Monday, December 30, 2013

One And Only

Here are my notes written in preparation for yesterday's message at Crossroads.  You can listen to what was spoken at the time on the Crossroads Worship (recordings) page.
    Today we continue the reading from the beginning of John’s Gospel.  On Christmas Eve we read verses 1-14, today we read 14-23.
John 1:14-23
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”
16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.” 21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”
22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”
The One and Only
    John had an awesome attitude.
    There are actually two men by the name of John in our scripture.
    There’s the John who wrote the GOSPEL of John;
    Then there’s the John that John writes about…
    But none of that really matters because both Johns had the same awesome attitude. 
    Both of them were all about NOT lifting themselves up as leaders or teachers. 
    Both John the Evangelist and John the Baptist had the attitude described in Philippians 2
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness…
    That’s the attitude John the Baptist had when he called himself “the voice,” …
And it’s the attitude John the Evangelist had when he called himself “the disciple whom Jesus’ loved…” He did this several times.
    Both Johns spoke… they weren’t quiet…
    But when they spoke who did they point to?
    Jesus is the ONE AND ONLY because he is “THE ONLY BEGOTTEN” who came from the FATHER.
    Jesus had no human father.
    He was “conceived by the HOLY SPIRIT”…
    God miraculously brought HIS VERY OWN SON into the world…
    He’s unlike everyone else.
    When Jesus was talking to Nicodemus in John chapter 3 Jesus said this:
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
    Jesus is the ONLY way, the ONLY truth and the ONLY life.
    We always must point to HIM.  The way to coming into a relationship with Jesus always needs to be clear, not cluttered.
    Everyone else must get out of the way.
    Every leader… John… whichever John…
    Peter… Paul… Martin Luther…
    Let’s read a passage together from First Corinthians 1, and then one from Matthew 23 –
1 Corinthians 1:10–17
10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Then let’s read from Matthew 23… we at this a couple weeks ago during our High School JAM time…
Jesus says…
“you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,” for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.”
    There is only ONE who deserves a title among us. 
    There is only ONE who should be lifted up. 
    And all of us, with all of our voices…
    our Lord calls us to lift up Jesus just like John the Baptist did… and like JOHN the EVANGLIST…
    And Peter… and Paul… and any other leader…
    We are brothers and sisters in Christ.
    There are to be NO divisions among us.
    Anytime we divide up into competing groups or factions, anytime we follow leaders or teachers and grab a hold of them instead of just focusing on JESUS and the WORD OF GOD itself, we are turning AGAINST GOD.
    There is only ONE NAME that deserves our praise, THE ONE AND ONLY savior of the world and LORD of the universe… JESUS… JESUS… JESUS.
    Let’s praise Jesus through the words of the NICENE CREED –
We believe in ONE Lord, Jesus Christ, the ONLY Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father…  God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father.  Through HIM ALL THINGS WERE MADE…  For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
--he’s the only one who has ever done that—no pastor, no priest, no prophet, no ruler—no president… no one else is like JESUS… Let’s continue…
by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate [… he became human… “flesh”] from the virgin Mary and was made man.
(To be “incarnate” means that Jesus became human…  He is both GOD and MAN… the only one who is that way.)
For our sake [—for our good—] he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.
(only he did this… no one else…)
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
As we sang on Christmas –
Christ is the LORD!  O praise His NAME forever, His power and glory ever more proclaim!
    So we, like John, will make HIS way straight, removing any obstacles… including any honor we give anyone else. 
    We are all brothers and sisters. 
    We honor one another…
    and we honor those who share the good news with us—
but there is only one who is above us. 
    There is a word here for those of us who live here in Dassel-Cokato.
    Whenever attention goes to anyone other than JESUS CHRIST himself—
    Let me say this again—
    Whenever attention goes to anyone—like any leader, or any pastor, or any teacher, or any denomination—
    When anyone is ever lifted up beyond the plain fact of being a brother or sister in Christ, there is a DANGER.
    There is a danger that the road will be made crooked.
    There’s a danger that, as Paul said, that the Cross will be emptied of its power and people will begin to choose up sides.
    And the only antidote is to take our attention away from WHO is preaching and WHO is teaching and WHO is writing books or calling people to REPENT and GIVE their lives to JESUS…
    Attention needs to be MOVED from EVERYONE ELSE and put on the LORD.
    And we, like John the Baptist, become A VOICE calling out… MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY FOR THE LORD.

    Pray that we would repent of any allegiance to any teacher or preacher other than JESUS…
    That the way would be CLEARED out and made STRAIGHT for the coming of the LORD.
    Pray for the SALVATION of those who don’t know JESUS and for a halt to all quarreling that would keep our attention diverted from HIM,
    And that with ALL OUR VOICES we would lift up JESUS and HIS salvation.

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