Music Playing I'm Bob Lapine. On behalf of all of us here at Truth for Life, we want to wish you a very blessed and merry Christmas. The Bible teaches us Jesus came from heaven to please God the Father and to do His Father's will. What was His mission on earth and what significance does that have for each one of us?
We'll explore the answers to these questions on Truth for Life Weekend. Alistair Begg is teaching us from John Chapter 6 verses 25 through 40. Music Playing The fact that Jesus came from heaven is of vital importance.
Why? Because it is affirming and confirming this essential truth—the truth of the pre-existence of Jesus of Nazareth. And if you think that there was a time when Jesus did not exist, then you are not orthodox in your understanding of Christianity.
And the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 met to deal with this, because it was quickly becoming a problem in the early church. And they affirmed certain truths—that the Father and the Son and the Spirit are of the same substance as one another. And they began to formulate, although not explain, what we refer to as the doctrine of the Trinity. And emerging from our study last week, it is clear to me that the difficulty that some had with it, apart from the difficulty that I brought to it as a result of inarticulation, the difficulty in hearing is on account of the fact that some of you do not have an understanding of the Trinity at all. And you look in your Bible, and you say, Well, the Trinity isn't in the Bible. It's from Trinitas, the word for three-ness. And when you take the Bible and you unfold it, you discover this—that God is one and three, that each person of the Godhead—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—are coequal and coeternal, each being I in relationship to the other two who are you, so that the Son may address God, the Father as you, and the Father may address the Son as you, and both may address the Spirit as you.
Well, you say, What is it? That there are three roles being played by one person? No, that is modalism, which is a heresy. Is it, then, that there are three gods that just cluster up to one another?
No, that is tritheism, which is also a heresy. Well, then, what is it? That there is one God, and that one God is equally they.
If you want something to chew on in the afternoon, just before you fall asleep, write on the top of a sheet of paper, One is they. And have a pleasant afternoon. And when you go back into your Bible, you will discover that the Trinity is at work. God the Father initiating, God the Son complying, and God the Spirit executing. Think about it in relationship to salvation. God the Father plans it, God the Son procures it, and God the Spirit applies it to our lives. So what God the Father has planned in all of eternity, in conjunction with the other members of the Trinity, is then carried out by the Son and then is applied to people's lives by the Spirit who takes the Bible when someone is speaking or explaining and rings a bell inside of your head and said, You know, what this fellow is talking about is exactly what you require. And all the elements of the Godhead are involved in that. Well, all of that simply to say that the child in the manger, the infant of Mary, is none other than the incarnate Christ. Veiled in flesh, says the carol writer, the Godhead, see, hail the incarnate deity, pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel, he is God with us. Incidentally, classic Unitarianism taught this, and there's a lot of Unitarianism in Cleveland.
Some of the finest architecture in Cleveland are Unitarian churches. They say that Jesus was a person who was just born like any other person, but because it says in the Bible that he came down from heaven, they said that he went up to heaven mysteriously, and then he came back down from heaven. But he wasn't in heaven to start with.
He sort of went up to have a visit so that he could come back down. Modern-day Unitarianism talks about an ideal existence in heaven rather than a real existence in heaven, which is a very clever piece of semantic work. And what they're saying is this, is that Jesus existed in heaven in the thought of God the Father. He was not God, but he existed in the mind of God, and therefore, in that sense, he came from God from heaven. Well, what did Jesus say? He said, I came from heaven.
Well, wouldn't you think we ought to at least allow him to say what he says? He put words in the mouth of God. No, Jesus, that's not what you meant. Let me explain to you what you meant here.
How proud! Where did Jesus come from? He came down from heaven. Second, why did Jesus come?
Why did Jesus come? He tells us in verse 38, For I have come down from heaven. And then he tells us what he didn't come to do, namely, his own will, and then he tells us what he did come to do, to do the will of him who sent me. In John's Gospel, as elsewhere in the Bible, the coming down from heaven is actually not the emphasis. The emphasis lies in the purpose of his coming down from heaven. And you'll notice that the purpose of Jesus in coming down from heaven is stated, first of all, in relationship to God and not in relationship to man. Why have you come down from heaven, Lord Jesus? I have come down from heaven to please my Father and to perform his will. Isn't that what he's saying? I didn't come down here to do my own will, but I came to do the will of him who sent me.
Now, this just takes us back to where we were last week. Because it is impossible to understand the work of Christ in relationship to the will of God unless we see it in terms of a pre-time, pre-incarnational agreement that takes place between the members of the Trinity, in which the Son agrees to complete a specific task, and the Father promises to uphold the Son in the fulfilling of the task, and then to reward him for having done so. Now, when you get to grips with that, then you understand what it is that Jesus is saying all the way through. For example, in the thirtieth verse of John chapter 5, Jesus says, By myself I can do nothing.
I judge only as I hear. My judgment is just, now here's the phrase, For I seek not to please myself, but him who sent me. John chapter 14 and verse 31—I won't keep this up by verse 31— The world must learn that I love the Father, and I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Now, when the work is accomplished, he is then able to return to his Father. That's the significance of his prayer in John chapter 17 and verse 4, where he prays to his Father, and he says, Father, I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work that you gave me to do. So when you think of Jesus, think of a man with a mission. Think of someone who, in growing into his manhood, exists to fulfill the plan and purpose of God. Indeed, even at the age of twelve, his parents are mystified, his mother Mary and his father Joseph, finding him in the temple, seeing that he is having these amazing conversations with the religious leaders of his day. They say to him, Hey, Jesus, we've been looking everywhere for you. And remember his reply? Don't you realize that I have to be about my Father's business? She still hadn't grasped it when, at the wedding of Cana in Galilee, she comes around to Jesus and she says, Hey, Jesus, they're all out of wine.
It's a bit of a—it's a faux pas here. They are done with wine. Can you do something? You remember Jesus' reply? Woman, my time has not yet come.
It's an amazing statement. Can you imagine his mother again? She walks away, she said, All I said was, they ran out of wine. I mean, I don't know about his time coming around. I just said, Jesus, we're out of wine. My time has not yet come.
Why? Because he was a man with a mission. He knew that the issue was not that they'd run out of wine. He knew that the issue was that they needed the wine of cleansing, that they needed the water of life, that the real thing that they required was not that their party keep going, but that they might meet him, who was himself the incarnate Christ. So don't think for a moment, if you've come here today and you're questioning these things and you're wondering about these things, and I hope that there are many who are in that position, don't think for a moment that you can so quickly sideline Jesus and push him away, as it were, with the Christmas ornaments and say, Well, that's enough for a while, because he doesn't allow us to do that.
He won't allow us to wriggle away so easily. In fact, the statement, I have come down from heaven here in John chapter 6 38, the statement, I have come down from heaven, if that had a full stop after it, without the explanatory phrases which follow, namely, not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me, then frankly, it would remain a marvel, but it wouldn't make any sense. And that's where many people are with Jesus. First of all, they're not sure that he ever did come down from heaven. But if you can bring them to believe that perhaps he did come down from heaven, they have a full stop after heaven. Jesus came down from heaven.
Huh? Well, why did he come down from heaven? Not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me. I mean, is it really feasible to think of a Christmas which emerges as a result of Jesus coming down from heaven in order to teach everybody to be kind to one another and enjoy a spirit of goodwill for a few days? Isn't it God left eternity to come to time to say, Hey, have a nice time?
That's what people want us to believe. Well, why would you make such a fuss about Jesus? I mean, Jesus is somebody that is there in a cradle or crib or whatever it was, and basically you try and be nice for a while and give a few gifts and get on with your life, and after all, he's just one amongst many. There's Buddha, there's Muhammad, there's Krishna, goodness. We've got gods everywhere now in America.
We have all kinds of people we can turn to, all kinds of things we can plug into. We've got a spiritual panorama before us. You're really going to make such a fuss about this Jesus.
Put him away, put him away. No, you can't do that, you see, because he came down from heaven as a man with a mission. And what was his mission? Verse 39 and 40 tells us, The will of God, which he came to fulfill, the will of God who sent him, is that he would lose none of all that the Father has given him, but instead raise them up at the last day. In other words, the coming of Jesus had a definite and well-defined objective— namely, the actual, complete, and sure salvation of all whom the Father has given to the Son. Now, don't stumble over that.
Just allow that to hit you as it should. You go to John 17, you find the same thing. Father, I have lost none of those that you gave me.
What is this? This is the doctrine of election, that God has purposed from all of eternity to put together a people who are his very own. That's what the Bible says.
That brings me to my final question. Where did Jesus come from? From heaven. Why did Jesus come? To do the will of the Father, to fulfill his pleasure.
And what is that? Well, it is the salvation of men and women. Well, then, here's the final thought. What does it mean to me? Or perhaps better to ask the question, Where, then, do I fit into the scheme of things?
In relationship to the things that you've been considering, not just just now, but all the way through, ask yourself, Where do I personally fit into the scheme of things here? Because if I listen to what you're telling me, Alistair, it goes something like this. That God is a self-existent God. From all eternity he is everlasting. He is pure, he is holy, he is just, he is love. And this God exists apart from man and doesn't need any of us. So God is altogether distinct from us, inasmuch as we need everyone and we need others. But God within the communion of Father, Son, and Spirit, one God, coequal, coeternal, distinct in persona, same in substance, that this God exists in and of himself. He's in need of nothing and in need of no one.
How are you, we might ask? And his answer would be, if we might say so reverently, Absolutely fine, thank you very much. Then the question ought to be, Well, God, what are you doing here in Bethlehem? Lord Jesus, what are you doing here upon this cross?
And what is the answer to that? It is that God in all of his holiness cannot bear to look on sin, cannot be indifferent to sin. And there from eternity he purposes to send someone to be the sin-bearer, so that sin will be punished and justice will be fulfilled and righteousness will be extended to those who believe.
And God in the immensity of his being determines that Christ will fulfill this objective. In his love, which is unlimited, he looks and he sees our guilt. He looks from heaven and he sees our humanity and our misery. He sees our unhappiness and our wretchedness. He sees the state of the world this morning as it is in the results of sin. And that's why Jesus is born. That's why he's born.
Love was when God became a man, at least expressed. In one of the carols that we've been singing all week long— I can't remember which one it is— but it has the two lines up against one another, thus to come from highest bliss down to such a world as this. I mean, we don't even really like it here, do we? This is not a great place. It's okay, but it sure isn't perfect.
So why would a perfect God leave perfection to come to imperfection? Oh, just to show us to be nice, just to eat cashew nuts and have a time of goodwill. How pathetic is that? Who would live for such a story? Who would preach that message? Who would die for that, you know?
Who would commit their life to that? I wouldn't have the gall to ask anybody to make a commitment to that kind of God. But a God who would come and invade time because he sees our wretchedness and our need, and he says, I love you with an everlasting love, and I want you to find all of your comforts in me, and I want you to find all of your joys in me.
My song is love unknown, says the hymn writer, my Savior's love to me, love to the loveless shown that I might lovely be. You see, this message is not to the glory of man, it's to the glory of God. I really detest the kind of preaching that starts off with, You know you're a wonderful group of people, and I want you to know how wonderful you are, and that you'll know how wonderful you are, because here is Jesus, and he came to see you because you're such a wonderful group of people.
Therefore, just pull your shoulders back and get on with your life. That is all to deify man and to denigrate God. The message of the gospel is to the glory of God, that he who needs nobody wants to have a relationship with you. That he who is in total perfection is prepared to make a friend of sinners. Now, do you feel smart, smug, proud, or humbled? He gives grace to the humble, and he resists the proud.
So you sit there, or I stand here, we say, you know, I really deserve this. Oh, I can see why. I can see why this is working out. After all, you know, I may not be the best, but I'm a cut above most, and I know why it is that he would include me in the group. If he's got a group, as it appears to be here, I can see why I'm in it. After all, I've been in most sports teams, and I did quite well in my fraternity house, and I've done pretty well in business as well. I'm not surprised if I'm in this group at all.
I can pretty well guarantee you, you're not. Because he sends the rich away empty, and he brings the proud down from their thrones. And those who say they are full and in need of nothing go away totally hungry. But the individual who is prepared to say, you know, as I think about this story of a God who came from heaven to fulfill a plan from all of eternity that includes my name in it, I can do nothing other than just thank him at the bottom of my heart and say, I want to love you, and I want to live for you. Do you love God, and do you live for him? Have you ever actually said that?
Have you ever come to that place in your life? Don't stumble over the doctrine of election here. It's not a bomb for people to drop. It's not a banner to be waved. It's a bastion for the souls of those who believe. It is a security to us. It is a reminder to us of the immensity of God's grace. For look at verse 37. All that the Father gives me will come to me. And whoever comes to me, I will never drive away.
I will never drive away. So don't sit there and say, well, I don't know if I'm part of the group that's supposed to come to him. None—none—are ever shut out from the mercy of God, save those who shut themselves out through unbelief. There is no possibility—there is no possibility— that Christ will not receive some who desire to receive him.
God gives men what they choose, not the opposite of what they choose. You see, faith is not ultimately a condition of salvation. Faith is really an evidence of salvation. For the very faith by which we believe is a gift from God himself.
Therefore, the question is, not how much faith do I have, but is my faith placed away from myself and in Christ? Not whether I am able to stride out with great confidence towards him, but even if I come on bended knee or on my hands and knees, not if I'm able to grasp a clear picture of him, but if at least I'm able to look to him, for everyone who looks to him, everyone who comes to him, he will never drive away. Where did Jesus come from? Well, he came from above. He came from heaven. Why did he come? He came to do the Father's will. What's the Father's will? That he would lose none of those that he had given his Son. Well, does that mean, then, that my confidence has to do with a doctrine?
No. Because we're not called to look to a doctrine to be saved. We're called to look to Christ and be saved.
The Christ who said, and whoever comes to me, I'll never drive them away. Which is really quite remarkable, when you think how many applications we've made for things and got one of those letters back. Sorry, no can do. Sorry, no entry. Sorry, not smart enough. Sorry, not rich enough.
Sorry, not popular enough. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. We understand that. What kind of society is this that is for the poor, the wretched, the lonely, the sinful, the screwed up, the messed up?
You say, I don't want to be in that society because I am none of the above. Your condition is graver than you understand, sir. All the love that drew salvation's plan. All the grace that brought it down to man. All the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary. What an incredible encouragement to know that our holy God, who needs nothing and no one, wants a relationship with you and me.
Have you received him? I'm listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life Weekend. The more we learn about the immensity of God's love and grace, the more we want to tell others about Jesus and about the good news of the gospel. And that's our mission at Truth for Life, to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance every single day throughout the world. We trust God to work through the teaching you hear on this program to convert unbelievers into faithful followers of the Lord Jesus and to strengthen the faith of established believers. Our prayer is that pastors will be encouraged to preach only the Bible, and as a result, local churches will grow. In addition to teaching from the Bible, we also carefully select books to help you grow in your faith. And the book Every Moment Holy will help you become more aware of God's presence in your life, not just in the big events of life, but throughout your day-to-day routine. You can find out more about the book Every Moment Holy when you visit our website, truthforlife.org.
Of course, our offices are closed today. Our team is enjoying Christmas with their loved ones and their family. Here's Alistair. Hello, this is Alistair Begg from Truth for Life, and on behalf of all of us here at Truth for Life, we wish you a joyful and blessed Christmas as we celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus. Indeed, we pray that this Christmas season is a blessed time for you and your family.
I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening today. So much has changed since Jesus walked the earth. How are we supposed to stay strong in our faith when everything around us seems to be in chaos and confusion? Hear the answer when you join us for a special message next weekend. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
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