© Charles A. Clough 2013
Charles A. Clough
1 John Series
Lesson 5 – Application of Scripture to Our Lives:
Interpretation of Scripture
06 Oct 2013
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
I want to take time to answer these [questions] so today we won’t be getting into the actual exegesis of the first epistle. Two questions I want to address because they’re important questions; and they deal with the elements of studying the Word of God. One of them was raised by Sharon because I had spoken last week because Joel and his dad who raise the grapes on the vineyard pointed out that when you prune the vine, you’re stressing it to produce more fruit. I went on to quote 1 Corinthians 10. If you’ll turn to 1 Corinthians 10 I want to go into this passage because I said that there’s a famous verse there, verse 13.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
But Sharon, who has lived through a lot of medical suffering in her life and her husband’s life, quickly came up and asked me, “Well, that sometimes … 1 Corinthians 10:13 is often times just quoted in a sort of callous way to try to encourage people going through suffering.” But she says, “When you sit there in the doctor’s office and see that chemo flowing into your veins for the first time, you have to think about 1 Corinthians 10:13.”
Her point was that in the middle of a test it may be common to other believers; but the problem is that the way of escape from that or the way of handling that is not obvious to you because you’ve never had that crisis in your life before. So it’s not so easy to use 1 Corinthians 10:13 in the middle of a crisis situation because it’s not like God’s way of handling that is something you’re familiar with at that moment. God’s way of handling that is going to happen and going to help you; but the problem is if it’s a crisis, it’s something new in your experience. So it’s pushing the envelope.
So to go back to the vine illustration when you prune it (I guess I’m right Joel) you’re stressing the vine. Well, before you pruned it the vine wasn’t stressed; so you’ve introduced a stress by the pruning. Well, that’s the way the Lord works in our lives. He introduces the stress to produce the fruit.
So what I want to do is I want to go back to 1 Corinthians 10 and go through that context of that verse.
One of the issues in Bible study is context. When you study this and exegetical sources what they usually do is give you a series of concentric circles. The first inner circle is the immediate context of that situation you’re dealing with. Then the next circle out is the entire letter or the entire book that you’re dealing with. Then the larger context is all the literature in the Bible that’s authored by that same author. Then your next circle out is all of the Scriptures. You have to work out from the context.
So we want to look at the context of 1 Corinthians 10:13 because I want to answer the problem of people who want to trust the Scriptures but find when they go to just one verse it’s hard to apply that verse.
You’ve seen this slide [Slide 2] several times. I share the word here but I want to go back to the faith-rest drill. This was originally devised by a military trainer because military trainers like to give you procedures—one, two, three, four. It’s not trying to turn the Christian life into some mechanism; it’s just trying to help think through things with an orderly way of thinking.
The first step here is to grab a portion of Scripture. It’s ambiguous what portion to grab because each person is different. Every one of us has particular areas of Scripture where we’re strong in and other areas where we not even acquainted with. So it’s whatever the Holy Spirit has taught you. It’s whatever Scripture is handy for you to get ahold of. So that basically is the first step here.
The problem comes in the second step and that is to unpack its truths, to surround the circumstance. By surrounding it means strategically enveloping the problem so that the Scriptures—the truth of the Scriptures—appear bigger and more comprehensive than the immediate crisis.
Now that process can be very fast if you are familiar with a lot of the Scripture. Other times it can take weeks to work through where you’re actually able to trust the Lord in the middle of this trial; and we’ve all had that situation. It’s not easy to do that. It’s particularly not easy to do it when you’re facing a situation you’ve never faced before. Yes, other believers have faced that. The problem is you haven’t; I haven’t. It’s something new in our life so it takes time.
Now in 1 Corinthians 10 there’s a context to this verse. The context if you look at it—look at verse 1. Let’s start approaching that verse 13. This is the context of that promise.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 10:1, “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,
2 “all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
3 “all ate the same spiritual food,
4 “and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
5 “But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
7 “And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’
8 “Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;
9 “nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;
10 “nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”
That last clause is not talking about idolatry or immorality; it’s talking about complaining. The complaints there are complaints against God’s provision which really demeans His character.
11 “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
12 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
Then we have the promise.
From verses 1 through 12 is an application, we have Jewish history. That verse 13 is not isolated from real Jewish history. The problem that I want to introduce here and this is why over and over I’ve said again and again; you have to think of the Bible in terms of the framework. If your Bible knowledge is limited to fragments, you get out maneuvered when you try to apply it to a crisis problem because fragments don’t work. You have to see the big picture and you have to master that picture to be able to get a big enough trust in the Scriptures to cope with whatever the disaster happens to be.
Now there’s an analogy. We are in spiritual war. There’s an analogy from military history. I am going to read a section here from Strategy by B. H. Liddell Hart. When I was in the Air Force Air Command and Staff College, this was required reading. The reason it’s required reading is because B. H. Liddell Hart happens to be one of the prominent 20th century military thinkers. This book is written to deal with how to think about strategy. B. H. Liddell Hart was the one who was very, very influential in history in teaching the Israeli army tactics in 1948 to survive the Arab attacks in an Arab attempt to destroy Israel.
As you remember, the Jews in 1948 didn’t have any tanks. They had one or two airplanes; and they needed to figure out how to cope with a well-equipped Arab force. It was B. H. Liddell Hart who studied 2,500 years of military history and distilled as he went through war after war after war; he distilled what the winning strategy was. He calls it the indirect strategy.
The idea of an indirect strategy in the field would be tactical envelopment where instead of frontal attacks as in Civil War, World War I. They were very costly at sending thousands of troops into a machine gun. World War II became far more strategic maneuvers. It became flanking maneuvers. It became aerial attacks. It became feints where you feint for example an invasion of Italy and you leak that to German intelligence so they drift all their assets down to southern Europe while we invade Normandy. It was that kind of maneuverability. But B. H. Liddell Hart got his wisdom from studying history.
Here’s what he says about why it’s so important for officers to study military history and it applies to this same concept in our spiritual life and why in 1 Corinthians 10 Paul approaches that promise by going through history.
It helps us to realize that there are two forms of practical experience.
Now this is written to military guys, officers in charge of units.
It helps us to realize that there are two forms of practical experience—direct and indirect; and that of the two, indirect practical experience may be the more valuable because it’s infinitely wider. Even in the most active career, especially a soldier’s career, the scope and possibilities of direct experience are extremely limited.
The example being in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of the surviving units have never shot and killed anybody. They survived IUDs. In contrast to the Vietnamese who were trigger pullers and who personally shot people and got shot at. It’s a different kind of thing coming out of those wars based on limited experience. So this is what he’s getting at.
Even in the most active careers, especially a soldier’s career, the scope and possibilities of direct experience are extremely limited. In contrast to the military, the medical profession has incessant practice yet the great advances in medicine and surgery have been due more to the scientific thinker and research worker than to the practical practitioner.
Direct experience is inherently too limited to form an adequate foundation for theory, for practice.
So the argument there is that’s why you need the flow of history. That’s why the Old Testament is so important. We have a lot of New Testament Christians that are quite ignorant of the Old Testament. The problem is the New Testament epistles assume knowledge of the Old Testament.
This is what 1 Corinthians 10 is doing here. Direct experience of the Corinthians (not the Jews in Israel) in Corinth—their personal experience was too limited. So Paul had to strategically enlarge their vision. He had to utilize centuries of history. That’s why 1 Corinthians is of this order.
Now I want to take you to the Old Testament passage that Paul probably had in mind when he wrote 1 Corinthians 10.
Let’s go back to the Old Testament, the Book of Deuteronomy, and go to Deuteronomy 8. Deuteronomy was addressed, unlike Leviticus, not to the priests, but this was addressed to the layperson. It is for the laymen. It is Moses expounding the Torah in terms that the average Jewish family would understand. This is why Jesus, when He encounters trials, He Himself quotes Deuteronomy, because it was kind of a handbook of spiritual principles.
So in Deuteronomy 8 God says:
NKJ Deuteronomy 8:1, “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers.
2 “And you shall remember …”
By the way, notice the frequency of zakar. In Hebrew zakar is the verb to remember. It’s always remember, remember, remember. Remember what? Remember history because indirect experience is superior to personal direct experience. Remember.
2 “And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”
3 “So He humbled you,”
Here’s the center. Here’s one of the most famous passages that Jesus quotes and we often quote. Watch the lead in.
3 “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know,
So now He’s sending these people into a situation to stress them. Remember the vine. Pruning the vine stresses the vine to produce fruit. He is saying right here that those people are being forced in their life to be in a situation they were not in. That’s why answering the question that Sharon brought up last week about 1 Corinthians 10:13 because you can’t take one verse apart from the big experience of Scripture.
So what we’re saying is:
NKJ Deuteronomy 8:3, “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna …”
The word manna means “what is it”? The Hebrew word for “what” is ma. The brand name of whatever the substance was—we would love to know what the substance was by the way. If anybody could recreate manna, we could solve the hunger problem because this was perfect nutrition with no other additions to the diet. Manna was it. It satisfied the caloric needs of the human body, the nutritional needs of the body; but we still haven’t got a clue what it was. God apparently, by allowing them to name it “what is it”, isn’t going to tell us what it is because that’s the title. We don’t know what it is, but whatever it was new in their experience. It was not part of their direct experience.
“that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every …”
If you have a King James translation you’ll see “word” is in italics; but that’s not what the Hebrew says. The Hebrew says man shall live by everything that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Now the everything that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord was the things that God did to bring water out of rock, to bring clothing that never wore out.
What was going on in the fabrics of the shoes and the clothes? We don’t have a clue what was going on. It was not part of their direct experience. It was part of a new thing where the pruning had happened to stress, to force them to trust the Lord in a way they had not been required to trust Him in Egypt. This was new.
Joel is bringing up the Maslow Hierarchy. Psychology is really interesting to study. The problem is it is so screwed up. We forget that the two fathers of psychiatry were probably both demonic. Gustav Jung, brags over the fact that he got his ideas from the spirit Animus; he also talked to a demon called Philemon. These are the fathers of 20th century psychology, which sort of suggests that their ideas might not be too scriptural.
Exactly. The modern psychologist has usurped the role of the pastor. Sadly many pastors have become passive to this. If they have a problem, it’s like the Word of God can’t solve the problem. You’ve got to have a specialist to draw in to deal with bipolar or something else. If a person has a hormone problem, it’s not a psychological problem. It’s a medical problem; and a doctor should handle that. But if it’s a psychological problem it’s the Word of God.
“All Scripture is sufficient for everything.”
That includes these kinds of problems. That’s a whole other story. It gets back to the authority of Scripture. That’s the history.
So what God is doing there is He’s obviously showing these people. He’s leading them out in a perfect analogue to the vine, of pruning it to create more fruit. The way He prunes us is to introduce experiences in our lives that stretch us beyond our comfort zone. That’s the way He works. It’s uncomfortable because He wants us to rely on Him in a fresh way. So that’s the way you use 1 Corinthians 10:13. It’s not a canned verse. It’s not a verse to be used out of the fact that, “Well, I know He did this before and so on.”
“Well, now I know a new thing and I don’t know how to cope with this thing.”
That’s precisely the reason why it’s happening—so that we will look up. That’s the answer to the first question from last time.
The next question I want to address again deals with how we think about Scripture and whether it’s 1 John or some other Scripture. That is one that Mitch raised last time. That is the question about when you see in John the term “of God”, is that term in Johannine terms talking about an unbeliever who God has called into faith? Is that what he’s talking about? Or, is John talking about the issue of Jewish confrontation with the Messiah? I said last time as we were reading the issue of John 8 and the dialogue got pretty vicious there.
There was a Jewish confrontation and Jesus says:
NKJ John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do ...”
This is not the kind of thing you learn to teach in a politically correct environment; but that’s the way Jesus was teaching. In that section Jesus is talking about the issue of these people having to trust in Him. Now we’re going to go into John’s literature in a moment.
But before we go into the way John expresses himself because this is a principle of Bible study. When you read John, you have to understand how John phrases what he wants to teach. How John phrases is not exactly how Paul phrases things. For example, John has his own way of talking about God’s sovereignty. Paul has his way. With Paul, you see it in Ephesians 1. You don’t see that kind of expression in John because John’s not Paul. He approaches it differently.
Here he gets back to a tool. This is one you’ve seen before. It’s the ameba diagram [Slide 3]. This should follow 1 Corinthians 10:13. This is a quick example of the fact that you take a fragment of Scripture. It can quickly be strategically enveloped by unbelief. This is why the famous apologist at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, Cornelius Van Til, argued that you could prove that Jesus’ tomb was empty and a consistent non-Christian would simply reply absorbing what you’ve done by saying, “Well, it’s an unusual universe. Strange things happen. You might as well send it to Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”
So you’ve won the battle; but you lost the war. What’s happened there is strategically you got out maneuvered because your piece got sucked up. So, then what we want to do—next slide please [Slide 4].
The point here is that you present an integrated framework, so a portion of the Word of God is presented to an unbelief part of the network. The arrows there if the diagram worked would have sections, modules. So you’re presenting the Word of God as a coherent package.
This is something we need to understand as believers. The Word of God is a package deal. You don’t buy pieces of it. You buy all of it or you don’t buy any of it. We have a lot of people, particularly as our culture becomes more and more irrational; people become unable to think consistently. We have a cafeteria approach to the Bible where I pick the pieces of the Bible that appeal to me personally; and I don’t bother with the other things. We don’t break the Scriptures up into a cafeteria-type thing. We take the Bible as a package deal. That’s the point again of 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Let me go to the next slide [Slide 5]. This is the one we started the class with, and we keep going back to this. When you look at any thought or literature or hear any conversation, you want to mentally categorize it as that which falls into the biblical tradition or that which falls into the tradition of unbelief and pagan thinking.
Notice at the bottom what happens here. The ultimate agenda—in investing you always say, “Follow the money.” In spiritual things you want to follow the agenda. Where does this thing lead? Unbelief has as an ulterior motive to excuse me from my responsibility before God. That’s the bottom line. All the exotic ideas are out there to render me irresponsible.
“I don’t want to have to answer to my Creator. Therefore, I will create a worldview. I will create an interpretation of life that makes me a victim, so I don’t have to be held accountable.”
The biblical tradition holds that we are accountable ultimately. It doesn’t matter what you say you believe or what you say you don’t believe, you are going to be held accountable—period. When it comes to the judgment you don’t blow smoke into God’s face. We are responsible. Now the issue that comes up here is the fact that God is also the Creator, and we are the creatures.
In theology we’ve had big debates over the years between what we call particularly in Protestantism, Calvinism, and Arminianism—this theologians are struggling with how can we explain causation in history. They will take causation—the idea that this causes that—and they apply it to God in the same way that they see causation operating in the everyday world. The problem is causation cannot be common. The meaning of causation can’t be common across the Creator/creature boundary.
God creates in a way we don’t understand. Ultimately God is incomprehensible. The only thing we comprehend about our God is what He self-reveals to us in His Word. Beyond that we do not know certain things. How He is able to sovereignly handle history and preserve responsibility is a mystery. Nobody has ever answered that.
But where you get fuzzy is where you insist the Creator/creature boundary doesn’t exist; and you make this big philosophical assumption across the board. So that’s been the fight going on. It of course shows up in the issue of eternal security.
But here’s the ironic thing. Eternal security, even if you believed it, wouldn’t help you if you weren’t assured that you were saved. Right? Here’s the problem. Consistent hardline Calvinism argues because of its Doctrine of Perseverance that if you don’t persevere, you’re not really saved. The problem with that is that then I don’t know whether I am saved until I die because I don’t understand. I can’t be assured that I’m going to persevere.
Perseverance is a word that should be applied to the grace of God. It’s God’s grace that perseveres, not Charlie Clough. The perseverance causes a problem here. So ironically here the hardline Calvinists are pounding the table for predestination; but then when you push them, they can’t provide assurance that I’m saved.
This is probably not true of Calvin by the way. There are scholars out there who have pointed out that Calvin might not have been a Calvinist. The reason is the second and third generations—and we have to be careful here because we don’t want to come down hard on them.
But, the second and third generations of Protestants were facing a Catholic counter reformation. What the Catholic counter reformation was arguing was that, “You Protestants with your Doctrine of Assurance create license. You license licentiousness in the Christian life by your Doctrine of Eternal Security. By not teaching eternal security, you keep people in fear of God, and therefore you prevent licentious living.”
That was the argument of the Catholic counter reformation. In order to protect against that, the Protestant Calvinists developed the idea that, “Well, we’ll say that you can be elect, but you don’t know that you’re elect.” That was their countermove to the Catholic countermove. You have to understand that. When Calvin originally wrote that, he wasn’t bothered with that because he hadn’t been faced with that yet.
Then comes the Arminian. The Arminian would take for example John 15, the branch, the third kind of branch, as loss of salvation. There they don’t have assurance of salvation. No Arminian can be assured of salvation because he doesn’t know whether he’s going to defect. So the irony here is the issue ultimately is assurance. If you think of the word faith, faith according to Calvin is assurance. If you aren’t assured, you don’t have faith. So faith and assurance go together.
We hold to eternal security. I want to show you how John phrases things. Let’s turn to John 3 because John 3 is very, very critical to understand all of his writing.
It’s easy to remember this because we all know John 3:16. It’s the most familiar passage in the Bible.
So if you anchor and say, “Gee, how does John think?” Just take John 3:16. John 3:16. John 3:16. So let’s go to John 3:16.
NKJ John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
That’s the intent of God. God loves, and God wants to save people. He doesn’t take pleasure in sending people to hell. That’s not the point. You can’t find anywhere in the Scriptures double predestination. It doesn’t exist in the Scripture. There’s an asymmetry between God’s people.
People who are saved can say, “I’m elect from eternity past.” But someone who rejects can’t say, “I was predestined from eternity past.” That is an asymmetrical feature of Scripture. You can see it in Romans 11, Romans10, with the asymmetry of the verbs. We won’t go there now. Let’s go here, verse 18.
NKJ John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
This is what John saw. Keep in mind He saw these things. That’s why he wrote about John 8. He saw Jesus go into the temple. He saw the reaction, the hostility of reactions against Jesus. So to John, Jesus is the center of this whole thing.
Your response to Jesus says whether you’re saved or not saved. When he walks into the Jewish quarters, he’s watching who is it around here that’s accepting Him as Messiah. Those people can be fresh believers. But in most cases what John is looking at is the response of the Judaistic cult community there. In other words, Old Testament saints. They should have accepted Him.
If they had believed Moses, what does Jesus say? You would what? “You would believe Me.” So if they don’t believe in Jesus, what John’s conclusion is then they must not believe in the Torah because if they believed the Torah they were Old Testament saints; if they were saved saints of the Old Testament dispensation they would respond to Jesus. If they don’t respond, then they weren’t believers in the first place. So this is where He sees Jesus as the great divider.
Jesus is sort of … the thing is the litmus test. Well if you finish reading this section, just a few more verses; look at what he says … why? This John does and he does it several places. Here he explains and reveals why people do not believe in Jesus. It’s not because ultimately they have an intellectual problem. They have a deeper problem than the intellect.
NKJ John 3:19, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
What does it say? “men loved darkness.” They don’t want the light because their deeds were evil.
NKJ John 3:20, “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”
But then he says this and this is why he’s talking about, in this context, the Old Testament believers.
NKJ John 3:21, “But he who does the truth …”
For John that means a believer who is responding to Scripture because it’s not just a point. It’s a process.
NKJ John 3:21, “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
So he divides the population, the Jewish population here, into these two categories. This is something that is hard. It’s really hard to think this through. Those of you who became Christians later in life, you can understand this; but I think if you became a Christian early in life, you probably don’t. For those of us who became Christians later in life, we can remember probably being uncomfortable around somebody who was witnessing to us before we were saved. Is that true?
Why were we uncomfortable? Why was I uncomfortable? I remember that. I had believers witnessing to me. It was kind of like … I wanted to be polite to them; but I didn’t want to be too close to them. Now why was I reacting that way? I was reacting that way because as an unsaved person I knew deep down in my heart whether I fully recognized the consequences or not, I knew that I was not right with God and I knew they represented Him. In one sense the gospel repelled me. I felt uncomfortable around that. And I think we all sense that. Those of you who have family members and you are trying to witness to them, you are sitting there and ask, “How do I do this?”
You don’t normally do this. You don’t want to be antagonistic to your family; but gosh you have to deal with the gospel whether it’s going to blow up in your face or not. It’s something you have to pray about and ask God’s wisdom to figure out how to do this.
It’s like those guys in Iraq that are working with IUDs like Marla’s son-in-law. He’s over in Afghanistan trying to disarm IUDs in the road. How do you like to feel sitting there and you’re working with this explosive device and in a fraction of a second you’re meat if this thing blows up? So in that sense, that’s the uneasiness. Those guys are very uneasy. They’re trained well, but the adrenaline is pumping when they’re sitting there with their screwdrivers and electronic gear trying to deal with this bomb that is only inches away from them. That’s the uneasiness that John has.
Now I want to take you to another section of John, John 1:6. We’ll see this when we get into 1 John, the first few verses. As I said when we started this class, when you are a student of Greek, you love John because it’s simple Greek; but the problem is this guy writes simple Greek, but man the content of this stuff is heavy stuff. He doesn’t start out with a sweet little introduction. John always dumps a load right on the first few verses because he gets into big metaphysical issues—like here.
NKJ John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Now you see how there he’s establishing the background to Jesus by going to creation, the Creator/creature distinction.
He was in the beginning with God. By the way, he’s distinguishing between the Word and God. So now we’ve got multiplicity going on inside the Godhead. So we’re engaged with the Trinity right off. That’s why we had a whole section on the Trinity.
NKJ John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
That’s something else characteristic of John. John will state something and then he will say the negative to it. He will state a positive; he will state a negative. You will see that almost every single verse in 1 John is either a positive or a negative statement—positive, negative, positive, negative. We’ll go into why he writes that way when we get there. But here’s an example.
NKJ John 1:3, “All things were made through Him,”
Then to sharpen that statement he drives in the negative.
“and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
That negates the question of being iffy about creation.
Next, he says:
NKJ John 1:4, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
By this John means not just soteriological light but epistemological light. This is a powerful thing that John is going into—how you know.
NKJ John 1:5, “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
NKJ John 1:6, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
NKJ John 1:7, “This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.
What was John’s role? John the Baptist’s role, not John the Apostle’s role. John the Baptist was the prophet. Now here’s a principle that operated for centuries in the Jewish community—a king or a messiah. Mesek means to anoint. Who anointed the Jewish legitimate kings? He was always a prophet.
We talk about in politics today the dark rooms and the smoke-filled rooms and the kingmakers. But there really were kingmakers in the Old Testament. They were kingmakers who were prophets of God. They were the ones. It was Samuel that picked out David, not Jews—God working through Samuel. Now what had to happen of course the king had to convince the public that he was indeed the anointed one, true. But it started not with a Gallup poll; it started with a prophetic anointing.
So here the Gospels, all four Gospels, do not begin with Jesus. All four of them begin with John the Baptist. Why is that? Because the New Testament is hooked into the Old Testament. This is a Jewish community and you read here where it says:
NKJ John 1:7, “This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.”
Who is the all? It’s the Jewish community. Jesus was coming not to the Gentiles. He was coming to the Jews, and He wants the Jews to believe in Him.
8 “He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
10 “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
11 “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”
That’s the sadness in John. His own did not receive Him. It bothered John and that’s a passion of this apostle of why a nation rejected its Messiah and so forth. So I hope that gives a little bit of the flavor to it.
There is one more passage I want to take you to one more passage, John 5, and we have about two minutes to do this.
In John 5:44—that’s the verse I quoted earlier. See what it says?
NKJ John 5:44, “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?
45 “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust.”
The word “trust” in verse 45 is not the word believe. He very carefully distinguishes it.
He said, “You trust,”—elpizo is the word he uses. You trust. It is sort of a casual hope.
NKJ John 5:46 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.”
So this is the heart of John’s theology. As we get more and more into 1 John, which I promise we will start next week getting into 1 John.
Let’s close in prayer.