Why would anyone want to be a Christian? Christians are despised by the world. Christians are persecuted and ridiculed. If you don’t believe that is true just live like a Christian and see what happens. It’s okay for you to be religious just don’t be a fanatic about it! A fanatic is defined as someone who loves Christ more than you do.

An old spiritual song says, “Everybody talkn’ bout heaven ain’t goin’ there.”

But millions of people are going to heaven. But they are not going to heaven because they are ‘talkn’ bout’ heaven. They are going to heaven because that is where Jesus Christ is now and where He will be for eternity and they want to be with Him more than they want to be with mama and daddy and wife and husband and children and brother and sisters.

By the gift of faith, they have believed the Gospel and they have repented and they are repenting and they have the “blessed hope” which is Christ Jesus the Lord and the only Savior.

The difference between those lost religious people, who are on the broad road that leads to destruction, and Christians is that they have, by faith, believed objective truth!

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

John 1:14
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. J

John 20:30-31
30.And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;
31. but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

What I want to talk to you about for these next messages from John’s Gospel is the person of Jesus Christ and what the Scriptures tell us about Him. All you will ever know about Jesus that is true will be found in the Word of God. Extra-biblical fiction may lead you to believe things about Christ that are hurtful to your soul and dishonoring to Christ Himself.

The job of a faithful preacher of the Gospel is to teach and to preach the Word of God. We live in a time that Paul warned Timothy about.

In February I taught a Bible study on 1 & 2 Timothy and was reminded of the importance of correct doctrine. It is popular today for many preachers to disparage doctrine. What is important to them is that you feel good and above all you must never be confronted with sin and guilt. Listen to Paul:

2 Timothy 4:1-5
1. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
2. Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4. and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
5. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

The reason that the vast majority of professing Christians are so easily led astray by every wind of doctrine, by every new thing that is presented as “truth”, is because they have not been taught correct doctrine by their pastors.

The reason that I preached through Romans was because it is the clearest statement of the Gospel in the Bible. Peter said that Paul wrote some things that were hard to understand. Note that Peter did not say these things could not be understood but that you needed to make some effort to understand them. Paul, et al, wrote about the wrath of God, the doctrine of election, predestination: Doctrines without which the love of God has no meaning!

So in Romans Paul gives us a compendium of Bible doctrine and the guidebook on how to live the life of a Christian.  Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, at the end of his letter to the church, warns believers about contrary doctrine.

Romans 16:17-18
17. Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
18.  For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

If what you hear preached as the Gospel is not according to the doctrinal platform in Romans it is a false gospel! There is no Scriptural basis for professing faith in Jesus as Savior apart from the knowledge of sin and guilt and the wrath of God.

After the book of Romans, my next series was on Jonah because Jesus Himself made Jonah, perhaps, the most significant prophet in the OT.

Long before I finished Jonah, I struggled to decide what would best serve the church in our day. In a day when there is so much error and extra-biblical content being offered to the multitudes, what is needed?

That brings me to the study of John’s Gospel.

This is the beginning of a series of studies in which I hope to work through the Gospel of John.  I do not have a schedule nor do I know how long this series will take. What I plan to do is to take major sections of John’s Gospel and examine its teachings about the person of Christ.

John is a foundational Book of the Bible.  All Scripture is God-breathed, but there are certain parts of the Bible that are more direct at teaching us basic truth.  Whenever I have the opportunity to advise someone on how to read the Bible, I suggest that they start with the Gospel of John.  Why John?  Because John wrote this Book late in the first century to correct false teaching about the person of Jesus of Nazareth. 

John stated his purpose in Chapter 20:31.

“...but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

A person may read John’s Gospel and still not believe that Jesus of Nazareth is very God.  But no one can read John’s Gospel and honestly claim that John’s Gospel does not teach that Jesus is God!

And this is the fatal error of most of the cults and postmodern pluralism: they do not know that Jesus is God!

Not too long ago I had a discussion with a lady that included the subject of pluralism. Pluralism is the belief that all religions are equally valid. In other words, Christianity is just one option among many ways to get to God.

When I quoted what Jesus said about Himself:

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6

Her response was, “But who wrote that?” I answered, “The apostle John.” Then she said, “Well, that is just what John thought.”

So it all comes down to the authority of the Scripture. Is this God’s Word?

That is what we preach here and that is all that will really matter in the end.

In this first message I want to introduce you to the man the Holy Spirit used to write this Gospel, the apostle John who is your brother.

Much of this message is taken from the writings of Charles D. Alexander, a forgotten man who had more insight into the Word of God than almost anyone that I know. Mr. Charles D. Alexander was the pastor of Norris Green Mission Church, Liverpool, England and he preached in the United States in the 1960’s. I had the privilege of hearing him several times and on two occasions had brief meetings with him and some other pastors.

Mr. Alexander had no seminary training. He went to the same ‘seminary,’ as did John Bunyan and Charles Spurgeon, which is none at all. All he had was years of Bible study. He did learn Hebrew and Greek. Mr. Alexander was a humble Baptist preacher who went against the fads in religion that were popular fifty or more years ago. I can only imagine what he would think of popular Christianity in our day.

I have tried to collect Mr. Alexander’s writings but they were never published in any organized way. In my opinion his expositions are unique but irrefutable.

Let me give you one example of the uniqueness of his expositions. He preached a sermon that he called the “Concert of the Trinity.”

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46

Every exposition of this verse that I have studied, except Mr. Alexander’s, says that God the Father actually forsook the Son at this time on the cross.

But Mr. Alexander adequately proves the impossibility of the Father forsaking the Son. What is the theme of Mathew’s Gospel? That the Scriptures might be fulfilled!

What Jesus is doing on the cross is quoting Psalm 22, which any Bible student knows is about the crucifixion of the Christ. Jesus quotes the first and the last verse of Psalm 22.

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Psalm 22:1

That He has done this. [It is finished!] Psalm 22:31

The common practice of the rabbis and scribes was to quote a verse of Scripture knowing that those who knew the Word of God would know the entire passage. So Jesus, hanging on the cross, is saying in so many words, “Look on Him who hangs on a tree, here is your Messiah!”

Did not Peter tell those who crucified the Lord,

Acts 2:22-23
22. "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — 
23. Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

The Father did not forsake Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God, and God the Father are in complete agreement in the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God. That is what is occurring on the cross.

Brother Alexander’s burden was for the truth and sufficiency of the Word of God, the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ, and for the edification of the Church.

If you learn anything from today’s message, then praise God for giving a man like Charles Alexander to the Church.

So today, let’s try to learn about our brother, the apostle John.

Revelation 1:9
I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

John Calvin wrote: “ As all of them [the writers of the four gospels] had the same object in view, to point out the Christ, the three former [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] exhibit His body, if we may be permitted to use the expression, but John exhibits His soul.”

John is the first and the last of the apostles and he is the apostle to the church. Peter was sent to the Jews and Paul was sent to the Gentiles, but John is the apostle to the Church. Now, of course, everything that Peter and Paul wrote is for the Church but what I mean is the primarily audience to whom they wrote.

We have the apostle John who gave us this Gospel, which is the proof of the deity of Jesus of Nazareth against the Gnostics and the Arians who deny that God was manifested in the flesh.

John also wrote three letters, 1, 2, and 3 John, that teach us that you certainly can know whether you are Christian or not and warns the church about false teachers who teach false doctrine.

And Jesus gave John and the church the Revelation of Jesus Christ that is the most misunderstood and abused book of the Bible.

The Holy Spirit gave the Revelation to John for the comfort of the Church as she endures persecution.

The religious hucksters have tried to take Revelation away from the Church and tell us that it is for some future time and that it has almost nothing to do with the Church.

Quite simply, the Revelation was given to John so that the Church, which was under severe persecution, would be assured that Jesus is victorious over Satan and no matter what happens to us as believers that God loves us and will finally redeem us from the presence of sin. The Revelation is for the comfort of the Church until the end of this present age.

If the Lord is willing I may teach the Book of Revelation. If you are caught up in the fiction and fantasy of the current series of best selling novels you probably will not appreciate what I will preach. But if you are interested in the teaching and comfort of the Scriptures you will love it!

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, along with Peter were the closest to the Lord, and were blessed to see Jesus glorified on the Mount of Transfiguration.

It was James and John who asked the Lord if they could call down fire from heaven, as did Elijah when their Lord was rejected in a village of Samaria. James and John were called the “sons of thunder.”

James was the first apostle to be martyred. But John outlived all the other apostles and lived to be about 96 years old. John was the unnamed apostle in the first chapter of this gospel along with Andrew who followed Jesus. So John is the first to follow Jesus and is the last apostle to die.

John does not identify himself in his Gospel or in his epistles. John identifies himself in the Revelation as our brother in persecution.

In his other writings he refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved”. This cannot mean that Jesus loved John any more than He loved the other apostles or Lazarus or Martha and Mary or any of His redeemed children. 

John, as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, represents the love that Christ has for the Church. “… Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” 

John is given the last word from God and it has now been 2000 years as we wait in expectation of the return of the Lord Jesus.

John is with the Church in her tribulations. On her behalf he is a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos.

So that is the sense of what Jesus meant when He answered Peter’s question, “Lord, what about this man?”

John 21:22-23
22. Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me." 
23. Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?"

And so John lived long enough to write five books of the Bible for the edification and comfort of the Church.

John was the disciple who laid his head on the Savior’s breast as a symbol of how the Church rests on her Lord. There before them was the bread and the wine of the Last Supper that was about to be given to the church as an ordinance of remembrance of how the Savior would redeem His people.

John is the only gospel that does not record the last supper because he has already recorded in the sixth chapter about the true Bread that comes down from heaven.

John laid his head on the bosom of Christ during that Last Supper because he is the representative of the Church throughout all time. John is our brother and companion in tribulation and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.

We find John at the cross as the representative of the Church. He is the only apostle to be near the Lord at the end.

From John we know what happened in Pilate’s hall. We have the record of the dialog between the Son of Man and the Roman governor who was nearer to the kingdom of God than any of the accusers of Jesus.

The Jews shouted, “He ought to die because He made Himself the Son of God!”

Pilate says, “I find no fault in Him.”

Pilate refused to alter what he had written as the accusation, which was nailed over the head of Jesus on the cross. The plaque read in three languages [Hebrew, Latin, Greek], “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” because in some sense Pilate knew that this was true.

John was the only one of the twelve [now eleven] who was actually at the cross, at the side of the Savior in His suffering for sinners, and who heard and saw what happened there.

John records the third Word from the cross, “Woman, behold thy son!” “Behold thy mother!” Mary is committed into the loving care of John. There is far more here than the temporal care of this poor widow’s welfare.

At this point Mary ceases to have any significance as the mother of the Lord. Mary is “blessed among women” but she is not the “Mother of God” or the “Mother of the Church.” Mary is now in the care of the apostle to whom she must look to for shelter and provision.

It was John who tells us he saw the spear pierce the side of the Redeemer, and the double flow of water and blood, which came out. It was John who understood the prophetic significance of Zechariah.

Zechariah 12:10
"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

Zechariah 13:1
"In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.

This forever silences those who teach that Zechariah is not for the Church but for some future Jewish kingdom.

The NT interprets the OT!

John was in exile on Patmos when he was given the Revelation. The reason that I am referring to the Revelation is because we need to understand how it bears on John’s Gospel. All the writings of John are a unit and must be considered together if we are to have an accurate exposition of the Gospel.

The place to start is the first general persecution of the Church under the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian. So John answers the threat of the eradication of the Church in the Revelation and the error of the denial of the deity of Jesus the Christ in John’s epistles and the Gospel of John.

The answer to both persecution and error is the truth.

The Supremacy, the Sovereignty, the Eternal Nature, the Uncreated Wisdom of Christ, the Word [logos] of the Father, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

We see the position of John as the apostle to the church as we return to:

Revelation 1:9
I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The Kingdom of Christ is the patience of Jesus Christ as the Church goes through tribulation and suffering. The Church is not promised deliverance, from conflict in this life. “But we wait,” says Paul, “for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”

In all his writings John is the Church’s brother and companion in tribulation.

John wrote the Revelation to the seven churches, which are in Asia to give them comfort at that time and to comfort the Church until the return of Christ. The Revelation is not for the Jews in some future kingdom it is for those for whom Christ loved and gave Himself, the Church. Both the Revelation and the Gospel of John are for the church.

As we move through the Gospel of John we should have a sense of awe that the very God who made the universe and for whom there are no surprises loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world to save sinners.

And you know what?

He shall see the travail of His soul and he shall be satisfied! Jesus is Lord and “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”

David running for his life from King Saul; Ezekiel is in exile by River Chebar; Daniel is in Babylon – these all represent the people of God in their trials that we might see through their eyes, hear through their ears, and take comfort in their consolations, that the God who loved them also loves us.

It was necessary for us to go to the Revelation in order to see and better understand the Gospel of John.

In the Revelation, Christ walks in the midst of the seven churches that represent His people, in His eternal glory. In the Gospel He walks in the concealment of that glory, veiled in flesh, yet apprehended in faith.

John 1:14
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

In the Revelation He proclaims: “I am alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” In the Gospel He says to those whose eyes faith has opened, “I that speak to you am He.”

Jesus is the only begotten Son, the Eternal Word, the Uncreated Word and Wisdom of God, the one by Whom all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that was made. He is sovereign over life and death and our times are in His hands.

He is the Fountain of Living Water, He is the One that Moses wrote about, He is the Bread of Life, He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep, He is the True Light of the world, He is the Resurrection and the Life, He is the Savior of sinners and when you have seen Him you have seen the Father.

This is the Jesus we preach as we expound John’s Gospel!


Copyright © 2004 James A. Gunn
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James A. Gunn
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