I John 1 – Part 2

“The life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” I John 1:2

One of the greatest challenges we face as believers is fear in evangelism. It’s not that we don’t want to share Christ with others. Nor is it due to a lack of commitment. I believe most Christians would love to share the gospel with non-Christians, but they are overcome with fear. They are afraid of rejection. They are nervous about not knowing what to say.

It is important to understand that fear in evangelism is normal. Even the apostle Paul was afraid to share the gospel at times. This is why he asked believers to pray that he would have boldness in preaching the gospel (Ephesians 6:18-20; cf.  I Corinthians 2:3). The issue is not having no fear in evangelism. The issue is overcoming fear by growing closer to Christ.

In the first verse of I John, the apostle John described his and the other apostles’ experience with Jesus, “the Word of Life,” using a progression of sensory perception: “heard… seen… looked upon… handled” (1:1). These men were drawn closer and closer to Jesus, much like metal objects being pulled toward a powerful magnet. Christ uses His magnetic power to draw us closer to Himself so He can love us for who we are, not what we can do or have done, but love us simply because we are God’s beloved children. The closer we get to Christ, the more His love for lost people will become ours.

John then writes, “The life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” (I John 1:2). John testifies that “the life” or “that eternal life… was with the Father.” Later in His epistle He identifies Jesus Christ as “the true God and eternal life” (5:20). John places great importance on the eternality of “the life” Jesus offers. 1 Jesus “was with the Father” in eternity past before the universe was created (John 1:1-2; 17:24). Christ never had a beginning as some false religions teach.

What kind of relationship did “the life” (Jesus) have with the Father? The apostle tells us in his gospel: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:18). John informs us that “no one has seen God” in the fullness of His glory or His unveiled divine essence. If people saw God’s unveiled glory or divine essence, they would not live (cf. Exodus 33:20).

The only One Who can and has seen God in the fullness of His glory and divine essence without dying, is His Son, Jesus Christ (John 6:46). The reason Jesus could do this is because He also is God. He has the same divine nature as God the Father. When John writes that Jesus is the “only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18b), He is affirming that Jesus is God. The phrase “only begotten Son” does not mean Jesus had a beginning like a baby that is birthed by his parents, as many false religions teach today. The compound Greek word translated “only begotten” is monogenḗs, which literally means “one (monos) of a kind (genos).” 2 Jesus Christ is the only One of His kind. He is fully God (John 1:1-3) and fully Man (John 1:14). No other person in all the universe can make such a claim.

When John says that Jesus was “is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18b), he is referring to Christ’s very close and intimate relationship with God the Father. The word “bosom” (kolpos) refers to the upper part of the chest where a garment naturally folded to form a pocket. 3 The picture here is that of a son resting his head on the chest of his father, experiencing a very close and intimate relationship with him. Jesus had the closest and most intimate relationship with God the Father. He knows the heart of God the Father better than anyone because His head often rested upon His Father’s chest in eternity past.

Who better to tell others what a Person is like than the One who is closest to that Person and has known Him the longest in an intimate relationship!?! There is no one more qualified to tell us what God is like than the only begotten Son of God who has known God the Father forever in the closest of relationships with Him.

Therefore, John then says, “He has declared Him” (John 1:18c). The word “declared” (exēgeomai), is where we get our English words, “exegete” and “exegesis” from. It means “to set forth in great detail, expound.” 4 In seminary, we learned to “exegete” or explain God’s Word, the Bible. We were taught to “read out” of the Bible God’s intended meaning through a grammatical, historical, and literal interpretation instead of “reading into” the Bible our own biases and assumptions.

God the Son, Jesus Christ, has “exegeted” or “explained” what God the Father is like. Jesus is more qualified than anyone else to explain what God the Father is like because He, being God, knows God the Father longer and more intimately than anyone else. Hence, we learn from this verse that Christ had a relationship with the Father that was eternal and very close or intimate.

We also learn from John’s gospel that Jesus’ relationship with the Father was one of love and unity. Christ prayed to the Father that all who will believe in Him, 21 may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:21-23). Christ prayed for these future believers to “be one” and experience the same unity as He and the Father have in their relationship (17:21). This is a fundamental unity of purpose, love, and doctrine. 5

This vision of oneness or unity among believers (17:21-22) would be possible because it is Christ and the Father in them that unites them with one another (17:23a). This oneness shows the world that God loved His people, so they could love one another. As Jesus prayed for those who will believe in Him through the word of His disciples, He asked that “the world may know that” the Father “loved them as” He “loved” Jesus (17:23b). The word “as” is fascinating here. Jesus is saying that the Father loves us “as” to the same degree or equally as He does His Son, Jesus Christ. This means there is no one and nothing, including Jesus Christ, that God the Father loves more than those of us who believe in Jesus! God loves all believers the same with a beyond what we can ask or imagine kind of love (cf. Ephesians 3:17-20). What is the Father’s love toward His only Son like?

– It is FOREVER – “for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (17:24b). There has never been a time when the Father has not loved Jesus. Think about that! Together, the Father and Son have been working side by side for all of eternity past. After spending billions of years working together in perfect harmony, Jesus tells us that His Father loves us exactly as much as He loves Him! People may stop loving us and may even abandon us, but God the Father will never stop loving us. He loves us the same as His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ!

– It is INTIMATE – “that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (17:26b). The Father’s love for His Son goes deep and is very intimate. He continues to work with us to make us more like His Son. He develops in us the skills to relate peacefully with one another, so we can experience the same oneness that characterizes His relationship with His Son (17:11, 21-23). All of us long to be loved and to love. Only God’s love can meet our deepest needs. 

With this understanding of Christ’s relationship with the Father, let’s return to I John 1:2. Like verse one, there is a progression in John’s choice of verbs: “was manifested… have seen… bear witness… declare” (1:2). “The life,” Jesus Christ, “was manifested” (phaneroō) or “made known, revealed” 6 to John and the other apostles through His incarnation. 7 Christ was not an invisible God. He visibly manifested Himself to the apostles so John could say, “we have seen” Him.

As a result of this visible encounter with Jesus, the apostles were motivated to “bear witness” (martureō) or “testify” 8 to the truth about Christ. This verb is used in a courtroom setting and refers to speaking the truth. Because of their intimate fellowship with Christ (1:1), the apostles were highly motivated to testify to others about the truth concerning Jesus Christ and His love for them.

The final verb in this progression is to “declare” (apaggellō) or “make something known publicly, announce.” 9 Hence, we learn that seeing Christ in human flesh led the apostles to testify to the truth about Him and publicly make Him known to others. This is the result of intimate fellowship with Jesus (1:1). The more we know Christ and His radical love for us (1:1), the more we will want to communicate His love to others (1:2). 

It is intriguing to observe the different Greek verb tenses in this verse: “was manifested” (ephanerōthē – aorist tense), “have seen” (heōrakamen – perfect tense), “bear witness” (martyroumen – present tense), “declare” (apangellomen – present tense). Christ makes Himself known as a matter of fact (aorist tense) to the apostles. The impact of seeing Jesus makes a lasting impression on them that continued to influence them at the time of John’s writing (perfect tense). Their intimate fellowship with Christ in the past continued to motivate them to constantly “bear witness” or tell the truth about Jesus (present tense) and publicly “declare” or announce (present tense) His message of life to others.

After the visible Lord Jesus draws the apostles to Himself like a magnet (1:1), His love for them compells them to go out and proclaim His message of life and love to others (1:2). 10 Intimacy with Christ causes us to move out from seeing to bearing witness to proclaiming. 11

Anderson writes, “If a crime takes place, but if I don’t see it, I can’t talk about it. On the other hand, I might see it but decide not to tell anyone. If, however, the police suspect that I have seen the crime, I might receive a subpoena to bear witness in the courtroom as to what I have seen. I’ll talk if you force it out of me. But to openly proclaim (apaggellō)… is a very proactive declaration. There is no subpoena behind this word. It is used of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary when they heard the good news that Jesus had risen from the dead and ran to report these things to the disciples (Matthew 28:8). Our Magnetic Messiah becomes our Motivating Messiah… The principle is that the closer we get to Jesus, the greater our desire to witness becomes!” 12

The closer we get to the heart of Christ, the closer we get to the people for whom He died. Jesus’ heart bleeds for the lost. Jesus said in Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The heart of our Lord is a seeking heart. Aren’t you thankful for that? We would still be lost in our sins if Jesus did not seek us out.

Look at God’s heart: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2;3-4). Is there any human being God does not want to save? No. God created hell for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41), not for people. God desires that all people go to heaven, and He wants to use you and me to introduce people to the Savior Who can get them there. He may use you at work, school, the marketplace, the mall, or He may use you in your backyard talking across the fence with your neighbor. The key is to open your heart to Him, so He can use you.

The closer we grow to Jesus, the greater our desire will be to tell others about Him. Lovers understand this principle. For example, when a couple gets engaged, they have no difficulty telling others about their fiancé before their wedding. The future bride doesn’t hide her engagement ring behind her back when she approaches others. Instead, she holds her ring finger out everywhere she goes Why? Because that ring represents her love relationship with her future husband. And she wants others to meet him because of their love for one another.

Anderson explains, “The truth is that we talk about what we love the most. Most folks love their kids more than anything on earth, so they brag about their children every chance they get. Some people love possessions more than anything else, so you will hear them talking about money, or their new boat or new vacation home. Some guys love sports, so they talk about historic plays and record batting averages. There are some people who talk about Jesus more than anything else. Why? Because they love Jesus more than anything or anyone else in the world. Consequently, they can’t help themselves. They just can’t keep from talking about Jesus for very long. Such open proclamation of our love for Christ actually intensifies that love. As we talk about Jesus, we find ourselves even more in love with Him.” 13

“The Communists discovered this principle and utilized it in building the strength of their party. Douglas Hyde, who was the head of the Communist Party in London for twenty years before he became Christian and renounced his party membership, describes this dynamic in his book Dedication and Leadership.” 14

“He said the first assignment given to a new member of their party was to go out onto the streets of London to pass out tracts promoting the Communist cause. If the new convert to Communism successfully carried out his mission, the effect within him was always the same: he came back with an increased fervency and love for the cause. Why? Because people either ignored him, ridiculed him, or asked him questions. By openly proclaiming the virtues of Communism the new convert’s positive feelings about the cause increased. Hyde wondered why modern Christians don’t give their new converts the same assignment. That’s what Jesus did with His disciples. According to Hyde, many of the principles for reaching the world used by the Communists came straight from Jesus.” 15

During mission trips to the Philippines when we would preach the gospel eight to twenty times a day to various classrooms or assemblies at public schools, I found my love increasing for Christ and His gospel message. Hearing the good news of Jesus’s death and resurrection coming out of my own mouth reminded me of His infinite love for me – a very broken sinner who deserves eternal condemnation. Yet because of Jesus’ radical love, I know I have eternal life simply by believing in Him. Hearing these truths many times a day intensified my love for the Lord. I needed to hear that message just as much as the unsaved students or teachers at the public schools in the Philippines.

May I be so bold to say that every Christian needs to hear the gospel message because we still need to be reminded of the underserved love and grace of Jesus Christ. Remember John wrote that “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18). The more we proclaim the good news of Christ’s perfect love for us, the less fear we will have in evangelism. Zephaniah reminds us that Jesus “will quiet” our anxious hearts “with His love” (Zephaniah 3:17). That, too, is good news!

Prayer:  Precious Lord Jesus, thank You for making Yourself known to the apostles so they could proclaim Your message about life to future generations. Thank You so much for the principles in these first two verses of John’s epistle which emphasize the importance of Your love’s magnetic power which draws us closer and closer to You. And as we grow closer to You, the more we will experience Your perfect love which casts out fear and quiets our anxious hearts. Intimacy with You, Lord, increases our desire to make Your love known to others. Talking to others about Your love actually increases our love for You as we are reminded of Your death and resurrection and free offer of eternal life to all who believe in You. May each of us grow in Your love by proclaiming Your gospel message to a lost world. In Your mighty name we pray, Lord Jesus. Amen.

ENDNOTES:

1. Tom Constable, Notes on I John, 2022 Edition, pg. 7.

2. Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: Third Edition (BDAG) revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 Kindle Edition), pg. 658.

3. Ibid., pp. 556-557.

4. Ibid., pg. 349.

5. Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach; The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pp. 225-226.

6. Bauer, pg. 1048.

7. Zane C. Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C. Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), Kindle Location 3456 to 3460.

8. Bauer, pp. 617-618.

9. Ibid., pg. 95.

10. David R. Anderson, Maximum Joy: I John – Relationship or Fellowship? (Grace Theology Press, 2013 Kindle Edition), pg. 26.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid., pg. 26.

13. Ibid., pp 27-28.

14. Ibid., pg. 28 cites Douglas Hyde, Dedication and Leadership (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966), pp. 42-43. 15. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

Two Christmas Seasons

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

You can experience the joy and peace of Christmas every day by hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus talks about two Christmas seasons in one of the most familiar verses of the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

This verse falls in the middle of a conversation between Jesus and a religious ruler named Nicodemus (John 3:1-21). Nicodemus thinks the way to heaven is by living a good life. But Jesus confronts him with the truth that he must be born again by believing in Christ alone for eternal life. It is not what you do that gets you to heaven, it is what Christ has already done for you on the cross, and simply believing in Him.

The first Christmas season is seen in the first part of the verse: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” No one has ever loved to the degree that God has loved. He loved the world. He did not limit His love to one country, culture, or color. God loved everyone.

Because God loves everyone, His love cannot be earned. God loves us now, not when we get better. He loves us regardless of what we have done or not done. Do you realize that nothing you do can make God love you any less? God has designed us to be loved by Him. Only His love can meet our deepest needs. Sadly, we often look in the wrong places for God’s love, don’t we? We look for love in – a cell phone, a job, money, sports, alcohol, a computer, drugs, or a brief romantic relationship. God’s love isn’t found in these things. His love is found in the Person of Jesus Christ.

How did God express His love for us? “He gave His only begotten Son.” The phrase “only begotten Son” does not mean Jesus had a beginning like a baby that is birthed by his parents. The word translated “only begotten” (monogenḗs) literally means “one of a kind.” Jesus Christ is the only One of His kind because only He is fully God (John 1:1-3) and fully Man (John 1:14).

Over two thousand years ago, God’s Son, Jesus Christ, was born in a manger on the earth even though He pre-existed as God. He loved you and me so much He was willing to become a helpless baby. Here He was, the Creator of the universe, lying in the arms of a woman that He created! God sent Jesus so you could know what He is like (John 1:18). If God wanted to communicate to birds, He would have become a bird. If God had wanted to communicate to cows, He would have become a cow. But God wanted to relate to you and to me, so He became a human being without ceasing to be God.

You may be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Mormon, or an atheist. It does not matter what your religious background is because Christ did not come to give us religion, He came to give us a relationship. Christmas is God saying, “I want to relate to you. I want you to know Me as much as I know you.”

Because all of us have sinned against God (Romans 3:23), we deserve to die forever in the lake of fire (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:15). But Jesus came that first Christmas season to die in our place on a cross and rise from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-6). Christ paid for the gift of eternal life.

When you receive a gift, do you have to pay for it? No, of course not. Why? Because it is already paid for. Eternal life is free to you and me (Romans 6:23b; Ephesians 2:8-9) because Jesus already paid for it when He died on the cross (John 19:30) and rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-6). Jesus is alive today! So, the first Christmas season was when Christ came to us.

The second Christmas season is now when Christ invites us to come to Him. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16b). Does the word “whoever” include everyone? Yes. It includes the best and worst of people and everyone in between.

Christ invites everyone to believe in Him for His free gift. He did not say “whoever behaves…” Jesus simply says, “whoever believes…” Receiving Christ’s gift of eternal life is apart from any good works we might do.

Jesus is not asking you, “Do you do good in the community?” because He never said, “Whoever does good in the community should not perish but have everlasting.” Nor is Jesus asking you, “Did you live an obedient life?” because He never said, “Whoever lives an obedient life should not perish but have everlasting.” Nor is Jesus asking, “Do you have religion?” because He never said, “whoever has religion should not perish but have everlasting.”

Jesus is asking you, “Do you believe in Me?” because He said, “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” What does it mean to believe? To believe simply means to trust or depend upon. It is so simple a child can do it, yet, as adults, we have made it difficult. Jesus says you “believe” and “have.” You have what you take, correct?

What do you like the most about Christmas? Most people will say, receiving gifts, right?! To enjoy a gift, what must you do? You must receive it.

Jesus Christ was born in a manger and died on a cross so we could receive eternal life as a free gift. We cannot trust our obedience to God’s commands, our good life, our religion, or our prayers to receive eternal life. Instead, we must believe or trust in Christ alone to receive His gift of eternal life and live with Him forever in heaven. The moment you trust Christ, Christmas will never end for you. What makes Christmas lasting is knowing you will live forever in God’s presence. Jesus asks us to take the eternal life that He is freely offering to us.

Christ promises that when you believe in Him you “should not perish” in hell. When you believe in Christ, He promises you will be rescued from eternal punishment. When Jesus speaks of perishing, He is not talking about physical death, He is talking about suffering forever and ever in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10; 20:15). Many people don’t believe in hell today, but they better be sure about it because no one can afford to be wrong on this issue. Everyone needs to be rescued because “all have sinned…” (Romans 3:23).

The word “but” contrasts eternal death and torment (“perish”) with “eternal life” and enjoyment. Jesus is acknowledging that there is a place of eternal ruin where people will be in agony forever. “But,” He says, “You can have the opposite of death, agony and torment – you can have eternal life.” All people exist forever, the question is where will you live when you die – heaven or hell?

When you believe in Jesus, He promises that you can be sure that you “have everlasting life.” Jesus did not say, “might have” or “hope to have.” He simply says, “have,” which expresses absolute certainty. You can be one hundred percent sure that you have eternal life because Jesus promises it to all who believe in Him. If you could lose your salvation, then Jesus just lied to us in John 3:16. Our salvation is based upon a promise that cannot be broken. It comes from a God who cannot lie.

Eternal life is described in John 17:3 as knowing God the Father and God the Son personally forever. Eternal life begins when you believe in Jesus, not when you die or after you die. What could possibly be greater than that? If you have not believed or trusted in Jesus Christ alone to give you His gift of eternal life, why not do so right now? This is how you can tell God in prayer what you are doing:

“Dear God, I come to you now as a sinner. Nothing I am or do makes me deserving of heaven. I now understand that Jesus Christ, the One born in a manger, died for me on a cross and rose again. I place my trust in Christ alone for His gift of eternal life. Thank You for the gift of eternal life I have just received. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

When you believed in Jesus for His gift of everlasting life, He came to live inside you through His Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). You can get to know Jesus better by talking to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7) and by listening to Him as you learn to read and apply the Bible to your life (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Find a church where you can worship God with other like-minded Christians (Hebrews 10:24-25). Tell others about Jesus and what He can do for them (Matthew 4:19).

To learn more about how you can experience the joy and peace of Christmas every day of your life, please go to our website at www.seeyouinheaven.life and download our free digital Pressing On discipleship materials to go through with those you care about.

Thank God for His highlight reel of Jesus

“And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” John 21:25

When we were living in the Philippines, I was not able to watch my favorite sports teams in America play their games live on TV because of the time difference. But I always tried to watch the highlight reels of their games so I could see the most significant plays.

The apostle John has given us a highlight reel of Jesus Christ in his book. He did not include all that Jesus said and did, but he included the most significant things we need to know to fulfill his evangelistic purpose (John 20:31).

As we come to the end of the gospel of John, the apostle John concludes with an afterthought of his book that affirms the truthfulness of his gospel. He writes, This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.” (John 21:24). The author of this gospel is none other than “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20). 1 The phrase “these things” refers to the entire gospel. 2 John is testifying that what he “wrote” is “true.” All that we read in the gospel of John is based on his eyewitness testimony.

Some believe that the phrase “we know that his testimony is true” was written by someone other than John. There are scholars who view the “we” as the elders of the Ephesian church where John traditionally served late in his life. 3  Others think that they were influential men in John’s church, though not necessarily in Ephesus. 4  Another view states this is an indefinite reference similar to “as is well known.” 5

It is better to see this phrase referring to John as he uses the editorial “we” to affirm the accuracy of what he has written. The editorial “we” is a rhetorical device used to refer to the author’s self. Using the first person plural, as authoritative people sometimes do, is something the apostle John does with regularity (cf. John 1:14; 3:2, 11; 20:2; 1 John 1:2, 4, 5, 6, 7; 3 John 1:12). 7  In favor of this view is also the use of the first person singular in the next verse (“I suppose…”).

Before we look at the last verse of this incredible book, let’s glance at the prologue of this gospel (John 1:1-18). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.“ (John 1:1). John began his gospel with “the Word,” Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 14-17), Who is “God.” He informs us that all things were made through Him” (John 1:3; cf. Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2). The Person of Jesus Christ cannot be contained in this world because He is its Creator God. As God, He is independent of creation. He is not dependent on anyone or anything to sustain Him.

But John also wants us to know that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). Jesus humbled Himself by becoming a human being without ceasing to be God (John 1:1; 14; Philippians 2:6-8). This is why John refers to Jesus as “the only begotten Son” (John 1:18). The phrase “only begotten Son” does not mean Jesus had a beginning like a baby that is birthed by his parents, as many false religions teach today. The compound Greek word translated “only begotten” is monogenḗs, which literally means “one (monos) of a kind (genos)” or “unique kind.” 8Jesus Christ is the only one of His kind. He is fully God (John 1:1-3) and fully Man (John 1:14). This is the message of the gospel of John.

The writer of this gospel, the apostle John, goes to great lengths to show Jesus’ deity (John 1:1, 34, 49; 5:16-47; 6:69; 8:57-59; 10:30-33; 11:27; 20:28; et. al). Jesus was unlike any other Person who has walked on this earth. In the Old Testament, the phrase “I AM” is how Jehovah God identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14). “I AM” is also how Jesus identified Himself to the people of Israel. He makes several “I AM” statements in the gospel of John: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), “I am the door” (John 10:9), “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:14), “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25), “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), “I am the true vine” (15:1). Each one of these staggering statements attested to the fact that Jesus was and is God.

Jesus also claimed to be equal with God and to be God Himself (John 5:17-18; John 10:10-33). This is why His enemies wanted to kill Jesus for blasphemy (Leviticus 20:10; cf. John 5:18; 8:59; 10:31-33; 11:8). For example, when Jesus said, “He and the Father are one” (John 10:30), the Jews understood Him to claim to be God. They said, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God” (John 10:33).

Did Muhammed, the founder of Islam, orBuddha, the founder of Buddhism, or Confucius, the founder of Confucianism, or Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, or Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah Witnesses, or Ellen G. White, the co-founder of Seventh Day Adventist, claim to be equal with God? No!Jesus Christ not only claimed to be God, He proved He was God through His works (John 1-12), the greatest of which was His resurrection from the dead (John 20:1-18; cf. Romans 1:3-4)!

John also goes to great lengths to show Jesus’ humanity (John 1:14; 4:6; 11:35; 12:27; 19:28; et. al). Jesus had brothers and sisters like you and me (John 2:12; 7:3, 5; cf. Mark 6:3). Christ ate food and got thirsty just like you and me (John 19:28; 21:12, 15; cf. Matthew 9:11; 11:19; Mark 2:16; Luke 7:34). He experienced physical fatigue and even slept (John 4:6; cf. Matthew 8:24; Mark 4:38; Luke 8:23). Why? He became a man without ceasing to be God so He could understand what it is like for you and me to have family, food, and fatigue. The God of the Bible is not some distant uncaring deity like the religions of the world. He understands our needs and He came to earth to meet our most fundamental needs to be seen, safe, soothed, and secure.

When John says that Jesus was “is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18b), he is referring to Christ’s very close and intimate relationship with God the Father. The word “bosom” (kolpos) refers to the upper part of the chest where a garment naturally folded to form a pocket. The picture here is that of a son resting his head on the chest of his father, experiencing a very close and intimate relationship with him. Jesus had the closest and most intimate relationship with God the Father. He knows the heart of God the Father better than anyone because His head often rested upon His Father’s chest in eternity past.

Who better to tell others what a Person is like than the One who is closest to that Person and has known Him the longest in an intimate relationship!?! There is no one more qualified to tell us what God is like than the only begotten Son of God who has known God the Father forever in the closest of relationships with Him.

This is why John then says, “He has declared Him” (John 1:18c). The word “declared” (eksēgéomai) is where we get our English words, “exegete” and “exegesis” from. It means “to set forth in great detail, expound.” 10  In seminary, we learned to “exegete” or explain God’s Word, the Bible. We were taught to “read out” of the Bible God’s intended meaning through a grammatical, historical, and literal interpretation instead of “reading into” the Bible our own biases and assumptions.

God the Son, Jesus Christ, has “exegeted” or “explained, interpreted, or narrated” what God the Father is like. Jesus is more qualified than anyone else to explain what God the Father is like because He, being God, knows God the Father longer and more intimately than anyone else.

Understanding the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, the God-Man, will help us understand why John concludes his book with the following words: “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” (John 21:25). John is telling us that he did not record everything “Jesus did.” He wrote selectively about the life and ministry of Jesus on earth. 11In other words, John gave us “a highlight reel” of Jesus!12  This highlight reel makes all others look pale in comparison.

Take for example a highlight reel of the greatest sports figures in history. None of them – whether it be Mohammed Ali, Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Jim Brown, Tom Brady, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Pele’, Florence Griffith Joyner, Usain Bolt, Serena Williams, or Ronda Rausey – can come close to what Jesus Christ has done.

The Lord Jesus has loved people perfectly, giving His life for the sins of the world (John 1:29; 3:16; Romans 5:8). By His grace He has forgiven people perfectly no matter how badly or often they have sinned (John 4:1-29; Acts 10:43; Colossians 2:13-14; I Timothy 1:14-16). He has given eternal life freely to all who believe in Him (John 3:16). He has granted a forever relationship to the religious (John 3:1-18). Christ has saved from hell forever all who have trusted in Him (Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). He has transformed sinners into saints the moment they believed in Him (I Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:1, 13-14). Jesus has given hopeless people a purpose for living (Romans 8:28). He has granted contentment to those who could not find satisfaction (Philippians 4:11-13). He has given those who have greatly failed a second chance (John 21:15-17). He has bestowed peace upon the troubled (John 14:27; 16:33; Ephesians 2:14-15). And Christ Jesus has never lost one person He has saved, and He never will (John 6:35-40; 10:28-29).

No sports figure, politician, Hollywood celebrity, or philanthropist can do what Jesus Christ has done and continues to do. His life and ministry make Him unique. His highlight reel is superior to all others even though it does not include all that Jesus ever did.

“But God providentially determined that what we have in Scripture is enough. You don’t need to know everything that Jesus did and said. But, John says, you do need to ‘believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name’ (20:31). Amen.” 13  

But John did say if all that Jesus did on earth “were written one by one… the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” To date, countless books have been written on what little was actually recorded in the gospels about Jesus Christ. “Jesus is surely the most written-about person of all time—and rightly so!” 14 When you consider the thousands of historical books, theological books, religious books, scholarly books on the gospels, testimonial books, and articles about Jesus Christ, the numbers are endless! Isn’t that what we would expect from Someone Who is uniquely God and Man!?!

There is no end to the books written about Jesus Christ because He is still working in peoples’ lives today – giving them His life freely through believing in Him (John 3:16; 10:10b) so they can experience His life abundantly as they learn to follow Him as a disciple (John 10:10c; cf. 8:31-32; 13:34-35; 15:1-8; 21:15-23).  

For me, the gospel of John is one of the greatest books of the Bible because it repeatedly shows God’s grace and truth through the Person of Jesus Christ. It also tells us over and over again what one must do to have eternal life now (John 3:16; 17:3) and a future home in heaven (John 14:2-3). It tells us to simply believe in Jesus alone for His free gift of eternal life (John 1:12; 3:15-18, 36; 4:10-14; 5:24; 6:35-40, 47; 7:37-39; 9:35-38; 10:24-29; 11:25-27; 14:1; 20:31; et al.). Jesus did not say, “whoever behaves.” He said, “whoever believes…” (John 3:16). Believe in Him alone and He will give you His never-ending life so you can experience it abundantly in your daily life.

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the gospel of John which gives us all we need to know to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that believing we may have life in His name. There is no one like You, Lord Jesus. There is no one who forgives and loves us like You do. Thank You for revealing Yourself to us through the gospel of John. Please enable us to share this life-changing book with a lost world so they may discover the radical love you have for them and come to believe in You alone for Your gift of eternal life. Getting right with You, Father God, is based upon believing, not behaving. May Your Holy Spirit convict people of this profound and simple life-changing truth. And may those of us who have eternal life through Jesus, experience His abundant life as we learn to follow Him as His disciple. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

ENDNOTES:

1. Archibald Thomas (A. T.) Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Six Volumes, (The Ephesians Four Group, 2014 Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 78628-78629).

2. Edwin A. Blum, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Gospels, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, (David C Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), pg. 705.

3. Tom Constable, Notes on John, 2017 Edition, pg. 402 cites Brooke Foss Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John: The Authorised Version with Introduction and Notes 1880 (London: James Clarke & Co., Ltd., 1958), pg. 306. .

4. Ibid., cites Rudolf Bultmann, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Translated by G. R. Beasley- Murray, R. W. N. Hoare, and J. K. Riches. Oxford: Blackwell, 1971), pp. 717-718.

5. Ibid., cites C. H. Dodd, “Note on John 21, 24,” Journal of Theological Studies NS4 (1953):212-13.

6. Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach. The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 570.

7. Constable, pg. 402.

8. Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: Third Edition (BDAG) revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 Kindle Edition), pg. 658.

9. Ibid., pp. 556-557.

10. Ibid., pg. 349.

11. Wilkin, pg. 570.

12. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman. The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1834.

13. Ibid.

14. Wilkin, pg. 570.

How can we do greater works than Christ? Part 1

“He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” John 14:9

Mirrors have been around for a while, but they haven’t always been made of glass. The first mirrors, from around 600 B.C., were very simple. They were polished surfaces from natural materials that could reflect an image. After a while, people started making mirrors from copper, bronze, gold and silver. These metals are heavy, so the mirrors were very small. They couldn’t really be used to see a reflection so they were mostly for show.

Glass mirrors like we have today were first made in the Middle Ages. They didn’t have the modern technology used today, so the mirrors were difficult to make and expensive. In the Renaissance period after the Middle Ages, the technique of making mirrors developed. Mirrors could show a clearer image. Artists even used mirrors to paint self-portraits. They were still very expensive so only the rich could afford them. The process for making modern mirrors was developed in 1835.” 1  Mirrors are used by us all in bathrooms, bedrooms, cars, etc.

In our study of the gospel of John, we are going to see that Jesus Christ mirrors God the Father and His desire is for His followers to do the same. Jesus had announced to His disciples that He was going to His Father’s House in heaven to prepare a wonderful place for them (John 14:1-3a). He also promised to return for them to take them to His Father’s house where they could be with Him forever (John 14:3b). Thomas did not understand Jesus’ reference to His Father’s house (John 14:5). Since Jesus had said they could not come there (John 13:33-35), Thomas wanted to know how they could know the way to His house. Jesus explained that He was the way there (John 14:6).

From John 14:7-14, we will discover how to do greater works than Christ. The first way is to GROW CLOSER TO HIS PERSON (John 14:7-11). Jesus said to Thomas, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:7). The disciples may have felt strange going to the Father’s house because they had not met the Father yet. Perhaps they thought, “How can we go somewhere we have never been? We cannot go to a stranger’s house without being invited first. Lord, we have never been introduced to Your Father. Shouldn’t we get to know Him first before moving into His house?”

Jesus states, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.” (14:7a). The word “known” (ginoskō) means to “know by personal experience.” Christ is saying, “If you had known Me more intimately, you would have known My Father” because I am a perfect reflection of Him. To know Jesus is to know His Father because as God, He is the perfect reflection of the Father. Christ then promises, “And from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” The disciples’ knowledge of Jesus and His significance were incomplete. But after Jesus’ death, resurrection (John 20:28), and ascension followed by the coming of the Holy Spirit, their knowledge of Christ would become more mature. 3

“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ ” (John 14:8). While Philip was intimately associated with Jesus, he felt he did not know the Father so he asked Christ to reveal the Father to them. Philip wants to see the Father for himself. Maybe he wants a visible display of the Father’s glory like Moses, who got to catch a glimpse of God’s glory (cf. Exodus 33:12–34:9). Philip, however, is a realist. “Show us the Father, Lord, and that will be enough for us. We cannot know Him unless you introduce us to Him.”

But Philip doesn’t understand that fully revealing God the Father was exactly what Jesus had come to do. “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:18). When Moses saw God in the Old Testament, those encounters with God did not reveal the fullness of His glory or His unveiled divine essence. If people saw God’s unveiled glory or divine essence, they would not live (cf. Exodus 33:20).

The word “declared” (eksēgéomai) is where we get our English words, “exegete” and “exegesis” from. In seminary, we learned to “exegete” or explain God’s Word, the Bible. We were taught to “read out” of the Bible God’s intended meaning through a grammatical, historical, and literal interpretation instead of “reading into” the Bible our own biases and assumptions. God became a Man without ceasing to be God in the Person of Jesus Christ in order to “declare” or explain what God is like. When you see Jesus Christ you see God because Jesus is God!

Jesus rebukes Philip’s ignorance. “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?’ ” (John 14:9). Whereas Moses only saw a hint of the glory of the invisible God, Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Jesus Christ is God incarnate, the God-Man.

Philip did know Jesus in one sense. He was a saved man and possessed eternal life by believing in Christ (cf. John 1:43-50; 2:11; 13:10-11). He knew Jesus as his Savior, but he did not know Him in a deeper way. He did not know how perfectly Jesus reflected the Father. To see Jesus is to see God the Father because Jesus is God! Christ could make this incredible claim because of His oneness with the Father. Christ is saying, “After all these years together, Philip, how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ ” Jesus’ union with the Father was so natural that he was surprised that Philip had not noticed.

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” (John 14:10a). Jesus’ question expects a negative answer. Christ explains that He has revealed the Father to them in two ways. First, His words had revealed the Father. “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority.” (John 14:10b). Jesus’ teaching did not originate from Himself, but from His Father. Jesus depended on His Father for the words He was to speak. Christ’s teaching originated in heaven, not on earth. His words change the hearts of men and women, boys and girls. No man-made teaching can do what God’s Word can do.

Secondly, Christ’s works had revealed His Father. “But the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” (John 14:10c-11). From a human point of view, Jesus does the works, but in actuality they are called the Father’s “works.” Jesus says, “Believe Me that…” not “Believe in Me…” This a reference to the mutual indwelling of the Father and Son which makes Jesus trustworthy. Miracles permit the observer to see Christ’s Person. They persuade people to believe that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). So both the words and works of Jesus are a perfect reflection of the Father.

Jesus emphasized the unity of the Father and Son when He said, “I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.” As He told the Jews previously, “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30). He is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4) in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Old Testament teaches that God is Father (Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16; Malachi 2:10), Son (Psalm 2:6-7, 12; 45:6-7; Proverbs 30:1-4; Isaiah 9:6), and Spirit (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 139:7-12; Isaiah 11:2-3; 61:1; 63:10; Zechariah 4:6). The New Testament also teaches that God is one in three Persons (Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14): God is Father (John 6:27; 20:17; Romans 15:6; I Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Colossians 3:17), Son (John 1:1-18; Hebrews 1:8; Titus 2:13; I John 5:20), and Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4).

The fact that God exists eternally in three Persons emphasizes the relational aspect of the God of the Bible. All three Persons of the Godhead have loved each other forever. They have always functioned harmoniously with one another. And God wants the same for His people. He wants us to love one another as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have always loved each other. He wants us to be unified in our purpose as the Persons of the Godhead have always been unified.

In any relationship, the more we spend time with someone, the more their thoughts and words become familiar to us. As we share various experiences together, their actions will reflect their character to us. What is true in our human relationships is also true in our relationship with Jesus. We will not do greater works than Christ if we are not growing closer to Him. How can I reflect Jesus’ words and works if I do not know what He said or did? But if I am growing closer to Christ, His words and works can be manifested with my lips and life so that non-Christians can come to know Him personally.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for leaving the glory of heaven to come to this dark and sinful earth to reveal what God is like to all of humanity. So many broken people have misconceptions about God because of their experiences with other broken people. But You, Lord God, came to earth to explain what God is like so we could learn to trust You and grow closer to You as the perfect reflection of God the Father. The more I spend time with You, the more Your words and works become a part of my lifestyle. Please use me to reflect You in all I think, say, and do so others can be drawn to You and discover Your outrageous love for them. In Your amazing name I pray, Lord Jesus. Amen.

ENDNOTES:

1. http://discoverykids.com/articles/what-is-the-history-of-mirrors/]. Mirrors are used by us all in bathrooms, bedrooms, cars, etc.

2. J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel John Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), pg. 256.

3. Robert N. Wilkin, “The Gospel According to John,” The Grace New Testament Commentary, Vol. 1: Matthew – Acts (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2010), pg. 444.

How can I overcome spiritual blindness? Part 4

“Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” John 9:32-33

In this article we will discover another symptom and solution concerning spiritual blindness. Since the religious leaders could get nowhere with the healed man’s parents, they decide to talk to the former blind man a second time. “So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, ‘Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.’ ”(John 9:24). In the Pharisees’ minds, since the Law forbid working on the Sabbath and Jesus healed on the Sabbath, Jesus was a sinner. They tell the former blind man to “Give God the glory by telling the truth about Jesus – He is a sinner. Jesus just put clay on your eyes and told you to wash. God is the One who healed you,” they were saying. These religious leaders were trying to pressure everyone to be biased against Jesus by already determining (“we know”) that Jesus was “a sinner.”

According to those who are spiritually blind, to give God glory a person must call Jesus a sinner! How strange indeed is the thinking of the spiritually blind. The former blind man answered and said, ‘Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.’ ” (John 9:25). The healed man chose not to speculate about Jesus’ sinfulness. Rather than listen to the theological errors of the Pharisees, he focused on the truth. He knew that he had been blind but now he can see. No theological argument could change that. Regardless of a believer’s understanding of the nature of Christ’s Person, he or she can always testify to the way Jesus has changed his or her life.

Sometimes the best way to present the gospel to a non-Christian is through a personal testimony. Arguments for the existence of God and Christian apologetics have their place, but few arguments are as powerful as a personal testimony which describes how God’s grace has transformed one’s life.

“Then they said to him again, ‘What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?’ ” (John 9:26). The Pharisees asked the man to repeat his story again hoping to find a contradiction.Four times in this conversation the religious leaders asked the man how he gained his sight (cf. John 9:10, 15, 19, 26). Spiritually blind people are usually more concerned about the way a miracle was performed than they are about the person who performed the miracle.

“He answered them, ‘I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?’ ” (John 9:27). The relentless questioning of these religious experts exhausted the man’s patience. Realizing they were not wanting to know the truth but to acquire information to use against Jesus, the former blind man sarcastically asks if their request meant that they had a change of heart. Did they want to become His disciples like he had become? This man was not intimidated by these religious leaders because his testimony was based upon the truth.

The Pharisees realized the man saw through their ploy to unjustly condemn Jesus, so they verbally abused (“reviled”) him. “Then they reviled him and said, ‘You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples.’ ” (John 9:28). The Pharisees were so proud to think that they were right. Ironically, Jesus was more of a disciple of Moses than these Pharisees were. But the Pharisees could not believe Jesus was from God because in their estimation, Jesus broke God’s Law (actually their laws) when He healed the man on the Sabbath.

They continued, “We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.” (John 9:29).Christ’s critics knew that God spoke to Moses and sent him, but they did not know by whom Jesus was sent. They boasted in what they knew about Moses just like many people today will boast about what they know to attempt to put themselves in a superior position to those who know Jesus. For example, when I was in college, an unbelieving religion professor said, “We all know, of course, that Jesus never claimed to be God.” By adding that little phrase, “of course,” he was insinuating, “Anyone with half a brain would know that what I am saying is true.” As a young believer at that time, I felt too intimidated to question his opinions in class.

The Pharisees would not follow Christ because they did not know His origin. Their ignorance of His origin was not due to a lack of information about Jesus because He had already revealed enough for them to know this (cf. John 5-8). Their ignorance of Christ’s origin was due to a willful rejection of Christ. Such is the case with non-Christians today. Their ignorance is not due to a lack of evidence concerning the identity of Jesus Christ. It is due to their willful rejection of Him.

The former blind man teaches these proud religious leaders, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!” (John 9:30). Although his parents were afraid to speak the truth to the Pharisees, this man boldly challenges their illogical thinking! It is like he is saying, “Your ignorance of Jesus’ origin is more of a miracle than my cure! You are the experts and you do not know where my Healer is from?!” Their disbelief was incredible to him in light of the evidence!

This is the fourth symptom of spiritual blindness – DELIBERATELY REJECT CHRIST DESPITE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE ABOUT HIS IDENTITY (John 9:24-30). It is amazing how blind people can be to the truth about Jesus Christ. This is a heart issue not an intellectual issue. This incredible miracle should have overwhelmingly convinced the Jewish leaders of Christ’s identity, yet they denied this truth.

Even today unbelievers remain skeptical of the truth of Jesus Christ until the Holy Spirit causes them to see their need for Jesus. Until God removes the spiritual veil that blinds them to the truth about Jesus, they will not embrace Christ even though the evidence overwhelmingly points to Him as a supernatural Person!

The former blind man continues to teach the Pharisees by giving them a lesson on logic. “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.” (John 9:31). When the healed man says, “We know,” he is referring to himself, the Pharisees, and the community. “We know that God does not hear sinners. He hears the righteous! If God does not hear sinners, then how could Jesus perform this miracle if He were a sinner?!” His logical argument in this verse can be summarized in this way:

1. Only God could heal congenital blindness.

2. Jesus healed congenital blindness.

3. Jesus must be from God.

Then the former blind man said, “Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:32-33). The healing of a man born blind was never heard of. “Jesus could not have healed me, a healing unparalleled in history, unless He were from God. How else do you explain such supernatural activity, if it is not from God?” It is also amazing that this former blind man was able to see things so clearly in contrast to the Pharisees who were so prejudiced against Jesus. While there was no record in history up to that time of a person blind from birth being healed, the Old Testament did prophesy that the Messiah-God would heal the blind (Isaiah 29:18; 35:5; 42:7).

This is the third way to overcome spiritual blindness – DISCERN THE TRUTH FROM ERROR (John 9:31-33). Instead of yielding to the error of the Pharisees, the beggar used reason and logic to hold fast to the truth and concluded that Jesus was from God.

What about you? Does your family or religious community question what Jesus has done in your life because they refuse to embrace the truth about Christ? Do their emotions or traditions guide their decisions about Jesus instead of logic, reason, and truth? Please know that their skeptical response to what Jesus has done in your life does not make it any less true. Truth is not truth because people vote on it. Truth is truth based on what God has revealed.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus repeatedly claims to have been sent by God the Father to reveal the Father to us. John stated, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:18). Jesus tells Philip, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9). God’s revelation of Himself to us centers in the Person of Jesus Christ, which we have in the written eyewitness testimony of the apostles. True spiritual knowledge of God is founded on knowing Jesus Christ, whom the Father sent to reveal Himself to us. Anything else is mere speculation.

Many years ago the head of a rescue mission in London accepted the challenge to debate a well-known skeptic, but with this condition: he would bring with him one hundred people who would tell how believing in Jesus changed their lives. He invited his opponent to counter with witnesses to the benefits of unbelief. On the appointed day the believer came with his one hundred witnesses, but the skeptic never showed up. (Our Daily Bread, 1999).

Your testimony about how Jesus has changed your life is one of the most powerful testimonies to those who are dying in their sins. Do not let the bullies and lies of this world keep you from sharing it. Christ is counting on you and the unsaved world needs you.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, knowing You and making You known go together. The more I know You, the more I long for people to know You. Whether they be my intellectual superiors or not, I must share what You have done in my life because apart from You, they cannot know God the Father. They cannot have everlasting life. And they cannot be set free from the darkness that keeps them in bondage to sin. In Your name. Amen.

What is God like?

“No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” John 1:18

What is God like? Let’s see what some fifth graders said when their teacher at a Christian school asked her class to look at TV commercials and see if they could use them in some way to communicate ideas about God. God is like BAYER ASPIRIN. He works miracles. God is like a FORD. He’s got a better idea. God is like COKE. He’s the real thing. God is like HALLMARK CARDS. He cares enough to send His very best. God is like TIDE. He gets the stains out that others leave behind. God is like GENERAL ELECTRIC. He brings good things to life. God is like SEARS. He has everything. God is like ALKA-SELTZER. Try Him, you’ll like Him. God is like SCOTCH TAPE. You can’t see Him, but you know He’s there. God is like DELTA. He’s ready when you are.

On a more serious note, what would you say God is like? Many people have misconceptions about God that are rooted in their family of origin. We think that God will resemble our parents or authority figures from our childhood (cf. Psalm 50:21). Look at some common misconceptions about God from Sandra Wilson’s, Released from Shame Revised Edition (2002), pp. 142-143:

The cruel and unpredictable God” is the most extreme distortion of God’s nature and is   found among those who received brutal and unpredictable abuse in childhood most often at the hands of their fathers, stepfathers, or father figures. If you are one of the bruised believers who experienced severe physical or sexual abuse as a child, this might be the way you see God and you understandably struggle to trust your Father in heaven. 

The demanding and unforgiving God” is often the view that Christian adults have whose parents were rigid and perfectionistic. No matter how hard you try, you can never measure up  to the demands of this distorted deity who does not forgive nor forget your sins. When you fail, watch out! His cruel side is manifested. He seems to delight in sending financial disaster or physical disease to emphasize His intolerance of your spiritual failures. Understandably, it is difficult for you to approach Him and experience His forgiveness and love.

The selective and unfair God” is a distorted view of God found among Christian adults who experienced spiritual abuse by parental authorities in childhood. This might be the God you worship if you feel Jesus has revealed Himself more fully to other Christians who, in turn have a deeper relationship with Him than you do. You probably struggle with being a different and “less-than” Christian. 

– “The distant and unavailable God” may care about His worshipers, but He is off somewhere running the universe and cannot get too involved in their lives. If your parents were physically or emotionally unavailable through prolonged absences, perhaps because of death, divorce, illness, military duty, working overseas, or neglect, you may experience God as eternally distant and unavailable. 

– “The kind but confused God” is a clumsy and powerless deity who is confused by all the chaos in the world. If you had parents who were overwhelmed by uncontrollable chaos in their lives and your family, you may have this view of God.

Do any of these misconceptions about God resonate with you? If so, our verse today will be especially meaningful to you. John the Baptist says, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). We can know what God is like by looking at Jesus Christ.

John begins by saying, “No one has seen God at any time” (1:18a). You may wonder, “How can this be true when the Bible speaks of people seeing God?”(e.g. Exodus 33:21-23; Isaiah 6:1-5; Revelation 1:10-18). Those encounters with God did not reveal the fullness of His glory or His unveiled divine essence. If people saw God’s unveiled glory or divine essence, they would not live (cf. Exodus 33:20).

The only One Who can and has seen God in the fullness of His glory and divine essence without dying, is His Son, Jesus Christ (John 6:46). The reason Jesus could do this is because He also is God. He has the same divine nature as God the Father. For example, when people say of a man named Clarence Smith, “He is the son of John Smith,” they are acknowledging that he has the same human nature as his father. Likewise, when the Bible says that Jesus is “the Son of God” (John 20:31), it is affirming that Jesus has the same divine nature as His Father in heaven.

This is why we can discover what God is like by knowing His “only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father” (1:18b). The phrase “only begotten Son” does not mean Jesus had a beginning like a baby that is birthed by his parents, as many false religions teach today. The compound Greek word translated “only begotten” is monogenḗs, which literally means “one (monos) of a kind (genos).” Jesus Christ is the only One of His kind. He is fully God (John 1:1-3) and fully Man (John 1:14). This is the message of the gospel of John.

The writer of this gospel, the apostle John, goes to great lengths to show Jesus’ deity (John 1:1, 34, 49; 5:16-47; 6:69; 8:57-59; 10:30-33; 11:27; 20:28; et. al). Jesus was unlike any other Person who has walked on this earth. In the Old Testament, the phrase “I Am” is how God identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14). “I Am” is also how Jesus identified Himself to the people of Israel. He makes several “I AM” statements in the gospel of John: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), “I am the door” (John 10:9), “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:14), “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25), “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6), “I am the true Vine” (15:1). Each one of these staggering statements attested to the fact that Jesus was and is God.

Jesus also claimed to be equal with God and to be God Himself (John 5:17-18; John 10:10-33). This is why His enemies wanted to kill Jesus for blasphemy (Leviticus 20:10; cf. John 5:18; 8:59; 10:31-33; 11:8). For example, when Jesus said, “He and the Father are one” (John 10:30), the Jews understood Him to claim to be God. They said, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God” (John 10:33).

Did Muhammed, the founder of Islam, Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, or Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah Witnesses, claim to be equal with God? Jesus Christ not only claimed to be God, He proved He was God through His works (John 1-12), the greatest of which was His resurrection from the dead (John 20:1-18; cf. Romans 1:3-4)! Hallelujah brothers and sisters in Christ! What a precious Lord and Savior we have in Jesus Christ!

John also goes to great lengths to show Jesus’ humanity (John 1:14; 4:6; 11:35; 12:27; 19:28; et. al). Jesus had brothers and sisters like you and me (John 2:12; 7:3, 5; cf: Mark 6:3). Christ ate food and got thirsty just like you and me (John 19:28; 21:12, 15; cf. Matthew 9:11; 11:19; Mark 2:16; Luke 7:34). He experienced physical fatigue and even slept (John 4:6; cf. Matthew 8:24; Mark 4:38; Luke 8:23). Why? He became a man without ceasing to be God so He could understand what it is like for you and me to have family, food, and fatigue. The God of the Bible is not some distant uncaring deity like the religions of the world. He understands our needs and He came to earth to meet our most fundamental needs to be seen, safe, soothed, and secure.

When John says that Jesus was “is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18b), he is referring to Christ’s very close and intimate relationship with God the Father. The word “bosom” (kolpos) refers to the upper part of the chest where a garment naturally folded to form a pocket. The picture here is that of a son resting his head on the chest of his father, experiencing a very close and intimate relationship with him. Jesus had the closest and most intimate relationship with God the Father. He knows the heart of God the Father better than anyone because His head often rested upon His Father’s chest in eternity past.

Who better to tell others what a Person is like than the One who is closest to that Person and has known Him the longest in an intimate relationship!?! There is no one more qualified to tell us what God is like than the only begotten Son of God who has known God the Father forever in the closest of relationships with Him.

This is why John then says, “He has declared Him” (John 1:18c). The word “declared” (eksēgéomai) is where we get our English words, “exegete” and “exegesis” from. In seminary, we learned to “exegete” or explain God’s Word, the Bible. We were taught to “read out” of the Bible God’s intended meaning through a grammatical, historical, and literal interpretation instead of “reading into” the Bible our own biases and assumptions.

God the Son, Jesus Christ, has “exegeted”or “explained, interpreted, or narrated” what God the Father is like. Jesus is more qualified than anyone else to explain what God the Father is like because He, being God, knows God the Father longer and more intimately than anyone else.

For some of you reading this article, it may be very difficult for you to perceive God as your Father because you have been deeply wounded by your own earthly father through his absence or even his abuse towards you. You may detest the thought of God being a Father because your own earthly father caused you a lot of pain. Hence, you want nothing to do with fathers.

Please understand that God the Father is nothing like your absent or abusive father on earth. God wants you to know Him for Who He truly is. And there is no one more qualified to reveal God the Father to you than Jesus Christ.

This is why Jesus said,He who sees Me sees Him [the Father] who sent Me” (John 12:45). He also said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:7).Christ said,He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9b) because Jesus is the perfect reflection of the Father.

If you want to know God the Father, get to know His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, because He is God in human flesh (John 1:1, 14; Titus 2:13; I Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:8; I John 5:20). You can begin a relationship with God the Son and God the Father through faith. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).

To believe in the Father Who sent Jesus is the same as believing in Jesus because Christ is the perfect reflection of the Father, being God Himself. This is why Jesus could say, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me” (John 12:44).

Jesus said, “he who hears My word and believes…” (John 5:24a). Have you heard Jesus’ promise of everlasting life and believed it? If so, Jesus guarantees the person who has heard and believed that he now “has [present tense] everlasting life” (John 5:24b). You do not have to wait until you die to experience everlasting life. If you have heard Jesus’ promise of everlasting life (John 3:16) and believed it, you can now experience His forever life every day of your life on earth and beyond!!!

Christ also guarantees to the one who has heard and believed His promise of eternal life that he “shall not [future tense] come into judgment” for his sins in the future (John 5:24c). Why? Because Jesus was judged on the cross for all of our sins when He died, and God the Father was satisfied with Jesus’ payment for our sins (I John 2:2). Therefore, we will never be eternally punished for our sins if we have heard and believed Jesus’ promise of everlasting life.

Lastly, Jesus promises that the one who has heard and believed His promise of everlasting life “has passed [past tense] from death into life” (John 5:24d). This means that eternal death is behind you, not ahead of you. It is past, not present or future. You are now in the sphere of “life” or relationship with God. When God looks at our life after we believe in Christ, what does He see? He sees only the blood of His Son and His goodness in our lives (Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 1:5; 12:11). In the sphere of “life,” God has no charge against the believer (Romans 8:33). The believer is “justified” (“declared totally righteous”) of all things based on his or her faith in Christ (Romans 4:5). All our sin has been covered by the goodness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are seen by God as completely holy and perfect because of His grace (Ephesians 1:4). That’s why God can let us into heaven when we die if we have believed in Christ as our Savior.

Prayer: Precious Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to earth to explain what God the Father is like so I may have a very close and intimate relationship with Him and You. Please help me to see the Father as full of grace and truth like You. Renew my mind so I may see You both as You truly are – abounding in goodness, grace, love, mercy, and truth. Please bring healing to those who have been deeply wounded by their earthly fathers so they may approach You as a good good Father who infinitely and unconditionally loves them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.