Treasures of The Gospel According to John (Part 1)

I love John’s Gospel. Through reading it I came to know the Lord, and I was convicted of my sin and of His righteousness. The Holy Spirit spoke to me through the words of John. I was convinced that what he said about Jesus was true, and if Jesus died for me there was only one response. Jesus loved me to the extent that He gave His all, and He suffered and rose again from the dead that I may live with Him; therefore I would look to Him for eternal life and live my life in total dependancy on Him.

I recognised repentance meant a turning away from things I had previously cherished, and from thereon I should seek to please Him in the way I lived. That was 34 years ago! Those years have flown by, and when I look back on them I realise how inadequate I have been in living as I should, but Jesus is full of compassion and He has blessed me abundantly. He continues to bless and sustain me, and I love Him for the love He gives me.

He did not leave me in isolation, because His Spirit led me to a local Bible-believing church where I was baptised. Being part of the body of Christ brought responsibilities and service. Worshipping and sharing with others enriched my life and that of my family and friends. In God’s provision, as that church closed down, He led me to worship and fellowship at a different church where I have remained.

God has provided for all the church’s needs, and through those who teach His Word and all who support one another the fellowship has been built up into His knowledge and love. We are grateful for all He has done, and continues to do. At this moment we are looking to Him for the provision of a new elder who will be able to take on a leading role of teaching and pastoring.

The Treasures of John’s Gospel

As indicated in the title I’ll be doing this in two parts. There are simply too many ‘gems’ to cram into one article.

Going through the Gospel from beginning to end; for me, the first ‘gem’ is to be found in Chapter 1, verses 12, 13 – ‘But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’

I don’t think there is anything more wonderful than to be given ‘the right to become children of God.’ This is none of our making; it is the prerogative of God. A lot of people take offence, because it is a clear statement of ‘election’ (Ephesians 1:3-5).

Next, we come to the miracle of changing water into wine – the first of Jesus’ miracles. We read that with this sign, Jesus’ glory was manifested, and ‘His disciples believed in Him’. (John 2:11) This miracle immediately established the supernatural ability of Christ. He transformed the material components of water into those of wine through His own power and by His will. No other person ever did such a thing.

Harking back to my first ‘gem’ which tells of God’s children (1:12, 13), Chapter 3, verses 3-8 explains how they are born, i.e., ‘of the Spirit’. Their birth is not a physical one, but it is spiritual rebirth. Their spirit is made alive by the Holy Spirit (6:63).

In the same Chapter we learn that those who ‘believe’ receive ‘eternal life’ (v 15). We find that because of God’s love for the world He sacrificed His own Son so that believers would not perish (John 3:16). What greater love could there be than for God’s Son to sacrifice Himself for those He wishes to save (v 17)?

In Chapter 4 we discover the true nature of worship which is adoration of the Father ‘in spirit and truth’ (v 23). Worship of Him is a constant process, day and night, by those who adore Him – prayer and action combined. They have that privilege, not through any merit of their own, but because God wants them to worship Him in this way.

The feeding of the five thousand as recorded in Chapter 6, verses 1-14 is a truly remarkable miracle. Jesus demonstrated His ability to supply the physical needs of people. He gave them miraculous food as His Father had given manna to the starving Israelites in the desert (Exodus 16:13-31. He used the occasion to highlight the fact that He is the ‘bread  of life’ (vs 35, 51), the ‘bread of God’ who came down from heaven to give life to the world (v 33). He said He who comes to Him will never hunger, and he who believes in Him with never thirst (v 35).

In the same chapter Peter confesses Jesus is the Christ, “the Son of the living God.” (v 69)

Jesus said He is “the light of the world” and he who follows Him will have “the light of life” (8:12). Over and again, He claimed He had been with God eternally, came from God and was God – the ‘I AM’ (8:58; Exodus 3:14). He also said He is ‘the good shepherd’ who ‘gives His life for His sheep’ (10:11, 14).

Note

I’ll have to conclude Part 1 here and continue with Part 2 next time.

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Our Battle with Sin and Satan

Both the Old and New Testaments have much to say about sin, but what is sin? Sin is disobedience to God, any action, thought or word that is unpleasing to Him. Everyone sins (Romans 3:23), and because of their sinning they cut themselves off from God (Revelation 21:27). All sin is to God (Psalm 51:4), for when we sin, perhaps in anger to a fellow human being, we are not treating him as God would have us do. God tells us to love and respect people (1 Peter 2:17; Mark 12:31), and above all to love Him (Deuteronomy 6:5; 30:16; Matthew 22:37, 38; Mark 12:29-31).

As we know from the Genesis 3:1-24 account of Adam and Eve, both of them sinned, and Adam as the federal representative of mankind tarred the whole human race with sin; therefore everyone is born a sinner (Romans 3:23). In our sinful state none of us respects God. In this condition, because of our disobedience and rebellion against Him we stand before Him without hope of a reprieve from death, which we deserve – both physical and spiritual.

But there is a Way (John 14:6) out from this situation. The Way out is a Person – the Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He died in our place on a cross; thereby He became our substitute so that God can impute His sinless life and death to our account. There is but one requirement for this to happen, we must have faith and trust in Jesus. However, this is a God-given gift (Ephesians 2:8, 9); for when we are spiritually dead because of our sin, we cannot stretch out our hands to receive life. It’s a bit like Lazarus who was dead in the tomb (John 11:40-44). Only Jesus could give him life. He couldn’t ask Jesus to restore his life. The same applies to all who are dead in their sin. We can seek the Lord, as indeed the Scriptures say we can (Acts 15:17), but only He can give life through His Spirit. Jesus said He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). No one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6)

Jesus further explained that one must be “born of water and the Spirit”  to see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3) He said, “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” and, “You must be born again.” (vs 6, 7)

That is not the end of the matter, because meanwhile, before our mortal bodies die and while we live here on earth, ‘the prince of the power of the air’ ‘works in the sons of disobedience’ (Ephesians 2:2). Christ overcame him at the cross by being resurrected from the dead, but He left him here until the day of reckoning, i.e., the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31; Acts 2:20), when Jesus will return to earth to judge all (Revelation 20:11-15). He will separate the sheep from the goats. (Matthew 25:31-46)

Satan knows he will have to face judgment (Revelation 20:10), and therefore he takes every opportunity to attack and weaken the saints. He will try to make them feel inadequate and guilty. So the saints are in conflict with him. They have to be alert to his wiles (1 Peter 5:8, 9), and they must look to the Holy Spirit for help in overcoming temptation. He is their Helper (John 14:16).

All the saints are justified by the vicarious death of Jesus, and they are declared ‘saints’, which simply means believers, but their behaviour often falls short of holy living. God has said, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2; 20:7, 8; 1 Peter 1:16) And Peter the Apostle went on to write, ‘And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.’

That clearly points us to our responsibility to live holy lives, which means living to the glory of God,* alway vigilant for overcoming sin on a daily basis. We seek the aid of the Spirit and look to God’s Word, the Bible for our guidance (Psalm 119:11).

*  https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/01/05/do-all-to-the-glory-of-god/

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The Angel of the LORD

The first occurrence of the phrase ‘The Angel of the LORD’ appears in Genesis 16:7 – ‘Now the Angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on her way to Shur.’

The New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible identifies this particular angel, since the translators assign to Him a capital ‘A’. This same Angel is mentioned another thirty-nine times in the Old Testament. Clearly the translators wanted to differentiate between ‘The Angel of the LORD’ and any of the other angels.

The full phrase, ‘the Angel of the Lord’ with a capital ‘A’ is never used in the New Testament, even when referring to that specific Angel. Take, for example, Acts 7:30 – 32 which includes a quote from Exodus 3:2 – ‘And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. When Moses saw it, he marvelled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and dared not look.’

You’ll note that ‘the Angel’ has become ‘an Angel’ – The indefinite article replaces the definite article.

In the NKJV of the Bible this particular phrase, ’the Angel of the LORD’ never appears in the New Testament – other angels, yes, e.g., the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary when he told her she would conceive a Son whom she was to name Jesus. (Luke 1:26-31)

Some say ‘the Angel of the LORD’ was the pre-incarnate Jesus, the very Lord Himself – a theophany. He spoke with the authority of the LORD, and as God (v 4). Here is the very text from Exodus 3:2 –‘And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of the bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed,’ and ‘God called to him from the midst of the bush.’ (v 4)

The Angel of the LORD was in a flame of fire in the midst of the bush, the very same place from which came God’s voice.

God continued, “I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” (v 6) and Moses was afraid to look at Him.

At that point God commissions Moses to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt into a ‘land flowing wth milk and honey.’ (v 8) The discourse continues to Chapter 4, verse 17, when after making excuses Moses finally submits to God’s command.

In my view none of this was coincidental. The presence of the Angel of the LORD and the LORD’s voice were synchronised.

For me this is a powerful affirmation of the unity of the first and second Persons of the Trinity – God the Father and His Son. You must decide for yourself.

You might like to check out some of these texts which all refer to ‘the Angel of the LORD’ – Genesis 22:15-19; Numbers 22:23; Judges 2:1; 6:21; 13:13, 19; Zechariah 3:1 and 12:8, 9.

The conclusion I come to is ‘the Angel of the LORD’ is distinct, and I believe He was a pre-incarnate theophany of the Lord Jesus Christ. He spoke with authority and power.

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The Miracles of Jesus

Altogether the New Testament records 37 miracles performed by Jesus. Only one is mentioned in all four gospels, i.e., Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and that is the feeding of the 5,000. Bear in mind that the number given was for men only (John 6:10), but in addition to them there would have been women and children.

Jesus challenged Philip with the words, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (John 6:5) Philip was bewildered, saying, 200 hundred denarii wouldn’t be sufficient to buy bread for them. Andrew found a lad who had 5 barley loaves and 2 small fish. This didn’t perturb Jesus whatsoever, because He knew that He would give thanks for the morsels and multiply them to feed all who were there! When everyone was filled He ordered the disciples to gather fragments of the barley loaves that remained, which turned out to be 12 baskets full. (John 6:8-14)

In a way, this miracle was a proof illustration of Jesus’ claim that He is the bread of life, and that whoever comes believing in Him shall never hunger or thirst. Here are His words, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)

Every single miracle performed by Jesus met specific needs, and there were witnesses vouching for their authenticity. All of them confirmed the authority of Jesus to forgive sin. Perhaps the most noticeable in this respect was the healing of the paralytic. (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26) With the paralytic set before Him, the first thing Jesus said was, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” (Matthew 9:2)

For saying these words the Scribes accused Him of blasphemy (v 3), He replied to them, “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.”  Jesus addressed the paralytic saying, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” He arose and departed to his house. (Matthew 9:1-8)

Indeed, all of the miracles of Jesus substantiated that He was who He claimed to be, the Son of Man, and that He had the power to forgive sins.

The very first miracle recorded was the occasion when Jesus turned water into wine. (John 2:1-11) This ‘sign’(sēmeion) miracle was a picture of Himself, ‘the good wine’ who came to transform and save people from their sins. (v 10) So this miracle was a figurative representation of Himself.

Another type of miracle demonstrates the ‘power’ (dunamis) of Jesus; for example, the calming of the storm on the Lake. (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25) Jesus and His disciples were in a boat when ‘a great tempest arose’ causing the boat to be swamped with the seas. (Matthew 8:24) He stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:26)

Perhaps the miracle that best demonstrates Jesus’ power to raise the dead, is the raising of Lazarus, which is only recorded in the Gospel of John. (11:1-45) Lazarus was well and truly dead; in fact, he stank (v 39). Jesus commanded Lazarus to “come forth” from the tomb, and he ‘came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to those present, “Loose him, and let him go.” (vs 43, 44)

So the miracles of Jesus authenticate His power to forgive sins and to raise the dead. By them, He demonstrates that He is the resurrection and the life, and whoever believes in Him shall never die. (vs 25, 26)

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The Glory of God

There are many references in the Bible to God’s glory, both in the Old the New Testaments, but what is meant by the glory of God?

I know that when I look at the world and the universe He created (Genesis 1:31; John 1:3) I am presented with things of great beauty and majesty. His galaxies are mind-boggling, and it is difficult to imagine anything more glorious, except for the Master Designer who brought them into being. He rules over His creation (Psalm 22:28; 103:19) and sustains it according to His will. (Daniel 4:35)

My previous article was based on 1 Corinthians 10:31: ‘Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’

This got me thinking – Can God use me to point to Him and His glory? And what exactly is God’s glory? I obviously cannot add to His glory, but I can point others to it, and in so doing, help them to have a better understanding of the Creator.

In Luke 2:9 we read the words, ‘And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.’ The shepherds were terrified when they were unexpectedly confronted with the Lord’s glory. The angel told them not to be afraid, and he went on to say that Christ the Lord and Saviour would be born in the City of David. (v 11)

God’s glory was to be seen in His Son, that tiny baby who was placed in a manger (v 12), the lowest of positions on earth. Jesus came not only to save (1 Timothy 1:15), but to reveal God’s glory in Himself (John 1:1). God is glorious beyond our imagination.

In Matthew 19:28 we find the words: ‘So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Here, the Greek word ‘glory’ is pronounced ‘dox’-ah.’ This same word is found in several New Testament passages.

In the Hebrew of the Old Testament the word mostly used for ‘glory’ is pronounced ‘kabowd’. Exodus 16:10 gives us an example: ‘Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked towards the wilderness, and behold the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.’

This passage comes within the context of the Israelites’ complaint against Moses and Aaron. They said they would have been better off back in Egypt, instead of where they were in the wilderness without food. (Exodus 16:2) In Egypt, at least, they would have had food. But God was to reveal to them His glory by supplying them with a miraculous food which He described as, ‘bread from heaven’ (v 4). Later ‘the house of Israel’ named it ‘manna’ (v 31).

So God’s glory can be understood as His essential being – figuratively, everything that is wonderful, rich, great, abundant, powerful, majestic, holy, just and gracious. If we could adequately describe God, we would have an understanding of His glory. Only when we meet Him face to face in the new earth (Revelation 21:1) shall we begin to have a better understanding as to what is meant by His glory.

Meanwhile it is our privilege to point people to Jesus, in whom one can see the glory of God. Only God could have done the glorious miracles performed by Him.

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Do All to the Glory of God

Paul sums up his raison d’être in his First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 10, verse 31. He says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Paul always saw himself as an example for other Christians to follow (1 Corinthians 4:16) He didn’t tell the Corinthians or any other Christians to do something he wouldn’t do himself. His life after his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6; 18) was one of total dedication to glorifying God (1 Corinthians 10:31). He saw Jesus as the One to copy, and he urged other Christians to be like him, in copying Jesus. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Paul’s statement of verse 31 comes within the context of an admonition for the Corinthians not to live as the Fathers had lived; they had been idolaters, (Exodus 32:4-6) ‘as were some of them’ (1 Corinthians 10:7). The Fathers were examples (v 11) of the consequences of idolatrous living. They fell to temptation and were destroyed by serpents (Numbers 21:6); they complained, and they were destroyed by the destroyer (Exodus 12:23). They committed sexual immorality and twenty three thousand fell in one day (1 Corinthians 10:8; Psalm 106:29).

Paul clearly saw that the old age had gone, and that he and the Corinthians were living in the new age of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:13; 9:15). He told them ‘the ends of the ages have come’ (1 Corinthians 10:11), but sadly, like the Fathers, some of them were idolatrous.

They were to flee from temptation and look to God for a way of overcoming their temptations, because He is faithful and He will enable them to find a way out. (v 13)

They were to be as wise men knowing they were blessed in the communion of the blood and body of Christ. They all ate of the one bread, i.e., Christ. (vs 16, 17; John 6:51)

They were not to be like the Gentiles who sacrificed to demons and not to God (v 20). They were to have nothing to do with such practices, and they were to come to the Lord’s table unified in Him. (v 21)

If they were invited to dinner they were to eat what was set before them, asking no questions as to where the meat came from. (v 27) On the other hand if they were told by the host it had been ‘offered to idols’ (v 28) they were not to eat it, ‘for the sake of’ their host’s conscience. (vs 28, 29)

Paul pointed out that he had liberty to eat what he wanted, because it made no difference if the meat had been offered to idols. However, he would refrain from eating for the host’s conscience (v 28). The old laws of prohibition no longer applied, ‘for the earth is the Lord’s. and all its fulness’ (v 26; Psalm 24:1). All food was good (Acts 10:9-16), and under the New Covenant there were no prohibitions as to what could be eaten.

This brings us to verse 31, ‘Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. The Corinthians were to give no offence to the Jews, the Greeks or the church of God. (v 32) They were to seek the profit of all men that they may be saved. (v 33)

Following Paul’s example, we are to make this our aim, to ‘do all to the glory of God.’  God foremost, for His glory, and to put others before ourselves. (vs 24, 33)

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The Commands of Jesus (Part 3)

In this article we’ll look at the commands of Jesus in the Gospel According to John.

John focuses on Jesus and presents his gospel with the aim of having people believe through his personal testimony. It is an evangelistic gospel. John describes himself as the one whom Jesus loved, the one who leaned on Jesus’ breast at the last supper. (John 21:20)

John’s is a very personal testimony. He also wrote, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Revelation. In 1 John he opens by saying Jesus was the One whom they saw and handled. (1 John 1:1)

John is very selective with his gospel, as is the case with the commands of Jesus. Here they are:

John 6:27 “Do not labour for food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

John 15:9 “As the Father loved Me,  I also have loved you; abide in My love.

John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

John 15:17 “These things I command you, that you love one another.”

John presents Jesus as Lord, whose ‘commands’ are to be obeyed.

For the believer nothing can be more comforting than obeying His commands – take for example John 15:4 to abide in Him. He also says we are to abide in His love (John 15:9). The same verse affirms He loves His disciples. What more can a person desire than the love of Jesus?

Believers are truly blessed!

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