That You Might Believe – “The Word”

   Welcome to our continued study of the Gospel of John…
We introduce this lesson with some excerpts from William Barclay’s Devotional on John,  “Before we begin to study (John) in detail, let us try to see what John was trying to do when he wrote it…… Christianity began amongst the Jews; and therefore inevitably it spoke in the Jewish language and used Jewish categories of thought. But although Christianity in Judaism it very soon went out into the wider world. Within thirty years of Jesus death, by AD 60, Christianity had traveled all over Asia Minor and Greece and had arrived in Rome. By AD 60 there must have been a hundred thousand Greeks in the Church for every Jew who was a Christian. Jewish ideas were completely strange to the Greeks. To take but one outstanding example, the Greeks had never heard of a Messiah. The very center of Jewish expectation, the coming of  the Messiah, was an idea that was quite alien to the Greeks. The very category in which the Jewish Christians conceived and presented Jesus, meant nothing to the Greek. Here then was the problem – how was Christianity to be presented to the Greek world?…. As E. J. Goodspeed put it, the question was, “Must a Greek who was interested in Christianity be routed through Jewish Messianic ideas and through Jewish ways of thinking, or could some new approach be found which would speak out of his background to his mind and heart?”….
   Round about the year AD 100 there was a man in Ephesus who was fascinated by that problem. His name was John. He lived in a Greek city. He dealt with Greeks to whom Jewish ideas were strange and unintelligible and even uncouth. How could he find a way to present Christianity to these Greeks in their own thought and in their own language and in a way that they would welcome and understand? Suddenly the solution of the problem flashed upon him. In both Greek and Jewish thought there existed the concept of ‘THE WORD’. Here was something which could be worked out to meet the double world of Greek and Jew. Here was something which belonged to the heritage of both races, something that both could understand.” (William Barclay’s ‘Gospel of John’, Vol. 1 Pgs 2-3).
   Jesus is referred to as the ‘Good Shepherd’ , ‘Lord’, ‘Mighty God’, ‘Prince of Peace’, ‘the way, the truth, and the life’, ‘Light’, ‘first and last’, ‘Alpha and Omega’, ‘Lamb of God’, and ‘Savior’. John introduces him as the “Word”. John’s purpose in writing, is “that all might believe” (John 20:30-31), in Christ, the answer to man’s sin predicament, (John 3:16).

I. “IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD”: “In the beginning God created….(Genesis 1-2:2), John says that “the Word” was there. More than just ‘being there”, we find that He created the worlds (universe) (Hebrews 1:1-3).
   A. Since the Word was “before” all things (creation) – He is therefore eternal.
   B. John records Jesus as saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). When Jesus said this, the Jews understood him to be making the claim to Deity, (cf. Exodus 3:19).
   C. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) is a profound way to begin, and in doing so, he portrays Jesus as the very “reflection of God” for all to see, believe in, and follow.
   D. God did not change! (Just as the Word of god does not change… it like Jesus… is meant to CHANGE US)… Our knowledge of God changed when Jesus came. Jesus said, “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work” (John 14:7-10).
   E. Paul said, 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known (I Corinthians 13:11-12). The idea being that there are some spiritual things we just can’t clearly see, whereas later we will see clearly. We don’t understand everything about God, and Jesus revealed the Father, but even still, after this life is over, Christians will truly see God. Jesus shows us the Father, in love, character, patience, caring, saving, reaching out to mankind, giving, and much more. This does not compare to what we will see later.

II. “THE WORD WAS WITH GOD – THE WORD WAS GOD”
   Paul said 4″ For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). In the Old Testament one is constantly faced with fields of battle, blood shed, sacrifices, plagues etc… one child was asked about this, and he said, “O that was before God became a Christian.” No there are not two separate Gods, there is One God (Deuteronomy 6:4). The Old Testament does not portray God one way and the New Testament another way.
   A. “HE WAS WITH GOD”
Jesus reveals what God ‘was’ and ‘is’ and ‘always’ will be. John says, 2″ He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:2). All that Jesus ‘was’ God is. His desires, love, justice, jealousy, feelings and grace are all revealed both in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus (the Word made flesh) came, and showed the same, but he especially came to die on the cross for us (Philippians 2:1-11). Compare what Peter says here, 4″ For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;” (2 Peter 2:4)  and “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9). Same Lord and Savior revealed in both.
   B.  “THROUGH HIM ALL THINGS WERE MADE”
The New Testament has always affirmed – GOD created something out of nothing.
Read John 1:3 3 “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” The writer of Hebrews says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” (Hebrews 11:1-2). Do we understand HOW God created everything? No! Can we explain how everything was made? No! Do we believe God made everything mentioned in Genesis 1-2? Yes! This is called faith. Evolution is nothing more than a theory, which is unprovable, and takes more faith to believe in. It has no place in the Genesis record. (An excellent exposition and discussion of this is Gerald Wright’s work on “The Supreme Scientist” which can be obtained through his site at Biblical-Books.com. This link is found on jackexum.com for easy access.
   C. “IN HIM WAS LIFE”
John records these wonderful words, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” (John 1:4). When I was a young child, I was afraid of the dark. I would cry out to mom or dad, and they would come and turn on the light, or bring a light. It lit up the room, and dispelled the darkness. Going through life without Jesus is like walking in darkness. Jesus came and ‘lit up the whole world’. I know of no other who can do this? “He is my everything, He is my all”. Why would anyone turn away from Him?
John 5:40 “yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:28   “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”
D. LIGHT AND DARKNESS
Studying the Scriptures you will come across words and phrases used in special ways to represent certain lessons. These are not difficult, and john is no exception to this. He writes to the Greek mind in ways which appeal to them, and they can easily understand. The use of LIGHT AND DARKNESS as representing GOOD AND EVIL respectively was a s common then as it is now. Simply put, Jesus is the light of the world. Satan is the ruler of darkness. Due to the Religious leaders of Jesus’ time, (Pharisees, Sadducees etc…) the people of God (Israel) could have no close relationship with God their Father. Jesus often exposed their hypocrisy, and ignored their traditions and ‘laws’ which stood as ‘road blocks’ to walking with God. When Jesus spoke (cf. Matthew 5-7) it was like putting a light in a pitch black room. He spoke “as no one else did” with the authority of God. It was a time of darkness, and sin. Jesus came as the true light of the souls of mankind.
Take the time to read the following passages
John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 12:35-36 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.”
John 12:46 “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

Next: THE WITNESS OF JOHN

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Abortion – A Personal Choice?

     As I look at this ‘tract’, I notice that it is a bit old, say probably 15 to 20 years old. Written originally while dad was at his old address here in Lake City, Florida. During this time he handed out hundreds maybe thousands of this little thing. His purpose? It was simply to stop teenagers mainly from making a decision they would most likely regret. Yes, it is a tract for any and all to read, for the same purpose.
   As I write this, I remember when dad showed to me a wooden box with a matching hinged top. It was lined carefully on the inside with soft, red cloth, and it had a brass latch on it which kept the precious contents safe during travel. You may have seen it in one of his meetings with a congregation or group of teenagers. The box was small, it looked like an ordinary box, and created curiosity in the airports he traveled through. What was so important, so precious that it was cared for this way? It was a small six weeks old aborted baby.
   Before you get all excited, understand this little boy was given to dad for a purpose by a friend. The purpose was so people could see that at just 20 weeks, what everyone calls a “fetus” or “a mass” is in fact, a child. I have no picture of this little boy, but memory serves well enough, besides I would should no disrespect to him.
   Now I present to you dad’s tract… word for word…
  
   “Abortion is just another word for death. Whether deliberate or not the results are the same. Two positions have emerged – “Abortion On Demand” and “The Right To Life”.

   According to the supreme court, abortion is just a matter of personal choice. Life for the unborn no longer holds the position of honor and protection, but now is in the broad area of human choice or judgment. The changing attitude toward crime in general continues on the downward slide. The victim is often ignored while the criminal clamors for his/her rights.

                                   SUICIDE IS A PERSONAL CHOICE

   Few people elect this form of demise when someone still loves them. Yet even this last fatal judgement of the mind is not just a “personal choice” when it directly involves others. To “pull one’s own plug” in the twilight of life is hardly compared to a plane hijacker who threatens himself and many others on board.

   Abortion is a personal choice that involves more than the one making it. In America alone, 17 million (unborn) babies were “aborted” in the last 10 years. What kind of “personal choice” is it when I decide to end the life of another person? Such decision was not based on  a threat to the mother’s life or was the pregnancy the result of rape or abuse. Deformity or disease are not involved in the vast majority of “wasting these lives”. A personal choice was!

                                            
                                      MURDER IS A PERSONAL CHOICE

   Abortion is death and the choosing of death is made by one person for another. This law in principle reads, “It is my personal choice (judgment) to choose death for you.” When murder is committed, one (the murderer) chooses death for another (victim). They bury the victim and the murderer is punished.
 
   Aborting a “life” is not the same kind of murder. Yet in principle, they are identical. “I choose death for you!!” Is abortion really just a matter of “personal choice”?

                                              MY LITTLE FRIEND

   I am writing these few words while flying to a weekend appointment. There is a passenger on board that did not pay for his fare. I offered to pay it for him, but they refused. He is sitting in the seat next to me. He reclines in somewhat of a mystical “praying hands” position. He is so small he sits unnoticed. His mother is not here. He has never spoken a word. He does not cry. His father is alive today, somewhere on earth. A friend gave him to me to care for. Lunch will be served in a few moments, yet he will not eat. He once had a very strong appetite – but no more. He didn’t lose it, it was taken from him!

   He will never again swim with abandoned pleasure in the fluids of his mother’s womb. She did not love him. He is in limbo. His cry was never heard.

   His “personal choice” to live was cast aside. He was not made a “ward of the court” but to the contrary, all protections, by the courts, were removed from him. He was one of five million who have been wasted by a culture that places a “low self-image on life”.
   The doctors who took the vow to preserve life, deliberately destroyed his. He was not sucked out of the womb in small bits and pieces much like a garbage disposal discharges waste. He was one of the elite who was poisoned with a saline (salt) solution. He did not drink it willingly. It was injected into his little world.
   Now he sits – quiet and still. He is preserved in chemicals, and kept inside a special container – hidden from the eyes of the living. Atrocities of any given generation happen – yet none seems to be aware of them while they are going on.
   We’re now making our decent into New York City. This could have been his hometown, for more of his relatives were aborted here last year than were born alive. I dare not remove him from his hiding place. He would strike fear in the hearts of all the passengers.
   His conception was a personal choice, and so was his death. He is a legal “homicide” yet never threatened anyone with harm. He may have been another Einstein or Edison.
   He is silent yet so eloquent.
   He is naked and defenseless, yet he attacks us – reminds us – shames us!
   We fear him for we have failed to love him.
   We hide from him, yet there is no place.
   Now everyone is departing. Look at them – hugging loved ones – sweethearts embracing. It’s great to be alive.
   My little friend? His life stopped at 20 weeks yet he is perfectly formed. Weight – about half pound – size – a handful.
   On his tomb is placed the saying, “Cold is my grave, but O I love it. For colder were my friends above it.”
   “Personal choice?” We’ve heard from the living, perhaps now we should listen to the dead.

   Free copies of this tract are available while they last. Just write and let me know.

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That You Might Believe – Introduction To John’s Gospel – “Jesus”

INTRODUCTION  TO OUR STUDY OF JOHN’S GOSPEL

   In a day where faith in Jesus as the Son of God, the Source of hope and salvation is questioned, and ridiculed, there needs to be an open study of that book which in itself claims to be written “that you might believe” (John 20:30-31).
   The “Gospel of John”, is the favorite of many, not only because of it’s many ‘proofs’  (“signs”) (miracles) that point to Jesus as the Son of God, but also because John develops topics either only ‘touched’ by the other Gospel writers, or omitted altogether.
   I will be using dad’s (unpublished, as far as I know) notes in this study along with other sources (which will be notated for further study), as well as adding my own thoughts.

   John received a vision… Revelation 4:7 says, “The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.” Revelation is of course highly figurative, and the figures are tied largely to the Old Testament… Here are a few thoughts on these four ‘faces’. Dad compared these four “living creatures” with the four Gospels. However, in the end, they all speak of the Christ(!), who is our Champion(!) forever…
   1.) “The face of a man”  shows us Jesus the ‘son of man’ who identifies with us all…
         the Gospel of Mark (the PLAINEST MOST STRAIGHT FORWARD OF THE
         GOSPELS) speaks of this as well…
   2.) The “face of a lion” = The Gospel of Matthew (THE LION = THE TRIBE OF
        JUDAH) speaks of the royalty of King Jesus!
   3.) The “face of an ox” = the Gospel of Luke (THE OX IS AN ANIMAL OF SACRIFICE
         AND SERVICE) as well as the strength of our Master seen in His service (Jno. 13
         as well as on the cross).
   4.) The “face of an eagle” = Speaks of the all knowing, swift judgment of our Lord…  
        The Gospel of John (THE EAGLE “LOOKS THE SUN IN THE EYE” IT IS THE
        GREATEST OF THE GOSPELS.) 

   The Gospel of John is different in several ways:
   1.) John omits the birth, baptism, temptations of Jesus as well as the last supper.
   2.) He doesn’t mention Gethsemane or the Ascension of Christ.
   3.) He tells nothing of Jesus’ healing any one being healed of demon possession or
        evil spirits.
   4.) There are no parables which Jesus used so often while teaching his disciples and
        multitudes as well.

   Matthew wrote with the Hebrew or Jewish nation in mind.
   Mark‘s style seems to be with the Roman in mind.
   Luke, he wrote to Theophilus (not only in Luke but also when writing the book of Acts.
   Evidently he was a well respected friend of Luke). He writes of the compassionate
   Physician, the Perfect Jesus Christ.
   John wrote about Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem and Galilee. His focus is proving that Jesus the Son of God. Here are some of the Apostle John’s proofs offered to support this.

   1.) The marriage feast at Cana (Jno. 2:1-11)
   2.) The conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus (Jno. 3:1-15)
   3.) The woman at the well – Samaria (Jno. 4:1-26)
   4.) The woman taken in adultery (Jno. 8:1-11)
   5.) Jesus washing the disciple’s feet (Jno. 13)
   6.) Jesus teaches about the Comforter (Holy Spirit) (Jno. 14-17)
   7.) John reveals Thomas (Jno. 11:16; 14:5; 20:24-29)
   8.) John reveals Andrew (Jno. 1:40-41; 6:8; 12:22)
   9.) John reveals Philip (Jno. 1:44-46; 6:5-7; 14:8-9)
  10.) John reveals Judas (Jno. 12:4)

       John’s Gospel never mentions the writer (John) by name. He only refers to himself, as the “disciple whom Jesus loved”. He wrote this book from Ephesus about the year 90 AD, (of course this is just an estimate based on the manuscripts and fragments found, but it is close). He wrote after the Gospel had spread to the Gentiles. He writes to those of a Greek or Hellenistic background and perspective. Which may explain his approach in his Gospel record. John did not write as an historian, he wrote about Someone he loved, and would die for and ultimately did. He wrote about the good news of Jesus.

   John refers to the Deity of Jesus Christ.
   1.) The PRE-existence of Jesus  (Jno. 8:58)
   2.) Jesus was before the world even began (Jno. 1:1-3; 17:5)
   3.) Jesus “coming down from Heaven” (Jno. 6:33-38)
   4.) Jesus is all knowing (cf. Jno. 4:14-16 and 6:61-64)

   For 70 years, John thought of Jesus, and the things he had seen and heard about and from him. He wrote WHAT JESUS MEANT to him, not just words that Jesus spoke. This is not just a record about Jesus… John had so much he could have written down (I wish he had)… John had a real purpose and he pulled out of all the things he knew of his Master, and best Friend, and wrote… He wrote so that all who read it, all who sit and think about his writings…. will come to one and the same conclusion – JESUS IS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.
   John wrote, but these were not just words and memories… the Holy Spirit Himself was at work here. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16:12-13).
26 “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

   John, called the Apostle of love, (but first he and his brother were known as ‘sons of thunder’ (wonder why? Luke 9:51-55). John evidently lived the longest of the Apostles,  and died a natural death, (according to ‘tradition’)… He wrote so that you might know and believe what he did… that Jesus is alive!               

                                                 John 20:17-23
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

 

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Growing Up

   Being a teenager was tough. Sometimes I thought mom and dad were just not ‘with it’, or didn’t care. (I under estimated them). It’s just that when you are getting made-fun-of because your teeth stick out, and your hair is ‘red’ and your face is covered in freckles, and your chest is not muscular, and you’re just skinny, shy… you just don’t feel right! At least I didn’t. Believe me it was tough. However, even with that, we didn’t struggle with the things you struggle with today. I mean the worst thing kids got in trouble for was smoking behind the gym, or kissing a girl behind the gym, or maybe an occasional fight. When we got in trouble at school, we got in trouble at home. That was ‘capital punishment’ time. Today’s teens stuggle with gangs, and drugs, sex, guns, killings in schools, huge peer pressure, metal detectors, and on and on! I just have a hard time with that. Things have really changed and I will be the first to admit it.
   How to cope and what to do? Well, at least, in spite of the fact that I AM NOT A PROFESSONAL COUNSELOR and am not claiming to be such… I CARE. I hope that our time together will be helpful at least to the extent that you don’t feel alone. You MAY NOT AGREE with some things I say. THAT IS FINE you don’t have to, but it is still a place to come and talk and share. So we begin this adventure together….
   My prayer for you is that God will open up his store-house of blessings and wisdom for you, and that the tough times will be learning and growing times. Which serve to make you better and stronger.
   You can make it through these years, trust me. There is no need to quit, give up, or run.
You are loved beyond belief, by the god of the Universe, and I pray, by your parents. There is where you find you structure, your protection…. If not… there is help. Don’t look to another teenager for it, most times, they are in the same boat, or B.T.D.T (been there done that). 
   More later……. hang in there.

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