By Jack Hibbs
As evil increases in the world around us, a great awakening is also taking place. People are asking questions about God and what will happen next. The great news is that there is comfort and peace for those who turn their eyes to God.
By Jack Hibbs
As evil increases in the world around us, a great awakening is also taking place. People are asking questions about God and what will happen next. The great news is that there is comfort and peace for those who turn their eyes to God.
hen you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart (Jer. 29: 12-13).
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened (Matt. 7:33-34).
The words of God in the Old and New Testaments remind us that our God wants to see all of His creation come to a saving knowledge and trust in Him through Jesus. And that when we seek Him and His Kingdom, we will find Him. While the holy month of Ramadan is often a month of increased pressure for Christians whose faith stands out more than usual during this time, God continues to work in peoples’ hearts and bring them to Him. During Ramadan, many Muslims will earnestly seek God through prayer and fasting and the practice of giving charitable gifts.
In Central Asia believers, especially former Muslims, live under increasing persecution from a variety of sources, from dictatorships to a surrounding culture generally dominated by Islam. In many of these contexts, being a Jesus-follower is extremely difficult. But we know that God is not slowed by dictators or cultures—Jesus has the power to break into any context and change hearts and lives.
A few years ago, Christians, especially those from a Muslim background, were the No. 1 target for Roman*, a devout Muslim in Kazakhstan. He considered them “betrayers of the real faith.”
“By ‘betrayers,’ I meant Christians with a Muslim background,” he says.
Roman had no problem confronting, challenging and persecuting Christians. He was like many fasting Muslims during Ramadan who intentionally confront Christians, drilling them with questions about their faith with the purpose of tripping them up and even making them question their faith.
Last year during Ramadan, Roman went a step farther to express his devotion to Islam. He decided to pay a visit to the local Baptist church in the area for the sole purpose of interrupting “betrayers of the real faith.”
“I went to the church service during Ramadan because I considered myself to be a devout Muslim,” he says. “I [wanted] to prove my faith to Allah.”
Roman walked through the church doors, sat down and began to make his plan. But as the church service started and the pastor began to speak, Roman couldn’t force himself to do what he came there to do. He couldn’t bring himself to stand up and cause a scene. The words he heard the pastor say touched him too much.
“For the first time I heard about a God who loved me,” he says. “I never knew the Almighty God loved me even though I am not perfect.”
The surprising and healing truth of a God who loves His creation unconditionally began to wash away a lifetime of guilt.
“That thought [of being loved even though I’m not perfect] seriously never entered my mind. I always felt guilty. I felt that I had to earn His attention.”
The words Roman heard that day focusing on love, mercy and forgiveness grabbed the heart of the persecutor. And then something happened he never expected: tears, prayers to Jesus, repentance and joy. Sitting in that church service in a Baptist church, the man who had devoted his life to persecuting Christians became a follower of Jesus. Roman’s story isn’t unlike another former persecutor of Christians who 2,000 years ago penned the words we read and cling to today:
“For I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Says Roman: “I never want to go back to the Muslim faith.”
Like Roman, Fatima was also a devout Muslim from Central Asia until last year’s Ramadan. In Muslim-majority Chechnya where she lives, persecution of Christians continues to escalate.
Every night for more than five years, Fatima had prayed for relief and healing. Fear and anxiety had taken over, which had led to continuous nightmares and sleepless nights.
“Muslim prayers didn’t help me,” Fatima says.
Knowing how she was suffering, one of her friends, Indira, came to see Fatima during Ramadan last year. Indira told her friend about the Jesus she had found. Then she invited Fatima to come to a Christian meeting–a secret homegroup.
“For several weeks, I refused to go,” Fatima remembers. “I considered myself Muslim and was afraid that it would be a betrayal of Islam to meet Christians, especially during the pure and holy month of Ramadan.
“But I couldn’t deal with my [emotional] condition any longer and decided to go. Everything I heard in that meeting touched my heart, but I refused to accept Jesus, as I didn’t want to be guilty of leaving Islam. After two weeks, I understood that my [Muslim] faith couldn’t help me. I knew I needed to do something or else the devil would slay me. I went again to the homegroup and accepted Jesus into my heart and asked Him to heal me and my life.”
That experience, she says, was strangely surprising.
“I expected to feel guilty about betraying Islam,” she explains, “but there was no guilt. When I came home, I felt peace and joy. That night, I slept so well—no nightmares, no fears and no bad thoughts.
“And I couldn’t stop thinking: What if my friend Indira had not visited me that Ramadan when I was in such a critical condition?’ Now I pray for my parents to accept Jesus. I know that it is possible for Him to touch their hearts even though they are Muslims.”
In another area of Central Asia in Turkmenistan, Hadija* also is thankful for a caring friend. * She is an emergency health care professional in her village. Her husband, a devout Muslim, forced Hadija to pray and fast during Ramadan. In his mind, he would earn more favor in the eyes of Allah if he could teach his wife how to be a “good Muslim.”
Knowing that Hadija’s husband oppressed her, Hadija’s Christian friend came to visit her during Ramadan last year and eventually shared her faith and the gospel with her hurting friend. Hadija learned from her friend that she could pray any time in Jesus’ name and that God would hear her and answer.
“That was such an amazing revelation,” Hadija says, “that my Great God and Creator could speak to me! It touched me so deeply.”
But what was next? Hadija was still living with a husband who forced her to participate in Muslim rituals. That oppression had only increased with Ramadan.
Hadija knew that making a public confession was a fatal decision. “My husband would have killed me if I converted,” she says.
When the time of next prayer came, Hadija went through the motions of spreading the mat and kneeling alone in the room to say her prayers. But she felt she couldn’t pray like she did before. Instead, Hadija took the Injil (the New Testament in the Turkmen language) and started to read Scripture.
Suddenly, her husband came in. Hadija could only hide the book in her long dress. Hadija pretended to be saying Muslim prayers, but when he went out, she prayed in the name of Jesus.
“Now I pray in the name of Jesus every day,” she says quietly yet joyfully. “I hated the Muslim prayers as they were always something I was forced to do. Now I like praying so much and do it anytime and everywhere. It heals my heart and fills me with love for other people.”
*Names changed for security
George Washington was a remarkable man. We know him as a respected military general, founding father, and U.S. president, but he was also a mighty man of God. Join Pastor Jack at Mt. Vernon as he shares about this extraordinary patriot’s life.
These days, the younger generation is encouraged to despise their American birthright. According to this worldview, the United States was a force for oppression in centuries past, and racism, baked into the very structure of the republic, constitutes the true narrative of the American people. And what is this worldview’s solution to our country’s alleged ills? To tear down the existing order, cleanse it of its sins, and reeducate the youth such that they become activists against democracy, free speech, and free thought.
This new mentality is driven by what some call “wokeness.” As I detail in my forthcoming bookChristianity and Wokeness, being woke means “waking up,” per the tenets of Critical Race Theory, to the reality of structural racism and inequity in a society. This entails standing against institutions that mediate oppression through power dynamics—institutions like the family, the church, and the nation-state. There is much to say about wokeness’ anti-institutional commitments, but we shall concern ourselves here with the distinctively anti-national nature of the movement, and the fact that it targets religious people explicitly. Today, defending American ideals and history means one is painted as a proponent of “white Christian nationalism.”
The argument commonly goes that the evangelical movement has lost its moral compass by choosing to support conservative political candidates. Instead of standing for equity, justice, and fairness—buzzwords of the modern ideological revolution—the church allegedly chose to back xenophobia, narrowness, and tribalism. Wokeness has offered Christians the salutary chance to be “antiracist,” but according to many prominent media voices today, Christian conservatives have rejected this move, instead lending their support to the “white Christian nationalist” movement, thinking they are patriots while actually being racist extremists.
This criticism is fierce, as one can see. It is not playing for a draw. But in this brief piece, I believe it is worth responding to the criticism for the good of the rising generation. I want America’s young people, especially Christians who believe in the power of the Gospel, to hear a stronger and sounder word than these lazy bromides. Let me briefly list out a few responses to the ideology mentioned above.
First, it is not wrong for a Christian to love their country. Every believer is called to love their neighbor as themselves (Mat. 22:34-39), and a country is essentially a great mass of “neighbors.” Does this mean we will love every country the same? No, it will be harder to love a tyrannical state than a free one. Further, America’s real failings as a nation temper our enthusiasm and keep us from enshrining this body politic as perfect. Nevertheless, it is good and right for a believer to seek the good of the city in which they live (Jer. 29:7). There is much to be thankful for as an American citizen. If you and I can be thankful for our local community or a city we treasure, why can we not love our country?
Second, it is right that we be engaged as believers in our country. We are called to pray for kings, honor the emperor, and submit to government as much as we can (1 Tim. 2:5, 1 Peter 2:17, Rom. 13:1-7). All this activity is expressly Christian; we perform such duties not as secularists, but as born-again believers. Christians of all kinds should live in these ways. It is not “white” people who are called to engage our community and country in some form, but all Christ’s church.
Third, it is wrong to identify “white” people as national oppressors in our time. America has real historical failings in terms of slavery and Jim Crow, failings supported by groups of “white” people in days past. And surely “white” people in our day need Jesus just as anyone does. But wokeness would have us see the American church, which does include many “white” people, as a present-day racist force acting to oppress people of color. Could “white” people fall prey to such evil? Yes, any person of any skin color or background could. But is the evangelical church inherently and incurably racist today? This is a claim that is regularly made, but it should be read as a statement of slander rather than a statement of fact. A group that is majority “white” does not automatically an oppressive body make.
The fever dream of many columnists, that a militantly racist body of extremist “white” fundamentalists waits just beyond the city gates to take back America, is downright silly. A whole lot of “white” Christians do want America to thrive, yes. But this does not mean they wish to oppress other people; I am linked up with evangelicals across America, and I don’t know anyone who has this goal. If they did, I would try to talk them out of it!
Fourth, supporting conservative politicians does not make you hateful. It does not make you a “white Christian nationalist.” Over and over, Christians who want their country to flourish have been labeled in such terms for voting for candidates of a Republican or conservative bent. The vast majority of Christians I know supported such candidates in past days because they are ardently pro-life, pro-religious liberty, anti-big government, anti-progressive agenda, and pro-free market. They do not have anything close to an evil vision of America that would ruin the lives of people of color. Nor do they wish to impose a ferocious theocracy on any who dare disagree with them. Instead, they want people of all kinds to be free, prosperous, and able to worship God.
The stereotypes about “white Christian nationalism” will likely endure. There are very well-paid and highly connected journalists and leaders who make such arguments, and all too often they serve as a kind of “house evangelical” for elite media. It makes sense why this would be so. Wokeness is the imperial ideology of our age and standing against it is no popular move in our time. On the political front, it works neatly and nicely to denounce a huge and diverse group of people as promoting the evil specter of “white Christian nationalism.” Sadly, different professing Christians are glad to serve this odious cause.
I encourage Christians, and especially younger Christians, to shake off such name-calling. Be a principled Christian young man or young woman. Serve your local church. Trust and follow Christ, the crucified king. Be “salt and light” in your community, on your campus, wherever God puts you in this land (Mat. 5:13-16). Learn American history, both the regrettable parts and the serious accomplishments. Live without fear. Know that God is good, is building his church, and that whatever the media and academicians may label you, if you are in Christ by faith, you will have your vindication on the last day.
Owen Strachan is the author of Christianity and Wokeness (Salem Books, July 2021). He is Provost and Research Professor of Theology at Grace Bible Theological Seminary, hosts The Antithesis podcast, and is a Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview at the Family Research Council.
by Skip Heitzig | January 12, 2021
We’re all familiar with the incredible story of Joseph in the Bible. It’s a riches-to-rags-to-riches tale that shows us the massive scope of God’s providence. Providence is when God intervenes in natural law—the chain of cause and effect that governs our lives—to bring about a supernatural result.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Joseph’s story is that, while God was working out the enormous, nation-changing, top-leader-level ramifications of everything that was happening, He was also taking care of the most personal, faith-building character details, too. Nothing is too big for God to handle or too small to escape His notice.
Joseph knew that and believed that. And because he trusted God, he was able to look beyond his circumstances and live with a higher purpose. He lived in tune with God’s faithful sovereignty—but not because the details themselves harmonized; they didn’t. Betrayed by his own brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused and jailed, and forgotten in prison, Joseph couldn’t have looked at everything he suffered and said, “This all makes perfect sense.”
This is where we see the difference between looking at life horizontally and looking at life vertically. Joseph’s brothers looked at life horizontally—within their own tainted hearts and at the turmoil around them. Joseph, on the other hand, lived with a vertical view. He learned to wait on God’s timing and trust God’s sovereignty and goodness, especially when things went wrong. The contrast between these two ways of living is summed up in Proverbs 29:25: “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”
It’s natural to slip into self-preservation mode when we’ve been wronged, but it’s supernatural to look for God’s hand in the hardship. Joseph overcame the default setting of looking out for himself by instead listening to God, trusting His promises, and obeying His words. And at the end of it all, he could tell his brothers, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
Joseph believed that God was in charge—not him. He believed that God uses bad events to bring about good results. And he believed that God uses people to help other people. He funneled the gracious love God had showered on him to bless his brothers and preserve his father Jacob’s family—through whom the Messiah would eventually come.
God cares about the big picture, but He cares equally about you and your role in His story. Do you believe that He uses your suffering for good? That He is big enough to take the bad things from your past and weave them into something better? God is with you in your pain; let Him use it to bring healing and restoration, redeeming it into something of great value and beauty.
By David Jeremiah
There’s a famous story about a prospector who sold his farm so he could look for diamonds. He wore himself out searching the world for the mother lode, finally dying in despair. Later, the man who had bought the prospector’s farm saw a flashing stone in the backyard stream. He fished it out, admired it, and put it on his mantel as an interesting curiosity. A visitor identified it as a diamond of remarkable size. The farmer recalled seeing other such stones in his creek, and his farm became one of the most productive diamond mines of all time.
The first man traveled the world looking for acres of diamonds when they were in his own backyard the whole time.
SHARE ON:We don’t always have to travel afar to find the delights we seek. Sometimes they’re in our own backyard. It’s remarkable how much money we spend taking in the wonders of distant places, while at the same time overlooking nearby points of interest—natural beauties, fun drives, local history, unexplored backroads, nearby attractions, pleasant neighbors, and neighborhood restaurants.
The same dynamic is true when it comes to living in confidence in a chaotic world. We long to make sense of it all and solve the global problems we see at a distance—they certainly need our attention. When we think of the staggering needs of nearly eight billion people across seven vast continents, we’re overwhelmed. The world is distressed, and the combined burdens of humanity can weigh heavily on us.
But remember—the world starts at our doorstep, and that’s where to begin serving the Lord. That’s the pattern Jesus suggested in Acts 1:8: “You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Our influence should begin in our own Jerusalem—our own home and our own hometown.
Just as there are undiscovered sites around you, there are uncovered needs closer at hand than you realize. There are acres of needs in your own back yard. A part of the ultimate staycation is looking around to see how God can use you “right around here.”
God’s Plan for the World Begins With You
SHARE ON:Psalm 139:16 says that all our days were written down in advance in God’s book. The important thing isn’t what we’re going to do for the Lord at a later time or in another place. We’re to serve Him today, right here, where we are.
I read about a man who wanted to plant a church, but his dreams didn’t work out. To make ends meet, he started driving for Uber and Lyft. He soon learned God wanted him to love every single person who got into his car. “I just tried to display the goodness of God to my riders,” he said. “Every day, I felt challenged to plant seeds for the Lord with each rider.”
When he picks someone up, he starts a general conversation, asking the Holy Spirit to guide the way, and he takes the Gospel conversation as far as seems wise. “I’ve given rides to alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, atheists, sick people…. I’ve bought people meals to help them feel loved, cleaned them up after they passed out, and had hour-long discussions after we reach their destination.” He now thinks of his car as a mobile sanctuary.1
SHARE ON:It can work the other way too. I have a friend who keeps small New Testaments with him and he looks for opportunities to give them to Uber and Lyft drivers, along with a generous tip. “Maybe you have some downtime between riders,” he says. “Let me give you something interesting to read.”
We simply need to pray each morning: “Lord, what do You want me to do today?”
God’s Plan for the World Starts at Home
That kind of attitude starts at home, right where we live. “Lord, how can I serve my family today? What do you want me to do under my own roof?” One woman I know had a sign over her kitchen sink that read: “Divine Service Conducted Here Three Times a Day.” Those who share your roof need your divine service, your godly cheer, and love.
Even those who live alone are nevertheless homemakers, and the environment around us reflects what’s happening within us. Building a clean, cheerful surrounding reflects the nature of God who surrounds us with the beauty of nature.
Now more than ever you can serve others without even leaving your home. Notes, messages, video calls, social media platforms, cooking, baking, and entertaining—all these can become rich ministries. Long before the Lord’s Church expanded to Samaria, Caesarea, Antioch, or Rome, the believers in Jerusalem were “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house,” as “they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46).
God’s Plan for the World Involves Nearby Strangers
You probably have strangers near at hand too, maybe more strangers than acquaintances. Every stranger is a potential mission field. One day, a lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) Jesus told a story about a traveler who was attacked by thieves only to be left bleeding in a ditch. The one who saw him, cared for him, and helped him recover—that was his neighbor.
In other words, the neighbor we’re to love might be the needy stranger we pass. I’m not saying we should necessarily give money to every homeless soul at every intersection. We have to help others in the wisest way—but help we should! The needs at our doorsteps are greater than ever, and God can give us the wisdom and wherewithal to be like the Good Samaritan on a daily basis.
Along the way, we’ll be sharing the message of Jesus. Some years ago in Shanghai, a young man named Will Wang wanted to improve his English, so he struck up a friendship with an American expat named Nick. One day, Nick told him, “I used to be a pretty bad man on the streets…. It is [the] God of the Bible who has transformed me into what I am today.” As Nick spoke openly of his faith in Christ, Wang was impressed. But having grown up an atheist, he resisted the Gospel. Later Wang moved to Detroit for university studies. Here he met more Christians, but he still felt that the Bible was a book of fairy tales.
One day Wang filled up his car with gasoline and drove off, leaving his wallet on top of his vehicle. He lost $900 in cash, along with all his credit cards and ID. In his frustration, Wang blamed God for the loss. But the next day a man showed up in the dormitory, asking for him. The man had found Wang’s wallet and was returning it. Wong thanked the man profusely, but he asked, “Why would you return my wallet back to me with the money in it? Most people wouldn’t return it.”
“I’m a Christian,” the man said. “God wants us to love each other as brothers and sisters. I hope what I have done to you today, you will do to others one day.”
That encounter led to something more than a wallet. It led Wang to receive the riches of the Lord Jesus Christ. “It was a divine set up,” Wang said. “It immediately changed my heart at the moment. I felt so touched, and at that moment I instantly believed in God.” The young Asian man was baptized and soon began leading a Bible study.2
We can reach foreign nations “right around here” on our doorstep, sometimes just by staying the course, being honest and loving to strangers, as Jesus was. If you can’t cross the ocean with a passport in your hand, perhaps you can cross the street with a pie and a smile.
T. S. Eliot once said, “The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started.” Most people enjoy traveling, but often our travels are restricted—by financial limitations, health concerns, world conditions, tight schedules, or providential hindrances. It’s of no concern. In serving the Lord, you don’t have to be anywhere but where you are right now. Look around. God is present right where you are—right around here.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the world, but be burdened for your neighborhood. It’s full of diamonds in the rough—people who need to be discovered and loved. They are in your own backyard.
1“The Mobile Sanctuary,” The Christian Heart, November 9, 2020, https://thechristianheart.com/the-mobile-sanctuary/.
2Roxy Photenhaur, “Lost and found wallet filled with cash led to faith,” God Reports, December 7, 2020, http://godreports.com/2020/12/lost-and-found-wallet-filled-with-cash-led-to-faith/.
Do you know your identity? It shapes our attitude. When you remind yourself who you belong to, you will behave accordingly.
A doctor, is wary of who he is in society. He cares for people, and builds his image on the power of his profession. Same with other jobs. The job shapes you; is it a good thing, to an extent but eventually money and that false imagery destroys the soul. No matter who we become in this world, however educated or get into the highest positions, the word of God must stand tall in our lives. All is vanity, perishable, only the word of God is forever.
You will walk in Him, whether you are a doctor or anyone. God takes precedence; His nature of love and peace, overcomes the false imagery of the profession set by the standards of the earth. As heavenly citizens, we perform the duties of earth, staying focused on the first (love) priority in Christ alone. We begin to walk in the wisdom of God. We begin to walk in the fear of God daily.
A woman of God, the ideal mother, who takes care of the house walks in the power of God. As a comforter, healer, builder, helper, name it all. God presents Himself as our all in all.
Jesus is our all in all! When we deny our self and walk in Him, we live the life God desires. It’s no more about us, it’s about Christ forming in us to meet the mental, emotional and physical needs of the people we are called to serve. It’s impossible for us to do anything good without Jesus (John 15:5).
May God bless us all, Maranatha, praise God and amen!
By John MacArthur Jan 15, 2012
There are so many ways in which we can prepare our hearts for a time around the Lord’s Table. The cross is the focal point of the whole of Scripture, and therefore there are a lot of places you can go to choose for that heart preparation that looks at the provision of Christ.
One that you might not consider, however, is the tenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. And so, I want you to turn to that, the tenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. I really had prepared something else, but this afternoon I think the Lord gave me a little bit of clarity on what might be most helpful to you as we enter into a brand-new year.
Of all churches, we are the most blessed in many ways. We are so highly privileged. We have been given such immense blessing. So many gifted people, so much ministry, so much provision to feed our souls and to build us up in the knowledge of Christ, so many opportunities for service, we stand as a highly privileged congregation of people. And I know you know that very well.
And on the one hand, we have been celebrating that privilege all through last year. I feel last year was, from my standpoint, the greatest year in the history of this church. And I don’t expect that next year will be any less than that, but I will always look back on 2011 as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, in my own assessment, in my own experience in the life of this church, since I came here in 1969, for many, many reasons. And I think, as we look at the future, we have no reason to assume that God is going to bless us any less as we remain faithful.
But the more highly privileged we are, the more careful we need to be, because I think the Lord is – the Lord is gracious, and the Lord is merciful, and the Lord is kind, and the Lord is good, but He is selective about whom He blesses.
And what you have in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 is a kind of a warning to a very blessed people – a warning to a very blessed people. The Corinthians were such a church. They had the privilege of being founded by the great apostle Paul, who spent an immense amount of time with them, building the foundations of that church, and then even after he left, continuing to shepherd and nurture that church with several visits there and quite a number of letters of correspondence back. He kept a rather direct hand on that church. In that sense, they were a highly privileged church, a church born in the midst of paganism at its apex. To think about Corinth was to think about the ultimate kind of idolatry, the ultimate forms of false religion, and the very ultimate life of sexual immorality.
And right in the midst of that paganism came the apostle Paul, and the Lord planted a church there. It became a remarkable church and a powerful church, and yet a church that, in the midst of its privilege, was living on the edge of danger and had to receive exhortation after exhortation lest they’d have to forfeit its privileges. That does happen.
You know the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation. We’re warned by our Lord to change, to deal with the sin in their midst or He would remove their candlestick, or He would fight against them, or He would spew them out of His mouth. I suppose this would be the greatest fear of a pastor, the greatest fear of people in a church that they would be the unblessed who had once been the highly favored and the highly blessed. And that is why chapter 10 is in the New Testament, to give us fair warning about the possibility of falling from a place of blessing.
Let me read the first half of this chapter – less than the first half – down through verse 13. “I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
“Now, these things happened as examples for us so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.’ Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try” – or test – “the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble” – or complain – “as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore” – and here’s the key verse – “let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also so that you will be able to endure it.”
That is a very dramatic portion of Scripture, and it refers back to an entire nation, the nation of Israel, privileged with the blessing of God, that fell under divine judgment. And it can happen to the most privileged. It happened to the people of Israel. Paul knew that he lived, in a sense, in the imminent reality that that could happen to him. If you back up one verse, into chapter 9 and verse 27, you read Paul’s testimony that “I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” – adokimos, tested and found inadequate, unacceptable.
Paul didn’t overestimate his spiritual powers. He knew that he needed to discipline his body, to bring it into subjection so that he didn’t forfeit his ministry by falling into sin. And that is essentially the key to the passage before us that I read, and it’s verse 12, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
The danger of being so blessed that you become overconfident, so blessed that you feel the privileges will never end, so blessed that you feel there’s something about you that is impervious or invulnerable. You cannot flaunt your privileges without living in serious danger.
The apostle Paul has many warnings to the church in his writings. This is a very general one, but it is a very, very important one. Apparently the Corinthian church ignored self-denial. They ignored self-control. They were beginning to exercise undisciplined liberties. They were living on the edge of disaster and the forfeiture of divine favor and divine blessing.
And so, the apostle Paul draws the illustration from Israel to warn churches – all churches, including ours – of the danger of being greatly blessed and greatly privileged, and taking that for granted. Pastored by the apostle Paul, familiar with the ministry of Peter, familiar with the ministry of Apollos. They give testimony to that as you read in 1 Corinthians. Recipients of divine revelation, recipients of the gifts of an apostle, and yet they were in danger of serious judgment.
In fact, back in the fourth chapter, verses 18 to 21, Paul was already warning them, at the beginning of this first letter, that if necessary, he would come with a rod, and he would deal with them. So, the message here is a very, very important message.
Verses 6 and 11 tell us that what happened to Israel was an example to the Corinthians, but not only an example to the Corinthians, but for all of us. Verse 6, “These things happened as examples for us.” Verse 11, “These thing happened to them as an example for our instruction.” Whose? All of us upon whom the ends of the ages have come. All of us living in the messianic era, the time after the Messiah has come.
So, what Paul draws out of the Old Testament experience of Israel is not only for the Corinthians but for all of us to learn the lessons of warning about thinking you stand when you may fall.
Now, I want to break this up just briefly as we prepare for the Lord’s Table, by talking first of all about the blessings or the assets in verses 1 through 5. Let’s just get a little idea of what he’s talking about here. “I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea.” “All” is the key term. It is repeated five times in the opening verses, stressing the fact that the whole nation of Israel received the privileges of divine blessing. They “all” were a part of it. “All” who belonged to that nation were under the cloud. “All” who belonged to that nation passed through the sea. “All” were immersed into Moses. “All” ate the same spiritual food. “All” drank the same spiritual drink, drinking from the spiritual rock which followed them.
Now, what is he talking about here? Well, he’s simply talking about the tremendous privileges that came on the people of Israel when they were led out of Egypt and they were led to the land of Canaan. All the fathers of Israel experienced great spiritual privilege in being led out of Egypt. All were under the cloud. What is the cloud? Exodus 13:21, “The Lord went before them by day, in a pillar of cloud, to lead them, and by night, of course, it was a pillar of fire.” The whole nation was under that divine, miraculous leading by God. The whole nation passed through the sea – the Red Sea – the basic touchstone of deliverance from Egypt. They all experienced that. So, they were all called out by mighty power; they were all delivered through the sea; they were all led by God daily and even nightly.
Verse 2 says they were all baptized into Moses. That is a simple concept. They were immersed into his leadership. They were identified with him. It was Moses’ people; it was Moses’ crowd. They were one with their leader. That’s what that is saying. They were united, as a community, with one leader. So, there was not a division of leaders, and Moses was God’s chosen man. They all had, then, this divinely-appointed and divinely-prepared and divinely-gifted leader, and they were led as a united community. They all enjoyed that union with that great leader.
Now, these are all analogous to the experience of salvation. We have all been delivered from the domain of darkness, which is like our Egypt. We have all been led through the waters of escape. We have all been brought to a place where we’re under the direction of God. We have all been baptized into identification with our great leader, the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the imagery here; that’s the picture here. We are all together as one people in Christ.
And the Israelites, verse 33, “They all ate the same spiritual food; they all drank the same spiritual drink.” In other words, God provided water for them in the wilderness; God provided food for them in the wilderness. You remember the manna from heaven and the birds that would hover off the ground and provide nourishment for them for the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness. They were privileged, then, to be rescued, to be delivered, to be guided, to be united, and to be fed and nourished. And that’s analogous to the salvation experience of the Corinthians and us as well. We have all been delivered, entered into guidance under the direction of our Lord, united with Him as one, and our souls are constantly fed.
And then a most interesting statement in verse 4, “They were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” The spiritual petra, cliff, rocky mass. What was this? This is Christ, the rock was Christ. You know we’re going to start a series on finding Christ in the Old Testament; well, here’s one of the places, Exodus chapter 17. Christ was the rock.
In the leadership that we find that Christ extended to them, in their wilderness wanderings in the Old Testament, He is often appearing as the Angel of the Lord. That is a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. He never allowed them to thirst; He never allowed them to hunger. He was there, assessing their needs and meeting their needs. In a way, we could say the manna and the water were evidence of the presence of Christ who followed them. He was the rock that followed them. He had not yet been incarnated into this world, but the eternal Son, the second member of the Trinity, was the caretaker of the people of Israel. All the redeemed are His, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
So, what are we talking about here? I’m just giving you an overview. “Being led through the sea,” that’s emancipation. “Under the cloud,” that’s guidance. “Baptism into Moses,” that’s identification with a new assembly and one leader. “Manna and water,” sustenance. And all of this provided for them and for us by Christ Himself. This is to talk about how blessed they were and how blessed we are.
Then the shocker comes in verse 5. “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased” – with most of them, God was not well-pleased. Most of them? Yes – everybody but two: Joshua and Caleb. And they all died in the wilderness except those two.
Numbers 14:16 says, “Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he swore to give it them, therefore He has slain them in the wilderness.” And verse 5 says they were laid low, strewn – strewn in the wilderness, like corpses in the desert. They were what Paul feared being: disqualified. How tragic. Paul had a sensible fear that he, too, could lose his approved status for service – not is salvation, but his usefulness – if he didn’t practice self-denial and self-control. And I look at our church, and I say we are blessed – we are profoundly blessed; we are blessed more than any people that I know. No church has been more graciously treated by the loving Lord than this church.
And yet, I am sure there are many in our church congregation with whom the Lord is not well-pleased. In fact, there are many whose life and whose choices breaks His heart. We always stand on the brink of losing that blessing and that divine favor, if the Lord determines that that is so widespread as to remove us from the place of blessing.
What went wrong? What happened to the people in Israel that could happen to us? Let’s look from the assets or the blessings in verses 1 to 5, to the abuses in verses 6 to 10. This is very basic. “These things happened as examples for us so that we could not crave evil things as they also craved.” There it is in one statement. The loss of privilege is related to the craving of evil things. It’s basically the result of desiring sin, craving evil things.
What kind of things? What kind of craving? Well, he lays it out. Number one, you can look at it in verse 6, “Craving evil things” – and let’s just say that’s worldliness in a very general sense. Worldliness. The idea of the verb here is to be longing after evil things. And, of course, those are the things that define the world in which we live.
I’m not going to take you back to Numbers 11 and Psalm 78 where we have the record of the people of Israel longing after evil things. But there was perpetual warning against the indulgence of the lust that rises up in the fallen heart for the things of the world. And we are warned in the New Testament, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” 1 John 2. And somebody said long ago they were sleeping too close to where they got in. They had been freed. They had been led. They had been fed. They had been united with their leader. They had been blessed and sustained by God, but they became disqualified to go into the Promised Land because they failed to bring their hearts into full devotion to Christ. They were lusting after the things of the world.
You will notice in verse 7, “Do not be idolaters, as some of them were.” Idolatry. That hits the big button in Corinth. The Christians there were saying, “We can go back to our idolatry festivals; we can go back to the celebrations, the social events.”
Paul addresses this in the letter, doesn’t he? He says, “You can’t come to the Lord’s Table and the table of demons. You can’t do both of those things. Please, that’s verse 20. The Gentiles sacrifice to demons and not to God, and you can’t be a sharer in demons, and you can’t drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You can’t partake in the Table of the Lord and table of demons. Are you going to provoke the Lord to jealousy?” They were going back to the social events and participating in the kinds of things that belong to the kingdom of darkness.
And we see that with Israel, don’t they? Barely out of Egypt and already they have defected in their worship of God and created a ridiculous golden calf and are bowing down to that golden calf – not only bowing down to it, but committing all kinds of horrendous sins in front of that golden calf. And so, that is the warning here – idolatry. They fell into idolatry; the Corinthians lapsed into the kind of activities that belonged to idolatry.
And further, verse 7 says, “The people sat down to eat and drink and stood up to play.” That’s taken out of Exodus 32. And what it’s referring to is that they literally engaged themselves in an idol kind of orgy, horrible kinds of behavior. I’m talking about sexual immorality. And that is further explained in verse 8, “Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.”
I mean it was an ugly scene at the foot of the golden calf. Exodus tells us that the people were actually naked; it was a horrible experience. God killed 3,000 of them in that one moment, and in all, 23,000 perished. That would have been a good indication that God was removing favor. In fact, you can read about that in numbers chapter 25. He killed 23,000. The next day, God even did away with a thousand more of them, disqualified from usefulness and blessing.
The next verse tells us that they tested the Lord. It says they tried the Lord and were destroyed by the serpents. That’s Numbers 21. They pushed to see how far they could go before the judgment of God fell. They went all the way to living on the edge. How much could they do and get away with it? How much would God tolerate? And as they went to the edge and stayed on the edge and God didn’t seem to react to it, they pushed it further and further and further and further.
Matthew 4:7 says, “You shall not put God to the test.” Those words come out of the mouth of Jesus at His temptation when Satan came after Him. You don’t test God even by diving off the corner of the temple to fulfill a prediction given in the Old Testament. How much can we get away with? That’s the wrong question. How much can we be like the Savior? How holy can we be? That’s the right question.
So, if we are to engage in the midst of our privileges, in those kinds of things, craving evil things, making idols in our hearts of all kinds of things in the world, and they don’t have to be actual deities. They become deities to us when we bow down to them. If we engage in immorality, and if we test the Lord by pushing the edges of what is allowable, we’re going to experience the same kinds of things that the people of Israel experienced. And you remember what happened in Numbers chapter 21 when they tested God; the Lord sent snakes. And, of course, you remember that amazing story of that judgment.
There’s another sin here that is indicated in verse 10, and that seems like an one to put in this category because these all seem so severe. How about this? Complaining. “Nor grumbling” – or complaining – “as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” How did that get in here?
The term in the original language means to give expression to unwarranted dissatisfaction. It’s complaining, being dissatisfied and verbalizing it. Exodus 16:2 says, “The whole congregation grumbled” – murmured, complained. Complained against God. They were sitting in judgment on God on the way things were. You have it in Numbers 16, and almost 15,000 people died because they complained. And it says in Numbers 16 they were killed by the destroyer, the judgment angel. The rabbis called him Mashit. He is the one who slew the first-born in Egypt. He was the one ready to slay in the plagues, 2 Samuel 24; he destroyed the Assyrians in 2 Chronicles 32. The death angel. And here, the death angel executes complainers. Complainers, grumblers, murmurers complaining against God.
So, there are the abuses that came to be the experience of the children of Israel: worldliness, idolatry, morality, presumption, living on the edge, and complaining. And they are results of lack of self-denial, lack of self-control, lack of godly pursuits. They are abuses of freedom and abuses of privilege, flirting with the world in its idles, flirting with the world and its morals, pushing the patience of God to the limits, complaining when you don’t get what you want when you want it will result in tragedy – tragedy.
So, the admonition comes to us, then, in verses 11 and 12. “Now, these things happened to them as an example, and they are written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
The ends of the ages, as I said earlier, the messianic period. The last age is before the kingdom. The Lord has come, and the ages of the – the age, I should say – of the Messiah, the last day began when Messiah arrived. Again and again, there are warnings in the Scripture, but none is more poignant and powerful to me than this one.
A number of times, in the book of Revelation, as I mentioned earlier, there are warnings given to the church. And one of them that comes to mind is to the church at Sardis in chapter 3, where it says in verse 3, “Remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. And if you don’t wake up, I’ll come like a thief, and you’ll not know at what hour I will come.” Watch, be alert. You can’t live any way you want to live and continue to enjoy the pleasure of God and the blessing of God.
Again and again, a fortress is stormed successfully because its enemies thought it was safe. And by the way, the Acropolis in Sardis was built on a jutting spur of rock, believed by the people who lived there to be impregnable. When Cyrus came to besiege Sardis, he offered a reward to any soldier who could find a way to get up this parapet and destroy the city. The soldier, according to the history, says – his name was Hyeroedes – was watching one day, and he was trying to figure out if he could get this reward by figuring out a strategy. He saw a soldier of Sardis drop his helmet accidentally over the edge of the cliff. He watched how that soldier came down to get his helmet, and he marked the path how he went back. That night, he led a band up the cliff by that path, went in unhindered, and took the entire city.
There is a necessity to be watchful in our lives and watchful as a church. We are concerned about sin in the church, and that’s why the Lord’s Table is so very, very important to us. Not only are we concerned about sin in the church for the sake of the sinner in the church, the person who will suffer the consequences in his or her own life, but we are concerned about sin in the church for the sake of the church, for the sake of the testimony of Christ. I can’t think of anything worse than to have the candlestick removed and to have the Lord fight against Grace Community Church; to have the Lord spew us out of His mouth because we have become complacent, and we’ve indulged our fleshly desires.
We have been so profoundly blessed that we could think we stand in an impregnable way, like verse 12 says, but we need to take heed that we do not fall. And that means personal vigilance in every life.
I understand the implications in my life of any kind of a fall. I think the leaders of this church understand the implications in their lives of any kind of a fall, any kind of lapse into any form of evil craving, immorality, any kind of idolatry, any worshiping of anything other than our God and Christ and the Holy Spirit. We understands that, and we understand the dangers of pushing the liberties in this culture. And there are lots of ways that you can push your liberties in this culture and expose yourself to things that are evil and that do not build you up. We understand all of that. We know the danger of that at every level. The Lord has been gracious to protect us as we submit ourselves to the standards of the Word of God, as we do what Paul said, beating our body into submission so that we don’t become disqualified.
We also understand – and you need to understand – that it can happen at the level of the people, and it can be equally devastating to the life of the church. To be highly blessed is to be put on notice to make sure you watch carefully your own life. And I say that to every individual here.
One of the reasons we come to the Lord’s Table is to examine our hearts and make sure everything is where it should be – all our priorities – so that we would never be the reason why God would bring disfavor on our beloved church.
Then in verse 13, the passage kind of wraps up. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you’re able, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also so that you will be able to endure it.”
That’s a very, very important, encouraging, final word because after you go through the first 12 verses, especially when you’ve read verse 12, and you say to yourself, “Wow, I don’t want to be the cause of God’s disfavor on this church. I don’t want to be the reason that He turns away from this church. I don’t want to be the reason that He fights against it. I don’t want to be the evil influence. I don’t want to be the leaven that leavens the lump. I don’t want to be the one whose sin becomes the point of divine judgment.”
But how in the world can I survive in this world? How can I overcome the world? How can I deal with the temptations that the Devil has placed into the system in which I live? And we are living in a wholesale evil system at a level that has never been known in human experience in the history of the world because of what media can produce. How do I survive?
You don’t need to live in total fear. You don’t need to live in panic. You need to live warned and thoughtful and careful, but not as if the system around you and the enemy of your souls and your flesh is more powerful than you, or than He who is in you. Because verse 13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man.” What does that mean? Anthrōpinos – bearable for a human being; that’s what it means. In other words, you’re never going to be able to say, “I got into immorality, I got into idolatry, I began to crave evil things because it was too much for me. The Devil is more powerful than I am. It was way too potent a temptation. It was a supernatural temptation. It was a demonic temptation. It was a multiply demonic temptation. I had no defense. I was overpowered.” You know the old Flip Wilson line, “The Devil made me do it”? And what kind of a match am I for him?
And this is saying to you, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man. That is to say it is humanly bearable, it is normal; it is not superhuman, it is not supernatural; you cannot claim to be overpowered by anything. We all face the same things, and we can deal with them. We can’t blame God; we can’t blame the Devil. Further, he says, and this is even more wonderful, “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you’re able.” Not only is any temptation you ever have normal, human, and bearable, but even among the temptations that are normal and human and bearable, the Lord knows what you can tolerate. Particularly you, individually you, and “He will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able.”
For some of us, that’s the reason we don’t have more money than we do, or more fame than we do, or more of whatever we don’t have. The Lord knows nothing is superhuman. Everything is resistible. And furthermore, God knows us as individuals, and He knows what we fall easily prey to and will not allow such things to happen.
So, in temptation, we are at an advantage because we will never be tempted in any way that is beyond what is humanly bearable. In the midst of that temptation, God is controlling those temptations so that none comes to us for which we will not be able to win or to triumph. Furthermore – this is the next step in this wonderful promise – with the temptation, we’ll also be provided by God the way of escape so that you may be able to endure. Nothing superhuman, nothing more than you can handle. And God knows what you can handle. And always a way of escape – ekbasis, the way out. The way out. That is God’s promise. There is always going to be a way out.
We pray that, don’t we? “Lead us not into temptation, but” – what? – “deliver us from evil.” Those are the two things the Lord – “Do not lead us into temptation which we cannot bear and, with every temptation, show us the way out.” And He promises us here to do that.
So, having warned the church, on the one hand, to be careful because we are so immensely blessed and privileged, I also want to encourage you, as a church, that nothing that’s going to come your way is superhuman – nothing. Not Satan and all his demons collectively together. Furthermore, God knows what you can handle and will make sure that you never have a temptation you cannot handle, and in every one of those temptations that does come, there will always be a way of escape so that you can endure the temptation and come out triumphant.
Bottom line, you’re not going to have any excuses. I know you desire for this church what you desire for your own life, and that is to continue to enjoy the blessings of God. And we can do that; we don’t have to fall. We can learn from the example of the people of Israel. We can learn from the example of the disobedient Corinthians. We can learn even more from the testimony of Holy Scripture, that the Lord is there in the midst of all of our temptations to show us the way out.
Thinking back to Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian and Hopeful wandered off the path, you remember, of the King’s Highway to the Celestial City. And they fell asleep in a field called Doubting Castle. Remember that part of the story? And it was guarded by the giant Despair. And the giant catches them, and he drags them into a dungeon, and he puts them in the dungeon, and then he locks them in the dungeon, having beaten them brutally just short of death. In fact, they are so beaten and battered that they want to die, and they would have chosen, perhaps, to kill themselves. They languished in that place for days and days, until they realized what they really possessed. And then John Bunyan writes that Pilgrim says, “What a fool I am to lie in a stinking dungeon when I may be free. I have a key in my shirt called Promise that will unlock any door in Doubting Castle.
What is Bunyan saying? When the believer reaches total despair, despair for his life, despair for whether God loves him and cares for him, despair in the battle of sin, he turns to the promise of God. And the promise is that in every temptation there is a way of escape, and God will provide that way. Let’s bow together in prayer as we come to the Lord’s Table together.
Father, the Word is so powerful, so clear, so compelling, so true, so encouraging – never lowering the standard, but never generating hopelessness. The standard is so high of holiness and virtue and obedience, and it could crush us under the weight of our own inadequacy, and yet You minister mercy to us in that final verse and say, “Fear not, it’ll never be more than you can handle.” The Lord knows what you can take, and there’ll always be a way out. That puts the responsibility clearly with us to remain in the place of blessing, to learn from the warnings of the past, and the defections of the past, and the tragedies of the past.
Lord, we pray that You would keep us faithful. May we do what Paul did; may we beat our bodies into submission so that in preaching to others we don’t become disqualified ourselves. May we discipline our bodies. Give us self-control based on loving You with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength, wanting to honor You and glorify You and enjoy Your blessing.
As Jude put it, may we keep ourselves in the love of God, in the place where love showers us. And that’s the place of obedience.
As we come to this Table, we know that we face a time of the confession of the sins that are in our lives, and those little sins that maybe haven’t reached an epic proportion where they would cause serious damage to our own lives, our own families, our own relationships, and our own church. But those little sins can become epic if they’re not dealt with – those sins of thought, in particular, where the heart conceives and brings forth sin.
So, help us, Lord, to deal with sin at its first appearance in the mind, in the heart, in the attitudes, in the thought life; to deal with it there so that lust never conceives to bring forth sin and we never put ourselves in a place of disqualification and the forfeiture of blessing and privilege.
We thank You for the centrality that the Lord’s Table has always had in our church and how our people have always come and focused on this because they understand the call to holiness. Thank You that you’ve given us clarity in the matter of disciplining sinners in the midst who will not repent, and You’ve used that to provide warning and purging through the years.
And so, we’ve been continuing to enjoy Your blessing. We don’t want that to change ever till Jesus comes. So, now we examine our own hearts, and we want You to show us anything that’s there that displeases You, and may we deal with it immediately. Purify us and open up to us a clear understanding of what displeases You, even in these moments, and may we confess it and turn from it.
We are reminded in Scripture to come to this Table, having examined ourselves – examined ourselves – so that we don’t make things worse by eating and drinking judgment to ourselves, by coming to this celebration of the provision of Christ for our sin while holding onto sin at the same time. That hypocrisy will bring about serious disciplining in our lives. So, we ask, Lord, that You would lead us and guide us even now, as we meditate, as we pray, and as we offer our praise to You around Your table, in Christ’s name, Amen.
John MacArthur Nov 11, 2012
All right, the gospel of John, what a wonderful place to be in the time of darkness to shine the light, right? We have been introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ in this gospel. He is the Word. He is the Life. He is the Light, as we learned in the first four verses, and the fifth verse began to expand on that concept of light, and we came all the way down into verse 13 last time. So pick it up at John 1:14. Let me read it to you.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time, the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained Him.”
John opens his gospel with 18 verses that we would call a prologue – a prologue. This is John talking theologically. Starting in verse 19, he goes into the narrative part of it in which he starts to tell the story of Jesus’ life in the world. And he goes into the statements that Jesus makes and the works that He does and the miracles He performs and gives us the wonderful story all the way to the cross and the resurrection. But in the opening prologue, he makes his thesis statement, and the statement in the opening prologue is that Jesus is God in human flesh, that He is the Creator of the universe who has become a part of His creation.
He is pure, eternal being who has become a man. That is John’s message, that Jesus is not a created man, He is God in human flesh. And that, dear friends, that is the most essential doctrine in the Christian faith. That is it. And that is why there have been and continue to be so many heresies concerning Jesus Christ, concerning the essence or the nature or the person of Jesus Christ. This is the important doctrine in the Christian faith. It must be known, it must be believed, for someone to escape hell and enter heaven, that Jesus is God.
Summed up in four words at the beginning of verse 14, “The Word became flesh.” The Word became flesh. That is the central truth of Christianity, that is the theme of John’s gospel, and that is the required conviction for anyone who will escape hell, to understand that the Word became flesh.
Now, we’ve already learned in the opening thirteen verses that what that is saying is that the one, true, eternal God became human. That the infinite One became finite, that the eternal One entered time, that the omnipresent One became confined in the space of a human body, that the invisible One became visible. The true church of Jesus Christ has always believed that. It has always proclaimed that. It has always demanded that. Any other view of Christ is unacceptable – it is a damning heresy. This is the only view of Christ by which someone can escape hell and enter heaven. This is the reason John makes such a case out of the deity of Jesus Christ.
He gives his purpose in chapter 20, verse 31, at the end of his gospel. “These have been written” – everything in the gospel up to this point – “so that you may believe that Jesus is the anointed One, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.” The only way to have eternal life is by believing in Him, believing who He is, first of all, and what He has done.
So in His opening prologue, John talks about the nature of Jesus Christ. He introduces Him as “the Word.” This is a metaphor which speaks of Christ as coming from God, as God revealing Himself, disclosing Himself, speaking. And he says, “The Word was in the beginning.” In other words, He already existed when everything that began, began, which means He’s eternal. He was with God, which means though He was God, He was at the same time distinct from God. He was with God and was God. That is Trinitarian. There is one God and yet three persons. Jesus is God and yet He is with God.
The theology here is profound. And in the beginning when everything came into existence that came into existence, He “was” – the verb “to be,” pure being, He eternally existed. To prove that, everything that came into being came into being through Him, and without Him did not anything come into being that came into being – and that because He is life. He has life in Himself. He is the Creator. And the Creator whose eternal being, verse 5 says, came into the darkness of this world like a light. And that’s how he introduces this incredible book, the arrival of the Light, the very life of God, the very Word of God, into the world.
Now, I think it would be safe to say that John was legitimately obsessed with this great foundational doctrine. And again I urge you, whenever anybody talks about religion and gets to Jesus, you want to focus right down on what Jesus they are talking about. Are they talking about the One who is the eternal God? The One who is the Creator who existed infinitely forever? Or are they talking about some other Jesus? John is obsessed with this.
In the last century, the last decade, rather, of the first century – in the nineties – he wrote his gospel and he also wrote three epistles. And just to show you what was so much on his heart, turn to 1 John for a moment – 1 John – and John launches his epistle, and he’s writing this epistle to believers to identify for them the marks of true salvation. And listen how he starts. He starts very much like he started his gospel. “What was from the beginning,” that’s Christ, who, when the beginning began, already existed because He’s eternal.
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, namely the Word of Life – and the life was manifested.” There is very parallel language. The eternal Word, life itself, manifested itself in the world, John said, and we saw it with our own eyes. And we looked at it, and we heard, and we touched Him with our hands. We’ve seen, he says in verse 2, we testify, we proclaim to you the eternal life – you could capitalize that, The Eternal Life, meaning the Son of God – which was with the Father and was manifested to us – and we’ve seen and we heard and we proclaim to you.
He can’t get over this. John is absolutely blown away by the fact that he has heard, he has seen, he has looked deeply into the face of, and he has touched the Creator of the universe in a human form. I think this would be something to obsess about. That’s where John is. And what we have seen and heard and touched, we declare to you so that, verse 3, you may have fellowship with us, so that you can come into the kingdom, believing in Him, and our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these are things we write, so that your joy may be made complete, because complete joy can only be found in knowing Him.
You know, John never got over it. You wonder why John refers to himself in his gospel, not by his name, but he calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” or “the disciple who leaned on Jesus” because he never, ever could fathom the reality that this is the eternal Creator God, the one true God in human form, and He loves me, and He walks with me, and He talks with me, and I touch Him, and I fellowship with Him, and I can’t get over it. This is the obsession of all of his writing.
In chapter 2 of 1 John, down in verse 22, he says, “Who is the liar? Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son doesn’t have the Father. The one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning” – from the apostles, from us – “abides in you, you will abide in the Son and in the Father.” Again he goes back, that if you tamper with who Christ is, you will alienate yourself from God – very, very serious to John.
Chapter 4, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit.” Don’t believe every claim, every teacher, every spirit behind every teacher. Test the spirits, see whether they’re from God because there are so many false prophets in the world. How do you know when someone’s a false prophet? By this you know the Spirit of God that is behind the true Spirit: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. Those who affirm the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, they’re from God. “Every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming and now already in the world.”
John is absolutely crystal clear that one’s view of Jesus Christ is determinative – determinative. Down in verse 12, same chapter: “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, His love is perfected , and it’s by this we know that we abide in Him and He in us because He’s given us His Spirit. We have seen and testified that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”
If you tamper with the deity of Jesus Christ, you are not in the kingdom of God. Chapter 5, he’s not finished. Verse 1, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” That simple. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” Verse 4, “Whoever is born of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” And finally, down in verse 20, “We know that the Son of God has come.”
We know that the Son of God has come, we’ve seen Him, heard Him, touched Him, and has given to us understanding so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, this is the true God and eternal life.
In the second letter, after the first epistle, verse 7, he says: “Many deceivers are gone out into the world who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver, an antichrist.” Verse 9, “Anyone who goes beyond doesn’t abide in the teaching of Christ, doesn’t have God. The one who abides in this teaching has the Father and the Son.” So if anybody comes to you and doesn’t have that teaching, don’t let him in your house, don’t give him a greeting, because you would be a partaker in his evil deed. It’s all about Christ and who Christ is.
Now, with that in mind, you can go back to the first chapter of the gospel of John. It is, therefore, not surprising that of all of the Christian doctrines, there has no single doctrine been more assaulted and attacked than the truth concerning the incarnation of Jesus Christ. There have been all kinds of Jesuses, all kinds of Christs offered to the world. And in the future, we are warned that as we get closer to the coming of Christ, false Christs will multiply, false Jesuses will multiply, and we have to be discerning about whether people are speaking of the true Christ.
To put it another way, it is as damning to believe in the wrong Jesus as to believe in no Jesus. To believe in the wrong Jesus is as damning as to believe you’re saved by a rock, some animistic religion. You can’t be saved by believing the wrong thing about Christ. You must believe in His deity and humanity. And that’s why John is so compelled at this point.
Now, in verses 14 to 18, we come to the crescendo, “And the Word became flesh,” the Word became flesh. The Word, meaning the preincarnate Son of God whose eternal being became flesh. The word is sarx. Sometimes the word “flesh” is used in a moral sense, deeds of the flesh, like Romans 8, Galatians 5. But sometimes it’s used in a physical sense, and that’s the way it’s used here. Romans 1:3 says that Jesus was the Son of David, “according to the flesh,” humanly speaking. So sometimes it has a moral component, and other times it’s just talking about a physical component, and that’s what it is here.
The eternal Word became human, that’s what it means, the eternal Word became human. So you have the God-man. The eternal God who is pure eternal being and not becoming at all as His creatures are becomes a part of His creation. God and man are joined in one person, never again to be separated. Listen to that. They are joined in one person, never again to be separated, yet never confounded and never mixed. His human nature – His human nature does not overpower His divine nature, His divine nature does not overpower His human nature. They are both perfect and distinct and indivisible and yet unmingled and unmixed.
The deity of Christ is not diminished by His humanity nor is His humanity overpowered by His deity. And maybe I can illustrate that by saying this: When you see Christ in heaven, He will be exactly the same God-man that He was when He walked on Earth in the post-resurrection form of the body that the disciples spent forty days with. He is the same Christ. He doesn’t become a floating fog in heaven, as some of these silly people say who take fake trips to heaven and then make up things. He is exactly who He is. He will be who He was on Earth,, fully man, fully God in the same way He walked on earth.
Let me take it a step further. His humanity is not the humanity of Adam before his fall. He does not have a pre-fall humanity. Some people think that, yes, He’s fully man, but He’s fully man in the sense of Adam was before the fall. That is not true. He is fully man in the sense that Adam was after the fall. How do you know that? Because He lived and grew and died, and that is a factor of fallen condition. Furthermore, if He was not in the form of man after the fall, He would have no ability to understand our weaknesses and our infirmities and be tempted in all points as we are tempted and come out as a merciful, sympathetic high priest.
So He is truly human in the sense that we are human in the post-fall realm – with one exception: no sin. He is without sin – holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, without sin forever. Second Corinthians 5, He knew no sin.
So this One, John says, this God-man, “the Word became flesh” and then He says, “and dwelt among us” – dwelt among us, skēnoō, means to pitch your tent. He brought His tent to us and He settled down in our world. For thirty-three years, He lived in our world, took on the form of a man, came and became one of us, Hebrews 2, Philippians 2, grew in wisdom, stature, favor with God and man. You can’t deny that. That’s 1 John – I just read it to you – 4:2 and 3. If you deny that Jesus came in the flesh, the Son of God was an actual man, then that’s heresy, and you don’t know God. God in human form dwelt with us.
How did we know He was God? John gives us three very important statements, and they’re tied to three words – clear evidence that this is God. First word, glory; second word, grace; third word, God. And we’ll just look at this briefly. I know you’re familiar with it. Back to verse 14, first point: The incarnate Christ displays divine glory. The incarnate Christ displays divine glory. John says in verse 14, “And we saw His glory.” We saw His glory. And it was glory that belongs to the monogenēs of the Father, and it was full of grace and truth. We saw His glory.
What is glory? What does that mean? You have to go back to the Old Testament to pick up on that, really. God’s glory is intrinsic to His nature, it is who He is. It is the sum of His attributes. Take all the attributes of God and you can list them, all of the attributes of God in perfect complex are His glory, His intrinsic, innate glory – all of His attributes.
But then there is also His manifest glory, and He manifests His glory symbolically and in reality. Let me tell you what I mean. Moses in Exodus 33 says, “Show me your glory. I want to see your glory.” And the Lord says, in effect, “Okay, I’ll show you my glory, but I have to warn you, I can’t show it all to you because no man could see my face and live,” Exodus 33:20. So the Lord said, “There’s a place by me, and you can stand there on the rock, and it’ll come about. While my glory is passing by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock, and I’ll cover you with my hand until I pass by.
“And what you’re going to see is the edges of my glory shining across the cover. You can see the fringes of my glory because if you saw my full glory, you’d be incinerated in a millisecond.” What is this kind of glory? What is this? This is God’s nature, God’s essence, the eternal complex of all that He is, the all-glorious God, manifest in blazing light – manifest in blazing light. I think that’s something of what Adam and Eve saw when they walked and talked with God in the garden because God is invisible, called repeatedly the invisible God. So what did they see? They walked with the Shekinah.
They walked with the presence of God manifest in light to some degree. And maybe they were able to absorb more of His glory since they were unfallen, and once they fell, they had to be kicked out because they could no longer look at His glory or fellowship with Him. Moses says, “Show me your glory,” and God says, “I’ll let you see the afterglow, I’ll let you see the back part, I’ll let you see the edges or you’d be incinerated in a millisecond.” That’s the powerful majesty and glory of God that would destroy us because we’re sinners.
And then the glory is defined. Moses said, “Show me your glory,” and He said, “Okay,” God did, verse 19, “I’ll make all my goodness pass before you. I’ll proclaim the name of the Lord, and the name of the Lord is all that He is. Before you, I’ll proclaim my attributes, I’ll be gracious to you, I’ll show compassion on you.” And then down in verse 6 of the next chapter, “The Lord descends,” in verse 5, and then the Lord passes in front of him and the Lord – this light passes in front of him, this glowing light, and the Lord begins to describe His glory.
Verse 6, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and truth, who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, forgives iniquity, transgressions, sin,” et cetera. The glory of God is the complex of all of His attributes, and sometimes it was manifested in blazing light.
Later on, when the children of Israel were walking in the wilderness, you remember God led them by a fiery flame at night, and when the tabernacle was built in Exodus 40, the glory of God came down to the tabernacle. When the temple was built, 1 Kings 8:11, the glory of God came down to the temple. So God’s glory is His attributes but manifestly seen frequently in the Old Testament as light.
In the future, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, Jesus returns, and it says in both those chapters, chapter 24, verses 29 and 30, chapter 25, verse 31, that He will come in great glory and the Shekinah will be back. Revelation says people will call on the rocks and the mountains to hide them from the face of the glory. The sky will go dark, the moon and sun will not give its light, and into the blackness will come this blazing Shekinah presence of Jesus Christ.
Again, the manifestation of the attributes of God in light. So that had happened in the past and in the future will happen again. In the meantime, the glory comes to earth in Jesus. Okay? And on one occasion – Matthew – Luke also records it – they went up to the mount, Peter, James, and John, remember? And the Lord pulled back His flesh and what did they see? They saw His glory, and it was so blinding, they fell like dead men under the sheer shock and force of this blazing light, even though it was veiled to some degree so they didn’t burn up. And Peter writes, “When we were on the holy mountain, we saw His glory” – “we saw His glory.”
Let’s go back now. When John says, “We beheld His glory” – “we beheld His glory” – he can mean that they beheld the light, the Shekinah, the blazing light, because John was up there on that mount. He certainly can mean that. And this is written long after that happened, so he would remember that experience as well as Peter did.
But it’s more than that. When John says, “We beheld His glory,” he’s not only talking about the representation of that glory in light, he’s talking about the reality of those attributes which were manifest throughout the ministry in the life of Christ. John could say it this way: We saw His love, we saw His mercy, we saw His wisdom, we saw His knowledge, we saw His power, we saw His justice, we saw His holiness, we saw His compassion, we saw His omnipotence, we saw His omniscience, we saw His anger, we saw His wrath, we saw His kindness, we saw His patience, we saw it all.
We saw all those things that the Lord listed back in Exodus 33 and 34, and we saw the light – and we saw the light. We saw His glory. We don’t question that this is God, right? We saw the manifest light that symbolizes His glory, and we saw the attributes that make up His glory – we saw it all, we saw it all. We saw a visible representation of His glory, and we saw the invisible representation of that glory in His life.
We’re going to find out in John 2 when we go to a wedding together that Jesus did a miracle there, and verse 11 says of John 2, “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory” – “manifested His glory.” He didn’t pull His flesh back like He did in the transfiguration, but He manifested the glory of His power by creating wine out of nothing. So John says, “Look, we saw His glory, yes, on the holy mount, visible glory. But yes, we saw that invisible glory, the operation of His attributes.”
So when you ask John if Jesus is God, the God-man, God in human flesh, John will tell you yes – yes, He is because we saw His glory. Secondly, John will tell you that the incarnation of Christ dispenses His grace – dispenses His grace. The end of verse 14, “Full of grace and truth.” Full of grace and truth. Not half measures, not fractions, not incomplete – full of grace and truth.
Grace and truth are together in this passage. They need to be together. They have to be together because the only way that you can experience grace is by believing what? The truth. They go together – they go together. So John says, “We have experienced who He is.” Intrinsically, He is the monogenēs from the Father. That’s His essential being. We’ve also experienced His glory through His grace and truth manifest in His works and words and life.
And then John calls His friend, John the Baptist. We call them John A and John B. John the apostle calls on John the Baptist and says, “John testified about Him and cried out saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”’” How can somebody who comes after me exist before me? John says, “He came after me. He was born after me.” Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist before Mary was pregnant with Jesus. John was born first.
And John says, “The one who was born after me was before me. He existed before me.” Again, that’s pure eternal being. So John the apostle borrows some testimony from John the Baptist. Why do you think he does that? Is that necessary? It’s necessary if you’re Jewish and you believe in Deuteronomy, that everything has to be confirmed in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Why not? It was John the Baptist. This language here, the verbs here indicate that this was constantly John’s pattern. This was what he was always saying. “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, because He existed before me.” How can anybody who comes after me have existed before me unless He’s eternal?
So the testimony of John A (the apostle), John B (the Baptist) join together to declare that Jesus is the divine glory – that Jesus is the divine glory, divine God on display.
Number two: The incarnate Christ dispenses grace “for of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” We’re so glad to be delivered from the law, right? And brought to grace. Grace came through Christ. So He displays glory, He dispenses grace. This is the evidence of His deity.
He is full of grace and truth. He is full, in verse 16, and “of His fullness we have all received,” and then he illustrates it by saying in the Greek, “Grace after grace.” “Grace in the place of grace,” that’s what that is. It’s just – endless, non-diminishing supply of grace upon grace upon grace. I love they use the preposition after grace, after grace, after grace – after this grace is moved, there’s more grace filling the vacuum. There’s never any diminishing of grace.
We have received the fullness of the grace that He possesses, grace in the place of grace in the place of grace in the place of grace. Romans 5, Paul says, “In this grace we stand” – we live, this is where we exist. Grace comes constantly to us because we have believed the truth of the gospel, and we don’t receive some small amount of grace. You remember? To the apostle Paul who was concerned about his thorn in the flesh, our Lord said, “My grace is sufficient,” right? “My grace is sufficient.” It’s a never-ever-ending supply.
We read in Hebrews, “Come to the throne of grace.” There’s a never-diminishing supply for every need that you will ever have. John says, “How do we know He’s God?” Because we are living in this realm of grace that just keeps being poured out and poured out and poured out on our lives.
And all we knew under the law was threats and warnings, and death and judgment, and along comes Christ, and it’s grace in the place of grace in the place of grace. At the end of verse 17, “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” Promised in the Old Testament? Yes. Promised in the Old Testament. Activated in the Old Testament? Sure. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Grace all through the Old Testament. Everybody ever saved in the history of the world has been saved by God’s grace.
But grace was not fully realized until Christ came and paid His penalty on the cross. The word “realized” here is egeneto – egeneto. It’s from the verb ginomai, to become, and it means came into being, came into existence. We could read it that way. Grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ.
Well, you say, “If they only came into being through Jesus Christ, then was there any grace before Jesus Christ?” Yes, God, knowing that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, was applying the grace that had not yet been validated. And the grace that Christ exhibited and purchased at the cross extended back as much as it extends forward.
John says, “This is not an ordinary man.” Gospel truth tells us that this is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, the God-man, fully God, fully man. We see it, we’ve experienced it, we’ve touched Him, we’ve heard Him, He displayed grace, and He dispensed glory.
One final point: The incarnate Christ defines God, He defines God. He displays glory, dispenses grace, and defines God. I love verse 18. “No one has seen God at any time.” Why? He’s invisible. There are times when God has appeared as smoke and fire and things like that, but He has no form. No one has seen God at any time. However, the monogenēs, the Son of God, the incarnate One, the One who is in the bosom of the Father.
“Bosom” is really an antiquated word, let me tell you what that word is. It’s actually used in the book of Acts for bay or inlet. It’s a word for the fold in material. If you took a bunch of material and piled it up and it had little folds, that would be the word used, or it’s for a very tight, small pocket. And so what he is saying is the monogenēs, who is tucked in intimately to the very presence of God – it’s a beautiful picture – who is folded into God, he has explained Him.
That last statement, “He has explained Him” – really powerful. Wouldn’t you like to have God explained to you? When somebody said to you, “How do you explain God?” where would you go? Well, you’d go to that verse and say, “Look at Jesus Christ, He explains God.”
By the way, the word “explained” here is an interesting word. It’s the word exēgeomai, from which we get exegete. We use that word a lot in seminary because we teach people how to do exegesis, how to exegete Scripture. What does it mean? It means to explain, interpret, give the meaning. Jesus exegetes God. So you want to know about God? Jesus defines God. He displays glory, He dispenses grace, and He defines God.
So don’t come to me with any patronizing nonsense about Jesus being a nice man, a good teacher, a noble, religious leader. That’s not an option. He’s God. He is God. And if you believe that and you receive Him – “to those who received Him,” right? Verse 12, He gave the right to become children of God to those who believe on His name. In order to be a child of God, you have to believe on His name. To believe on His name, you must believe that He is who He is.
Father, we are grateful again for how clear and yet profound your Word is, and we thank you for the treasure that every verse, every phrase is to us. We feel like we’ve gone way too fast. We could spend a year on that passage alone. We’re going to have to trust your Holy Spirit (and gladly do) to unfold its truths to us as we go back and meditate and meditate and meditate on its truth.
More importantly, Lord, I pray for those who have not yet confessed Jesus as Savior and Lord, who have not yet come to know the God-man who died on the cross to pay the penalty for their sins and rose again to provide eternal life. May those hearts be opened today. May they believe, and not having heard this preached, walk away in rebellious disobedience and forfeit eternal rest. May they enter into the rest that is found only through faith in Christ. We pray in His name. Amen.
Love rejoices in truth, not in fake news.
What makes you happy?
What makes you laugh out with great joy, from the depths of your heart?
Have you ever checked the reasons for your laughter? Or,
have you just strung along life and gone with the flow?
So many believers, born into “christian” families, have never bothered to examine their lives. Which is why many are found struggling with mental and emotional issues. How to examine? Looking at Jesus who walked the earth as the only example to emulate. Studying the word of God to seek God in prayer for the things inspired by the Holy Spirit.
If laughter is the best medicine, what is causing that laughter is critical. Movies and Internet media have contaminated the minds and hearts of people with their “roasts” and “stand-ups”. Do these bring you joy? True christians do not seek after false joy; they know where to find real joy.
There is so much joy when a team wins in sports or games. This joy too is carnal and earthly. These systems were created to fill us with duplicate joy and steal our time away from God. We also know most of these games are fixed to make money.
“rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;” (1 Corinthians 13:6)
The wicked love lies and sin. The righteous love the truth. Those who enjoy truth, also are sanctified by the power in the truth of the word of God.
How can we rejoice and enjoy the presence of God? When we humble ourselves in prayer and fellowship. When we keep God before us, He gives our body rest too; not just our spirit and soul. The true way of this life is found in the presence of God. God reveals it to us.
“I have set the LORD always before me: Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: My flesh also shall rest in hope. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:8-9, 11)
A new day is a day of rejoicing because this is the day He has made (Psalms 118:24). The truth about the new day is, it’s a gift. A gift to come closer to Him, be fruitful.
Be filled with the joy of the Lord, and in the power of His might. When God fills us with the Holy Spirit, our rejoicing is powered by love, God’s love.
Prepare yourself for the day of greatest joy for all those who seek His coming. The rapture is near, the groom is all set to pick the bride the Holy Spirit prepares. Maranatha, Praise God and Amen.