Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

John 1:12-18

John 1:12-18 has John continuing to describe Jesus.  When we believe in Him, when we receive Him as the Son of God who was sent to cover our sin and set us free, we are transformed into the people God intended for us to be.  We are not made perfect here on earth, but we are set apart as sons of God.  “But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves”. We become what God created when we get to know Jesus. Our status changes.  “These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten”.

Jesus came to earth and became like us.  It was God’s plan for our redemption, but in order for that to happen, Jesus has to come off His throne at God’s right hand and live life like we do as human beings, suffering and experiencing rejection leading to His crucifixion, so He could die, be buried and then raised from the dead victorious over sin and death that we might be set free.  “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish”. There was no mystery or mistake, it was God’s plan all along.

John the Baptist spent his time pointing to Christ as the Messiah who was sent by God to deal with our sin problem.  “John pointed him out and called, This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word”. He was faithful unto death to point everyone to Jesus, the true Messiah and God’s appointed solution.  We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift”. John makes it clear that Jesus is the only thing we need.  He is the answer.  He is way.

God has pointed to this time throughout scripture.  This isn’t a mystery, but a fulfillment of prophecy.  “We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, This endless knowing and understanding— all this came through Jesus, the Messiah”.  God’s revealed his plan bit by bit through history, and now John is shouting from the mountaintop that the Messiah has come.  And God is showing us something that had never been experienced before.  “No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day”. God is doing a new thing, and that love, the sending of His only Son to become the sacrifice for our sin, reveals the very heart of God and His love for us!  What a God.  What a Savior!


John 1:1-4

John writes the fourth gospel and in John 1 shows us a different view of Jesus.  Why four gospels?  Each gospel presents a different perspective on the life of Jesus, and we need all four of them to get the full picture.  Guzik describes the focus this way:

  • Matthew shows Jesus came from Abraham through David, and demonstrates that He is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament (Matthew 1:1-17).
  • Mark shows Jesus came from Nazareth, demonstrating that Jesus is a Servant (Mark 1:9).
  • Luke shows Jesus came from Adam, demonstrating that Jesus is the Perfect Man (Luke 3:23-38).
  • John shows Jesus came from heaven, demonstrating that Jesus is God.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the three synoptic gospels. Synoptic means “see-together” and the first three gospels present Jesus’ life in pretty much the same format. The first three gospels focus more on what Jesus taught and did; John focuses more on who Jesus is.

  • John shows us who Jesus is by highlighting seven signs (miracles) of Jesus. Six of these miracles are not mentioned in the first three gospels.
  • John shows us who Jesus is by allowing Jesus to speak for Himself in seven dramatic I Am statements.
  • John shows us who Jesus is by calling forth witnesses who will testify about the identity of Jesus. Four of these witnesses speak in the first chapter alone.

John is a gospel written for a specific purpose: that we might believe. It begins this way: “The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one”. When the beginning began, the Word was already there.  It was the beginning of the beginning.  With this brilliant statement, sets forth one of the most basic foundations of our faith – the Trinity. We can follow John’s logic:

  • There is a Being known as the Word.
  • This Being is God, because He is eternal (The Word was first)
  • This Being is God, because He is plainly called God (the Word was God).
  • At the same time, this Being does not encompass all that God is. God the Father is a distinct Person from the Word (in readiness for God).

What was God’s place in creation?  “Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him”. God created all things – not some things – not most things – but ALL things.  There was not one thing that existed that came to be without His touch.  And the greatest of all creation was life.  “What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by”. This life is the light of men, speaking of spiritual light as well as natural light.  Life comes from God and Him alone.  He is the awesome creator of all things with life being the ultimate creation!

Revelation 22

Revelation 22 has John on a tour of the New Jerusalem.  “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month”.  Throughout scripture, a picture of a river is used to express power, growth, provision, yield and peace.  Little wonder that it is used here in the biggest reveal ever to describe what things will be like for eternity.  It all flows from God and Christ, and provides what is essential for the tree of life to continue yielding its fruit.

The tree of life has been around since the beginning, and will be there at the end.  Adam and Eve failed in Genesis 3 to obey God and not eat from the tree of life.  Now that we see it again, after the final victory and the center of eternity, it reminds us that God is in the restoration business and gives us the right to return to Him no matter the past.  We have to deal with our sins, but when we do “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him”.  This is the final resting place.  If our name is written in the book of life, we’ll spend eternity here with God.

He will be our God.  “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads”. Heaven will be a place of intimate, face to face fellowship with God. This will be the greatest glory of heaven: to know God and to know Jesus more intimately and wonderfully than we ever could on earth. The darkness will be gone and God alone will be our light. “And  night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever”. Guzik shares this as a summary of what lies ahead:

No more curse Perfect Restoration
Throne in their midst Perfect Administration
Servants shall serve Perfect Subordination
Shall see His face Perfect Transformation
Name on foreheads Perfect Identification
God is the light Perfect Illumination
Reigning forever Perfect Exultation

John ends his revelation by sharing final thoughts on what is to come.  These words may have come from different people – the scriptures don’t make that abundantly clear.  But we do know this: “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place”.  John makes it clear that his writing of this prophecy is not for mere enjoyment or entertainment.  It is a call to action – a way to live – a guide to success and eternity.  “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book”.

It will come with action.  Jesus says he is ‘coming soon’ but that is based on God’s calendar, not ours.  What we know for sure is that we will stand before the judgment seat and give account and how we have lived will matter.  “I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done”.  No one will get a pass, we’ll all have to give our explanation of what we’ve done (sin) and how we’ve addressed it (grace through Christ) if we expect to enter Heaven.  It’s free to us for that taking, but take it we must and make it our own.  “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price”.  Jesus has made a way.  We have to respond.  “Surely I am coming soon”.

Revelation 21

Revelation 21 has John revealing all things made new – a new heaven, a new earth, and a new city.  “Then I saw  a new heaven and a new earth, for  the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared  as a bride adorned for her husband”.  Guzik breaks Revelation into three segments, and chapter 21 begins the third and final one:

  • Jesus, the Lord of the Churches (Revelation 1 through 3)
  • Jesus, the Lion over the nations (Revelation 4 through 20)
  • Jesus, the Lamb among believers (Revelation 21 through 22)

God finishes His plan.  “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God”. This states the depth of God’s desire and man’s purpose. Simply, God’s desire is to live in close fellowship with man, and man’s purpose is to be a people unto God. And it all comes together as the end times come to an eternal close.  God will remove all things that caused pain and suffering.  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away”.  We’re going to experience His plan and perfection!

God’s changing everything. “Behold, I am making all things new”.  It’s not a minor upgrade.  The statement is in the present tense – It is already in motion and will come to completion in that day. God’s work of renewal and redemption will come to fruition and be complete that day. “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son”.  God’s eternal purpose will be complete.  We will celebrate His victory and the relationship we’ll have with our Father for eternity.

Certainly not all will experience God’s new world.  “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death”.  Sin will separate those who reject Jesus (our only atonement for sin) from those who have received His gift of grace through Christ.  Their end will not be in God’s new places, but in the place Satan has been banished to for eternity.  Who will be there?  “Only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life”.

Revelation 20

Revelation 20 has John describing the removal of Satan, sin and death – at least for a while.  “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended”.  Satan tried to imprison Jesus in a tomb, but couldn’t. Here, God has no problem restraining Satan, and this incarceration is not for punishment, but restraint.  He will be allowed out after 1000 years.

So what happens during this 1000 year reign of Christ – the Millennium as it is often referred?  There are lots of different ideas and interpretations around what happens.  One thing we know is that Jesus Christ will reign, and some of the saints will be there with Him.  “They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years”.  The saints will administrate the kingdom of Jesus Christ over the earth, reigning over those who pass from the earth of the Great Tribulation to the earth of the Millennium.  Not all believers will be raised during this first resurrection.

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years”.  Guzik writes ‘This first resurrection is the granting of resurrection life in resurrection bodies to all those who are dead in Jesus.

  • This is a resurrection of blessing (blessed and holy is the one)
  • This is a resurrection of power (over the second death has no power)
  • This is a resurrection of privilege (they will be priests of God … will reign with Him a thousand years)’

These verses create much discussion around the rapture and the exact order of events that will happen during the end times.  I don’t claim to know any more than who wins – God and Jesus Christ will end victorious!

John does give us some details on what that final victory will look like:

  • when the thousand years are ended,  Satan will be released
  • will come out to deceive the nations
  • gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea
  • fire came down from heaven and consumed them
  • the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire
  • they will be tormented day and night forever and ever

We win.  Satan and his evil forces take one last run at taking on God and Christ – but they are soundly defeated and sent away forever!

But that’s not the end of the story.  Then comes judgment from Him who is seated on “a great white throne”.  We’ll all stand before God someday and account for what we have done.  “I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened”.  Some believe that God doesn’t pay attention and keep score.  That is not true.  How we live matters.  What we do with Jesus matters even more.  We’re going to be compared against what is writing in “the book of life”.   It will determine our eternity.  “And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done”.  Everyone will give account.  The outcome is black and white and final.  We won’t be bargaining with God.  “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”.  That’s not the outcome we want.  We need to address our sin and get right with God.  Jesus is the only way for that to happen.  Don’t wait.  There will be no second chance when standing before Him!

Revelation 19

Revelation 19 has Jesus returning as the conqueror and Lord.  It is a chapter filled with praise and celebration.  “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants”.  God is in control.  It’s always been that way, since the beginning of time.  He spoke the world into existence.  He has sat on the throne ever since and His salvation, glory and power have reigned.  Now his judgment is coming to a close.

This isn’t a short term victory.  “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever”.  Hallelujah is Hebrew for “Praise the Lord”, which is what we need to be doing every day as we walk with Jesus.  God doesn’t just win in the end.  He sits on the throne and is winning every day we live.  He is in control of all things, then, now and forever more. The focus of worship is on the great works of God, specifically, His work of righteous judgment.  Everyone is worshipping.  “The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne”.

We have much to praise God about.  He is the giver of life, of love, and of all things we experience in our life.  And the beauty of what John sees in Revelation is that God will continue to sit on the throne victoriously until the end of time on this planet.  Our side wins. “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great….Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns”.  It isn’t always easy.  It isn’t without pain and suffering.  But God has had a plan for His people since the beginning and He will execute it to perfection until the very end.  He is the victor through Christ.

John sees Jesus come to earth and make war against all that is evil.  “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God….On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords”.  Jesus is the only way we get victory.  He alone is able to defeat the enemies of righteousness, and that is exactly what will happen.  “I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet….thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur”. The Antichrist and all who were with him are defeated.  Jesus wins!  Jesus wins and ends the reign of evil on the earth!

Revelation 18

Revelation 18 continues John’s revealing of Babylon.  In chapter 17, John describes Babylon as a religious city, while in chapter 18, the view is of Babylon as a commercial city.  “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living”.

Guzik writes about the city this way.  ‘There are definite similarities between Babylon as described in Revelation 17 and Revelation 18.  Both are under the rule of Antichrist, and have ruling queens; both are filled with blasphemy; both hate the saints, and shed their blood; both are associates with kings in fornication; and both are under judgment and destroyed.  However, there are also some significant differences:

Religious Babylon (Rev. 17) Commercial Babylon (Rev. 18)
1. Mystery Babylon 1. Great Babylon; Babylon the Great
2. Symbol: a harlot woman 2. Symbol: a great city
3. Identified with Rome (inland) 3. Identified with a port city
4. Woman, whore, and mother 4. Habitation, great city, market place
5. Guilty: religious abominations 5. Guilty: greed, self-indulgence
6. Destroyed by a political power
that previously supported her
6. Destroyed by a sudden act of God

The counsel is clear – we need to get away from bad influences in our lives.  “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities”.  The guidance is clear – we need to flee anything that causes us to be drawn into sin.  That applies to us right here, right now too.  We need to pay attention carefully to the people we hang out with.  We need to recognize the influence of the church we are part of (or aren’t).  We need to surround ourselves with godly influence and run from any influence that will drag us away from God and being a Christ Follower walking in obedience to Him.

Sin always carries a huge price.  Babylon, whether a great literal city, or merely a rhetorical place, will pay a stiff penalty for its sin.  “For in a single hour your judgment has come…. For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste….For in a single hour she has been laid waste”.  It goes from boom to bust in an instant when God calls it to account and passes judgment upon it for the way it.  What is the price of sin?  It costs us everything.  It brings God’s judgment and will separate us from Him for eternity.  It’s why Jesus came to earth – to give us an opportunity to overcome the penalty of sin through His shed blood on the cross.  God has made a way.  We merely need to confess, repent and receive His gift of grace through Jesus!

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