In the past I shared about how John the baptist came to be a wonderful pattern in living a life that is an anti-testimony in that age who became the turning point of the Old Testament Age into the New Testament Age. As he ended the dispensation of the law and the prophets, he started the dispensation of grace, preaching the gospel of repentance. From this we can see that his ministry was to introduce men to Christ that Christ might become their Redeemer, their life, and their all. Indeed, he was a forerunner of Christ to pave the way for Christ and introduce Christ.
Despite this, some of Johns disciples have deviated from John’s goal of bringing them to Christ. In John 3 (vs. 26), we can see that his disciples were perplexed as to why John was baptizing while there is another Man who was also baptizing. His answer was quite impressive. John said,
28 You yourselves testify of me that I said, aI am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.
29 aHe who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices with joy because of the bridegroom’s voice. This joy of mine therefore is made full.
30 He must 1increase, but I must decrease.
It seems that he knows very well that Jesus is the Christ. But when he was thrown into prison, John came to doubt whether the Lord Jesus was really the Christ. This is seen in Mattew 11:2-3 and Luke 7:19-20. In response to this, the Lord said,
John might have been stumbled by the fact that he wasn’t delivered by the Lord. The footnotes on verse 23 of Luke 7 says,
231 When it looks as if the Lord will not act on our behalf, we are blessed if we are not stumbled.
Why didn’t the Lord act on John’s behalf?
I was quite astonished to learn the cause of John’s beheading. It turned out that it was necessary for God to arrange the environment to remove John and terminate his ministry. This is because, when the Lord Jesus came as the reality of the gospel that John preached, he did not stop his doing. His baptism of repentance became an out-of-date truth yet it was still being received by people, thus creating a rivalry between him and Christ. John’s disciples had made a religion out of it that they were even called as the ‘disciples of John’ (Matt. 9:14;John 3:25). His disciples has indeed drifted away from his goal, Christ.
To be religious means to do things for God without Christ. Even to do anything scriptural and fundamental, yet lacking the presence of Christ, is religious.
This is such a warning! May we be delivered from all self-effort and Christless labor. The brother who gave the message on this lesson shared that “in the church, we are not following persons. Rather, we follow Christ as our only Head. If the persons who ushered us to the Lord deviate from Him, the Truth, we should not go along with them. We follow them because the Truth is in them.”
Aside from John, several persons in the Bible were ceased to be mentioned especially in the Book of Acts because of being not in one accord with the Body. Some of them were Apollos and Barnabas. Today, the Lord is in the Body. His work is also with the Body. If we work apart from Him and His Body, He might be forced to terminate us in our work no matter how unintentional it may be.
Lord, have Your way in us! Increase in us, Lord. Subdue us that we may be absolute to You. Don’t let us work apart from You, Lord. Deliver us from any unconscious form of religion!
(Post is based on Lesson 17, Level 1, Volume 2 of Truth Lessons enjoyed during the young people’s meeting just this evening.)