Tag Archives: Lord Jesus

Let Christ the Light Shine!

1It was August 11, 1999. We were living in Romania and our girls, who were in high school at the time, were in Timisoara with friends, giving us our first taste of “the empty nest.” So we made it a date. We packed a lunch, grabbed some protective eyewear, and headed for a mountainside just outside of Sibiu to witness something neither of us had ever seen—a total eclipse of the sun.

What a spooky, once-in-a-lifetime experience it was! Slowly the moon crept up on the sun until it was totally obscured and it became night in the middle of the day. So there we sat eating our picnic lunch in the moon shadow, waiting for the sun to return. Raised in the scientific age, we were never really afraid but I could imagine how people in the ancient world might take it as harbinger of evil things to come praying for the light to shine on them again.

1But then, as modern as you and I may be, the fact is that we too suffer from a fear of the darkness—perhaps not in a physical sense, but definitely in a spiritual sense. We see the ever-increasing immorality, violence, and anti-God spirit of the age, and we worry: “How long can we hold it together?” The answer: Not one second apart from the grace of Jesus Christ who, Colossians 1:15 says, “is the image of the invisible God,” which is why Jehovah also outlawed the making of graven images in the Old Testament. He was saving that sacred role for His only begotten (born not created, mind you)…His only begotten Son “by whom all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth.” Consequently, means, if He is the Creator of all things, He wasn’t created! He’s eternal!

For it wasn’t from the beginning that He was with God. It was “in the beginning” before the time-space continuum began. And if He existed before time and space were created, then He’s eternal and co-equal with the Father from eternity past. That’s the meaning of “oneness” in the Old Testament, by the say. It doesn’t mean singleness. It means unity, so that just as two can become one flesh in marriage, so the Father and Son have been One God from eternity past.


Furthermore, Colossians 1:17 says, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together,” which means it isn’t you or me or the government who is holding everything together. We couldn’t do that even if we tried. It is Christ, the Creator and Sustainer of all things. He is the One who is holding this world, this nation, your marriage, your health, and your finances together by His gracious power. So let’s be sure to give Him the praise that is due Him!

3That’s where we left off last week—with John 1:4, which says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it! In fact, John later encourages us in his epistle to the churches, “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” So that’s where I want to pick up this study, asking you the question I ended with last week: Have you seen the Light and put your faith in Jesus?

For remember what we learned! Jesus said we’re to give the same degree of honor to Him that we give to the Father, and that just as we’ve learned to trust in God, we’re to put that same kind of faith in Jesus. For He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in Me!”

To see how and why we’re to do that, I want to introduce you to 3 players in the drama—the Witness, the Light, and the First Responders. But before I do, take a moment to read the passage. It says,, “There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even 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.”


  1. The Witness

John has introduced us in the first 5 verses to the Eternal and Uncreated Word of God. But now he seems to be changing subjects, introducing us to a man named John. By the way, wherever you see the name John in this Gospel, it refers to John the Baptist or on a few occasions to the father of Peter, but never to the Apostle John who wrote this book. He preferred to remain anonymous and simply called himself “the disciple Jesus loved,” so the glory would go to Jesus and not to him.

That’s what we find here. John isn’t changing subjects. He’s taking us into the courtroom, asking us to listen to the first witness Jehovah has prepared to testify to the Deity of His Son. In fact, that’s something he does throughout this book—calls witness after witness to testify to the Deity of Christ—the 11 disciples; 5,000 who were fed; a man born blind; Mary, Martha, and Lazarus who was raised from the dead; but the first and greatest witness is John who comes preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, saying: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” It says in verse 6, “There came a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.”

You might want to underline the phrase “sent from God” because I’d remind you this was the first prophet to appear in Israel in over 400 years. The last prophet was Malachi who was followed by 400 years of silence as a way of accentuating John’s ministry and preparing the people for the coming of the Lord.

3I’d also remind you of his special birth. His father Zacharias, who was a priest, and his mother Elizabeth, who was the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus, mother, were both elderly and childless. So when the Angel Gabriel appeared to him in the Temple announcing that his wife was going to bear a son, he doubted the angel’s word and was struck dumb until the day of John’s circumcision when he was asked, “What do you want to call him?” And the Bible says the moment he wrote the name “John,” meaning “Jehovah is gracious,” his tongue was loosened, and he went on prophesy that his son would be called “the prophet of the Most High” and go on before His face to “prepare the way of the Lord.”

He also enjoyed a special preparation. Luke says he was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, raised in the wilderness where he wore a garment of camel’s hair, ate locusts and wild honey, and at the age of 30 began preaching in the wilderness saying, “Prepare the way of the Lord! Make His paths straight.” The results were miraculous! John never had to do any marketing. And yet, Mark 1:5 says “all the country of Judea and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to see him, being baptized in the Jordan River and confessing their sins—which tells us two things: 1) If we’re faithful to do God’s will in the way He wants us to do it, we don’t have to worry about the results. All we have to do is be faithful, and God will take care of the rest. And believe me, John was faithful—so faithful it cost him his life.

2) We’re to make Jesus the focal point of all we say and do. For like John, that is our mission. Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “Be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” All you have to do is read the rest of chapter 1, and you’ll see how faithfully John shifted the focus away from himself to Jesus. In verse 15, he says to those being baptized by him, “He who comes after me is greater than I am, because He existed before me.” In verse 25, he denies being the Christ insisting that he isn’t worthy to untie the sandals of the One coming after him. In verse 29, he says to the crowd after Jesus’ baptism, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Then in verse 35, he encourages two of his own disciples (Andrew and John) to follow Jesus, pointing to Him and saying, “Behold the Lamb of God.”

And finally, later in chapter 3, when his ministry begins to wane because everybody is following Jesus instead of him, he’s perfectly OK with that, because he knows his work is now. So he says to his disciples who are worried about his declining popularity, “A man can receive nothing unless it’s been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’  but, I have been sent ahead of Him.’…He must increase, but I must decrease.”’ Talk about humble, faithful witnesses! What do you think? Did God pick the right man? I’ll say. In fact, we’ll see in a later study that Jesus said of him, “No greater man has arisen among men than John the Baptist.” Talk about high praise!


And that’s what we ought to live for—not the praise of men, but God’s pleasure in seeing people believe in Christ through our witness for Him. Look one more time at verse 8, and you’ll see that’s what John was all about. It says, “He was not the Light, but came to give testimony to the Light, that all might believe through him.” Believe by taking somebody else’s word for it? Absolutely! That’s been God’s plan from the beginning—to spread the good news of Christ’s love by one hungry beggar telling another where he found food. C.S. Lewis called it “the good infection.” By the way, the plan has been wildly successful, for not only are there millions and billions in heaven today who have believed because one follower of Jesus told another, but there are still hundreds of thousands being won to Christ that way every day! That’s our job! Not to be religious counselors, spiritual gurus, or Christian life coaches. Our job is to be witnesses to the glory and Deity of Jesus Christ. John was the witness, but Jesus is the Light.


  1. The Light

John continues, “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” Who does John mean when he says, “The True Light?” He is talking about Jesus the Word of God in whom is life and whose life, he said in verse 3, “is the light of men.” John heard that from Jesus’ very own lips when He said in John 8:12, “I am the Light of the Word. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the Light of Life.”

That represents either the most arrogant and blasphemous statement ever made or the most hopeful and life-giving. Psalm 27:1 says, “The LORD is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” That’s something on which all the Old Testaments prophets agree. Jehovah is the One True Light of the World. So how can John say that Jesus is the One True Light and how could Jesus dare to say it about Himself unless it’s true—that He and the Father are One God, just as two are one flesh in marriage? You see there’s really no alternative. As C.S. Lewis put it, either Jesus was a liar inspired by the devil, a lunatic who thought He was God but wasn’t, or He is who He claimed to be—my Lord, my Light, and my Great Salvation!

7Last week we saw two things the Light does for us. 1) It gives us power, for that’s what light is. Light is energy. Physicists define it as radiant, electromagnetic, and corpuscular energy traveling in waves at 186,000 miles per second, stimulating our retinas, and giving us the power to see. The fact that it’s corpuscular means it is also a quantum phenomenon and that the source of its power is unknown to modern science. But not to us! We know who it is. It isn’t a thing. It’s a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ who created all things by the Word of His power and lives to give new life to everyone who believes in Him. Lest you doubt that, John is going to prove it again and again in this Gospel.

In it, we’ll see Jesus, who the Bible calls the wisdom and power of God, turning water to wine, creating new eyes for a blind man, creating new limbs for a lame man, calming a storm, feeding 5,000 with two loaves of bread, and raising His friend Lazarus from the dead. The good news is: He hasn’t lost a watt of energy since then! So here’s what you do. Think of one thing you know God wants to do in your life, something you could never do for yourself, and start asking and trusting Him this very moment to do it for you in His goodness and grace. Let’s see how many prayers He answers for us in the next few weeks together!62) It reveals the truth to us. That’s why John calls Jesus the True Light. The word is aleithenos referring to that which is genuine and pure. John is contrasting it with all the false sources of light in the world. Did you know, for example, that the Bible says that Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light in his efforts to lead you astray? Which means you can’t trust your own reasoning powers to ferret out the truth about God. The only thing you can trust is the Word of God which isn’t just a written thing. John says the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, so we’d no longer have any confusion as to what God is like. That’s his point later in verse 18:  “No one has seen God at any time; they only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him.”

So Jesus you can trust—not only what He says about God but also what He says about you. That’s why people are careful to avoid Him. Have you noticed that? You can talk to people about God or church but the moment you mention Jesus, they get nervous. Why? Because He’s so bright! Like the lights of an Operating Room, He exposes our every spiritual blemish, and that’s embarrassing.

It isn’t that they’re unaware of the Light. Verse 9 says the True Light enlightens every person who comes into the world. If you doubt that, ask a little child, “Do you believe in God?” She’ll say without hesitation, “Of course I do, silly! Don’t you?” I mean how could you not? He became a man at Bethlehem but verse 10 is clear. He’s been in this world from the beginning—making it, maintaining it, ministering to His creatures needs. Even the sparrows know that! So Paul says in Romans 1:19, “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

You see, it isn’t that they don’t know about God. It’s that once sin gets ahold of us, we hide from Him and stop acknowledging Him as God. That’s what “know” means in verse 10. The word is ginosko meaning to acknowledge someone.

11Jesus explained it in John 3:19. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness (sin, Satan, and all he offers) rather than the Light.” Why! “Because,” He says, “their deeds are evil! For example, I used to have a problem with anger and depression, but do you think I let anybody know it? Of course not! It’s embarrassing to admit you have a problem with your temper, your tongue, your appetite, your spending, or any other sins of the flesh. And yet, as Rick Warren says, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” So don’t hide from Him a moment longer. Step into the Light and let Doctor Jesus treat you, and He’ll heal you of that thing forever! I know because He did it for me. I might add, He also has the best bedside manner of any doctor in the world. The witness was John. The Light is Jesus. Finally, notice one more thing –




  1. The First Responders

Verse 11 continues, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” Who is John talking about here? He’s talking about the people of Israel who God calls “My people” over 100 times in the Old Testament, starting with Pharaoh in Egypt to whom He says, “Let My people go!” Again He says through Solomon, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray…then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” These are the people to whom God gave the Law, the Land, the Prophets, and through them the Scriptures and the Savior of the world.  And yet, when He finally came to earth, how did they respond? They called for His crucifixion, the most horrific crime in all of history! But then it wasn’t the Jews only who rejected Him. The Romans did too! And so would you, if not for the amazing grace of God!

The good news is God has always saved a remnant out of the world—Noah and his family from the Flood, Abraham and his family in the days of idolatry after the Flood, 11 disciples who left everything to follow Him, and 120 praying in an upper room after His ascension into heaven, a number that has grown to millions and billions in heaven and on earth who love Him today. For though His own did not receive Him, verse 12 says as many as did receive Him, “to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”

14Imagine that you’re 6 years old again—an orphan with no family of your own. A friend invites you home after school, and you think to yourself, “If only I had a family like this!” Then his father surprises you with a question, “Do you like it here?” “Sure!” you say. “Then why don’t you stay and be a part of our family?” What do you have to do to make it happen? Take his father at his word and stay. That’s what Jesus invites you to do—to come home and be a part of His family. All you have to do is say “yes” and stay. That’ll involve some changes in your attitude and behavior. You can’t join a family without it changing how you live. But that’s all there is to it from the human side. Believe and receive. They are one and the same thing. To receive is to believe and to believe is to receive. A simple act of the will leading to irrevocable membership in the family of God!

But we’re not merely adopted into God’s family.  John says we’re born into it. This is a mystery and miracle we cannot see with our eyes. Verse 13 gives us the divine side—“who were born” (2 Peter says we actually become “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust.”)…born not of blood (It isn’t your family connections that earn God’s favor. God has no spiritual grandchildren.)…nor of the will of the flesh (Trying harder and doing all sorts of good works won’t get you into God’s kingdom.)…nor of the will of man (No human organization can stamp your passport to heaven.)…but of God.” To escape the flames of hell and be welcomed into heaven, you have to be born of God. And yet, this is one thing in life you have no control over! You have no more ability to be born again than when you were born the first time. You had no say in whose DNA you inherited or whose family you were born into.

But you say, “If this is what decides my eternity, there must be something I can do!” Only one thing! You can ask. Ask Jesus to do it for you. For John says He is the One who gives us power to become children of God! And listen! Jesus says, “Whoever comes to Me, I will never cast out!” So stop trying to believe or be good enough to be saved! You can’t do it! I tried for years and it did no good. What you can do is call upon the name of Jesus in helpless childlike faith, and the Bible promises, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

13So I ask you as we finish. Have you seen the Light and received Him into your life? If you have, give God the glory for it because, like the Apostle Paul, if He hadn’t opened your eyes by His grace, you’d still be on the wrong road. On the other hand, if you’re just beginning to see the Light, don’t hide from it. That’s how everyone reacts at first. When Peter first realized who Jesus is, He said, “Depart from Me, for I am a sinful man.” But thank God He hasn’t answered that prayer! He’s still reaching out to you, inviting you to stay and be a part of His family. He won’t force you to do that. You can resist Him if you like. But why do that? My prayer is that you’ll receive Him this very moment in prayer.

(To listen to or download the audio version of this message, click Audio. To download the written message, click Written.  P.S. Feel free to send the links to this message to a friend who needs Jesus.  For we all need Him, don’t we?)

The Greatest Book on Earth!


1I grew up in the church. Each week my parents took me to Sunday School and there I worshiped in the same building where my grandmother first took my mother to church. But I didn’t know Christ. Bible teaching wasn’t the forte of our church, and I needed reasons to believe.

One of the traits God inserted into my personality when He made me was a ruthless need to be intellectually honest. So I absolutely refused to believe anything that wasn’t rooted in reality. My dad, on the other hand, was raised Roman Catholic with a terrible fear of hell which he tried to soothe insisting that a loving God could never send anybody to hell. But I didn’t buy it. I’d read the Bible on my own and knew that the most loving Person who ever lived was Jesus, and He issued warning after warning about the fires of hell. So who do I  believe? My dad or Jesus? Of course, I knew John 3:16 where God the Father promises eternal life and forgiveness of sins to anyone who believes in His Son. But that was my problem. I didn’t believe! So week after week I sat in that sanctuary praying for faith without any apparent answer to my prayers.


Fast forward 10 years to 1972 and my second year of college. By now, with major life decisions ahead of me, I was desperate for God’s direction. So I made a commitment. I would read the four Bible accounts of Jesus’ life—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—and keep reading them until I could determine if they were fact or fiction. John’s Gospel had the greatest impact on me because of his insistence that in Christ, God Himself had become a Man. And sure enough, by my third time through the Gospels, I’d made up my mind. Looking back I realize now that it was the Spirit of God at work in my heart giving me faith to believe. I prayed, “God, I now believe whatever You say about Your Son Jesus.”

Not coincidentally, that same afternoon a fellow student began to witness to me, explained the Gospel to me more fully, invited me to his small group, and I went. And from that day on, I’ve been a fully-convinced follower of Jesus Christ who in a matter of a few minutes went from not believing in the Bible, the devil, the Resurrection, and the other miracles of Jesus to accepting whatever God says in His Word. I figured if Satan could blind my mind to the truth about Jesus, I’d better not trust my own reasoning powers about anything else either.

I have also made it my practice since then to encourage anyone else who is searching to read the Gospel of John because it more than any other book in the Bible makes it clear who Jesus is and how to follow Him with all your heart. A. T. Robertson, the Greek scholar said of John, “It is the most wonderful of all books in the world.” I couldn’t agree more, for this is the means by which I was born again. It is also the book I want to introduce to you in this study because I think it will also be a major encouragement to your faith.  Together I want us to: 1) Meet its authors; 2) Appreciate its uniqueness; and 3) Hear its message.

41. Meet Its Authors.

 Every passage of Scripture has two authors—the Lord Himself, for as 2 Timothy 3:16 assures us, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” And yet, except for the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments which Moses says were written by the very finger of God, the rest of the Bible was penned by human authors who, as 2 Peter 1:21 explains, “were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” so that only what God wanted written got written.

So if God ensured the reliability of the Bible, why is it helpful to know who the human author was? Two reasons: First, to determine his credibility and whether or not he had the authority to speak for God. In the case of the Old Testament, the test was: Was he recognized as a true prophet? Whereas for the New Testament, he had to an apostle or the associate of an apostle who, like Luke the traveling companion of Paul, wrote under the authority of an apostle.


So what about John’s Gospel? Who wrote it and did he have the authority to do so? One interesting fact is that the author never names himself. Instead, he calls himself “the disciple Jesus loved.” (13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20) Then how do we know who wrote it? Because of the unanimous testimony of the early church! Irenaeus, for example, the early church father and disciple of Polycarp, said his master, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, testified that John wrote it during his final years while serving as an elder in Ephesus. John, of course, was given the authority to write it by the Lord Himself who promised His disciples on the night before His death, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth…and declare to you the things that are to come…and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 16:13; 14:26)

Then why didn’t John simply name himself and remove all doubt? He is mentioned many times in the first three Gospels but he’s never mentioned here. The only John mentioned here is John the Baptist. So why not make it clear who he was? The answer is humility and thankfulness. John didn’t want to detract from the glory of Christ, so he made it all about Jesus and not at all about himself. He also never got over the fact of how much the Lord loved him, so he simply chose to call himself “the disciple Jesus loved.” After all, if you wanted to write a book and give all the glory to Jesus, what better way to do it than remain anonymous and refer to yourself as “the disciple Jesus loved?” Besides, having an apostle’s name affixed to a gospel doesn’t guarantee that it was written by an apostle. The truth is many false gospels were written claiming to be written by an apostle and were not. So it turns out that the testimony of the early church is the most reliable evidence of all.

6Another reason it’s helpful to know who the author was is to see how the truth he taught changed him. In John’s case, it turned his life upside down. He was, you may remember, the little brother of James and the son of Zebedee and Salome who was, according to John 19:25, the sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother. That means that just like John the Baptist, John the Apostle may have been the cousin of Jesus. Together John and James and Zebedee their father owned a fishing business and were also partners with, according to Luke 5:10, Peter and most likely his brother Andrew also, which means Jesus’ first four disciples were already close friends who had learned to trust one another. All of which was planned by the Father who was providentially preparing a team of followers for His Son. So I say to you never take for granted the work God is doing in the hearts of your children, your nieces, your brothers, your grandchildren just because they are family, for He may be preparing to do a great work the likes of which you’ve never dreamed.

By the way, you should also know that Zebedee and sons were doing very well in the fishing business. Mark 1:20 says they actually had hired servants who helped them in the work. William Barclay the historian says that’s why John can also later say of himself that he was “known to the high priest” in Jerusalem and allowed to enter his courtyard while Jesus stood trial. One of the big businesses in Galilee was the salted fish industry. It is therefore likely that John was responsible for delivering fish to the high priest and other wealthy families in Jerusalem. But then Jesus called him and said, “Follow Me, and I will make you a fisher of men.” And without hesitation, John left it all behind to follow Christ.

7Of course, he was just a diamond in the rough when Jesus found him, like you and I were, with a big ego that had to be ground down and a fiery temper that had to be tamed. He and his brother James were the two young men, I’d remind you, who ignited an argument among the disciples when they asked their mother Salome, Jesus’ aunt, to take advantage of their family connection and ask Him to let them sit one at His right hand and the other at His left hand when He came into His kingdom.

They were also the hotheads who on another occasion, because a village of Samaritans didn’t welcome them into their town, asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54) Jesus quickly corrected them, “The Son of Man didn’t come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” But Jesus’ training paid off, just as it does in our lives, for by what name is John known today? The Apostle of Love! Over 80 times he uses the word “love” in his writings. In fact, it’s said near the end of his life while he was living in Ephesus, his disciples had to help him into the worship services where he only had enough energy to repeat one phrase again and again: “Little children, love one another; love one another; love one another!”

In fact, Jesus had such trust in John that what favor did He ask of him while dying upon the cross? He asked him to take care of His mother. That’s who the author of this Gospel was and how the Lord changed his life.

82. Appreciate Its Uniqueness.

 In His divine wisdom, God chose four of Jesus’ disciples to write a biography or Gospel of His life, so that together they would paint a fully rounded portrait of His Son persuading people from every culture under heaven to believe in Him. The first three Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—are often called the Synoptic Gospels. The word “synoptic” means to give a comprehensive view so that the whole picture can be seen in its entirety. That’s why many of the stories and teachings in the first three gospels are repeated. Each of the writers is helping to fill in the details so we get a fully rounded picture of God’s Son.


But that isn’t John’s purpose for writing. He repeats very little information from Matthew, Mark, or Luke. For example, he says absolutely nothing about the birth, the genealogy, the baptism, or the temptation of Jesus, because that wasn’t his purpose. He didn’t want to present another earthly narrative of Jesus’ life; he wanted the events of His life to prove His divinity. As a result, 90% of what John includes in his Gospel is found nowhere else in Scripture. He devotes, for example, five chapters to Jesus’ parting words to His disciples on the night before His death. He also includes just 8 miracles—water turned to wine, healing a nobleman’s son, curing a paralytic, feeding the 5,000, walking on water, restoring the sight of a man born blind, raising Lazarus from the dead, and the miraculous catch of fish. Each one is included for one purpose and one purpose only—to prove that Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth with all authority given to Him by God the Father.

1It is also the simplest yet most profound of the Gospels. As a student of Koine Greek, the language in which the New Testament was originally written, I can tell you that John is by far the simplest of all the books to read. However, the truth it presents is so profound it will take the most brilliant scholar among us all of eternity to plumb its depths. J. Sidlow Baxter says of it in his introduction to the Gospel of John, “My pail I’m often dropping deep down into this well; but it’s never touched the bottom however deep it fell; and though I keep on dipping by study, faith, and prayer, I have no power to measure the living water there.” The reason, of course, is because of what it’s attempting to communicate to our finite minds—the infinite and eternal power, majesty, and wisdom of the Son of God whose heart is revealed in this Gospel like no other.

CurtainTornThe Bible teacher, John MacArthur, calls it “the Holy of Holies of the New Testament, for in it the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ is fully displayed and what was inaccessible to people in the Old Covenant is now accessible to us in the New Covenant because the veil has been torn in two and the way is open, so that we may come boldly into the presence of God. In this Gospel we will fellowship in the deepest way with the Lord Jesus. We will hear His beating heart. We will touch His wound prints and hopefully with Thomas say, ‘My Lord and my God! In some ways this gospel is simple enough for a child, yet as sublime as an angel; as gentle as a lamb, yet as bold as a lion; as deep as the sea and as high as the heavens, yet its truths can and must be contained in a single human heart.”

2One advantage of the language, because it is so simple, is that it gives us an opportunity to learn a little Greek together. The reason I want to do that is because there are several controversial passages in the book of John which are translated in very different ways by the translators, which means they’re actually interpretations rather than translations. So one of the things we need to do is go behind the English translations at certain points and see what the simple Greek text says. That is also in keeping with what we teach at The Gathering. Instead of relying on the teachings of this or that denomination or organization, the goal is for each of us to develop a truly Biblical theology based on Sola Scriptura—the Bible alone as the authority for all that we do and believe. I will give you an example of that as we come to the final point in our study.

3. Hear Its Message.

The subject of John’s message is found in its very first line. John says, “In the beginning was the Word.” So who or what is that? The Greek word is “Logos,” referring to Jesus the Son of God. Then why doesn’t John say that from the “get-go?” Two reasons: 1) The Son of God wasn’t given the name Jesus until His birth in Bethlehem when the Angel Gabriel said to his stepfather, Joseph, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20). Jesus means “the Lord saves” referring to Jesus’ work as Savior. But that isn’t John’s point here. His point is that the Holy Child born in Bethlehem existed long before the world was made, for He was and is the eternal Son of God.

logos-is-the-greek-word-for-reason-or-for-word2) John is building his case, trying to convince his audience of the truth. Every book of the Bible was written with a certain audience in mind, and by now the Jewish people had as a whole rejected the good news of Jesus their Messiah. So John reaches out to those from the Greek culture who were very familiar with the concept of the “Logos,” for in Greek philosophy the Logos was the principle and impersonal power responsible for the structure of the universe.

The Jews had a similar concept, found in Proverbs chapter 8, where it is called not the “Logos,” but the chokmah or “wisdom of God.” There it says of itself, “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His work…at the first, before the beginning of the earth…when He established the heavens, I was there…when He marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside Him, like a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before Him always…”

But what John does for the first time is insert life into both concepts by revealing that the Greek Logos and Jewish Wisdom are not an impersonal force, but an eternally living and loving Person—Jesus Christ our Lord. For he goes on to say in verse 14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

EmmanuelJohn uses three key words in this Gospel to make his point—“love” which he uses 53 times; “truth” which he uses 57 times; and “believe” which he uses 97 times. His point is this: You can enjoy a love relationship with God the Father by believing the truth about Jesus His Son. In fact, no other writer is as clear about his purpose as John who is very direct and to the point. The key verse of his book is John 20:31 where he says, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John wants us to put the same faith in Jesus that we would put in God the Father, and if we do, he promises we will enjoy new life in His name.

That would be a strange thing to promise and emphasize unless, as Christians have always claimed, God is a Unity but contained within that Unity are Three Persons who are eternally bound together in a love relationship with One Another, the Second Person of which is the Son who is also God. I don’t understand it, but I believe because that’s what this Gospel teaches—that Jesus and the Father are One, and that just as we believe in the Father, we are to love and honor and believe in Jesus His Son.

BlessedNameYou can also see His Deity in the titles He claims for Himself—titles which according to the Old Testament belong to God alone. Eight times, for example, He uses the phrase “I AM” to describe Himself. Those of you who have read the Old Testament realize that is the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush. “Tell them I AM has sent you,” God says to Moses. But here Jesus uses that phrase eight times of Himself claiming, “I AM the Bread of Life.” (John 6:35) “I AM the Light of the World.” (John 8:12) “I AM the Door of the Sheep.” (John 10: 7) “I AM the Good Shepherd.” (John 10:11) “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.” (John 15:1) And “before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58)

5Now, just to introduce you to a little Greek before we finish, notice with me the first sentence of John’s Gospel, which says this—Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος (“In the beginning was the Word”). Just five words in the Greek but five words with eternal consequences, because you see that third word—the little word ἦν? We translate it “was.” But that doesn’t really get at its meaning because it’s in the imperfect tense in Greek describing ongoing action in the past. In other words, what John is saying is that Jesus the Word was already existing with God in the beginning before time and space. You’ll notice the creation doesn’t begin until verse 3, but Jesus already existed before that. So if Christ already existed before time and space began, then what does that say about Him? It means He wasn’t created! He had no beginning. And that He Himself is also God sharing life together with the Father forever.


This is more than the human mind can hope to understand. So stop trying. Suspend your disbelief and lay aside every other thought you’ve had about Jesus long enough to re-examine who He is based on Scripture alone. Be intellectually honest reading and rereading these passages until you’re able to believe what the Bible says about Him. That’s my prayer as we study this, the greatest book that has ever been written—that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

(To listen to or download the audio version of this message, click Audio. To download the written version of this message, click Written. P.S. If you know someone confused about the identity of Jesus, please share this and future posts with them. Who knows? God may use it to change your loved one’s destiny!)


John G. Paton was a missionary to the New Hebrides Islands, a chain of islands 1200 miles east of Australia and known today as Vanuatu.  “Survivor” fans will remember that one of its seasons was filled on Vanuatu.  Paton and his wife Mary arrived on the island of Tanna on November 5, 1858.  At that time the natives on Tanna were cannibals.  In his diary Paton records the dangers this posed for him and his family.  One of the most terrifying experiences took place early on, shortly after their ship deposited them on the beach all by themselves.

2Paton and his wife quickly built a cabin in which to live.  But the natives made it clear that they did not want the missionaries on their island.  So one night they surrounded their home intending to burn it to the ground with them inside.  With no one to turn to but the Lord Himself, the two missionaries fell to their knees and spent the entire night praying for God’s protection.  When daylight dawned, they peeked out the window and were amazed.  Not a single cannibal was in sight! They had all returned to their village.

One year later, by God’s grace, Paton led the chief of the tribe to commit his life to Jesus Christ.  Still curious about that night, Paton took the opportunity to ask him. “What kept you from burning our cabin to the ground?”  “It was the men with you!” the chief explained.  “What men?” Paton asked.  “We didn’t have anyone with us.”  “Oh, yes, you did!” the chief argued. “We saw hundreds of big men in shining garments with swords standing guard in front of your home. That is why we didn’t attack. We were afraid for our lives?”  I wonder. Who were those big men in shining garments standing guard around Paton and his wife?

melanesia-melanesia-new-hebrides-sacred-drums-antique-print-1900-117871-pBefore you answer, let me remind you what Gehazi saw.  He and his master, Elisha the prophet, were surrounded by the Syrian army, and Gehazi was certain that they were about to die.  So how what did Elisha do to comfort him? He said in 2 Kings 6:16, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  And then he prayed, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.”  So the Lord opened the eyes of his servant and “Behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

3One more example: this time from the Battle of Britain. In the early days of World War II, Hitler and the German high command ordered the Luftwaffe with its fighters and bombers to cross the English Channel and destroy the British military infrastructure. They bombed their railroads, their airfields, their factories, their shipping centers. But by the grace of God, the Royal Air Force managed to survive that 3-month long battle, making the Battle of Britain the first great turning-point in the War for the Allies.

How did they do it? Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding gave his explanation at a celebration in his honor at the end of the war. He described his pitifully small complement of men and how rarely they slept. Yet they kept on flying. He told about pilots who were also hit and left incapacitated. Some of them were even killed. Yet their planes kept on flying and fighting! In fact, he said in some cases, airmen in nearby planes saw figures still operating the controls even after the pilots had died. Who kept those planes aloft and helped the British win that crucial battle? Dowding was convinced that God has sent His holy angels to fly those planes and stop the advance of Hitler’s forces.

4Is that possible!  Not only is it possible; it has been the reality many, many times even when we haven’t been able to see them with our eyes.  God’s angels are at work guarding and guiding those of us who love Christ.  Hebrews 1:14 calls them “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.”  Or as Billy Graham put it in the title of one of his books, they are “God’s secret agents” sent to help His children in time of need.

That’s my topic as we come to Daniel chapter 10. Daniel has been helped by angels several times in this book.  So before we come to the end of his prophecy (and there are just 3 chapters remaining), I want to address the topic of angels from a Biblical position, because there is a great deal of confusion about angels in the world around us, and I do not want any of us to be led astray.  For that reason, let me explain 3 important facts that each one of us needs to understand about angels.  In this post I will address the reality of angels.  Then in the next two posts, I will focus on the nature and ministry of angels.

Strmline-AngelShepherds_E1.  The Reality of Angels

When I was a boy, almost no one talked about angels.  I remember asking my parents when I was 6 or 7 years old, “Is there such a thing as the devi? And what about angels? Are they real or not?”  My parents were devoted church members who took us to Sunday School every weekend.  But their answer was: “No. They are simply symbols of the good and bad inside each one of us.”  Because that was the scientific age when if you couldn’t see it, hear it, or feel it, it wasn’t real.  But today we find people at both extremes: those whose faith is still in science as well as those who call themselves spiritual and are in touch with all sorts of spirits.

Where am I on that continuum?  I believe in angels, not because of what I or others have experienced, though I believe that my family and I have been the recipients of angelic help on several occasions .  But there is a danger in seeking an encounter with angels.  Seeking is the key word, by the way. The danger in seeking an encounter with angels is that you could meet the wrong kind of angel who appears as an angel of light and leads you away from the God of the Bible.

angel-of-the-lordI believe in angels first and foremost of all, then, because God’s Word says there are angels.  34 of the 69 books of the Bible mention angels – 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.  The Lord Jesus spoke with great authority on this subject. For example, when Judas came with the Jewish rulers came to arrest Him, Jesus ordered His disciples to put away their swords, saying to them, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of (72,000) angels?” (Matt. 26:53 NASB)  On two critical occasions, Jesus Himself was also strengthened by angels – once following His temptation by the devil in the wilderness (Matt. 4:11) and again while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43).

Gethsemane_Carl_BlochAnd yet, in spite of all that is written about angels in the Bible, the sad fact is how little clear teaching there is about them in the churches.  Ask yourself: When was the last time I heard a message on angels?  Let’s try to rectify that by examining what Daniel has to say about angels in chapter 10 of his prophecy.

As the curtain opens, we see Daniel fasting and praying for his people Israel and mourning over the future trials they are to suffer.  In fact, he has been in prayer for 3 long weeks, when suddenly a special visitor arrives with a  message for him. That, by the way, is what the word “angel” means in both the Old Testament and New Testament. The Hebrew word is malak meaning “messenger.”  The name Malachi (“my angel” or “my messenger”) is derived from it.  The same is true of the Greek word angelos.  It also means “messenger.”

DAN-8-GABEAt first, Daniel says his visitor was “a man.”  But it quickly becomes clear that this is no mere human being standing before him.  Daniel says of him in verses 5-6: “I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl (or yellow serpentine), his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude.”

The angel standing before him was glorious.  And yet, as we read on, we find that as impressive as he was, he has been in a great battle with an even stronger spirit, trying to deliver his message to Daniel.  He explains that he tried to come sooner but the Prince of Persia resisted him for 21 days.  Who was he referring to?  A mighty fallen angel who had control over the King of Persia and his realm.  We’ll take a closer look at what that means in our next study.  But the main point here is that angels are real. They think.  They communicate. They express emotion. They may even become visible to our eyes at times. But whether we see them or not, there are angels all around us fighting spiritual battles on our behalf. The reason we cannot see them (I for one am glad we can’t.  I already have enough to discourage me.)  is because our eyes aren’t calibrated to see them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThink about it for a moment. Can your dog hear noises you can’t hear? Can a deer smell odors you can’t smell? Can an owl see things at night that you can’t see? Yes, they can. So why should it surprise us to find that there are spiritual realities we can’t pick up with our five senses?  1 Corinthians 11:10 suggests that there may be angels in this room right now watching us worship!  I say that based on Paul’s statement that our worship should be decent and in order “because of the angels,” implying that angels watch us worship.  We just don’t have eyes to see them.  “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12 KJV) One of our girls’ favorite songs growing up was written by Amy Grant who sang:


(Click this link to listen to Amy Grant’s song – Angels.)

Angels surround us who love Christ, guiding and protecting us.  Balaam, who proved to be a false prophet and more stubborn than his ass, failed to grasp that fact and almost lost his life.  He beat his poor beast to continue on a path God had forbidden him – cursing the nation of Israel – until his donkey spoke up and the prophet’s eyes were opened to the danger before him – a mighty angel about to kill him because of his opposition to the people of God. (Num. 22:33)

(Next time – “The Nature of Angels”)