You Can’t Live In Neutral
1) In 1861, Kentucky found itself in the middle of our nation’s Civil War. Kentucky was in the middle of the War GEOGRAPHICALLY. We were 1 of 5 “border states”. PERSONALLY, both Presidents (Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis) were born in Kentucky. ECONOMICALLY, Kentucky sent tobacco, whiskey, snuff, and flour south via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, while they sent the same things north via railroad.
Kentucky had decided and was trying its best to remain neutral. Yet, something changed all of this. On September 4, 1861, Confederate troops were ordered to occupy Columbus, Ky., a small town located on the Mississippi River. It was the terminus of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad.
The General Assembly acted promptly. On September 7, they passed a resolution ordering the troops out of Kentucky. Governor Beriah Magoffin (whom Magoffin Co. is named after) vetoed it; but his veto was overruled by the Assembly. Neutrality was over; a line had been drawn; sides had been take; A DECISION WAS MADE.
2) What’s worse than facing a national crisis in neutral? Attempting to remain neutral with your eternal destiny.
3) Just as the troops entering Kentucky forced the Commonwealth into a decision, 2,000 years ago God sent His Son into this world, and mankind hasn’t been able to be in neutral since. Lines have been drawn in the sand; a decision about Christ must be made. To remain in neutral about Jesus is NOT an option.
How do people respond to Christ, the Light of the World? In our text, we find three ways that people respond to the Light.
I. Some People REFLECT The Light. 1:6-8
• He is continuing the Prologue (1:1-18).
• IMAGINE: You’re the Heavenly Father. You are going to assign the responsibility to announce to the world that the Word has arrived, who do you choose? A Prince; a Dignitary; a Governor; or even a Caesar? God chose none of the above. He chose a Preacher, John the Baptist. A man who wore camel’s hair and locust and wild honey. He was Earth’s Reflector of Heaven’s Light.
A) His Authority. 1:6-7b
• God chose “a man” to reveal His Word! The eternal chose the mortal; the Heavenly chose the earthly; the Word chose His Witness!
• John was “sent from God” (Commission) to “bear witness to the Light” (Mission). John probably would have called him John the Witness. This is a key word in John (used 33x).
• Application: God chooses to use humans for witnesses. “Does God need me?” No, but He has chosen to use you! How’s your witness? Have FIRES of CONVERSION been replaced with AMBERS of CONTEMPTMENT; what once Shined Brilliantly, now Flickers Dimly? We need some witnesses sent by God!
B) His Opportunity. 1:7c
• Why did God send John? That “all men through him might believe.” Through the preaching and teaching of John the Baptist, many would come to faith in Christ.
• ILLUSTRATION: Can you think of a person God used to bring you to Christ? A mother; father; child; friend; co-worker. God uses human agents to share the Gospel with one another. Question: Have you been that person to someone else?
C) His Humility. 1:8
• Key to witnessing: Know Your Place! John was “not that Light”. John’s goal is found in 3:30 (“increase/decrease”).
• ILLUSTRATION: One of best comments of my ministry came from Jacob Howard. Called me Jesus. Why? I talk about Jesus all the time and when I give an invitation I say, “Come to Jesus.”
II. Some People REJECT The Light. 1:9-11
• How would the world respond to John’s witness concerning the Light? As John reflected the Light that came from Heaven, how would they respond? Much like they do today.
A) The World Didn’t KNOW Him. 1:9-10
o Enlightened the world (“lighteth every man”) – Spiritual Knowledge
o Dwelled with them – “was in the world”
o Created the world – “made by him”
• Yet, they “knew him not”. This is a term that speaks of relationship, not just intelligence. It is used in Genesis 4, when Adam “knew” Eve. When Christ came into the world He created, they greeted Him with jeers, unbelief, scoffing, ridicule, spit, whips, nails, and a cross! They hated Him (Cf. Isaiah 53:3; John 15:18).
B) The Jews Wouldn’t RECEIVE Him. 1:11
• “came” – key word in Messianic scriptures.
o Numbers 24:17, “there shall come a star out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.”
o Zechariah 9:9, “they king cometh unto thee.”
o John 4:25, “I know that Messiah cometh.”
• “his own” – Jewish race. Christ was Abraham’s seed (Cf. Romans 1:3; 9:5; 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 22:16).
• Christ specifically target Jerusalem on two separate occasions: 1) Luke 13:34, he offered them salvation, safety, and security; and 2) Luke 19:41-44, he, with a broken heart came near the city and wept because they had rejected him.
• ILLUSTRATION: The Jewish nation desired Barabbas, rather than Christ (Acts 3:13-15).
• Application: I wonder how many times the heart of Christ has been broken because of you? How many times has he come near to you (church, home, late hours of night, hospital bed, work)? How many times have you said, “No”, desiring something more than Him – Pleasure, Prosperity, Power, Popularity, Prestige, etc.?
III. Some People RECEIVE The Light. 1:12-13
• GOOD NEWS! My favorite word of Bible: “But”. Not everyone rejects the Light; some believe it and receive it! He is going to show us how to be saved, to become children of God.
A) A Requirement is Given. 1:12
• What is meant by “received him”? Is it intellectual? Not completely. He clarifies what he means with this statement: “that believe on his name”. To trust in the totality of the person. A name, in scripture, speaks of their total person. You must receive all of Christ in order to be saved. Too many want Christ a la carte; they want to pick and choose what they like about Jesus, holding to what they want and casting away what they dislike (Deity, no; Humanity, yes; Savior, yes; Lord, no; Teacher, maybe, as long as I agree with it).
• You must receive Him, welcome Him as He is! You come just as you are and receive Christ just as He is!
B) A Right Is Granted. 1:13
• “gave he power” – the right, authority. He grants those who believe the right to become children of God. This passage is a clear indication that salvation is a total work of God. It doesn’t come through PARENTAL DESCENT (“of blood”); PERSONAL DESIRE (“the will of the flesh”); HUMAN DESIGN (“the will of man”).
• A person comes when it is granted, when Christ draws them (John 6:44; Romans 11:36). You don’t simply get saved at any time; you get saved when God invites you! That’s why it is imperative to come to Christ if he is drawing you.
• In 1st Century, Antiochus invaded Egypt. Egypt sent for Roman help. Gaius Popillius gave him an ultimatum. Antiochus would give an answer, trying to use crafty speech to keep from making a decision. He asked for time to decide. Gaius pulled a sword and drew a circle around Antiochus and said, “Decide before you step out of that circle.”
• I ask you to do the same thing. Imagine a circle drawn around your feet. You will step out of it today. Coming forward means you say, “Yes”, to Jesus; step toward the door means you say, “No”. You can live in neutral, you must decide!
• TODAY’S DECISION DETERMINES TOMORROW’S DESTINY!