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Our Story about Our Savior

The Gospel of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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To give your Christian testimony, keep answering these four questions: 1. Who are you? (vs. 19-23). 2. Why do you do the things you do? (vs. 24-27). 3. Who is Jesus Christ? (vs. 28-30). 4. How did you get to where you are? (vs. 31-34).

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Our Story about Our Savior

The Gospel of John

John 1:19-34

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - April 13, 2016

(Revised June 16, 2019)

*Do you have a Christian testimony? Well, if you are a Christian, you surely do have a testimony.

*Sometimes we are moved when a person who has lived a horrible life gets dramatically saved, like the former Mafia man who is now preaching for the Lord. Those are wonderful stories, but some Christians actually feel inferior because they don't have that kind of gruesome past. Please let me tell you again that the best testimony is the person who got saved as a little child, and never went through that kind of mess!

*But every Christian has a testimony of our salvation. 1 John 5:9-12 says this to all believers:

9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.

10. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.

11. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

12. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

*When we believe God's testimony about His Son Jesus Christ, He gives us a testimony! And He wants us to share it. How can we do that? How can we tell our story about the Savior? John the Baptist shows us to keep answering 4 questions.

1. FIRST, ANSWER THIS QUESTION: "WHO ARE YOU?"

*Verse 19 says, "This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you?''' Then John gave them an honest and humble answer. He spoke in a way that gave glory to God. And he told them about his God-given responsibility to speak out about the coming Messiah.

*Starting in vs. 20-21:

20. He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ.''

21. And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?'' He said, "I am not.'' "Are you the Prophet?'' And he answered, "No.''

*Some important background information is necessary for us here: John the Baptist confessed that he was not the Messiah. But two more key men had been promised to the Children of Israel: "Elijah" and the "Prophet."

*The Book of Malachi gave the promise about Elijah. Malachi was the last book of the Bible written before Jesus was born. God gave us this book about 400 B.C. And Malachi 4:4-6, closes the book with these words from the Lord:

4. "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

5. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

6. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.''

*That's why the Pharisees asked John, "Are you Elijah?'' And there's a bit of a paradox here, because John the Baptist surely was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi, but here John denied being Elijah. The reason why is because the Jews of that day falsely assumed that Elijah the Tishbite from King Ahab's time would physically return in person. (1)

*It's also important to say that John the Baptist was not the reincarnation of Elijah as Hindus and Buddhists would falsely believe. Hebrews 9:27 clearly tells us that "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." This could be another reason why the Holy Spirit led John the Baptist to deny being Elijah.

*But the fact is that John the Baptist was the promised Elijah to come. In Luke 1:17, the angel Gabriel explained how John would be like Elijah. Gabriel said that John "will also go before Him (Jesus) in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.''

*John the Baptist was the promised Elijah. Jesus Himself confirmed this truth after John was thrown into prison. In Matthew 11, Jesus said this about John the Baptist:

9. . . "What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.

10. For this is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.' . . .

12. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

13. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

14. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come."

*But here in vs. 21, when the Pharisees asked John: "Are you Elijah?'' He said, "I am not.'' Then they asked, "Are you the Prophet?'' And again, he answered, "No.'' You see, a thousand years earlier, Moses was speaking to the Children of Israel about the Promised Land.

*And in Deuteronomy 18, Moses said:

14. . . "These nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.

15. The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,

16. according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.'

17. And the Lord said to me: 'What they have spoken is good.

18. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.

*It turned out that this Prophet of all prophets would be the Lord Jesus Himself. He is our prophet, our priest, and King, all rolled into one!

*With this background, please listen again starting in vs. 19:

19. Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?''

20. He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ.''

21. And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?'' He said, "I am not.'' "Are you the Prophet?'' And he answered, "No.''

22. Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?''

23. He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the Lord,''' as the prophet Isaiah said.''

*"Who are you, John?" John answered the question in an honest, humble way. He also found a way to turn the conversation to Jesus.

*But what a great question in vs. 19 and 22: "Who are you?" There are many ways you could answer that question: "I am a husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, brother, friend. I am a student, retiree, doctor, policeman, nurse, teacher, stay-at-home mom, lawyer, truck-driver, mill worker, or salesman."

*"Who are you?" This question goes to a whole new level when we put our trust in Jesus Christ! Who am I?

-Matthew 5:13-14 says that in Christ we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

-John 1:12 says we are children of God.

-John 15:15 says we are Jesus' friends.

-Romans 5:1 says we are justified.

-Romans 8:37 says we are more than conquerors!

-2 Corinthians 5:17 says that in Christ we are a new creation.

-Galatians 4:7 says we are heirs of God.

-Ephesians 1:4-6 says we are chosen by God, adopted by God, and accepted by God!

-Ephesians 2:8 says we are saved by grace through faith

-Colossians 1:13-14 says we are forgiven.

-1 Peter 1:18-19 says we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!

-1 John 5:11-12 says we are inheritors of eternal life.

*Christians: Through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are all of these things, and much, much more!

*Lula Day has been one of our West Monroe friends for many years. Lula's Mother was Mrs. Jo Bayles. She passed away in 1986. Mrs. Bayles' health had been going down for a long time. And though she had been a devoted Christian for many years, she was somewhat afraid to die.

*But a few days before she died, Mrs. Bayles had a dream. She was part of a great multitude in Heaven before the Judgment Seat of God. Jesus was on the throne. As she stood in the crowd, Mrs. Bayles trembled, wondering what would happen. Then Jesus pointed His finger at her, and kindly said, "You are mine."

*After that dream, Mrs. Bayles was never again afraid to die. What a relief! What a joy to hear Jesus say, "You are mine."

*Who are you? Christians: God wants us to keep answering this question. So tell them who you are. That's a big part of our testimony

2. THE SECOND TESTIMONY QUESTION TO ANSWER IS THIS: "WHY DO YOU DO THE THINGS YOU DO?"

*In vs. 24-27, John the Baptist answered this question from the Pharisees: "Why do you do the things you do?"

*Starting in vs. 24:

24. Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees.

25. And they asked him, saying, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?''

26. John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.

27. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.''

*Matthew 3:11-12 records a little more of what John said:

11. "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

12. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.''

*Again, John turned the conversation to Jesus: "Why are you baptizing John? -- Because the Messiah, the Christ is coming!" Why are you baptizing John? -- Because I am doing my best to serve the Lord who is infinitely better than me.

*Christian: Why do you do the things you do?

-Why are you in church tonight?

-Why do you study the Bible?

-Why do you try to serve the Lord in our church?

-Why do you try to live a good and holy life?

-Why do you try to be a good family member and friend?

-Why do you try to forgive people, and treat them with kindness?

-Why do you do the decent and holy things that you do?

*It's because of Jesus Christ!

-It's because we have a personal relationship with the Lord God of the universe.

-It's because He has saved us, and we are trying to follow Him.

*Howard Hendricks told the story of a flight he was on in the summer of 1987. It was from Boston to Dallas, and it took off 6 hours late. Tired Friday-afternoon flyers were naturally steamed about the problem. Howard said the man across the aisle from him growled at the flight attendant every time she walked by.

*Dr. Hendricks admired the flight attendant's self-control, and the way she handled the situation, so he walked to the back of the plane to compliment her. He asked her name. Then said that he wanted to write American Airlines to express his appreciation. But she smiled and said, "I don't work for American Airlines. I work for Jesus Christ." (2)

*What a great answer! Why do you do the things you do? Christians: God wants us to keep answering this question.

3. THE THIRD TESTIMONY QUESTION FOR US TO ANSWER IS THIS: WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?

*We hear John answering this question in vs. 28-30:

28. These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

30. This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.'"

*In vs. 30 John the Baptist repeated something that we saw back in vs. 15: "He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me."

*Well, John was physically about 6 months older than Jesus, but John said, "Jesus was before me." And there John gave us a clue that Jesus is the eternal God who became a man.

*Who is Jesus Christ? He is God the Son, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the almighty, eternal God, who became a man. And here in vs. 29, He is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

*Back in Exodus 12, God was about to bring terrible judgment on the land of Egypt. All of the first-born of Egypt would die, both man and beast. But the Lord provided a way to escape for everyone who would trust in Him. It was through the Passover lamb.

*In Exodus 12:5-7, God gave instructions to Moses for the first Passover. And the Lord said,

5. "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.

6. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.

7. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it."

*When Solomon dedicated the Temple, 2 Chronicles 7:5 tells us that he offered a sacrifice of 120,000 sheep. Untold millions of lambs were sacrificed in Old Testament times. And every one of those lambs was pointing to the real Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

*Jesus Christ is the only Lamb who could ever take away the sins of the world. Jesus took the punishment for our sins because that was the only way we could receive the mercy of God. And Jesus did that because He loves us with God-sized unfathomable love.

*One of the hymns in our new hymnal is almost 100 years old, and it expresses the love of God better as well as any song I can remember:

"Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure—

The saints’ and angels’ song." (3)

*Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead! That's how much God loves us! So if we are willing to trust in Jesus Christ, and receive Him as our Lord and Savior, we can live forever in His forgiveness. The price was paid in full! "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

*Who is Jesus Christ? God wants us to keep answering this question. 1 Timothy 2:6 tell us that Jesus "gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." Pray for ways to testify who Jesus Christ is to you.

4. THE FOURTH TESTIMONY QUESTION TO ANSWER IS THIS: HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?

How did you get where you are today in your spiritual life? We see a small part of John the Baptist's answer in vs. 31-34. There John said:

31. "I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water."

32. And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.

33. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'

34. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."

*How did you get where you are today, Christian? How did you come to trust in Jesus Christ? How did you get where you are in your walk with the Lord? Every one of our stories will agree on the basics, but the details are unique to each one of us. And like John in these verses, we usually won't get to tell the whole story at once, because there is so much we could say.

*Tonight, let me mention my wife Mary, because she is such an important part of my salvation story. We are a most unlikely couple. She was a Yankee girl, very proper and studious, very mature and wise beyond her years. Somehow Mary completely missed all the goofiness of the 1960's. It was as if she went through a time warp or something. I had never met anyone quite like her.

*I on the other hand was about as foolish as can be, pretty much a clueless hippy from Macon, Georgia. God used some problems in both of our families to help get us here. And there we were in the middle-of-nowhere Louisiana, at Grambling, the last place I ever expected to be.

*God also used a miracle to get me here. But Mary was the glue He used to keep me here until I trusted in Jesus. I know God could have found another way to bring me to Jesus. But without Mary it is easy for me to see myself in an early grave and lost in hell forever.

*That's part of my story. Christians: How did you get to where you are? God wants you to keep answering this question.

CONCLUSION:

*When we believe God's testimony about His Son Jesus Christ, He gives us a testimony! And He wants us to share it.

*Keep answering these four questions:

1. Who are you?

2. Why do you do the things you do?

3. Who is Jesus Christ?

4. And how did you get to where you are in your spiritual life?

*Please think about these things as we go back to God in prayer.

(1) Sources:

JOHN GILL'S EXPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE by Dr. John Gill, 1690-1771 - John 1:21

WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT by Archibald Thomas Robertson - John 1:21

(2) Kenneth O. Gangel in Roy B. Zuck, DEVOTIONS FOR KINDRED SPIRITS - Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1990, p. 372 - Source: Sermons.com

(3) "The love of God is greater far" by Frederick Martin Lehman (1868-1953) https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/28

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