Posts Tagged ‘God’

1 John 3:1-2

In 1 John 3:1-2 John begins by reminding us just how much God loves us.  It’s not just a simple relationship – God has bestowed His love on us. “See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children—think of it—and we really are!” John speaks in amazement about this manner of love that makes us children of God. His love has been lavished upon us. As believers we become God’s children no matter our race, age, health, gifts and talents – none of that matters.  All that is required is that we receive the gift of Christ and become His through love.

Guzik asks an important question about this amazing promise of becoming God’s children. ‘ What is it that makes us slow to believe the love of God?’

  • Sometimes it is pride, which demands to prove itself worthy of the love of God before it will receive it.
  • Sometimes it is unbelief, which cannot trust the love of God when it sees the hurt and pain of life.
  • And sometimes it just takes time for a person to come to a fuller understanding of the greatness of God’s love.’

Whatever keeps us from believing and receiving this gift needs to be pushed aside.  There is no greater gift we will ever be given.

God showed His compassion on us by going so much further than having pity on our sinful state and offering us a plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.  He could have stopped there saving us from hell and eternal damnation, which we bring on ourselves through our sinful choices.  But He went much further and calls us His children.  It demonstrates His unending and deep love for us, not based on whether or not we deserve it, but based on the fact that He has chosen to give it to us freely. “But since most people don’t know God, naturally they don’t understand that we are his children.” Here’s the problem – it’s not a God issue – it’s a human issue.  Most don’t know God.  So they can’t understand what He did to allow us to be His children.

Our present standing is plain. We can know, and have an assurance, that we are indeed among the children of God. “Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when he comes we will be like him, as a result of seeing him as he really is.” Though our present standing as children of God is plain, our future destiny is clouded. We don’t know in the kind of detail we would like to know what we will become in the world beyond. In this sense, we can’t even imagine what we will be like in glory. We have to trust God’s goodness and know that someday we will experience an amazing future as we become like Jesus!

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1 John 2:1-2

1 John 2:1-2 has the Apostle continuing his exhortation around sin. “My little children, I am telling you this so that you will stay away from sin.” We know from the prior chapter that sin is a fact in the life of every person, hopefully an occasional fact, but fact none-the-less.  And we also know that there is forgiveness from that sin through Jesus.  But John wants to be clear that as Christ Followers we need to be concerned about sin.  And more importantly, we DO NOT have to sin.  We choose to on our own.  God does not make us sin.  The devil does not make us sin, contrary to the saying ‘the devil made me do it’.  In fact, we sin and need to stay far away from it.

That’s one of the lessons around sin we need to learn.  The best way to not sin is to stay far away from the temptation that causes us to choose sin.  All the resources for spiritual victory are ours in Jesus Christ and that resource is never withdrawn. Yet we will fall. “But if you sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. His name is Jesus Christ, the one who is all that is good and who pleases God completely.” The great news is that God not only knows we will sin, but He put a fix in the grand scheme of things to cover our shortcomings with the One who ‘pleases God completely’ – Jesus Christ.  We’ll never make it to eternal life with God any other way.

So God’s desire is that we don’t sin. Yet when we do, there is provision made – an Advocate, a defense lawyer on our side. Our Advocate is Jesus Christ Himself. But He is far more than an advocate as He stands in our gap between our lack righteousness and God the Judge who will stand in judgment when we leave this earth. Jesus is our defender, even when we sin now. God is not shocked by human behavior. He has seen it all in advance. So God made a way for sinful man to have eternal life with God. When we stand as the accused in the heavenly court, before our righteous Judge, God the Father. Our Advocate stands up to answer the charges on our behalf.

He is the one who took God’s wrath against our sins upon himself and brought us into fellowship with God; and he is the forgiveness for our sins, and not only ours but all the world’s.” A human defense lawyer argues for the innocence of his client. But our Advocate, Jesus Christ, admits our guilt – and then enters His plea on our behalf, as the one who has made an atoning sacrifice for our sinfulness that should lead us to eternal separation from God, save His death on the Cross. Alford wrote “Christ has, as our sin-offering, reconciled God and us by nothing else but by His voluntary death as a sacrifice and has by this averted God’s wrath from us.” That’s our Savior’s love for us.  And He did it for the whole world!

1 John 1:4-6

In 1 John 1:4-6 John makes a pretty bold statement about the power of relationships and obedience. “And if you do as I say in this letter, then you, too, will be full of joy, and so will we.” The result of fellowship is fullness of joy. This joy is an abiding sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on who God is, as opposed to happiness, which is a sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on circumstances. John makes clear that Jesus’ intent was to be sure the disciples were full of joy, even as He faced crucifixion on the Cross.  Jesus talked with them about joy in the chapters leading up to His cruel death.

Having joy is definitely possible for us as Christ Followers, but it is not certain.  The reality is that joy is a choice.  It is attacked from many places, but true joy does not come from the things of this world.  External circumstances, moods and emotions, or sin can all chip away at our joy.  But these external factors cannot prevent it.  Joy results from our relationship with God through Christ, and we need to focus on having a vibrant relationship and staying fixed on Jesus rather than the things happening around us.  We can choose joy.  In every situation and circumstance, the choice is ours.

John gives us the reality about our relationship with God. “This is the message God has given us to pass on to you: that God is Light and in him is no darkness at all.” This is a claim to authority. John isn’t making this up; these are not his own personal opinions or ideas about God. This is God’s message about Himself (which we have heard from Him), which John reveals to us.  In God there is no sin.  God is light and therefore is devoid of darkness.  God Himself is light; and light by definition has no darkness at all in it; for there to be darkness, there must be an absence of light. God is always light and drives away the darkness.

The hard truth is that if there is a problem with our fellowship with God, it is our fault. It is not the fault of God because there is no sin or darkness in Him at all. We can claim whatever we want, but if there is darkness anywhere, it is because of us, not God. “So if we say we are his friends but go on living in spiritual darkness and sin, we are lying.” John tackles a pattern of living. This does not speak of an occasional lapse, but of a lifestyle of darkness.  We all sin, that is a given.  But when we allow sin and darkness to permeate our life continually, we are deceiving ourselves. The issue here is fellowship, not salvation. The Christian who temporarily walks in darkness is still saved, but not in fellowship with God.

John 10:31-42

 

In John 10:31-42 Jesus had a way with the religious leaders of getting under their skin.  He had just made the statement that He and the Father were one.  They weren’t buying it.  And they are getting more aggressive and frustrated with what He was saying and doing and the success of His efforts.  “Again the Jews picked up rocks to throw at him. Jesus said, “I have made a present to you from the Father of a great many good actions. For which of these acts do you stone me”?”  Jesus has done many good things, and still the religious leaders are after Him.  He asks them for which of His actions He was being accused and wanted to be killed.

They don’t really have an answer other than what they consider blasphemy.  “The Jews said, “We’re not stoning you for anything good you did, but for what you said—this blasphemy of calling yourself God”.”  Jesus had very clearly claimed to be God, and they wanted nothing of it.  So Jesus tries to discuss it based on the one thing they did hold as precious.  “Jesus said, “I’m only quoting your inspired Scriptures, where God said, ‘I tell you—you are gods.’ If God called your ancestors ‘gods’—and Scripture doesn’t lie—why do you yell, ‘Blasphemer! Blasphemer!’ at the unique One the Father consecrated and sent into the world, just because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”

Jesus is really digging under their skin now.  But He continues. “If I don’t do the things my Father does, well and good; don’t believe me. But if I am doing them, put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes. Then perhaps things will come together for you, and you’ll see that not only are we doing the same thing, we are the same—Father and Son. He is in me; I am in him.”  He basically tells them to open their eyes and see what He has done and what the Scriptures say about Him.  But of course, they refuse to take the blinders off their eyes.  They merely want Him dead.

So they make an effort to get rid of Him again.  “They tried yet again to arrest him, but he slipped through their fingers. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and stayed there. A lot of people followed him over. They were saying, “John did no miracles, but everything he said about this man has come true.” Many believed in him then and there”.  Despite the influence of the Pharisees who were blind and were bad shepherds which Jesus had exposed over and over, many people still came to Jesus. God’s work goes on, despite the opposition of man.  Jesus is the way, truth and life and no man comes to the Father except through Him.  The Pharisees never got it.  Make sure you don’t make that same mistake.

John 8:34-37

John 8:34-37 has Jesus addressing the problem we all face head on – sin.  “Jesus said, I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will”.  Sin in this passage is in a verb tense indicating a habitual, continual action, which implies a continual habit of sinning rather than an occasional lapse.  It describes us as humans very effectively.  Scripture is clear that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standards, but here Jesus makes it clear that sin grabs us and we become a slave to sin.

Some of us try to push it to the enemy with the approach that “the devil made me do it”.  Nice try, but Jesus debunks that right up front.  Sin is a choice, plain and simple.  It doesn’t happen to us.  It isn’t done through us.  It isn’t the fault of the devil or any other influence in our life.  Sin is a choice, and it leads to a very bad outcome. But it also takes control of our life and makes us a slave if we continue making the choice to sin. Slavery to sin is the worst kind of slavery, because there is no escape from our self. A Son must set us free, and the Son of God sets us free and brings us into the family of God.

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ came to this earth to do exactly that – to set us free from sin.  “The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through”.  He, and He alone, is in a place that can truly address the sin problem we have.  There is no other solution.  There is no other escape.  We choose sin and become trapped by it.  Along with the reality that sin disqualifies us from spending eternity with the Father, which can only be corrected through the forgiveness of sin.  How does that happen?

In a word, it is the grace of God offered to us through Jesus. The people in Jesus’ day thought their heritage would be the ticket to get into heaven.  But you don’t get in based on who you are, who you know, or where you came from.  You get in because of one of two reasons:

  1. You have lived a perfect life of obedience, free from sin, and absolute in your holiness and godliness
  2. You have been forgiven for the sin you have committed, the things you have fallen short in, through the shed blood of the Savior

There is no third option.  You won’t get into heaven for any other reason.  In Jesus’ time, the people thought their lineage would be enough, but it won’t.  “I know you are Abraham’s descendants. But I also know that you are trying to kill me because my message hasn’t yet penetrated your thick skulls”.  We need to deal with our sin and be sure of our eternity.  Jesus is the only way.  Are you ready?

4:23b-29

In John 4:23b-29 Jesus continues His discussion with the woman at the well.  Jesus has just defined what it means like to truly worship God.  It has to be done in spirit and in truth.  But He takes it further.  “That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration”.  We have to come to God openly and honestly.  We need to come to God in truth, not pretending or merely trying to display how spiritual we can be.

The Samaritan woman at the well responds honestly that she has no idea what Jesus is talking about.  “The woman said, I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story”.  She’s waiting for the Messiah.  Jesus gave her the shock of her life.  “I am he, said Jesus. You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further”.  Can you imagine her amazement when Jesus said that.  She has been waiting and watching for Messiah, and now, Jesus tells her He is the One she’s been waiting for, and He’s standing right there in front of her.

Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it”. The disciples come to where Jesus is at the well with the Samaritan woman, and are amazed.  They don’t say anything but are clearly surprised and confused.  Why would He be speaking to her?  It just wasn’t culturally acceptable. Their silence was due to reverence. They had already learned that He had reasons for His actions which might not be obvious at first glance.  So they show their amazement on their faces, but don’t say a word to Jesus or the woman.

She wasn’t lost on how they felt however.  She could see it by their reaction, so she takes off with her water back to town.  “The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah”?  But she wasn’t quiet about what she had experienced.  She tells those in her village about Jesus and the way He had told her truths in her life He couldn’t know on His own.  She asks the big question – is He the Messiah?  That’s a question all of us should seek to know the answer to.

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!

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