Saturday, January 02, 2010

Never Say "Never"

Keep your life free from love of money,
and be content with what you have,
for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5
You may have heard the saying, “Never is a long time.” That’s true. It’s very easy to say “always” and “never,” but it’s a lot harder to keep a promise that long. I remember an old maxim from my school days : “If a true or false question says ’never’ or ’always,’ it’s always false.” That doesn’t always work, but it does make my point: it’s hard for humans to keep a promise forever.

Maybe you’ve been “BFF’s” with someone. Maybe you don’t even talk to that “BFF” anymore. Maybe when you were little you thought you would always like to do some activity, and as you’ve grown up, you find it boring. Maybe you were sure you would never like some kind of food and now it’s one of your favorites! We should be careful with words like “always” and “never.’
Unlike humans, when God says “never,” that’s exactly what he means. In Hebrews 13, the author tells persecuted Christians they can trust God because he will take care of them. They don’t need to stockpile money, because money can’t protect anyone. Instead, they should be content. Contentment is a tough thing—it isn’t just ignoring the difficulties around us and pretending they don’t exist. Rather, contentment is a quiet confidence that God is in control and everything that happens is part of His good plan.
But how can we know that God is really working in our best interests? He has made a promise to us, which the writer of Hebrews quotes from Deuteronomy 31:6, 8: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” What an amazing promise! To know that God is with us, that he is on our side, that he is protecting, defending, and strengthening us in every difficulty—amazing! And to know that His promise is good forever—priceless. He will never leave or forsake us.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Christlikeness of God

“No man hath seen God at any time;
the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father,
He hath declared Him.”
John 1:18
Ever wonder what God looks like? No one has ever seen God, and indeed, since He is Spirit, we cannot see Him. However, John says that God has revealed Himself fully and completely in the person of Jesus Christ. This man, Jesus of Nazareth, is eternally and completely God. He created the world and gave life to every human being, all of whom rejected Him. If they wanted to know God, they could have looked at Jesus Christ. As Jesus Himself said, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). If we want to know what God looks like, John tells us: He looks like Jesus Christ. If you ever wonder how God acts, observe the works of Jesus. If you wonder how God speaks, hear the words of Jesus. Jesus is God.
Second, John says that the ministry of Jesus was essentially one of revealing God. Jesus Himself said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). Jesus did not come to be a superstar or make a name for Himself; He came to reveal God. And He has explained the Father in a way that no one else could, because He is God.
If anyone knows God, it would be God’s only Son, Jesus. Jesus enjoys a special place of eternal fellowship with the Father (cf. 1:1). He has always been with God and has always been God. He is God’s special and unique Son. Any religion or belief that denies the deity of Jesus Christ has also denied God the Father. Again John’s words ring out clearly, “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also” (1 John 2:23). We must believe in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Gracious Ministry

“And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
John 1:16–17
Jesus of Nazareth is eternal God who has always existed as God. Although He created the world and gave life to every human being., he was rejected when He came to that world bringing life. However, God will make those who believe in His Son His children. This gift of God to all who believe in Jesus is a most gracious gift. In fact, the entire ministry of Jesus was one of grace.
Grace is a gift, something we do not deserve. Sinful human beings who have rebelled against their Creator do not have any right to enjoy a relationship with that Creator. But John says that God will graciously bestow that privilege on all who believe in Jesus. That’s grace! The work of Jesus Christ was one of undeserved kindness to us. God’s Son left heaven and humbled himself and lived with us as a poor man—that’s grace! He demonstrated kindness, love, and compassion on people around Him, most of whom rejected Him—that’s grace! He was abused, insulted, and ultimately killed by people He created—that’s grace! Jesus’ ministry was one gracious act after another: grace upon grace.
That graciousness culminated in His death and resurrection, which fulfilled and brought to an end the Mosaic Law. In the words of Galatians, “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal 4:4–5). Jesus’ ministry of grace made us God’s children, freeing us from the bondage of the Law to obey and please God. The life Jesus brings is one of grace and truth.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Younger Yet Older

“John bare witness of him, and cried, saying,
‘This was He of whom I spake,
He that cometh after me is preferred before me:
for He was before me.’”
John 1:15
The apostle John has started his gospel about Jesus of Nazareth by making the claim that He is eternal God. When God the Father sent His eternal Son into the world, He sent a witness ahead of Him: John the Baptist. John the Baptist was not the Messiah, but he came as a witness to the True Light, Jesus Christ.
This is exactly what John the Baptist told people. Actually, his message was arresting because it went against what most people thought. Quite the opposite of our culture where youth is the ideal, Ancient Near Eastern cultures (and Eastern cultures today) venerate the elderly. The older one is, the more respect he has and influence he carries. John the Baptist was older than his cousin, Jesus, by six months or so, but John said that Jesus was actually greater! Even though Jesus “came after” John, He was of greater rank and importance. How could someone younger be greater?
John the Baptist’s answer to that question goes back to what John wrote earlier in this chapter. Jesus, although “younger,” was greater because He existed before John the Baptist. This is because Jesus Christ has always existed. He did not begin to exist at His conception in Mary’s womb—He has existed with God from eternity past.
John spends so much time dealing with the person of Jesus Christ because He is not just a man. He is the God-man, come to earth to deal finally and completely with sin. As God, He came to reveal God to the people He had created. As a man, He came to die for sinners. Apart from Him, man has no hope of salvation.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Word Became Flesh

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld His glory,
the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father,)
full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14
John has been very clear about who Jesus of Nazareth is: He is eternal God. He has always existed as God. He created the world and gave life to every human being. He came to that world to give life, but he was rejected by the people He had made. However, God will make those who believe in His Son His children. But Jesus of Nazareth was a man, observed by eyewitnesses and recorded in history. How could this man claim to be God?
In this verse, John describes the incarnation, which means “the process of becoming flesh.” John says that the Eternal Son of God, the Word, “was made flesh.” Without sacrificing His divine nature, Jesus took on a human nature. This one person was both fully God and fully man. In this way, John says, the Eternal Word took on human flesh and lived with us.
But Jesus was not just a man. John takes pains to say that although He took on flesh, those who saw Him and knew Him realized He was not just a man. No, they saw His glory. They observed His surpassing excellency and greatness, the glory that proved He was God’s unique and beloved Son.
Jesus’ life and actions proved He was who He claimed to be: God’s Son. His life demonstrated a perfect example of “grace and truth.” In His dealings with sinful men (the majority of whom rejected Him), He displayed the love and mercy of God. In His teaching, He displayed absolute truth, total conformity to the nature of God in all things. Jesus was God come in the flesh.