(Here are my notes from the message yesterday. Note that these are notes – not a manuscript of the message. They do not say exactly what I said. For those of you are planning to ponder the Gospel of John with me this year these may help you as you begin reading the book. If you missed yesterday and need a copy of the handout that was available you can click here. (Pondering Schedule). It will give you the passage breakdown for the year as well as some pondering tips.)
Intro: I love to read. Some great books I’ve read. I’m going to challenge you this morning to read a great book.
Who wrote the Gospel of John? What do we know about him?
brother named James
Nicknamed sons of Thunder (Boanerges) Mark 3:17 Why? Luke 9:49-56,
inner circle (Peter, James and John)
son of Zebedee and Salome (Mt 27:56 and Mk 15:40) – Salome request Mt 20:20-23
beloved disciple – Peter asked John to ask Jesus about who the betrayer was (Jn 13:24)
the race to the tomb (Jn 20:3)
Also wrote 1,2,3 John and Book of Revelation
Why was this gospel written and how is it distinct from the other gospels?
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Different from synoptic gospels: Not as event oriented, more meaning of events. Example Feeding of 5000 – in John is followed by sermon on “The Bread of Life” – John 6
Contains no parables. Only 7 miracles – 5 of which not recorded elsewhere.
Written probably in the 90’s. John was living in Ephesus – where he located after destruction of the temple in AD 70. (All other gospels and letters of Paul already circulating)
Strongly theological – deals particularly with the nature of Jesus person and the meaning of faith in Him. The I AMs.
Why so theological? – Heresies – one of the main ones Gnosticism. One of the premises of Gnosticism is that matter is inherently evil and spirit is good. For Jesus therefore to be human meant that in no way could He be God. So Gnosticism denies the Incarnation of God as the Son. In so doing, it denies the efficay of the atonement since if Jesus is not God, He could not atone for all of mankind and we would still be lost in our sins.
John was writing in part to make sure that believers did not fall prey to the false teachings of the day.
What if John were writing today – what false teachings would he be dealing with?
Easy believism (antinomianism) – “against the law”. The apostle Paul dealt with the issue of antinomianism in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” The most frequent attack on the doctrine of salvation by grace alone is that it encourages sin. People may wonder, “If I am saved by grace and all my sins are forgiven, why not sin all I want?” That thinking is not the result of true conversion because true conversion yields a greater desire to obey, not a lesser one. God’s desire—and our desire when we are regenerated by His Spirit—is that we strive not to sin.
– A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
Good people go to heaven when they die.
It views God as “something like a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist: he’s always on call, takes care of any problems that arise, professionally helps his people to feel better about themselves, and does not become too personally involved in the process.
Theistic evolution holds that religious teachings about God are compatible with modern scientific understanding about biological evolution. Theistic evolution, which accepts that evolution occurred as biologists describe it, but under the direction of God.
It perverts and denigrates the Word of God.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Why refer to Jesus as The Word?
For hundreds of years in the Older Testament God had been telling His people about the Messiah. But they didn’t get it. So he decided to say the same thing… in a different way.
Don Hewitt, creator of “60 Minutes,” on his special talent as a journalist: My philosophy is simple. It’s what little kids say to their parents: “Tell me a story.” Even the people who wrote the Bible knew that when you deal with issues, you tell stories. The issue was evil; the story was Noah. I’ve had producers say, “We’ve got to do something on acid rain.” I say, “Hold it. Acid rain is not a story. Acid rain is a topic. We don’t do topics. Find me someone who has to deal with the problem of acid rain. Now you have a story.”
The issue was “Messiah”. The story was Jesus.
What do these verses teach us about Jesus?
John is writing down what the early church already believed – he is not introducing new doctrine. The two theological concepts mentioned here are 1) the incarnation and 2) the trinity. I’m not going to try to prove to you why the incarnation and the trinity are true – but I do want to point out why it is important that we exult in these two great doctrines of our faith.
A few quotes:
“The incarnation is “a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers… Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.”
― Frederick Buechner
“The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.” – J.I. Packer
A father put his four-year-old son to bed. Having finished prayers, stories, and all the little bedtime things, he kissed his son and turned the light off. His son started sobbing, “Don’t leave me. I’m scared and don’t want to stay here alone.” The father tried to encourage the little boy by reminding him of God’s presence and reminding him that they had had devotions. The little boy said, “I want somebody with skin on.” This is the great message of the Incarnation! Jesus came in flesh!
Many are willing to believe that Jesus was a real live living person – but not that God took on the form of a man. For others, it is ridiculous to even suggest that the man Jesus was God.
“…the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
On the trinity – “If Jesus Christ is not God, he could not accomplish your salvation (Hebrews 2:14–15). And his glory would not be sufficient to satisfy your everlasting longing for new discoveries of beauty. If you throw away the deity of Jesus Christ, you throw away your soul and with it all your joy in the age to come.” (Piper)
What applications can we take away from this passage?
It will help you to know God better.
Draw you closer to Jesus.
Help you understand the Holy Spirit.
Help you know how to share the gospel.
Help you to be able to defend your faith.
Help you find fulness of life and experience joy.
Help you learn to pray.
Whet your appetite for heaven….
but wait, there’s more:
It will teach you to think biblically
It will help you to think deeply about the Word of God
It will fuel you with compassion, and boldness.
It will help you to believe what you say that you believe
It will help you make wise decisions about difficult life choices
It will empower you to worship
It will free you from sin that entangles you
It will equip you to go to war against the evil one
It will enable you to love others more deeply
Introduce pondering project – sheets available in the back
Don’t shy away from stuff that challenges you and makes you think and question. Lots of heresies out there that will weaken and destroy your faith. John 10:10 – the devil’s subtle approach. Growth Initiative challenge. Right Now Media. Great books.
God the Father – reconciles, redeems, rescues, rewards, regenerates, revives
God the Son – God came near. Came to seek and to save the lost. Demonstrated humility, servanthood, compassion, sacrifice, love.
God the Spirit – leads, directs, comforts, teaches, convicts, enables, empowers
Let 2014 be the year that revolutionizes your life as you get to know our great and gracious God even better than you do. The Gospel of John is a great book. I hope you will ponder along with me.