John 1:1-5 ESV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The Word is Jesus Christ, God the Son, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He, the Son of God, was with God in the beginning, and he is God. He is also the message of God, i.e. God’s living words to us. For, when Jesus spoke, they were the very words of God. And, when he speaks today within our hearts by his Spirit, and via his written word, the Holy Scriptures, he is still speaking the words of God to us.
Jesus Christ is also our creator God. He made us, and he made the heavens and the earth and all living things on the earth and in the sea and in the heavens. And, he is the author of and the giver of life, too, both of human life and of spiritual life which is by his grace through God-given faith in him.
Jesus is also the light which shines in the darkness, i.e. he is the way, the truth and the life, and he is righteousness and holiness. And the darkness, which is spiritual blindness, wickedness, and rebellion against God, cannot overtake the light. Satan can twist the truth, and he can steal the truth from people’s hearts and minds, but he cannot destroy it. The truth will prevail.
John 1:9-13 ESV
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Jesus Christ, God the Son, left his throne in heaven, came to earth, was born as a human baby, and grew up to be a man. While he walked this earth he was fully God and fully human (man). He suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. So, he can sympathize with us in our weaknesses. But, “sympathize” does not mean to pacify or to coddle us in our sins. It just means that he can feel what we feel, that he has compassion on us, and he is there to help us.
During his last 3 to 3 ½ years on the earth, he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, gave the blind sight and the deaf were made to hear. He fed the hungry, comforted the sorrowful, and he performed miracle after miracle. He also preached repentance and obedience to him for forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God, confronted sin in sinful humans, warned of divine judgment, and promised eternal life to the repentant and obedient.
The crowds followed him for a while, while he was performing miracles and feeding their stomachs, but when he started telling them the cost of following him, the vast majority deserted him, never to return. And, the religious rulers within the temple largely were against him, and harassed him and tried to trip him up with his words continually. And, eventually they put him to death on a cross, although he had done no wrong.
And, many people today are responding to Jesus in like manner as the crowds of Jesus’ day who just wanted to see his miracles and to have their bellies filled, but who rejected Jesus once they learned what following him would cost them. And, many such as these today are those who profess to believe in Jesus, too, because receiving or rejecting Jesus is not something we do with our lips, but it is what we believe in our hearts, which is then evident by our actions, i.e. by what we do.
For, Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self), and follow (obey) Jesus. He said that if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self that we will lose our lives for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die with him to sin) for his sake, then we will gain eternal life with him (Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Rom. 8:1-17).
What’s Handed to Us
But, this is not what is being taught by the majority of those professing to be teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ these days, at least here in America. What is being handed to us, as the gospel, is a gospel of men. It is half true, but it is half false, so that makes it false.
For, they preach the half that tells of Jesus’ death on a cross for our sins, and which tells of his resurrection, and of his ascension to heaven, and which tells of his coming again one day to receive his bride to himself for eternity. And, they tell of his forgiveness of sins, too.
But, they leave out the other half, which is the cost of following Jesus with our lives, but for which he died on that cruel cross, that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Jn. 6:35-66; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).
Thus, what they are presenting to us as the gospel of Jesus Christ is pointless and worthless, because it does not deliver anyone out of slavery to sin, but it leaves them still bound in their sins, and still destined to hell, but while promising them heaven when they die. So, it is a false hope.
So, it leaves its adherents still holding on to and maintaining their sinful hearts and their sinful lifestyles. They are still continuing in lives given over to the flesh, i.e. to hatred, rage, bitterness, immorality, unfaithfulness, dishonesty, corruptness, gossip, slander, adultery, disobedience and the like. For, they are convinced that they can believe in Jesus, have the promise of heaven when they die, but that it doesn’t really have to alter their lifestyles all that much.
So, they have forsaken and rejected God’s protections for us, i.e. his boundaries he has set for us for our good which tell us to not steal, to not bear false witness, to not commit adultery, to not lie to one another, to not murder or hate one another, and to not have other gods above the one true God. They feel these are antiquated or optional, but not required, even though most of the New Testament says they are required for our salvation.
Nonetheless, this is not a demand for absolute perfection, for if we could be perfect, Jesus would not have had to die on that cross to take away our sins. But, his grace to us was to give us the God-given ability by faith in Jesus Christ to be delivered out of our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin and to be conformed to his likeness, and to walk (in lifestyle) now no longer according to our flesh, but now, by the Spirit, according to the Spirit of God.
So, to receive Jesus Christ, and to believe on his name, is to receive not only his forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life with God in heaven, but it is to accept into our lives this dying with him to sin and this living with him to righteousness, empowered by the Spirit of God.
Then, we are delivered out of our addiction to sin so that we can now become slaves of his righteousness. For, his gospel is the only true gospel, and it is the only gospel which has power to heal our diseases and to lift our burdens and to give us true freedom in Christ Jesus, our Lord, from our sins.
So, the encouragement here is for us to leave our old lives of living for sin and self behind us and to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives, to walk in obedience to his commands, for they are for our good, for our protection from evil. Then, we will have truly received Jesus Christ into our lives, and we will be saved from our sins, and we will no longer be under the control of Satan and sin, but we can now live in victory over sin and for the glory and praise of God who saved us by his blood shed on a cross for our sins.
God is with Us
An Original Work / June 11, 2019
Based off Psalm 46
God’s our refuge. He is our strength,
A present help to us when in pain.
Therefore, we will not be afraid,
Although the earth beneath us gives way.
Though the mountains be moved to the sea,
Roaring waters abound so free,
And the mountains now tremble so,
We will not fear, God is near, we know.
God is with us and He makes glad
The hearts of all who to Christ have fled.
Christ is in us, so we’ll not fall
When on our Savior our hearts do call.
God will help us, as mornings arise,
To be faithful to His design.
Nations raging, and tempers flare.
Our God is with us. We know He cares.
Come and see the works of the Lord.
He’s armed for battle with His great sword.
He’s the Word, and He is the Life.
He gives us strength in all of our strife.
Be still and know that He is our God.
He’s exalted where’er He trods.
The Lord Almighty, with us still;
The God of Jacob, our citadel.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019