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nChrist
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« Reply #75 on: March 06, 2008, 05:27:28 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Secret Of Service (John 21)

The missionary Adoniram Judson had the same experience in Burma when the people were not turning to Christ. His missionary society in New York wanted to bring him home. They asked, “What are the prospects?” He replied, “The prospects are as bright as the promises of God.” Living according to Christ’s instructions is the most important thing!

Then on the Sea of Galilee morning dawned, and it must have been a glorious morning. On the morning I was there, I felt like shouting when I thought of this incident.

But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. (John 21:4)

I think this was a normal experience. He was in His glorified body, and He could be recognized; yet they would have been a distance out on the lake, and in the early morning it would be difficult to identify people on the shore.

Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” (John 21:5)

The Greek word for “children” is almost like saying, “Sirs.” It is not a term of endearment like “little children” in 1 John. Their answer is a short “No.” It’s amazing how emphatic one can be and how little one likes to talk about failure. Although they answer Him, they don’t want to talk about it. If they had a good catch of fish, they all would be showing Him how long they were.

This is a question He is bound to ask every one of us someday: “Did you catch anything? What did you do for people down there on earth?” I hope your answer will not be the same as theirs, “No, I didn’t catch a thing.”

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. (John 21:6)

The whole thought here is that He directs the lives of His own. He gives the instructions, and they are to be obeyed. When they fish according to His instruction, the net fills. Notice, the net does not break even though it is full.

There was another time recorded by Luke when Peter caught a miraculous number of fish. It was in the early days of Jesus’ ministry, and He was calling Peter to be a fisher of men. That time the net broke. I think Peter was to realize that many would follow Jesus, but they would not all be believers — the net would break and many fish would swim away. This time the net did not break but was drawn to land, “full of large fish.” Peter is going to be called to feed the sheep and feed the lambs. With what? With the Word of God. With the gospel of a risen, glorified Christ. The gospel will not only save, but it will hold. Even in their failures, believers are kept by the power of God through faith.
 
It’s the Lord!

We see in this incident that Jesus Christ has a purpose for His own. He wants to direct our lives. If we obey, He will bless and have wonderful fellowship with us. He is the Lord of our wills.

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. (John 21:7)

John has a spiritual perception that Simon Peter doesn’t have. Three years before, Jesus had called them to follow Him, and perhaps it was at this same spot. But now they have gone back to fishing, and the Lord calls them again to fish for the souls of men.

Peter may not have the discernment of John, but have you noticed that at every opportunity he gets close to the Lord? The other men sit in the boat and wait until they get to shore. Not Simon Peter. He can’t wait! He wants to be close to his Lord. I love this man.
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« Reply #76 on: March 06, 2008, 05:32:09 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Secret Of Service (John 21)

But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. (John 21:8-9)

What a welcome sight for tired, hungry men! Oh, how our Lord loves His own!

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. (John 21:10-11)

Notice that although Jesus had fish laid on a bed of coals for their breakfast on the shore of Galilee, He also asks for some of the fish they had caught. He accepts their service. When they have fished at His command, He accepts what they bring. What blessed fellowship there is in this kind of service!

There by the Sea of Galilee the fire was made; the coals had burned their course. When the men arrived on shore, cold, wet and hungry, Jesus said, “Come and dine,” or, “Come and eat breakfast.” What an invitation! The resurrected Christ had prepared their meal.


Jesus did command, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15), but He would rather you come and have breakfast with Him before you go. The lovely part is that the resurrected Lord, God Himself, feeds them. If only we would sit today and let Him feed us! He wants to feed His own.

Now here on the shore of Galilee He has prepared breakfast for them, and they sit down to a hearty meal. You will recall that the last time this group had eaten together was in the Upper Room — and what a contrast that meal was with this! The other was before His crucifixion; this is after His death and resurrection. On the former occasion they were in an upstairs room; now they are out of doors. Before they were in the city; now they are away from the city’s crowds. Before they were conversing excitedly; now there is great quietness. In the Upper Room the shadow of the Cross was upon them, and in the flush of the moment they were asking many questions. Peter said, “Where are You going? Let me go with You — I will lay down my life for You!” Thomas said, “We do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Philip said, “Show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” And Judas, not Iscariot, said, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us and not to the world?”

How different is this meal on the seashore, which was eaten in silence — not even the Lord Jesus said anything. When He had told them, “Come and eat breakfast,” not one of them asked, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord. The resurrected and glorified Jesus was the same Jesus, though there was a difference born of the Resurrection, and they would not be so familiar with Him now.

And so these men are eating breakfast with Him. They know that He is the risen and glorified Christ, and they say nothing. This is a men’s meeting. I call attention to this fact, for we are living in a day when Christianity is looked upon as a woman’s interest. But in its beginnings we find this group of virile fishermen, rugged in life and rugged in faith.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” (John 21:15)


Here is something very important. After the meal, the Lord Jesus questioned Peter three times. Peter answered three times, and on the basis of that the Lord Jesus commissioned him three times.

Why three times? Why not just once? We are not sure that we know, but three times Peter had denied Christ publicly, and three times he makes an affirmation. This, then, is the restoration of Simon Peter to service.

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« Reply #77 on: March 06, 2008, 05:36:21 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Secret Of Service (John 21)

There are those who contend that this elevates Peter above the other apostles. There is not a word to prove that. Because of his denial, Peter had fallen and was in disgrace, and in this act the Lord brought him back to the level of service with the others. He is brought back publicly to the position which he had occupied before.

The Lord Jesus had appeared to him privately (1 Corinthians 15:8). Details of that are not recorded, but it was then that he was restored to fellowship by his repentance. But on this occasion the Lord restores him to service.
 
Peter Is Questioned

Now look briefly at the mechanics of this passage. There are three interrogations by the Lord. There are three declarations of Simon Peter. There are three exhortations or imperatives of the Lord Jesus. While the three interrogations are similar, each of them is different. As to the declarations of Peter, the first two are identical, but the third statement adds, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” The three exhortations of the Lord are all different. First, He tells Simon Peter, “Be grazing My lambs.” Second, “Shepherd My sheep,” and third, “Be grazing My sheep.” You will want to consider the three aspects of this questioning.

Jesus must have looked across the dying embers of that fire upon which He had prepared their breakfast and straight into the eyes of Simon Peter as He said, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

Note the significance of his name. To begin with He called him Simon. That is interesting — Simon son of Jonah — why did He call him Simon? You may recall that when the Lord Jesus first met this man, his brother Andrew had brought him to Jesus, and when Jesus looked at him, He said in effect, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas.” Cephas is the Aramaic word for “Rock Man.” In Greek it is Petros, and that name clung to him. We find that over in Caesarea Philippi, when he gave that marvelous testimony concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” the Lord Jesus said in effect, “Blessed are you, Simon [He goes back to his old name] … you will be called Peter because you are going to be a Rock Man from here on. You will be a man who will stand for something, but right now there is still a question.” And so the Lord reminds him of his old name.

If you and I today think that we are somebody important, perhaps He would like to tell us just who we really are! Perhaps we are like Simon, the wishywashy, mollycoddle fellow who tried to please everybody, who attempted to boast and was filled with pride. Our Lord dealt with him and settled him quietly when He said, “Simon [his old name], do you love Me more than these?”
 
Words for Love

There are three words in the Greek language that are translated into the English by the one word love. Perhaps, my friend, you are not aware of the fact that the English language is a beggar for words. We have the one word love, and that is about all. Hollywood today would give a million dollars for another word. The best they have done is sex, and that is pretty low. But Greek is a language that is versatile; it is flexible. They have several words for this thing called love.

The first word we will look at is the word eros. In the use of this word the Greeks degraded the meaning of love by personifying it. The fact of the matter is they made “Eros” a god and put together in combination the names Aphrodite and Eros. Today we know these names better as Venus and Cupid. The latter are the Roman names, but they are the same, as the Greeks are the ones who started this idea with Aphrodite and Eros. Eros is a word of sensuality, and we do believe that the Hollywood word sex, which has really been put into high gear today, would best express what the Greeks had in mind. But this word eros is never used in the Word of God.
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« Reply #78 on: March 06, 2008, 05:40:40 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Secret Of Service (John 21)

There is another Greek word, phileo, and it means “friendship.” It has to do with the affection and the emotion in a human relationship at its very best usage. We get our word philanthropic from it, and Philadelphia comes from it — Philadelphia, the “city of brotherly love.” And that is a word that is used in Scripture.

The third Greek word for love is agapao — it is a word of dignity, the highest and noblest word and, in connection with this verse, there is always the note of worth; that either the lover or the beloved is “worthy” of love. I am sure this is a Bible word, for we see it used in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Again, Paul said, “Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” John said, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” These are instances where this word appears, and it is the word Christ used twice with Simon Peter.

Now notice that our Lord’s first question to Peter is, “Do you love Me more than these men love Me?” You will recall that the Lord Jesus said, the last time they were in the Upper Room, “One of you will betray Me” (John 13:21). Peter doubtless thought, Yes, I haven’t trusted this crowd either. But to the Lord he said, “There is one fellow here on whom You can depend — You can count on me.” Obviously Peter didn’t know himself. But now the Lord Jesus says to Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me with divine love more than these other disciples love Me with divine love?” That is essentially what He is saying. Now listen to Simon Peter. “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” Here Simon will not use the word agapao but comes down to the word phileo. In other words, “You know that I have an affection for You.”

There are many who find fault with Peter for this, but he did the best he could. You see, the love of God, the agapao love, is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us, and Peter was not yet filled with the Holy Spirit. Christ had not yet ascended and the Holy Spirit had not yet indwelt believers, so this big, rugged fisherman expressed the deepest affection that was in his heart for the Lord Jesus Christ.

But also, if you want my opinion, this man is through boasting. Never again will he brag of what he will do. Never again will you hear him saying, “I am going to do something big for the Lord.” From here on he is going to do something big, but he is not going to say anything about it. He comes to the low plane, “I have an affection for You.”

Our Lord did not censure Simon Peter for failure to rise to the heights of love. No, He recommissioned him and gave him his first imperative, saying, “Feed My lambs,” or better still, “Be grazing My baby lambs (My tiny lambs).” These are the new Christians who, regardless of age, are baby lambs to Him. And if you love the Lord Jesus Christ, you will want to feed His lambs. Each Lord’s day there are millions of Sunday school teachers who feed a host of His little lambs, and they do it because they love Him.

Now we come to the second interrogation. The Lord Jesus asks a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” No longer does our Lord make the comparison with the other disciples; He makes it purely personal: “Can you, Simon, say from your heart that you love Me with a divine love?”

Again Simon Peter cannot ascend the heights. He answers as on the first occasion, “Lord, You know that I have a human affection for You,” and this comes from his heart, doubtless every fiber of his being trembling at the words. The Lord does not criticize him but adds a second commission, “Tend” or “Shepherd My sheep.” That means to discipline by giving direction.

Today we have it all mixed up; we try to discipline the young Christians and feed the old ones. The Lord said, “Feed the young ones and discipline the old ones.”

An anxious father asked, “How can I bring up my boy in the way he should go?” and the answer was given him, “By going in that way yourself.”
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« Reply #79 on: March 06, 2008, 05:44:22 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Secret Of Service (John 21)

Another has expressed it poetically:

’Twas a sheep, not a lamb, that strayed away,
In the parable Jesus told;
A grown-up sheep, that had gone astray,
From the ninety and nine in the fold.
Out on the hillside, out in the cold,
’Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd sought;
And back to the flock, safe into the fold,
’Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd brought.
Why for the sheep should we earnestly long,
And as earnestly hope and pray?
Because there is danger, if they go wrong,
They will lead the lambs astray.
For the lambs will follow the sheep, you know,
Wherever the sheep may stray;
When the sheep go wrong, it will not be long
Till the lambs are as wrong as they.
And so with the sheep we earnestly plead,
For the sake of the lambs today;
If the sheep are lost, what terrible cost
Some lambs will have to pay.
 — Author unknown

It is not Junior, but his father, who needs the discipline.


The third interrogation reveals an interesting dealing of the Lord with Simon Peter. Our Lord dropped down and used the same word that Simon had been obliged to use and said, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you have a human affection for Me?” It grieved Peter because the Lord asked him this for the third time, and with a burst of emotion he said in effect, “You know that I love You. I wish with all my heart I could say that I have a divine love for You, and I think I do. But I have found out that I cannot trust myself anymore, for I make such big statements but do so little. Lord, I am sorry that it is necessary for You to come down to my plane of phileo love, but it is the best I can do. You know my heart. You know all things. You know I love You.” Then the Lord Jesus gives him the third imperative: “ Be grazing My sheep. ”

There is much church activity today, but why is there so little Bible study in the pulpit? Do not misunderstand me when I say this, but my conviction is that there is little study of the Word of God because we must first answer Christ’s question, “Do you love Me?” Until that is answered in the affirmative, the commission “Feed My sheep” will not be given to us.

We must remember that the Lord Jesus commissioned Simon Peter on one basis alone — “Do you love Me?” This is the badge of Christianity. The Roman officials sent men to spy out the Christians, and Tertullian writes that when the spies returned, their report was that the Christians were strange folk; they had no idols, but they spoke of One who was absent by the name of Jesus, and how they loved Him! And how they loved one another! That is the report made of the Christians of that day. I wonder how a report made of the people in your church and my church would compare.

Listen to Paul writing to the Corinthians: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus, let him be anathema. I can have all knowledge, but if I have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 16:22 and 1 Corinthians 13:2 KJV). You and I are under this acid test: Do we love Him?
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« Reply #80 on: March 06, 2008, 05:47:06 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Secret Of Service (John 21)

The greatest drives in the world are not intellectual. Rather, they are drives of the heart. Christianity is a matter of the heart. And we must start right  — “with the heart one believes unto righteousness.” The church today needs a baptism of emotion; it needs real and genuine tears coming from the heart that can say, “Lord Jesus, You know that I love You.” Christianity is a love affair. Peter wrote, “Whom having not seen, you love.”

In Portsmouth, Virginia, back in antebellum days, there was a famous blind preacher by the name of Waddell. Since this was a seacoast town, late one Sunday afternoon a sailing vessel put into port, and the sailors went ashore. The captain and three of the sailors were Christians and seemingly by accident went into the church where Waddell was preaching.

That night his text was the same as the one used here, and he concluded with this question, “Can each one of you who is a member say at this time, ‘Lord Jesus, You know that I love You’?” A hush went over the congregation. Then one of the sailors, forgetting where he was, broke the silence and cried out with all of the enthusiasm of his young heart, “Lord Jesus, You know everything. You know that I love You!”

In my own experience I vividly recall a night in Georgia, walking together with a fellow seminary student and talking enthusiastically about what we were learning concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. Suddenly we stopped in our tracks. We had reached the top of the hill, and before us was the rising moon — oh, that Georgia moon, how beautiful it was! We just stood there and watched silently. Finally my friend said, “He made that!”

Then he said something else that has been very helpful to me. He told me that every night before going to sleep, he told the Lord Jesus, “I love You.”

My friend, loving Him is a wonderful experience. It is, as Peter wrote in his first epistle, “joy inexpressible and full of glory!” And it is the secret of having a ministry that God can and will use.

..........
TO BE CONTINUED.
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« Reply #81 on: March 07, 2008, 02:58:44 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Where Is Christ Now And What Is He Doing?



We in Bible-teaching churches have remembered Christ’s virgin birth. In fact, we have spoken eloquently of it. We talk about His spotless life; we give attention to His miraculous earthly ministry; we will even talk of His substitutionary death and of His bodily resurrection. We marvel at the wonderful compassionate Man our Lord revealed Himself to be when He walked among us in the days of His flesh. But from there on it gets hazy. From there on it seems that we are unsure what He is doing now and even not quite certain where He is. But the Scripture is crystal clear on Christ’s present position, and the Word of God is lucid concerning His present occupation.
 
Present Position of Christ

First of all, note the present position of Christ. Now there isn’t any use going to Bethlehem during the Christmas season — friends, He is not there. Where is He? He is in the glory at the right hand of God the Father. Will you notice how the Word of God presents this to us? When Dr. Luke concluded the third Gospel, this is what he wrote:

Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. (Luke 24:51)

Let me remind you that the Gospel of Luke was written by a medical doctor of the first century who used more medical terms than Hippocrates, the founder of medicine. Dr. Luke says that Christ was received into heaven, but he doesn’t leave it there. He began the Book of Acts, which he also wrote, by saying:

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen. (Acts 1:1-2)

In other words, “I gave you a former account or treatise in which I told you what Jesus began to do and to teach. Now I’m going to continue where I left off and tell you what He is doing right now.” And when you enter the Book of Acts, you find out that Simon Peter on the Day of Pentecost and on other occasions bore testimony of what Christ is presently doing. Paul and the other apostles said in substance, “These things happening down here are because Jesus is busy up yonder.” Oh, how important that is!

And when you come to the Book of the Revelation, written by John, he says:

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.” (Revelation 1:17)


It was approaching a.d. 100 when John wrote the last books of the Bible, and though Jesus had died about seventy years earlier, John saw Him alive and had contact with the living Christ. My beloved, that’s the testimony of the Word of God. The One born about two thousand years ago, who died on a cross, was buried and rose again bodily, is alive today. Oh, how eloquent Scripture is on this. Look with me at the Book of Hebrews:


But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. (Hebrews 10:12-13)

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
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« Reply #82 on: March 07, 2008, 03:01:00 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Where Is Christ Now And What Is He Doing?

Stephen, the first martyr, when he was being stoned, said:

“Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:56)


Saul, that brilliant young Pharisee (later called Paul), who did not believe in Christ’s resurrection, who hated Jesus with a vengeance, met Him on the Damascus Road and made the discovery of his life. When he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Jesus answered, “I am Jesus, whom You are persecuting.” Paul found out that He was indeed alive and still busy. Paul wrote later to the believers at Rome:

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)


Paul says He is at God’s right hand.

I think Annie Johnson Flint has expressed it in a wonderful way in her poem, The Way of the Cross:

Some of us stay at the cross.
Some of us wait at the tomb.
Quickened and raised with Christ,
Yet lingering still in the gloom.
Some of us bide at the Passover Feast
With Pentecost all unknown,
The triumphs of grace in the heavenly place
That our Lord has made our own.
If the Christ who died had stopped at the cross,
His work had been incomplete.
If the Christ who was buried had stayed in the tomb,
He had only known defeat.
But the way of the cross never stops at the cross,
And the way of the tomb leads on
To victorious grace in the heavenly place
Where the risen Lord has gone.
This moment at this split second, Jesus is at God’s right hand. What is He doing?

Present Occupation of Christ

His work is so varied today. If you get the impression, when the Bible says He is seated at God’s right hand, that He’s twiddling His thumbs, I’m afraid you’ve missed the entire point. The fact that He is seated at God’s right hand means He occupies the place of honor. And in reference to His work on earth, it means that it is complete. He sat down.

In my office you would see my desk covered with work to be done. I’ve never been able to sit down and say, “It’s finished.” I have a notion that you experience this in your life also. We never reach a day when we can say, “It’s finished.” But when the Lord Jesus died on the cross, it was finished. All the work had been done for your salvation and mine. He sat down at God’s right hand. But if you think that means He is doing nothing, you are wrong. I do not have time to mention all the varied ministries of our Lord today, but I do want to mention three that are very important.
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« Reply #83 on: March 07, 2008, 03:03:27 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Where Is Christ Now And What Is He Doing?

Intercessor — He Is Interceding for Us

First of all, He is an intercessor for those who are His own. He prays for those of us who belong to Him. You have the picture given in John 17, which I call the Lord’s prayer. There we hear Him praying to the Father about the believers, the body of believers He calls His church. Consider this prayer for just a moment.

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours…. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.” (John 17:9, John 17:17-20)

Notice that He wasn’t praying only for the apostles but also for those who would believe on Him through their witness. One of the things that He does today is to pray for those who are His own. He prays for you! Remember that He said to Simon Peter:

“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32)

Jesus told Peter he was going to have a rough time. In other words, “You are going to fail, Simon Peter, but I have prayed that your faith will not fail” — and it did not fail, because Jesus prayed. And, my friend, that’s the reason I have made it through up to this point — because He has been up there praying for me. And that’s the reason you have made it through to this moment. He’s up there praying for you.

Let’s think about Romans 8:34 again. “Who is he who condemns?” Who condemns any sinner who has trusted Jesus? “It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Do you know the reason today that a believer is safe down here? It’s not because he’s a solid, strong believer. It is because he has a mighty Intercessor up yonder praying for him. Our Lord Jesus prays for those who are His own.

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

Beloved, if He saves you He can hold on to you. He’s able to save to the uttermost because He’s making intercession for you.
 
Advocate — He Pleads Our Case

He has a second ministry. He is performing it right now. He is our Advocate.

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)

When a Christian sins, Christ immediately goes to court for him. And the reason He must go to court is because there is the accuser of the brethren present. Satan is right there probably to say, among other things, “You don’t mean to tell me that You have saved that person down there, that failing Christian?” The Lord Jesus Christ would say, “Yes, he’s failing, and I’m ashamed of him. But here are the wounds in My hands. I died for Him.” Oh, friend, He’s our Advocate to plead our case up yonder! Our sins are very well known up there.
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« Reply #84 on: March 07, 2008, 03:07:17 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Where Is Christ Now And What Is He Doing?

You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. (Psalms 90:8)


Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer used to say, “What is secret sin down here is open scandal in heaven.” If you are a Christian and think, I’ve done something and nobody knows anything about it, they’re talking about it all over heaven today. Everybody up there knows, and you ought to be thankful that you have an Advocate there to stand up for you. He is there to go to court for us today.

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. (Hebrews 9:24)

He is our Advocate. And when we sin, the thing that we are asked to do is this:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

He forgives us. But He has had to go before the Father and plead for us. So we are to confess and forsake our sins.
 
Judge — He Examines Our Works

Now I come to the third and last point in this message about what our Lord Jesus is doing right now. He is the Judge of His own. That’s the great truth of the Book of the Revelation. I have come to the conclusion in a further study of this book that Christ is the great center of it, but also that He is a Judge from the beginning of Revelation to the end of the book. He is presented in the Gospels as a Savior, but in the Book of the Revelation He’s presented as a Judge. That’s the picture. And that’s entirely omitted and neglected by the contemporary church. He judges the church. He judges believers. Oh, He doesn’t haul them into court. This is a family affair. They are His own, and He does the judging; He holds them accountable for what they do.

We always speak of the first vision presented to us in the Revelation as being a vision of the glorified Christ. That is true, but that’s not the whole story by any means. Not only is He glorified, He is presented as a priest.

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. (Revelation 1:12-13)

That’s the picture of Him as High Priest, ministering before God.

Then will you notice something else that’s here? Back in the Book of Leviticus the high priest was a judge. You’ll find that Israel was a theocracy, and every case was to be brought to the priests and to the high priest of that day. He was the Supreme Court. Our Lord Jesus is today the Great High Priest of the church. He not only is our Intercessor and our Advocate — He has not only made a new way for us, He not only gives us access — but today as the Great High Priest He also judges His church.


His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire. (Revelation 1:14)

That’s judgment. He’s looking at those who are His own, because every man’s work will be tested by fire. His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters. (Revelation 1:15)
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« Reply #85 on: March 07, 2008, 03:09:57 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Where Is Christ Now And What Is He Doing?

Brass also speaks of judgment. It is the material from which the Old Testament brazen altar was made, where the sin question was settled.

He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. (Revelation 1:16)

The sword represents His Word: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” (Hebrews 4:12). He judges by His Word — He does so today. How do you measure up to His Word? The lampstands among which we see Him standing as the Great High Priest represent the church. And that’s where He is today.

John’s reaction was tremendous.

His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.” (Revelation 1:16-17)

John said that when he saw Him, he fell at His feet as dead. Yet this is the man who yonder in the Upper Room had reclined on His bosom! He was so familiar with Him that he could rebuke Him, but when he saw Him as the glorified Christ, he fell down before Him as dead.

There are a great many people today who talk like this, “Oh, when I get into His presence, it’s going to be wonderful! I’m just going to go up to Him and I’m going to thank Him and talk things over with Him.” My friend, you and I will probably spend the first million years down on our faces before Him. That’s how exalted He is today.

You see, the high priest of the Old Testament faithfully went into the tabernacle and stood before that golden altar which speaks of prayer; but not only did he make intercession, that high priest also came to the golden lampstand — which is the most glorious picture of Christ in the Old Testament — and he took scissors and trimmed the wick when it smoked. And when one of the lights wouldn’t burn right, he used snuffers to extinguish it and then put another light in its place.

The golden lampstands speak of Christ’s present work in heaven in maintaining the lights. That’s where the Lord Jesus is today, standing in the midst of the lampstands, the Church, representing those of us who are His own. We are to be the light of the world, and He begins to trim the wick that the light might be brighter. He reaches in and turns and fills the lamps with oil, speaking of the filling of the Holy Spirit. He’s busy today, my beloved.

The lampstand in the tabernacle is a picture of Him. The Lord Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” But He also said, “You are the light of the world.” He is gone now — He has passed out of sight and into the presence of the Father, and we know Him no longer after the flesh. We know Him no longer as the little Baby born in Bethlehem nor as the Man hanging on a cross. He today is the glorified Christ, the Light of the world. But He says to us, “You are lights in the world.”

I do not mean to be irreverent, but He’s in the power and light business today. He is giving power, the filling of the Spirit, to His own. He is making His believers down here lights in the world. This is so important that it’s repeated again and again and again in the New Testament. When Paul was converted, the Lord Jesus said he would be a light to the Gentiles. Oh, what a light he has been to us! Notice what Paul wrote to the various churches.
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« Reply #86 on: March 07, 2008, 03:12:57 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Where Is Christ Now And What Is He Doing?

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8)

You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:15)


When you and I go out at night, looking up we can see the stars in a black sky. When He looks down from heaven, He sees the inky blackness of this world, and He sees those of us who are His own as lights. He is in the midst of us — trimming, filling, adjusting, bringing us into another position where we can give better light. That’s what He is doing today.

His own must be usable. We must be expendable. We must be bent to His will. We must be pliable. We must be yielded to Him. We must be willing to be lights in the world.

His work is both negative and positive. It’s negative — He punishes sins. Paul, talking about the Lord’s table says,

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians  11:28-32)


One of the things the Lord Jesus does is to move in among believers today inspecting the lights, and as He finds a lamp that’s burning so very dimly, is giving off smoke and is not a blessing at all, He begins to trim. If that individual will judge himself, the Lord Jesus won’t judge him. But if that individual won’t judge himself, then He will judge.

My friend, do you want to know if you are a child of God or not? Here’s a sure test. If you can get by with sin, you are not His child. Our Lord is in the midst of the lampstands, and when one of His lights won’t burn, He trims it, always trims it. He won’t let you get by with sin if you are His. He’ll take you to the woodshed. He hasn’t read the new books on discipline!

And when the child of God sins, the thing to do is confess it to Him. And if he will not confess and be corrected, then this Great High Priest picks up His snuffer, and He puts the light out — that is, He removes him:

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5)

That’s the negative side.

There’s a positive side. Consider this for just a moment.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians  9:24-27)
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« Reply #87 on: March 07, 2008, 03:15:39 AM »

JESUS - Centerpiece of Scripture
by J. Vernon McGee

Where Is Christ Now And What Is He Doing?

Now Paul the apostle doesn’t mean he will lose his salvation. He means that after he has preached to others, he doesn’t want to hear the Lord say to him, “You have failed me, Paul. You were not light in the world. I made you to be light.”


So the Christian life to Paul was serious business. It was like training for a race. And Paul says, “I even discipline my body, and I do it in order that I might obtain a crown. I want to be approved of Him.”

The Christian life, friends, is not a sideline. It’s not a hobby. It’s not something to occupy your spare time. It’s not a game that you play. Somebody has said that in our day athletics are played as if they were a business, but the Christian life is lived as if it were a game and not reality. But that’s not the way Paul lived the Christian life. He was out training. He wanted to win, and he intended to win. He did not intend to lose.

But there are a lot of Christians doing just the opposite. They’re not winning because it’s merely a little game with them. The church has become, to some people, only a religious club, and that applies to both liberals and conservatives. Church is where they go once a week if it’s convenient and makes them feel good.

My beloved, the Christian life is a gymnasium where there’s rigorous training and where you develop spiritual muscles. I hear a great deal today about how we ought to train leaders. But the purpose of any Christian training should not be primarily to develop leadership but to develop lights in this world.

Our Lord wants us to be lights. The Lord made Paul a light and was able to use him in an extraordinary way. On one occasion He caught him up to heaven and gave him revelations that he could not speak about. Paul wrote:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. (2 Corinthians 12:7)

The Lord gave Paul that to keep him humble. It seems that God put a reflector on Paul so he would be a bright light. And God will send you and me troubles in order that we might be better lights in the world.

This very moment, my friend, Christ is busy at the right hand of God, at the place of honor. Although He has finished His work for our redemption, as our Great High Priest He still ministers to us who are His own. Walking in the midst of the lampstands, He is our Intercessor, our Advocate, and our Judge. Oh, my friend,

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

CONCLUSION
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