In our text today Jesus addresses both the disciples (and by extension all believers) and the world.
- In vss. 18-21 Jesus addresses certain implications for the disciples given their relationship with Him.
- Specifically, he says they are not of this world.
- We will see how this relates to our Position and Place in Christ.
- In vss. 22-25, Jesus addresses the implications for the world given their relationship with Him.
- And yes, the world does indeed have a Position with regards to Christ.
1) POSITION AND PLACE OF THE DISCIPLES
John 15:18–21 (ESV) — 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
Jesus has spent much of the Farewell discourse comforting the disciples – see John 14.
- Last week He spoke of the intimate relationship they have with Him.
- One rooted in a love for Him and for each other.
- Now he prepares them for what they will experience given their relationship with Him.
He shares at least four things with them.
- 1) He tells them “if the world hates you” it is because it hated Him first (vs. 18).
- 2) He tells them they will not be loved by the world because they are “not of the world” (vs. 19).
- To be loved by the world is to be in it
- 3) He tells them the world “will also persecute you” just as it has persecuted Him (vs. 20).
- 4) He tells them they will face all of this on “account of my name” (vs. 21).
But there is an upside to number 3.
- The upside is that the reverse is also true.
- “if they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (vs. 19).
- In other words, there will be those that will “hear” the word of God.
- Acts 18:9–10 (ESV) — 9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
These are all straightforward enough.
- But I think it is important to dig a little deeper into Jesus’ words in verse 19.
What is Jesus conveying when He speaks of the disciples being “not of the world”?
- His words seem to have a least a two implications.
The first implication is something that Jesus has spoken of continuously since John 3, and the second is implied throughout the Gospel of John and is mentioned in 3 verses.
- They are (1) our Position in Christ and (2) our Place in Christ.
- The Position is necessary to have access to the Place!
To get an idea of our Position in Christ, we will look at how John contrasts it with the world.
1) A description of the person’s Position in Christ.
- “born of the flesh is flesh” vs. “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” – John 3:6
- “condemned already” vs. “not condemned” – John 3:18
- “hates the light” vs. “comes to the light” – John 3:20-21
- “does not honor the Son does not honor the Father” vs. “honor the Son, just as they honor the Father” – John 5:23
- Do not believe Moses vs. believe Moses would believe Jesus – John 5:45ff
- Not drawn by the Father vs. drawn by the Father – John 6:44
- Do not hear the word of God because “you are not of God” vs. “whoever is of God hears the words of God” – John 8:47
In John, all of these things describe someone who:
- Is born again through the Spirit.
- Believes that Jesus who He says He is.
- Believes that Jesus’ words are the Father’s words.
- Believes that Jesus’ deeds are the Father’s deeds.
So to be “not of the world” involves all these things in the life of the believer.
- Our born again heart and belief in Christ position us so that we no longer walk in darkness; are no longer condemned; and are able to “hear” His words; and honor the Father; etc.
Yet along with our position, “not of the world” also involves a place.
- The Kingdom of God
2) A description of a person’s Place with Christ.
- John 3:3 (ESV) — 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
- John 3:5 (ESV) — 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
- John 18:36 (ESV) — 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
Briefly, what is this place called the Kingdom of God?
The Kingdom of God (taken from Love in the Kingdom of God lesson):
A definition: “The Kingdom of God is primarily the reign, rule, or authority of God himself; secondarily, it is the realm in which that rule is directly exercised, consisting largely in the laws governing the natural world and, more importantly, the individual and collective hearts of those who have bowed to God’s rule.” – J.P. Moreland.
- And importantly, “its character is determined…by the covenant according to which it is administered” – Michael Horton.
- Our context is the new covenant of Jesus Christ as prophesied in Jeremiah 31.
- Examples of the Kingdom’s “character” in which Christ rules are that “the righteousness of God has been revealed from heaven, including justification of sinners and new birth, the Spirit and his gifts poured out” – Michael Horton.
The Kingdom of God “stands at the very center of the message of the historical Jesus” – AYBD.
- It is “the worldview of Jesus of Nazareth and Holy Scripture” – J.P. Moreland.
- It “established a radically new order of life on earth” – Dallas Willard.
Kingdom of God in Scripture – a few examples:
1) The Kingdom of God is at hand – the now and not yet.
- Matthew 3:2 (ESV) — 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- Matthew 10:7 (ESV) — 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
- Matthew 12:28 (ESV) — 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
2) The Kingdom of God is priceless.
- Matthew 13:44 (ESV) — 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
- Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV) — 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
3) The Kingdom of God requires self-sacrifice.
- Mark 9:47 (ESV) — 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,
- Acts 14:22 (ESV) — 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
4) The Kingdom of God has different priorities than the world.
- Luke 9:60 (ESV) — 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
- Luke 12:29–31 (ESV) — 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
5) The Kingdom of God is not about worldly gratification.
- Romans 14:17 (ESV) — 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
So to be “not of the world” is to be firmly placed in the Kingdom of God and positioned in Jesus Christ.
- It is to understand that as a believer, life is to be lived in this new reality.
- We may not “feel” this truth, but it is true and we can rely on it.
- We are to live with a Kingdom Understanding of the world around us and no longer with a Worldly Understanding.
- To live in this Kingdom necessitates being Positioned in Christ.
- And to live joyously in the Kingdom requires death to self and right thinking.
Current Events and Jesus’ Words to the disciples:
“Christ’s followers will be hated by the same world, partly because they are associated with the one who is supremely hated, and partly because, as they increase in the intimacy, love, obedience and fruitfulness depicted in the preceding verses, they will have the same effect on the world as their Master” – D.A. Carson.
- In other words, we should be hated not just because of our association to Christ but because we are becoming more like Him.
Have you become enough like Christ to bring the hatred of the world down on you?
- And do we really face the persecution today that Christ spoke of to the disciples?
- Certainly Christians in other parts of the world do.
- But what about in America?
Case in Point:
- The Family Research Council is a “conservative Christian lobbying group” that “strongly opposes gay marriage and abortion and says it advocates ‘faith, family, and freedom in public policy and public opinion’” – Washington Post.
- On August 15th 28-year-old Floyd Lee Corkins II walked into the FRC with a 9mm pistol, two 15 round magazines and a 50 round box of ammunition and began to open fire.
- He also had with him a 15 of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches.
- Corkins was a volunteer for the DC Center for the LGBT Community.
- The reason he gave for the shooting was the FRC’s stance on gay marriage.
- The liberal Human Rights Campaign has called the FRC a “hate group” because of this stance.
- The liberal Southern Poverty Law Center labeled the FRC a “hate group”.
- The Huffington Post called the FRC a “hate group” even after the shooting.
- Corkins, apparently a big fan of Friedrich Nietzsche, apparently decided the way to deal with a “hate group” is to shoot them.
“The world is a society of rebels, and therefore finds it hard to tolerate those who are in joyful allegiance to the king to whom all loyalty is due” – D.A. Carson.
- What the Kingdom of the World calls a “hate group”, is in the Kingdom of God “joyfull allegiance” to King Jesus.
- And given Jesus’ words in our text today, to express hatred for Kingdom values is to express hatred for Jesus Himself and the Father (vs. 21).
- We must remember that the difference between us and them is not us.
- It is Jesus.
- Jesus reminds us of our origins.
- “but I chose you out of the world” (vs. 19).
- He chose us out of the darkness; out of the condemned; out of the flesh; out of Satan’s world.
- A beautiful picture of the Grace in the Guilt – Grace – Gratitude we spoke of a few weeks ago from the Heidelberg Catechism.
- How are you showing God you are grateful?
2) POSITION OF THE WORLD
John 15:22–25 (ESV) — 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
Jesus also tells us about the position of the unbeliever.
- Because of Him, His divinely purposed ministry and the Words He spoke, the unbeliever is:
- “guilty of sin” (vs. 22)
- “have no excuse for their sin” (vs. 22)
- A result of this position is hatred of both Jesus and the Father.
- As we have said over and over, there is not neutral ground in which any man stands.
- And quoting the Psalms, he tells us that this hatred is a fulfillment of prophecy (Psalm 69:4).
It sounds like Jesus is saying they would have been innocent of their sin had He not arrived.
- Is this really what He is suggesting when He says they “would not have been guilty”?
- Absolutely not.
- Jesus is referring specifically, as suggested by the Psalm prophecy, to the rejection of His Messiahship.
- And to the guilt this rejection incurs.
D.A. Carson puts it like this, “by coming and speaking to them Jesus incited the most central and controlling of sins: rejection of God’s gracious revelation, rebellion against God, decisive preference for darkness rather than light” – D.A. Carson.
This is also similar language that Jesus used in John 3 and John himself used in John 12.
- John 3:19 (ESV) — 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
- John 12:37–39 (ESV) — 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39a Therefore they could not believe.
Importantly, as Carson points out, this hatred and rejection of Christ does not jeopardize “God’s redemptive plan”.
- In a prophetic and mysterious way, it is part of it.