Grace, peace, and mercy to you Beloved in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Please take your Bibles out and look at John chapter one. I will read John 1:1-18. The sermon mainly will be from John 1:6. Read. Now let’s pray and ask God’s blessing on our time worshiping in His word. Pray.
This is our third sermon in our three-sermon mini-series on the Message of Jesus Christ. In our first sermon we looked at the divinity of Christ. That Jesus is eternal God. He is the second Person of the Trinity. Last week we looked at the humanity of Christ. Jesus was made like His brothers in every way, except He is sinless that He might be our holy sin-bearer. (Heb.2:11-18) Jesus is our suffering and sympathetic Savior Sacrifice. We can never meditate on Jesus and the wonders we have in Him too much.
Now today we are looking at the proclamation of that Christ. People telling other people that Jesus is the Christ. And that this Christ is Immanuel. (Mt.1:21-23) Jesus is the eternal Son of God now come in the flesh. He is the Son of Man. Jesus is the Savior of sinners. (I Cor.6:9-11) He saves us from the wrath of God to come. He saves us to be God’s beloved children forever. (Rom.8:14-18, Jn.1:10-13, Eph.5:8) He gives us rest. (Mt.11:28-30)
He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. (Jn.1:29,36, Rev.5:6) And the apostle John who wrote this gospel account tells us this about our Jesus in the book of Revelation…
Revelation 7:17. for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Beloved, happy are those that are found in Him. Happy in this life, happy at the hour of our death, and eternally happy in the age to come. (Heidelberg catechism 1, 2, WSC 32, 36-38)
Well my desire this morning is just to unpack that idea of people who believe in Jesus telling other people that Jesus is the Savior so that they would believe in Him and be saved also.
Now let’s look at the proclaimers that we have before us in our passage this morning.
John 1:6. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
John 1:14. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (I Jn.1:1-3)
Here in our text we have two extra-ordinary ministers particularly in view.
We have John the Baptist. Look at v.6,7, 8, and 15. Then we have the apostle John, the writer of this gospel account. Look at v.14 and 16. John includes himself in the ‘we’. We beheld Christ. We believed in Christ. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus in the presence of the apostle John and others and said, behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (Jn.1:29)
Extraordinary officers are preachers called by God in some extraordinary way. Like this John and John. God called John the Baptist from his mother’s womb like Jeremiah. (Jer.1:1-4) Read Luke 1:5-80. And Jesus Christ Himself called the apostle John away from his father Zebedee to cease fishing for fish and to become a fisher of men. (Mk.1:17-21, Mt.4:19-23, Lk.5:10-11, 6:14)
But even though these men are extraordinarily called, they are still very ordinary men in one sense. John the Baptist is an itinerant preacher wearing a camel skin coat and eating bugs and honey, living out in the wilderness. He has no home. He has no things. Nothing the world esteems valuable. (Mt.3:4, Mk.1:6) And the apostle John is a fisherman. A laborer.
And beloved, think especially of the lowliness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the Lord of glory, but He left glory for Calvary. The Master of all became a servant of all. The lowest of servants. Washing feet. Crucified as the worst of criminals. He did this for us. (Phil.2:1-11)
God chooses the lowly of the world and He give us this tremendous treasure of Christ crucified in earthen vessels, dust as we are, so He gets all the glory. (2 Cor.4:7) Christ is going to turn the whole world upside down using the lowly of the world! (I Cor.1:21-31) Amazing grace.
And Christ’s servants will say at the end of it, Lord see what your gospel talent has done. (Lk.17:10, Mt.25:20) Martin Luther said, when he arrived before the throne of Christ he will say, Lord I have done nothing, your word has done everything. God causes the growth. (I Cor.3:6-7)
Now ordinary ministers are ministers called by God after the end of the apostolic era. Men like Timothy and Titus. And all pastor preacher evangelists after them. (Eph.4:11) Read I Timothy 3 and 5 and Titus 1 and I Peter 5 they speak about these men.
God inwardly calls them to their preaching of Christ ministry. And then He outwardly confirms their call by opportunity to preach and confirmation of their preaching by other Christians. The presbytery laid hands on Timothy affirming that God called him into the pastoral preaching ministry. (I Tim.4:14)
I would say the primary application of our passage on the proclamation of Jesus as the Christ is to the gospel ministers, preacher-pastor-teacher-evangelists.
By which we learn, God is the one that has distributed gifts and calling. God is the one that places His children where He wants them within the Body of Christ. (Rom.12:3-13, I Cor.12:1-31)
To one child-servant He makes a mouth, a spokesman, a herald, a preacher-pastor. To another child-servant He makes a foot, a hand, and so all. All fit together perfectly according to His wisdom and power to build up the Body of Christ. All are servants of Christ in their God-appointed calling, gifts, and opportunities.
Though the main application is to ministers, this passage does apply to every single person that knows Jesus savingly. While all Christians are not all called to preach Christ. (WLC 156, 158, James 3:1-3)
Every true Christian has Christ. We know Christ. We have passed from death to life, from darkness to light. We are saved. We have the words of eternal life. We have the gospel talent. Every believing father and mother testifies of Christ to their children. Grandparents to grandchildren. And so on. (Rev.1:6, 5:10, 20:6)
Every saved person in Christ can tell another person about Christ. You can witness of the Light of Christ and to the Life in Christ. Oh beloved, what eternal value your life has!
Now let’s look at particularly the divine calling of ministers. God calling certain men to preach Christ.
John 1:6. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.
Here are a few basic things we learn. God only calls men to preach in His church, as officer bearers. There is equality in Christ. No male, no female. Both have a body and a soul. Both are equally forgiven and loved. Both will be equality glorified in Christ. (Gal.3:26-29)
But remember we said, God is Lord over His church. He governs all that He has created and all that He has redeemed. It is the revealed will of God in the Bible that only men be admitted into the office of preacher.
But I would be quick to say, not all men should be quick to be teachers. (James 3:1-3) Out of His redeemed people God choses only a relatively small number to be His commissioned heralds. This is His sovereign will. And Father knows best. (I Tim.2:9-15, I Cor.14:34-35, I Tim.3:1-2)
You remember that the angel Gabriel came to John’s father Zacharias and told him that his old wife Elizabeth (a relative of the Virgin Mary’s) was going to give birth to the forerunner of Christ, the Messiah Savior. This was foretold in the book of Isaiah.
Isaiah 40:1. Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. 2 “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD’S hand Double for all her sins.” 3 A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 4 “Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; 5 Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” 6 A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. 9 Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him And His recompense before Him. 11 Like a shepherd He will tend His flock. (Mt.3:3, Mk.1:3, Lk.3:4, Jn.1:23)
God has His heralds preach His fulfilled word, so that we would believe in His word.
Next we learn that God’s heralds of Christ are sent by God. Equipped by God. Commissioned by God. That kind of a thing. Think, set apart by God for this specifically religious work.
John the Baptist was a Nazirite from his birth. He was to be totally set apart by God for one special holy religious purpose. (Lk.1:15, Num.6:1-12) John the apostle the same thing. Christ told John, no more fishing for fish. I separate you to fish for men with the gospel.
Romans 1:1. Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son,
Acts 6:2. So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3 “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Now I do not usually like the idea of secular versus sacred because I believe all work we do as Believers is sacred, devoted to the Lord. (Col.3:23-24) We are all servants of Christ. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. (Mt.23:1-12)
But the idea with divine sending or calling and separation is that this is the office and the work of that office that these men are authorized by Him to hold this office and perform these functions. Preaching Christ is their life. It is their service to Christ as determined by Christ.
John 13:20. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (Jn.13:16-20, Mt.10:40, Lk.10:16, I Jn.4:6, Jn.15:20)
I Timothy 4:12. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
And of course, the thing that this corrects is the error and the danger of men that are not called by God. They are self-called. They may be sent by some body of men. But they may not be sent by God. These are the people that want to be teachers of the law and of the gospel but they are ignorant of both. They ought not to be teachers in Christ’s church. But they push themselves forward. (Acts 20:28-31, Jas.3:1-3, I Tim.1:6-7, Jude 1:1-25, Deut.18:1-14. Do not listen to these ones. Deut.18:15-22. Do listen to this One)
God through the prophet Jeremiah warns His church about this very danger.
Jeremiah 14:13. But, “Ah, Lord GOD!” I said, “Look, the prophets are telling them, ‘You will not see the sword nor will you have famine, but I will give you lasting peace in this place.'” 14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. (Jer.23:21)
As an aside, people love self-called men. These are the men that preach peace-peace to people in their sin. They tickle the ears as Paul tells Timothy. (2 Tim.4:1-4) They give the people what they want. Or at least they give the goats what they want. So the people give these self-sent ministers what they want. Honor and money and women. (Jer.5:30-31) Their god is their belly. Their god is their pride. (Jude 1:12-16) Their destruction is certain.
Now let’s consider the complete devotion to the work that preachers are called to have. First remember, all of us as Christians are required by Christ to give Him our all, body and soul. Because He has purchased us body and soul.
But in a special way, Gospel preachers are required by Christ to pour themselves out like a drink offering in the ministry of His gospel. Spurgeon said that he was going to work himself to death in preaching Christ. And then pray himself alive again.
John the Baptist did not preach Christ out of selfish gain. He said, may I decrease and may Christ increase. The apostle John could not cease telling people, Christ is the Light of the world, Christ is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Christ. He was so faithful to witness and testify of Christ that the Roman authorities put him on the penal colony on the Isle of Patmos.
Revelation 1:9. I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
Paul said this.
I Corinthians 9:14. So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. 15 But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. 19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.
Now let’s focus a little bit on the subjects that these preachers are to preach.
Ministers are to engage in nothing but the ministry of the word in general. And the ministry of the Gospel according to the word in particular. I am not saying that they cannot partake of lawful recreations and things like that. Of course they can. But for their duties as a minister pastor teacher they are to confine themselves to the word of God. (2 Tim.4:1-8)
Minister ought to be especially on their guard not to become amateur politicians or practitioners of this or that movement and begin to preach these things. If a man desires these things he ought to follow the example of Abraham Kuyper. Put down the Gospel word. And engage in your other things.
God sent John to tell the people to repent of their sins and to flee from the wrath of God to come. God’s heralds are His watchmen that He requires to give the people the alarm of impending danger. (Ezek.34:2, 3:18-20, 33:6-9)
And the minister is to call people to believe in the Christ to come. John was a preacher of Christ, of His gospel. (Mt.3:3, Isa.40:3, Mal.3:1)
Many of us have view about the virus and the governmental restrictions put upon us. As a minister I tell myself, “John stay in your lane”. My lane is between Genesis and Revelation. That is my calling. And the center of my lane is John 3:16. What we are looking at in John 1:1-18. Jesus is my lane.
Love. And the goal of our instruction or the heart of our instruction is love. (I Tim.1:3-7)
Lastly, let’s consider the results of sowing the gospel seed.
Christ alone is the grounds of our salvation. He kept the precepts of the Law. He paid the penalties of the Law. Faith alone is the instrument of our salvation. By faith we receive Christ and all His merits. (Rom.3:22-25, Gal.2:16-20, 3:22-26, Eph.1:5, Phil.3:9, Col.1:4, 2:5)
And proclaiming Christ alone is how we believe in Him unto salvation. And the proclamation is either by the written word or the spoken word. This brings us into a living relationship with the Living Word Jesus. (I Cor.1:17-25, Rom.1:16) It appears so weak. Maybe even silly. Preaching Jesus will bring people to salvation in Jesus??? Yes! The power of God unto salvation.
John 1:11. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (Gal.3:26, I Jn.5:1, Col.2:6, 2 Cor.5:17, as MANY – you cannot exhaust grace)
John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (whoever – no barriers to come)
James 1:18. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.
I Peter 1:23. for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. (I Cor.15:1-5)
I Corinthians 10:17. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Now, not everyone will believe. Many will not. Perhaps most will not. To them the gospel of Jesus is the stench of death. They have given their heart to self, to sin, and to the world. But to those that are appointed to eternal life – they will believe.
And whoever believes in Jesus. Jew, gentile, black, white, rich, poor, male, female will be saved.
Whatever sin one has committed, no matter the quality or the quantity – if you believe in Jesus you WILL be saved. You WILL be forgiven. (Acts 10:34-43, Isa.49:20-22, Eph.2:12-21, I Cor.6:9-11) Beloved, Christ has come to seek and to save sinners. Believe and be saved. And now you are no longer a guilty sinner. You are a beloved son or daughter of God. Covered by the Blood.
And so, the gospel of Jesus is to us the aroma of eternal life. (Acts 13:48, 2 Cor.2:14-17) Beloved, the word of God, the Gospel word of Christ will not go out from God’s servants and come back to God empty. God will reap a harvest of souls with the Good News of Jesus Christ! (Isa.55:11, 2 Cor.11:22-23, Rom.9:7, I Jn.3:1, Eph.2:1-10)
- Why are the two natures of Jesus Christ necessary for Him to be the Lamb of God? What does it mean that Jesus is the Lamb of God? (Jn.3:16, Mt.1:21-23, I Cor.6:9-1, Rom.8:14-18, Jn.1:10-13, Eph.5:8, Mt.11:28-30, Jn.1:29,36, Rev.5:6, Rev.7:17, WLC 38-42)
- What two ‘Johns’ are spoken of in John 1:1-18? Describe some things about each man. (Lk.1:5-80, Jn.13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7,20, I Jn.1:1-3 compared with John 1:14-16)
- In what way or how are OT prophets and NT apostles ‘extraordinarily’ called by God to be His heralds? Describes elements of the extraordinary call of God and commissioning of God upon the two Johns in our passage. (Lk.1:5-80, Mk.1:17-21, Mt.4:19-23, Lk.5:10-11, 6:14, Mt.3:4, Mk.1:6)
- What lessons do we learn about God’s choosing lowly men to be His preachers? What lessons do we learn about God choosing lowly people to be His people? In what ways are the two Johns lowly or ‘common’. Why does God not ordinarily choose people that are esteemed as high and mighty in the eyes of men? How is Christ after the flesh lowly? (Isa.55:8-9, 2 Cor.4:7, I Cor.1:21-31, Lk.17:10, Mt.25:20, I Cor.3:6-7, Isa.53:1-12, Phil.2:1-11)
- Describe the ordinary office bearers in Christ’s church? What are they? Who are they? How does God call and commission these men? (I Tim.3, 5, Titus 1, I Pt.5, Eph.4:11, I Tim.4:14)
- What do we learn by God distributing different gifts to individual members of His church?How can you use your gender, your relations, your gifts, and your opportunities to serve Christ by serving others? How can you share or serve Christ, His gospel, and the Bible to other people? (Rom.12:3-13, I Cor.12:1-31, Phil.2:1-11, Titus 2:1-15)
- What are the God-approved minister-preacher-pastor-teachers called by God to do? (Rom.1:1-3, Acts 6:2-4, Col.3:23-24, Mt.23:1-12, Jn.13:20, Jn.13:16-20, Mt.10:40, Lk.10:16, I Jn.4:6, Jn.15:20, I Tim.4:12-16, Rev.1:9, I Cor.9:14-19)
- Describe self-sent preachers, preacher-pastor-teachers that are not sent by God. Why do they preach? What do they preach? Why do people like them? What kind of people like them? Who does not like them? And why? How do you spot them? What should you do when you see them? (Acts 20:28-31, Jas.3:1-3, I Tim.1:6-7, Jude 1:1-25, Deut.18:1-14. Do not listen to these ones. Deut.18:15-22. Do listen to this One, Jer.14:13-14, Jer.23:21, 2 Tim.4:1-4, Jer.5:30-31, Jude 1:12-16, Phil.3:19, Acts 20:29, Col.2:15-23, Gal.1:6-10)
- What does the call to repent and believe entail? Repent of what? And why? Believe in what? And why? What do these requires require of the person calling other people to repent and believe? (Ezek.34:2, 3:18-20, 33:6-9, Jn.3:16, Rom.5:1-10, Mt.3:3, Isa.40:3, Mal.3:1, I Tim.1:15)
- What are the results of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others? What two ‘smells’ does the gospel have? And why are their two different ‘smells’ of the same Good News? What is the difference? Can anyone come to Christ and believe in Him and be saved? (Rom.3:22-25, Gal.2:16-20, 3:22-26, Eph.1:5, Phil.3:9, Col.1:4, 2:5, I Cor.1:17-25, Rom.1:16, Jn.1:11-13, Gal.3:26, I Jn.5:1, Col.2:6, 2 Cor.5:17, Jn.3:16, Jas.1:18, I Pt.1:23, I Cor.15:1-5, I Cor.10:17, Acts 10:34-43, Isa.49:20-22, Eph.2:12-21, I Cor.6:9-11, Acts 13:48, 2 Cor.2:14-17, Isa.55:11, 2 Cor.11:22-23, Rom.9:7, I Jn.3:1, Eph.2:1-10, Jn.6:27-51, Acts 13:48)
- Extra Credit. Interact with these two quotes. Martin Luther: when I arrive before the throne of Christ I will say, Lord I have done nothing, your word has done everything. Charles Spurgeon: I am going to work himself to death in preaching Christ. And then pray myself alive again.