John 1; John Sees What is Right With The Church

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

John 1:26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 

 1:27       He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 

I have already noticed something different about the book of John. The other gospels record the strife between the disciples as to who is the greatest. John does not record this strife. John speaks about John the Baptist leading people to Jesus and not to himself. In John 3:30 John records John the Baptist saying, “He must increase, I must decrease.”  I think John is focusing on what is right with the church instead of what is wrong.  He is giving us some good role models. Former U.S. President, Bill Clinton, once said, “Nothing is wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” I choose to believe that there is nothing wrong with the church that cannot be cured by what is right with the church. Of course, Jesus is what is right with the church, but let’s look at what else is right with the church.

1:40 One of the two which heard John [speak], and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 

 1:41       He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 

 1:42       And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. 

 1:43       The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 

 1:44       Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 

 1:45       Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 

 1:46       And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 

 1:47       Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 

 1:48       Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 

 1:49       Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.  

 1:50       Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 

We have Andrew who is working hard and quietly behind the scenes to bring people to Jesus. In the other Gospels we never heard him mentioned by name, like we did James and John in the fracas as to who was the greatest. We never heard him making outrageous boasts like Peter made. About the only other time we hear of him, is when he found a boy with a sack lunch that saved the multitude from hunger. Andrew seems to work best one on one and without much fanfare. I would say he is what is right with the church.

Next we have Nathanael. Nathaniel seems to be a man of prayer. Jesus says Nathanael is an Israelite who has no guile! Wow! I pray Jesus can say that about me! That would be awesome. I do not know of a higher compliment that Jesus ever gave to anyone, and he gave it to a man the other three gospel do not even mention, and is only mentioned six times in the book of John, five of those times are in this brief story above. This tells me there are people in our church today who have no guile. We may not notice them because they are not drawing attention to themselves. They are quietly praying and bringing people to Jesus instead of arguing over who is the greatest.

Luke 3; Pointed Testimony

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 3:7 Then said he [John] to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 

 3:8         Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 

 3:9         And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 

John does not sound like the evangelists we have today! His appeal, if you can say he even had one, was not very cordial. John did have a burden for souls. So much so, that he did not want to lull anyone into a fatal sense of false security. His burden was so deep, that he wanted them to know that baptism is not just about getting wet, but about truly washing away your past. Repentance is a turning away from sin, and just like a groom must fall in love with his bride before the wedding, as he forsakes all others, so must the one being baptized forsake his love affair with sin and the world before being baptized. John was being faithful not only to God but even to those he preached to. He ended up getting his head literally chopped off, because he loved Herod so much that he would not lie to him and help him feel comfortable in his sin. Likewise today, we must overcome the temptation to lessen the guilt of those who trample God’s law and still want to be baptized. When we do lessen their guilt we are doing no favor to them or God or even ourselves.

     The gospel is now opposed on every side. Never was the confederacy of evil stronger than at the present time. Spirits of evil are combining with human agencies to war against the commandments of God. Tradition and falsehood are exalted above the Scriptures; reason and science above revelation; human talent above the teaching of the Spirit; forms and ceremonies above the vital power of godliness. Grievous sins have separated the people from God. Infidelity is fast becoming fashionable. “We will not have this man to reign over us,” is the language of thousands. God’s ministers must lift up the voice like a trumpet, and show the people their transgressions. The smooth sermons so often preached make no lasting impression. Men are not cut to the heart, because the plain, sharp truths of the word of God are not spoken to them. 

     Many of those who profess to believe the truth would say, if they expressed their real sentiments, What need is there of speaking so plainly? They might as well ask, Why need John the Baptist have said to the Pharisees, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” [Matthew 3:7.] Why need he have provoked the anger of Herodias by telling Herod that it was unlawful for him to live with his brother’s wife? He lost his life by speaking so plainly. Why could he not have moved along without incurring the anger of Herodias?

     So men have argued, till policy has taken the place of faithfulness. Sin is allowed to go unrebuked. When will be heard once more in the church the voice of faithful rebuke, “Thou art the man”? [See 2 Samuel 12:7.] If these words were not so rare, we should see more of the power of God. The Lord’s messengers should not complain of their efforts’ being fruitless until they repent of their love of approbation, their desire to please men, which leads them to suppress the truth, and to cry, Peace, when God has not spoken peace.   

     Would that every minister of God realized the holiness of his work and the sacredness of his calling. As divinely appointed messengers, ministers are in a position of awful responsibility. In Christ’s stead they are to labor as stewards of the mysteries of heaven, encouraging the obedient and warning the disobedient. Worldly policy is to have no weight with them. Never are they to swerve from the path in which Jesus has bidden them walk. They are to go forward in faith, remembering that they are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. They are not to speak their own words, but the words that One greater than the potentates of earth has bidden them speak. Their message is to be, “Thus saith the Lord. –Gospel Workers, p. 149-150

Matthew 11; Hope For Those Who Doubt

After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.

 2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

 4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

 7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

   “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
   who will prepare your way before you.’[c]

   11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.. Matthew 11:1-11 NIV

Here is hope for all of us. If John the Baptist had doubts, no wonder we have doubts too. However Jesus still affirmed the ministry of John the Baptist even though he was weak and doubted. What a wonderful Savior we have!

Read more on John the Baptist in Matthew 11 here.