(1/22) You and I live at a time in history that is different than any other time, that America or Europe has known for a long time. The number of people who believe that God and faith are necessary is decreasing. Sin, the Authority of the Bible, and truth is waning. Young people either believe there is no God or that everyone can worship God as he
seems right, because no one can truly claim exclusivity. Heaven and hell are not part of everyday thinking.
That is a major reason that John was moved to write the Gospel that bears His name. Look once again at John 20:30-31, "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in
His name." John wants us to know that Jesus was not an angel, or just a Spirit being, nor just a man. He wants his Gospel account to be the lens through which we clearly see and understand that Jesus is the invisible God made visible and what this God did for us to have grace and eternal life.
For the next 6 months, we are going to be going through the Gospel of John. However, we are not going to do a verse by verse word for word study as we did when we went through Ephesians and 1 John. Instead, we are going to hit the high spots of a chapter a week. My wifeís grandmother used to say, that sometimes she cleaned her house with, "a lick and a
promise," or, my dad would say, when we had a lot to do and little time to do it, "Hit the high spots and hit them light." But please donít misunderstand, we are going to focus on the major teaching of each chapter. If you have a question about something that we did not cover, email, text or call me and I will try to answer your questions. Okay.
I. The Word and the World. (vv. 1-5; 6-13)
When Moses wrote the book of Genesis, he did not try to explain the existence of God. There was no need, for there was no one who did not believe in the existence of a being greater than ourselves. Moses simply explained how God created the world. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen. 1:1). Moses will say that God simply
Spoke, God said, "Let there beÖ" and it was there. John is saying in 1:1 that when the beginning began the Word was there.
Here, we must pause and make sure we understand what John is talking about because the rest of the book is based on this statement. Itís a like Dickenís Christmas Carol, that began with, "Marley was dead to begin with," and told us that we needed to understand that, or nothing that followed would make sense. But John doesnít try to explain what he
means by, "The Word." The reason why is that he didnít have to. At the end of the first century, everyone understood what he was referring to. The Word is Logos, or The Logos. In the Greek and Roman world, and Ephesus where John pastored a church was heavy into the Greek and Roman world, the Logos was a title or word for the original idea, or the creator of the world. John
MacArthur wrote, "The logos was believed to be a title given to the creative force, to the ordering intelligent mind of the universe. An impersonal, non-personal principle of reason and order and intelligence, a creative force, a source of knowledge and wisdom that existed. It would be very much like what is popular today called intelligent design. Evolution is crumbling
under the weight of its own lies. And in its place is rising a kind of non-theistic notion called intelligent design and the people who affirm that say, weíve got to have an intelligent designer because we have an intelligent universe, but like the Greeks, it is some kind of impersonal force. It was Einstein who first launched this when he said, "Of course there is a God, of
course there is a power behind this, but we could never know it. This is cosmic force, cosmic intelligence, cosmic order, certainly not to be identified as the God of the bible because if youíre going to make it into the God of the Bible, then weíve got to deal with the God of the Bible in the way that itís revealed in the Bible, and we not only have a Creator, we have a
judge and a Law giver and an executioner for those who reject Him."í
How many Star Wars lovers do we have here? George Lucas wanted to incorporate spirituality into his movies, the belief in a something greater than ourselves without naming that deity. He wanted to depict the struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, and he called it simply, The Force.
I have talked to a lot of people over the years that believe in a god, and call themselves spiritual, and even say that they pray but without knowing that god, or naming that god; and, conforming that god into the image of their imagination and saying such things as, "My god is love," or, "My god would never send anyone to a hell," My god would never
condemn homosexuals." A.A. uses this type of spirituality to help addicts in recovery, referring to a, "higher power," of oneís own choosing.
Now, to the Jew, the Word was understood as the Word of God, the Word of the Lord that appears often in the O.T. it is God revealing Himself and His will or His message to the people. John wants everyone to know that whether you call it the Word of God, the Force, the Logos, the I.D. or Intelligent Designer, it is a person, and before the chapter is
through, you know that person has a name. Its Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ. BTW, this is the same thing that Paul and the Writer of Hebrews says. Speaking of Jesus, Paul says in Col. 1:16-17, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were
created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist."
Hebrews 1:1-2, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; John says that the very first reference to God in Genesis 1:1 is referring to Jesus. And He did not create by
evolution, He created everything specifically as it is. Though, why he created mosquitoes and stink bugs, I donít know.
The Word is face to face with God, always has been. When the beginning began (Gen.1:1) the Word was already there. At no time did the Word-Jesus, come into being, other than taking on the flesh of man through Maryís womb. Jesus is the eternal God. Emmanuel, God with us. Micah 5:2 says that in Bethlehem would be born the one whose existence is from
This is also important to grasp from the start because True Christianity is the only faith that believes this. The Jehovahís Witnesses say Jesus is a little god (little g) created by Big G. or Jehovah. Mormons believe that every god is created by a god, and a chief theological belief of Mormonism, is, "As man is god once was, and, as god is, man will
become." Someday, according to Mormonism, you could be the god of your own planet. Jesus and Lucifer were both created. The major identifier of every false religion and cult is the denial of Jesus as God the Son, the creator and judge of heaven, earth and the universe. There is no other faith system that says that Jesus is that very God that took on flesh, in order to die for
us and then rise again.
This gets into the doctrine of the Trinity; that is, God exists in three persons, distinct, yet the same. Though it is close to impossible to comprehend, it is the teaching of the Bible and John is going to teach us that. Just as H2O (Water), can be liquid, solid, and vapor, the Godhead, is one God in 3 persons, blessed trinity. Throughout this book,
John will be making the case that Jesus was more than a man, more than an X man, Jesus is your creator, the source of your light and life.
II. The Word and Life. (vv. 4-5)
This is simple enough. He is the source of all life, physical, spiritual, and soul. We will refer to this again in a minute. But here John, I believe, is specifically referring to eternal life and He is using life and light synonymously. Light is to light what the Word is to God, it is the same. When Jesus showed up, He did so to give light about life.
He wanted people to know how to be children of God and have the eternal life of God. Light is used throughout the Bible for understanding of truth; that is, the truth about God, the truth about sin; the truth about righteousness; the truth about heaven, hell, and more. Whereas, darkness is synonymous with evil and ignorance. We will talk more of this in chapter 3, and then in
Chapter 8 Jesus will plainly declare that He is the light of the World, In Ch. 9 He will demonstrate it by healing a man born blind.
Jesus was light in a dark place. No one ever spoke like Jesus, no one ever did what Jesus did, and no one ever consistently showed grace and compassion like Jesus. No one ever stood up to hypocrisy like Jesus. And the darkness could not comprehend it or overcome it, or stop it.
III. The Word and The Witness, (vv. 6-9, 19ff)
Is about the ministry of John the Baptizer. John was the one chosen by God, created by God through Zach and Liz, to get the people ready to meet their creator, Savior, their King, and source of light and life. We will talk about the Witness next week.
IV. The Word and the Reception (vv. 10-13)
The Word, Jesus the Christ, came into the world He created, and the world did not know Him. Just another Jew, and according to Isaiahís prophecy, He was an ordinary looking Jew (Isa. 53:1). He did not look like Tab Hunter, or Jim Caveziel.
Here are some of the most incredible words in the Bible. The invisible God became visible and came into the world He created and the world did not know Him. Even those who were supposed to know God and the scriptures, did not know him (thatís chapter 5). And that is true today, many people know of Jesus, but they did not know Him. Despite witnesses
like John and everyone from Paul, to Billy Graham, to you and I, people do not know Jesus.
Even the very nation He chose to reveal His truth to the world did not receive Him as the fulfillment of prophecy and the promised Messiah. Everything that we have read so far, John will develop as we go through this book, but here is chapter 3 in summary. This is the new birth.
But as many as received Him. Here the word receive is synonymous with believe. It is committing my whole self to Him. The nation, as a whole, refused to receive Him. For selfish reasons, they preferred their darkness over His light because their deeds were evil (3:18). But some individuals did receive Him. Some did believe in Him. And, here are some
incredible words. To these, and to these alone, He gave the right to become the Children of God. (the right, the privilege, the honor, the power, the authority). No one else is a child of God. John 8 and 1 John 3 makes it very clear, though we hate to say it, but John says, there are two kinds of people in the world; there are those who receive Christ and are therefore
Children of God, and there are those who do not receive Jesus, (maybe have never heard of Jesus) and are therefore children of the evil one. You are either in the light or in darkness, you either have life or you are already dead (separated from God), you are either righteous, or unrighteous. There is no middle ground (cp. John 8:44, I John 3, and Matt. 13:38).
And this is not something that you muster up (v.13). It is an act of Grace that God does when you believe with your life; that is, when you receive Him as your Lord. When you demonstrate Faith, God does an amazing thing, He places His Holy Spirit in you, gives you new life, and you are born again (Ch. 3). You were not born as a Child of God. You canít
produce that life, you canít pass it on to your children by physical birth. Eph. 2:8-9, and Romans 6:23, remind us that it is a gift of grace when you receive Jesus as the Lord who died and for your sins and rose again and you humbly receive Him into your life. When you believe that Jesus is who He says He is and did what He says He did God places His life in you and adopts
you into His family! This is Johnís main point in this book. There is no life; there is no son-ship in Godís family without Jesus.
V. The Word and the Glory (vv. 14-18).
A. What He did Ė He Pitched His tent among us- He dwelt among us. This is the Old Testament imagery of God having a Tabernacle, a portable tent sanctuary that had a Holy place where the glory of God came and inhabited (Ex. 40:34-35), among the people, yet distinctly separate from the people, again, indicating their sinfulness and His holiness. That is
the picture. Jesus pitched His tent among us. In 1 John 1, John says, "we saw Him, we heard Him, and we touched Him" (1 John 1:1-4). Sometimes I can hardly imagine, let alone trying to understand, how a Holy God would come to us and want to walk among us and be one of us, but He did.
B. What We See- Grace and Truth. When we see Jesus, we see Holiness for sure. The Bible reminds us that He knew no sin, that He kept the law perfectly, the only one who ever did. Our Lord even said, "Who can convict me of sin?" the obvious answer is, no one. In Jesus, we see the Holiness of God, but we see more:
1. We See the Grace of God. We see Godís forgiveness for thieves, and prostitutes, and murderers, and good sinners like you and me. We see God going to places that good religious people would not go so that sinners would know that there is a God who loves them. We see God touching the untouchables and loving the unlovable. We see second chances and
third chances and 70 x 7 grace. We see enemies loved and prayed for. We see good things being done for unthankful people. We see the sun shine and the rain on the just and on the unjust. We see Grace. And that Grace, well, we have all drank from its well. John wants us to know that, that well is always full and never runs dry. You and I cannot exhaust it (v. 16). Is there
anyone here today, who believes there is no more grace for you; that you may have exhausted your ration of grace? You are wrong! Godís grace is like the ocean and your need is like a Dixie cup. You can draw as much as you need and it will always be full. It is Grace on top of and being piled on Grace.
2. We See Truth. In Jesus, we see and understand the truth about ourselves and the truth about God. How God is Holy and we are not, and How we need a Substitute, and How we cannot earn Heaven no matter how good we are, and how it does matter what you believe because not all religions are about the true God and therefore, there can be only one way to be
saved and know this God. We even see truth about religion and righteousness and how God wants a relationship more than He wants religion. Jesus is truth, He taught us the truth about Godís laws, how God wants the heart and mind more than the action or lack of action. In Matt. 5 we hear Jesus say, "I know you have heard this law taught this way, but I want to clarify that for
you." What do you see when you see Jesus? You see God; You see Holiness, but you see Grace and Truth (cp. Ch. 14:6).
3. We See the Glory of God Revealed (v. 18 cp. Col. 2:9). What does this mean? When ordinary people like you and me see the glory of God, it is referring to the manifest presence of God. The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire that Moses and the Israelites saw was the Shekinah Glory of God. That which came to reside in the Holy of Holies was the
Glory of God. It was Godís manifest presence.
John and the others saw the creative power of God, the healing power of God, the nature controlling power of God, the resurrection power of God, the holiness of God, the patience of God, the grace and mercy of God, the forgiveness of God, the love of God, the judgment of God, and more. They saw God in their presence.
Is it any wonder that Peter would say in Luke 5, "Depart from me Lord, I am a sinful man," or, that Thomas would fall down at His feet and say, "My Lord and My God," in John 20? Jesus came to be the special lens through which we could see God and know him and have a living and vital relationship with Him (John 17:1-4). Jesus is the visible expression
of the invisible God.
VI. The Word and You.
There is so much application here, most of it is stuff you already know but
perhaps this is a good reminder.
A. No matter how spiritual a person is, there is no relationship with God apart from personally receiving Jesus as your Savior and Lord. It doesnít matter if you believe in the historical person of Jesus, go to church, or pray. One simply is not a child of God apart from personally receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord. And we need to gracefully tell
people, especially the people we know.
B. Believing that Jesus is very God and not a little god or a great man is essential to saving faith. My Savior is my Lord and my God! If He is not Lord, He is not Savior. It is the Lord Jesus we are to confess, It is the Lord Jesus we are to receive (Romans 10:9).
C. His grace is un-exhaustible. Donít ever think you have gone too far, because you havenít. But neither must you think that His grace is presumed; that is, I can do what I want because He must forgive me. His judgment and discipline of His children can be severe, and should be feared when sin is presumptuous. Still this Gospel is full of people
experiencing grace when humanity has written them off.
D. His Word is to be believed, trusted, and obeyed. Never try to say, I donít think He means that. His promises are true, and He wants you to embrace what He says, what He did, and who He is! Peppered throughout this Gospel are the I Am statements of Jesus. That is, He is the eternal God and the only Good Shepherd, Light of the World, Bread of Life,
Door to Heaven, Life-Giving Vine, Resurrection and Life, or Way, Truth and Life. There is no other truth. And His Word is absolute.
E. I am to be a Witness to all the above. I am to make the invisible God visible by personal relationship with Him. (Next Weekís Life Lesson)
You and I are called to the special lens by which the world can see the invisible God. We are called to show the world- Grace and Truth. Someone once said, "You may be the only Bible that some people ever read."
Letís pray about it.
If this article has spoken to your heart, would you write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know or if you have any questions about following Jesus, I would be glad to try to answer them for you. May God bless you as you seek to do His will.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman