Tom: We are continuing with the gospel, and we are in the Gospel of John, chapter 13, and we are going to start with verse 16. This is Jesus speaking; He says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
Dave: Hmmm. That’s part of our problem, isn’t it, Tom? We know what we ought to do.
Tom: We know a lot of things, but do we do them?
Dave: Put it into practice.
Tom: Goes back to what we said, Dave. Maybe you want to pick up on that a little bit more. What I wanted to know was, you mentioned people are tempted—they just don’t grit their teeth and go after it. My concern here was falling into legalism: “I’ve got to do this, and I’ve got to do that. Yes, I’m saved, and I believe I’m going to be in heaven with the Lord, but I have these rules and regulations.” Having begun in the Spirit, I am now trying to perfect myself in the flesh.
Dave: There is a balance that we need. There are some people who go so far into freedom that they become libertarians, you know—“Well, I can do whatever I want.” Of course Paul addresses that.
Tom: Many verses throughout the Scriptures won’t allow that.
Dave: But there is a balance—now this touches on Calvinism as well. To the Calvinist, God does everything. We can’t even sin—God causes sin. And Calvin taught this, and they all teach it.
Tom: Dave, it goes to the other end of the spectrum because to recognize that you are one of the elect, you have to begin to look at what you have done, isn’t that true?
Dave: Well, the only way you can really be confident that you are one of the elect, according to the Calvinist, is if you live a good enough life.
Tom: That’s what I am talking about.
Dave: Yeah. Now, of course John Calvin says if you were baptized as a baby, then that’s proof you are one of the elect. Or if you were a child of one of the elect then you are one of the elect. But anyway, we don’t want to get into that. But…
Tom: But it has to be with looking to works, that’s my point, Dave.
Tom: And if you’re looking to works, the chances of falling into a legalism, a law-oriented perspective….
Tom: So you have to have it.
Dave: So that tells us that when we are doing good works, we are not working for our salvation; we are saved by grace through faith, not of works, okay? “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that works in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” So this isn’t something that I can do on my own. I have to recognize the Spirit of God is at work in me. Christ is at work in me.
Tom: You’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption. You’re the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Dave: Right, but I don’t just sit on a pink miracle cloud and sing hymns, you know, and away we go, and God does everything. I have to work out the salvation that He has given me. In fact, right there in Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8 through 10, where it says, “By grace are you saved through faith; not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” That’s our salvation. ”For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” So, the new life that I have in Christ is a life of good works. We read it in Galatians:5:22: “The fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering,” and so forth, okay? But there is a responsibility on my part. I am to work it out; I am to do it.
Tom: It doesn’t say, ”the gift of the Spirit”; it’s “the fruit of the Spirit.” It’s like a garden—you’ve got to nurture it, you’ve got to water it, it has to grow.
Dave: Absolutely. And Paul gives it to us again in Colossians:1:29—you know I don’t remember these verses, Tom, but I think it’s verse 29. It’s right there at the end of the chapter. He says, “Whereunto I also labor, striving…”—he’s giving it everything he’s got—“striving according to his working, that worketh in me mightily.”
So now, this is something new. The law was given to be our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. We can’t keep it, and the person under the law does not have Christ living in him and doing it for him. But now, the Christian is born again of the Spirit of God, as you said, sealed by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of promise unto the day of redemption, and now Christ is at work within us. So what I need to do is allow Him to have His way, know His Word, understand His will, commune with Him in prayer. And then, I give everything I’ve got to do my part—not for my salvation but working out the good works of salvation that God has given me.
Tom: Right. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.”
Dave: So, getting back to verse 17: “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” And if I know it, “To him that knoweth to do good,” the scripture says, “and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
So, if I know that I ought to be doing this, and I don’t do it, Tom, I get a terrible guilty conscience. Like somebody who knows he ought to get out of bed, but he just keeps lying there. Well, He says “The servant isn’t greater than his Lord, and I came not to be ministered unto but to minister.” And if you want to be the chief, you want to be the big shot, then make yourself the servant of everyone. This was the example that Jesus gave and Peter, in 1 Peter, chapter 2, says, “He left us an example that we should follow in his steps, who did no sin; neither was guile found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he reviled not again but committed himself to him that judges righteously.”
Tom: Dave, I think about many of the verses in Scripture that admonish us to do certain things, encourage us, exhort us, all the way down the line. Then I think about people that say, “Well, if you receive salvation, and it’s by faith and it’s a gift and you believe you are eternally saved, then there is nothing for you to do.” I’m thinking, “How could anybody say that?” Well, they can say it if they don’t read the Scriptures, but verse after verse after verse is a great encouragement. And, as you said, if you’re going to be the servant of all, then there’s a lot to do.
Dave: There is. We need…I guess the problem in many churches, they are all chiefs and no Indians. Well, not really, but, Tom, I can tell you—I’ve been in a few churches and, not attended every one, but those that I visited and we find the same thing everywhere. There are a few people who carry the load, a few people who are willing to visit the sick, a few people who are willing to sweep the floor, or whatever it is, and make themselves servants, and most of the people don’t do it.
Like prayer meetings, generally, there are not too many people who show up for the prayer meeting. They are there Sunday morning…well, Tom, we had better move on. He says, John:13:18, “I speak not of you all because all of you are not mine. I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture…”—and that’s interesting, because he’s talking about Judas, and back in chapter 6:, he says, “Have not I chosen you all, but one of you is a devil?” So here He says, “I know whom I have chosen.” I think He is going beyond that now. He knows who will betray Him… “but that the scripture may be fulfilled, he that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.”
And Tom, this is a powerful verse, John:13:19, “Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come to pass, you may believe that I am…” and “he” is in italics, and that would take us back to Isaiah:46:9,10, where God says, “I am God, there is none else; none like me, that created the heavens and the earth, and I tell you what will happen before it happens, so that when it does, you will have to acknowledge I am God.” And Jesus is claiming that He is this one! He says, “I tell you what will happen before it happens, so that when it happens you will have to acknowledge, you will believe, that I am.” And that, of course, is God’s name from the Old Testament, Yahweh: I AM that I AM. Powerful scriptures, powerful confirmation, that Jesus is claiming that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Tom: Yeah, and Dave, another small point here. Jesus knows the future because He is God. It’s interesting that false things such as astrology and fortune telling and all of that, they are all to undermine that only God can do this.