Tom: We’re continuing with the Gospel, and we’re in the Gospel of John 15. We’re about to head into 16, Dave. But last week we got to John:15:27, and you wanted to come back to it. So let me read that verse: “And ye also shall bear witness because ye have been with me from the beginning.” Jesus addressing His disciples here.
Dave: Yeah, He says He’s going to send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. And He’s going to guide them, and they will be His witnesses. This is a very important verse, Tom. We know that they died—all of the apostles, with the possible exception of John, died as martyrs. And you remember in 1 Corinthians:4:9-10, Paul said, “We apostles are the last appointed unto death.” Now what would He mean by that? “It is appointed unto men once to die.” But there is an exception to that, because we don’t have to die. Those who are alive at the Rapture will be caught up without dying, okay?
But Paul was saying, “We apostles have to die. We’re the last ones who have to die.” In other words, he did not expect to be taken in the Rapture, right? In fact he said, “After my departing, grievous wolves will enter in. I am now ready to be offered…”, and so forth. “I’ve fought a good fight, I’ve finished my course,” etc.
Peter, in his second epistle chapter 1 says, “I will endeavor that after my decease all these things will come to your remembrance.” So Peter knew he wouldn’t depart in the Rapture either. He had to die. Why did they have to die?
Well, big difference between the martyrdom and the apostles and the martyrdom of, say, a suicide bomber today. There are all kinds of people who are willing—who have been willing, down through history, to die for a cause, die out of loyalty to their guru, their “god,” whatever god they believed in. And they’re willing to sacrifice their lives for this.
Tom: Because they believe it’s the truth.
Dave: Yeah, they do. They believe it’s the truth. Although some of them have no basis for believing it’s the truth, but at least many of them, it’s fanaticism. And others, Tom…
Tom: But my point is, Dave, and I think you’re going this way, they didn’t know it was a lie, and still…
Dave: But others, as with the suicide bombers, they do it because that is the only way, the only sure way, to get into Paradise—to die as a martyr in jihad, okay? Now what was the motivation of the apostles that Jesus said, “You will bear witness because you’ve been with me from the beginning”? They went to their deaths, dying as martyrs—killed, in other words—testifying to facts and not one of them said, “Hey, guys! Don’t kill me! I’ll tell you the truth. We stole his body; we hid it in Peter’s basement. I mean it’s a whole…just a lie! We made the whole thing up. Please don’t kill me.” Not one of them! And no one is fool enough to die for what he knows is a lie.
Now these people you were talking about who died believing that it was the truth, they didn’t die because they testified to the truth. For example, the Romans—I mean, they had all kinds of gods; the Greeks had all kinds of gods. They would have never killed the early Christians if the Christians had said, “Well, Jesus is just another one.” You know, if they were ecumenical. “Let’s dialogue. We’ll get along. You worship your gods; but this is okay. We can all get along together.”
It was because they said, “Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, the life, no man comes to the Father but by me,” okay? That was why they were killed. Because they testified to Him as the true God and the only way. And they backed that up: “We have seen Him. He rose from the dead. We know He’s alive. We saw Him raise the dead. We saw Him walk on water. We saw Him feed 5,000 people with a few loaves and fishes,” and so forth. “We cannot deny this. You can kill us if you wish, but this is the truth.” Okay?
So, as opposed to just believing that something is the truth, or just being loyal to your guru or leader or whatever, they were actively testifying to facts—facts that were in conflict with the beliefs of the Romans and of the Jews. And it was because of their testimony to the facts that they were killed. And we know no one is fool enough to die for what he knows is a lie. So we have a very powerful witness to the facts of what the New Testament tells us about Jesus Christ.
Tom: Dave, that’s a terrific point, because some people say, “Well, here they are. They’re the apostles. These of all people should be the most successful, the most prosperous…yet…what kind of God is this that would allow His apostles—the apostles of Jesus Christ—to go through all of this and suffer this kind of death?”
And the point you’re making is this is a testimony…
Dave: Exactly, it’s proof…
Tom: …to the truth of what God’s Word says…
Dave: And it’s proof. Now let me make another contrast with Islam. Muhammad was poisoned by a woman whose husband he had killed. She got her revenge. Now that’s well established in Islamic history.
Jesus Christ said, “No man takes my life from me. I lay it down of myself.” And He didn’t just “ahhhhh…” expire, you know. He cried in triumph: “It is finished! Father into thy hands I commit my spirit.” Okay?
The disciples were martyred for their faith by enemies of Christ. Three of the four Caliphs. They call them the “rightly guided Caliphs” who succeeded Muhammad—three out of four were killed—testifying to the facts, to the truth? No! They were killed by other Muslims!
Dave: They…some of them were relatives…they began to kill one another. So when you’ve got three out of the first four—these are the “Rightly Guided Caliphs”—who are killed by other Muslims, this is a big contrast to the apostles, who died at the hands of enemies testifying to the truth.
And these witnesses, well, they were…they’re very important. The church, the Bible says, is built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And of course the prophets foretold.
You know, we’ve been talking in the earlier segment about the prophecies concerning Israel, and this is the great proof God offers of His existence and that the Bible is His Word. You can’t escape it. What was foretold is come to pass. But we have hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah, and Jesus Christ fulfilled them all. And the apostles would say, “Look, let’s read what your own Hebrew prophets have said. They laid it out so you could not be mistaken. You wouldn’t accept some false Christ. You would know who the true Christ is. He told you when He would come and everything about it. And Jesus Christ, in His life, death, and resurrection has fulfilled all of these prophecies.”
And that was the basic message, and that was how they preached the gospel. It says Paul, Acts:17:2: “As his manner was…”
And, Tom, I just keep trying to tell people, “We need to get back to this foundation of the gospel in our presentation to people today.”
Tom: Right. Dave, the first verse of chapter 16: “These things have I spoken unto you that you should not be offended.” Doesn’t that mean “surprised,” really?
Dave: Well, yeah, they would be…
Tom: In other words, this was going to take place, and the reason I’m moving in that direction is because just as I said earlier, we have expectations, worldly expectations, that, “Oh, hey, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Well, people take that verse, and they forget about what goes with it. Paul knew how to be both abased and abound.
Dave: That was written by Paul when he was in prison.
Tom: Right! So the point that you’re making is that our purpose here is to glorify God, to be used of Him in whatever way He chooses, and it’s going to be the best for us even though our worldly mindset sometimes looks at it and says, “Oh, no, no. This can’t be of God because things aren’t working out the way I think they ought to work out.”
Dave: Well, he explains what he means by “offended.” He says in the next verse: “They shall put you out of the synagogues, yea the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” And I don’t have a fixation on Islam, but, Tom, the Jews who killed them thought they were doing God service. The Romans, they didn’t have one god, so that couldn’t have been the one. Now he says, “Whosoever killeth you…” Well, the Muslims, when they kill Jews and Christians, they think they’re doing Allah service. But I think it goes beyond that, because there are a lot of people who aren’t Muslims. “Whosoever killeth you…” I think that brings this under the antichrist, who will claim to be God, sit in the temple of God, and who will pronounce the death penalty upon all who will not worship his image.
So I believe Jesus was looking forward to that. But at the beginning, they could go into the synagogue. Acts 17, here they are, Paul and Barnabus, and they say, “Oh well, some strangers! You look like you—you know, you’re knowledgeable Jews. Do you have anything to tell us?” And they would tell them, and get thrown out! The day came when they didn’t even allow them to get into the synagogue.
Tom: And again, the synagogue in Berea—they came upon some Jews who were noble-minded, fair-minded. They listened to what the Apostle Paul had to say and then they searched the Scriptures to see whether or not they were so.
Dave: And that’s where our ministry, The Berean Call, gets its name. Tom, you’re the guy that came up with that name way back when… well, praise the Lord.
Tom: Well, Dave, we’re out of time, but we’re going to pick up with…we’ll go back over verse, oh, we’ll start again with John:16:1.