How to Best Represent the Truth

How to Best Represent the Truth
Living Stones Church, Red Deer, Alberta
How to Best Represent the Truth

Sep 25 2023 | 00:52:04

Episode 39 September 25, 2023 00:52:04

Show Notes

John 1:1934, John Series

In a world of contradiction, deception, and destruction, we may wonder how to communicate to others what we consider vitally important and critical to the well-being of ourselves and others. In a world of relativity and cynicism regarding even the idea that truth can be known, we realize that embracing lies leads to self-deception, false assurances, damaging relationships, and even life itself. Jesus assured us that living in falsehood was slavery to the lie. Only truth could bring freedom.

            John 8:34-36

            Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

            A slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.

            So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 

            The Bible teaches us that truth is found not in propositions or ideas alone, but it is ultimately found in a person. Truth is not divorced from love, grace, and understanding. For all these qualities are found in God Himself. God is love. He is full of grace and truth. Jesus said in regards to himself in John 14:6 in answer to finding the right path or way.

            Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

            To prepare the people of Israel, who had high expectations of the coming Messiah, God sent a prophet to speak to the nation and prepare their hearts. Many had unrealistic and false expectations that would lead them astray if left unchecked. We are introduced in the early part of John’s gospel to a man called John, who was baptizing people as an expression of their repentance and preparation for the arrival of the Messiah. Here, we see in John’s gospel the role and heart of a witness. We will discover that John is simply a voice speaking God’s message. What can we learn from John’s life and ministry to help us best represent the truth in an age of deception, confusion and lies?

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] While they're slipping out, why don't we stand up? We're going to go to the Lord in prayer and we have a few ladies away this weekend. They went on a ladies retreat. So anyways, we're going to pray for them this morning as they're concluding they'll be back this afternoon. We'll pray for them. [00:00:19] I don't know about this PowerPoint here. That's not the name of the sermon. [00:00:24] It it I'm just looking up ahead that's we may have to shut that PowerPoint down. I don't know. [00:00:40] Okay, let's pray. So Father, we just thank you this morning. You're an amazing God and we just want to rejoice in the good things that you're doing in people's lives right now. We pray for those families this summer. We've had families that have lost loved ones. We pray as they're walking through bereavement and grief. I pray that you would comfort them. I pray for those families that have had the joy of seeing their children married this summer. I pray that you would bless those marriages and help them move forward to serving you together as couples, Lord, and we just thank you for that. We pray for the ladies as they're meeting. They have been meeting Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and now part of Sunday. I pray that you'd be with them, continue to do a great work of grace in their hearts. And now we pray for us. As we're gathered here listening to this message, I believe it's so relevant. We're going to talk about this morning and there's so much perplexity and confusion and how to handle the evil in our world that just seems to be assailing our souls and assailing our structures. And so we pray. Father, as we hear this message, you'll give us divine wisdom and we thank you for that, Lord. In Jesus name and God's. People said, amen. You may be seated. That's the title. So now I know we've got the right PowerPoint going for you. [00:01:58] How to best represent the truth. How many know we're living in a world of contradiction, deception and destruction? And we may wonder how to communicate to others what we consider vitally important and critical, not only to their well being and to our well being, but to many other people. [00:02:19] How do we help people come to a knowledge of the truth? I think we're living in a world of relativity. I mentioned that a few weeks ago. A lot of cynicism today in our society. Probably some of people's favorite book is Ecclesiastes, everything is Vanity. A lot of people are living like that and they even question the idea that truth can be known. And I want to declare to you, as I'm going to share today, yes, it can be. [00:02:46] We realize that when lies are embraced, it leads to self deception, false assurances, damaging relationships, and it even causes people to lose life. Disconnection with God, disconnection with people, even physical life. [00:03:04] Jesus assured us that living in falsehood was slavery to the lie. Isn't that interesting? I was just my devotional time this morning. I was reading and Isaiah, and he's talking about the guys that are crafting the idols and he says, just think about how foolish this is. You're making the very thing that you're going to use later on to fuel for a fire and then you're going to bake bread over he goes, and then you're going to worship this thing that you just destroyed by fire. [00:03:33] It's not connecting. The dots don't connect. And how many realize that when you allow sin to have full sway in your life, pretty soon you'd start living a life of inconsistency, irrationality self justification and it leads to brokenness in your life. Jesus said it this way very truly, I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. That's not maybe that'll happen. That is what will happen no matter who we are. And even as believers as we're going to discover, if we allow sin to have dominion in our lives, we become a slave to sin. And so many people are struggling with addictions. I believe Jesus is the liberator. Jesus can set us free. He's the one that can release us from the snares that we've allowed our souls to get into. And then he says, now, a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son or daughter belongs to it forever. So if the son sets you free, what's it say? [00:04:35] You will be free indeed. How many say, I want to live in freedom? I want to live in freedom. Is that you this morning? I want to walk in freedom. I want to experience freedom in my life. What a wonderful thing it is when the Bible clearly teaches us that truth is not found in propositions. Sometimes as Christians, we get all hung up on this is the idea. It's not just found in propositions and ideas alone. It's ultimately found in a person. [00:05:10] That's what you and I need to wrap our head around. Truth is a person. [00:05:16] Truth is a person. Are we getting that? [00:05:20] You know, truth is not divorced from love and grace and understanding. For all of these qualities are found in a person. It's found in God. God himself is love. God Himself is full of grace. God Himself is full of truth. Jesus said in regard to himself in John 14 six, in answer to finding the right path or the right destination, he simply said, I am the way, I am the truth. I am the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [00:05:59] We can't change the messaging. This is the truth. And if you've found Jesus, you've found the truth, you've found a way to live, you found life itself. [00:06:10] You're on the right path. It's an amazing discovery to prepare the people of Israel, which had high expectations of a coming messiah. And by the way, the Jewish people didn't just have an expectation of one Messiah. I've read on the coming of the Messiah, the Jewish people had many different ideas of the Messiah. Some thought there would be two Messiahs. Some. Oh, yeah, I did. You didn't know? Sure. You know, a king and a priest. And it wasn't going to be just one person in one office. The word Messiah means anointed one or anointed ones. And so there was these thoughts. And so God sent a prophet to speak to the nation, to prepare their hearts because they were all over the map. How many knows? Christians. We can get all over the map. Anybody know? That's true. We all have ideas. We all have expectations. Man. You talk about Christians today about when Jesus is coming back and find out how many different ideas there are. [00:07:08] Come on. Well, that was what it was like in the first century to the Jewish people. They all had it figured out, but most of them didn't figure it out. [00:07:17] We got to be careful. That's a little warning. We probably don't have all the answers in this thing. As a matter of fact, I think many people had unrealistic and false expectations which left unchecked, would lead them astray. And if you want to know how damaging it is, some of the Pharisees were actually arguing with the Messiah, trying to straighten out his theology. [00:07:41] They were trying to explain to Jesus, this is what the Scriptures mean. And Jesus goes, if you don't see me in the Scriptures, you're totally missing the point. [00:07:50] Are we catching on here? We have to be a little more humble than that. I'm just pointing that out. These guys missed it. [00:07:59] Okay, so here we see in John's Gospel a person called John. [00:08:05] He's baptizing people as an expression of repentance and preparation for the arrival in their minds of the Messiah. But I think it's more than that. Isaiah says, and John's going to tell him, I'm a voice preparing the way of the Lord. I'm the voice of the one who's preparing God's arrival. Wow. [00:08:27] So in John's Gospel, we see here in the story of John the Baptist, the role and heart of a witness. And I want to just say this. What we're going to discover is that John is simply a voice speaking God's message. [00:08:43] I think we can learn a lot from John's life and ministry that will help us best represent the truth in an age of deception, confusion and lies. How many say, I want to be a beautiful witness for Christ? [00:08:58] I want to best represent the truth. That's my goal. I want to best represent the truth. And the truth is a person named Jesus. So let's think. The first thing that can best represent the truth is to experience it, to experience the truth ourselves, to experience the person of Jesus in our lives. You cannot pass on what you have not experienced. I can only give you what I understand experience and know I can't pass things that I don't know how many say. That's probably true in our life. We can only give people what we've got. [00:09:36] You can only give what's inside of you. You can't pass on anything beyond that. The message is not just to correct people's misinformation. Some of us, we like correcting people. That's our big bag. We just love doing that. Oh, you got that wrong. Oh, no, you got that wrong. We like correcting people, but that's not what it's about. [00:09:55] Rather, it's to point them to someone who's greater. That's the goal. It's not about winning arguments, it's about leading to people, to a person named Jesus. Isn't that beautiful? [00:10:10] I'd rather lose the argument and help them come to Christ. It's not about us. We're going to find that out. [00:10:18] And so here's John testifying to the coming of the Messiah. And I think we have to always keep this mind. As I said, it's not about us and it's not even ultimately about the people we're ministering to. Shock of all shocks. Ministry is ultimately to be a witness of Jesus Christ. And one of God's purposes in giving us himself in the person of the Holy Spirit is so that you and I would be empowered to be an effective witness. You say, what's my purpose in life? You're a witness. [00:10:49] You're a witness. Isn't that beautiful? Listen to what the Book of Acts jesus says, I'm leaving. Hang out in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes. And then he says this beautiful verse. He says, but you will receive what power. [00:11:06] Sometimes we go, I don't know what to do or say or whatever. Listen, when you and I receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes inside of our lives. The Holy Spirit is designed to come inside of us and empower us so that we can be a witness. [00:11:21] You're going to be a witness, he says, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria to the ends of the earth. In other words, that's kind of the controlling verse of the Book of Acts. You can see how the Gospel is moving from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria to the uttermost parts of the earth. But really what he's saying is that the Church, the people of God, the people who have experienced Jesus, are really witnesses. And wherever they go, they're bringing Jesus to the world. [00:11:46] And I want you to know this, that you and I are bringing Jesus to our world and we want to represent him well, do we not? [00:11:57] I do. [00:12:01] It's not enough to have the narrative understood. What I mean by that is it's not just about understanding the story of how Jesus came and died for our sins. [00:12:11] We can have the intellectual information, we can have an ascent to truth. It's not enough the devil believes that Jesus is God. Shock of all shocks. It's not just what you believe. You have to know the truth. And that word know the truth is to experience it, to experience the person of the truth. That's what you and I need in our lives. Rather, I believe the message needs also to be demonstrated through our lives. [00:12:40] We need to reveal as a witness how we live. It's not just in words, it's in how we live our lives. And Jesus made that very clear on the Sermon on the Mount. He says here I'm just concluding I could quote so many verses today, but I had to stop myself in the same way. Let your light shine before others that they may what, see your good deeds? And what's the result? [00:13:07] Glorify your father in heaven. You know what sin is not bringing glory to God. I always have to ask myself, is my life bringing glory to God? [00:13:19] And if it's not that's sin, it's that simple. [00:13:23] Am I living the kind of life that when people see my life, you know what they glorify my Father in heaven for my life and for your life. That's what it's about. [00:13:36] Let's take a peek. Let's open the curtain today and take a peek into John's life in ministry as he was calling people to prepare to receive God in their lives. Okay, how do we help people see God in our lives? How do we help people receive Christ as a witness? Isn't that a good question? How can I make that happen through my life? Okay, let's look at John here Matthew, chapter three, verse five. We're in John's Gospel. You wonder where I'm at, chapter one, but I'm just building an introduction here, and we'll get to that chapter. I mean, we're in point one already. So people went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of Jordan. Obviously, John was attracting attention. Something about this guy, no miracles wasn't miracles that were attracting him. How many think that's amazing. [00:14:23] They didn't come because, like with Jesus, they were sick or they were hungry or they were this or they were that. John didn't do any of those things. Very interesting. It says, they came and they began confessing their sins, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. So John was preaching to such an extent that people were now convicted that their lives were wrong and needed to change. He was preaching a message of repentance. It says, but when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them, now, John's a straight shooter. You brood of vipers. [00:15:05] Ouch. Right. [00:15:07] Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? [00:15:12] Now, I don't know about you, but we've kind of tamed down the Gospel a little bit, if you think about it, right? Well, think about it. He's saying, who warned you to flee from God's wrath? God's anger against sin. You don't want to be caught up into where God's going to judge us. Judgment does come not just at the end of the age. Sometimes it comes into our very lives. [00:15:40] We don't ever like to mention that to people. This could be judgment. [00:15:45] Judgment does begin where? In the house of God. God will judge his people for their sins. I mean, I've read the Bible carefully. Look at the nation of Israel. How many times did God judge the nation of Israel because they kept refusing to turn back to God and continued in their sin? What did God do? Finally, he judged true. You know? Then he says something else that's very interesting. He says, Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. [00:16:15] What does that mean? It means you and I, there needs to be an evidence that we have genuine faith in God. That's all he's know. James says, I can tell if you have faith simply by the way you live. I can tell you have faith simply by the good things that you're doing for other people. I can see the evidence of a changed heart. Something happened. It's no longer about me. It's no longer about my life. It's no longer about being self centered and selfish. All of a sudden. Now it's becoming about pleasing God, serving people, helping others. How many know that's repentance? That's a change of thinking, and it's a change of lifestyle. There's an empowerment that's coming from God to help us to do that. So he's telling us now. John is telling us to the people, he's saying, if you want to prepare your hearts, he says, you know what? Turn to God repent. That's what he's telling them to do. It says here, and do not think you can say to yourselves, oh, we have Abraham as our father. In other words, we are Jews, we're covenant people. It's just a mere confession. Just because you say you're a Christian doesn't mean you're one. [00:17:16] The Bible says in one corinthians that you need to examine yourself to see if you're in the faith. [00:17:22] When I was a new Christian, that rattled me a little bit. I was going, well, am. I saved. [00:17:28] God, I really love you. I really want to do what's right. And verses like that really shook my cage a little bit. [00:17:36] It's good that doesn't hurt once in a while to have to evaluate yourself and go, man, am I really a Christian? Has there really been a change of heart? Do I really have a desire to please God? You know, one of the evidences that you're a Christian is that you feel bad when you sin. That's a good evidence. You know, somebody comes to me, so I feel terrible, I'm going, Good. They go, what? [00:17:56] I go, yeah, that's a good thing, because non believing people, they don't feel anything. They just keep sinning. That's why they think they're okay. [00:18:07] But when you're a believer and the word of God comes and the spirit of God comes, there's conviction that comes. I realize, wow, I need to smarten up. [00:18:15] Anybody ever feel like that? Every once in a while. You need to smarten up, you know? [00:18:24] You guys are so good. As for saints, sometimes I wonder if God takes the worst Christians and makes them the pastor. I wonder sometimes. Sorry, Mark. Speaking for myself, but the reason I say all of that is because you have to learn all of these lessons. I'm trying to learn by reading from other people's mistakes. But sometimes emotionally, you just feel like, wow, God help me to get my act together. [00:18:49] I feel that way. Anybody else relate to what I'm talking about? Okay, we're all in the same boat, right? That's because the work of the Spirit, he's going, you know what? We're going to see in a few minutes why he does that? I tell you. These stones, god can raise up children for Abraham. Wow. [00:19:07] So then he goes on and says this, the axe is already at the root of the trees and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So what is God looking for? [00:19:22] Fruit. And what is fruit result? He's looking for a result of a changed life. That's really what this is about. You know, if I really repent, it produces a change in my life. That's the thing we need to understand. [00:19:36] So we can't just go, I've said a prayer and my life doesn't change and I live for myself. That doesn't fly, guys. That's not Christianity. That's deception. [00:19:47] We need to understand that. Yes, we pray, yes, I ask God for forgiveness, but there's a work of contrition in my heart and I've turned away from my sins. I'm turning to God. I'm turning from these idols to the true and the living God. Paul said, that's what the thessalonians did. Now, notice what happens. This fruit, the Bible talks about fruit. [00:20:09] He says this in Galatians, chapter five, verse 22. But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Now, this is, you know, the fruit of love. This is what should be coming in our lives. Not. Well, I'm a brand new Christian. [00:20:25] It's a journey in this. How many know? We don't arrive at, well, I'm fully blown. I'm like God. [00:20:32] No, I'm fully forgiven. And I got a long ways to become like God. [00:20:38] We're on a journey, and if you're still on the planet, you're not there yet, you have not arrived. You are not quite like God yet, because once we get into eternity, he's going to eradicate the sin nature red out of us and we'll be in the presence where there is no sin, there won't be hung up about these things. But at this point, we're on a journey. [00:20:58] We should increase in joy and peace and forbearance and kindness and goodness and faithfulness. Does that mean that we always do this perfectly? No. I wish I could say, Man, I just keep hitting home runs every day. [00:21:11] But I have to admit, I said this to one of the guys this week. I said a few times, I feel like I've struck out. Anybody else? Strike out once in a while. Okay, so what do we do when we strike out? We confess our sins. We get back up and say, God forgive me. I'm so glad that you're a forgiving God. And listen, I feel terrible, but I'm going to ask your grace to help me to walk better. [00:21:35] Isn't that the way we should do it? Yeah. [00:21:37] Gentleness and self control. Against such things, there is no law. And usually we like to stop at this verse, but let me keep going about what the fruit of the spirit is. Let's look at the next verse. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with his passions and desires. I think that's part of the you know, sometimes we have the wrong passions and desires. Anybody want to admit that every once in a while you have the wrong passions and desires? Okay, good. There's a few. Okay. What are we to do with that stuff? Crucify it. [00:22:10] Don't entertain it. [00:22:13] Crucify it, don't camp there. Just crucify it, move on, goes on again. [00:22:21] While we've talked about the positive aspects, now we've talked about dealing with the problems then. Paul continues to define love in Corinthians like this. He says, it's patient, it's kind, it does not envy, it doesn't boast, it's not proud. It does not dishonor others. It's not self seeking. It's not easily angered. It just keeps no records of wrongs. All of us that have elephant memories, you got to put those things aside. You got to forgive people. [00:22:49] I keep thinking of the Lord's Prayer. It's a haunting prayer. If you pray it every day. I don't know how you can remain in a state of offense if you pray the Lord's Prayer every day. Forgive us our sins as we what? [00:23:02] Forgive? We need to forgive. Yeah, but you don't know what they did, Pastor. It doesn't matter what they did. If you don't forgive them, you're not going to be forgiven. It's that conditioned. [00:23:15] So you got to make up your mind. I just go. Okay. Lord, no matter what they do, forgive. No matter what they do, love them. No matter what they do. Bless them. No matter what they do. Pray for people. Why are you doing that? I'm selfish because I can't let them take me down into the same evil. [00:23:35] You overcome evil by what? Doing good. [00:23:42] Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with what? [00:23:46] The truth. And the truth is a person. The truth is Jesus. Okay, we're going to figure this out. I know it's coming. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always persevere. Love never fails. Now, John is asked about being the Messiah, but he's not the Messiah. [00:24:07] Let me begin by saying it. I'll say it again. [00:24:13] It's not about us. Why is that hard? It's not about us. Have you ever been challenged when you're sharing God's message? Who do you think you are? You ever feel like people are kind of questioning who do you think you are telling me what to do? Right. Come on. [00:24:29] Sure. John had that experience. It says here in verse 19 now this was John's testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. [00:24:41] He basically is going to tell them. And I want to just take a moment here because the word there, the Jewish leaders, the NIV, is doing a little translation work for us. [00:24:54] The word is just the Jews. And I think I need to take a caveat for a minute. This is kind of a sidetrail, but I think it's so critical because the Church, over 2000 years, many times has developed almost an anti Semitic mentality because John uses the word the Jews 70 times in his gospel. So I'm going to just quote D. A. Carson because I think well, I just said this in light of much anti Semitic thought over the centuries, we need to understand John's use of the term, okay? Because when you're reading the Bible, you just read a term and you just think it means all the same thing. No, it doesn't. It's like some words have shades of meaning. Let's take a look at it. D. A. Carson says it's frequent in the Fourth Gospel. And because it commonly occurs as the designation of those who oppose Jesus, it has attracted much discussion. [00:25:48] Some see in the expression evidence of Christian anti Semitism. Others think it refers primarily to Jewish leaders, not to the people at large. Others thinks it reflects geography, like A. Galilean may well refer to his fellow Israelite from Judea as a Jew. In fact, careful examination of the 70 or so occurrences suggest John uses the Jews in a variety of ways. Sometimes the expression is rather neutral, explaining a right for readers removed from Palestine. In other words, this is the custom of the Jews or elsewhere. The expression bears decidedly positive overturns, like salvation is from the Jews, and then Jesus himself is a Jew. So was John, so was most of the early Church. Some Jews believed, and others unfortunately, seemed to come to faith and then turned away again. Wow. [00:26:36] In 71 the expression takes on a geographical coloring the people of Judea. Most commonly it refers to the Jewish leaders, especially those of Jerusalem and Judea, as here in verse 119. So you can see the NIV is helping us get the right meaning here. And usually they are cast as those who are actively opposing Jesus, failing to understanding him, who finally seek his death. Okay. That's why I believe some Christians even developed very anti Semitic thinking. But it was wrong of them to do that. As a matter of fact. Not all Jewish leaders, however, are presented negatively nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea fared much better. Okay, I did that little sidetrail because I really feel we need to learn how to interpret correctly. Okay, so in this case, the Jews that were sent the Jewish leader sent a delegation to John to ask these questions. [00:27:31] Now, it says here he did not fail to confess, but confess freely. I am not the Messiah. So now John knows who he is and who he's not. However, he did stand up and confess freely. And I like, what f f. Bruce says. Since John's reply was a negative one, it's strange that it should be introduced by the words he confessed and did not deny. We might have expected he denied that he made any such claim. But the evangelist will have us understand the evangelist meaning John, the Gospel writer, which is a different John, not to be confused with the Baptist we're talking about that even John's denials were part of his positive witness or confession. Had John made such a claim, he would have found many willing to accept it. Many people would have thought he was the Messiah. But John refused to entertain any messianic claims for himself, whether royal priestly or prophetic. You know, that word just means anointing. I've already said that. John, in other words, didn't seek anything for himself. It wasn't about John. I think we need to represent the truth without expecting anything in return. [00:28:40] That's what we need to do. Often what comes from it is criticism, difficulty, and suffering. How many go, I really like talking about Jesus. Yes, but you may be criticized and you may suffer for know Paul was beaten for it. And then Paul writes, I'm not ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation. Paul continued to proclaim it even though people looked down on him, because there were people who opened their hearts and received Christ, and for them he was willing to suffer. Is that beautiful? And because of that willingness, people are populating heaven because of a man by the name of Paul of Tarsus. And I think that's impressive. And you know, when you and I open our mouth and sometimes we're misunderstood, we're spoken evil of, we're criticized and all the rest of it. If one person comes to faith for all of eternity, that one individual say, thank God you said something, because I wouldn't be here without you and Jesus. Right. They asked him, then, who are you? Are you Elijah? He said, I'm not. Are you the prophet? He answered no. [00:29:45] R. G. Tasker says, the first evangelist wishes his readers to know that John neither did nor could claim to be the Messiah or one of the great Old Testament figures who would, it was believed, be reincarnated before the Messiah came. Now, let me just add that this expectation was not realized, this messianic hope in the way they assumed. In other words, they were looking for a political. Solution. [00:30:11] Should I go there? Oh, yes, I will. I'll venture to say it sometimes as Christians, we're always looking for a political solution to the problem. [00:30:23] I think the problem we're faced in our world today is far more spiritual and we don't see it. Do you know we're not fighting against flesh and blood? How many know that's true? People are not our enemies. You go, yeah, but you don't know this person and what they're standing for. Pastor they're not our enemy. We're not fighting with that person. We're not fighting against flesh and blood. We're fighting against principalities and powers. Oh, and by the way, our weapons, what are they? They're not fleshly weapons. They're not worldly weapons. [00:30:55] They're spiritual weapons like prayer, love, forgiveness, words of life, light, hope, and calls for repentance. So I don't think it's wrong. I don't think it's wrong to say to somebody, listen, what you're saying is wrong. I don't think that's wrong to say that. I don't think it's wrong to call people to repentance. I think that's part of the weapons of our warfare. I think what we need to be doing is explaining to people the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to be communicating this message because let's face it, you know, when you're arguing people who are unregenerated and don't know God, it's know talking to that wall, you're not getting anywhere. Anybody figured that out? And how many know that the moment you talk about Jesus and they come to faith in Christ, all of a sudden they're regenerated by the spirit of God and their minds become renewed. And now all of a sudden they begin to change positions rather dramatically and rapidly. [00:31:52] So really the answer is we should have done a better job of preaching the gospel. And let's get out there, let's not fool around, and let's start preaching the gospel like never before and trust and pray that many people come to faith in Christ. And all of a sudden so some of their ideas, they go, oh, my goodness, I had no idea what I was doing. It was so crazy. [00:32:16] And then let some people who were the great champions of evil stand up and say, I was totally wrong and everything I said was wrong. [00:32:28] Isn't that what Paul of Tarsus, what happened to him? He got turned around. He became the greatest proponent of Christianity. Wouldn't that be great? [00:32:37] You can start thinking about some people right now and go, man, wouldn't it be great if they were know somebody go, It's impossible. Pastor all things are possible. [00:32:50] The Jewish people in Jesus hour were right in expecting the Messiah. But as to the details about what was to happen, they were filled with misunderstanding and deeply disappointed. And yet there were some who rejoiced to see and experience the ministry of Jesus, knowing that Elijah was to come before the day of the Lord. And Elijah had not died, but had been taken up to heaven, they expected him to return. In hindsight, we can see that the spirit and ministry of Elijah was being played out right before their eyes, but they couldn't see it. And this is the amazing thing. John himself never saw himself that way. [00:33:25] He didn't see himself as Elijah. [00:33:28] It says, and Jesus said this about John for all the prophets and the laws prophesied until John, and if you're willing to accept it, he's the Elijah who was to come. Wow. [00:33:38] It's pretty good when Jesus tells you, this is how I see you, rather than ourselves saying, this is who I see myself to be. And God goes, that's not what you are. [00:33:47] You're just fooling yourself. Right? John the Baptist was fulfilling the ministry of Elijah and turning the hearts of the people back to God into receiving him. Finally, they said to him, who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself? And John replied, in the words of Isaiah, the prophet, I'm the voice of one calling in the wilderness. Make straight the way for the Lord. Tasker says, on the contrary, when the Jews sent priests and Levites to interrogate him on the first day, that was destined to be a memorable week. He asserted without any reservations and with deep humility that he was neither the Christ nor Elijah, redevis, VIVIS or come back to life, nor the prophet of whom God had spoken when he said he would raise up a prophet who would be a second Moses. [00:34:37] Okay. John's lowly estimate of himself was that he was a voice, though, to be sure, no less a voice than the one which heralded the release of Israel from Babylonian exile. He was a voice both stern and comforting. It cried out in the wilderness of the world's need and pointed men to him who alone can satisfy the needs in the human soul. Isn't that beautiful? I love that. But it also called upon them to prepare the way for his coming by removing all that was crooked in their conduct and narrow in their outlook, like men turning a winding, narrow track in the desert into a rural highway, broad and straight. It's true that John acted as well as spoke. I love that part. He acted as well as spoke. He wasn't just a talking mouthpiece. He was baptizing. He was doing other things. He baptized and was engaged in that work when the Jewish deputation found him. Let me move on to my second point. I only have two points. Aren't you glad? Okay. [00:35:32] How can we best represent the truth? One, we need to experience it. Two, we need to understand the actual message. [00:35:40] Since truth is a person, what is the best way for us to represent Jesus in our world? That's the way we need to see it. Okay? So instead of saying, I'm trying to figure out what the truth is and discover it, memorize it, and all the rest of it. What we need to say is, I got to get to know Jesus better, and I'm representing this person called Jesus. That's what we need to hear. [00:36:03] Well, John was a herald. He was preparing people through his words and actions. It says John replied in the words of Isaiah, the voice of one calling in the wilderness makes straight the way for the Lord. His was a calling to repentance, which was simply to change their minds about their actions and who he was. Just that's what he was preaching. And as we see, John did not compromise the message. Sin was seen as an enemy to God's people, and sin will always be an enemy to humanity. [00:36:36] We know that's true. It destroys and it mars the image of God in people's lives, including our own. We need to remember that John is calling God's covenant people back to himself. Paul, in writing to the Ephesian Church regarding the nature of those who are not in relationship with God, describes them as dead in their transgressions and sins. [00:37:00] They're spiritually dead. [00:37:03] And I believe that this description shatters our culture's view towards humanity as intrinsically good. [00:37:12] Let me just read this. I'm reading from the New Living translation. [00:37:16] Once you believers this is actually the New Living translation. Even had this in brackets. Once you believers were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins, you used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin. Obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the air. He's the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way. Not one of us could say, well, I wasn't like that. No. We all were following the passions and desires of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God's anger just like everyone else. Wow. [00:38:00] What's he saying? We're sinners. [00:38:03] The biggest, hardest problem we have in our culture today is people don't want to be told they're wrong. [00:38:09] People do not want to be told they have an evil nature. [00:38:12] Let's be honest. [00:38:15] You know, my greatest resistance to really surrendering to Christ was I didn't like being told I was a sinner. [00:38:22] But the good news is, for sinners, unless you see yourself as a sinner, you'll never come to a savior. The greatest impediment to people coming to faith in Christ is a high view of ourselves or a self dependency upon ourselves or upon humanity rather than upon God. And until you come to the end of yourself and recognize your brokenness, and some of you go, it's easy. I knew I was broken. It was simple to come to Christ. Other people, more like your pastor, full of pride. God had to just shatter me from the inside. Until finally I was so broken, I finally said, God, if you can forgive me, I'll serve you the rest of my life. So I just kind of came in broken. But I guess most of us do, don't we? Maybe you grew up in a Christian home. Fortunately you didn't have that experience. But it's very dramatic for me, I can tell you that. But then he goes on to say, but God's so rich in mercy and he loves us so very much. I love that verse. Fortunately, the good news is God did something about it for our sake and that while we were dead, because of our sins, he gave us life. When he raised Christ from the dead, it's only by God's special favor or grace you've been saved. So now John is challenged in his ministry. Let me tell you something. If you're in ministry, you will be challenged. I'm constantly being challenged. It's continuous. It never ends. [00:39:41] I just pray that my responses are getting better and I'm not always sure about that. [00:39:48] Now, the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him. [00:39:53] Why then do you baptize if you're not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet? In other words, who gave you the authority to do this right? [00:40:02] Who told you you could do this stuff? John's answer I baptize with water. But among you stands one you do not know. [00:40:10] He goes, he's the one who comes after me. The straps of whose sandals I'm not even worthy to untie. [00:40:17] That's a pretty powerful statement. That's the lowest level of slavery. You're undoing people's shoes and washing their feet. He said, I don't even deserve to be washing this person's feet. Because, you see, John knew something. He knew who he was pointing out. That all happened on Bethany, on the other side of the Jordan, where John was know. This group is frustrated because John has not answered them according to their messianic expectations. How many know we get upset with people when they don't fit into our box, right? Oh, I know where you fit. No, you don't know. Boy, I'll tell you, Jesus was problematic for people. He didn't fit in the box. John didn't fit in the box. I think if we totally represent truth properly, we're not going to fit in anybody's box. [00:41:03] It's getting quiet in here, but that's all right. [00:41:07] Obviously, John is urgently calling people back to God. This is really a question of by whose authority? We can see that. [00:41:14] Carson says, I do indeed baptize. I have authority from God to do so. [00:41:21] But I am nothing compared with the one to whom I bear witness. I am nothing compared to the one who I bear witness. [00:41:30] Later on it's going to come up in a later chapter in John here. He said I must decrease so that he may increase. [00:41:42] That's hard. Isn't know God desires fruitfulness in our lives? We were talking as men. I said, yeah, and you know what he does? He's a pruner. He cuts things out of our life. [00:41:53] They're dead. Anyways, and they're diminishing our fruitfulness and God takes it out so we can bear more fruit. It's painful. Be pruned. Try it. Man. Has that ever hurt? Right? John points others to Jesus. Listen to this. I love this now, verse 29 the next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I meant when I said, a man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me. I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel. [00:42:30] So now John says something very interesting. He says, One of the reasons I was baptizing was because God revealed to me that one of the people I would baptize would actually be the Messiah. [00:42:41] So FF. Bruce says, not until he witnessed the promised sign did John know who the coming one was. Remember. He was baptizing. Jesus. Then he saw heaven open. He saw the spirit of God descending like a dove on Jesus. Ephraf. Bruce goes on, but he knew that his own baptismal ministry was divinely intended to serve as the curtain raiser for the public appearance of this coming one. I mean, think of it as a production, a know all of a know. We don't know who the Messiah is. Who's the Messiah? Who's the Messiah? John. Are you the Messiah? John goes, no, but you know what? The curtain is going to be raised. We're going to see who it hmm. Then John gave this testimony I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize a water told me, the man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and I testify that this is God's chosen one. Now, I don't know if you realize this. John actually knew who Jesus was as a person. He knew Jesus because it was his cousin. Isn't that interesting? And all this time as a little boy, I'm sure they had played with each other at some point. They knew each other. They knew they were part of a family. But he had no idea that Jesus was actually the anointed Messiah until he was baptizing. And Jesus came to him. And then the heavens opened and the Spirit came down on Jesus. And God had revealed to John, there'll come a day when this happens, I will show you who the Messiah is. And he said what? It's. You my cousin. Jesus. [00:44:27] Wow. [00:44:29] How many think that was a startling moment? [00:44:32] How many go that would have blow? I mean, can you imagine you're being John the Baptist and you baptizing your cousin? All of a sudden you realize I'm baptizing God. [00:44:41] I had no idea it was a revelation. And folks, you and I need to understand something. We need a divine revelation to see who Jesus really is. And that's why the world doesn't get it. They've not had that revelation. [00:44:56] Wow. [00:44:58] We should be on our face and going, my goodness, God, you're so good. You showed me who Jesus really is. [00:45:06] I'm overwhelmed. [00:45:09] In Ezekiel's prophecy of restoration, god promises not only to purify his people with clean water, but to impart to them a new spirit, his own spirit, the Holy Spirit. [00:45:23] Wow. [00:45:24] Do you realize that when you and I give our lives to Jesus, god the Father and God the Son, the Son sends the Spirit into us? [00:45:35] You and I are now walking with God. [00:45:40] God is in us. [00:45:42] That doesn't mean we're God. It just means God is in us. Paul says this for those who are led by the Holy Spirit of God, they are God's children. He says the Spirit you receive does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again. Rather, the Spirit you receive brought about your adoption to sonship or daughtership. And by him we cry, abba, Father. [00:46:07] The Spirit himself testifies with our Spirit that we are God's children. Is that beautiful? [00:46:16] So how do we best represent the truth? I'm closing. [00:46:21] First of all, by coming to know the person of the truth, we need to know Jesus. It's very simple. Is this a simple sermon or what? Just come to know Jesus. Once we know Jesus who's the truth, we begin to live in life and in Word. [00:46:38] Indeed and in Word, our life should reflect that we're testifying to a new life within us. [00:46:48] Our language should start changing. Come on now. Our language should start changing. Our focus should start changing. Our desires should start changing. [00:47:00] I'm going to tell you, I didn't want to go to church as a kid. I used to skip church, and then when I got saved, I wanted to be there all the time. I had no interest in spiritual things. When I became a follower of Christ, I had a deep interest in spiritual things. I read the scriptures. I read chapter after chapter of the word of God. My soul was hungering for God. Isn't that amazing? That's a change. What am. You know, we have to take a look at ourselves and say, is there a desire for God in my you know, the fact that you're here says something to me. [00:47:34] But like John, when asked for the hope that was within his life, he was able to testify of the truth. Are we able to do the same? [00:47:43] Not only because he has been revealed to us, but now he's being revealed through us. [00:47:51] Are you revealing Jesus to people? [00:47:54] That's the best way to represent the truth. Let's stand. [00:48:01] I'm praying today that somehow this would awaken something in you. [00:48:07] My prayer was that you'd be full of joy when you left. But I guess what I'm trying to get across to us, we can get so frustrated with our present evil world. [00:48:18] It is frustrating. But the answer to this present evil world is a person. [00:48:27] Sometimes we think we can just straighten them out. You and I can't straighten people out. God can. But they need a revelation. And so the best way you and I can present the truth to people is through our life. [00:48:44] If Christ has revealed himself to me, he should be revealing Himself through me. Are we getting the picture? How many are catching on? Are we catching what I'm laying down here? I love this one. Gal said to me one day, Pastor, I'm picking up what you're laying down. Are you picking it up? [00:49:03] Did you get something today? Did you hear how many heard something today? You heard something today? Spirit of God spoke into your spirit. You heard something? [00:49:13] I need to be the best representative of Jesus Christ on the planet than I've ever been. And, Father, where I failed to do that, forgive me, but when people meet me, I want them to meet Jesus. [00:49:26] The other day I was having a meal with some people, elderly people. This woman, she was in her late 90s. We had a wonderful conversation. At the end, she said, when I was leaving, she said, I really enjoyed your presence. [00:49:39] And, you know, that was a beautiful compliment. And I was thinking to myself, what you really enjoyed was Jesus, because I can tell you, who I was is not the person I am today. [00:49:51] Matter of fact, who I was wouldn't even be sitting down, eating with elderly people how's that? [00:49:58] And taking an interest in their lives. [00:50:01] What she connected with was not the old person. She was connecting with the Christ person living in me. [00:50:11] Is that your desire this morning? I want to be just like Jesus when I grow up. I want to be just like Jesus. I want to be a little bit more like Jesus. That's my prayer. That you and I would reveal Christ the truth to a world believing the lie that they can't deny there's a God, because they're looking at our lives and we're revealing light and love and forgiveness and grace when I can say to people, listen, Jesus didn't come here to condemn you, but he didn't come here to condone your behavior either. Amen. [00:50:42] Let's pray. So, Father, this morning I believe you're speaking into our lives about being a little bit more like Jesus to be the best representative of the truth, which is you, Lord, we want to represent you so well. You've revealed yourself to us, and now I pray today that you will reveal yourself through us. And I pray, Father, we would be more effective in the days to come revealing the truth of Jesus Christ through our lives than ever before. That may mean, Lord, that we're going to crucify our evil desires and passions, that maybe it means that we're going to be more understanding, more forgiving, more loving, more caring, Lord, that we're going to be more bold in our proclamation of the good News of Jesus Christ and this wonderful message of grace and forgiveness. Lord, I don't know what it means in each one of our lives, but it probably means all of the above. And I just ask you to help us with it, because so often in life, I know in my life I feel like I strike out when I need to hit a home run. And I just pray, Lord, in the days to come, that we will, Lord, really begin to affect and impact the lives of people that you're bringing into our lives. And we thank you for that. In Jesus name, amen. God bless you as you go.

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