Expositor: Josef Urban / Text: John 1:12-13 / Series: The Gospel of John / Type: Sermon
The term “cheap grace” was coined by the German Neo-orthodox theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his 1937 book, The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer's theology was really quite heterodox, but his insight into the problem of an alleged "grace" that is flippantly received was insightful. He defined "cheap grace" as “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” In other words, it’s the view that heaven can be won by a superficial profession of faith that does not entail any serious commitment to the teachings of Christ or significant lifestyle change.
It’s true that John 1:12 does not mention cross-bearing, enduring affliction, or forsaking all to follow Christ. It just speaks of believing. And thank God for that because we are saved through faith alone. But we need to understand this text in light of the whole Bible (beware of the isolationistic cherry-picking of proof-texts!). And the whole Bible teaches that saving faith must be a living faith by which the whole man apprehends a living and whole Christ. Many want a convenient Christ who is a priest to expiate their guilt but not a prophet to command them or a king to reign over them. Christ cannot be torn asunder and received in pieces. To receive the true Christ is to receive the whole Christ as He is disclosed in the whole Bible. It is to receive Him as not only Savior but also as Lord. And it is to receive Him by a faith that, according to John 1:13, is wrought in us by a sovereign work of monergistic regeneration, which means it is all of grace alone.
Sermon audio download forthcoming...
Expositor: Josef Urban / Text: John 1:9-11 / Series: The Gospel of John / Type: Sermon
Do you abide in darkness or do you walk in the light? The ‘true light’ is the real, genuine, authentic and ultimate self-revelation of God to man—the full & perfect revelation of God. Christ is the apex of redemptive history. To receive Him and His testimony is to receive the light. But our natural, fallen inclination will always be to reject the light. Sin corrupts the will and bends it toward a preference for the darkness. And that’s why no amount of external light alone will ever change our hearts. We need what Jonathon Edwards called, "A Divine & Supernatural Light, Immediately Imparted to the Soul by the Spirit of God.” We need the internal light of the new creation to shine in our hearts by the effective working of a supernatural work of the Spirit, to blast out the darkness of our inbred love for sin, and to open our eyes to see the saving truth of Christ.
Expositor: Josef Urban / Text: John 1:6-8 / Series: The Gospel of John / Type: Sermon
In our exposition of the Gospel According to John, we come now to verses 6-13. These verses introduce a major theme of the whole book of John: the “cosmic trial motif.” The entire book of John positions the gospel narrative within a forensic framework; under the rubric of a legal context; within a judicial setting. The historic advent of the Messiah is presented like a lawsuit of cosmic proportions. It presents the story of Jesus and the world as a factual divine drama, and it informs us that God’s end-time verdict of judgment in its multiformity utterly depends on how this drama unfolds. It also reveals that God’s verdict over us individually depends on the role we play in this story—it specifically depends on whether we side with the testimony of God or with the testimony of the world. And the central focus of this cosmic trial is the truth claims of Jesus Christ. Is the testimony He gives of Himself true, or is it false? Your answer and response will mean eternal life or eternal wrath for you.
Expositor: Josef Urban / Text: John 1:2-5 / Series: The Gospel of John / Type: Sermon
The Gospel of John begins with high Christology, and with a high view of God, and with a high view of Christ as God. It is so much unlike much of the theology that is so popular today. Much of what is taught today is centered around man. Modern anthropocentric philosophy has usurped the place of biblical theocentric theology. In the ancient teachers—the Fathers, the Reformers, the Puritans—God was big and man was small. But in the modern writers, curiously, God has become smaller and man has become bigger. Before, it was all about God; the significance of man was derivative of his place within the context of God’s universe. Now, it seems to be all about man; and the significance of God is derived from His ostensible pragmatic adaptability to the universe of man. We’ve got it all backwards. The prologue to the Gospel of John sets us straight.
Expositor: Josef Urban / Text: John 1:1: / Series: The Gospel of John / Type: Sermon
The Prologue to the Gospel of John was written by a son of thunder who masterfully grounds the Good News of salvation in the greatness of God the Son's identity. The Logos is the personal, eternal, consubstantial Wisdom of God who has preexisted from all eternity, always enjoyed intimate communion with the Father, is distinct from the Father in His personal subsistence, and bears full deity. The eternal Logos shares in the names, nature, attributes, titles, works, worship, and glory of God. Excluded here are the heresies of Arianism, which taught that Christ was inferior to the supreme God and Father as a created and semi-divine being, and the heresy of Sabellionism, which denies the Trinity by teaching that God is only a singular Person who changes His external modes of manifestation. Our Savior must be distinct as a Person from the Father, or else there is no basis for the incarnation and outworking of the plan of redemption in history (since it is the order of subsistence in the ontological Trinity that makes it proper for the Son to become incarnate in the economy of redemption); and He must be fully divine, or else He would be insufficient to meet the needs of our souls before God (since His merit would be limited).
We are a Reformed Baptist (1689) church plant in Georgetown Township, Michigan (Jenison-Grandville area, SW of Grand Rapids).