Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Testimony of John the Baptist regarding Jesus (1 John 1:19-37)

Following John’s rich theological prologue to his Gospel, in the remainder of chapter 1 and in chapter 2, John the Apostle describes the first couple weeks of Jesus’ public ministry. Here is what happened the day before Jesus appears on the scene, and the first two days thereafter.

Day 0:

In verses 19-28, a delegation of religious leaders descend the eight-hour hike from Jerusalem down to the Jordan River with two questions for John: Who are you? And why are you baptizing?

John doesn’t really answer their questions. In short, he says, “Me? No, I’m not the Christ. I’m nobody. I’m just a voice. Just a voice in the middle of nowhere… calling out to prepare the way for the Lord.” And, “Pay no mind to me. I’m just baptizing with water… but there is someone coming after me who should get your attention.”

But the religious leaders don’t pick up on John’s hints about the Messiah, and are in a hurry to report back to Jerusalem. They were just on an errand for someone else, and not really personally seeking truth.

John’s message to them was: The Christ is near! But you don’t know him!

Day 1:

In verse 29, Christ shows up, returning from his temptation in the desert, and John recalls how (just over 40 days prior) the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism. [The actual event of Christ’s baptism is recorded in the other three Gospels. In John, what is recorded is the testimony of John the Baptist regarding Jesus and his baptism.]

The religious authorities who came to ask John if he was the Christ have missed the Christ by a day. The people present are Jews, contrite over their sin. John has been “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin” (Mark 1:4). The baptism of John was similar to a ritual normally practiced by Gentiles wishing to be inducted into Judaism. Small wonder then, that the religious authorities took issue with John baptizing Jews; were temple sacrifices not cutting it?

“For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:16-17)

To the broken and contrite from Jerusalem, Judea and the region of the Jordan, John proclaims: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” And “I myself have seen and testify that this is the Son of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

The day before, the prideful from Jerusalem inquired after John’s identity and his authority to baptize with water, but got no answer. This day, John preaches to the broken and contrite the identity of Jesus and his authority to baptize with the Holy Spirit.

John’s message those broken over their sin is: The Christ is here! Look to him!

Day 2:

The next day (v. 35), John is with two of his disciples, and Christ again appears, walking by. John repeats to them what he had shouted to the crowd the day before: “Behold the Lamb of God!” They get the hint. In effect, they graduate from John’s school of discipleship. They leave John, and follow after Jesus. Class dismissed.

John’s message to his disciples was: There’s the Christ! Go follow him!

How about you? Are you one of these three kinds of persons?

  • Are you religious, but but not truly seeking the truth? Have you so far missed Jesus Christ and the salvation that is only found in Him?
  • Are you broken over your sin, and looking for your salvation?
  • Or have you become a disciple, and believed the testimony of John the Baptist: “This is the Christ the Son of God!”

John the Baptist’s message would be the same:

  • The Christ is near. But you don’t know Him!
  • The Christ is here. Look to Him!
  • There is Christ. Follow Him!

Finally, John the Apostle’s purpose in writing his Gospel is evangelistic. “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

If you’re a Christian, when was the last time you evangelized someone?

If you’re not sure where to start, why not read together with someone John 1:1-37 and borrow this outline from John the Baptist:

  • The Christ is near, but you don’t know him!
  • Here is the Christ, look to him!
  • There he is, follow Christ!

Sunday, February 15, I preached this message in Portuguese at Igreja Cristã Evangélica—Setor Oeste in Goiânia. [53 minutes]

February 4, 2015 Newsletter

IMG_2587 Goiania Anapolis banner

In Brazil, they say, everything depends on whom you know. I suppose anywhere in the world, most opportunities come through your “network,” but in Brazil, this is especially true.

Out of our conference last August, we formed a group of pastors who meet for prayer. The long-term strategy is that these relationships and the churches represented will produce new leaders for training.

Our Pastors’ Group

Through this pastors’ fellowship two near-term opportunities have arisen:

  • Dennis recently graduated from a seminary in Anápolis, an hour outside Goiânia. The leadership of the school are emphasizing a new graduate-level program in biblical exposition, and invited me to teach. Unfortunately, not enough students enrolled in the classes to launch the program this year. The school will regroup and try again next year. I’ve let them know I’m also available to teach hermeneutics, theology or Bible survey.
  • Roberto B. is a young pastor who invited Leo to our last pastors’ meeting. Leo is with Pregue a Palavra (“Preach the Word”) a like-minded ministry also concerned with equipping Brazilian pastors in biblical leadership and expository preaching. Leo, though not from Goiânia, is gauging interest in forming a group of pastors here to be equipped in expository preaching.

I’m in conversation with both the seminary and Leo about how we might work together toward our common goal of strengthening the church. Sadly, because of unbiblical preaching, many churches in Brazil are filled with people who are like “children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14). But we are encouraged because true believers “long for the pure milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2), and there is a growing desire for biblical preaching.

Therefore, we thank the Lord for the seminary in Anápolis and for Leo from Pregue a Palavra. Please pray with us that God would continue to awaken a hunger for His word in Brazil, and that He would be pleased to use us and these like-minded servants of Christ to equip “pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12).

Our next conference in Biblical Counseling is scheduled for June 29 to July 1, with guest speaker Dr. Robert Somerville. For most of our ministry partners, “Pastor Bob” needs no introduction. Pastor of Visalia Evangelical Free Church from 1980 to 2005, he now is a professor in the Biblical Counseling department at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California.

In our last newsletter, we asked you to pray that our speaker’s book could be translated and published in Brazil in time for the conference. Dr. Somerville has written If I’m a Christian, Why am I Depressed?, and we’ve asked him to address the topic of depression from a biblical counseling perspective. Dr. Somerville’s book would add great value to our conference, but we don’t have the “know how” to translate and publish it ourselves.

Again, in Brazil, it’s all about who you know. Pastor Jenuan is a pastor from the northeast of Brazil. I first met Pr. Jenuan a number of years back at a Shepherds’ Conference, and again more recently at a meeting in 2012 at The Master’s College where Jenuan had arrived to complete a degree in Biblical Counseling. Separately from our invitation to Dr. Somerville, Pr. Jenuan contacted him to express interest in publishing his book!

Frankly, I can’t imagine a more qualified person to oversee the publication of Dr. Somerville’s book in Brazil. Last week, the director of the publishing house contacted me, saying he’d like to attend our conference in person to launch the title—and he’s going to bring a group of pastors from his network, too! Praise the Lord with us for this specific answer to prayer regarding the publication of Dr. Somerville’s book! Please pray for us, for our church here, and especially for Dr. Somerville as we all prepare in many ways for this conference: that the Lord would be glorified, saints edified, and lost saved!

In other news, our own local pastor Roberto leaves this week to attend a Biblical Counseling training conference in Lafayette, Indiana. In his absence, I’ll be preaching February 15. As always, I appreciate your prayers for my preparation and the clear proclamation of God’s Word.

We praise the Lord for you, whom we regard not merely as our “network,” but our very own family in Christ and co-laborers in this work of the ministry!


Matthew & Elsiene Carroll,

Action International Ministries
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