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John 10:22-26 by Robert Dean
Series:John (1998)
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 47 secs

More than enough Light; John 10:22-26

 

It is in the prologue of John chapter one that the next scene is introduced. In John 1:4 John introduces the scene of light. Remember the purpose that John is writing this gospel for is to convince people that Jesus is the Messiah. John believes that there is more than sufficient evidence given in this gospel to convince anyone that Jesus is who he claims to be. He organises his material around seven different signs, plus the sign of the resurrection, in order to give substantiating evidence as he would in a court of law in order to demonstrate his premise that Jesus is exactly who He claims to be. Part of that sub-theme is that as the Messiah, the second person of the Trinity, it is Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone who reveals the Father. This is a critical sub-theme of revelation and illumination and it falls under the doctrine of light in John's Gospel. "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men." That is, the life that is self-existing in Jesus Christ as the second person of the Trinity. In the first four verses of chapter one we are looking at the pre-incarnate Christ, we are not even looking at Christ as the incarnate Son of God yet. So the life being talked about here is that eternal life that belongs to God and God alone, that He is the source of all life, He is the self-existing one, and it is His life by its very nature that is self-revelatory. You can't escape this aspect of its nature. God by nature is revealing Himself. John 1:5 NASB "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." This is a present tense verb indicating continual action. From this we learn that Jesus is the source of life in all of its categories. Colossians 1:16, 17 tells us that He is the one who made everything. In Genesis chapter one God speaks and it is through His Word that God creates, and He is the Word, the Logos of God. It is the second person of the Trinity.

 

We also see from John 1:5 that this light continually shines. The verb is the present active indicative. A present tense verb can be used about nine different ways. Usually we say it is durative or continuous action, and that is true here. But another nuance of the present tense is what is called a gnomic present, it indicates a continual principle, something that is normal through all time. That is what we see here. The light shines as a general principle, it continually shines in the darkness. So here we have God the second person of the Trinity and throughout all of human history, from Adam all the way through, He is continually revealing Himself. The light always shines in the darkness. An look at the continual characteristic response of darkness. It doesn't understand it. As part of incomprehension there is rejection. God continually illumines men; men continually reject that illumination. This is clearly taught in Romans chapter one.

 

Rom 1:18 NASB "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men …" And there we have a masculine genitive plural noun, anthropon, from anthropos [a)nqrwpoj] meaning men or mankind, and then it is qualified by a relative participial phrase, "who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." This is a present active participle. The present tense of the participle indicates contemporaneous action with the main verb which is "is revealed." So we see this continuousness throughout all of human history. That is the point. It is from the verb katecho [katexw] which means to hold down, to suppress, to withhold, or to repress. So the wrath of God is revealed against men and these men who receive the wrath of God are characterised by the fact that they are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. What does that mean? That means that in order to suppress, repress, or to hold down the truth they have to have the truth. It has to be there. So they are volitionally engaged—it is a present active participle which means that these men are performing the action—in suppressing the truth. [19] "because," dioti [dioti] which is the strongest causal particle in the Greek language, " that which is known about God is evident within them," en [e)n] plus the dative of the third person plural pronoun, which indicates that they have a knowledge about God, who He is and His existence, and it is within every single human being. "… "for God made it evident to them." There we have the aorist active indicative of the Greek phaneroo [fanerow] which means to reveal or to make clear. God is the subject, it is an active voice meaning that God performs the action. God specifically makes His existence clear to every single human being. [20] "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." That means no one has an excuse and can say they didn't have enough information. God says they not only understood is clearly but they had more than enough information to be held accountable for it. The point of this is that every human being that is an unbeliever has not believed on the basis of their own volition. [21] "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations…" They replaced the knowledge of God with their own speculative theories about origins, about creation, about ultimate reality. "… and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing to be wise, they became fools, [23] and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures."

 

What we must realise from this is that when we are engaged in any kind of witnessing situation the person we are witnessing to may not be willing to admit it at this point in time. They may have covered up their knowledge of God with so much rationalisation and scar tissue that they no longer remember the fact that they once knew that God existed, and they may not even want to out of arrogance admit that God exists. But what the Scripture tells us is that we don't have to convince them that God exists, they already know it. Unbelievers are going to ask how we know God exists. We don't answer that because they already know it. If we answer their question what we have basically done is buy into their assumption that there isn't enough evidence. The Scripture says there is more than enough evidence.

 

John 1:7 NASB "He [John the Baptist] came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him." So John the Baptist's ministry is related this illumination. [8] "He was not the Light, but {he came} to testify about the Light." So even though the light continually reveals itself to mankind there is still the need for the witness, the testimony, for us to be engaged in witnessing. The incarnation of Christ, then, is the basis for all condemnation to mankind. [9] "There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man." We see underlying this verse the principle of common grace, i.e. the illumination of every man to the existence of God and the reality of who Jesus is. The unbeliever can't avoid it. It is proclaimed loud and clear and God is making it evident to them but the reason they don't admit it is because of negative volition. It comes back to volition, not evidence. The issue isn't having the right reasoning, the right argument, the issue is spiritual and it has to do with volition; whether or not man is willing to accept Christ and to submit to the claims that God makes to be the final authority in the universe.

 

The Scripture portrays to us that man is made in the image of God, Genesis 1:26, 27. Think about what that means. We are a reflection of God, so in our material makeup we reflect the essence of God. So what happens is that every time an unbeliever looks at the world around him it resonates in his soul with the reality of God, because Scripture says that that soul is a reflection of God. So when the unbeliever hears the truth of God's Word or sees it there is something in his soul that reverberates and resonates with that truth. What Paul says is that the person on negative volition is actively squelching that, repressing that. They are actively engaged in denial that that has happened. That is why there is such an antagonistic response when we bring the gospel up to certain people. They may not even be conscious of it but they are actively engaged in suppressing this, and when we come along and start talking about Christ or the Scriptures we are bringing this to the surface and it is like somebody grating their fingernails on a chalkboard in their soul and they have to squash it again.

John introduces the them in the first chapter and then in chapter three he develops it a little more. We have already seen that the light illumines every man, which is making God evident to them, the existence, the reality of God is clear.  John 3:19 NASB "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil." Not everybody does but the majority do. They reject the testimony of the light. [20] "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." So there is a reaction in man to exposure. Light is illuminating and it exposes us in all of our creaturely dependence and the person who has rejected God, who at the point of God-consciousness or the point of gospel hearing has gone negative is in reaction to that. [21] "But he who practices [Bad translation; it is poiew – "does"] the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." Doing the truth refers to the simple positive volition at God-consciousness. The person who responds to the truth comes to the Light who is Jesus Christ. This is a metaphorical way of saying trusting in Christ as Saviour.

Then in chapter eight we get a little more development. John 8:12 NASB "Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, 'I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life'." There Jesus ties light and life back together again. John 9:5 NASB "While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world." John 11:9 NASB "Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world'." So we see this theme of light over and over again. John is almost hitting us between the eyes with light.

Now John is going to get very subtle. John 10:22 NASB "At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem." This approximately two to three months after v. 21. The Feast of Booths was in late September, early October and the Feast of Dedication took place in late December. In between this time Jesus left the hostile environment of Jerusalem and Judea and was engaged in a ministry to the people across the Jordan in the region of Peraea. We know that from Luke chapters 12 & 13.When John says the Feast of the Dedication he is speaking about the festival we call Hanukkah. We know from Josephus that it had another name. It was called the Festival of Lights. See how subtle John is! As soon as he mentions this is the Feast of Dedication he is reminding us that we are still talking about Jesus illuminating the truth, and we are still talking about the rejection, the darkness that does not comprehend it, and that the darkness flees from it and is repressing it. The rabbis had another name for this feast. In the Talmud it is called the Feast of Illumination. So John is reminding us in a very subtle way that he is still talking about illumination. He is still talking about the fact that Jesus has clearly revealed Himself through His works and His word. He healed the man at the pool of Bethesda, He has fed the multitudes, He has walked on water, He has controlled the elements, He has stilled the storm, He has healed lepers, He has healed the sick, He has healed the lame, He has cats out demons, and He has even healed a man born blind before the eyes of the Pharisees. Yet continually, despite all the empirical evidence, the religious leaders have refused to believe Him.

The Feast of Dedication was a very patriotic time in Israel. It was a memorial to a time of tremendous national victory and triumph and as they looked back to that time of national military victory and triumph it would also tend to bring to the foreground their hopes of freedom from Rome today, and this elevating their messianic expectations.

In 165 BC the Greco-Syrian leader Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple. He was anti-Semitic. He outlawed all Jewish rituals and after he captured Jerusalem he erected an idol on the altar of burnt offering in the temple and then sacrificed a pig on the altar and scattered pig's blood, which was unclean in the Mosaic law, all over the altar. This desecrated the altar. That was the near fulfilment of the abomination of desolation predicted by the prophet Daniel some 400 years earlier. At this time there was a priestly family in Israel known as the Hasmoneans. They raised the cry of revolt and brought together an army which eventually defeated the Syrians and threw them out of the land. After this, this priestly family went in and cleansed the temple and restored the sacrifices. But as they were cleansing the temple and it was time to rededicate the temple to the Lord after its cleansing they could only find one flagon of oil to burn in the great candelabra, the golden candlestick that burned in the holy of holies. So they declared one day of dedication, but at the end of that one day they discovered that the flagon of oil was still full. It lasted another day and eventually for eight days. That is the basis for the non-biblical feast of Hanukkah. It is a feast of dedication because it was a reminder of how God miraculously supplied all for these eight days during the rededication of the temple. In their celebration of it, in every Jewish home, depending on which side you took on certain theological matters, you either lit eight candles on the first day and then backed it down to one going through the process, or you lit one the first day and then moved it through to eight by the last day. In some homes they would do a multiplication of ten. They would start off with ten the first day, twenty the second, and so on. There was light everywhere, and in the midst of this festival of lights would be this particular episode where those in the darkness are denying that they see the light. It is in contrast to the blind man who sees the light in chapter nine and the Pharisees who are in the light but love the darkness in chapter ten.

John 10:23 NASB "it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon." This was an area that dated all the way back to Solomon's original temple. It has survived the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 but it did not survive the destruction of the temple in 70 AD under Titus. It was an enclose portico where you could walk in all sorts of weather. Jesus begins to walk, it is an ingressive imperfect tense, possibly a dramatic imperfect, indicating Jesus beginning to walk in the temple. The religious leaders have just been waiting for this opportunity. Everything He said in the confrontation back in the good shepherd analogy has been rankling for three months, eating away at them, and now they are going to get Him. Eighteen months before when Jesus healed the cripple at the pool of Bethesda, John tells us, they were determined to kill Him. So this is not a group of objective religious teachers who want to know the truth. This is a group of men who have already determined that they are going to take Him out and they are just looking for the opportunity to kill Him.

John 10:24 NASB "The Jews then gathered around Him…" In the Greek we have the aorist active indicative of the verb kukloo [kuklow]. It comes from the noun kuklos [kukloj] which means to circle, to surround. They surrounded and trapped Him. They enclosed Him in this tight circle, there is no place for Him to go. They are tired of His sophisticated arguments overturns their reasoning the slips away. He is not going to get away this time, there is no place for Him to go, they have Him trapped. "… and were saying to Him, 'How long will You keep us in suspense?'" That is not really a good translation. It sounds like they are being very objective. They are not being objective, they have already made a decision. They have already determined to reject Him and are not asking for more information. The Greek idiom is difficult to translate. Literally it means, "until what time will you keep our souls lifted up?" If we were to translate that in our vernacular we would say, "how long are you going to keep us in the air?" As if He hasn't made that clear! They are really asking how long they are going to remain in the dark. Jesus knows they have had more than enough illumination. They are claiming a lack of light and are standing in front of the Light of the world. They are claiming ignorance but they have no basis for that. They have heard the words and seen the works of Jesus. They are not asking for truth, they want to incriminate Him. "If You are the Christ, tell us plainly."  Jesus knows the time is not right; He is in control of the situation. That is why Jesus does not answer them directly. It is fascinating to watch how Jesus in the process of this discussion with these hostile unbelievers does not grant them their assumptions. That tells us something about witnessing. Just because we are talking to somebody that doesn't mean we have to answer all their questions. There are some questions unbelievers ask that no matter how you answer them you have lost the argument. Jesus has to fulfil the Old Testament pattern and He has to die on Passover. So He has to defuse the situation so that He is not convicted for another three months.

John 10:25 NASB "Jesus answered them, 'I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me'." He doesn't admit anything; He doesn't say He is the Messiah. The first thing we realise is that Jesus doesn't back down. The issue isn't that they need more light or more evidence, they have more than enough. The issue is that they have rejected the light that they have been given. Jesus doesn't answer their questions for two reasons. First of all, He sees the trap and is trying to avoid it because He has to control the time of His death. Secondly, He rejects the assumption that underlies the question: that there is no enough evidence yet of who He is. He rejects that, and it is that latter assumption that he addresses. His answer is specifically stating that their assumption is invalid, that there is more than enough evidence: "the works that I do bear witness of me." 

John 10:26 NASB "But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep." This verse is used by some people to talk about the doctrine of election, but this isn't talking about the doctrine of election. We have to interpret the verse in context. The issue is the volition of the Pharisees, not God's volition in election. Jesus stated who these people were in John 8:43: "You are of your father the devil." They are not His sheep because they have rejected Him. It is the volition of the individual that determines salvation, not some predetermined, fatalistic doctrine of election.

John 10:27 NASB "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; [28] and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." This is one of the most profound verse in all of Scripture related to the doctrine of the security of the believer. The illustration is, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." We respond by faith alone to Christ alone, we are following the Lord. And He gives us something. In the Greek the verb there is didmoi [didomi], to give, and this always reminds us of grace. Grace is a free gift. At the moment of salvation God gives us eternal life. He is not someone who takes back, it is not given conditionally, it is given unconditionally. "They will never perish" is an unconditional promise; it is something that is given for all eternity. The hand of God, His omnipotence, is greater than any other power in the universe. [29] "My Father, who has given {them} to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch {them} out of the Father's hand."

The doctrine of eternal security

1)  Definition: Eternal security is the work of God which guarantees that God's free gift of salvation is eternal and cannot be lost, terminated, abrogated, nullified or reversed by any thought, act or change of belief by the person saved. There is nothing that can be done to reverse or eradicate our salvation once we are saved. God does not give His gifts with strings attached. What He gives he gives permanently. Eternal security is defined as an unbreakable relationship with the integrity of God. It based upon His perfect righteousness, His absolute justice and His immeasurable love. It is unbreakable because God will not break the relationship, it is based exclusively on who He is and not at all on who we are.

2)  God the Father's purposes in salvation cannot be overridden. There is nothing greater than the plan of God. The same group that He foreknew He predestines, calls, justifies and redeems. This is the point in Romans 8:29, 30 NASB "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined {to become} conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." The foreknowledge of God is a sub-category of the knowledge of God. We call the overall category of the knowledge of God His omniscience, i.e. that God knows all the knowable. In foreknowledge, though, God distinguishes between the actual and the possible. In the omniscience of God He knows every contingency, every possibility and ever permutation out to infinity. In foreknowledge God knows the difference between the actual and the possible. All of human history is present to God in one eternal presence. He knows which of mankind is positive at God-consciousness and who would respond to whatever impetus is necessary to be saved. But in volition there are many people who no matter how much evidence is in front of them, like the Pharisees, they will always reject it because they have made a decision to reject the truth. The issue is volition. God desires that all men be saved, and so those who are foreknown are elect. God chooses them, not because they have faith but through faith. He chooses those who would under whatever condition respond positively, and God in His faithfulness will make sure that the positive person will receive the information necessary in order for them to believe. Everybody else God knows that no matter how much evidence is in front of them will reject the gospel. So the issue boils down to human volition.

To be continued….