Join Dave as he continues the study on the Gospel of John by looking at John 1:15-18 with the men at his local church. In this study Dave looks at the uniqueness of Jesus, law, grace, Bible study, and prayer.
Join Dave as he continues the study on the Gospel of John by looking at John 1:15-18 with the men at his local church. In this study Dave looks at the uniqueness of Jesus, law, grace, Bible study, and prayer.
Throughout the New Testament, Christians are told to “go therefore and make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-19, Acts 1:8-9). The Christian has been empowered by the Holy Spirit to go and make disciples to the glory of God. This is highlighted by Jesus statement in Acts 1:8-9, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Jesus has empowered His people through the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses. Throughout the Gospel of John, John uses key words in the first 18 verses. These words are Jesus as the life, the light, and the truth, witness, believers as God’s children and the world’s rejection of Jesus. One of these words is witness in John 1:7. In this article I want to highlight the seven ways that John uses the word witness in his Gospel, including the three features of our witness.
Let’s first look at the seven ways John uses the word witness in his Gospel.
First, is the witness of God the Father in John 8:18, “The Father who sent me bears witness about me.” Second, Jesus bears witness to Himself. John 8:18, “If I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going.” If that is not enough, Jesus points to His works as the third witness in John 10:25, “the works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me.” This is an important emphasis in John; the chapters that follow record miraculous works that conclusively demonstrate that Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior. Third is the witness of Scripture. This is one of the most important purposes of the Old Testament: to give prophecies that when fulfilled point to Jesus; to teach God’s will in a way that would be completed by Jesus; and by various means to symbolize and anticipate Jesus’ coming and the salvation he brings. John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,”
One of the prophecies concerned a forerunner to the Messiah, whose ministry would resemble that of the prophet Elijah. This was John the Baptist, the fourth of John’s witnesses. The fifth witness is given by men and women who personally encountered Jesus. One was the Samaritan woman who Jesus met by the well. After Jesus has revealed himself to her, she went through her town presenting her witness. John 4:29, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” Another such witness was the man who had been born blind, but was miraculously given sight by Jesus. When the religious leaders tried to silence him, he gave this witness in John 9:25, He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
John’s sixth witness is that of Jesus’ disciples, including Himself. Jesus told them in John 15:27, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” Seventh, and last, is the witness of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to send when He returned to heaven. John 15:26, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”
The name John means “gift of God.” Through John the Baptist, God gave Israel the gift of a witness to Christ: John 1:7, “He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.” John’s importance is proved by his inclusion in all four Gospels. The other three Gospels give more details about his ministry, calling Israel to be baptized to show repentance and to prepare for the Messiah. But the emphasis in John is the Baptist’s role as a witness to Jesus. Jesus said in John 5:35, “He was a burning and shining lamp”, and through his witness many of John’s disciples went on to become Jesus’ disciples.
Three Features Of A Faithful Christian Witness
I listed those eight witnesses that John presented so that we could believe in Jesus Christ. But another witness is essential to the work of the gospel today. This is our witness to the world as Christian people. The work of witnessing that Jesus gave to the first disciples now falls to us. Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:18, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” We are thus essential witnesses to Christ today.
By considering this description of John the Baptist, we can see three key features of a faithful Christian witness. The first had to do with the content of our witness. John 1:7 says that John “came as a witness, to bear witness about the light.”
A Christian witness is first and foremost about Christ. We tell people what the early church enshrined in the Apostles’ Creed: that Jesus is God’s only Son and our Lord; that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary; that He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, was buried, and descended into Hades, but on the third day rose to resurrection life; that He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; and that from there He will come to judge the living and died. These are the claims that make up a Christian witness.
John the Baptist sets an ideal example for us today. His message was not about his experiences or about what he felt about God, but it was about Jesus. When he saw Jesus, he declared in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” We, too, need to declare that Jesus is the Savior for our sins. The next day, “John bore witness” to Christ, saying that he had seen “the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him” (1:32). We, too, must testify that Jesus is the One who came to do God’s will by God’s power. John the Baptist proclaimed, “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (1:34), and we must, too.
Second, what we read about John the Baptist tells us the manner of our witness. John 1:8 says, “He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light” It is important for us to lead lives that will commend our witness to Christ, but our testimony is never based on what good people we are or what we ourselves have to offer to non-Christians. When John began his ministry, the priests and Levites came out from Jerusalem to inquire about him. He deliberately directed them away from what he was doing and to Jesus Christ and what he would do. He stated in John 1:26-27, “John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
When many Christians give their witness, they talk about themselves. This is why we often speak of “giving our testimony”; that is, we tell people about our conversion and how Christ has helped us. While our experience might commend Christianity, our witness must center not on our experiences but on the facts of Christ’s coming into the world.
It is especially important that we never think that whatever we are doing for Christ is of ultimate importance. We must never permit people to glorify us for what God has done in our lives. If people notice that you have changed, you must praise God and tell them that it is Jesus’ work, the only way for them to gain what you have is not by admiring you but by believing on Jesus. In some cases, this will result in hostility form people who had previously admired you; if the world hated Christ, it will often hate a faithful witness to Christ. But we must accept this risk so as to bear testimony not to ourselves but to Christ.
In John 5:35, Jesus said that John the Baptist “was a burning and shining lamp.” Some Bible versions say that John was a “light,” but the word Jesus used means “candle” or “lamp” (Greek luxnos). A lamp does not shine with its own light. It had to be supplied with light from another source, and it requires a supply of oil or it burns out. The same is true for us. The manner of our witness is to shine not our own light but Christ’s light. Just as a lamp requires oil, we depend on our fellowship with Christ and the Holy Spirit’s enlivening presence, so that Christ’s light can shine through us. To use a different metaphor, we are like the moon reflecting the light of the sun; on our own we are in darkness, but a great light has shined on us, and we are to reflect that light into the world.
Finally, we see in John the Baptist the goal of a faithful Christian witness. John 1:7 says that John “came as a witness.., that all might believe through him.” Our goal is for others to believe through our witness. James Montgomery Boice writes, “It is possible for a person to become so mechanical in his witness that he can go through all the motions of witnessing without actually looking and praying for the response to Christ in faith by the other person. If we could remember this, we would find witnessing exciting, and we would learn that winning the argument often becomes far less important than winning the person to the Lord.”[i]
Since our goal is actually to persuade unbelievers and win over sinners, we will be eager to display the power and grace of the gospel in our lives, we will labor earnestly in prayer before and after our witness, and we will persist in telling others about Jesus even in the face of hardship and persecution. If we will commit to this pattern of a faithful witness, as seen in the ministry of John the Baptist, we will find that God will cause people to believe through us and we will have the great joy of being used by the Lord for the salvation of others.
[i] James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, 5 volumes (Grand Rapids: Baker, 199), 1:54.
Another year has come and gone, and with it, another round of book of the year lists have slowly but surely made their rounds around the blogosphere. Here at Servants of Grace, we review a lot of books. We review books Monday through Friday and sometimes on Saturdays. That means we reviewed over two hundred books this year on Servants of Grace. That’s a lot of books! We trust that you, our readers have found those book reviews not only helpful but thought provoking. In addition to this we offered quite a few author interviews, including some from our own contributors. Next year you can expect the same from us—great reviews on great books that people are talking about. Our goal as it pertains to book reviews is to keep you, our readers up to date on the latest and greatest in Christian books.
It is for this reason we offer the following list from the leadership of Servants of Grace: Craig Hurst, the book review editor of Servants of Grace, Mike Boling, the associate editor of Servants of Grace, and myself (Dave Jenkins).
Between Craig, Mike and myself, we are often asked for our recommendations whether at church or on social media. This list serves as our recommendations on the best books of the year. For as many books as we all read, you’ll see not much overlap. We all have our differing interests. We trust that this list will be helpful to you as you consider which books to get for either Christmas, for your book nerd friends, or for 2015 for perhaps yourself, your pastor or one of your friends.
These are by no means in order of their significance or importance; except in the case of number one which in my view was one of the most important books published in quite sometime.
10) Be Holy: Learning the Path of Sanctification by Jason Garwood. I wrote an endorsement for this book, “We are living in a time (and culture) when great confusion exists in the Church regarding how we are to grow in Christ. While many people rightly teach the biblical balance between grace and effort in the Christian life—some overemphasize grace to the neglect of effort. Understanding the difference between grace and effort is critical. This is why I’m thrilled to recommend the book, Be Holy: Learning the Path of Sanctification by Jason Garwood. Garwood understands firsthand the struggles people face because he deals with them every day in his own life and pastoral ministry. He writes to help Christians and the Church to think through the issue at hand in order to more fully understand what sanctification means. As he does this, he roots the explanation of our new identity in Christ to our growth in Christ. Christians are to live from their new identity in Christ; we are to return to the basics of who we are in Christ, remembering what He has done to transform us. Our union with Him informs our communion with Him, which makes not only repentance possible, but provides the basis for our slaying the “dragon of sin” in our lives. This excellent book follows in the tradition of the Reformers and the Puritans, and contemporary authors like John Piper and Kevin DeYoung, who understand this biblical balance. I highly recommend this book, and pray the Lord will powerfully use it in the life of His people, and for the edification of the Church, for His glory.”
9) Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung. Here’s an excerpt from my review: “I highly recommend this book, and it is my sincere prayer that Pastors and ministry leaders would pick up this book and buy it by the truckloads for their people. The Body of Christ has needed a book like this on the doctrine of Scripture for quite some time, one that helps the reader to know what to believe about the Word of God, what to feel about the Word of God and what to do with the Word of God. I hope and pray this book sells by the truckloads for in doing so, we may see the tide of biblical illiteracy begin to turn and a true delight, hunger and yearning for the teaching of the Word of God take its place.”
8) Active Spirituality: Grace and Effort in the Christian Life by Brian Hedges. Here’s an excerpt from my review: “his book will be of great help to you as it has to me as I continue to think through this particular topic. I highly recommend Active Spirituality not only because it is well-written, but also because it stands with the Bible while upholding the long and rich Augustinian and Reformed tradition on the issue of the perseverance of the saints and the assurance of the believer.”
7) The Company We Keep by Jonathan Holmes. Here’s an excerpt from my review, “All in all, The Company We Keep is an excellent book. As I’ve noted already we live in a society that is increasingly isolated. We need books like The Company We Keep to help us think through what biblical friendship is and to provide helpful guidance to us on this vital subject. Whether you are a new or mature Christian, The Company We Keep will help you to not only understand Christian friendship but to grow deeper and more meaningful Christian friendships with God’s people.”
6) The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ by Ray Ortlund. Here’s an excerpt from my review, “Overall, The Gospel How The Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ is a very good book. This book will help Christians at all stages of the Christian life to understand how the gospel impacts relationships and how they are to engage one another within the local church because of the gospel. I highly recommend this book and pray the Lord uses it to awaken a culture in local churches where the gospel may not only be the driving force behind what is said on Sunday’s, but also in practice fuel how we do life with one another to the glory of God.”
5) Proof: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace. Here’s an excerpt from my review, “PROOF is an excellent book that will help a generation of fresh adherents to Reformed theology understand what they believe from the Word of God. Drinking deeply from the well of God’s grace is immensely satisfying and life changing. This book invites readers to drink from the well of God’s grace. As you do, you’ll awaken once again to the wonder of the cross and discover afresh how Jesus rescues sinners from their sin to Himself. I highly recommend this book and pray the Lord will use it to awaken a new generation from a shallow evangelicalism to the majesty truths taught throughout the history of the church. PROOF is rooted in the history of the Church’s theology, faithful to the Word and accessible to the lay person on up to the scholar. As the authors open up the Word, they invite readers to drink from the well of life in Jesus. This book will not only lead readers to the living well in Jesus Christ but cause you to jump in headlong in wonder at the God who by His grace has saved His people, and who is even now saving sinners, sanctifying His people and will one day glory His own.”
4) Hit List by Brian Hedges. I wrote an endorsement for this book, ““We live in a culture in which spirituality is on the rise, including a resurgence in mysticism, Gnosticism, and every other -ism. Many are confused about what they believe and why it matters, and sin is often minimized or hidden. Hedges draws on the best wisdom of the church to help readers better grasp the seven deadly sins and how the gospel frees God’s people from them. As Hit List blows away misconceptions about the sinfulness of man, readers will be captivated by the magnificence of what Jesus has done so sinners can put their sin to death and grow in the grace of God. This is an excellent and needed book. It can convict you of your sinfulness while pointing you to the sufficiency of the finished work of the Savior—Jesus Christ.”
3) Prayer by Tim Keller. Here’s an excerpt from my review, “Whether you’re a new Christian struggling with prayer or a seasoned saint, Keller’s book Prayer Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God has something for you. This book will help you not only how to pray but why you should pray. In addition to this this book will help enlarge your vision of God’s majesty which will stir your affections afresh with a passion and desire to pray. I highly recommend this wonderful resource by Dr. Keller and pray that the Lord would use it powerfully in the life of His Church and among His people, for His glory.”
2) What’s Best Next by Matt Perman Here’s an excerpt from my review, “I highly recommend this book for Bible college and seminary students and encourage seminary professors to incorporate it into your curriculum for future pastors and ministry leaders. This is a great resource for pastors and ministry leaders to business people and stay at home mom’s. We live in a rapidly changing and fast-paced world. Books like What’s Best Next will help us to learn that the purpose of our work goes beyond just the 9-5 or even making a pay check. Our work is for God’s glory and to expand His fame to the nations. I highly recommend this book and pray it will help readers at all stages of their journey with Christ to discover the true nature and purpose of their work for His glory.”
1) Dispatches from the Front by Tim Keese. Here’s an excerpt from my review, “This book tells some of the grand story of God’s redemptive work in the world. It is for this and many other reasons I think Dispatches at the Front is my book of the year and one of the best books I’ve read in the past decade. I highly recommend this book and pray the Lord would use it to fan the flame of His global mission in His people for His glory.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works – I have had the pleasure of working my way through the first three books of this series and am looking forward to digging into the remainder of the books. Okay, so this is cheating a bit, but these three books count as one submission on my list.
Sanctorum Communio: This is an excellent dissertation on the biblical concept of community, how that community was broken by sin, how the church is to be an example of what community looks like to a world that only knows brokenness, and how Christ is the center of the communion of saints. For anyone desiring an in-depth study on the topic of biblical community and what that looks like within the church and in daily life, I highly recommend this book.
Act and Being: While the concepts and terms presented by Bonhoeffer in this book are scholarly and many might not be completely familiar with the terminology used in this book, the copious footnotes help serve to explain the more difficult concepts and terms in a way that will help the reader grasp what Bonhoeffer is getting across. This is an excellent resource for understanding matters of ontology and epistemology as they relate to sin and the individual’s relationship to God and the necessity of the cross.
– Creation and Fall: I highly recommend Creation and Fall by Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a valuable overview of creation, the fall, and the promise of redemption. While I have a few quibbles with some positions Bonhoeffer takes on things such as the days of creation, they are extremely minor points of disagreement that do not impact the overall excellent truth Bonhoeffer shares with the reader throughout this book.
Hit List by Brian Hedges – As Christians, we are called to do battle with sin, what the Puritans called mortifying sin. If you are truly serious about dealing with sin in your life, I recommend you read this book and apply the sound biblical truths Hedges shares. As noted by one of the endorsers of this book, outside of John Owen’s thoughts on the mortification of sin, Hedges book is a clarion call for the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit and the word of God to cut to the root of sin in your life. Give this a book a read as soon as possible!
Resisting Gossip by Matthew Mitchell – Gossip is a poison, one which has infected us all more often than we would like to admit. Mitchell’s book is replete with sound biblical advice containing the prescription that will dig at the root of this cancer in our lives. The only way to rid ourselves of this cancer is to have our hearts endure the life changing chemotherapy found in God’s Word and through the work of the Holy Spirit. I highly recommend this book by Mitchell for all believers, especially those who find themselves struggling with the sin of gossip which is pretty much everyone.
Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung – Taking God at His Word is a highly needed book for a day and age where Scripture so often comes under attack. Sadly some of those attacks come from within the body of Christ itself. DeYoung does an excellent job of sharing what Scripture says about itself, why we can trust the Word of God and most importantly, why all that even matters for us as believers. I highly recommend this book for all believers as it is a tool you will return to over and over again. It is brief yet in-depth, accessible yet scholarly when needed, and most importantly, this book powerfully yet simply states the reality that God’s Word is truth.
The Godly Home by Richard Baxter – Marriage, parenting and family dynamics are no easy issues for anyone and there certainly are no perfect marriages, no perfect parents, and no perfect children as we are all sinners in need of a daily dose of God’s grace. With that said, books such as The Godly Home by Richard Baxter should be required reading for parents and their children. This would be an excellent book to utilize during family devotions as its addresses a plethora of important issues facing families. I highly recommend this as a resource for parents to implement in their parental tool chest as the sound guidance found within its pages will be of great assistance for your family, your children, and their children’s children.
The Watchers in Jewish and Christian Traditions by Angela Harkins, Coblentz Bauch, and John Endres – I highly recommend this book again for the serious Bible student who is interested in understanding the various traditions that interact with the Genesis 6 storyline as well as the writings found in the Book of Enoch. The Watchers is rigorous yet fruitful reading that will provide those who engage its essays with a valuable look into how the tradition of the Watchers has taken shape over the years. Since this story is in the Bible, it is well worth studying.
After They Are Yours: The Grace and Grit of Adoption by Brian Borgman – I highly recommend this book for those thinking about adopting, those currently in the adoption process, and for those who have already adopted a child. Borgman’s personal stories repeatedly hit home, the guidance he provides is biblically sound and extremely practical, and this book will assuredly be a blessing to those who may feel as if they are overwhelmed in the daily grind of what is often involved with adopting and raising that adopted child.
10 Things for Teen Girls by Kate Conner – I highly recommend this book for parents to purchase for their children. Furthermore, I truly encourage parents to read this book as well. Conner includes some very helpful points for discussion at the end of each chapter that would be perfect for family bible study or even in a youth group setting. This book would also be useful as part of a homeschool curriculum, either for reading class or bible class. However you utilize this book, it will greatly benefit your teenage daughter.
Everyone’s a Theologian by R. C. Sproul – For anyone desiring a place to start studying theology, I highly recommend this book. Dr. Sproul is always scholarly yet has the ability to break down difficult scholarly points into manageably understood concepts. Thus this book is very accessible to all believers. As an introduction to systematic theology and some very important and fundamental matters of theology as a whole, namely issues highly relevant for all believers, this book is a homerun. It will be a tool I will refer to for many years to come and it will make a nice addition to the other more voluminous systematic theology texts in my personal library.
Heaven by Christopher Morgan – I highly recommend this excellent book. It will be of great use for all believers in their study of heaven and what Scripture has to say on the subject. Reading this book stirred within me a renewed longing for that day when the Bride will return for his bridegroom for we know that then we will be with him forevermore in a place of perfect peace in the presence of our God forevermore.
What’s Your Worldview by James Anderson – Ideas have consequences and so do beliefs. What we believe shapes the way we live. Using the “Choose Your Own Adventure” concept, James Anderson helps readers navigate through various worldviews. By answering basic questions you are led on the path those beliefs lead you. This is an amazing apologetics book for Christians to hone their understanding of other belief systems and use as an evangelistic tool with a friend.
Growing Up God’s Way for Boy and Girls by Chris Richards & Liz Jones – As a Christian parent I want to teach my kids about sex and do so in a way that is Biblically faithful. No Christian parent should ignore the sex talk with their kids and every parent should be in dialogue with their kids about it as they grow up and leave the house. These two books are both scientifically and biblically based. They address the basic issues surrounding puberty for boys and girls from a Christian worldview. These are must have books for parents.
China’s Reforming Churches by Bruce Baugus – Since I have adopted three children from China I am naturally interested in the country and the state of Christianity within it. Written from a Reformed perspective, this book offers great insight into the state of the church in China. It has insider perspective, theological evaluation as well as positive perspective for the future. This is a great book for those interested in the growth of the church outside USA and China in particular
For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship by Daniel Block – I anticipated this book from the day I saw it and it did not disappoint. Block is the kind of writer you wish you could clone. This book is a comprehensive analysis of worship in Scripture with comprehensive application for the church. It is biblically based and pointedly practical. There will be small quibbles every reader will have but you cannot argue with the main thrust of the book – worship is for the glory of God and not about us.
A Passion for the Fatherless: Developing a God-Centered Ministry to Orphans by Daniel Bennett – As an adoptive father I read as many books on adoption as I can. Most are good but Daniel Bennett’s is the best when it comes to thinking theologically and comprehensively about orphans and adoption. Bennett writes from a pastoral and adoptive father’s perspective which makes the book all the more effective and clear. This is for anyone thinking about adoption, anyone who has adopted but wants to understand it better from a biblical perspective and for churches looking to start an orphan ministry.
This is our weekly roundup of posts for 12/8/2014-12/13/2014. If you have any feedback on how we can serve you our readers better, I would appreciate it. Thank you for reading and allowing us to minister to you throughout this past week through these posts.
Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1-3 reviewed by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/creation-and-fall-a-theological-exposition-of-genesis-1-3/
Christ’s Humanity is the Shape of our Salvation by Jonathan Tomes http://servantsofgrace.org/christs-humanity-is-the-shape-of-our-salvation/
When The Devil Preaches the Gospel by Mike Leake http://servantsofgrace.org/when-the-devil-preaches-the-gospel/
Family Driven Faith: Doing What it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk With God reviewed by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/family-driven-faith-doing-what-it-takes-to-raise-sons-and-daughters-who-walk-with-god/
Three Critical Truths about Incarnation by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/three-critical-truths-about-incarnation/
Three ways to share the gospel in the midst of hostility by Matthew Fretwell http://servantsofgrace.org/three-ways-to-share-the-gospel-in-the-midst-of-hostility/
Bitesize Biographies: Samuel Rutherford reviewed by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/bitesize-biographies-samuel-rutherford/
The Centrality of the Cross by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/the-centrality-of-the-cross/
What Should I Do When Prayer Makes Anxiety Worse? by Mike Leake http://servantsofgrace.org/what-should-i-do-when-prayer-makes-anxiety-worse/
The Word Became Flesh: Jesus, Full of Grace and Truth from John 1:14 delivered by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/6-the-word-became-flesh-jesus-full-of-grace-and-truthsermon/
Heaven edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson http://servantsofgrace.org/heaven/
Understanding the Gospel: Justification by Matt Perman http://servantsofgrace.org/understanding-the-gospel-justification/
What Does the Bible Teach About the Incarnation? by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/what-does-the-bible-teach-about-the-incarnation/
God Has Spoken: A History of Christian Theology reviewed by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/god-has-spoken-a-history-of-christian-theology/
How NOT to Read the News by Dan Darling http://servantsofgrace.org/how-not-to-read-the-news/
Frameworks: How to Navigate the New Testament reviewed by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/frameworks-how-to-navigate-the-new-testament/
How to deal with guilt, condemnation and shame with the gospel by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/how-to-deal-with-guilt-condemation-and-shame-with-the-gospel/Read More »
The purpose of this series is to help our readers this holiday season to think through the doctrine of the person and work of Christ.
- Matt Perman started off this series with the first in a three part series answering the question, “How can Jesus be God and Man?”
- Matt continued with part two of his series looking at Christ’s natures full and complete.
- Matt concluded his three part series here.
- Brian Hedges wrote on three critical truths about redemption.
- Nate Palmer wrote on the session of Christ.
- Jonathan Tomes wrote on the humanity of Christ.
- Dave wrote on three critical truths about the Incarnation.
- Dave wrote on the centrality of the Cross.
- Matt wrote on justification.
- Dave wrote on the Incarnation.
- Today Dave writes on how to deal with guilt, condemnation and shame with the gospel.
Therefore in Romans 8:1 indicates that Paul is stating an important summary and conclusion related to his preceding argument. The “therefore” is based first on the exclamation of victory that comes “through Jesus Christ our Lord” (7:23-25), which in turn is linked back to 7:6 where the idea of the “new life of the Spirit” is first mentioned. But more broadly Paul seems to be recalled his whole argument about salvation in Christ form 3:21-5:21. The now in 8:1 matches the now in 7:6, showing that the new era of redemptive history has now been inaugurated by Christ Jesus for those who are “now” in right standing before God because they are united with Christ. But the summary relates further to the whole argument presented in chs. 3-5.
No condemnation echoes the conclusion stated in 5:1 (“Therefore we have peace with God”) and underscores the stunning implications of the gospel first introduced in and underscores the stunning implications of the gospel first introduced in 1:16-17. As Paul immediately goes on to explain, there is “no condemnation” for the Christian because God has condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son (8:3) to pay the penalty for sin through his death on the cross. The following verses then show that indwelling sin is overcome through the power of the indwelling Spirit, with ten references to the Spirit in Romans 8:4-11.
Guilt, Shame, Condemnation and the gospel
Many believers struggle with guilt, shame and condemnation. Romans 8 marks a major change in the focus of the flow of the epistle. At this point the apostle begins to delineate the marvelous results of justification in the life of the believer. He begins by explaining as best as possible to infinite minds, some of the cardinal truths of salvation (no condemnation, as well as justification, substitution and sanctification).
God’s provision of salvation came not through Christ’s perfect teaching or through His perfect life but through His perfect sacrifice on the cross. It is through Christ’s death, not His life, that God provides the way of salvation. For those who place their trust in Christ and in what He has done on their behalf there is therefore now no condemnation.
The Greek word “katakrima” condemnation appears only in the book of Romans, here in 8:1 and in 5:16, 18. Although it relates to the sentencing for a crime, its primary focus is not so much on the verdict as on the penalty that the verdict demands. As Paul has already declared the penalty, or condemnation for sin is death in Romans 6:23.
Paul here announces the marvelous good news that for Christians there will be no condemnation, neither sentencing nor punishment for the sins that believers have committed or will ever commit.
“No” in the Greek is an emphatic negative adverb of time and carries the idea of complete cessation. In His parable about the king who forgave one of his salves an overwhelming debt (Matthew 18:23-27), Jesus pictured God’s gracious and total forgiveness of the sins of those who come to Him in humble contrition and faith. That is the heart and soul of the gospel- that Jesus completely and permanently paid the debt of sin and the penalty of the law (which is condemnation to death) for every person who humbly asks for mercy and trusts in Him. Through the apostle John God assures His children that “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
Jesus not only pays the believer’s debt of sin but cleanses him “from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Still more amazingly, He graciously imputes and imparts to each believer His own perfect righteousness: “For by one offer He Christ has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrew 10:14; Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9). More even than that, Jesus shares His vast heavenly inheritance with those who come to Him in faith (Eph. 1:3, 11, 14). It is because of such immeasurable divine grace that Paul admonishes Christians to be continually “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). Having been qualified by God the Father, we will never, under any circumstance, be subject to divine condemnation. How blessed to be place beyond the reach of condemnation!
The truth that there can never be the eternal death penalty for believers is the foundation of the eighth chapter of Romans. As Paul asks rhetorically near the end of the chapter, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (v.31), and again, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies” (v.33). If the highest tribunal in the universe justifies us, who can declare us guilty.
It is extremely important to realize that deliverance from condemnation is not based in the least measure on any form of perfection achieved by the believer. He/she does not attain the total eradication of sin during his earthly life. It is that truth that Paul establishes so intensely and poignantly in Romans 7. John declares that truth as unambiguously as possible in his first epistle: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The Christian’s conflict with sin does not end until he goes to be with the Lord. Nevertheless, there is still no condemnation-because the penalty for all the failures of this life has been paid in Christ and applied by Christ.
It is also important to realize that deliverance from divine condemnation does not mean deliverance from divine discipline. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines and He scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). Nor does deliverance from God’s condemnation mean escape from our accountability to Him: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
The therefore that introduces Romans 8:1 refers back to the major theme of the first seven chapters of the epistle- the believer’s complete justification before God, graciously provided in response to trust in the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son.
The divine condemnation from which believers are exonerated (8:1) is without exception or qualification. It is bestowed on those who are in Christ Jesus, in other words, on every true Christian. Justification completely and forever releases every believer from sin’s bondage and its penalty of death (6:23) and therefore fits him to stand sinless before a holy God forever. It is that particular aspect of justification on which Paul focuses on the beginning of chapter 8.
Paul’s use of the first person singular pronouns (I and me) in 7:7-25 emphasizes the sad reality that, in this present life, no Christian, not even an apostle, is exempt from struggles with sin. In the opening verses of chapter 8, on the other hand, Paul emphasizes the marvelous reality that every believer, even the weakest and most unproductive shares in the complete and eternal freedom from sin’s condemnation. The holiest of believers are warned that, although they are no longer under sin’s slavish dominion, they will experience conflicts with it in this present life. And the weakest of believers are promised that, although they still stumble and fall into sin’s power in their flesh, they will experience ultimate victory over sin in the life to come.
The key to every aspect of salvation is the simple but infinitely profound phrase in Christ Jesus. A Christian is a person who is in Christ Jesus. Paul has already declared this truth in Romans 6:3-5. Being a Christian is not simply being outwardly identified with Christ but being part of Christ, not simply of being united with Him but united in Him. Our being in Christ is one of the profoundest of mysteries, which we will not fully understand until we meet Him face to face in heaven. But Scripture does shed light on that marvelous truth. We know that we are in Christ spiritually in a divine and permanent union. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” Paul explains in 1 Cor. 15:22). Believers are also in Christ in a living, participatory sense. “Now you are Christ’s body, Paul declares in that same epistle, “and individually members of it” (12:27). We are actually a part of Him, and in ways that are unfathomable to us now, we work when He works, grieve when He grieves, and rejoice when He rejoices. “For by one spirit we were all baptized into one body,” Paul assures us, “whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Christ’s own divine life pulses through us.
The key to dealing with guilt, shame, and condemnation is to grow in understanding of the work of Christ. As we’ve seen throughout our examination of Romans 8:1- the believer has a new identity and a new nature. The believer is now in Christ because of the work of Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Because of the believer’s new identity and new nature in Christ- the believer can deal with guilt, shame and condemnation because the gospel addresses these issues. The gospel addresses our guilt by showing us that Christ bore our sins and now offers us forgiveness of sin through the cross. The gospel addresses our shame because Christ took upon Himself our shame and was thoroughly humiliated and yet died in our place for our sins. The gospel addresses our condemnation because we justly deserve to be condemned to hell but God in His grace and mercy offers us a full pardon through the work of Christ.
If you’re struggling with guilt, shame, condemnation or a litany of other issues- I implore you to grow in your knowledge and understanding of the gospel. By growing in the knowledge and understanding of the gospel you will be able to deal with these issues but most importantly you will grow in what it means to be in Christ a marvelous truth that one can drill down deep upon until the day one dies and goes to be with Jesus.