John Message 5 “Witness Sent By God: John the Baptist – Faith = Receiving” Ed Miller, Dec. 13, 2023

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We’re here to behold and see the Lord.  Before we look into God’s word, I want to share a verse from 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “We were well-pleased to impart not only the gospel of God but also our own lives.”  The principle there is that I long to impart the gospel of God; it’s the good news.  But sometimes it’s in my heart but I don’t know how to express it.  So, Paul prayed not only that you would hear his words, but that you would see his heart as he gave those words.  That’s sort of my prayer.  I’m pleased not only to impart the gospel of God, but my own life.  I pray that as you hear, that you’re seeing my heart, even if I can’t express it correctly.  With that in mind let’s pray.

Our Father, we thank You that You have gathered us again and we have this privilege to behold our Lord Jesus in a fresh and living way.  We know, Lord, that abundant life is measured by what we’re alive to, and we want to be alive to Christ.  Guide us this morning and turn our hearts and spirits to the Lord.  Thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit who will accomplish this.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Once again, welcome again to our privilege of beholding the Lord Jesus, and we’re in the gospel of John.  So, we’re seeing the Lord in John.  I hope when we’re all finished, you’ll know more about the gospel of John, but we don’t gather to learn about the gospel of John.  Every book in the Bible is designed to show us the Lord.  We’re here to behold the Lord.  In this case we’re looking at meditating on the gospel of John.

We’re not quite finished looking at chapter one.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time in review, but I want to refresh our minds about the main direction of the gospel of John.  I remind you that John didn’t leave us to wonder what he was writing about.  He spelled it out; he told us.  John 20:31, “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, that you may have life in His name.”  According to that verse he’s written this gospel so that we would know who the Lord is, so we would believe and trust the Lord, and that we would enjoy the Lord, and experience life in His name. I’m suggesting that every story in the gospel of John is designed to show us who the Lord is and what faith is and what life is.  That’s the direction we’re taking.

In our first two introduction lessons, we focused on the prologue, those first eighteen verses, but there are thirty two verses in chapter one after the prologue, verses nineteen to fifty-one.  We’ve been now focusing on what those verses about.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to finish looking at chapter one this morning.  As we go through the verses, I’m going to be constantly, not just this morning, but throughout our study, calling attention to who is the Lord, and how can we depend on Him, and what does it mean to experience life in Him.

A great portion of John 1 after the prologue, puts the spotlight on John the Baptist.  Listen to John 1:6-8.  This is in the prologue, “There came a man sent from God whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but he came to testify about the Light.”  John the Baptist, according to this, was the one sent by God to be a witness of the true light.  I think the Holy Spirit returns to John to drive home that very point.  In verses 19-36, eighteen verses are all about John, plus those four in the prologue.  In other words, twenty-two verses in chapter one are about John the Baptist.  That has to be important.  That’s a lot of inspired space to give to one man.  In fact, later you’re going to see John the Baptist appear in other places in the gospel of John, but his appearance in chapter one is strategic; it’s key to understanding his contribution to the history of redemption.  He’s God’s example; he’s God’s model; he’s the one that was sent by God to be a witness of the Light. 

Verses 6 & 7, “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify about the Light, that all might believe through Him.”  I want you to focus on those three ideas, sent by God, as a witness to testify about the true Light.  I can’t read your heart and you can’t read mine, but I know for my own self, I want to be sent by God, and I want to be His witness, and I want to be able to testify about the true Light.  I have an idea you want to be sent by God and you want to be His witness and testify about the true Light.  John the Baptist is God’s demonstration of such a life.  If I am sent by God as a witness to testify about the true Light, what will my life look like?  The answer is it will be like John the Baptist.  What will your life look like?  It’s going to look like John the Baptist.  God gives us this picture right at the beginning, and we need to look at that together.

I’m going to give several characteristics of what a person looks like who is sent by God and called as a witness and testifies about the Light, illustrated by John.  The first characteristic is this; if I’m going to be sent by God as a witness, I’m going to be somebody who has a very clear conviction and know without any question of a doubt, “I am not the Light.”  John had to know that he was not the light.  No matter how many gifts, no matter how many talents a person may have, no matter how many people are influenced or are associated with him, no matter how much experience or success a person has, John the Baptist was adamant, “I am not the Light.” 

When the Jews came to him, the priests and the Levites, and asked, “Who are you?”  He didn’t clear his throat.  Verse 20, “He confessed, did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’”  Then they asked him verse 21, “What, then, are you? Elijah?”  He said, “I am not.”  “Are you the prophet?”  And he said, “No.”  That expression, “Are you the prophet,” commentators have different ideas.  Some think that he’s referring to Moses, because God said He was going to raise up a prophet like Moses.  Some think it’s Isaiah.  Some think it’s Malachi.  Some think it’s Samuel.  I don’t know who he had in mind, but his answer was clear, “No, no, no, no, no, I’m not Moses, I’m not Samuel, I’m not Elijah, I’m not Isaiah, or Ezekiel; no, I am not.”  Then they asked for a clear statement, verse 22, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us?  What do you say about yourself?”  “If you are not Christ, you’re not Elijah, and you’re not one of the prophets, who are you?”  He gives this answer in verse 23, “He said, ‘I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as Isaiah the prophet said.’”  Who are you?  “I’m a voice; that’s who I am.  You don’t need to know anything else.  I’m a voice, and I’m preparing the way for someone else to come, preparing the way of the Lord.”

They were confused because too many people were gathering unto John, and I think a lot of them just wanted to know what his secret was.  They’re gathering and they’re responding and they’re becoming disciples of John.  It didn’t make sense to them, “How can you only be a voice when people are gathering unto you and they’re wanting to hear you and they’re flocking around you?”  They had the idea that you must have mastered some principle of group dynamics, and we need to know what that is.  Verse 25, “They asked him, and said, ‘Why are you baptizing, if you’re not Christ or Elijah or the prophet?’”  Again, John knew that he was just a voice; he knew he was a nobody, a forerunner of someone else. 

John gave a clear word, and I don’t think they got it, verses 26 & 27, “John answered them saying, ‘I baptize in water.  Among you stands One whom you do not know, and it’s He that comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.’”  John had already been told by the Holy Spirit that Messiah was alive and somewhere on the earth, “There stands One among you..”  He hadn’t been revealed yet, and hadn’t been manifest yet, “But He’s there, and it’s not me.  I baptize with water,” in other words, “With my ministry I can get you wet, and that’s all I can do, but there is coming One after me, and He will baptize with the Life of God; He’ll baptize with the Holy Spirit.  I am not the Light; the Light is coming; I’m preparing the way; I’m a voice, but I am not the Light.  I know He’s in the world, and He’s going to give you the very Life of God when He comes, but I’m just preparing the way.”

Later in our study we’re going to see a little more about what it means to be a voice crying in the wilderness, and what it means to prepare the way.  He develops that in chapter 3 and other chapters, but for now just know this, he’s one sent by God as a witness of the true light, and it’s not him.  He is not the Light; he seeks no followers, he seeks no flock, he’s not trying to build a ministry, and his calling and joy is to be a voice and proclaim the true Light.  He’s just a voice.

Hold that for now, please.  Those called by God know who they are, and it’s not the Light.  The second characteristic of one called by God as a witness, to bear witness of the Light, not only know they are not the Light, but they know, and don’t miss these next two words, by revelation who the true Light is; they know by revelation.  It’s not possible to be His witness if you don’t know by revelation who He is.  It’s not possible for me to be His witness if I don’t know by revelation who He is.

John’s testimony at this point, if you read chapter one, is a flash-back, and here’s what I mean by that.  You would expect verse 32 to 34 to come after verses 31 to 33, but the fact is that it comes before.  John says, “This is true today, but because of what happened yesterday. So, let me tell you about what happened yesterday, so you’ll understand what’s going on today.  So, he gives a testimony, and we need to look at that testimony.  He doesn’t give the history of it.  In verse 32, “John testified saying, ‘I’ve seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remains on Him.’”  He doesn’t tell you about that occasion.  He says, “That history happened, and when it did, I was there.”  But he doesn’t tell you about that and when it took place.”  Matthew does in Matthew 3:13-17, and Mark does in Mark 1:9-11, and Luke does in Luke 3:21-22, but John doesn’t give the history.  He said, “This happened and I was there; I saw it, and I witnessed, and that’s why I can be so bold now.”

If we’re going to enter in more fully into John’s testimony, “I was there when that happened,” I think it would be helpful if we went a little into Matthew, Mark and Luke and looked at the history.  He was where when it happened?  They tell the story of the baptism of our Lord Jesus when the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove and rested on Him. 

Luke 3:22 says, “The Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, ‘You’re My Beloved Son, and in You I am well-pleased.’”  That’s John’s testimony, “When that happened, I saw it.  I was an eye witness and I was there.”  So, let me tell you John’s story.  John 1:31, John says, “I did not recognize Him.”  Another translation says, “I did not know Him.”  John 1:33 says it again, “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’”  Wuest in his Expanded Translation says, “I did not know Him in an absolute way.”  In other words, words are used differently.  When John the Baptist says, “I didn’t know Him; I didn’t know the Lord.”  Don’t read that as if he’s saying, I wasn’t a believer at that time and, “I don’t know the Lord.”  He’s not saying that.  He’s saying, “I don’t know exactly which person it is.” 

I’m not about to say that John didn’t know the Lord, and I’ll tell you why.  It’s because of Luke 1:13, when Gabriel, the angel of God said, “He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.”  Don’t ask me what that means but if he’s got the Holy Spirit when he’s still a baby in his mother’s womb, I’m not going to stand here and say, “He doesn’t know the Lord.”  That’s beyond me.  But I think it’s like the Old Testament saints.  They believed in Messiah, they just didn’t know exactly who it was.  John had been told by the Lord that Messiah was some place on earth.  He said, “He’s among you and He hasn’t been revealed,” but John at that time didn’t know exactly who He was, but he knew how God would make Him known—when he saw the Spirit come upon Him.  Verse 33, to drive that home, “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’”  John didn’t know exactly who it was.

When he was sent by the Lord to baptize, you remember that he was a bold preacher, not only in the way he dressed and in some of the things he ate, but his message was quite bold.  We hear about people who say, “Their whole message and emphasis is to turn or burn.”  Well, that was John; he said, “Turn or burn.”  Matthew 3:7, “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore, bear fruit in keeping with repentance..’”  He called them a brood of vipers, and band of snakes.  A snake can shed its skin but not it’s venom, and these Pharisees, these religious leaders were like snakes.  He warned them how soon judgment was coming.  Matthew 3:10, “The ax is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  He had a strong message.  Matthew 3:12, “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and He’ll gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with  unquenchable fire.”  He had a powerful message, “You bunch of snakes, you vipers, you come here and the ax is already laid at the root,  and you are in big trouble.”

According to Luke, not only the religious hypocrites showed up, but so did the common people, and Luke said so did the tax collectors, and Luke said so did the Roman soldiers; everybody was coming.  I want you to picture John standing in the water there with a bunch of robbers and thieves and liars and hypocrites and oppressors, and probably those who cheated on their wives and on their husbands, sabbath breakers, cursers, and just a bunch of people that are very, very wicked, and it was in this scene where all these renegades are coming into the water, that John’s cousin, Jesus, shows up. 

Matthew 3:13, “Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.  But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do you come to me?”  Remember that at this time John had no idea that his cousin was Messiah; he did not know that.  When he resisted His baptism, it wasn’t because John saw him as the sinless Son of God.  Not yet, he will, but not yet.  At this point he just saw the contrast.  He saw the sinners that were coming to him and standing in the water, and then he saw his cousin on the shore.  He grew up with his cousin.  John was shocked when Jesus showed up because he knew the character of his cousin.  He wasn’t like one of those scoundrels that were coming to be baptized.  He wasn’t a snake in the grass.  He looked at his cousin and said, “What in the world, cousin, why are You here?  Look at the people I’m baptizing.  You don’t need to be baptized.  In fact, compared to you, you ought to be baptizing me.  I need it more than You do.”  I think that’s the idea here.

Well, he’s in for the shock of his life.  Matthew 3:15, “Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’”  Do you think John understood that?  I don’t think he had a clue what He was saying, but he permitted Him.  I know I don’t have much of a clue what it means, even now.  Try to enter into this.  At this point, he does not know that his cousin, Jesus, is Messiah.  He knows He’s a good man, and He’s an upright man, and he knows that something is going on. 

Matthew 3:16, “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God ascending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’”  I imagine that John’s eyes were open wide in amazement and I imagine his mouth was open wide in amazement.  He didn’t say this, but I can picture him saying, “Cousin, are you Messiah?  You’ve got to be kidding me!  My own cousin!”  We need to enter into how this was going on, and that is the moment that he found out.  He didn’t know before that, but he had been given a sign, and He said, “When you see that happening, then you will know.”  John 1:33 & 34, “I did not recognize Him.  He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One that baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’  I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”  That’s when John discovered, and that’s what he’s talking about in John chapter one. 

So, as far as the principles, someone sent by God to be a witness of the true Light, I’ve got to know that I’m not the Light, but I need to know by revelation who is the Light.  He needed his eyes open to that, that Jesus was the Messiah.  Since we left the gospel of John and went to Matthew, Mark and Luke and so on, and we started talking about the baptism of Jesus, I don’t want to leave that precious history without saying a few things just about the baptism of Jesus, and then we’ll come back to John the Baptizer.

I think it’s the consensus of evangelical thought that the baptism of Christ was the official beginning of His public ministry.  I think almost all would agree with that.  I’m not suggesting that He didn’t have ministry before this.  Of course, He had ministry.  You can’t live a perfect life and not have ministry and not impress certain people, especially His family.  I know when He was twelve, He had a ministry in the lives of those in the temple, the doctors and religious leaders and so on.  I know through the years Mary pondered many things in her heart.  He had a ministry.  I’m certainly not suggesting what some have suggested, and even a couple that I highly respect, and I think they are dead wrong, but they have suggested that Jesus didn’t even know that He was Messiah until He was baptized.  They say that He grew into it; He studied and suddenly discovered at the baptism that He was Messiah.  That’s nonsense.  He always knew. 

Since Christmas is coming, I think I’ve share this on another occasion, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the fact that Jesus spoke when He was a little baby, when He was just being born, He spoke.  His words are recorded; they’re in the Bible.  I’m not saying that the shepherds heard it or Mary heard it or Joseph heard it or the wisemen, but I know He spoke.  I get that from Hebrews 10:5-7, “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says…”  That’s Jesus coming into the world.  What did He say?  “’Sacrifice and offering You’ve not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.’  Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God.’”  That’s what He said when He came into the world.  So, to suggest that He didn’t know, He knew it right from the beginning.  So, the baptism of the Lord Jesus was the official beginning of His ministry, but it came as no surprise to Him.

What’s the principle behind Jesus being baptized by John.  Let me give it to you in three words—identification with sinners.  That was the whole point of this, the worst of the worst, the wicked, the self-righteous, and all those that gathered to be baptized.  Jesus had no sins to confess, but He wanted to stand in the water with those who had a lifetime of sins to confess.  From this moment on He will be identified with sinners, so much so that they’ll mock Him and call Him the friend of sinners.  His baptism was not only the official beginning of His public ministry, and not only  an identification with sinners, but it also pictured His ministry as a sacrifice for sin.  When that dove came down, that was an anointing.  He was being called into that ministry.  That descending dove and abiding dove was a sign, not only that John would recognize Messiah, but that dove was deliberately chosen. 

Remember Mary and Joseph when Jesus was eight days old, and they brought Him to the temple to be circumcised?  Luke 2:23, “And when the days for their purification according to the Law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, ‘A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’”  Why did they bring birds?  Why didn’t they bring a lamb?  Leviticus 5:7, “If he can not afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the Lord his guilt offering for that in which he has sinned, two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering.”  Mary and Joseph at that time had not received the gifts of the wisemen, and they were very poor, so they couldn’t afford to bring a lamb, so they brought the birds.  The bird was the poor man’s offering. 

In fact, there was an offering even less than that.  Leviticus 5:11, “If his means are insufficient for two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then for his offering for that which he has sinned, he shall bring the tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering.”  In other words, they could bring a pinch of flour.  That’s all they had to bring.  God was saying, “No excuses; I want everybody to come, and if you can’t afford a lamb, bring a bird, and if you can’t afford a bird, bring a pinch of flour, but come.  Don’t stay away; you’ve got to come.”  The point is that Jesus not only identified with sinners, but He identified with every sinner, even the poorest of the poor.  The baptism of Jesus that was symbolized by the Holy Spirit coming as a dove, that was His inauguration, that was His ministry, that was His calling.  He is now being anointed by the poor man’s sacrifice, and from this point on He will be identified with sinners and He’s going all the way to the cross.  So, there’s a lot more in the baptism than I’ve already mentioned, but I wanted you to see that as an object lesson of His mission.  The Holy Spirit took the form of that poor man’s sacrifice, a picture of life and death, the Holy Spirit meaning life, and the dove picturing the sacrificial death.

Let me go back to John, and the point I’m trying to make.  If I am called by the Lord, if I’m sent by Him to be a witness of the true light, I will know that I’m not the Light, and I must know by revelation that He is the Light.  John 1:6-9, “There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.  He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.  There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.”  Now, later in the gospel, the Holy Spirit is going to go from the witness of the Light to the word “forerunner”.  We’re going to see John as the forerunner of Christ.  A forerunner is someone who runs before, a voice—that’s all John claimed to be.  He’s not the Light; he’s just a forerunner.

John 1:33, “He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.”  Every true witness of the Lord is patterned after John the Baptist.  We are forerunners.  If somebody doesn’t come after, we have no ministry.  We can baptize in water, as I said, and we can get you wet, but He doesn’t come after and baptize with the Holy Spirit, what good is that?  We can just be a voice to turn you to the Lord.  We can gather one hundred fifty gallons of water, but He better turn it to wine.  We can say to someone, “Stretch forth your withered hand,” but He better give them the power to do it.  We can roll the stone away, but only Christ can call the dead to life from behind that stone.

Two times in John we hear what that voice proclaimed.  John 1:29, “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the word.”  Then again in John 1:35, “Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’”  That’s the voice; that’s the message, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  That’s why I pointed out the flashback in chapter one, because John could not say of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” until God showed him that He was the Lamb of God.  Until he saw it, he couldn’t announce it.  John had to learn by revelation, according to John 1:33&34, “He said, ‘I myself have seen, and have testified.”  “I was a witness.  I can’t bear witness until I’ve born witness.  I’ve got to know by revelation who He is.”  I can’t give you what I don’t have, and you can’t give me what you don’t have. 

Later, when John wrote his other epistles, he began the first epistle in these words, 1 John 1, “Concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you.”  A witness must be one who has experienced, who has seen, who has heard, who has touched, who has tasted, who has been manifested unto.  I cannot present the Christ that I have not experienced.  Well, I can, but you’ll end up with theology.  If all I have to give is theology, and all you get is theology, we’re both in pretty bad trouble.  I’m not going to go there now, but I’ll encourage you to read Jeremiah 23, “Who is sent by God and who waits before the Lord?”

If, in fact, the only message that was given was Christ, Christ revealed to the heart, I have an idea a lot of ministries might have to close down.  Don’t give anything but the revelation of Christ, I think ministries would have to close down, and I think some missionaries would have to leave the mission field and come home, and I think some songs and some books would be recanted and wished they were never written, and I think many, many resignations would take place from schools and churches and ministries and camps and service organizations.  If all you gave, unless you give a revelation you got, you are going to shut up, if that was the fact.  That’s what a true witness is, one sent by God is one who knows he’s not the Light, and has had that revelation of the Lord, and he presents that.

I’ve been to many churches and heard many places and I feel like Isaac.  I see the wood, I see the fire; where is the Lamb?  I want to see Christ.  John, in his gospel, is going to hold Jesus high, as the true witness sent by God to bear witness of the Light.  Here is what he said, John 8:26, “I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Hi, these I speak to the world.”  Even Jesus would not say a word that He hadn’t received directly from His Holy Father God.

Look, please, at John 1:36&37, “He looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard Him speak, and they followed Jesus.”  You see, that’s the result.  I know who I am, I know who He is by revelation, and now I can proclaim Him, and when I proclaim Him, they leave me and follow Him.  That’s what happened in John 1.  People turned from John.  Later he’ll explain that He must increase and I must decrease.  That’s what a witness is.  It’s someone who proclaims, “This is the Lamb,” and then releases; let them go.  People need to run to Jesus.  So, the Lord brought John, and John brought Andrew, and Andrew brought Peter, and Jesus finds Phillip, and Phillip brings Nathanael, and that’s how it ends in chapter one. 

So, those are the principles of a witness.  I must know that I’m not the witness, and that I’m just a voice, and I must know that He is, by revelation, and I must proclaim Him and release everybody.  I don’t want a following; I don’t want a ministry.

Let’s go back to John’s threefold purpose for writing.  He said, “I write that you might know who He is, but also that you might trust Him, that you might believe in Him, so that you can experience Life.”  We see who He is; He’s the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  He’s the One that baptizes with the Holy Spirit, with the Life of God.  He’s the One that needs to be known by revelation.  As we get ready to close, I want to focus on the second purpose, that you might believe, that you might know.  I told you in our introduction lesson, the great emphasis that John places on faith in this wonderful gospel.  Ninety-eight times he uses the word “believe” in the gospel of John.  One hundred and ten times he uses the word “faith” in the gospel of John.  One hundred and ten times he uses the word “know the Lord”, that expression.  And more than three hundred times he invites people to come to Jesus.  In other words, in the gospel of John six hundred times John says, “Trust Him, believe Him, and depend on the Lord.”

As we go through the gospel of John, we’re going to see many descriptions of faith.  By the way, there’s no definition of faith in the Bible, even Hebrews 11:1 is not a definition; it’s a description, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  There are many descriptions of faith.  As you go through John, eating will be a picture of faith, and drinking will be a picture of faith, and walking will be a picture of faith, and abiding will be a picture of faith, and coming will be a picture of faith, and looking will be a picture of faith, and obeying will be a picture of faith, and resting. 

There are so many pictures of faith, but the first one is the key. 

What is the first description of faith that John gives in the gospel of John? It’s in verse 12 & 13, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”  As many as received Him, He gave the privilege.  Wuest translates it, “The legal right to become children of God.”  It’s not of blood; it doesn’t matter what family you’re born into, and it’s not of the flesh, and not of your own choice or works or what you do.  We’re not required to do anything or be anything or sacrifice anything.  The first description is receiving Him, “As many as received Him.”  Wuest translates “appropriating”, “As many as appropriated Him,” because as we talked last week, you already have Christ.  There are portions of the revelation of Christ you may not have not appropriated, but you have a full Christ.  So, you don’t have to keep receiving parts of Christ; you have Christ.  John 1:12 tells us that the first picture of faith is as simple as receiving a gift, and that gift is a Person, “As many as received Him.” 

In our Western culture, Christmas is a time of exchanging of gifts, giving gifts back and forth, but we have other occasions, as well—birthdays, and anniversaries, and holidays and graduations, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Secretaries’ Day, Bosses Day, Pastor’s Day.  You’ve got all kinds of days.  And then there are milestones like jubilees and promotions and that kind of thing.  But the average Christian honestly does not believe that faith is as simple as receiving a gift.  In fact, some people mock you and say, “Oh, you’re dumbing it down and you’re just trying to make it too simple.”  You can’t make faith too simple.  Many Christians think faith is so difficult, that they usually pray, “Lord, increase my faith; I need more faith.  I need my faith to be stronger.  I don’t have enough faith.”  Then they look at somebody else and they say, “Oh, I wish I had faith like you.  You have so much faith.  I want you to pray for me because you have so much faith.”

Let me show you a verse that teaches that faith will never be more difficult than receiving a gift.  Colossians 2:6, “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”  As—so, as you receive Christ.  Some Christians have the idea, “I had the faith to get saved, and I accepted Christ.  That was easy; I just had to accept a Person, but walking, that’s the hard part.  Now, everything depends on every day.  I’ve got to go through hills and I’ve got to go through valleys and I’ve got to go over rocks and I’ve got to go through some deep waters and some dark places and dark night and thorns and bushes and sometimes I’m in the sunshine and sometimes I’m in the wind, and sometimes I’m in the rain, and sometimes it’s joy, and sometimes it’s sorrow, and sometimes it’s health, and sometimes it’s sickness, and sometimes I’m in the valley of the shadow of death.  This walking is tough.  It was easy when I got saved; I just had to receive Jesus.  Walking, that’s day by day, day in and day out and the week in and week out and month after month and year after year and decade after decade.” It’s a false idea that I received Christ once and everything else depends on my walking.  That is not the Bible.

John tells us, “Receive Jesus as a gift, and keep on receiving Him, appropriating Him.  As you started, so continue.”  Romans 8, I love verse 32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”  God has one gift to give, and it’s Jesus, and everything is in Him, everything else is included in Him.  God is not going to give you things; He’s not going to give me things.  He’s not going to give me something called “joy”, something called “power”, something called “patience”.  We pray, “Oh, I need patience; give me patience.”  He’s not going to give you patience.  He’s not going to give you joy or strength.  He’s going to give you Jesus, and if you have Jesus, you have joy.  If you have Jesus, you have patience, and you have strength, you have everything in Christ.  Those are byproducts.  If you make a goal out of a byproduct, you are going to lose the byproduct and you’re going to lose the goal.  If you run after anything but Christ, you’re going to have nothing, and you’ll be running and you’ll be like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower, and never settling down. 

As you have received Christ, so walk in Him.  When you received Christ, do you remember the day?  Think back when you got saved, when you trusted in the Lord, you didn’t receive a Bible.  You received Christ Jesus, the Lord.  You didn’t receive a church.  You received a Person, Christ Jesus.  You didn’t receive a denomination.  You didn’t receive a catechism, you didn’t receive a system of theology, you didn’t receive a sacrament, you didn’t receive bread or wine or water, and you didn’t even receive a plan of salvation.  You received a Person, and His name is Jesus.  You didn’t receive blessing, forgiveness, a reservation in heaven, peace in your heart, the righteousness of Christ; you received Him, and having Him, you have all those things.  It’s as easy to walk as it was to get saved, because it’s just receiving a gift.

The thing that makes Christians tremble are all these highfaluten spiritual words, “Have you entered the exchanged life?”  “Are you living the crucified life?”  “Do you know the abundant life?”  “Are you an overcomer?”  “Are you victorious?”  “Have you entered into the deeper life, the ascended life, the life that’s hid with Christ in God, the life that’s in the heavenly places?”  “Are you surrendered?”  “Are you consecrated?”  “Are you dedicated to the Lord?”  “Is you life a spirit-filled life?”  We hear those words and go, “Ahhh, it’s too hard; I can’t do it.  It’s too much.”  I promise it will never harder for you to live a victorious life that it was the moment you trusted Christ as your Savior.  As you received Him, you just said, “Thank You, Lord,” and everything changed, and that’s all it is.  Day after day, God is going to reveal Himself.

If you offered me a gift, sometimes for some reason, maybe because of pride or embarrassment or consideration, I might say, “No, no, that’s alright,” but a beggar never turns it down.  A beggar’s hand is always open.  It’s the beggar’s hand that receives the gift, and God is inviting us to come and just take the gift.  When you first received Christ, the first revelation you had was in John 1, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  You found Him as your Savior.  You found Him as your substitute.  You found Him as the One that took your place.  That was your first revelation of God.  Let me ask this question, don’t answer, just think, did that change your life?  You’ve never been the same.  One revelation, “I saw Him as the Lamb, and my life was radically changed forever.”

Do you understand what the Holy Spirit is saying?  John wrote this because every revelation of Christ has to be a revelation.  “I was saved when I saw Him as my Savior.  I was changed.”  Every time you appropriate Christ you will have as radical a change in your life as you had the day you got saved.  You don’t have to get saved again, but God will reenact your salvation every time you appropriate the Lord Jesus.  It isn’t enough to study and say, “Oh, I’ve learned a lot about God.  I saw Him as a Priest, and I saw Him as a King, and I saw Him as the Vine, and I saw Him as the Door, and I saw Him as the Smelter, and I saw Him as the Potter.”  Did you see that by revelation, because every time He reveals Himself, He transforms your life.  That’s why you can live in the excitement of new love, first love, because He’s constantly showing Himself, and every revelation of Christ is a transforming revelation, and every revelation of Christ is as easy as receiving a gift.  That’s all God has ever asked of us, to come with the beggar’s hand, and just say, “Thank You.”  Got shows Himself as Priest; do you have that by revelation?  He’s your Comforter; do you know that because you studied it or someone said it, or has He revealed Himself as Comforter, and as the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit?  We need the revelation of Christ, and it’s as simple as a gift.

Let me close with this verse, 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”  King James says, “His unspeakable gift.”  Let’s bow.

Father, thank You so much for Your word.  We want to thank You again for Your indescribable gift, our Lord Jesus.  Help us as we go through the gospel of John to enter into the wonder and the simplicity of receiving Him, appropriating Him over and over and over; as we received Him, to walk in Him.  Work this in our hearts, we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.