Christ Empowered Ministry John 21:1-6

Text:  “Abide in Me (Christ Jesus), and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me…without Me ye can do nothing.

John 15:4-5.

Good morning, Christ-abiding Christian!  Your service and ministry to the Lord is a most fruitful one; you want for nothing in Spiritual power; in Scriptural knowledge; in sharp Spiritual discernment; and in perfect peace.  What is your secret?  The secret of a powerful, vibrant, and successful Christian ministry is to be at all times seeking to ‘abide’ in Christ’s Presence.

“Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy Presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  (Psalm 16:11)

“Then he (an angel of God) answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might (human endeavour, will, or strength), nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”  (Zechariah 4:6)

Today’s Bible reading in our Journey in John’s Gospel clearly teaches us the principle of always seeking to have a Christ-empowered ministry for the Lord.  If we seek to glorify the Christ, we shall have all the power we require to do so.  Without the Christ, we can do nothing for the Christ.  Praise His Name!

Natural Fishing:  Fishing for fish is said to be fun - I cannot comment, since I have little experience in fishing for fish.  It is no doubt a very relaxing sport; or an activity that can bring in a catch by human, or natural, endeavour.  It can sustain natural life by supplying the fisherman and his family with necessary food.  But natural fishing can do nothing for the soul!

Supernatural Fishing:  Fishing for souls, on the other hand, is a Supernatural activity, undertaken only by those God has chosen to be ‘…fishers of men…’ in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Without God’s Supernatural guidance, empowerment, and will - you and I could do absolutely nothing to win a soul for Christ.  God’s Spirit alone can empower us for such Supernatural fishing.

“And Jesus said unto them (His chosen disciples), Come ye after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”  (Mark 1:17)

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)

Today’s Bible reading clearly depicts this concept of the Supernatural power required when a believer goes ‘fishing for souls’ in Christ’s service.  Heed it well, Christian.

The recently resurrected Christ Jesus appears unto a number of His disciples as they were together, making decisions as to what activity they would pursue that day.  Big Simon Peter, always the impulsive one, decided he would ‘…go a fishing…’.  But he had his mind focused on mere fishing for fish, and the Lord came unto him to remind him of his Spiritual priorities.

The Lord taught His lesson in a most practical manner, and, when we latter day Christians get the opportunity, so should we.

The Lord let them fish for fish all night - without any success - before He appeared on the shore to reveal unto them His way of doing things.

He first questioned them with the vital question: "Children, have ye any meat?  They answered Him, No..." (V.5) Their human endeavours throughout the entire night had brought them in nothing.  They must have been sorely disappointed.

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with Mine eye.”  (Psalm 34:8)

Image the disciple’s annoyance when this voice on the shore directed them to “…Cast in thy net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.” (V.6) However, with nothing to lose for an extra effort, “They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.”  (V.6)

Christ’s directions are always totally correct.  Without the Lord God we can do nothing good, nothing positive, nothing Spiritually to win souls or glorify the risen Christ. 

On the other hand, with Christ, we can do ALL things.  (Philippians 4:13)

Thought:  Let us seek Christ’s Supernatural direction and power when we fish for precious souls for His Kingdom.  The Lord be with you, beloved in Him.

The Purpose of John’s Gospel Account John 20:30-31

Text:  “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His Name.”

John 20:31.

Good morning, Gospel-believing Christian!  God’s Eternal purpose, in the inspiration of John’s account of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is clearly evidenced in our text for today - "…that ye (all who would receive faith to believe and receive Salvation through Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross, as Divinely chosen to do so by God) might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His Name."  (John 20:31)

Our truly gracious Lord God provided His dear and sinless Son, Jesus Christ, to be a once-for-all-time Sacrificial Lamb, to suffer on the Cross, in order to pay the terrible penalty for your sins and for mine, and to grant us His forgiveness and Eternal life. 

“For the life of the flesh is in the Blood; and I (God the Father) have given it to you upon the altar (the Cross at Calvary) to make an atonement (at-one-ment between a Holy God and sinful mankind) for your souls; for it is the Blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”  (Leviticus 17:11)

The apostle John was then inspired by God the Spirit to faithfully record in a written account the events of Christ’s birth, life, and atonement Sacrifice that  he had witnessed with his own eyes .  The purpose of John’s Gospel account, therefore, is clearly understood: it was written down as a faithful record that all sinners who would later read the Gospel account would - by God’s free grace and Divine election - receive the necessary faith to fully believe, repent from our sins; and be Eternally saved.  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour Lord!

The epistles (letters) later written by the apostle John to the early church believers, clearly reaffirm the purpose of his initial writing of his Gospel account.

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us Eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He that hath the Son (Jesus Christ) hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.  These things have I written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have Eternal life, and that ye may believe on the Name of the Son of God.”  (1 John 5:11-13)

These things were written by the eye-witness apostle John, not that we might feel that we have Eternal life; not that we might hope that we have Eternal life; not that we might guess, or desire, or wish for Eternal life.  But that we might KNOW that we have this Eternal life through Jesus Christ our Saviour and our Lord!  Glory…glory…glory! 

We are completely certain and sure that we have Eternal life - IF we fully believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He suffered, died, and arose again in order to pay the penalty for our gross sins and grant us life Eternal.  Now, that’s the Gospel truth! 

“And ye shall know the TRUTH, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

“Jesus saith unto him (Thomas), I am the way the TRUTH, and the life; no man/woman cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”  (John 14:6)

“Sanctify them (true believers) through Thy Truth; Thy Word is Truth.”   (John 17:17)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we (the Gospel writers) beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”    (John 1:1;14)

“And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in Blood; and His Name is called The Word of God.”  (Revelation 19:13)

I truly believe that, in some deeply Spiritual manner, Jesus is the literal Word of God; the literal Truth of God, sent to us by God the Father - in order to be born of the Spirit of God in a sinless incarnation of God; to live a totally sinless life; to suffer and to die as a Sacrifice for our sins; and to rise again to Justify us in the sight of our truly Holy and Heavenly Father who cannot abide sin in any form.

Therefore, the purpose of the Gospel accounts are open and clear:  these are God-breathed records, inspired by God the Spirit and written by men; that we might believe God’s Word, believe in God’s Word - Jesus Christ - and be gloriously redeemed by Him for Eternity.  Now, that’s Divinely inspired truth.  Bless the Lord, oh my soul!  Praise be to the Name of King Jesus!

Thought: “If the Son (Christ Jesus) therefore (a conclusion) shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  (John 8:36)  You are free - stay free from sin!

‘Doubting Thomas’ Or Brave Thomas? John 20:24-28

Text: “Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus (or Twin), unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, (to Judaea), that we may die with Him.“

John 11:16.

Good morning, twin-natured Christian! When you and I were born naturally, we had only one true nature, the natural fallen sin-prone nature we received from our naturally sinful parents.

“And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years (after his fall into sin by disobedience), and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.” (Genesis 5:3)

“Behold (look!), I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5)

However, in God’s perfect will and timing, He quickened us "…Who were dead in trespasses and sins…"; we heard His Word; received faith as a free gift of God’s grace (unmerited favour); and were Spiritually regenerated, born again, into God’s Family. Praise God for His matchless grace!

Now we have TWO NATURES - the old incurably sinful nature, and the new incurably righteous nature born from Above. We are TWIN-NATURED, ‘…a peculiar people…’ indeed.

“And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins…even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;). (Ephesians 2:1-5)

“But ye (born again) are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an Holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. Which in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

The disciple Thomas has been derogatorily labelled throughout the years as ‘Doubting Thomas’ - due to the doubt he manifested in John’s Gospel account, featured as our Bible Reading above. But Thomas was more than this, Thomas, like ourselves, had a better, Spiritually quickened, nature too!  A nature, born from Above, that was courageous and selfless indeed.

The apostle Thomas has been labelled ‘Doubting Thomas’ down through the centuries due to the doubt he manifested before the other disciples who were actually cowering in the upper room, during the forty days that followed the Lord’s Crucifixion.

Thomas was not present with the others when the Resurrected Christ first appeared unto them - and he forthrightly expressed his disbelief in such a miraculous happening.

Is Thomas any different from you and I? Do not we also doubt the power of God to change circumstances in our lives daily? Of course we do! And. The rest of the disciples have not been derogatorily labelled as ‘Frightened Andrew’, or ‘Terrified Philip’, or ‘Scaredy-cat Peter’!

These early followers of Jesus were all just like you and me - ‘disgustingly normal Christians’. “…there is no difference…all have come short…” of God’s perfect Standard. The Lord Jesus is the only absolutely perfect Person.

Each follower of Jesus, as we have noted previously, still possessed an old human nature, as well as the new, Spirit-born, nature regenerated by God. Thus, they were all naturally frightened - after all, they, too, were now living under a Jewish and Roman ’death-threat’! You and I would be frightened too!

Yet, just look at the courage Thomas manifested in our text for today. When The Lord Jesus said, “…Let us go unto him (Lazarus, in dangerous Judaea).” Thomas, without hesitation, “…said unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (John 11:16) Wow! Now, that’s courage!

No, dear Christian friend, Thomas had at least two sides to him, as you and I latter-day followers of Christ have also.  At times we can show great doubt and fear and anxieties. However, at other times we can also show tremendous courage, resilience, and fortitude - as we seek to live close to the Lord God and walk in His light.  Is this not an observable fact?

“The Lord is my light and my Salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid. When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise up against me, in this will I be confident.” (Psalm 27:1-3)

Let us consider this other, less well known, side of the disciple Thomas, and with Scriptural wisdom gained - let us treat each other in a fairer, more just and equal manner. The Lord loves unity in His twin-natured followers.

Thought: Which nature will YOU and I manifest today - old or new?

The Breath of Christ John 20:22-23

Text: And when He (the risen Jesus) had said this, He breathed on them (His disciples) and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

John 20:22. 

Good morning, Spirit-filled Christian!  Faith is the key to your being Spirit-filled; for faith looks with the eyes of the Spirit, and the Spirit of God fills the obedient seeker with that full measure of faith.  Are you and I thus filled today?

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and Spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for ALL things unto God and the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 5:18-20)

Theres no stopping us IF we are filled with the Spirit in this manner!

The verses of our Journey in Johns Gospel for today have caused many deep debates since the Lord Jesus spoke them. Many are the interpretations of these two small verses of Scripture.  Many also are the erroneous doctrines that have been formed by religious legalists through a wrong view of Christs spoken words.  Spirit-filled Christian, beware of false doctrine!

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.  (2 John 9-10)

The same beloved disciple John who spoke these serious words in his Second Epistle, recorded the two verse Bible reading selected this morning from his wonderful Gospel account.  John knew the Eternal curse of false doctrines.

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.  This is a deceiver and an anti-Christ.  (2 John 7)

Roman Catholicism, for example, has misused John chapter 20:, verses 22-23 to teach the lie that Roman Catholic popes and priests have been given the authority to forgive (absolve) an individuals sins!  They call it St Peters Keys of Heaven   This is gross error!  Flee from it, Christian friend!

Even a plain and cursory reading of the Scriptures will immediately ascertain the fact that God alone can forgive sins.  Even the hated Scribes of the day knew this much!

But there were certain of the Scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins but God only?        (Mark 2:6-7)

From their own mouths, these Scribes are judged.  They knew not Jesus as the Son of God - God the Son - Whom, alone, has the power to forgive sin.

It is also notable what the Lord Jesus here says on the doctrine of receiving the Holy Ghost…’ - And when He (Christ) had said this, He breathed on them (His disciples), and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost…”

This teaches us the wisdom that the Spirit of God, or the Holy Ghost, is imparted unto all who might be granted faith to believe in Christ Jesus; repent from our sins; and be willing to be sent out to serve the risen Lord.

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you; as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I youreceive ye the Holy Ghost…”  (Vs. 21-22)

We Bible-believing Christians teach the truth that ‘…all Scripture is given by inspiration of God…”  (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

By this we realise that all 66 Books of canonically recognized (KJV) Scripture is God-breathed and, by Gods grace, is God-breathed into all those elected by Him to be saved!  We cannot receive Spiritual life unless the Lord God Himself breathes, or inspires His Word into us and, of course, grants us faith by that Word!

Dictionary definition:  (verb t) Inspire - to breath in or blow in (air etc.); to draw or inhale into the lungs; to infuse into (the mind), especially with an encouraging or exalting influence; (of Divine influence) to instruct, guideto bring about; to animate or quicken with life.  (The Chambers Dictionary page 832)

Just as God breathed His breath into Adam and gave him life; Gods Word breathes faith into us; we believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we receive Life Eternal in Him.  

Wow!  Breathe upon us, oh Lord, our Living God!

Thought:  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)  God Divinely breathes His Spirit into us, by His Word.  Gods Word, Jesus Christ, came to give us Eternal life.  Glory to His gracious Name!