The Author of Life – Faith’s Object II
Lesson 2 in a four-part Bible course from the Gospel of John
By Pastor Bill Daniels
I’m so thankful you’re still with me in these lessons. It has been my experience with such courses by correspondence that folks often don’t even complete the first lesson. That you are now working at Lesson 2 may indicate that you are truly seeking after God, with ears sincerely attentive to His words. That prospect thrills my heart. I remember so well the early days of my own quest after God, and the encouragement I received from the promise of Jesus,
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8).
As we discovered in the first lesson, John began his gospel by taking us in hand and leading us high into the heavens where we are introduced to that eternal One with the Father – Jesus Christ. And there in that sacred presence we learn something of the greatness of who Jesus is. We find that;
- Jesus is the Word (John 1:1) – The exact expression of the very words and nature of God.
- Jesus is eternal (1:1, in the beginning He already “was”) – making Him distinctly different from every created thing.
- Jesus is Creator of every single thing that has come into existence (1:3).
- Jesus is distinct from God, being “with God” (1:1-2).
- Jesus is God!! (1:1).
- Jesus is the Author of life (1:4) – the only source of physical life and life eternal.
- Jesus is the true Light (1:4-9) – the revelation of the holy God to man.
John then leads us back down out of the heavens in this first chapter of his gospel, where we observe the coming of that glorious One to earth. God’s greatest move toward mankind, indeed the premier event of all history was when “the Word” (Jesus Christ) became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) – God manifest in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16)!
And for what purpose would Jesus so humble Himself, becoming a man? It was for the purpose of carrying out the greatest rescue effort history has ever known! God sent His Son to this earth to provide a way of escape for man from the ruin of sin. That One who is the Highest, came to the very lowest. He, who is “the true Light”, came to a world incredibly darkened by sin. He, who is the purest (pure as brilliant light), came to a world so defiled. Jesus left the glorious joy of heaven, to become “the man of sorrows” and so acquainted with grief. He came to bring man back to God’s favour, yet He was met with no favour. He who came to benefit the world with rescue from the ruin of sin, received bitterness rather than benefit in return.
I went through a brief time period, while a teenager back in the USA, when I tried my hand at trapping fox for their fur. I wasn’t very successful, but I did succeed in catching my own dog one day. I had just laid a steel trap in the cold autumn soil of the back field of our farm, and had carefully prepared the scene to the liking of a red fox. Unfortunately it was also to the liking of other canines. As I was walking up to the next field, I suddenly heard a snap, followed by my dog singing her sorrow. I quickly ran back to release her, but as I approached her she growled at me in her pain. In a similar way, the world scowled and growled at Christ when He came to bring rescue. He came for the benefit of mankind, but they didn’t want Him. He came to bring deliverance from the bondage and penalty of their sin, but they refused His deliverance. We’ll see more of this later.
In verses 6-8 of this first chapter of John’s gospel, John the Baptist is presented and contrasted with Jesus Christ.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.”
As the focus of John’s words begins to turn toward the coming of Jesus Christ to His earthly life and ministry, John the Apostle, the human author of this gospel account, introduces us to John the Baptist, that herald or forerunner of Jesus Christ’s ministry years on earth. Though John the Baptist was a man who was greatly used of God, John the Apostle is careful to make it clear that “he was not that Light” (vs. 8). A lesser light, but not “the true Light”. He was a man sent by God to announce the coming of Jesus Christ. He was merely a man “sent to bear witness of that Light.” In fact, John the Baptist was sent with the very same purpose with which John the Apostle wrote his gospel account.
The Baptist was sent, “. . . for a witness, to bear witness of the Light”(1:7), while the Apostle wrote, “. . . that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ” (John 20:31). To show who Jesus is, was their same purpose.
And the Baptist was sent, “. . . that all men through him might believe”, while the Apostle wrote, “. . . that believing ye might have life through His name” (20:31). To lead all to faith and life in Jesus Christ was their same purpose.
“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
When John says here in vs. 9 that the true Light lightens everyone, he is not saying that everybody will be saved. He did not say that salvation is received by every man that comes into the world, but that something of the light of God’s revelation enlightens every man. God’s enlightening revelation is available to all – both the general revelation of God in His creation, and the special revelation of God in this Book of books He has given. Some will believe and receive that light – plunging their soul into glorious eternal life and salvation. Some will reject, or simply ignore the light of God’s revelation – condemning their soul to eternal ruin in hell.
And the Lord does not long delay in revealing the tragedy of the gospel. Verses 10 & 11 take us back to that great, historic failure of the nation of Israel, and of mankind.
“He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.”
There is a note of incredulity in verse 10. He who is the Word and the eternal Son of God and Creator of all, that very One, came and dwelt among the people of earth (His own handiwork) when He “was made flesh and dwelt among us”. But the world as a whole was (and is) so blind, so insensitive, so lost in sin, so dulled and unresponsive to the light God sent in the person of Jesus Christ. So much so that they would not recognize Him or see His worth. They would not acknowledge their own Maker. Nor would they thank Him for life, or welcome Him to His own world.
And even Christ’s own nation (vs. 11), who were primed through the Old Testament revelation to recognize Him as the promised Messiah, even they refused to receive Him. From those sacred Old Testament writings, held in such high esteem by the Jewish people, they knew when to expect their Messiah (Dan. 9), they knew where to expect Him (Bethlehem – Micah 5:2), they knew what tribe from which to expect Him (Judah – Genesis 49:10), they knew what family from which to expect Him (David’s ancestry), they knew the identifying signs Messiah would bring and they knew what events would be fulfilled in His life. They, of all people, should have recognized and welcomed Christ as their promised Messiah. Yet as a whole, His nation would not receive Him for who He is. Some did, but most refused! And of course, it was they who had Him put to death.
Don’t miss the revealing verbs here in verses 10 & 11. The world didn’t “know” or recognize Jesus Christ (vs. 10), but the nation of Israel could employ no such excuse. They could not but know Him! For them, it was a refusal to “receive” (vs. 11). They had more than enough testimony to recognize Christ.
Oh the ignorance and blindness our sin breeds in us!! The Lord, through John, later laments for that rejecting Jewish nation, and for all mankind.
“But though He [Jesus] had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias [Isaiah] said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them" (Jn. 12:37-40).
Never has history ever recorded a greater tragedy (tragic irony) than when the Lord Jesus Christ found no proper understanding or acceptance in His own home, nor in His own hometown, nor in His own province or nation, nor in His own world, which He Himself had brought into existence. He came to a people especially prepared for His coming, a people primed through the abundant O.T. prophesies of His coming, and prepared through the witness of John the Baptist. But He found no welcome – only gall and vinegar.
But still the door of opportunity stands open there in verse 12. Do you see God’s blessed offer of grace?
“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”
Though the world and the nation of Israel as a whole disowned Christ (their Creator and kinsman), still the invitation stands open to all (“as many as”). In the dark context of prevailing unbelief, here in verse 12 is the bright hope made available to all who by faith will receive it.
And we must acknowledge the clear implication in John’s words in verse 12;
“But as many as received Him, to them (not to all) gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”
Do you see it? People are not naturally God’s children. We are not children of God by default. We are, in fact, naturally, by default, not God’s children. But we are free to become God’s child by believing in Jesus Christ (entrusting or committing ourselves to Him – receiving God’s gift of new birth found only in Him). All such children of faith receive authority to become children of God, on the very authority of Jesus Christ.
“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
“Sons of God” (vs. 12) who “were born . . . of God” (vs. 13). Born directly by God’s supernatural power and direct intervention. John is going to chase this thought further in chapter 3, where we find the interesting account of Christ’s encounter with Nicodemus.
“Not of blood”, John says in verse 13. We don’t become God’s child in the same way we became the child of our parents. We don’t become a child of God through “blood”, or through our parents at all. New birth into God’s family is not in any way handed down by any kind of natural descent. It is not an inherited benefit or a matter of fortunate circumstances or a blessing in any way passed from parent to child.
“Nor of the will of the flesh”, we read. This new birth into God’s family does not happen through human resolve (“will”) or actions. Good deeds won’t win it. Human discipline or will power won’t develop it. It is not in any way earned by human determination or endeavour.
“Nor of the will of man”, John says. The work of eternal life in us is not our own planting. New birth into the family of God does not come to anyone through any power of man, or privileged position. It is not a natural birth, but rather a supernatural new-birth through the work of the Spirit of God, and He alone. And therefore it is entirely distinct from natural birth.
And what is our part in effecting this amazing new-birth into God’s family? “Even to them that believe on his name.” Believe on the name of Jesus Christ! Believe in the Word!
“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.”
In order for a ladder to be useful it must touch both the ground and the height to which you would reach. Only He who is both God (vs. 1) and man (“flesh” – vs. 14) could be a sufficient Saviour. As man (flesh) He is able to reach all the way down to man in his lost condition, helpless in sin. As man He was able to suffer and die in man’s place, receiving in Himself God’s judgment upon our sin. And yet as God (vs. 1), He is able to reconcile man all the way to God.
Perhaps you consider such discussions of Christ to be impractical, theological natterings. But by God’s testimony it is not so. If you’re thinking that way, then you are wrong my friend! In that high-priestly prayer, recorded in John 17, Jesus observed that,
“This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” (vs. 3)
The only proper starting point to finding eternallife (which is an intensely practical concern) is to know who Jesus Christ truly is. That’s where the Johns, both the Apostle and the Baptist, begin. Indeed, a consideration of who Christ is has everything to do with our eternal welfare. Your understanding of Jesus Christ will determine what you believe, and what you receive. Your perception of who Jesus Christ is will determine whether He is a Saviour big enough to save your soul from the judgment of hell, and big enough to remove your sin as far as the east is from the west. And your understanding of Him will determine whether He, as man, can reach down to you in the ruin of your sin, and as God, can reach high enough to reconcile you to the very God of heaven.
With Paul, in Phil. 3:10, my longing is “that I may know Him”. And, oh that you may know Him too!! He who is;
- The Word (John 1:1) – Jesus Christ is the exact expression of the very words and nature of God.
- Eternal (1:1) – making Him distinctly different from every created thing.
- Creator of every single thing that has come into existence (1:3).
- Distinct from God, yet in union with God the Father (1:1 & 2).
- Equal with God in essence!! (1:1).
- The true Light (1:4-9) – the very revelation of the holy God to man.
- The Author of life (1:4) – the only source of life, and of life eternal.
My Saviour was, for the most part, rejected by the children of Adam, yet the offer of grace stands;
“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (1:12).
Faith in Christ is the only way a child of Adam may be born into God’s family as a child of God.
Oh do you know Him? Have you believed in Him? Have you received eternal life in Jesus Christ? Have you found Him who is life?
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Please don’t wait. Call on Him in a prayer of faith right now.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Lesson 2 Worksheet
Again, let’s examine what you’ve learned in this lesson.
What does John mean (1:9) when he says that “the true Light” lights every man coming into the world (comp. Titus 2:11)?
Though the world, as a whole, has rejected Jesus Christ, their own Creator (John 1:10-11), what gracious offer still stands open for all who will receive it?
If your parents are true children of God, does that automatically make you a child of God?