We were speaking about right
standing with God. We have pointed out that the whole Bible has
to do with this one thing. All the things that are in the Bible
from the beginning to the end have to do with standing right with
God. We have seen that the whole race in Adam does not stand
right with God. Therefore, by nature we are all wrong
people. Christians know that best. They know quite well that
naturally we are wrong. Not only that we do wrong and speak
wrong, but we are wrong. Our natures are wrong. We have no
right standing with God. That is, as we have seen, the meaning of
the word “righteousness”.
But Jesus came into this world
as the right Man. He is the right Man, He has right
standing with God. You should read the gospel by John in the
light of that. John’s Gospel especially, shows us how Jesus
had a right position with His Father. So, there is a wrong man
and a right Man. I think it was Martin Luther who said that Jesus
is God’s right Man. Well now, this evening we’re going
to be occupied for a little while with the Right Man.
There are two things with which
we begin and we are in the Gospel by John. First of all, the Son
of God is presented to us as God’s thought concerning man.
He is immediately brought into view as the personal expression of
God’s thought concerning man. Everybody will agree with
that! We would all say, yes, He is the right Man.
The second thing that comes out
in this Gospel is that what is true of the Lord Jesus as Man, is
to be made true of all the children of God. The Gospel is that
God has made His Son the ground of our right standing
with God. The apostle Paul put it this way: that He, Jesus, is
made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, Redemption
from God. Is there anything more that you want than that? Made
unto us wisdom; righteousness... right standing with God;
sanctification; redemption. He is made all that to us.
We, therefore, are to be made like unto God’s Right Man.
Now this afternoon we just
pointed out that John’s Gospel begins just as the book of
Genesis begins: “In the beginning God...” and we
know that that beginning was of the creation. The beginning of
the creation was God. Now John says about Jesus Christ, God’s
Son, that all things were created by Him, through Him and unto
Him and without Him was not anything created that has been
created; so that He is the beginning of the creation. Now John
takes up those very words and takes them from the natural
creation and puts them on the spiritual creation. He applies them
now to what Paul calls the new creation in Christ Jesus.
And there Paul says, “If any man is in Christ, there is a
new creation”. Let me repeat: the new creation man is to
take the image of God’s ideal Man. So John sets us on the
course of the new creation and I think this evening we shall
only be able to speak about perhaps one feature of the new
You’ll notice this thing:
the new creation, the spiritual creation, follows the course of
the old creation in principle. That will become clear
immediately. Now we look into this Gospel by John. What do we
find? We find that first of all John introduces the new creation
and he makes Jesus Christ the first Man of this new creation. And
then right through this Gospel John tells us what this new Man is
What are the features, the characteristics of this new
creation Man? And as I speak I want you to
just remember that you are supposed to be that. We are
not only speaking about something that’s in the Bible. We
are not only speaking about some great system of truth. We are
speaking about men and women and I suppose we all come into that
category! Is there any other category here tonight? And you’ll
remember when God created man He created women also, but He
called them both “man”. So you women are men! You
cannot just step aside and say, “Well, he’s talking to
the men”. We’re talking about ourselves. If we are
children of God we are looking at our own portrait and we’re
going to ask ourselves, “Well is that true of me? Am I like
What is the first thing in the
creation? Do you remember? “In the beginning God... God
said... Let light be.” The first thing about the old
creation was light. Now look at the Gospel by John. Just pick up
the first chapter of John’s Gospel, do remember that John
did not write his Gospel in chapters. It was many, many centuries
afterward that a Frenchman made out the chapters. Of course it’s
very useful but sometimes it’s misleading. When John wrote
his Gospel he wrote straight on without any chapter divisions. He
did not write a chapter on one subject and then another chapter
on another subject and then another chapter on some other
subject. He was writing about one thing. And as he went
on he was just developing this one thing. It is very important
that you should recognize this.
John, when he wrote this Gospel,
was a very old man. All the other apostles had gone to the Lord
and John had spent some time at the end of his life in exile on
the isle of Patmos. We do not know exactly how long he was there,
but he was there long enough to write the book of the Revelation.
I think he was there much longer than that for he wrote his
Gospel after he had written the book of the Revelation. I’m
not saying that he wrote the Gospel on the isle of Patmos, but my
point is this: John had had a very long life and a very full
life. He had been with Jesus all the time He was here - that is,
while Jesus was teaching and working - and he says at the end of
his Gospel, “If all the things were written down that Jesus
said and did, the world would not hold the books”.
Now, John had all that
and in his exile he had had plenty of time to think. He was very
much occupied with all that he had come to know. This Gospel of
John’s which was the last writing of the New Testament,
contains all this that John had. That is, behind this Gospel was
all this great knowledge that John had. These are not just things
that he wrote down. This writing is full of a tremendous
knowledge, spiritual knowledge; a knowledge which God had given
I’m saying this because we
must realize that there’s very much behind everything that
John puts down here. There is so much more of meaning than John
put into words and what we have to do is to get into the meaning.
Now, having said that, we come to his Gospel and this
presentation of God’s Right Man. What is true of the Lord
Jesus is to be made true of every child of God.
Now, you are familiar with this
Gospel, I expect you could tell me what is in it. Could you tell
me what is in chapter 1? All that is in chapter 1? Chapter 2?
Chapter 3, yes Nicodemus, we know all about him! Chapter 4 yes,
the woman of Samaria, we know her. And so we could go on with the
chapters. Well, let us get into this more deeply.
I’m going to take one line.
John takes more than one line, he takes first of all, the line of
the works of Jesus; what he calls “the signs”. We all
know that that is John’s particular and peculiar name for
miracles. John says that these miracles were signs. None of these
works of Jesus were just things in themselves. They were not only
meant to show what power Jesus had, they were meant to teach some
deep spiritual lesson. And that lesson is concerning this new
order of mankind. Well we’re not going to follow that line,
there are eight signs in John and if you know anything about
Bible numbers you will at once recognize that there’s
something in that. Why should John, seeing that there were works
enough to fill books that would fill the whole world, why should
he only choose eight? Not only eight, but eight! Well, I’ll
leave you to work that one out.
I want to get on with the other
line, it’s the line of the words that John used.
John selected special words for his purpose. We have seen what
his purpose is, the new, right kind of man. Now he chooses words
in relation to the right kind of man. I don’t want to give
you too much detail, as it is I want the whole week for this
conference! But there’s this technical point: John uses far
fewer words than any of the other gospel writers. John’s
vocabulary in this gospel is smaller than Matthew, Mark or Luke.
John seems to have been definitely confining himself to a few
special words. If his words are fewer, they are more weighty than
all the others put together.
What are his words? I think as I
mention them you will agree with what I’ve just said. They
are mightier words than anywhere. Light. Life. Truth. Knowledge.
These are a few of John’s special words. Now we are just
going to use what time we have left on that first word. We are
going to speak about new creation light. I’ve asked you to
look at the first chapter of John, would you like to put a mark
under the word “light”? If you do, it will seem to blot
out everything else. Of course we ought to read it, but that word
“light” is everywhere in that chapter and it is
connected with the Lord Jesus.
Now John, after chapter one, is
going on to show that a characteristic of this new creation man
is heavenly light. There are three words in John which have the
same meaning: Light, Knowledge, Truth. We will not deal with them
all in particular, but we’re going to speak about spiritual
The birthright of a child of God
is heavenly light. John will take great pains to show that
outside of the Lord Jesus, the world is in darkness. And he will
show us that even religious Israel is blind. They’re all in
darkness. They’re all away back there before the creation
where darkness was over the face of the earth. No one outside of
Christ, be they very religious Nicodemus or anyone else, is in
the new creation light.
The second word: knowledge. In
this book the phrase “to know” occurs fifty-five times.
I’m not going to give you the number of times each of these
words occur, you can make them out, it will be a nice little
study for you: how many times does “light” occur right
through this gospel? How many times does “truth” occur
right through this gospel? But there is only one other word that
occurs more times than the word “to know” and that is
very interesting. The word which occurs more times than any
other, is the word: “world”. “The world”
occurs seventy-eight times. It stands over everything else
and: “The whole world is in darkness...”
Well, let us leave the word
“light” for a minute, come to this word “to know”. We are
trying to get at the nature of spiritual knowledge. Although the
word “to know” occurs fifty-five times, it does not
always mean the same thing. There are two words in the Greek
translated “to know”. I was just fascinated as I
studied these two Greek words, I got down to the fifty-five times
of the word and then I found that they divided themselves into
two; two groups.
Two Categories of Knowledge
One category of this Greek word
means knowledge which you have by being told. Knowledge which
comes to you by observation. Knowledge which you have by reading
and that may even be reading the Bible. Quite a lot of people
know what is in the Bible. They can tell you just all that is in
every book of the Bible. They know because they’ve read it,
or they have heard by lectures. That is the kind of knowledge
that they have. Now that kind of knowing is here in John’s
Gospel. That is objective knowledge.
But there is the other group
which is subjective knowledge, knowledge that you do not get by information
but knowledge which you get by revelation. It is to that
knowledge that the Lord Jesus referred in John when He said that
when the Holy Spirit was come, He would take the things of Christ
and show them to you. How does the Holy Spirit show the
things of Christ to us? How does the Holy Spirit show us
this right Man? Not by information but by inward revelation. The
apostle Paul calls the Holy Spirit a Spirit of wisdom and
revelation in the knowledge of Christ.
I'll give you a very interesting
illustration of this, we go back here to John the Baptist. John
the Baptist comes up in chapter one of John. John the Baptist is
speaking about Jesus. He says that, “There comes one after me, the
latches of whose shoes I’m not worthy to unloose”. Now note:
John said “Whom I knew not. I knew him not.” ...
“John, what are you talking about? Jesus was your cousin!
You knew that Jesus was alive, He was in your very family circle,
and you, John, are saying you’re thirty years old and you
didn’t know Jesus? What do you mean?” Now you and I may
find that a problem! Jesus was the cousin of John after the flesh
and John is saying he didn’t know Jesus. Ah, but the people
of those days knew what John meant because he chose this special
word, not knowing naturally, by information as in the family, but
he used this other word: intuitive knowledge, spiritual
John knew Jesus, he
knew who Jesus was, that is as to his own family and cousin, but
he had not yet come to the knowledge that Jesus was the Son of
God. Then John says this, “He that sent me to baptize, the
same said unto me, Upon whom you see the Holy Spirit alighting,
that is He.” Holy Spirit knowledge is different from natural
knowledge. Don’t you think that is an interesting and very
impressive example of two words, two kinds of knowledge? Natural
knowledge and spiritual knowledge. They belong to two different
worlds. Natural knowledge is just the knowledge that you have by
information or relationships. Spiritual knowledge is that which
you have by revelation of the Holy Spirit in your heart.
If you'll read through John and
watch the Lord Jesus, you will be impressed with how He knew
things. John says about Jesus, “He knew what was in
man” that was not because He’d been to college and
studied humanity. In the universities of America they have a
faculty called “Human Relationships”. That is not the
kind of knowledge that Jesus has about man. He knows man in an
inward way. He looks at a man and He knows what kind of a man
that is, what that kind of man will do, what you can expect of
that kind of man. He knows it all. He knew Nicodemus. He knew
Pontius Pilate, and Pontius Pilate knew that He knew Him. He knew
Herod, yes, He knew... but He knew by spiritual knowledge.
How did He know the life history
of that woman of Samaria? You know, you remember how He made her
tell her story, He said to her, “Go call thy... husband”.
She said, “I have no husband.” “Thou hast rightly
said I have no husband, thou hast had five husbands and he whom
thou now hast is not thy husband.” How did He know that? I
don’t think He’d ever lived in the town of Sychar in
Samaria. Now you see what I mean.
The Lord Jesus of course, was
perfect in this way; perfect in spiritual knowledge. He was
taught by the anointing Holy Spirit. We are not like that
perfectly, but every true child of God right from the beginning
should have that faculty of spiritual knowledge. And it works on
this ground: we should know inwardly what belongs to the wrong
man and what belongs to the right Man. We spoke about this this
afternoon, the Holy Spirit in us tells us what is of Christ and
what is not of Christ. I must try to illustrate what I mean and
yet perhaps to do so seems to imply that you haven’t got any
spiritual knowledge; but it won’t hurt to illustrate in a
There are some things that stand
out in my own life in this matter. I came to the Lord in a very
real way when I was about seventeen years of age. I had a very
real experience of the Lord. I was full of His joy but naturally
I was a young man who always liked to make a joke of things. I
liked to say something funny about everything. That is, I liked
to make people laugh. So if there was anything that I could turn
into a joke, I did it. Now, I came to the Lord and then I went on
the Lord’s Day to the Lord’s table; first real Lord’s
Day table and I partook of the loaf and the cup. The service
closed. We went outside. The first thing that I did when I got
outside was to make a joke to a friend of mine. I got him
laughing so much that he didn’t know what to do with
himself! But when that happened, all my joy went. It was as
though I had lost all my salvation.
I felt so bad that I went home,
I got on my knees and I asked what had happened to me. And it
came to me so clearly, “You had been handling the most
sacred emblems, you had been occupied with the things of most
solemn meaning, you’d held in your hand the symbol of the
Body of Christ and a symbol of the blood of Christ and a few
minutes afterward you could be carrying on like that! These two
things don’t go together.” Well I got that right with
the Lord, but I learned a life lesson.
misunderstand me, I am not saying it is wrong to be joyful, but
you know what I’m saying. That belonged to the old man who
does not distinguish between what is natural and what is
spiritual. And the Lord is against mixture. There’s a lot in
the Bible about that you know, the Old Testament will tell us
something about that, “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an
ass”. Ox is a clean beast and an ass is an unclean beast.
“Thou shalt not wear a garment of wool and cotton”.
Mixed! Wool makes perspiration and perspiration is of the flesh.
Cotton is the white robes of righteousness. God says you must not
mix these things up; God hates mixture. That ought to be one of
our earliest lessons in the Christian life.
Much later in life I had another
experience. I was now a preacher and I was making up many
sermons. I really did belong to the Lord but one day I got my
sermon ready and I thought that a certain quotation from a
certain writer would give a real point to my sermon. So I got on
with my sermon, started to preach, then at a certain point I
introduced my quotation and the bottom fell out of everything. It
was as though I was just left to myself. I struggled to finish
the service. I went home and asked the Lord what was wrong. And
before the Lord I went over that sermon and noticed the point
where everything went wrong, where the Lord left me alone. It was
that quotation. The Lord said, “Where did that come from?”
And I thought oh, it was So-and-so who wrote that. And that man
was a rank modernist; he did not believe in the fundamental
things of the Christian Gospel; I am not with anybody who uses
that stuff. You see the point?
Well the point is this: that the
Holy Spirit can teach us, He can make us know what
belongs to the wrong man and what belongs to the right man. John
in this gospel draws a distinction between that knowledge which
comes by the letter and that knowledge which comes by the Spirit.
“The letter killeth, the Spirit maketh alive”.
Well, my time is gone for
tonight. I cannot give you spiritual knowledge. I cannot make you
know the Lord in this way. I can only tell you the truth. But
this is our spiritual education as disciples of the Lord who are
being taught by Him. One of the great lessons of our new creation
is this: learning to know the Lord spiritually; learning
to know the things of Christ in our own hearts and not just by
reading or hearing. This is the true light. The Lord Jesus
demonstrated this when He gave sight to the man born blind in
chapter nine. What did that man say afterward? “I do not
know this and that. I do not know. But one thing I do know, once
I was blind now I see. I know that!” But that’s the
result of a miracle, that is supernatural sight. So the Lord
demonstrated the truth of heavenly light for a new creation.
What can you do? I cannot give
it to you but I can tell you that this is the truth of God and
God’s purpose is that it shall be true in us: “Grant to
me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ”.
You will find that you are brought into a realm that is
inexhaustible. You will see far more at the end of a long life
than you’ve ever seen before. I will leave it there for the