February 23, 2013

Great Decreasing – Greater Increasing – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:28 am by sranderson0103

“There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.” (John 1:6-7)

Jesus Christ said that John the Baptist was the greatest man who had ever lived up to that time. “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!…” (Matthew 11:11). As great as he was, however, there is a striking contrast between himself and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus described John as “the lamp that was burning and was shining” (John 5:35), but He acknowledged that John was not “the true Light” (1:9).

The two different Greek words chosen by the Holy Spirit to describe these men are both translated “light,” but there is a significant difference. John’s “lamp” (luchnos) is defined by Thayer to mean, “a lamp, candle (?), that is placed on a stand or candlestick…” Compare this to the intrinsic, “true light” (phos). Thayer says, “consisting of light,…of the sun,…(i.e. illumining power)…a heavenly light, such as surrounds angels when they appear on earth:…” This is the “light” John preached. “He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.” (John 1:7-9).

Similarly, John was foreseen by Isaiah as a great “VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS” (v. 23), but Jesus Christ was “the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (v. 1). John’s voice was great but the Word was God.

John “came for a witness” (v. 7), bearing witness to the light and to the truth, but Jesus Christ was Himself incarnate truth (14:6). Some even thought John was the Messiah, but he said, “I am not” (1:20).

The prophet Malachi also prophesied of John four hundred years earlier: “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me.” (Malachi 3:1). John was a messenger on a divine mission, sent by the Almighty, but Christ was the One whose way he came to prepare. John was “a man sent from God” (John 1:6), but when Christ came, John said, “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:34).

John preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3) as did the apostles of Christ (Acts 2:38). However, Jesus would baptize in additional elements. John explains, “I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16). John spoke of the coming immersion in the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised the apostles and of the immersion in the coming judgment of fire, explained in the following verse. “His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Luke 3:17).

John was truly a mighty man of God, but when Christ finally came, John could only say, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” (John 3:30). John understood his role was to prepare for the real thing and that his job would soon be finished.

Isn’t it ironic that many today chose to wear the name of a great man who was “going out of business.” They do so with even less justification than those severely condemned at Corinth who were “saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’…” (I Corinthians 1:12). Remember, Jesus said “the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he,” (Matthew 11:11). These great men, like those in Colossae, had been transferred into the kingdom, (Colossians 1:13) and were therefore greater, but Paul taught that it was wrong to wear their name religiously, (I Corinthians 1:10-13). The name of Christ is far above the greatest of the great men. Why can’t we just be Christians?




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