John, The Gospel of Grace (6)


The key verse of the Gospel of John, in my view, is found in chapter 1 verse 14.

 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This statement is critical to the gospel story. As we have written earlier in this series, the pre-existent Christ became a man and lived 33 years on the earth. He experienced all of the experiences common to mankind. He knew both joy and sorrow, he became weary and needed rest. He needed community, he needed friends. He ate, went to parties, and loved the most unlikely in the society where he lived and ministered. And, Jesus prayed, a lot! In his humanity he was totally dependent upon his heavenly Father. His life was common in many ways but it one way it was not only uncommon, it was unique. He lived his life never transgressing the law of God and having never failing to to what he should have done. His record was perfect before the Father.

Not only did Jesus live among us humans and do it flawlessly, there was more. His uniqueness was manifest. It is one thing to be a good man, the best man, it is quite another to be the God man. Even for the casual observer Jesus was unlike other men, in good ways. When he started calling his disciples he went to common people, sort of a cross section of society in the first century middle east and said “Follow me” and the amazing thing is they did! Think of what was happening. A guy is busy with his fishing business, mending nets and Jesus walks up and says “Follow me”, and the guy dropped what he was doing and tagged along. That alone is amazing to me!

And then there are his miracles. John only recorded six of those. Only six, but those six put on display his Glory. Mere men did not do the things he did. Only God can raise the dead, command the weather, give sight to the blind, turn water to wine, and more. And only God can love the most unlovely, unlikely suspects without measure. And, only God can forgive sin. Yes, we saw “his glory”. When his followers saw his “glory” they believed in him.

John concluded his gospel book saying in the next to last chapter about what he had written:

but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31

The beautiful thing is that as we read through John’s gospel, we too can see his glory. And we can believe too. John said of Jesus in verse 14 above that he “was full of grace and truth”. Jesus said of himself I am “the truth“. Thank God the one who is truth is also “full of grace“. Because he is full of grace there is plenty for you and for me. God treats you and me with love and forgiveness because Jesus gives us himself. That is grace!

Royce Ogle

 

 

 

 

 

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John, the Gospel of Grace (5)


John has set before the reader the case for who the man Jesus is. He is God, the Creator, the Life and Light of the world. Now we come to an important section of text in chapter 1 verses 9-13.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Once more John gives a contrast. In the previous verses it was the contrast between light and darkness. Here it is the difference between receiving and not receiving Christ. In verse 11 is the record of the failure of the Jews to see Jesus as he is and to receive him.
“He came to his own” (Jewish people), and his own people did not receive Him” (vs 11)

The Jews “did not receive Him“. They preferred darkness to light. Later in John Jesus will explain this in great detail. They stayed in the darkness of death rather than have the light of life.

They “did not receive Him” but the story doesn’t end there. There are those “who did receive Him”! This group stepped out of darkness into light, out of death into life, and out of the life of being an alien and into the household of God.

Verses 12 and 13 are very, very important. This is how God saved sinners then, and it is how He does it now. It is always this way and no other way. The Jews said no to Jesus but others (including some Jews of course) said yes and they were made children of God.

Notice the progression in verse 12 and following:

who did receive Him”
who believed in His name”
who were born”

In each statement the “who” is the same.

You receive Christ by believing in His name (All that he is, and all He has done). Those who receive Him by believing on Him are born of God (v 13) The text could not be more clear and concise. Verse 13 should be understood as authoritative and final. John here makes clear that it is God who saves and not us. He does not need our help.

John 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Who were born…of God” This is a positive statement of fact. The very people “who” received, the same ones “who” believed, were born…”of God”!

A positive statement, now the negatives that are just as compelling and just as true.

“not of blood”
“nor of the will of the flesh”
“nor of the will of man”

A child of the Father can claim no personal merit and no part of saving himself. Salvation is God’s work. Again and again John will bring this truth to the reader’s attention. Our security is not in human ingenuity, the plans of men, or personal righteousness but in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Oh what a Savior! Oh what good news!

Royce Ogle

John, the Gospel of Grace (4)


Not only is Jesus Christ “life”, He is “light”.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Dead men need “life” and men in darkness need “light”. Jesus is that life which is the “light of men”. In the New Testament there are stark contrasts presented to show the difference between those who are in Christ and those who are not.

John 1:5   The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 3:19    And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 12:46   I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
Acts 26:18a   to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God
Ephesians 5:8   for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
Colossians 1:13   He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son
Those men and women who are not in the “Light” (in Christ) are in certain darkness. So John continues in chapter 1 verses 6-9 to continue explaining this light vs darkness contrast and introduces John the Baptist.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

John the Baptist knew his role, his purpose was clear. He “came as a witness to bear witness about the light that all might believe through him”.
Jesus says later in John 8:12
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The one whose birth announcement said his name would be Emmanuel or “God with us” has come into a dark, dying world with light and life. God sent John the baptizer to prepare the way for the Light that “All might believe through Him”.
John is a book about Jesus. Who he was, what he said, and what he did. He came into the world in flesh to make a gracious offer of himself, full of grace and truth, light and life. What will the people do? Will they believe and follow him or will the stay in the shadows of darkness?
Royce Ogle

John, The Gospel of Grace (2)


I think of the Gospel of John as an overview of the New Testament. The aged apostle wrote his gospel many years after all of the other books of the NT were written. The only older writings are 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John, also written by this author. John was certainly familiar with all of the other previous writings. He had decades to read, think about, and teach what he had learned from other NT authors.

The Gospel of John is akin to a “closing statement” like an attorney would make after presenting his case with all the nuances and details of evidence. It is a summary statement hitting every important mark on the person and work of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Some writers have called John the “spiritual gospel” and it is. I call it the “Gospel of Grace” and along the way I think you too will see this important book as spiritual and filled with grace.

This book is focused on Jesus Christ. “What He said, what He did, and who He was is the final and decisive statement from God to the human race.” (John Piper) This statement mirrors Hebrews 1:1-2

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

John opens his book with one thing in mind, to confirm the deity of Jesus. The first verse of chapter one begins with “In the beginning”. Most believers will recognize those three words right away. Genesis 1 begins with the same words. The Greek translation of those Hebrew words in Gen 1 and the words John penned in Greek are precisely the same exact words.

Before “In the beginning” there was no time, no earth, no stars in the heavens, nothing…but God and His glory. John makes the case that before time and before creation Jesus was there.

 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

“Word” in verse one is the English translation of the Greek word “logos”. It is the root word from which we get our word “logo”. A company has a company “logo’ and that symbol embodies the idea of who the are and what they offer.

Another way to think about “word” in this passage is our common use of words. For example, when you see this arrangement of letters, a p p l e, you immediately think of the fruit. When you see the letters c a r, you at once know exactly what is being spoken of and have some image in your mind. A word embodies an idea. Well, Jesus is the “Word” of God in the same way.

 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. Heb 1:3

Want to see what God looks like, what He is like, what he does? Look at Jesus. Over and over Jesus made the case, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father”. (John 14:9)

Read this book through carefully, paying attention to every word recorded and you will learn about God, because this gospel book is about the Word who is God.

May you be blessed as you read the Word.

Royce Ogle