91. Mere men in the story of God – one day there by the lake…

Is there somebody in your life that you admire so much that you can remember the day the two of you met? People often asked that of married couples. The story is then related with lots of smiles and interjections in the detailed description of the circumstances that worked together for the meeting of two people that made a life long commitment to each other. The whole audience to this narrative listens attentively with smiling satisfaction.

Just think of the massive historical implications of the meeting described below.

One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone). (John 1:40-42)

Andrew is thrilled to have found the man he calls the Messiah and the first thing he does is share the news with his brother, Simon Peter. It is a momentous occasion – this meeting of Jesus and Peter. Just think on their relationship in the luxury of hindsight. It all started this day at the shores of a lake somewhere in the middle of the world.

These verses mention Messiah and Christ, which are the Hebrew and Greek words that mean God’s anointed King. All through the ancient world kings were anointed.

Andrew is identified as Simon Peter’s brother and plays an important role in bringing people together. He brought the boy with the fishes and loaves to Jesus in the narrative of the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:8-9). He is prepared to take second place in the greater story. He also brings the inquiring Greeks into the presence of Jesus. He could not keep Jesus to himself. He has the heart of a missionary.

Andrew takes centre stage in the meeting of Peter with Jesus.

Jesus looked at Peter. The word used for look means intent gaze, seeing into the heart. He gives Peter a new name, there and then. You are going to be called Cephas, which means rock.

Two names were common in those days. People often had an Aramaic name and a Greek name, like Thomas and Didymus (Greek for twin). Tabitha was Aramaic and Dorcas was Greek for gazelle. Peter and Cephas was the same name in different languages.

In the Old Testament a changed name denoted a new relationship with God. Jacob became Israel in Genesis 32:28 and Abram becomes Abraham in Genesis 17:5. A new man needs a new name.

Jesus sees with purpose and potential. He sees what he is, but also what he can become. In that moment Jesus saw with Holy Spirit insight a Galilean fisherman. He see that in every person committing his life to God. He saw it in Gideon and David and so many other Old Testament faith heroes.

It should be our way to look at people. Just think of the powerful, visionary Jesus-words over our children’s lives when we look at them with the purpose and potential of the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 16:13-20 another discussion between Jesus and His disciples is recorded. He starts with an easy question: Who do the people say I am? The disciples answer: Elijah, Moses, a prophet, John the Baptist etc. That was the easy answer. Suddenly Jesus turns it and makes it personal.

 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Trust the ever audacious Peter to blurt it out.

Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

This inspirational, Holy Spirit-infused answer prompts Jesus to speak an everlasting blessing upon Peter, that echoes throughout the church today.

Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

This is the revelational-speech we desire from God. Not the things that flesh and blood reveals. We want to speak what the Father in heaven reveals to us.

He pronounces the words of Peter as the rock on which the church will be built. Note, it is not the man Peter, but his revelation that is the rock on which the church is built. The church of Jesus is not built upon a man; it is built on the revelation of who Jesus is.

The revelation of Jesus as the son of the living God is the rock on which the church is built.

This is the deep disparity between Peter and Judas. Consider their roles in the dark hours of the trial of Jesus.

Judas was a zealot. He was part of a political party that aimed to overthrow the Romans by force. He walked with Jesus for three years and many times witnessed the anger of the Jewish leaders flare up against Him to the point of stoning and violence. Many times the Gospels state that Jesus just walked away. To Judas this was a miracle. Maybe if he forced the hand of the authorities against Jesus, Jesus might overthrow the Romans in a miracle-like way. Without even giving a second thought to the warnings of Jesus that He was on a collision course with the rulers and will be put to death and rise again (Matthew 16:21; Mark 9:31; 10:33)), Judas set his own plan in motion, “using” Jesus for his own goals.

He received the 30 shekels of silver (the price of a slave on the market at the time) from the High Priest and led the soldiers to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Very soon he saw that things were not going according to plan. He witnessed Jesus’ peaceful surrender to the soldiers to be led away to the house of the High Priest. Later that night He was taken to Pontius Pilate, and to Herod and back to Pilate. Judas panicked. He saw that the whole thing was going south. He stumbled back to the leaders and uttered the words:

I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. (Matthew 27:4)

To the very end Judas did not realize that he was a player in the life of the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed One, the One man the whole world was waiting for. He died a self-inflicted death alone in utter darkness.

Peter and John very courageously followed Jesus to the courtyard of the house of the High Priest on the night of the arrest. It was not the time to be seen as one of the supporters of this man that the leaders put on trial. When he denied knowledge of Jesus three times and heard the cock crow, he wept bitterly and fled to his fellow disciples.

That is exactly where you should be in the midst of spiritual struggle.

There he waited with desperate hope and great remorse. Jesus knew his soul struggle and specially mentioned him to Mary to bring him the good news of the resurrection.

Peter’s life ended in great victory.

In John 1:43-51, other ordinary men meet God.

Jesus leaves the south and moves north to Galilee. He calls Philip. Philip finds his brother, Nathanael with the good news. Nathanael is skeptical. He was probably following a discussion on the details of this Jesus everybody was talking about. Rivalry between villages was common. Nothing good can come out of Nazareth, he reckoned. Even more, the prophets said nothing about Nazareth – they said the Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem. Only by deeper investigation, the true searcher would have known that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem.

Nathanael is from Cana. He argues with Philip. Philip is wise. He says: Come and see. Arguments end well when the person is brought into the presence of Jesus. Arguments can only happen in love, never in hostility or arrogance. Jesus revealed is the goal. That often happens in testimony, rather than argument.

Jesus’ compliment would have been understood by any Jew. Psalm 32:2 and Isaiah 53:9 stated that no deceit will be in his mouth.

Sitting under the fig tree was any Jew’s idea of peace. Undisturbed under thick shade was a place to pray and meditate. Jesus was aware of the cry of his heart. He was clearly part of the remnant , who kept the vision of the expected Messiah alive. The promise still stands, even after so many years of waiting. Do not grow weary. Great is His faithfulness.

Jesus knew the cry of his heart; he knew his prayers. He can interpret the soul. He communicated with Nathanael on a deeper level, spoke prophetically into his life and stirred up his vision for greater things to come.

Nathanael does not appear in any of the other Gospels. John describes it as an encounter to illustrate Jesus’ nature in dealing with people.

It was in Jesus’ nature to satisfy expectations.

Nathanael stands symbolically for the person whose heart is cleansed of pride and prejudice and who sees in Jesus the one who satisfies the longing of his waiting, seeking heart.

 

 

90. How about you?

Have you ever wondered about yourself in history? Where would you have been in the village life of the Middle Ages, a noblewoman in a castle, a knight fighting for the duke, maybe the duke himself? It is difficult to think with too much ambition about women in history. I am no Joan of Arc. My ideal women in history go a bit further back to Deborah in the Book of Judges, or Huldah in 2 Kings 22. Go ahead and read about them.

Let us take an imaginary trip and place us around the shores of Galilee at the time when everybody talked about a man able to heal miraculously, arguing with the Pharisees and Scribes and reaching out to the poor. Can you imagine the talk around the squares and wells of the villages in rural Judea? Maybe you could have been a hard working businessman in the fish industry, preserving Galilee’s riches in salt; maybe an importer of delicacies from the rest of the vast Roman Empire supplying the Roman contingent in Caesarea or Herod’s palace in Jerusalem.

This past Easter I sat in church listening to a sermon on the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. When I looked at the beautiful picture they had on the screen, I looked at the crowds around Jesus and suddenly wondered where I would have been. I have to admit I have a vivid imagination, but I have had many instances where the Holy Spirit showed me faith pictures in my mind, where I could not have come up with anything remotely so wonderful. One of my most powerful experiences of being healed of a nagging fear, was experiencing the Holy Spirit taking control of my imagination to show me how God is providing for me.

While staring at the picture on the screen in church, I was at once heartbroken. I did not see myself at the forefront, waiving the palm branches and shouting Hosanna. Succumbing to my naturally suspicious and cautious nature, I saw myself at the edges of the crowd, staying close, as I imagined myself very much fascinated by this man, but reserving judgment for later. In prayer I almost wanted to apologize to the Lord about this. I admired Mary Magdalene and John who followed the trial and so courageously found them at the foot of the cross in spite of extreme personal danger, being seen as a friend of the “criminal”.

In that moment the Holy Spirit convicted me to the complete opposite of what I was thinking. He said I would have been exactly where I was now. I was made aware of the miracle of faith, the miracle of salvation and the miracle of spiritual insight into the deep mysteries of God and His Word. Coming to Jesus is a cold rational decision, followed by a miraculous personal rebirth, experiencing the Holy Spirit taking up residence in the deepest inner being of a person. I was overjoyed by this realization that Jesus was revealed to every person who asked God for spiritual insight into His life on earth. It happened then as it happens now.

For me, it was a moment of great rejoicing. I felt my spirit leap up and shout Hosanna. I know deep in my heart just how much I love Jesus and how I treasure God’s word above everything in this world. Throughout the sermon I was enjoying my own triumphant entry into Jerusalem right there by Jesus’ side.

How then did the people know this is the Messiah? In the first chapter of John, exactly this matter is the theme. He states the case for Jesus like a heavenly advocate in a court of law, calling the witnesses to testify to the authenticity of Jesus’ Messianic title.

1:32-34

And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

The baptism of Jesus removed all doubt in John the Baptist’s mind that Jesus was the Son of God. There by the waters of the Jordan God reveals himself as the Trinity, speaking from heaven and letting the Holy Spirit descend in the symbol of the dove. It was something, which only the eye of the mind and soul could see.

The baptism (Greek=baptizein – to dip or to submerge) of Jesus was a decisive event.

In Palestine the dove was a sacred bird. It was not hunted and it was not eaten. The picture of the dove was one, which the Jews knew and loved. The dove brought the olive branch, the symbol of provision to Noah in the Ark. (Matthew 3:16)

It was at his baptism that the Spirit came down upon Jesus with power in a way that was convincing to John the Baptist.

The Hebrew word for Spirit is ruach and it means wind. The Spirit of God brings us three things:

  • Power: in Acts 2 it is described as a mighty rushing wind.
  • Life: the very existence of man is by the breath of God.
  • God: it is the way by which we live beyond mere human achievement.

The Spirit controlled the prophets. (Micah 3:8,Isaiah 59:21,Isaiah 61:1, Ezekiel 36:26-7)

The Spirit: brings the truth of God, gives men the power to recognize that truth when they saw it and gives them the ability and the courage to preach that truth to men. The Jews knew the Spirit and knew it was God coming into a man’s life.

John goes out of his way to point out that the Spirit remained on Jesus. It is not just a temporary inspiration; it is a permanent abiding. John states the descending of the dove as a Holy Spirit baptism, which implies that He was saturated and flooded with the Spirit of God.

In a Holy Spirit life we are illuminated to understand the Word, strengthened to do the Word and purified by the baptism of fire, burning away the worldly baggage. Spirit prayer is a cry of the heart with no thought of theology and liturgy.

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2)

That was the Messianic promise from the mouth of Isaiah. It stands as the promise to us who invites the Holy Spirit to saturate our inner beings.

1:35-39:

 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”

39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

John the Baptist points to Jesus as the greater teacher, full knowing that his own disciples will leave him and follow Jesus. He had no jealousy towards Jesus. He was looking for the vision to be fulfilled.

The character of the true disciple determines that his eye remains on the vision.

What is your God-inspired vision for your life?

Take a moment to write it down. Ask the Holy Spirit to quicken your mind to see God’s heart for you with no attachment to your fellow men or this world. (Habakkuk 2:15)

Jesus turned to speak to the disciples who followed Him. He is always willing to meet us halfway, making things easier for us to get to Him. He is a door opener. (Isaiah 45:1, Revelation 3:8)

Jesus turning to talk to the disciples is symbolic of the divine initiative. God always takes the first step. The human mind seeks and the heart longs. God meets you on the way just like the beautiful image of the father in the story of the prodigal son, waiting for the first signs of his son and running out to meet him. That is a good heart picture to treasure whenever we think of our heavenly father.

We seek God when He has already found us – Augustine.

The fundamental question is: What are you looking for? Your desire needs to be expressed. They could have been legalists looking for an argument. They could have followed Him to enlarge their influence with the leadership. They could have been nationalists looking for political shortcuts. Or were they humble men looking for their Messiah? They could have been puzzled, bewildered and sinful, looking for light and not even sure how deep the need in their inner being might be. This is the perfect approach – dark lives looking for the Light of the World to change them forever.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

Are you looking for safety and security, wealth and superficial satisfaction for your needs? It is not wrong to look for these things; it is only a very low aim. There is no security in the changes and chances of life. Some people are searching for personal ambition, having their own goals already shaped, believing God is the instrument to get there. Beware of the detour called life!

Here in John 1 the disciples answered with a question: Where is Jesus staying?

They called Him rabbi, which literally means: my great One. It was a title of respect given by students of wise men. John writes to the Greeks and uses the word for teacher.

What does their question mean?

They didn’t want a short answer. They wanted to sit down, share a meal, talk much. They were not satisfying a curiosity or a superficial need. They wanted to truly know Him.

Jesus answers: Come and see. Those words were a well-known answer to any question of a student of a Jewish rabbi. Jesus’ words imply: we’ll think about this together. If you are in for the long haul, I am more than willing.

John was probably one of these disciples. He notes the time. Almost like in a diary. He is thinking back many years and experiencing that moment, more or less 4pm one afternoon in Galilee that his own life changed forever.

 

 

 

 

89. The scene is set, the call goes out.

It is only here in the later verses of the first chapter that the narrative begins. John makes sure that his readers have an understanding of the eternal value and timelessness of this story – the greatest story ever told. God who loves His created being so much that He became one of them to give His life as a sacrifice for salvation.

John is careful with details. He tells the story of the first week in the public life of Jesus step by step.

[Scripture for this is as follows: first day – John 1:19-28; second day – John 1:29-34; third day – John 1:35-39, fourth day – John 1:40-42, fifth day – John 1:43-51. The sixth day is left a blank and the seventh day – John 2:1-11.]

Throughout his Gospel John writes the testimony of Jesus with three witnesses to Jesus’ life: John the Baptist, the disciples and the miracles. John the Baptist states his own position in the greater scheme of things in John 1:19-28.

One of the important role players in this Gospel is the Jews. They are always in opposition, always cross-examining John. They are mentioned more than 70 times. He tells of their rejection of Jesus. God offers salvation and they refuse, Jesus invites and they reject. It is as if the Gospel tells of love, but warns against rejection of that love.

John the Baptist was the son of Zacharias, a priest (Luke 1:5). Priesthood was inherited by descent of the tribe of Levi, originally through Aaron. A Levi was born into the priesthood whether you like it or not.

The Pharisees, who were scholars of the Law in strict observance of it, also watched Jesus. Their name means separated. Apart from the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin also watched Jesus closely. They were functioning as a council of society leaders in every city in Judea, Their name means sitting together and part of their function was to judge doctrine and warn against false prophets. They were very suspicious of anything new. John the Baptist did not fit the picture of a priest.

The Jews as a nation and their leaders lived in expectation of the Messiah. They were awaiting a reign of peace; a great national champion from the tribe of Judah, who would lead the Jews as rulers of the whole earth; a prince from the line of David. Many people over the centuries claimed to be the Messiah and caused rebellions. They all believed Elijah would come and announce the Messiah. Elijah would establish the rights and wrongs so that the Messiah could reign (Malachi 4:5). Some thought John could be the return of a great prophet like Isaiah of Jeremiah. John denied it.

John was a true preacher and pastor. He was continually pointing the way to the true king. The preacher himself must be forgotten and the people should be directed to focus on Jesus.

Why did John baptize?

Baptism was not for Israelites, only for foreigners becoming Jews. Jews did not need baptism as they already belonged to God. John was leveling the field. He was treating Jews as Gentiles and the people of both these groups and all walks of life flocked to him to be baptized in the hope of a renewal of faith and in expectation of something more. When interrogated he answered indirectly by saying: “I am baptizing only with water; but there is One among you–you don’t recognize him–and I am not worthy to untie the straps of his shoes. (John 1:26,27)

The Baptist could not have mentioned a more menial task. It was the work of a slave. The Rabbis said a disciple could do anything for his teacher except tie his shoes. It was too menial. John said that he could not even be Jesus’ slave. By saying that he announced the King of Israel.

John was only preparing the way as we should and any preacher should. We have the same great calling as John the Baptist: pointing to Christ. People should forget us, as we should forget ourselves so that the image of Jesus be exalted and taught.

It is the test of true Word ministry. How clear are Jesus and His words in the teaching of the church of Jesus Christ today? The same John wrote the “test” for salvation and true loyalty in his Epistle.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

Where is the devil most active? Right here in our churches and amongst the children of God. He would like to spread doubt with false teaching. We know the Truth – Jesus. PRAY the gift of discernment over prejudice, preconceived ideas and secular culture. Not one of these vices can be present in our teaching of the Word. We need to rise up above ourselves, and preach the Gospel as it is presented by John the Baptist:

Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

In this one statement we can see four pictures:

  • The Passover lamb, when they smeared the blood on the doorposts in Exodus 12:11-13. Paul confirms it in 1 Corinthians 5:7.
  • The sacrifice at the Temple when the lambs are slaughtered and the blood sprinkled on the foundations. It was to the shepherds who were watching over these lambs, that the angels brought the message of Jesus’ birth. The lambs were specially bred to sell to the tradesmen of the Temple who were part of the scene of moneychangers in the forecourt of the Temple in Jerusalem.
  • The Prophets called out the title of Jesus: But I was like a docile lamb brought to the slaughter… (Jeremiah 11:19) and He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent… (Isaiah 53:7).
  • The Maccabees struggle of 163BC was fresh in the memory of the Jews at the time. The horned lamb was the symbol of the great conqueror as a champion of God. He mastered over sin in a single contest.

John used this title of Christ 29 times when he wrote the Revelation.

It becomes one of the most precious titles of Christ. In one word it sums up the love, the sacrifice, the suffering and the triumph of Christ.

Could anybody be afraid of a lamb? Could anybody reject a lamb?

Christ comes as a human baby, the most helpless newborn in all of creation. He does not come to condemn or condescend. He comes to save. It is a picture of profound contrast. How can a lamb be anything than a helpless creature to be cared for? Christ as the Lamb of God is the conquering Saviour of the World.

It is a picture that draws attention because of the stark contrast, the inherent discord. It calls for a second look.

It is the greatest confrontation of thought ever.

88. Always enough – never running out.

Walking through the last verses of the first chapter, more words in the tradition of grace and truth are used to describe the fullness of the character of Jesus. To know Him is to know what life should be all about.

Part of earthly living is to handle scarcity and provide for our own basic needs. Fear of deprivation is a basic struggle for life. To keep us from running out of supplies is what our job and providing for others are all about. Is that not often reason for deep-rooted fear and stress?

God is called El Shaddai, the God of enough. Those words have constantly been a strong source of encouragement to me. His name is His character. If He is the source that will never run out, He will make provision for us, His children. His provision is never sparse.

We sang an old song with exactly those words to drive out fear of the future:

He is more than enough, more than enough

He is El Shaddai, the God of plenty

The All-sufficient One, God Almighty

He is more than enough

The meaning of El Shaddai is closely related to the majestic Creator-God, who is Almighty and who knows how to provide enough. He can create from nothing. He can call the seas its boundaries and declare enough.

In His provision and in His creation His glory is displayed. Glory is defined as high renown or honour won by notable achievements, magnificence or great beauty. God’s glory is the full weight or substance of his splendour, His reputation and good standing.

He manifested his glory in miracles. (John 2:11) For Jesus His own glory was the glory of God, the glory of the One who sent Him. His Father glorified Him, which meant that He had the full weight of the Creator-God at His disposal. (John 5:41; 7:18; 8:50,54) Jesus states that the glory of His Father was his own before the world began (John 17:5). That same glory, His reputation, and His sufficiency he has given to his disciples (John 17:22). This mighty wonder includes us.

Jesus is God’s reputation, a manifestation of God’s love.

1:15-17:John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist gave Jesus first place. In every word the Baptist spoke he emphasized the superior calling of Jesus. This is very important to John the Apostle.

Jesus was actually six months younger in age than the Baptist. John is saying: “He who is my junior has been advanced beyond me. I prepared the way for Him”. Jesus is the one who existed before the world began.

The word that John uses for fullness is a great word. It is pleroma and it means the sum total of all that is in God. He meant that in Jesus there dwelt the totality of the wisdom, the power and the love of God.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him…

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.  (Colossians 1:19, 2:9,10).

The spring of divine life, becomes available to men.

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

 When John said that no man has ever seen God, everyone in the ancient world would fully agree with him. Men were fascinated and depressed and frustrated by what they regarded as the infinite distance and the utter remoteness of God.

God is represented as saying to Moses: “You cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live” (Exodus 33:20)

Plato said: “Never man and God can meet. “God is way beyond everything.”

It was unthinkable to call God father.

John makes the startling statement that Jesus has fully revealed to men what God is like.

Jesus is unique. He is described as monogenes which means only-begotten. He is one of a kind, specially beloved.

To be in the bosom of someone is the Hebrew phrase, which expresses the deepest intimacy possible in human life. Therefore Jesus can reveal the Father, as He comes from the bosom of the Father.

In Jesus Christ the distant, unknowable, invisible, unreachable God has come to men; and God can never be a stranger to us again.

This was not a new idea. It was often expressed in the Psalms and the longings of the prophets. To them the ultimate excellence of living was to be found in the presence of the Most High. Even from their perspective of God as distant and fierce, there was a deep longing for the intimate fellowship of a love-relationship.

Hosea writes of a heavenly engagement, expressing the love-relationship conveyed by God to His people.

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy. (Hosea 2:19)

God speaks to Jeremiah and says that He remembers the time of Israel’s first love, when following Him, even into the wilderness, was a sign of their love for Him. (Jeremiah 2:1)

It is all about love. Jesus is God’s love. The only life worth living is only possible in the fullness of love.

87. Actually…like never before.

We have talked about new things before. New as in new of something that existed before like a new pencil or new shoes and new as in completely unique coming into existence for the first time. God is in the business of new things. Create is the powerful verb accompanying anything new. God is creator; He makes new, also new people. He takes the most vile and evil mess and restores it to a beautiful, new creation with a unique place in this world.

I am always overawed at the thought of a new beginning. How does this world need it! How many times do we see a life going horribly wrong, when superficial ideas of pleasure and success cause fundamentally wrong decisions. In the darkness of the consequences of transgression a cry for help echoes through the universe and the God of new beginnings steps in.

This glorious Creator-God became a person to live in the dust of this earth to heal and restore His own. John says it this way:

 1:14 So the Word of God became a person, and took up his abode in our being, full of grace and truth; and we looked with our own eyes upon his glory, glory like the glory which an only son receives from a father.

This statement is the core of this whole Fourth Gospel:

“This word which created the world, this reason which controls the order of the world, has become a person and with our own eyes we saw him.”  In other words, we saw God with actual physical sight.

This is where John parted with all thought which had gone before him. This was the entirely new thing, which John brought to the Greek world for which he was writing. Augustine afterwards said that in his pre-Christian days he had read and studied the great pagan philosophers and had read many things, but he had never read that the word became flesh.

To the Greeks this was impossible – a god could never become a man. The world and the physical were so corrupted; God could not even come close.

 John states a shockingly new thing: that God could and would become a human person; that God could enter into this life that we live; that eternity could appear in time; that somehow the Creator could appear in creation in such a way that men’s eyes could actually see him. Paul uses the word FLESH again and again to describe human nature in all its weakness and in all its liability to sin. The very thought of taking this word and applying it to God, was something astonishing.

Some said Jesus was a phantom, not really a man experiencing cold and hunger. So strong was this notion that it became a sect. John deals with them in his first epistle.

In Jesus we see God living life, as he would have lived it if he had been a man. If nothing else were said about Jesus we could still say that he shows us how God would live this life that we have to live.

John states it in classic Hebrew style: the concept is repeated slightly different for impact and emphasis.

It is said that this is the greatest single verse in the New Testament. It contains the most important words of the Gospel: Grace and Truth.

GRACE:

 

  • is defined as completely undeserved, something that we could never have earned or achieved for ourselves, an act of pure love on the part of God, helpless poverty of man and the limitless kindness of God. It is in essence the unmerited favour of God to us.
  • also means beauty. In modern Greek the same word means charm. In Jesus we see the sheer loveliness of God.

Grace explains God reaching out to man. Grace does not ask reciprocation. Grace acts willingly and one-sidedly.

Just in the following verses John expands this concept of unending grace. John 1:15 talks about grace for grace or grace upon grace to indicate one wonder leading to another. There is always greater, more and lovelier available. Great music, art and poetry have no end. God is infinitely more than everything we know and the longer we live, the more we discover about Him. He is limitless wonder.

He supplies all the grace you might need in days of adversity and days of ease. Grace is dynamic and always sufficient, able to deal with everything. God is the lover of the souls of men. Maybe it was not so clearly experienced in the Law, but now, in Jesus there is no doubt.

 

TRUTH:

Lovers of wisdom (philosophers) have searched for Truth over many centuries. How can it be certain? To what could it be compared? How is it measured?

According to Wikipedia Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality or fidelity to an original or standard. How does one determine the fact or reality and how does one establish the original or standard?

Jesus said: “I am the truth” (John 14:6). To see truth we must look at Jesus. He is accessible to every mind. Very few people can grasp abstract ideas; most people think in pictures. It is difficult to define beauty, but we can point to a beautiful person or object and say that is beauty. We can look at Jesus Christ and say: “That is what God is like.” We can look to Him and know what is true.

Jesus did not come to talk to men about God; he came to show men what God is like, so that the simplest mind might know him as intimately as the mind of the greatest philosopher.

Jesus communicates truth, because He knows the truth (John 8:31) He witnesses to the truth (John 18:37), because He is the original, the standard. Jesus shows us the right way and enables us to choose right. His Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit helps us to not just read the Bible and know it is true, but to let the truth live within us.

It is the Truth that sets us free (John 8:32). To tell a child what he is really like, is to liberate him and to give him confidence. The enemy lies to us about ourselves and robs us of thinking right, in order to let fear establish our thoughts and determine our lives.

Truth can be resented. Jesus was killed for it (John 8:40).

 No man ever destroyed the truth by refusing to listen.

The truth can be disbelieved (John 8:45). Many people do not believe in Jesus because it seems too good to be true; or because they are so chained to their half-truths that they will not let them go. In many instances a half-truth is the worst enemy of the truth.

Truth is not something abstract; it must be done (John 3:21). It must be known with the mind, accepted with the heart, and acted out in the life.

To live the Jesus life by His grace is true living.

It is our new beginning, even after the brokenness of this world brought us tragedy and disaster.

 

 

 

86. Homecoming discord.

The movies do it so well. It amazes me how film can express the awkward, emotional moments that portray the stress of discord in a relationship so vividly that I sit there with a knot in my stomach. A long lost brother coming home for a special occasion, either a funeral or a wedding, puts one on the edge of the seat, feeling the pain of uncertainty and wasted years.

We are children of God. Jesus is God’s son. He is our eldest brother through whom our world came into being. John writes of the grief of being made unwelcome in His great homecoming mission.

1:10-11 He was in the world, and, although the world came into being through him, the world did not recognize him. It was into his own home that he came, and his own people did not welcome him.

If men had only had the sense to see him, the Logos was always recognizable in the universe.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…   (Romans 1:20)

The world has been made to lead men to God. Creation and circumstances are so orchestrated to make men feel the void in their souls for the love that is calling out to them.

Theology has always made a distinction between natural theology and revealed theology. Revealed theology deals with the truth that comes directly from God through the prophets, the Bible, and through Jesus Christ. Natural theology deals with the truth that man could discover by the exercise of his own mind and intellect on the world in which he lives. How can we see God’s word, God’s reason, God’s mind (logos) in the world in which we live?

Revelation knowledge is the wonder of hearing our Saviour speaks through the written Word. It is the voice of conviction in our mind that directs our decisions and establishes our thoughts on the right path for our lives.

Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)

For this, the greatest blessing on our earthly living, we study and pray.

We pray for insight into our world. We can only truly see when we see with Holy Spirit eyes. We look at the universe outwards. Basic Greek thought dictated that where there is order there must be a mind. The world has amazing order. The planets keep to their appointed courses. The tides observe their appointed times. Seed times and harvest, summer and winter, day and night come according to their appointed times (Genesis 11:22). Clearly there is order in nature, and, therefore, equally clearly there must be a mind behind it all. It is a superior mind, far beyond the mind of man.

We look at the universe upwards: Astronomers tell us that there are as many stars as there are grains of sand upon the seashore. Man can calculate precisely when and where an eclipse of the sun will happen hundreds of years from now, and to the second how long it will last. It has been said, “no astronomer can be an atheist.” When we look upwards we see God.

We look at our world inwards: Where did we get the power to think, to reason and to know? Where did we get our knowledge of right and of wrong? Where do remorse and regret and the sense of guilt come from? Why can we never do what we like and be at peace? No man can explain himself apart from God.

We look at our universe backwards: our whole of history is a demonstration of the moral law in action. Empires rise and collapse according to the pattern of moral degeneration.

Israel was specially God’s land and the Jews were specially God’s people. The Jewish nation is called God’s peculiar treasure (Exodus 19:5; Psalms 135:4). The door should have been wide open for Jesus, but he was rejected. The people were being prepared for a task over centuries and then they refused the task.

Today, so many people refuse the task God has for them. It is one of the reasons for discord in our lives.

What is God’s task for you now? Are you unhappy with your circumstances? Think carefully. God has a task for you. Are you refusing it?

The fact remains that God is preparing us by all the experiences of life for something; and many refuse the task when it comes and never even realize that they are refusing it.

1:12-13: To all those who did receive him, to those who believe in his   name, he gave the right to become the children of God. These were born not of blood, nor of any human impulse, nor of any man’s will, but their birth was of God.

A man is not naturally a child of God. He has to become a child of God. You could be in the classroom, even attending lectures, but it doesn’t make you a student. As one preacher said: sitting in a garage doesn’t make you a car, sitting in a church doesn’t make you a Christian.

Man can only enter into friendship with God when God himself opens the way. We accept the life God offers through believing in the name of Jesus Christ.

Life is tough and we often do not feel full of faith, victoriously conquering evil and pushing back the power of darkness. We need to constantly surrender our feeling of weakness and defeat. In Jesus we can never be defeated. We will triumph over the most destructive circumstances imaginable, when we fully rely on the promised strength of Jesus.

We are promised so much in the powerful name of Jesus. Jewish thought named a person to portray his nature.

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:10).

We will put our trust in God because we know what he is like. We see in Jesus what God is like. We become children of God by what Jesus is and that opens up the possibility of becoming children of God. Maybe it is good that you feel weak and not able to do anything by yourself…go ahead – ask.

 

85. Word, Light, World, Darkness.

We have said it already. It is written in the volumes of history. His words stand firm and unchallenged.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying,

“I am the light of the world.

He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Many people have come and gone, claiming to be God, to be the Messiah, to bring salvation, healing, meaning to life and other benefits. Just Google the list of Messiah-claimants in Judaism, Christianity and Islam – it is long and tiresome. None of those names have endured even a fraction of the time that the name of Jesus has.

No-one in the history of all mankind has ever said: I am the light of the world.

The word light occurs in the Fourth Gospel no fewer than twenty-one times. Jesus is the light of men. The calling of John the Baptist was to point men to that light which was in Christ. Twice Jesus calls himself the light of the world (John 8:12, John 9:5).

This light can be in men (John 11:10), so that they can become children of the light (John 12:36), “I have come,” said Jesus, “as light into the world” (John 12:46).

  • Jesus brings the light, which puts chaos to flight. He is the one person who can save life from becoming chaos.
  • Jesus brings light, which shows things as they are. It strips away the disguises and concealments. It shows people and circumstances in their true character and values. It is light that reveals truth.
  • Jesus brings guiding light – a light that brings certainty and confidence. Doubt and confusion flee when He is crowned the King of your life.

Darkness in the world is as real as the light (John 1:5).

The unconquerable light will in the end defeat the hostile dark. John is saying: “Choose your side in the eternal conflict and choose right.”

It is men whose deeds are evil who fear the light (John 3:19-20). The man who has something to hide loves darkness. Darkness is used symbolically. It also indicates blindness. Jesus says: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness” (John 8:12).

Without Jesus Christ a man cannot find or see direction for his life.

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came, while it was still dark, John writes in John 20:1. He describes the atmosphere before the news of the resurrection as dark to contrast the magnificence of life.

He tells how Judas dipped his hand in the bowl with Jesus and then went out to do his dark work.  Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night. (John 13:30).

Although men through all the ages did all they could to obscure and extinguish the light of God in Christ, they could not quench it. In every generation the light of Christ still shines in spite of the efforts of men to extinguish the flame.

Darkness will never win. Darkness might be symbolical, but you cannot hide from God. God is also in the darkness. Wherever you may find yourself and may feel it is too dark, too evil, too far away from light – God is there to hear you cry.

 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:21)

Within the first five verses of this Gospel we see a culmination of every philosophy, every concept of deity, every confusion of thought as well as logical thought plus all the Roman, Greek, Persian and Egyptian models of gods and their functioning. John states the boldest statement in all of history – Jesus is the One everything points to and the answer to every possible question and argument ever.

John the Baptist was witness to the Light, just as we are witnesses, not the light itself. (John 1:6-8)

For 400 years the prophetic voice was silent until John the Baptist. It seems that certain people were so fascinated by John that they gave him a higher place than he ought to have had.

John denies that he is first and declares that he must decrease while Jesus increased (John 3:25-30). Jesus was more successful in his appeal to men than John was (John 4:1). The people said that John was not able to do the things that Jesus did (John 10:41).

This Gospel warns greatly against the following of a mere man, instead of following the risen Christ. The true prophet will always point to Jesus. He emphasizes that John the Baptist was only a witness.

We know Jesus is the Christ by various witnesses. There is the:

  • witness of Jesus himself. “I bear witness,” he said, “to myself” (John 8:18). “My testimony is true” (John 8:14).What Jesus was in himself was the best witness that his claims were true.

 

  • witness of his works. He said: “The works which the Father has granted me to accomplish … bear me witness” (John 5:36).

“Believe me for the sake of the works themselves” (John 14:11). One of the condemnations of men is that they have seen his works, and have not believed (John 15:24). No man could have done the mighty works that Jesus did unless he was closer to God than any other man ever was.

 

  • witness which the Scriptures bear to him. Jesus said: “Search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me” (John 5:39). “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). It is Philip’s conviction that he has found him of whom Moses and the law and the prophets wrote (John 1:45).

 

  • witness of the last of the prophets, John the Baptist. “He came for testimony to bear witness to the light” (John 1:7-8).

 

  • witness of those with whom Jesus came into contact. The woman of Samaria bore witness to the insight and to the power of Jesus (John 4:39). The man born blind bore witness to his healing power (John 9:25;John 9:38). The people who witnessed his miracles told of their awe at the things he did (John 12:17).

 

  • witness of the disciples and especially of the writer of the gospel himself it was Jesus’ commission to his disciples: “You also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:27). And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth” (1 John 5:7). Spirit brought God’s truth to men, and the Spirit enabled men to recognize that truth when they saw it.

For us: God will always give us confirmation with a witness. Be aware of unconfirmed prophecy. God will show you. His path is not darkness and uncertainty.

“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)

1:9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

There are two Greek words for true: alethes and alethinos. The first one means true as opposed to false and the second one means real as opposed to unreal. He uses the second as it is explained: answering to the perfect ideal, and as opposed to all more or less imperfect representations. [Ellicott].

John states his case like a lawyer so that there is no doubt who Jesus is.

There are partial lights and there are false lights; and men follow them. Jesus is the only genuine light, the real light to guide men on their way. Jesus is the dawn in a dark world.

Knowledge of Him could drive away the shadows of doubt. By His coming the people could know God; a mystery no more. When Jesus came men saw what God is like. The guessing was over. The light had come.

A new power came into life. It was the answer to despair. Jesus showed the right way and how to walk in it. The way was made clear. He made the impossible possible.

The darkness and terror of death was engulfed in His promise of life eternal. The ancient world feared death; it was torture by whatever gods there were. Jesus showed that death was only the way to a larger life.

The ancient world was exclusive. The Jew hated the Gentile and held that Gentiles were created for no other purpose than to be fuel for the fires of hell. The ancient prophet, Isaiah, saw that Israel’s destiny was to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6). The Romans feared Christianity because it robbed them of their exclusiveness.

Our world in confusion and strife has only one solution – to believe in Jesus and be united in love. Any other unity and peace are impossible.

Jesus as a man and His doctrine were unique and a welcome relief from the terrifying uncertainty of ancient gods and the search for knowledge of the mysteries of life.

Where is He today? He is the guiding light, the only source of peace and truth. He is real life. He is victory over the darkness.

By grace and the cross – He is mine! Have you made the step into life – true Life?

 

 

 

84. There is a man.

St Augustine said in everything he ever knew about the world, everything he read and regarded as worth studying, he had never heard of a word becoming a man. It is exactly what John conveys in the first chapter of his Gospel. The mind of God is spoken into life with a body.

It is John’s great thought that Jesus is none other than God’s creative, life-giving and light-giving word. Jesus is the power of God, which created the world and the reason of God, which sustains the world. It is God Himself coming to earth in human and bodily form. John was thinking of what is known as the pre-existence of Christ. (John 1:1-2)

If the word was with God before time began, if God’s word is part of the eternal scheme of things, it means that God was always like Jesus. We think differently of the God of the Old Testament than of Jesus and His loving ministry on earth. We might even think Jesus changed God’s anger into love and altered his attitude to men. The New Testament knows nothing of that idea. The whole New Testament tells us, that God has always been like Jesus.

What Jesus did was to open a window in time that we might see the eternal and unchanging love of God.

What then of the cruel and violent passages of the Old Testament?  It is not God who has changed; it is men’s knowledge of Him that has changed. The prophets wrote of an avenging, angry God when they saw the cruel consequences of sin and the devastating effect of godlessness, because they did not know any better. Their knowledge of God was imperfect. Jesus came to perfect our knowledge of God.

It is told that a little girl was once confronted with some of the more bloodthirsty and savage parts of the Old Testament. Her comment was: “But that happened before God became a Christian!”

Jesus shows that God was always a Christian!

In the time of John there was a kind of heresy called Gnosticism. They held that in the beginning two things existed – God and matter. Matter was the raw material out of which the world was made, flawed and imperfect.

God is pure spirit, and pure spirit can never touch matter; therefore Jesus could not have been God for God cannot be man, which is created out of matter and therefore imperfect.

In the time of John this kind of belief was widespread. Men believed that the world was evil and that an evil God had created it.

It is to expose this teaching that John here lays down two basic Christian truths. The connection of Jesus with creation is repeatedly laid down in the New Testament. In Colossians 1:16 Paul writes: “For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth … all things were created through him and for him.” In 1 Corinthians 8:6 he writes of the Lord Jesus Christ “through whom are all things.” The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the one who was the Son, “through whom also God created the world” (Hebrews 1:2).

This is a confirmation of the foundation of Christianity.

  • Christianity believes God perfectly and lovingly created the world. What is wrong with the world is due to man’s sin.
  • Christianity believes this is God’s world. Far from being so detached from the world that He could have nothing to do with it, God is intimately involved in it. Even though sin has made the world evil and tries to thwart God’s original plan of love, we can never despise the world, because it belongs to God.

He sent Jesus as His light and life (John 1:4). The theme of the whole Gospel is light, life and love – in Latin: lux, vitas, caritas, words we often see in churches and on crests.

The Fourth Gospel begins and ends with life. At the very beginning we read that in Jesus was life and at the very end we read that John’s aim in writing the gospel was that men might “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

It is Jesus’ regret that men will not come to Him that they might have life (John 5:40). In Jesus is life – abundantly (John 10:10). He gives life and therefore no one will perish because no one will snatch them out of his hand (John 10:28). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).

In the gospel the word “life” (zoe) occurs more than thirty-five times and the verb “to live” or “to have life” more than fifteen times.

Life is the opposite of destruction, condemnation and death.

Jesus is the bringer of this life; God is the giver of life.

The word to describe this life that God give is aionios – eternal life.

It is not simply life, which lasts forever – eternal life is that life which God lives. What Jesus offers is God’s own life. Eternal life is life, which reflects the power of the life of God himself. When Jesus came offering men eternal life, he was inviting them to enter into the very life of God.

 We enter into it by believing in Jesus Christ. The word to believe (pisteuein) occurs in the Fourth Gospel no fewer than seventy times. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). “He who believes”, says Jesus, “has eternal life” (John 6:47). It is God’s will that men should see the Son, and believe in Him, and have eternal life (John 5:24)

Believe means we must be convinced that Jesus is truly the Son of God and take Him at his word, to accept his commandments as absolutely binding and true.

This is true life. Outside God and Jesus, it is impossible to live and know the true meaning of the life intended at creation.

Submit and ask Jesus to bring life, just as if He is there with you in His body. He is Spirit and He will communicate with your spirit in the perfect love, the heart of God, that He came to earth to show us.

 

83. A word gets a body.

We are so familiar with the beautiful words of Scripture – a familiarity that needs to be revived from time to time to infuse new life and understanding into old concepts. We know the phrase: the Word became flesh, so well, that we do not give it another thought. Maybe we could use our imagination in an extreme exercise of visualizing our words in human form.

How would those angry words in the car, hurled towards other motorists look? Do they look like big, burly bouncers set to seriously spread harm. The words of gossip behind the back of a friend, might look like a dark, cloaked figure with a bloody dagger in hand, ready to strike again and again as the words are released into the invisible realm around us. It sounds overly dramatic; still I think it is not gruesome enough. Our words inflict serious injury, even death. (Proverbs 18:21)

How would our words of encouragement and love look? Can you imagine words that look like a strong arm helping somebody up who has fallen? Our words of love are like a big hug giving shelter and acceptance where life strikes out cruelly. Our words of prayer mobilize the heavenly armies to assist in difficulty and redeem lives.

Then there was this Man – logos – the Word.

The first chapter of the Fourth Gospel is one of the greatest adventures of religious thought ever achieved by the mind of man.   

[William Barclay, Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow]

By the time John writes his Gospel, he lives in Ephesus. It is the time after the Jewish war of 66-70 AD. Jerusalem is destroyed and the church dispersed and underground.

The church has grown from the roots of Judaism to something much bigger. By 60 AD the estimates were a 100 000 Greeks for every one Jew that was a Christian. The Gospel found its way out of Jewish thought and knowledge to a much wider application. Jewish ideas were completely strange to the Greeks. They had, for instance, no Messianic expectation. How should Jesus be presented to the Greek world?

In both cultures the concept of the word was central to their understanding of wisdom.

For the Jews a word is far more than mere sound. It was something which has an independent existence and which actually did things – a unit of energy charged with power. Hebrew was sparing with words and in ancient times consisted of fewer than 10 000 words. Greek was using more than 200 000 words at the time.

The Jews had a type of literature called The Wisdom Literature, which was not speculative and philosophical, but practical wisdom for the living and management of life. In the Old Testament the great example of wisdom literature is Proverbs. In certain passages wisdom (Greek word for wisdom is sophia) is given a mysterious life-giving and eternal power. In these passages wisdom has been, personified, and is thought of as the eternal agent and co-worker of God. (Proverbs 3 and 8)

At the same time that Ecclesiastes was written, a book with the name: Wisdom of Solomon was written in Alexandria, Egypt. The writer does more than talk about wisdom; he equates wisdom and the word.

So John said: “If you wish to see that word of God, if you wish to see the creative power of God, if you wish to see that word which brought the world into existence and which gives light and life to every man, look at Jesus Christ. In him the word of God came among you.”

How then did this idea of the word fit into Greek thought? It was already there waiting to be used. In Greek thought the idea of the word began away back about 560 BC, strangely enough, in Ephesus where the Fourth Gospel was written.

In 560 B.C. there was an Ephesian philosopher called Heraclitus whose basic idea was that everything is in a state of flux. Everything was changing from day to day and from moment to moment. His famous illustration was that it was impossible to step twice into the same river. You step into a river; you step out; you step in again; but you do not step into the same river, for the water has flowed on and it is a different river. But if that were so, why was life not complete chaos? How can there be any sense in a world where there was constant flux and change?

The answer of Heraclitus was that all this change and flux was not random; it was controlled and ordered, following a continuous pattern. That which controlled the pattern was the Logos – the word, the reason of God.

He wrote that in all life and in all events of life there was a purpose and a design. He held that Logos controlled the events. Heraclitus took the matter even further and reasoned that what made us able to think and to reason and enabled us to choose right from wrong, was the Logos.

Once the Greeks had discovered this idea they never let it go. It fascinated them, especially the Stoics (school of thought). The Stoics were always left in wondering amazement at the order of the world. Order always implies a mind. They attributed all cosmological order to Logos.

Plato, one of the most well-known Greek philosophers (428-348BC), considered LOGOS as the basic fact in all life, because he believed there was a pre-existent something between the logos of the thinking soul and the logos of things.

Logos is the Greek term meaning “the Word.” Greek philosophers like Plato used Logos not only of the spoken word but also of the unspoken word, the word still in the mind — the reason. When applied to the universe, Greeks were speaking to the rational principle that governs all things.

John promulgated the Logos in a radically new way. Suddenly, man is not only capable, but also deserved from the beginning of time, to accept the Logos, the Word, the Christ.

So John came to the Greeks and said: “For centuries you have been thinking and writing and dreaming about the Logos, the power which made the world, the power which keeps the order of the world, the power by which men think and reason and know, the power by which men come into contact with God. Jesus is that Logos come down to earth.” “The word,” said John, “became flesh.” Put another way: the mind of God became a person.”

The mind of God became as person to show us how to live here on earth if we were all little Christs… which we are. We are Christians.

We are reborn to become the person with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Where does this leave our words in our walk with Christ? Christ-words, springing from the fountain of Life to change the world.

Shall we speak with the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, to utter the character of our Lord Jesus, the Logos – the Word?

Let us pray Psalm 19:14:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

 

These are the words in my mouth;
    these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
    on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
    God, Priest-of-My-Altar. (The Message)

 

 

 

 

 

 

82. Unity and power – hell trembles.

We are called and equipped, never left without every possible thing we need to be victorious. That is the promise …you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes, speaking the tongues of angels, unifying the church to make it powerful and unstoppable.

The text characterizes the speaking in tongues as an utterance of prayer (1 Corinthians 14:13-17) in which the understanding falls into the background, and therefore unintelligible without interpretation.

The original meaning of the word glossolalia is open-hearted and loud speaking to the glorification of God in Christ.

Praying in the Holy Spirit is a power manifestation of reaching out to the Father to live in the full promise of the Kingdom.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26

It is sometimes translated with “unknown sounds”.

When we come together it is part of our testimony in speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16)

Spiritual songs were Christian songs – psalms, which the Holy Spirit moved the Christians to utter spontaneously when they came together in worship (1 Corinthians 14:15,26) as He moved them to speak with tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6)

But – in the congregation of believers and unbelievers we speak intelligibly. Paul says:

 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.  But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14:18,19)

Henry Matthew Concise Commentary:

The Holy Spirit is the spring of all desires toward God, which are often more than words can utter. The Spirit who searches the hearts, can perceive the mind and will of the spirit, the renewed mind, and advocates his cause. The Spirit makes intercession to God, and the enemy prevails not.

We can never reject the work of the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father in the church. It will rob us of our power.

They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

 For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them]. (2 Timothy 3:5)

We need the power.

My husband is a businessman trained as a lawyer, very rational and very grounded in reality. I asked him to formulate his understanding of praying in tongues. He explained his experience this way:

Sometimes in prayer I have exhausted my own known language and my words are poured out before God. Praying in tongues I become a vessel of the Holy Spirit for Him to articulate before God in a direct and heavenly way. In the burden of prayer I am drained. It is then that the Holy Spirit comes and fills me up with a heavenly glorification of God.

By the time Paul writes to the Corinthians the practice of this gift became so degenerate and abused by the Corinthians, that it was “a spiritless counterfeit, a product of pride and vanity.”

When we operate in the gifts of the Spirit, it is only to be done when the Spirit wills, to equip the church. It is never to show off. If we operate in the gifts of healing, miracles, power, discernment, tongues, administration, help – name it – it is only to build the Kingdom, most often in secret and without applause, NEVER ever to demonstrate or perform. Many of these gifts happen in public; therefore we have to operate in humility and full compliance to the Word.

As we end this discussion in prayer, just a few last comments.

Prayer is not mystical or a trance-like state of mind. It is a rational decision to enter into the presence of God.

God is you father and Jesus taught us to call Him dad. It indicates a close and warm, liberated and fearless relationship.

The key to come close to God is through Jesus. He declared the Plan for our salvation there in the Garden and established His set path to redemption. His Plan stands firm and cannot return to Him void; it always will accomplish what He purposed.

He gave us the highway, the smooth path, the sure foundation in the cross. It is through the innocent blood of His son and the full assurance of faith that we have the immense privilege to enter into the Presence of the Most High God. (Hebrews 10:19)

In Luke 12:32 Jesus says:

Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom.

It is God’s delight to provide. He is never reluctant in the provision we need, rather abundant.

Hear the wonderful explanation of this Scripture in The Message:

What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.

Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.

Let us conclude with Revelation 22 – the prayer of the universe calling out:

“Come!” say the Spirit and the Bride.

Whoever hears, echo, “Come!”

Is anyone thirsty? Come!

All who will, come and drink,

Drink freely of the Water of Life!