There came a man
sent from God,
whose name was John.
as a witness,
about the Light,
so that all might believe
He was not the Light,
but he came to testify
about the Light.
This is our purpose: testifying. What does this mean?
Three parts: A sent man Who he was Who he wasn't
Main point summary
We preach Christ by dying, and that surprisingly gives us new life and brings God glory.
Context We just finished hearing about Jesus as the Supreme Source of all. Jesus is God. Nothing was ever made without Him, therefore, He is Maker. He has life in Himself. Now we meet the "man" who "came." Already the language has a sense of beginning. John began. And came, and was sent. In the same way that God, from eternity past sends Jesus to come and die; God, from eternity past, sent John, to accomplish God's purposes for his life. Your life was just as intended by God as Jesus'. And, if you have faith in Jesus to be your obedience and punishment, then God intended your life to walk in Jesus' footsteps. John is the one who comes to "make straight the way of the Lord," but it is Christ Who walks before us into a life we cannot on our own. "Where I am going you cannot follow. But you will follow later (John 13:36). Jesus is making a way for us into life. Outline: First Text: Read the summary from last week and then... John 1:6-8 Have someone read. Questions What does it mean to be "sent by God?" Remember, John came as a witness while Jesus was still on Earth! Why does the Light of the world need a light? Why does God need a witness to testify about Him at all? (Write first!) What does it mean that John bears witness about the light? What does it mean to be a witness? Second Text: John 1:19-28 Have someone read Questions What is John's testimony here? ( Thoughts: all of John's answers minimize himself and maximize God. They point away from himself and to God ). Are there subtle ways that we can "point to ourselves"? For example, what ways are there that we can seek out our own credit, or want more praise throughout the day? Third Text: We're going to look at a passage that answers a lot of the questions we've asked. Have someone read 2 Corinthians 4:5-18 Questions Paul asserts that it isn't us that we preach, but Christ. What would it mean to preach ourselves? What does verse 7 tell us about why God chooses to use people to preach His name? Verse 7 also tells us that people will see God's greatness through us. What does this look like? How will people know that it is God's greatness and not our own? What does it mean that "all things are for your sakes?" in verse 15? What is the purpose of this right afterward? Without Jesus, none of this would be good news at all. However, we get to verse 16 and Paul writes, "Therefore, do not lose heart." Why in the would should we not lose heart? What are his reasons? (Think time). Do you think God wants you to suffer? What does it look like for us to experience affliction or hardship? Does it have to look like extremes? Why does verse 17 call our affliction light? Do you agree? What's the alternative? What does verse 18 tell us about how the "eternal weight of glory" is produced or prepared for us? Final Takeaways Now that we've looked at all these verses together, what does it mean to be a witness? What does it mean for you to be a witness to the people around you? Reflections God has set up our affliction to work as a witness to those around us, to work for our good, and to work for our glory. For, it isn't success as defined by the world that will preach, but success as defined by Christ . What matters is not our success, but our likeness to Christ. Therefore, when we come up against trials, we do not lose heart! We can be successful in the midst of failure. We are being prepared for glory. The fact that we are flawed witnesses does not have to bring us shame. Rather, it is an encouragement that, through our shame, we bring God glory when He chooses to glorify Himself through us. I wonder how many of us have the hidden goal of trying to keep our outer man comfortable while our inner man is starved. That sounds like it might be helpful, but that doesn't result in your courage. Us "not losing heart" here in verse 16 is contingent (or hangs) upon just how much we are decaying or dying on the outside and how much we are being renewed on the inside. If we aren't doing this, there is no promise that we will not lose heart. So, if you've lost heart here tonight, let me ask you which man you've placed priority on comforting. Your outer man, or your inner? The part of you who died with Christ on the cross? Or the part of you who has risen again with Him in victory? Encouragements Your identity is hidden in Christ! Your success is dependent upon conformity to Him, not at all on your conformity to the world's ideas of success. THAT is preaching Christ to others. Being a witness doesn't always mean claiming victory but humbly confessing loss and asking for forgiveness-- OR offering it when you've been wronged without someone else coming to you first. Don't be discouraged by God's promises of suffering. Within God's gift of suffering is your good that abounds to His glory. Your failure is not the loss of an opportunity to preach the gospel, but the beginning of an opportunity.
2 Corinthians 4:5-18
2 Corinthians 4:5-18
For we a do not preach ourselves
but Christ Jesus as Lord,
and ourselves as your bond-servants 1 for Jesus’ sake.
For God, who said, “ a Light shall shine out of darkness,”
is the One who has b shone in our hearts
to give the c Light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in a earthen vessels,
so that the surpassing greatness of b the power will be of God
and not from ourselves;
we are a afflicted in every way,
but not b crushed;
but not despairing;
but not b forsaken;
c struck down,
but not destroyed;
a always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that b the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
For we who live
are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake,
so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So death works in us,
but life in you.
But having the same a spirit of faith,
according to what is written,
“ b I believed , therefore I spoke ,”
we also believe,
therefore we also speak,
knowing that He who a raised the Lord Jesus
b will raise us also with Jesus
and will c present us with you.
For all things are a for your sakes,
so that the grace which is 1 b spreading to more and more people
may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we a do not lose heart ,
but though our outer man is decaying,
yet our b inner man is c being renewed day by day.
For momentary, a light affliction
is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
while we a look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen;
for the things which are seen are temporal,
but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Even though we are continuously being handed over to death... we do not lose heart. Because our outer self might be perishing, but our inner man is being renewed. I wonder how many of us have the hidden goal of trying to keep our outer man comfortable while our inner man is starved. That sounds like it might be helpful, but that doesn't result in your courage. Us "not losing heart" here in verse 16 is contingent (or hangs) upon just how much we are decaying or dying on the outside and how much we are being renewed on the inside. If we aren't doing this, there is no promise that we will not lose heart. So, if you've lost heart here tonight, let me ask you which man you've placed priority on comforting. Your outer man, or your inner? The part of you who died with Christ on the cross? Or the part of you who has risen again with Him in victory?
The momentary, light affliction works to produce for us a forever weight of glory... The reverse is light comforts that work in us to produce an eternal weight of affliction.
This is the main point! The death of ourselves produces in us new life! What normally would cause us to lose heart gives us more of a new one!
Well, what is being spoken? The verse this is referencing is Psalm 116:10, which says that, "I believed, even when I spoke: "I am greatly afflicted." The Psalm seems to suggest that we believe in spite of affliction. However, we also affirm affliction (13e), as affirmation that we are, indeed, in Christ. Affliction is not cause to stumble or lose heart, but a source of renewal.
Our belief necessarily leads to our affirming of affliction.
We know that our affliction is properly a part of our belief because all things work together for our good, including our affliction, so that God might be shown to be great even when comforted are totally stripped away.
BRO. The purpose of God working for your good is His glory... And be certain that God will get His glory. "For my name's sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that you may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction . For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another." - Isaiah 48:9-11.
It's not us that we preach, but Christ. However, we don't preach Him perfectly. However... that isn't bad news. God set it up that way, that HE might be seen to be glorious and not ourselves.
The ground for your belief through affliction and in the midst of affliction is your own good to God's glory! And the concrete resting place is God's own glory, not your good. The fact that God is so committed to His glory should lead you to rejoice.
We don't witness to the greatness of ourselves, but of Christ, and we know this because it is Christ who has shown us His greatness.
However, we hold the greatness of Christ within the weakness of the body, so that it will be obvious that anything good in us is not from ourselves, but God-- for, we will not look like the success of the world, but like Christ.