Study Notes 8-25-13: Ambassadors for Christ

This post contains notes for John 13:19-20 which was taught on 8-25-13.  Our emphasis for this post is the joy we enter into as ambassadors for Christ.

13:19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.

The Carefully Chosen Words of Christ

We’ve talked before about the deity of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ, and verse 19 really brings those truths home to us once again.  But what I really want to look at here is how Jesus is saying that all of His words are for a purpose.  Specifically, they are for us. So that we will believe in Him. John notes as much later on when he says:

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)

And so that is the purpose of what He said, but I want to hone in on yet another thing, and that is that Jesus had a reason for everything He said. For whatever reason this really convicted me as I studied the passage.  I began to realize that I often say things that have no point whatsoever. My words are sometimes inane, babbling, rambling, or (at worst) very poorly chosen.

James tells us that the tongue is a “world of iniquity” and that no man can tame the tongue, and yet one of the things that we most often forget is that Jesus did.  He tamed the tongue, and not because of His divine nature somehow “cheating” and retraining the human nature.  He tamed the tongue because while He was fully human, yet He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and obeyed the Holy Spirit.  He submitted to His Father, and did not sin. Did not think sinful thoughts, did not allow those thoughts to come to fruition and bubble over onto His tongue. He took every thought hostage for the glory of His Father. He loved the Father too much to allow sin to even formulate in His mind, much less fall onto His tongue, and in so doing He showed us not simply what “divinity” looks like, but rather what true humanity looks like.  This is why we call Him the “second Adam”, because He was perfect and was truly human – I don’t mean “fully” human.  I’m not talking about the fullness of His incarnation.  I mean “truly” human.  That is to say that Jesus showed us what humanity was intended to be like.  He is our great example because He is transforming us into someone more like Him, and in so doing we are becoming more human, not less human. We are never more as we were intended to be than when we are less like ourselves now, and more like Christ was on earth. Luckily we don’t have to only look back, we can look forward because this work that’s He’s doing in us He will bring to completion at the day of His arrival!

13:20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Ambassadors for Christ

I believe the verses 19 and 20 are significant in that they extend again to these disciples the love of Christ. He has just spent time discussing (and will continue to talk about) the treachery of one of their own party.  As John MacArthur[i] tells us, it must have been shocking, and must have raised questions as to their ability to maintain credibility among those who they were going to be ministering to.  How could this new kingdom maintain integrity if one of the first pillars was a traitor?  Well Jesus gives them reassurance here that whoever is sent in the name of Christ (as ambassadors for Him) is actually representing Him with the same authority as if He had been there Himself.

Listen to what Paul says about this to the church at Corinth:

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. (2 Corinthians 5:20-6:1)

This means that we are entering into the Master’s labor (John 4:38), and our mission in this world is to be representatives, little mini-Christs, to the world. We are on a mission of reconciliation.  This is the gospel: that He sent Him who knew no sin to be sin so that we could draw near to Him as His own children.  This reminds us that we were once enemies of God, and we now reach out to God’s enemies with the goal of reconciling them to God.  Not that we do the ultimate reconciliation, no indeed.  But rather, God working through us has found pleasure in using us, the weakest of the weak, to bring His enemies near, to proclaim the good news of Jesus to them in the power of the Spirit. That’s why we’re here, that’s our mission and our joy!

The second part of this is the amazing truth that we are part of a plan that involved not only the man Jesus Christ, but also the heavenly Father Himself. This verse shows us that the Eternal Godhead has had a plan for our salvation, and that they are bringing us into this plan. Why?  Because they know that we will receive joy from it!

This is how the thinking goes: God receives joy from reconciling sinners to Himself, we receive joy from being reconciled to God, God sends us out to be His messengers so that He can reconcile more people to Himself, and now not only does He receive joy, but we too receive that joy!

Have you every thought why it’s so exciting to lead someone to Christ? There are many reasons, I think, but perhaps the foundational reason has to do with our being made in His image. If we are being made like His Son, who loved to bring sinners into the kingdom, then it stands to reason that we too would enjoy what He enjoys.

And this is what sanctification is all about – beginning to think God’s thoughts after Him, and having a heart that is like His, and loving people as He first loved us.

The nature of the trinity and its work in our lives, and the mystery of our inclusion in this process ought to blow you away Christian.  It ought to give you a peak at the depth of the love He has for you, and a sneak peak at the plan He has for you.

What About You?

Of course this begs the question: would those who are “receiving” you (accepting what you have to say and your company/friendship) doing so knowing this truth? AND, are your actions and words representative of Christ’s actions and words?

If we are Christ’s ambassadors we need to walk and talk like Christ. If we represent Him, we need to act like Him, and speak His truth to others. If you are a Christian, and cannot say this is true of yourself, then I would urge you to repent. Begin to renew your mind again by spending time in His word. Ask for Him to change your desires, to change your mind, to melt your heart, and to help you think His thoughts after Him. If you do these things what you’ll find is that Christ becomes more and more lovely to you, and loving others becomes more and more of your DNA, it just flows out of your mind and your heart – all of which are being washed by the word.

Charge to Men

Men, we need to be washing our families in the word. We need to be stirring up within them these kinds of thoughts. This is how you lead a family, by the way. You help them renew their minds and their hearts. You teach them to pray and ask for deep and wonderful things – teach them to ask the Lord Jesus to think and feel and talk and act like He does – not because you want to have “good little children”, but because if you really love them, then you want them to know what true love really is. You want them to know what its really like to fall in love with Jesus. You aren’t doing this alone. The Spirit of God will do the heavy lifting. He is the one who is going to change their hearts. But you need to lead them in obedience and out of both love for them and love for your Savior.

Acts Study Notes 10-25-12

Derek Stone’s notes on the first 11 verses of Acts chapter one are below – enjoy!

Acts 1:1-11

(Luke 24:45-Acts 1:1-11)

Can someone summarize what this section is about? It is the commission of the apostles to carry out Christ’s work in the power of the Spirit. McArthur would say that it is, Resources for carrying out Christ’s work on earth. (Message, Manifestation, Mystery, Might, Mission, and Motive)

Acts (praxeis in greek) was often used to describe the achievements of great people.

Acts of the Apostles or Acts of the Spirit- the work, or great achievement  that the Spirit did through the Apostles

Great practical information and gives us examples to follow. It is loaded with sermons, primarly from Peter and Paul that compose nearly 1/3 of the text.

Mostly chronicles the life of Peter and Paul, Acts 1:8 gives us a timeline/progression of the book, Jerusalem 1-7, Samaria/Judea 8-10, Ends of the Earth 11-28

Verse 1: Luke references his gospel and how he chronicled the life of Jesus, with his stated purpose being to write an orderly account to Theophilus, (a high ranking Roman official, lover of God) so that he may have certainty of what he had been taught.

If this is what Jesus began to do and teach, what is Acts probably about?

What was Jesus’ ministry, what was he primarily involved in?  He was teaching, preaching and healing. We see the same pattern with the apostles in Acts which is really cool!

Note that Jesus practiced what he preached, he was not just a theologian, he put it into practice. We are to follow the same pattern. We must not just listen to the word and so deceive ourselves, but be a doer, be the wise man that Jesus talked about.

Verse 2-3: Jesus was teaching the apostles for 3 years and then continued to teach them after the resurrection. He was concerned that they had the right message. If he was going to entrust His church to them, they had to have the right message.  This is the first resource that they needed! This is the same for us, we must know the truth. We must have a complete knowledge of the gospel and the truth in general. Jesus consistently called for his disciples to know the truth, Paul taught the same thing, urging his disciples to be commited to the truth, do you best to show yourself approved, rightly dividing the word of truth,  watch your life and your doctrine.

Note that Jesus worked in the power of the Holy Spirit, which is a great example for us to follow. We can only do God’s will as we are filled or controlled by the Spirit .

Describe the Holy Spirit?

-McArthur says,” the Holy Spirit is the divine agent who creates, sustains, and perserves spiritual life in those who place their trust in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is not merely an influence or impersonal power emanating from God. He is a person, the third member of the Trinity, equal in every way to God the Father and God the Son. He is also called our Helper, Counselor, Advocate, Comforter, and the Spirit of Truth. He is the author of Scripture.  Among many characteristics of personhood that the Holy Spirit manifests are:  He functions with mind, emotion, and will. He loves the saints, He communicates with them, teaches, guides, comforts and chastises them. He can be grieved, quenched, lied to, tested, resisted, and blasphemed. Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has indwelt all believers, illuminating their understanding and application of God’s Word. He fills them, seals them, communes with them, fellowships with them, intercedes for them, comforts them, admonishes them, sanctifies them and enables them to resist sin and serve God.

What is an apostle? One who is sent, a messenger, proxy, ambassador . A person acting with full authority for another.  Remember in Matthew 10, he says, I am sending you out as sheep amongst wolves. They were sent out to represent him.

Why do you think Jesus showed himself to the apostles over 40 days?  They needed confidence to proclaim this message even if it cost them their lives.  They needed to know that he was alive and would fulfill his promise of the kingdom. We see Jesus eating with them, appearing to them and showing him his hands. Paul gives us the best description of his appearances in 1 Cor 15.

What is the kingdom of God?  Primarily refers to God’s sovereign rule in human life and the affairs of history. It is universal and includes all, in that sense, we are all in the kingdom of God no matter what. It has come with the King himself Jesus, but will not be consummated until Christ comes back. The kingdom also in one sense includes only believers, his special covenant community.

Verse 4-5: Jesus gave them this command, it was as if they were ready to go out and get to work, they had been given the Great Commission, right, so they were ready, but they forgot that they needed the Spirit, they had forgotten what he told them in John 14:16, 15:26.

What does the word baptize mean? To immerse a person in water or to deluge him with it, usually as a means of cleansing.

Notice that this is not a command to be baptized, but is something that will be done to them.  They are passive in the process and this is different from being filled with the Spirit. I will let PJ get more into that when we study Penecost.

Verse 6-7: What do we need to know and we don’t we need to know about the time of Jesus’s return? Jesus wants us to be ready, to be good and faithful servants. He gave the disciples some hints into when the times would be, but never a specific time. He wanted his followers to always be watchful and ready.

Verse 8: Here the mission is given. This is the theme of the whole book and of the section. It is the last words of our Lord. It involved a person, Christ, power, the Holy Spirit, and program, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the Earth.

What is a witness? Has anyone ever been a witness before?

They are to be witnesses, one who tells the truth about what they have seen, heard and felt.  1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” They are to bear witness to Jesus Christ, who he is and what he has done.

-“Dunamis”, translates in the English, power, from which we get dynamite.  If they were going to go out and proclaim the truth, they would need power.  This is what they were told to wait for, the power that will come from the Holy Spirit.  2 Tim 1:8, 2 Peter 1:3.  We all have been given this power, the same Holy Spirit that the apostles have, we have.

-As already mentioned, the verse here gives the outline of the whole book. The gospel was always presented to the Jew first and then to the Greek/Gentile. Jesus started with the Jews and had his apostles start there and branch out.

-Note that this is a command, we are all witnesses, the only question is how effective is our witness.  Witnesses is translated “martures”, which came to mean martyr, which because of the bloodshed that came on these witnesses, came to refer to one that died for his faith.

-Read Study Skill-application page 27.  Does Acts 1:8 apply to us? What is this calling us to change about how we live our life?

Verse 9-11: What conviction was going to sustain the apostles as they fulfilled their mission while Jesus was physically absent? Does 1:11 motivate you to be a witness for Christ, if so, in what way?

-This is the apostle’s motive for completing the mission. We all need motivation for doing the things we do. It is as if the angels are standing there saying, what are you doing staring into heaven, get to work!  All these men were of Galilee except Judas Iscariot.  The cloud symbolizes the shekinah, the visible manifestion of the divine presence and glory of God.  Such a cloud hovered above the tabernacle in the wilderness as a visible token of the glory of God that dwelt within the tabernacle. Jesus as the ascended Lord is enveloped by the shekinah cloud, the visible manifestation of God’s presence, glory, and approval.

Application: What is the main message here?  What is one verse or insight that we could meditate on this week to help put this into practice? Joshua 1:8