Monday, September 26, 2022

John the Baptist #3: The Preparer and His Lord

John the Baptist #3: The Preparer and His Lord

Text: John 3:22-36

Immediately after John the Apostle records the meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus and records probably the most well know verse and in the New Testament, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” he then records the testimony of John the Baptist about Jesus. Once again we see how important the words and testimony of John the Baptist were in preparing the way of the Messiah. This passage also shows what the Baptist understood about his role and his relationship to Jesus and opens a window into the humble character of John. A lesson that every modern day Baptist also need to learn.

John And His Disciples  - John 3:22-29

After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison.
Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

John’s Character and Calling

Occasion and Cause - This story of John begins in John 3:22 with Jesus and his disciples moving outside of Jerusalem and Jesus is preaching and his disciples are baptizing in the Jordan and near them John is also preaching and baptizing people in preparation to meet their Messiah.

In vs 25 a question comes up about purifying and this seems to have lead to baptism and baptism to John and Jesus. And that led to the disciples of John defending their master and his ministry. When the discussion ended the disciples of John went to their master asked about Jesus, who they said Jesus, who you introduced, who you put on the public stage, behold he is just down the river and he is now everyone is going to hear Him. John 3:25-26 Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizes, and all men come to him.

John’s answer to his disciples is a window into this character and calling. He is a man…

Blessed by God and humbled by the blessing. He says in John 3:27 A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. He is telling his disciples all that I am, all that I have, all that I will ever be is because of what God’s blessing in my life.

He Is a man who understands his calling  John 3:28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. John understood what his task, his work, his calling from God wae and therefore, he knew who he was.

And most important, He is a man who knew himself through his relationship and services to Jesus Christ. John 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. John illustrates his role in relationship to Christ as that of the best man, whose job it was to prepare everything for the wedding. He had to do all the work behind the scenes but then stands asides and takes great joy when the bridegroom can be heard coming and calling his bride. This now being completed, John says, fulfills my joy.  

Three Questions About Ourselves

As we read what John understands about himself, his calling and his fulfillment, it should lead us to three considerations, three questions about ourselves concerning those same things.

First, How do you understand who you are? How do you see yourself and your talents, your abilities, your possessions, or any of the things that we know or define ourselves by? John said, A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. He was humbled by all the blessings that knew came from God above.

James, the brother of Jesus said it this way in James 1:16-17 Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Everything good thing we have, everything we own, everything we are is because of God’s blessing our life. When we know this then we will live in the humility that that understanding brings.

And if you don’t possess that kind of humility and knowledge the Lord sometimes has a way of teaching you. Like the pastor who was asked to speak for a large charitable organization that all the big wigs in town belonged to. The pastor thought he had done a pretty good job and was patting himself on the back when the program chairman tried to hand him a check. "Oh no, I couldn't take that," the pastor said, “It was an honor being asked to speak. You apply that to one of your uses." The program chairman asked, "Well, do you mind if we put it into our Special Fund?" The pastor replied, "Of course not. What is the special fund for?" The chairman answered, "It's so we can get a better speaker next year. -James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 296.

Know you are blessed by God and stay humble in those blessings.

Secondly, in light of John’s answer to his disciples we should ask, “Do we understand our calling?”

Every child of God is a called child of God. First we are called in salvation to God, and then along with that call and inseparable we are called to service for God. Listen to Paul in Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Here is what the Bible teaches we are predestined to) in vs. 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

You are called to the praise of His glory. You are called to bring the things of this world to nothing in the light of the glory of His presence. A light we are called to carry into this dark world.  

Finally, Do you understand who you are in your relationship with Jesus? John said, my joy is fulfilled in my role as the preparer of the way of the Lord. He knew who he was by his relationship to his Messiah. That knowledge brought him fulfilling joy.

We can never know who we are or why we are here on this earth unless we know Jesus as our Savior, Jesus as our Lord, Jesus as our King and how we can and must serve Him. We have a role in our relationship with Jesus, it won’t be the role John had, but our own. In that role and relationship we will find the joy and fulfillment that only comes when we see ourselves through our relationship to Jesus. 

My role may be insignificant in comparison to someone like John, but in the work of the Lord, every task is vital and every job has its reward. I remember as story about another John, John Brodie, who was the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers a long, long time ago. He was once asked by one of these eager to get new insight reporters, why a million-dollar player like him should have to kneel down and hold the ball for field goals and points after a touchdown. "Well," Brodie though for a moment and then said, "if I didn't, the ball would fall over." There you go.

John in answering the questions of his followers goes further in talking about his purpose in relationship to Jesus. And in vss. 30-31 He gives us a great rule to live by in our relationship to our Lord.

 John And His Jesus - John 3:30

He must increase, but I must decrease.

John's Emphasis on Christ's Preeminence.

John makes this simple but thought-provoking statement "He must increase but I must decrease." It is powerful because its shortness and directness force us to examine its depths. It is both an explanation to his disciples of what is happening right now along the Jordan river and also a reminder of his role and calling given to him by God.

John knew, and now his disciples knew, that his light must fade while Jesus’ light must shine brighter. The more Jesus and his ministry increased, John proportionately must decrease. This may not have seemed right to John’s disciples, after all it was John who had baptized Jesus and called out, “Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” But for John it was not a hard truth, but a joyous one. It was not difficult to be humble because he was looking to Jesus, how could he see himself as important compared to the glory of Jesus Christ.

Throwing out the ballast

John said, I must decrease in myself in order for Jesus to increase. That was not just a true statement about John and his relationship to Jesus but it is a universal true statement about us and our relationship to Jesus. This must be our understanding and also our action.

Think of it this way, If you were to be riding in a hot old fashioned hot air balloon, in order to rise higher, you must throw the ballast over board.  To rise even higher even more valuable things must be tossed  or even sacrificed.  So, it is with the Christian in their relationship to Jesus. To rise higher with him I must toss out the things in my life that hold me down. I must decrease in myself that I might increase in Jesus Christ.

Survey this truth in Colossians

Col. 1:27 1st step Launch with the right pilot,  it's Christ in you

To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Col. 2:6-7 2nd step Stay the course, As ye received so walk.

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him:

Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Col. 2:20-22 3rd step Let go the regulation rope, tied to the world.

Therefore if ye are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,  21  (Touch not; taste not; handle not;  22  Which all are to perish with the using;) according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 

Col. 3:1-2  4th Step Breath the rarefied air.

If ye then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  2  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 

We are alive with Christ, therefore, we must then look to Christ, love the things of Christ, and know that our life is hid with Christ.

If you're going to rise in your relationship with Jesus, then your own efforts, strength, and will must cease. They must be the ballast you throw overboard. Then you can rise up and Jesus will be the one piloting your course. "He will increase as I decrease."

Paul’s Landing on Melita in Acts 7

Do you remember the story of Paul’s shipwreck on the island of Melitat in Acts 7? It is a picture of throwing away our own resources and trusting in God. We won’t read the passage but you rember the story. Days without seeing the sun, terrible winds a terrible storm and all they could do was let the ship run before the wind. They began tossing over board everything that could weight the ship down. First the Cargo: They lightened the ship; then the Reserves: And the third day we cast out the tackling of the ship.    Next any Hope in themselves: all hope taken away. Then even cut away their only means of Escape: cut off the ropes of the boat and let her fall off. Their threw away their Future: they lightened the ship, and cast the wheat into the sea. Finally, even Themselves: cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: When it was all gone, they realized, All they needed was God.  Acts 27:43-44 they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

They cast away everything until all they had left was God. There is a saying, “When you come to the place in your life when God is all you have left, then you will realize that God was all you ever needed."

Now John the apostle and writer of this book, adds own emphasis, his summary to the testimony of of John the Baptist.  That commentary turns the focus directly on us.

John And His Message - John 3:31-36

He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John’s (the Evangelist) Testimony of Jesus

In light of what John the Baptist said, John the Evangelist now adds his own testimony about Jesus and those who would be His followers.

First, he says, Jesus is above all because he came from heaven. No one on earth has greater authority for Jesus was sent from heaven above. Despite that authority, John looks at those around him and says, no man receives this testimony. He means that because of who Jesus is all show heard him should have believed in Him and yet the nation of Israel rejected Him, the Romans crucified Him and the Jews and the Romans were now persecuting the Lord’s church, left behind to give witness of their heaven sent savior.

It’s the second thing he said that is important to us. John 3:33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

Not all reject the word of Jesus for those who receive his testimony accept them as being from God. John says, he sets his seal, signs the document, put his reputation on the line. That person believes. They believe every word, every promise, every lesson, every parable that Jesus spoke. They believe what Jesus said.

And they believe who Jesus was. They believe that he was sent from heaven, loved by the Father,  filled by the Spirit, and given authority over all.

One final thing Jesus says in this passage about those who believe and those who don’t believe. Those who believe John says, have everlasting life but those who don’t believe will not see life, instead of light and life all they will ever see is the wrath of God that abides on them right now. A terrible judgment that cannot be removed without faith in the One from Above.

Trusting In The Testimony

John says there are two groups of people when it comes to Jesus, those who believe His testimony and those who will not believe. Those who believe, accept the truth of Jesus’ words, life and teaching. They accept Jesus as the Son of God sent by God to save us from the wrath of God. They believe that Jesus is above all and that in Him and only in Him we have eternal life and hope.

The other group are those who will not hear or if they hear will not respond in simple faith. They aren’t just rejecting a belief system, a religion, a world view. No, John says they are rejecting Jesus. In vss 30-36 Jesus is referred to 12 times. Its all about Jesus and if we don’t believe in Him, then we are denying Him, we are denying His words, denying His invitation to come unto Him and denying His death on the cross for my sin. We are even denying that God is true.


Which of those two groups are you in this morning? There is no gray, no in between. There is only believing or denying, everlasting life or everlasting wrath. John says that God’s wrath hovers over all of us and waits like a sword dangling from a thread, it hangs there. Our trust in Jesus will remove it and replace it with the shield of God’s love. Our refusal to believe will leave it over our eternal soul, until the time of choosing passes with the passing of earthly life. If that happens then God’s wrath drops and we must experience all that the rejection of God’s own Son will bring for all eternity.

I stand this morning before you and declare, I have chosen to believe. I believe that Jesus came from above. I believe that He is above all. I believe He died for all. I believe He is coming for all who believe in Him. I believe that I have a calling in Him, a purpose that will echoe in eternity. And I believe I can only find full joy and fulfillment in that calling if I decrease and Jesus increases.  

I want to hang like a banner in my heart, that simple, powerful, deep truth that John understood, lived and died by, "He must increase, but I must decrease."

Friday, September 23, 2022

Reasons Bible Study Lesson 9: Five Reasons The Christian Day of Worship is Sunday


Lesson 9: Five Reasons The Christian Day of Worship is Sunday

Reason 1 The Resurrection Was On the First Day

Scripture is clear that the resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred on the first day of the week. Since God does not work by random chance, the 1st day of the week was more than just a coincidence of when Jesus died. The first day was now a mark of the New Covenant which Jesus’ death and resurrection had secured and instituted.

Mark 16:2  And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Luke 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

John 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

When we meet on Sunday, we recognize and honor the resurrection of the Lord. If we ignore or refuse to acknowledge the 1st day of the week we dishonor His resurrection and the New Covenant that it marks.

Reason 2: Pentecost Was On the First Day

After the ascension of Christ, the early church was told to wait in Jerusalem until they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. This occurred on the Day of Pentecost.

Acts 1:7-8 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts 2:1-2 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

Pentecost was on the first day of the week, 50 days after the Passover. 7 weeks x 7 day = 49 days + 1 day = 50 days. The 49th day would be a sabbath the next day would be Sunday.

Leviticus 23:9-10 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

Leviticus 23:15-16 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:  Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.

As Jesus was the fulfillment of the Paschal lamb on Passover, he was also the fulfillment of the wave offering on Pentecost. He was the “firstfruits” of the coming resurrection of believers.

Deuteronomy 26:2 That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there.

1 Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

1 Corinthians 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

Worshiping on Sunday acknowledges our belief in Christ’s resurrection and in our own through Him.

Reason 3 The Early Church Met On the First Day

In the New Testament the only day cited as the day to meet, to come together, is always the first day of the week. The phrase “first day of the week” is exactly the same as the Gospels when stating they day upon which the Lord rose from the dead. This is purposeful and show the relationship between the resurrection and the day of worship for Christians.

Acts 20:6-7 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

1 Corinthians 16:1–4 1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. 4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

Reason 4 History Records The 1st Day

The Didache dates around the late first century AD or early second century AD and provides insight into early church practices. It records, “On the Lord’s own day, gather together and break bread and give thanks…”

Pliny’s correspondence with Trajan—which shows a typically negative attitude toward early Christianity—records “that it was their habit on a fixed day to assemble before daylight and recite by turns a form of words to Christ as a god; and that they bound themselves with oath, not for any crime, but not to commit theft or robbery or adultery, not to break their word, and not to deny a deposit when demanded” (Pliny, To the Emperor Trajan). The fixed day Pliny refers to was the first day of the week. - Efraín Salcedo, The Lexham Bible Dictionary, 2016.

Sunday is the first day of the week, adopted by the first Christians from the Roman calendar (Latin Dies Solis, Day of the Sun), because it was dedicated to the worship of the sun. The Christians reinterpreted the heathen name as implying the “Sun of Righteousness,” with reference to this rising (Mal. 4:2). It was also called Dies Panis (Day of Bread), because it was an early custom to break bread on that day. In The Teaching of the Twelve it is called the “Lord’s Day of the Lord” (Kuriakēn de Kuriou). – Merrill Unger

Reason 5: The Book of Revelation Use of “The Lord’s Day.”

The book of Revelation is the last book written in the New Testament Canon around 100 AD. John records the day he sees the vision of the returning King.

Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.

The phrase “Lord’s Day” is now the accepted and common term for the first day of the week, Sunday the day of worship for the church.

“Lord’s day” in the NT occurs only in Rev 1:10, but in the post-apostolic literature we have the following references: Ignatius, Ad Mag., ix.1, “No longer keeping the Sabbath but living according to the Lord’s day, on which also our Light arose”; … “We keep the eighth day with gladness,” on which Jesus arose from the dead.” I.e., Sunday, as the day of Christ’s resurrection, was kept as a Christian feast and called “the Lord’s day,”... Its appropriateness in Rev 1:10 is obvious, as St. John received his vision of the exalted Lord when all Christians had their minds directed  toward His entrance into glory through the resurrection. - Burton Scott Easton, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia.


It seemed to be a common practice among the early Jewish Christians to continue to meet on the Sabbath, both to honor their heritage and culture, and to evangelize among the Jewish people. After the Sabbath on Saturday, they then met on Sunday to honor and celebrate the resurrection of the Messiah. This practice would be fitting and used of the Lord to reach the lost Jews. But those denominations or churches that insist on returning to a 7th day, Sabbath worship today are in reality returning to a keeping of the Old Testament law rather than a celebration of the New Covenant through the Lord’s resurrection. They are looking behind to the type instead of forward to the One who fulfilled it. Such a backward-looking theology can lead to a creeping legalism tied to the Law, rather than a joyous relationship with the risen Lord