Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on February 26, 2017
Open your Bibles this morning to John 15:18. Before I begin I want to start by thanking Jeff Owen for stepping in last week and preaching in my absence. It is my hope that it will be the first of many times that Jeff opens up the Word of God to teach our congregation.
Along those lines, it is my intent to give more opportunities to a handful of men in our congregation to see if God is leading them to become an elder. As many of you know, one of the more important qualifications for being an elder is having the ability to teach sound doctrine. We see this requirement explicitly listed in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:9 which says, “He (elder) must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
This calling to be an elder is not a call for everyone, however, make no mistake, God does call faithful men to oversee the local flock, and we must have our eyes open to see who they might be. Therefore, we should be diligent in seeking these men out.
However, today let us turn our attention to the task at hand. We are continuing our study of the Gospel of John and today we find ourselves in the midst of Jesus’ famous upper room discourse that spans five chapters in John, which is almost 1/4th of the entire book.
To better understand our passage today, it will be helpful to think about it in the midst of what is called Redemptive History. Redemptive History is the term used to describe the story from beginning to end of God redeeming a people to Himself. In Redemptive History ground zero is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the cross of Christ that casts a shadow backwards and unleashes a Kingdom forwards.
The moment of the upper room discourse is the last few scenes of Part 1 of Redemptive History, more commonly known as the Old Covenant. This is the moment where Jesus is closing the book on the theocratic nation-state of Israel and preparing his disciples to transition to Part 2, the New Covenant; commonly referred to as the Last Days or the Church age. This is where Jesus, in a way, hands the baton to his followers to continue what He started. This is the pep talk before he sends these men into battle. So with a that said, let us read our text, which will be a lot this morning.
Chosen Out of the World
To begin, I want to focus on the topic that we touched on two weeks ago, which is the concept of being chosen. If you recall, two Sundays ago we unpacked John 15:16 which says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” In our text today we see Jesus use the word chose again. Look at verse 19, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
It is clear that Jesus wants his disciples to know that Jesus was the ultimate cause of their following of him. Jesus chose them, Jesus called them, they therefore trusted in Him and followed Him. In this crucial time of equipping, Jesus wants his followers to know that he is the initiator of the relationship. Jesus desires them to know that their discipleship is anchored in his election of them. He chose them…but out of what?
We are told that he choose them out of the world. What does this mean? Out of the world? The word world is “kosmos” and it is used very frequently in the Gospel of John. Kosmos can have several different meanings, however, in the context of this verse Jesus is referring to the fallen state of humanity. Specifically, the active rebellion of the human race against God.
Why does Jesus use the word “world” to describe this condition? Because this rebellion against God is a worldwide epidemic. It is universal across the globe. All humanity lies in rebellion against God. Every descendent of Adam, which is everyone who has ever existed, is a sinner. 2 Chronicles 6:36, “for there is no one who does not sin.” Psalm 143:2, “for no one living is righteous before you.” Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way.” Romans 3:10, “None is righteous, no, not one.” God makes it abundantly clear, this world is full of sinners, and only sinners. That is the one thing that all humanity has in common no matter our age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status, we are natural born sinners.
And the ruler of this world in its fallen state is not Jesus, it is Satan. Jesus spoke to this reality a few chapters ago in John 12:31 when he said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” He has also said it during this upper room discourse in John 14:30, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me.” Then again in our text this morning in John 16:11, “concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” Each time he is talking about Satan.
Therefore, when Jesus looks down upon the earth he sees all mankind under one ruler, Satan. As Paul says in Colossians 1:13 the world is the domain of darkness, and this is the world Jesus is referring to in our text today.
Jesus tells his disciples in verse 19 that He chose us out of the world. Once again, Jesus is the instigator. This is what it means to choose. He is the one making the decision. Picture the world being as a jar of jellybeans that Jesus picks out the ones that he wants. Jesus is sovereign in his selection, we can take no credit, it is strictly by the grace of God alone. Praise be to God.
To be chosen out of the world is to have a change in spiritual citizenship. No longer is your ruler Satan, but instead your ruler is now Jesus. Why? Becuase Jesus chose you. You are now under his loving protection. You now live in his Kingdom.
A good summary of this reality is found in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.” Remember, Peter is one of the 11 disciples who is listening to Jesus this night in the upper room. Peter was not angered by the truth of unconditional election, but instead embraced it and actively taught it. IN the writing of 1 Peter, the Apostle Peter was feeding the sheep, and the food they needed in the midst of suffering were the doctrines of Sovereign grace.
To be chosen out of the world means to be a clean break from it. To be out, does not mean to be in. To be out does not mean to be on the fence. As Jesus says, you cannot have two masters. Dual citizenship is not an option. To be out, means to be out. It is either one or the other. Unfortunately, for many so called Christians, perhaps even some in this room, you don't live like you are out of the world. Instead your life looks no different then your unsaved neighbors. This problem within the Church was what frustrated James, the half brother of Jesus. This is what he wrote to Christians in James 4:4, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
Too many of us in this room are committing adultery against God. You are having a love affair with Satan as you where the wedding ring of Christ. When I began preaching here at Cornerstone I committed to preach the Bible in such a way that people would either run to Jesus or run from Jesus. I refuse to allow this Church to be a congregation of lukewarm, self proclaimed Christians, destined for Hell. To be chosen out of this world means to be a holy nation. A holy nation is to be set apart. To be distinct. And in our text we see one particular way that Jesus tells us we are to be distinct.
Chosen to Bear Witness
Look at verse 15:27, “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” The disciples of Jesus were chosen by Jesus to bear witness about Jesus. As, I stated earlier, this moment in time represents a transition. A transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Up until this moment the Messiah was a mystery, but all of this changed at the incarnation of Christ.
The apostles were to now expected to go and bear fruit. They were expected to go and bear witness. So what does it mean to bear witness about Jesus? It simply means to testify as to what you know. In my line of work I deal with witnesses all the time. They are the ones who have information about a case. And because they have information I call them to a stand and request them to testify to a jury. The purpose of their testimony is to persuade. Jesus was expecting his disciples to do the same. To go and tell the jury of this world what they observed concerning this Jesus of Nazareth. However, this command to bear witness is not limited to only the 11 disciples of Christ. It is for us all.
Once again, back to 1 Peter 2:9, I read you the first half of the verse, but I didn't read you the second half. It says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
All followers of Jesus have been chosen out of the world for the purpose to proclaim to the world the name of Jesus. I would argue that this is the primary mission of those who are chosen. This is why we are still hear in the world as sojourners. This is why we are not taken to heaven immediately after we placed our faith in Jesus. You are left here to bear witness, to proclaim.
So the question is are you? Are you bearing witness of Jesus Christ? Are you proclaiming the excellencies of King Jesus? And by this question, I am not asking if you are a good person. I am not asking if you go to Church. I am asking if you speak words to unsaved people with your mouth about who Jesus is and why it matters? Do you speak about Jesus to your co-workers, to your boss, to your neighbors, to your family, to anyone and everyone that God places in your life? If you are not, then you are not doing what you were chosen to do. If you are not, you are being disobedient. If you are not, you may want to examine your faith to see if you really are a follower of Jesus or if you are a phony. For to be a Christian is to proclaim Christ and him crucified.
Many of you, however, say, “I want to but I am afraid,” or “I don't know what to say.” Don't worry, God has you covered.
In this Great Commission we are not alone. Look at verse 26, “But 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.” If you recall, in John 14 Jesus first mentioned the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was coming only because Jesus was going. The death and resurrection of Jesus was the catalyst to the Father sending the Holy Spirit.
I want you to notice something. What is the destination of the Holy Spirit? In verse 26 Jesus says that Holy Spirit is sent to the disciples. His destination is the people of God, and His purpose is to help. Help in what? Help in bearing witness of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, God has not only commanded us, He has also equipped us. And not only has he equipped us, he has given us the third person of the Trinity. There is no greater equipping then God himself. For no one knows Christ better than the Spirit of Christ. The question is, do you believe this? Do you believe the words of Jesus that we have a Helper indwelling in us to come up alongside of us when we bear witness...or do you think Jesus is lying to you?
I have to be honest, we behave as if he is lying. We have every excuse in the book not to share the Gospel. We need to hear the same words of encouragement that Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 1:5, “that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge-- “ If you are a true follower of Jesus, you have everything you need on day one to bear witness concerning Jesus Christ. So let us repent of our apathy and get to work.
Chosen to Be Hated
However, before we begin, we need to know something about being chosen out of the world to bear witness to the world. It does not come without a cost. When we proclaim Jesus Christ we will be hated by this world. Look at John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
This world, that lies in the hands of Satan, hates Christ, therefore will hate you for proclaiming Christ. Why is this? Why would anyone hate Jesus? Jesus says it himself in verse 25 that there is no cause, or reason to hate him. The answer lies in 16:7, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:”
To bear witness of Jesus Christ is to proclaim sin and judgment. When we stand face to face with a person and share Christ we must begin with their wretchedness and the day of future reckoning with their maker. We must raise up the mirror of God's law and force them to look into it to see their corpse staring back at us. What do you think the world will do when you do this? They will call you judgmental, they will call you a bigot, they will call you self-righteous, they will call you intolerant, they will call you hateful, they will call you anything and everything. Why? Jesus tells us in John 3:19, it is because, “people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
If you don't believe me, just think about those 11 disciples in the upper room. They obeyed Christ and gave up everything so as to bear witness of Jesus. And every single one of them was murdered by the world, except for the Apostle John, who was exiled to a remote island so they wouldn't have to listen to his testimony. Every single one of them was hated. We could also consider the Apostle Paul who was beaten, whipped, stoned, and imprisoned. Why? Simply because he bore witness of Jesus Christ. And we could continue to go down a list. In fact, on the back table is the book Foxes Book of Martyrs. This list is just a mere sampling of the world's hate.
Too many of us have created our own religion, our own Bible, our own Jesus. We have morphed those things into something more palatable, more comfortable. To be a Christian is not to be safe in this world. To be a Christians is to be in the midst of a war for the Glory of God. Our rest will come, but the pathway is full of persecution. As Luke tells us in Acts 14:22, “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
I am reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
All of this leads me to conclude that we have been asking the wrong questions. When persecution comes we tend to ask why. Why is this happening. That is the wrong question, for we know why. The world hates Jesus. The question we should be asking is why is persecution so infrequent? Why do we not see more of it? The answer to that is one of two: 1) You are not a Christian, or 2) You are not obeying. The reason we are not hated is because we are not bearing witness. For the hatred of this world is evidence that we are abiding in the Vine of Christ and bearing fruit for his glory.
To Keep You
Which leads us to the last point. Why does Jesus tell his disciples this the night before his death? It is because he is sending them out as sheep amongst wolves. He is sending them out to the front lines of the greatest war ever to be waged and he is preparing them for what to expect. Jesus is not a seeker sensitive preacher. Look at John 16:1, “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.” When we are alienated in our neighborhood, when we are removed from our schools, when we are mocked or fired at work, when we are trolled on facebook, someday when some of us are imprisoned, we should not be surprised. Jesus warned us of this reality, the servant is not greater than his master. Do not let persecution cause you to turn back. Instead let is cause you to rejoice that the words of Christ that abide in you have proven true.