Second Reformed Church

Friday, September 29, 2017

Thursday Night Bible Study

Join us as we continue our study of I & II Thessalonians at 7 PM Thursday nights.  Are you "in God the Father and Jesus Christ?"  Come find out what that means.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

October Sermons

Join us at 10:30 AM for worship!

Luke 16:19-31 “Scripture Alone”

Colossians 1:13-20  “Christ Alone”

Pulpit exchange with Eric Farrar, Hope Reformed Church.

Ephesians 1:3-10  “Grace Alone”

10/29/17 Reformation Sunday and Pot-Luck
Romans 1:16-17  “Faith Alone”

Sunday, September 24, 2017

"John" Sermon: John 21:20--25

[John 21:20-25]
September 24, 2017, Second Reformed Church
            Forgiveness is available to all who believe that Jesus is God and Savior – for all who believe the Gospel – Who Jesus is and what He did to accomplish and secure salvation for us.  You and I can now pray directly to God the Father and He will hear us and receive our repentance, because He loves us and chose us to be His, and Jesus intercedes for us and advocates for us – we are forgiven when we repent because of Who Jesus is and what He has done.
            Last week, after Jesus and the Seven had breakfast, we saw Jesus forgive Peter for denying Him, and Jesus commissions Peter to care for the sheep Jesus has given him – as a pastor to teach his people, to protect them and help them to understand the difference between truth and the lies of the devil, and to equip them to do the work of the ministry.  We saw this is the call on every minister of the Gospel.
            Next, we see:
            Jesus tells Peter not to worry about what anyone else does, but to follow Him.
“Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’ So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’”
Peter has relived his denial of Jesus as Jesus asks three times if Peter loves him, and then commissions him to three aspects of the Gospel ministry.  We read that Peter’s heart aches during this conversation – he is seeking forgiveness from his friend and God and Savior, and Jesus forgives him and sets him to work.
As soon as Jesus finishes saying these things to Peter, Peter turns to John – who has been following them – which is not unusual – the style of teaching in that day was for the teacher to walk and teach while his disciples followed after him.  It may be that all seven followed, but we are told that John did.
So, after this emotional encounter with Jesus, Peter turns to look at John and asks, “What about him?” “What about John?”
What is the intent of Peter’s question?
Did Peter look at John in love and ask, “What about him?” “Is he forgiven of his sins?  Is he commissioned to the work of the Gospel?”  “Will You given John the same mercy and grace that You have given me?”
Or did Peter look at John more as an administrator – or in envy –  and ask, “What about him?”  “What is John’s job?  What is he called to do?  You’re not going to put all the work of spreading the Gospel on me, are You?  What part is John going to play?”
In either case, Peter asks a question above his paygrade, “OK, Lord.  I’m humbled and thankful for what You have done for me and set me to do.  Now, so I can manage the others and make sure they get their benefits; tell me what is going to happen with John?”
Have you ever been singled out at work and asked, “Wait a minute, what about so and so?’  Or, have you received extra work when others haven’t or received discipline when “everybody does it,” or gotten a bonus when others don’t, and ask, “Wait, what about them?”
It comes down to our thinking something is not fair.  Either you have gotten more benefits that your equals or more criticism than your equals, and your back goes up – or your heart goes out – and you question what your boss has done or is planning to do.
Or, perhaps, you are just someone who needs to know what everyone else does and what they receive and what their job description is and why such and such and not such and such.
As we “look out for number one,” we stick our noses in other people’s business and ask questions that we don’t have a right to ask – or, as we assume the position of a “mother hen,” we stick our noses in other people’s business and ask questions we don’t have a right to ask.
If Peter was concerned about John, that would be fine to an extent.  But if Peter just wanted to make sure everybody got the same thing, he didn’t have that authority.  In either case, Peter had no right to ask Jesus.
Jesus makes an exaggerated point and says, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
“If it is My Will that John stay alive until the Second Coming, what business is that of yours?  Don’t be a busybody!  You follow Me.  You do the work I have called you to do and don’t worry about what anyone else is called to do or what they receive.”
The answer to “What about him – or her?” is, “Do what you’re supposed to do.  Be the person you have been called to be.”
Don’t misunderstand, we have to obey our bosses, unless the command us to sin, and we are to call each other to account if we are persisting in sin.  That is not what we are talking about.
The sin comes in questioning God’s wisdom for someone else.  “Lord, what are You doing over there?  I think it would be best if You did this or that.  Just look at so and so.”
            God knows what He is doing.  We are to follow and do what God has commanded us.
            So, Jesus dramatically says, “What business is it of yours?”
            “What if my plan is for John to raise unicorns in South America?”  What if My plan is for John to stay in Jerusalem and have a nice life with a wife and a big family?  What if My plan is for John to invent the submarine?  What business is it of yours?”
            A rebuke, indeed.
            We are to be about the work God has given us and not be a busybody.  We are not to be drawn away from our duty by wanting to know what other people have and are doing. We are not to be obsessed with God’s secret counsel.  We are to do what we have been commanded and called to do and be the people God has called us to be.
            And then we have a warning about interpretation.  If we read the newspaper, we read it as news.  If we read poetry, we read it as poetry.  If we read a history text, we read it as history.  If we read a biography, we read it as a biography.  If we read song lyrics, we read them as song lyrics.  We read things and interpret them based on the style of writing and its context – at least we should.
            If we don’t read texts honestly, interpreting them based on their literary style and context, we can come up with fantastic and untrue statements.  Just pick up a popular book on the Bible – there is so much nonsense and untruth out there – some of it written sincerely – but wrong – and some written purposely to deceive.
            In our text, we just see some of the disciples take what Jesus says literally, when it should not be taken literally – as John reminds us in the text:
“So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’”
            Some of the disciples hear Jesus say, “What if I want John to remain until the Second Coming?”  And they interpreted that to mean, “John will never die – he will stay alive until Jesus returns.”
            But that is not what Jesus said or meant, and John notes the same:  “yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’”
            Have you ever heard the expression, “When pigs fly”?  If someone asks when something will occur, and the response is, “When pigs fly,” does that person mean that pigs are going to develop wings and fly?  Of course not!
            And Jesus was not saying that John would never die.  And John states that Jesus was not saying that he would never die.  It was an exaggerated statement to make a point.
            But some of the disciples didn’t get it.
            Some cults – false religions – yank verses out of context and/or interpreted them with violence to their meaning.  With regards to this text, the Mormons have done so:
            The Mormons teach that this verse does mean that John will never die, and, in fact, he met with Joseph Smith when he set up his false religion, and sits on their high council.  They teach that Jesus loved John so much that He couldn’t bear to let him die, so Jesus gave him immortality, so he could watch and wait for the coming glory. (3 Neph. 28:1-8).
            But that’s not what Jesus said or meant – and John denies it as well!
            So, be careful when you interpret.
            OK, so Jesus tells Peter to follow Him – to do what Jesus has command him to do and be – and we ought to do likewise, as followers of Jesus – as the flock He has saved.  Let us follow Him – let us trust and obey, growing in faith.
            Second, the Church testifies to the truthfulness of John’s Gospel.
            “This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.”
            This is a fascinating sentence, and it is easy to miss a key word.
            John, the apostle, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” the author of the Gospel, stops talking about himself in the third person and now states that he is the witness to the things that have been written in this gospel, and he is the author of this gospel.
            So, this is not a third-person account, but an eyewitness account of Who Jesus is and what He did – and being an eyewitness adds credibility to what he has written, because he was there.
            And then it is written, “and we know that his testimony is true.”
            Who is this “we” all of a sudden, and how do they know that what John has written is true?
            Well, if the “we” know what he has written is true, they must have read the Gospel, and they must also be eyewitnesses to the events.  They are other apostles and disciples – it is the infant Church who is the “we.”  The Church testifies that John’s Gospel is true.
            We have to be careful, again.  If you have ever read a book, or looked at reviews on line – there are famous people and “ordinary” people who write reviews of books and praise them and lend their support to them, but what they say in their reviews may not be true or accurate.
            That is not the case here.  John’s brothers – and perhaps, sisters – in the faith have read this gospel, and they have vowed that it is true, because they have the same mission as John – they want what John wants in the writing of this gospel.
            Do we remember John’s purpose in writing yet another gospel and including what he did?
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31, ESV).
            John wrote his gospel and included the signs he did so the people who read it would believe that Jesus is the Christ – the Savior – the Messiah, that Jesus is God the Son, incarnate in the Person of Jesus, and that they would believe in Who He is and what He did – that the power and the authority that He has allows Him to be the Savior of His people – and that they would believe and have continuing – everlasting life.
            That is what the Church wants as well – all those eyewitnesses to Jesus and His work in that day, and the Church today.  The Church wants people to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, believe it, be forgiven, saved, and then respond by doing all those things that God has called us to do.
            And so John ends his gospel with a similar statement:
            “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
            John writes what he writes for the purpose he stated – the purpose that the Church agreed with and confirmed.  And so John states again, he only records enough things to convince the reader of Who Jesus is and what He did.
            Jesus is the Promised Savior.  Jesus is a real human being and the One Almighty God.
            To record everything Jesus did – all the signs He gave over His thirty-three years – even just the three years of His ministry would be voluminous.
            So, now what?
            Read, hear, believe what God has said, Who Jesus is, and what He has done.  If you have, rejoice, you are alive and alive forevermore.
            And now, follow Jesus.  Follow Him in faith and obedience now and always.
            Let us pray:
            Almighty God we thank You for sending Your Son to be our Savior.  We thank You for John and the Gospel he wrote.  We thank You that Jesus has completed the work of salvation as God and man.  And now we ask that God the Holy Spirit would fill us with purpose to follow Jesus – to know Him and what He has said and to go forth in obedience that our Triune God would be glorified and we would be filled with Your joy.  For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.