bible, to make known. So when you exegete something you explain what it means. While Jesus Christ according to the Greek text is the exegesis of God. He is the definition of God, we do not need therefore to speculate about God, we know Him in Jesus Christ. Our Lord tells us in John 14:9 he that hath seen me hath seen the father, this is why all attempts to know God apart from Jesus Christ are false. Man’s ability to know God is limited but very real. By the incarnation we are delivered from our speculation into God’s sure revelation and declaration, His exegesis. We must not therefore rely on our thinking about God nor on our ideas about God because our thinking reflects still the willful blindness of man’s sin. Rather our total dependence must be on God’s revelation and declaration, His exegesis of Himself in Christ. [00:14:24]
In Jesus Christ God Himself answers fully the question
In Jesus Christ God Himself answers fully the question who and what is God. Jesus Christ is that exegesis, that declaration. We dare not now have a speculative or a false opinion because the true revelation and exegesis has been given to us in Jesus Christ. This is why John says to us that grace and truth came to us in the person of Jesus Christ, neither can be separated from Him. In verse nineteen we return to John the Baptist the man sent from God. We now have his record on witness again. The Jews we are told sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask who art thou? The reference to the Jews is a usage limited in the gospels to the apostle John. John was an Israelite or Galilean from the northern tribes but he did have close connections to highly placed Jews including the high priest according to John 18:15. In his gospel John separated himself from the Judeans by this term, as perhaps the closest himself to the Jerusalem leadership; he most stresses his separation from them. By the term ‘the Jews’ he means the ruling elite of the nation. A deputation of these men now comes to John the Baptist, they are disturbed by the prophetic and messianic character of John’s ministry and so they ask ‘who are you’. In a sense John the Baptist was taken more seriously than Jesus Christ in that no deputation ever called on Jesus, only hostile critics from the elite. John however was not respected for his ministry but for his lineage, because he was the son of a priest and an important one, Zachariah, as priest the leaders were respectful of priestly blood so they showed respect for John. In verses 20 and 21 John the Baptist begins his testimony to them; he was not the Christ he said. [00:17:19]
It was this which was on the minds of the deputation
It was this which was on the minds of the deputation members, was John the messiah? Three questions were asked of John, all messianic in their concern, all three titles are denied by John, first, he says, he is not the Christ. Second he is not Elijah physically returned to earth. Our Lord through John lets us know that in a sense he is Elijah in that Elijah predicted judgment upon the nation and John the Baptist also predicted judgment upon the nation. Then third, he is not the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15-18. Moses in that text refers to the messiah but rabbinic thought separated this great prophet from the Messiah as another person. John’s answers are brief: these men have no desire to believe so he neither wastes time on them nor seeks to please nor to offend them. In verses twenty two through twenty five the interrogation of John the Baptist continues. We are told that these were men of the Pharisees, the ruling priests were Sadducees and were not likely to be concerned about the Messiah; therefore the deputation was made up of Pharisees, men to who the matter was of greater concern. The Sadducees were politically liberal in that they were ready to work with Rome. Religiously they saw themselves as conservatives because of their strict adherence to the letter of the law. They rejected the doctrine of the resurrection of the body and they saw the law only as a means of government. As an elite group of the prominent and the wealthy they saw themselves as the governing class. The Pharisees were anti-Roman or anti-foreign. Socially and politically they were intensely conservative but religiously they were regarded as liberals by the Pharisees because they added tradition to the law and sometimes gave greater weight to tradition. [00:20:25]
This is an interesting fact because it tells us something
This is an interesting fact because it tells us something very important. Labels linger on when the reality is gone. In a sense neither the Pharisees nor the Sadducees had a legitimate title of liberal or conservative. They were simply riding hobby horses that were important to them for a variety of reasons having deep roots in their history. As a result their reputation either as liberal or conservative was a very faulty one. This is important because we face the same situation today both in the political and the religious spheres. The words have lost a lot of their meaning. In the religious sphere we have many a church that calls itself Calvinist that is not in the least bit interested in Calvinism, in fact, that would be true of the overwhelming majority in this country and in other countries as well. Labels linger very often when the reality is gone and when the reality is gone it means that truth no longer is important. The tradition has replaced truth and when that happens the people, unless they return to the fundamentals of the faith, are in deep trouble. Let us pray. [00:22:33]
Our Father we pray for Thy blessing upon us as we read
Our Father we pray for Thy blessing upon us as we read Thy word and as we apply it. Thou knowest oh Lord better than we how great a time of judgment we live in. We commit ourselves unto Thee that by Thy providence we may be protected and blessed in the day of adversity that we might be used in a great way for the future of Thy kingdom. This we ask in Christ’s name, Amen.
Are there any questions now about our lesson?
[Rushdoony] Yes. That according to all sound exegesis is Jesus Christ. But for some reason or other a school of thought in Judaism began to hold that it was someone distinct from the fore runner, John the Baptist, and therefore they tended to complicate it. The whole picture was complicated because they really split up the work of the Messiah into several persons: this great prophet, then the messianic king and then the suffering servant of Isaiah 51. So their thinking here was very confused and in fact what did predominate in their thinking was a king and a Jewish empire. Yes? [00:24:51]
[Rushdoony] Yes, John said he was not Elijah come back again. Now the Jews believed that Elijah would physically return. To this day in all synagogues there is a chair for Elijah when he returns. Now what our Lord stressed was that he was in a sense an Elijah because first of all Elijah came predicting the downfall of Israel. So he was a prophet of judgment and as the long passage in Luke 3 tells us, I believe verses three to eighteen, this is what John the Baptist stressed, he said the axe has been laid to the root of the tree. Israel is going to be cut down. This is why his teaching created so great a sensation so that while he was out in the wilderness they came to him by the thousands to hear him preach. In effect he was saying by being in the wilderness you are going to have to leave Jerusalem and the cities and flee because they are to be destroyed. And by his garment and the way he was eating, he was saying you are going to have to live off the land in the time of desperation. They got the message, they were deeply upset. And as a result it was a sensational ministry. But our Lord’s point is alright, what is Elijah the prophet of judgment, Israel will be destroyed, taken into captivity, but this time it shall be destroyed. So our Lord was stressing the nature of the calling as identical with that of Elijah. [00:27:36]
[Rushdoony] Well, of course if you had any physical defect you could not become a priest but it was unusual for someone with John’s talent, very capable, to avoid the priesthood and assume the role of a prophet. Yes?
[Question] In verse eighteen it says the only begotten son which is in the bosom of the Father ye hath declared him. My understanding is that the Godhead is three separate persons, what else is this telling us about Christ being in the bosom of the Father? What further knowledge do we have from that?
[Rushdoony] Yes. What it is saying is that the incarnate Jesus Christ who always was as the second person of the Trinity in the Godhead, He now is here to exegete Him, to declare Him, to reveal Him.
[Question] So that’s what the bosom means in other words, the representative of God the Father.
[Rushdoony] He is the declaration of Him, not merely the representative and of course our Lord at one point says before Abraham was I am. And His use more than once of the term I am which is what the name of God means, Yahweh or Jehovah, He who is, or I am that I am. So our Lord makes clear who He is. The leaders got the full meaning of that, not all the people did, most of them did not. Yes? [00:30:06]
[Rushdoony] Yes. He is one with the Father, He is with the Father. Any other questions or comments, yes?
[Rushdoony] It says that no man hath seen God at any time, God the Father, because the references you see towards the end of the verse is to the Father. So the word God can be used in the bible for the Holy Spirit and the Son, here as you go on it says the Father, so no man has seen God the Father at any time. But we have the exegesis, the revelation, the declaration of Him, in the incarnate Son, God the Son. Any other questions or comments? Well if not let us conclude with prayer.
Our Father, we thank Thee that we have in Jesus Christ the exegesis, the declaration, the revelation of Thy being. We pray our Father that we may know Thee better day by day, serve Thee more faithfully, become instruments of Thy power and always rejoice in Thy mercies. And now go in grace, may the peace of God the Father, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost descend and rest upon you now and forever more, Amen.