Two weeks ago I got to go to Together for the Gospel in Louisville, KY. I have been to all three T4G’s, but this was the first time I went as a pastor in full time ministry:
- I will keep fighting for the fact that God intends for the local church to be the way to advance the Kingdom. Most Christians just do not get it, no matter how many different ways you say it. I was reminded to keep holding out the promises of God to your people as the way to get them there.
- John Piper made me cry tears of joy with his explanation of the thief on the cross at the final judgment. I was reminded that the pinnacle of the Christian life is the gospel, period. Do not let anyone make you think otherwise. You want to be as happy as you can be? Keep meditating on the gospel.
- I was not sure if my desire to go back every two years to this same conference was healthy. But I can admit that God has only gifted certain men in certain ways, and Mohler, Dever, Duncan, Mahaney, Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, Anyabwile, and the breakout speakers are among those few. They are God’s gift to the rest of us, and we should always be thankful that we are alive at the same time as them, just as any Christian should be thankful if they got to hear Lloyd-Jones, Spurgeon, Whitfield, or Edwards preach. I call it the “grace of contemporality.”
And if that is not enough reason to go back…O, the books they give you!
Always point people to the glory of God:
- Jesus had a future hour of glory in mind (1-5)- Jesus’ statement that his time had not yet come means his whole life had a point to it. He did not dishonor his mother; he did the most loving thing possible by pointing her to a future hour on the cross.
- Jesus had a glorious kingdom in mind (6-10)- Water turning to wine is glorious! Moses turned water into blood and Jesus turned water into the very thing that would represent his blood later on. One second it was water and the next second it was a different color and a wine connoiseur would have been able to tell you what kind of grape it came from; but it simply came from the command of Christ! This also seems to be a fulfillment of Genesis 49.11 where Jacob blesses Judah, “he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes.” In Jesus’ kingdom, wine could replace what the Jews used to wash their garments!
- Jesus had the Father’s glory in mind (11)- this is one of the signs that he used to reveal his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1.14).
Interesting that after this sign, then his disciples put their faith in him. It is possible to be a part of the believing community, yet not have your faith in him. Keep putting your faith in the cross of glory.
Never be satisfied with where you are at:
- Always dig deeper into Jesus (35-46)- first, John the Baptist tells two of his disciples about “the Lamb of God” (36), then Jesus exhorts them to “come and you will see” (39). Andrew told his brother, Peter, about “the Messiah” (41), then he brought him to Jesus (42). And Philip told Nathanael he found “him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote” (45), then Philip said, “Come and see” (46). There is this constant pattern of people testifying about the Messiah, and then those who are interested needing to dig deeper into the Messiah. No one will have all their questions about Jesus answered at the beginning; just come and see!
- Always look for the greater signs (47-51)- Jesus rebukes Nathanael for believing. Of course, it was a positive thing that Nathanael affirmed who Jesus was. But he also revealed the human tendency to be swayed so easily by all things supernatural. Jesus said to look for heaven to be opened! Jesus claimed here to be the ladder in Jacob’s dream, the true gate between heaven and earth. Thank God if He ever graced us with miracles and angels and signs. But should we not be more excited when someone understands Jesus to be the only access to heaven for the first time?
Do not confuse the call to ‘come and see’ with some of the contemporary calls to ‘come and give Jesus an honest to goodness try.’ This call in John 1 is a promise: come, and you WILL see Jesus to be who he says he is.
Prepare the way of the Lord! Two ways to do this:
- Deal seriously with sin- Jews began baptismal purification sometime in the Intertestamental period as another Jewish rite. So in one sense, water baptism had become a way to identify with Jews. But John came baptizing Jews! Salvation is not a matter of Jewishness, but a matter of repentance. Also, John called Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. By the time the author, John, wrote this, he had witnessed the perfect Lamb of God become a sacrifice for sin. God dealt as seriously with sin as can possibly be conceived– he killed his own Son.
- Constantly confess who Jesus is- verses 29-34 contain extremely rich Christology. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away sin; he was a man who surpassed the Baptist because he had come before him; there is a visible picture of Jesus as the Messiah with a reference to the Holy Spirit anointing him; and John testifies that this is the Son of God. John the Baptist came not simply preparing the way for the Lord; he came to be the voice that preaches: “Prepare the way for the Lord!” And one of the clearest ways he shows how to do that is verbally confessing who Jesus is to others.
Twice, in verse 31 and 33, the Baptist admits he would not have known who Jesus was unless revealed to him. That is the only way ANYBODY will ever know about Jesus, by revelation. So as God revealed to us through the Word, let us go and reveal to others through the Word.