10/21/12

John 17 – The Word of God


Last week we spoke of the Name of God as:
·  Referring to the Attributes of God.
·  Referring to Yahweh Himself.
·  Referring to the personal representation of Yahweh in context of the Israelite godhead.
o   Which in the NT, was identified as Jesus.
·  In our text today, Jesus speaks of the Word of God.


INTRO – OUR TEXT

John 17:6–8 (ESV) — 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

John 17:13–21 (ESV) — 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Jesus’ work and petitions concerning the Word of God:
(1) Jesus tells us that the disciples “have kept the word” (vs. 6), “received” the word (vs. 8) and that He gave the word to them – “I have given them your word” (vv. 8, 14).
·  The evidence He gives the Father for this receiving and keeping is that they believe:
o   (a) “everything” about Jesus’ ministry is from the Father (vs. 7).
o   (b) that Jesus “came from” (is God), and was “sent” by the Father (vs. 8).
·  This reveals for us the foundational importance of getting right the identity of Jesus and His relationship to the Father.
o   What religions get this wrong?
o   Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, etc.
·  This also shows us that in our context, whatever else the word of God is, it definitely refers to the revelation from Jesus that He is from the Father, that is to say He is God, and that He was sent by the Father!

BTW - What a huge encouragement.
·  In spite of the disciples’ inability to get most of what Jesus taught them to this point, Jesus characterized them as keeping and receivingthe word”.
·  Even on our worst of days, we as believers, have also kept and received the word of God because of the work of God on our hearts…amen!

(2) Jesus tells us that one specific reason He speaks is so that the disciples might have His joy – “these things I speakthat they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (vv. 12, 13).
·  Fulfilled is “to bring to completion that which was already begun” – BDAG.
·  In other words, Jesus is saying that the words He spoke (in this prayer and in His ministry) were so that His joy in believers might be complete.

(3) Jesus asks the Father to sanctify the disciples in His word of truth – “your word is truth” (vs. 17).
·  Sanctification is the “separation and consecration to the service of God” – WSITNT.
·  Or more specifically, it is “to include a person in the inner circle of what is holy…” which would be the service of the Father – BDAG.
o   And this privilege of inclusion is only for the given – the born again believer.
·  So we are included into the service of God, the “inner circle”, by the sanctifying truth of God’s word.
·  And importantly, Jesus speaks of the necessity of His consecration (crucifixion, resurrection, exaltation) for our consecration (vs. 19).

BTW – Interestingly, in the O.T. the priests were often spoken of as being consecrated to service.
·  Exodus 28:41 (ESV) — 41 And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.

(4) And He goes on to ask for all these things on behalf of all believers – all those “who will believe in me through their word” (vs. 20).
·  As we just saw, this presumably means that they would believe that Jesus’ ministry is from the Father and that Jesus “came from” and was “sent” by the Father.
o   And logically these believers would therefore be keepers and receivers of God’s word.
·  And Jesus points out that the source of the word spoken to these believers is “their word” – which is referring to the disciples’ words.
·  As Jesus spoke the Father’s words, so the disciples spoke Jesus’ words.
·  Speaks to the chain of custody of God’s word we have so often discussed.

So Jesus speaks of the word as something that is:
·  Kept (vs. 6)
·  Received (vs. 8)
·  Given (vv. 8, 14)
·  Truth (vs. 17)

And this kept, received, given and true word has the power to:
·  Complete Christ’s joy in believers (vs. 13)
·  Sanctify believers (vs. 17)
·  Call the given to believe (vs. 20)


So what is the word of God that can be kept, received, given and is truth?
And how does the word of God have the power to:
·  Complete Christ’s joy in believers?
·  Sanctify believers?
·  Call the given to believe?


1) WHAT IS THE WORD?

We are going to briefly look at three things that are considered to be the word.
·  (1) Word of God as OT and NT Scripture
·  (2) Word of God as the Gospel
·  (3) Word of God as Jesus Christ

(1) Word of God as OT and NT Scripture:
The Baptist Faith and Message says the following about Scripture:
·  “The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation” – Baptist Faith and Message.

Examples of Word of God as OT Scripture:
·   5:1–5 (ESV) — 1 And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them. 2 The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. 4 The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, 5 while I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord
o   The giving of the 10 Commandments and the Law on Mt. Sinai.
·  Jeremiah 1:9 (ESV) — 9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
o   The proclamation of prophecy.
·  Zechariah 7:12 (ESV) — 12 They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts.
o   The words of the law and prophets as the “words” that God “sent by his Spirit”.

Examples of Word of God as NT Scripture:
·  1 Corinthians 14:37 (ESV) — 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.
·  1 Thessalonians 2:13 (ESV) — 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
·  1 Timothy 5:17–18 (ESV) — 17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
o   The first quote Paul references is Deuteronomy 25:4.
o   However, curiously, the second quote comes word-for-word from Luke 10:7.
o   Notice that Paul refers to both as “Scripture says”.
·  2 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) — 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
o   Remarkably, Peter explicity implies that Paul’s letters are Scripture.
o   Paul’s letters, Peter says, are twisted by the “ignorant and unstable” just like the “ignorant and unstable” twist “the other Scriptures”.

BTW – We have just seen examples of how Scripture is self-attesting.
·  It makes claims about its own divine origins.
·  Issues relating to the reliability of these claims as well as the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture are a separate issue from today’s lesson.
·  To read more on this subject read “TheReliability of Scripture” paper from Deeper Life.

(2) Word of God as Gospel:
Some examples of this claim:
·  Mark 1:14–15 (ESV) — 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
·  Acts 18:28 (ESV) — 28 for he [Apollos] powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
·  Philippians 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
·  1 Corinthians 15:1–11 (ESV) — 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
o   Most believe this to be the oldest creedal statement of Christendom.
o   It demonstrates that within a handful of years after Jesus’ departure the Gospel centered on the historicity of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
o   And that the truth of these events could be verified by the many witnesses.

(3) Word of God as Jesus:
·  There is no doubt that the NT referred to Jesus as the “Word of God”.
·  John’s Gospel has the most famous example of this belief.
·  But he wasn’t the only one in the NT to make this claim.

NT Examples of Jesus as the Word of God:
·  John 1:1 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
·  John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
·  Hebrews 1:2 (ESV) — 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
·  Revelation 19:13 (ESV) — 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

But what of the OT, did it also speak of God as the Word?

OT Examples of Jesus as the Word of God:
·  Genesis 15:1–6 (ESV) — 1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
o   Here we have “the word of the Lord” first coming to Abram in a vision.
o   Then “the word of the Lord came to him” and actually “brought him outside” and spoke to Abram.
o   And then we see that Abram believed in the “word of the Lord” as “the LORD”, YHWH.
·  Genesis 1:3–26 (ESV) — 3 And God said…
o   The word of God is associated with creation some 8 times.
·  Psalm 33:6 (ESV) — 6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
·  1 Samuel 3:21 (ESV) — 21 And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.  

As we discussed last week, the OT contains what are called theophanies.
·  The Jews would consider these appearances a Yahweh godhead – known as the coregent of the divine council:
o   The Angel of Yahweh
o   The Wisdom of God
o   The Name of God
o   And now we see the Word of God.
·  And post-Jesus, we see these as clear appearances of Jesus Christ.
·  The “Word of God” who took His right place seated at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1)

Summary:
So in answer to our question – what is the word of God – we see that it includes:
·  (1) The OT and NT Scriptures.
·  (2) The Gospel
·  (3) Jesus Christ.

It is the word in these forms that is truth, and that is to be received, kept and given.
·  BTW – What are ways these things are done with the word of God as just described?

But what of the second question we raised.
·  How does the word of God have the power to:
o   Complete Christ’s joy in believers?
o   Sanctify believers?
o   Call the given to believe?
·  We will get to this final question next week.


2) TRUST IN THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD

We need to make an important comment concerning the word of God as truth.
·  It should come as no surprise that the extent of our trust in the word of God is ground zero for much of Satan’s attacks and our failures.
·  Scripture has two stories to illustrate for us this fact.
·  One ended in failure and one ended in success.

(1) The Fall
·  Genesis 3:1 (ESV) — 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
·  They bought into the serpent’s interpretation of the facts instead of Gods as declared by His word.
·  Instead of “Right Thinking”, they had “Stinking Thinking”.
·  And as a result, death entered into the world and they were shut out of the garden.

(2) Jesus’ Temptation
·  But Jesus set a different example for us.
·  Matthew 4:3–4 (ESV) — 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
·  Two more times “the tempter” sought to challenge God’s word and shake Jesus’ trust in it.
·  But unlike Adam and Eve, Jesus could not be swayed from trusting in the truth.
·  He ended the temptation with these words, “…it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (vs. 10).

Why is it so hard for us to trust in the truth and promises of the word of God?
·  Isn’t our lack of trust tantamount to calling God a liar?
·  We have just seen that Jesus calls the word truth!
·  Doesn’t our lack of trust impede our work in sanctification and our witnessing?
·  For example, Scripture makes it clear that we are no longer slaves to sin, yet we far too often treat sin as our master instead of our vanquished foe.