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The Gospel of John

The Gospel of John

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By R.J. Rushdoony. Nothing more clearly reveals the gospel than Christ’s atoning death and His resurrection. They tell us that Jesus Christ has destroyed the power of sin and death. John therefore deliberately limits the number of miracles he reports in order to point to and concentrate on our Lord’s death and resurrection. The Jesus of history is He who made atonement for us, died, and was resurrected. His life cannot be understood apart from this, nor can we know His history in any other light.
By R.J. Rushdoony. Nothing more clearly reveals the gospel than Christ’s atoning death and His resurrection. They tell us that Jesus Christ has destroyed the power of sin and death. John therefore deliberately limits the number of miracles he reports in order to point to and concentrate on our Lord’s death and resurrection. The Jesus of history is He who made atonement for us, died, and was resurrected. His life cannot be understood apart from this, nor can we know His history in any other light.

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Published by: Chalcedon Foundation on May 05, 2011
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08/11/2015

Faith and Knowledge
(John 16:25-33)

25. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh,
when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you
plainly of the Father.

26. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will
pray the Father for you:

27. For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have
believed that I came out from God.

28. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I
leave the world, and go to the Father.

29. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and
speakest no proverb.

30. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any
man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

31. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?
32. Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered,
every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone,
because the Father is with me.

33. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have
overcome the world. (John 16:25-33)
In vv. 25 and 29 our Lord uses a word translated as “proverbs.” It can also be
translated as “parable” and the word refers to something which is both
concealed and revealed, a “by the way” statement for the wise and discerning.
Our Lord’s statement in v. 25 tells us that He would, after the resurrection, speak
“plainly,” i.e., more openly and directly. This does not mean that parabolic
sayings are not plain, but that they must be studied with dedication. The parables
are simple and direct, but their subtle implications are not grasped by those who
will not hear. We are not always ready for a fullness of understanding.
Knowledge is more than information, more than facts or data; it is a moral
perception. Those who view knowledge merely as data can be very learned yet
unwise.

Our Lord continues, “At that day ye shall ask in my name; and I say not unto
you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you,
because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God” (vv.
26-27). The frame of reference is the knowledge of God, Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit. The disciples are at the moment bewildered and unable to understand the
meaning of what is happening to their Lord. From the resurrection through
Pentecost, the Father will grant them understanding hearts, so that the present
bewilderment will be replaced with knowledge. There are many statements
about prayer in John’s Gospel, and some, like this, have a specific reference.

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The Gospel of John

Because the disciples, however bewildered by the turn of events, truly loved
their Lord, the Father, who loved them, would give them the grace of
knowledge. Christ’s intercession here ordained their status and their belief in
Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
In v. 28, our Lord declares, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into
the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” That mission will
shortly be accomplished, and so I will leave you and return to the Father.
Our Lord most emphatically rules: ours is not a world of chance. All things
move in terms of the design of the Father, and not a leaf falls, nor a hair, apart
from Him. The disciples are deeply troubled by the turn of events; they do not
meet human expectations. Our Lord assures them that all things are moving
totally in terms of the Father’s will:
29. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest
no proverbs.

30. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any
man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.
(John 16:29-30)
The total assurance of our Lord enabled the disciples to more clearly perceive
His divine nature. As a result, they felt that they had moved beyond parables and
into plain knowledge. Jesus certainly had the power to answer unasked
questions; He need not wait for any man to ask Him questions. As truly divine,
a Member of the Godhead, He knew what was in men’s hearts.
But the disciples were assuming that information is knowledge, and that
learning and knowledge are identical. Modern man believes that “knowledge is
power,” by which he means that information or learning is the same as
knowledge. Solomon tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning (or,
principal part) of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). True knowledge is wisdom. “Wisdom
is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get
understanding” (Prov. 4:7). The disciples too readily equated being informed
with knowledge and faith. Our Lord therefore asks, “Do ye now believe?” (v.
31). The word pisteuo, a verb, is used by John ninety-eight times; the word pistis,
a noun, is never used. John makes a very important distinction. Faith or belief is
not a thing but an action, not a noun but a verb. Our Lord does not say, you do
not believe, but rather, you do not yet know what it is to believe. You have not
yet been tested and tried, not yet paid a price for your faith. Faith is the gift of
God, but it is tried in the fire to refine and purify us. Only so can faith become,
not merely a set of beliefs but our very life. Every faith will be tested, and no man
can expect faith to be other than a gift of testing.
Our Lord continues, v. 32 and 33:
32. Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered,
every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone,
because the Father is with me.

Faith and Knowledge (John 16:25-33)

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33. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me, ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have
overcome the world.
As we have seen, knowledge is a moral fact. The testing of the disciples would
shortly begin with Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death. The disciples would
scatter in fear, though later they would face death bravely. Their faith was not yet
refined by fire, and they would desert Jesus. Yet Jesus was not alone, “because
the Father is with me.” In spite of this, on the cross, Jesus would cry out, “My
God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34), because in our trials
by fire, however much God be with us, we alone undergo the testing.
Events would scatter them, and they would experience tribulation in and from
the world, because the world hates God the Father and God the Son, and does
not know God the Spirit. In spite of this, they would have peace in Christ. For
moral reasons, the ungodly neither know nor want to know the Trinity, but
those who do know God shall have peace.
Therefore, they should “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” The
world was and is trying to overcome, destroy, and obliterate Jesus Christ. Yet, by
His victory, His atoning death and resurrection, He is overcoming the world,
creating a new human race, and empowering them to disciple all nations and
make the world the Kingdom of God.
The knowledge they must seek is a religious and moral knowledge, and the
victory that shall come is also religious and moral.
But the fallen world insists on separating morality from knowledge, and it
denies all validity to morality, which is reduced to purely personal values.
Knowledge is therefore falsified and denied.
In commenting on the use of the verb believe, we saw that John tells us that
knowledge and faith go hand in hand. True faith gives moral perception to our
understanding, so that, instead of more information, we have knowledge. It is
subtle nuances like this that make John’s Gospel so telling. To strip morality
from knowledge is to deny and renounce it. This is a moral universe, and we can
never truly know anything apart from that awareness.
Elsewhere in the New Testament, faith is used as a noun. It describes various
related things, such as trust, an aspect of God’s grace to us, and a deposit of
doctrinal premises (Jude 3: “…the faith which was once delivered unto the
saints”). For John, it is an action based upon knowledge, of which Christ is the
Alpha and the Omega.

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