Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bible Study Notes - John - Issue 2

Jesus United Ministries
Evangelist J. Frank Smith

Bible Study
The Gospel According to St. John

John Chapter 1:6 through 1:14

Christ, The Eternal Word

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.”

Here is a change of subject that happens abruptly. In the previous verses Jesus is described as the “word” of God, who was God. Now the subject has changed to the one who is a forerunner of Christ. He is referred to as a “man” to show us that the one he announces is more than Man. This announcer was “sent from God” and his name was John whose name signifies “the gift of God”.

Verse 7
Scripture: The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all through him might believe.

This man named John was sent from God to bear witness of “the light”.
God would not allow His beloved Son to come here unrecognized and unheralded. When Jesus was born into the world, He sent the angels to the Bethlehem shepherds to proclaim Him, and just before Jesus public ministry began, John appeared bidding Isreal to receive Him.

Commentary: According to scripture natural man loves darkness rather than light. This means darkness is his preference. It means that in our natural state we are habitual sinners and we love it. It means we are not naturally presupposed to the ways of God. We are indeed a fallen race. The scripture in verses six and seven presents us with tragic, solemn and pathetic words. Weigh these words well. When the sun is shinning with all it’s beauty, who is it that are unconscious of the fact? The Blind. It is discomforting to think God had to send an announcer to let the world know that His son was now in the midst of men. This is a sharp testimony to the fallen state of mankind. The light shone in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not. Therefore, did God send John to bear witness of the Light. God would not allow His beloved Son to come here unrecognized. God also sent His angels to the Bethlehem shepherds to proclaim Him and just before His public ministry began, John appeared bidding Isreal to receive Him.
John came for a witness. The character of a preacher’s office is designated here. He is a “witness”, and a witness is one who knows what he says and says that which he knows. The character of a preacher is to get those who listen to him to look away from himself and show them Jesus. A preacher does not testify of himself, nor about himself, but he is to “preach” Christ and Him crucified. Many may preach and they may preach many things but this is the only message the “Spirit of God” will own. Jesus said of His Father “He shall glorify me.”
Today men are no different than in Jesus time. They still love darkness rather than light. The worldly ways are still strong, yea, even stronger than before as the end of this era approaches. People only become believers through receiving the testimony of God’s witnesses. This is the “through Him all might believe”. The all here is all who will. Let him who has an ear hear!

Vs 8

Scripture: “ He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light.”

Commentary: No John was not “that light”. Light and life are only found in God. Jesus said “apart from me you can do nothing” . Apart from God there is only darkness without any hint of light for the natural man has no light in himself. Ephesians 5:8 says “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in “the Lord” .
Now there is a verse in John Chapter 5:35 which says John “was a burning and shining light” and it would seem to conflict with the above statements, however, when we look at the Greek word used here which was translated “light” was translated incorrectly. It is correctly translated “He was the lamp that burneth and shineth”. John was a lamp, which has no inherent light of it’s own, but burns on fuel that has to be supplied. A lamp burns only a few hours and then burns out unless it is re-supplied. It has no power nor light of it’s own. This matches perfectly with the 15th chapter of John. Jesus is talking with his disciples and impressing upon them that He is the vine and they are the branches. We will go into that in detail when we come to John Chapter 15, but it is the same principal, that we have no power of our own. We do not shine on our own. God is the supreme power and this fuel comes from the Father, through the Son (the vine) and into the branches (that’s us) so we may bear fruit.

Verse 9

Scripture: That was the true light, which lighteth every man which cometh into the world.

Commentary: The term “true light” here has at least four references:

1. Jesus is the undefiled, undeceiving Light. Satan, we find in scripture, is transformed into an “angel of light” but he appears as such only to deceive. Christ is the “true light” which has come into this world a contrast from all the false lights, which are in the world today.

2. Christ is not only the undefiled light, the true light, He is the Real light which is revealed throughout the Old Testament with all its rituals.
3. As the “true light” Jesus is the Underived Light. There are lesser lights which are borrowed and reflected just like the moon from the sun. Christ’s light is His own. It is not borrowed nor substituted. The Glory is His.

4. As the “true light” Jesus is the Supereminent Light. Think about light that is ordinary and common. During the night light comes from many sources, the stars, the moon and even the lights of the civilization of mankind. They all pale when compared to the light which comes from the Son of God. Look at Revelation 1:13 and following scriptures. In other scripture we find there is no sun needed in the “New Jerusalem” for Christ is the light. Daniel saw the coming King of God’s Kingdom, Jesus, in the same way. He is indeed, “the true light”.

The world system is so ingrained in us we naturally have a hard time seeing the light. Jesus is the light and he was rejected of men and the men of the world rejected him. They still do. Jesus represents a coming kingdom, God’s kingdom, but just as the local town’s people threw Paul and Silas in prison for casting the evil spirits out of the damsel who was making her masters a lot of money, the worlds system will not accept him until it is defeated and every knee bows and every tongue shall confess, that He is Lord. This is because the system is of men will selfish hearts and full of greed. Greed for power and wealth.

The two, the worlds system and God’s Kingdom are diabolically opposed to each other. One built on the need to control and gather to itself all that it can and the other to be unselfish and loving. The worlds system shall pass away, God’s Kingdom will not. Choose you this day whom ye will serve, as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.

Verse 10

Scripture: “He was in the world and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.”

Commentary: “He was in the world” refers to His incarnation and the 33 years he tabernacled with men. Then scripture continues to tell us “the world was made by Him” which sets up a tragedy, “and the world knew Him not”. The Devine one of God is magnified and glorified here. He is the one who made the world and that which he made does not recognize Him as the creator. This is indeed a tragedy. One that is deeper than we can imagine. Mankind is the tragedy here. It may appear at first that God is the victim, but no, that is incorrect. It is true God is saddened by this turn of events God was not caught by surprise. He anticipated the fall of man with a plan for redemption.

God sent His son to seek and save that which is lost. He did not come to judge, but to save. There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. He did not come to show off a mighty and powerful God which haughtiness would violate the character of God. He came as a minister. Holy, yes! Harmless and undefiled, yes, but a minister. You would think there would have been a great celebration among men. Instead, they sought to kill him and the King of Glory was taken into Egypt so that the King of His country would not kill Him. We see God offering His son for the redemption of mankind, but mankind receiving Him with their own schemes and pursuits. They thought nothing of Him. But wait, something even more pathetic follows.

Verse 11

Scripture: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not”

Commentary: There is a distinction here. “He was in the world” and, therefore, within the reach of inquiry. He was close and visible. He came knocking on the door, trying to get in, but the seed of Abraham “received Him not”. In the previous verse the world is charged with ignorance, but here in verse 11 Israel is charged unbelief and with a deliberate refusal of Him. Instead of just not welcoming Him, Israel positively refused Him. Yes, they even purposely drove Him away and eventually banned Him from the earth. Here was a people whose ancestors had been eagerly awaiting the appearance of the Messiah for long ages past. Yet they rejected Him when he came. How can this be??

To answer this question we remember the words of the prophet, that He should possess neither form nor comeliness in their eyes, and when they should see Him there would be no beauty that they should desire Him. It’s no wonder they turned away from Him. He came without a worldly marketing plan. He was announced by one who roamed in the desert eating locus and wild honey. He did not have a marketing agent to build His image into an idol. Even if a marketing agent were available, who could market a man teaching things that oppose the world’s system? After all, His teachings went against the perversions of the law that man made out of the commandments of God. He did not come with the majesty of this world, but only with a blessed subjection to the Father’s will and a wondrous love for sinners.

Verse 12

Scripture: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”

Commentary: The purpose of God was not defeated as it would seem. Yes, the world knew him not and Israel received Him not, but God was not defeated for that could not be. Proverbs 19:21 “The counsel of the Lord shall stand” The marvelous coming of the Son could not be in vain. Verse 12 tells us of the human side of salvation. Salvation comes to the sinner through “receiving” Christ, that is, by “believing on his name”.
There is a small distinction between these two things, though in substance they are one.

Believing respects Christ as He is exhibited by the Gospel testimony. It is the personal acceptance as truth what God said about His Son.

Receiving views Christ as presented to us. A “Gift” from God that is presented to us for our acceptance. He is presented to all men whether they be Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, illiterate or learned. Those who will accept Him receive power to become the sons of God. This is a special flow of power which comes from God, through His Son, and into every branch in the vine (every believer). But, who will receive Him ??

Verse 13

Scripture: “Which were born , not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”

Commentary: Who will receive Him? Sadly, not everyone. Even more upsetting there will be only a few. The preceding, verse 12, gives us the human side, now in verse 13 we see the Devine side. Why will there be only a few who actually receive Him? The answer is: those who are born of God.

The Devine side is the new birth and this new birth is “not of blood”. It is not a matter of heredity. Regeneration does not run in the veins nor occupy the genes of men. It is “not of the will of the flesh”. The will of natural man is opposed to God, and the natural man has no will to serve God until he is spiritually born. That is “born again”.

“Nor of the will of man” : The new birth is not brought about by well meaning friends nor the preacher despite all their efforts. It is “of God”. The new birth is a Divine work! The new birth is only accomplished by the Holy Spirit applying the Word of God in living power to the heart. The reception the world gave to Christ in those days is the same reception given to Him today. The world still “knows Him not” and Israel still “receives Him not” yet there is a small company who do receive him and it is those of which scripture tells us “ as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48)

Christ, The Word Incarnate
John 1:14-18

Scripture: “And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth”

Commentary: He who had no limits, limited himself. He who was invisible became visible. The one who was beyond the normal limits of earth became ready to dwell among men on their level. Because of Him we are able to see beyond the veil. If it were not for Him when we look beyond the veil we would be blinded. He is the filter through which we see God. Jesus became that which he had not been, a man. He did not cease to be God, but He became man. Our Divine Saviour took upon Himself human nature. He became a real man, yet a sinless, perfect Man. As a man He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. He came to rescue us, to knock Satan out of the way, to remove the barrier of sin which separates us from God.

Here in Christ is the union of two natures that is one of the mysteries of our faith. Godliness is, without controversy, the greatest mystery. 1 Timothy 3:16 – God was manifest in the flesh! His divine title is “ The Word of God”. He became flesh which is “Holy Humanity”, the God-man! Yet the Divine and human in him were never confused. His deity, although not visible, was not laid aside. His humanity, though sinless, was a real humanity. He became flesh and blood. Luke 2:52 says “He increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”. He truly was the “Son of God” and “The Son of Man”.

This union of the two natures in Christ was necessary for Him to hold the office of Mediator. God accomplished three great ends in this:
1. It was now possible for Jesus to die for the sins of the world. He had to become flesh in order to die.
2. He could now be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
3. He has left us an example, that we should follow in His steps. He has made it possible for us to follow in His steps. By faith we are able to receive the power which flows from the Throne of God, through Christ, into the believer.

This duality in Jesus was plainly the one sent from God to bring us into oneness with the Father. He did this through His suffering. Isaiah 53:3 – He was a man of sorrows. He was to be the Branch of the Lord, beautiful and glorious – Isaiah 4:2. We are leading up to John Chapter 15 where Jesus describes the power we have as a part of the Kingdom of God. He said, I am the vine and ye are the branches!

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