In 2002, Jack Whittaker won $315 million in a West Virginia lottery. Years later he told a reporter, “You know, my wife had said she wished that she had torn the ticket up. Well, I wish that we had torn the ticket up, too.”
His daughter and granddaughter died of drug overdoses, and he was robbed of $545,000 eight months after winning the lottery. “I just don’t like Jack Whittaker,” he went on to say. “I don’t like the hard heart I’ve got. I don’t like what I’ve become.”
There are a lot of things that money can buy, but there are also things that money cannot buy. As Zig Ziglar pointed out, “Money will buy you a bed, but not a good night’s sleep, a house, but not a home, a companion, but not a friend.”
Money isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t intrinsically evil as some would suggest. Maybe you’ve heard people say, “You know, the Bible says that money is the root of all evil.”
But the Bible doesn’t actually say that. Here’s what it does say: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV).
So money isn’t evil. If you love it, however, if you make it your goal, if you think that money will bring you happiness, then you’ll be in for a rude awakening one day. On the other hand, there are uses for money, and money can be a blessing in our lives. The Bible tells us that money is something we can use to touch other lives.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. . . . By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life” (1 Timothy 6:17–19 NLT).
So where do we find the meaning, purpose and happiness in life that we all want? How can we be truly happy people?
According to the Bible, if we seek to know God and discover His plan for our lives, we will find purpose as a result. We will find the meaning and happiness that we so desperately long for—not from seeking it but from seeking him. The Bible says, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Psalm 144:15 NKJV).
C. S. Lewis wrote, “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”
According to the Bible, happiness and fulfillment are not things we should seek outright. Rather, happiness and fulfillment will come as a result of seeking something else. That something else, in fact, is someone else: God Himself.
We won’t be happy by trying to be happy. We won’t find fulfillment by trying everything this world has to offer. But we will find fulfillment when we commit our lives to the Lord and ask Him to reveal His purpose for us. When we align our wills with God’s will, we’ll discover life as it was meant to be lived.
Henry Ward Beecher said, “The strength and happiness of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going in that way too.”
In the New Testament we find the account of some men from Greece who were looking for Jesus. They were in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration, and they were seeking answers, meaning, and purpose in life.
We’re not quite sure if they ever had a personal encounter with Jesus. John’s Gospel tells us they went to Philip, who then went to Andrew. Together Philip and Andrew approached Jesus, and He gave them His response.
In effect Jesus answered the essential question he could see in their hearts: What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? Why do I exist? How can I be happy?
At this time in history, Greece basically was the cultural center of the world, the intellectual capital of Planet Earth. Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle held court there. Greece was the fountainhead of philosophy, the matrix of mythology, the cradle of civilized society.
Not only was Greece an intellectual capital, but it also was a philosophical capital. In this open, free society, devoid of absolutes, the people were encouraged to live as they pleased. Immorality was pervasive, and justice was lacking.
These men who came to Jerusalem were searching for something more, and Jesus gave them what they were asking for.
His words for them, in effect, unlocked the secret to personal happiness and fulfillment: “Unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity” (John 12:24–25 NLT).
Jesus was saying, “Here it is: If you want to find your life, you need to lose it.”
This seems very difficult to understand. It seems unnatural and certainly impossible. But what Jesus was saying is this: If you want to live life to its fullest, you must be willing to lose your life. Then you will find it.
There are people today who essentially say, “I don’t want to live by anyone’s rules. I’m going to do what I want to do. I’ll do whatever makes me happy and brings me fulfillment, because all that matters is me. It’s all about me.” So they live their lives with that attitude.
But Jesus was saying that if you seek to live for yourself, then you never will find yourself. If a selfish, me-first attitude permeates every aspect of your life, then you’ll come up empty. And ultimately you’ll see the emptiness of life without God.
The year is 2021 and it feels like we’re living in the Twilight Zone. The reality about what’s really going on boils down to one specific word.
If you’ve been thinking what I’m thinking, then your thoughts have been, “This world is getting crazier and crazier!” Many of us know it’s because the days are getting short and we’re in the Last Days, but what’s the root behind the “Twilight Zone-like” laws, lifestyles, and regulations? What’s really going on here?
My late-grandmother had the gift of prophetic dreams, much like Joseph in the Bible. The Lord would show her who would soon conceive, would soon pass away, and etc. When she’d attempt to tell her close friends or relatives who she dreamt would pass away, before she’d get another word out, they’d cover their ears in forbiddance! The fear was in hopes that it wouldn’t be them!
When my Godfearing grandmother passed away, it seemed as if the Lord passed her cloak on to me. He soon began giving me dreams much like hers, but with an extension. Not only would the Lord show me who would soon conceive, which was always spot on, but He also began showing me things involving governments, foreign and domestic.
On January 1, 2012, the Lord gave me a dream that I was certain (at first) was from the enemy. I saw how to world would embrace immorality like it was a trophy. All the sexual sins mentioned in scripture, abortion, pride, vanity, were praised heavily in my dream. During that time, almost all of which was considered tabu. That very year, the US government passed laws confirming what I saw, and it hasn’t stopped yet.
In the same year, vividly, I saw in a dream an up-rise in racism, but it was structured and orchestrated by the government. There was an agenda. What I observed was horrible! As the years went on, I knew it would get worse based on what I saw, and as of 2021, I can officially say, what we’re seeing today is in fact what I beheld in the dream. It’s not the people, but rather the powers that be that’s behind the chaos, and we’ll talk more about that later on.
I know I mentioned this before in other articles, but I’ll just be redundant and say it again: Around 2017 the Lord revealed to me that starting year, He would begin making it evident who is truly for Him and who isn’t. This has come to pass and is still currently in motion.
Lastly, on March 20, 2017, I saw there would be a time when people would be pressured by the workforce and society to take a mystery injection.
So many of the dreams I’ve been given for the past 10 years (as well as countless others) has come to fruition, coexisting in unison this very year!
What we’re seeing now and what’s really going on is the manifestation of the Last Days. Jesus made it clear in the Gospels as to what to expect and watch for. Yet, regardless of what occurs on us, the Lord will always be a Shelter to those who choose to seek protection in Him (Psalm 91).
But the question remains, “Why are these days so dark and evil?” The truth is that whenever the devil and his little demons look at you, they see the image of God. For them, there’s no getting away from it. They’re afraid of what you and I are capable of because as long as you’re alive on this earth, you and everyone else can have the authority over the enemy through the power of Jesus Christ and His Spirit.
What’s really going on is that satan knows his time is alarmingly short and we’re in his way. Whether you’re a Christian or not, he wants to see less of us—much less. This is why we see governments passing evil laws that go against the very heart and orders of God.
The devil uses government to do his dirty work. He’s always wanted ruling power, so he uses men and women in authority to obtain what he’s so embarrassingly desperate for (Matt. 4:1-11). They didn’t legalize drugs, gay marriage, abortion, and etc. because they “care” about the people, as they say. It’s the carefully orchestrated, diabolical plan of the devil to get as many people as he can out of his way. What’s really going on boils down to one word, and that’s depopulation!
Drugs kill, abortion kills, and homosexuality depopulates, all of which lead to depopulation. That’s what’s really going on.
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.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” –Luke 10:41-42
In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus visits the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha. Mary enjoys connecting with Jesus, but Martha is preoccupied with the busyness of hospitality and meal preparations. When busy Martha complains about lazy Mary, Jesus responds by saying, “Mary has chosen what is better.”
There will always be more to do! Know what I mean? There’s a business lunch on Tuesday, soccer practice for the kids twice this week, neighbors coming over for dinner, two games on Saturday, bills piling up that need attention, planning an upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon, and a to-do list so long that you’ve added “get through the to-do list” to it. There’s a lot going on now.
So many of us are tired of rushing from one activity to the next, constantly checking our schedules, arriving late and always feeling a bit elsewhere after we arrive. There’s a gnawing sense in our guts that we can’t keep up the pace…and truth be known, we don’t want to. Most people I talk to are tired of being tired all the time, tired of the emptiness that comes from too much busyness and not enough God.
Thankfully, God offers a better way than running on empty. He invites us to walk instead of run and find rest for our weary souls. That’s what the fullness of life is all about. It’s not the same as being busy all the time (even busy doing good things). The invitation is to sit at the feet of the Person who is the source of all fullness.
Yes, there are real tasks to accomplish today, just as there were in Mary and Martha’s day. But, never forget that Jesus affirmed Mary’s choice as best. Today, make the choice to accept Jesus’ invitation of connection and rest.
GOING DEEPER: 1. In what ways have you seen busyness in your own life detract from connecting with Jesus?
2. What choices do you need to make in order to free yourself to connect with Jesus?
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.
There are acres of needs in your own back yard.
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
Every stranger is a potential mission field.
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
God is present right where you are—right around here.
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.
There was a missionary in China whose talents and abilities were so outstanding that one of the American companies tried to hire him. They offered him an attractive job with a salary to match, but he turned it down. He told them God had sent him to China as a missionary.
He thought that would end the matter, but instead they came back with a better offer and an increase in salary. He turned that down, too, but again they came back, doubling the financial package.
Finally he said to them, “It’s not your salary that’s too little. It’s the job that’s too small!”
Going into all the world to make disciples is a BIG job! That’s why it’s so odd to see so many church leaders make such little offers—such small challenges—to their congregations. Some challenge their flocks with baby steps for fear they will leave if confronted with a BIG, God-sized challenge.
Challenges like Jesus made …
“Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11b)
“Jesus told him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ “ (Matthew 19:21)
“But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” (Matthew 5:20)
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)
“Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’ “ (Luke 9:23)
“But Jesus told him, ‘Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.’ “ (Luke 9:60)
Jesus didn’t call people to baby steps, He confronted them with challenges so big that to respond would mean turning their lives upside down!
Many walked away.
That never stopped Jesus from making BIG challenges!
It often stops today’s leaders. We fret about asking someone to hand out bulletins, greet visitors or help serve communion. And we don’t even consider asking someone to go share the Gospel with an unbeliever for fear of completely freaking out the “Christian” with such a request. Yet, for someone to repent of their sin and follow Jesus Christ requires the greatest challenge of all—we have to be challenged to die to self and live for Christ.
How are you challenging the people you lead? With the challenges of Christ? Or pleas for the occasional baby step?
Scriptures: John 8:11, Luke 9:23, Luke 9:60, Matthew 19:21, Matthew 5:20, Matthew 5:27-30
Love does not think evil of others. Nor keeps a record of evil.
Are there people in your life you really want to take revenge on? You still have feelings where you want to get back at them. Even in a small way? Like, maybe, “when I get a chance I will show her ” types?
Joseph’s brothers conspired against him
King Saul was desperate to kill King David
Hamaan had evil desires against Mordecai
The Jews looked for ways to bring Jesus down
Joseph’s brothers were irritated by his constant tattling and showing off (Jacob expressed great love for Joseph). Eventually their harmful thoughts against Joseph led to evil.
King Saul loved David initially. When David would play the harp and drive the evil spirit away. Overtime, as David was being used by God and praised greatly by the people, Saul began to hate him and plotted evil against him.
Haman hated the Jews. He wanted them all killed. Haman had hatched an evil plan against Mordecai, only to fail miserably. The very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai became his death sentence. (Esther 6)
The Jews were plotting to kill Jesus (John 7:1). The Jews claimed to be superior in their religiosity, though they followed the law, they did not understand the love in the law.
Love does not think evil of others
The power of resurrection is the power of love that raised Jesus from the dead. How blessed we are to receive such a great love. Are we living the love powered by the Holy Spirit? Time to examine our lives and live these last days being fruitful for the kingdom of God, till the very end.
Let go now; do not host evil thoughts against anyone. The Love of God always heals the hearts and minds of those who trust in God. The end is near. Maranatha, Praise God and Amen.
Love is not easily provoked. Are you EASILY provoked? We all get provoked but it gets harmful for us if we are easily provoked. The repercussions of hosting evil spirits like hatred, anger and the likes weaken us spiritually.
Love protects our heart from wicked provocation. While we may not always have wicked people attack us; what about those in church or family who you dislike?
When Believers are easily provoked …
Peter was easily provoked when Samaria rejected Jesus (Luke 9:55). He was so enraged because his Master Jesus was rejected he wanted Jesus to bring fire down from heaven. Forgetting the very fact that Jesus had come to save and not to destroy.
“For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:56)
Moses was easily provoked when he killed the Egyptian who bullied his brethren (Exodus 2:11,12). He had grown up in the house of pharaoh. An upbringing that was fully carnal and filled with earthly pride and violence. The same Moses, 40 years later was called the humblest man on earth. While he did lead Israel having shed all the older carnal natures. He was tested again by his own people. He was again provoked to smite the Rock for water. Rather than speak to the rock. This disobedience cost him his physically entering Canaan.
We live in a world where the slightest provocation causes issues to trend online. Many issues have gone beyond the online world into offline where people have ended up killing the innocent. Outrage is the currency of those who want to divide the world and control the mass population.
It’s a sad sinful world we live in. Not for long. Jesus is coming soon. Turn to Him in prayer and supplication for a broken world. Maranatha, Praise God and Amen!
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.
What happens when you know your identity, and walk in the realisation of God’s love and power?
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!
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.