John, The Gospel of Grace (3)


The opening words of John’s gospel are:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In the last post we mentioned Christ’s deity. Right away John made the case that Jesus was God. Before time and space Jesus the Word was there. Now in verse 3 he builds on the first 2 verses. Not only was Jesus the full expression of God, and He was with God  and was God before time, He was actively involved in the creation of everything. What an emphatic statement to a people who doubted that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God! John wrote so plainly he can not be misunderstood.

All things were made though Him (John 1.3a)

Nothing that exists is excluded. The stars in the heavens, the sun at midday, the moon at night, the seas, the land, and every living thing were created through him. He goes on to say even more convincingly,

and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:3b)

Just in case you weren’t paying attention closely John says “All things” were made through Jesus and, without Him was not “any thing” made that was made. If this seems familiar, it should.

Paul made the same case.

 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16,17)

Paul expands the truth of the creation through Christ to even the things we can’t see and that the molecules of “things” cohere, or stay together because of Him. When you sit on a wooden chair the reason it is a solid and will bear your weight is found in the person and power of Jesus Christ, Son of God.

Remember Jesus’ words to his disciples near the end of Matthew?

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:17b)

“ALL” authority leaves nothing out. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. He is God, He calls the shots. He was before creation, He was God in creation, and He is the God we patiently wait for to come for us to bring us to himself.

Jesus can create life because He is life!

More next time.

Royce Ogle

 

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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

Which Jesus do you follow?


Is the Jesus you follow the Jesus you run to when you are in trouble? When the doctor says “it’s cancer” and you want someone who actually knows Jesus to pray for you or your loved one?

Is the Jesus you follow the Jesus who promises a better life than the alternative? Is it the Jesus who will keep you happy and healthy and keep you out of hell?

Is the Jesus you follow the Jesus who watches your every move and is weighing your good behavior against the bad? Is he the Jesus who requires you to check all the boxes each week?

Is the Jesus you follow the Jesus who died for your sins so you can go to heaven? You know, the one who is not a judge but your friend?

Or, do you love and follow this Jesus?

…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. 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. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high  (Hebrews 1:2,3 ESV)

 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.  (Colossians 1:15-20 ESV)

This is the biblical Jesus. It is this one who is the very “radiance of the glory of God” and “the exact imprint of his nature”. Everything that is was created by Him and it exists and coheres by his very words. “In EVERYTHING He is PREEMINENT”!

There is no power that is not His power. There is no “thing” He does not own. He is the  beginning and the end, there is no one, no name above His glorious name.

It is this great God and Savior who by His own will laid aside His splendor and every prerogative of deity to become a flesh and blood man whose hands were made rough in a carpenter shop and whose feet became calloused by walking the dusty roads. It was this great God man who willingly died for people like us, sinful through and through. This man, full of grace and truth, died for us with all of our sins upon him. His life and death fully met all of God’s requirements for righteousness and absorbed all of God’s wrath against sin

It is this Jesus before whom we bow. His representative death freed us from the penalty of the law against us and as a free gift He imputes to us His perfect record before God. He suffered the worst punishment, the most awful rejection, and died as a common crook, driven by His love for sinners and His own glory. His triumphant resurrection is the promise that those who believe on Him will continue to live forever.

You will not be judged in the end by how much good, vs how much bad you have done. Nor will how religious you have been be the standard.

 he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead  Acts 17:31 ESV

What have I done about Jesus? What have you done about Him?

Royce Ogle

 

John, The Gospel of Grace


The Gospel of John is unique among the other gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The “synoptic” gospels each see things the same way as the other two. They are different in many ways but all follow the same path. They see the birth, life, work, death, and resurrection from about the same angle. John is presented in contrast to the first three gospels. There are a few reasons why this is true.

First, a bit about John the human author. John had a very close relationship with Jesus and is referred to in the gospel he wrote five times as “the disciple Jesus loved”. John, was the son of Zebedee, and a disciple and apostle of Jesus. (Most scholars agree that John was the youngest of the disciples.) John could write confidently as an “eyewitness” of the person and work of Jesus. For example, in 1 John which he also wrote he said this.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you… 1 John 1-3a

The apostle John had person knowledge of much of what he wrote, especially in John, and 1,2 and 3rd John. Of course, he as all other human writers of Scripture, were inspired by the God the Holy Spirit.

Not only was John a confidant and close associate, as well as an eyewitness to much he wrote about, he was the oldest of the gospel writers by far. Now old age can be both a blessing and a curse but most people agree that many years of observation and personal experience make one more knowledgeable and more wise. John was possibly 90 to 95 years old when he penned the gospel of John about 95 ad. For many years, perhaps as many as 30 years, John lived and labored in the city of Ephesus. John was an apostle and elder statesman in the Christian community in that great city of about 250,000 people.

In addition to having lived and worked in gospel ministry for perhaps 60 years since the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, John had almost certainly been able to read the other gospel writers, the epistles of Paul, Peter, and the writings of others. Of course we know that Paul was instrumental in planting the church in Ephesus. He along with Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila, and young Timothy and I assume many others unnamed had made a huge dent in the godless culture of this thriving Asian city. I am very convinced that John had read over and over again Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. So, John had years of doctrine and theology to think about and to study that the earlier gospel writers did not. Maybe this is at least part of the reason the gospel of John is often referred to as the “spiritual gospel”, or as I referred to it, “the gospel of grace”.

Matthew’s perspective of Jesus is mainly to the Jews and presents Jesus as Messiah, King of the Jews. His focus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.
Mark’s picture of Jesus is that of the obedient Servant of God. His focus was on what Jesus did.
Dr. Luke gave yet another view of Jesus as Son of Man. Luke focused on the humanity of Jesus, what he felt.

King, Servant, Son of Man. Then comes the Gospel of John, Jesus Son of God. John emphasized the deity of Jesus and his focus was on the spiritual side of Jesus. From these four gospel writers we get a full view of the Christ who alone is the arbiter of eternal life and judgment.

One of the reasons I love the Gospel of John is that it is so packed with doctrine and theology. For some reason that escapes me, many preachers today turn up their noses at theology as if there is something inherently wrong about the discipline. The word is comprised of two words, “theo” (or “theos”) which means God in Greek and “ology” which means study. I don’t see any danger in studying about God. And, it is quite clear that followers of Jesus are to give attention to doctrine. I don’t hear many sermons on the great doctrines of the Bible these days but they would be helpful.

I’ll close this post with two observations from the text of John.

They key verse of the Gospel of John is 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.

The purpose of the book is unambiguous and very clear and concise. In chapter 20 verse 31.

 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.

I love the book of John, I really love it! I can’t think of a better place to resurrect this blog than to study and then write my thoughts on this important gospel book. I hope I don’t get distracted. Two jobs and other things that compete for my time are obstacles that I must manage to get where I want to be.

Your comments, encouragement, and yes, even your correction will be graciously received.

Royce Ogle