Full Of Grace And Truth

Sunday, May 19, 2013, 7:44 a.m. – As I sat down to have my quiet time with the Lord this morning, he brought the song to mind, “The Battle for Truth.” I prayed, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” and then the Lord led me to read the book of John next, since I had just finished reading in Malachi (last book of the Old Testament). Malachi 4 ends with a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ and a prophecy concerning John the Baptist, so John 1 is a fitting chapter to read next, as it describes clearly the fulfillments of these prophecies.

John 1:1-14 (NIV): In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Word

If you have never read the book of John before, or you have never had anyone explain to you the meaning of the first chapter, it might be a little confusing, at a first read, regarding who this “Word” is. Yet, by the time we get to verse 14, and certainly by verse 16, it becomes pretty clear that this is speaking about Jesus Christ, God the Son. He was not only with God in the beginning (eternally always existing), but he is God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As well, he is the creator of all things.

Jesus Christ is the living Word. His words are the very words of God; the very thoughts of God, yet he himself is the Word, i.e. he is the embodiment of the Word. Life has its origin in him, as all things were made by him and for him, i.e. he breathed the breath of life into each one of us. Yet, he is life because he eternally existed with the Father and with the Spirit. Jesus said of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life…” (Jn. 14:6) So, he is the life which is the light of all mankind, i.e. he is the light, which is truth (revelation).

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Amen! Jesus Christ, the light (truth/Word) shines (directs his light) into the darkness (absence of light; wickedness; sin; deceit; lies, et al). In other words, he directs his truth into what is not truth so as to expose the lies, sin, wickedness, etc. for what it is. And, even though the darkness inside of men is what nailed him to the cross to die, it was not able to overcome him, for he triumphed over death, the grave, Satan and sin when he rose from the dead, thus making it possible for us to go free from the darkness and to walk in the light of truth.

The Witness

Before Jesus Christ began his earthly ministry, John the Baptist was sent as a messenger of God to prepare the way for Jesus. His message was one of repentance, which is a radical change of heart and mind (of one’s whole life) away from living for self and sin to living for God/Jesus in true righteousness and holiness. This repentance, which leads to salvation, is the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individual believers in (or followers of) Jesus Christ, as we cooperate with that work. So, John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, his life and ministry, and his teachings, as well as to prepare the way for the true gospel of Jesus Christ, because the way we come to know Christ is by God’s grace, through faith, and true faith expresses itself through repentance and through a decision to walk in obedience to Christ, to his teachings and to his commands (see John 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24).

Once Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the grave, then he ascended to heaven where he sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. After he left the earth, he sent his Spirit to indwell and empower individual followers of Jesus Christ. Before he left, he commissioned us, his disciples, to go into all the world and to make disciples (followers of Christ) of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey whatever Christ commanded us. He said that when the Spirit comes upon us, which he does at the moment we believe, by faith, we will be his witnesses throughout the world for his gospel of salvation so that people throughout the world will also come to know him. So, we, too, are his witnesses, and we are sent out into the world to prepare the way for the Lord’s return.

The World

Even though Jesus Christ was/is God, and he created all things in this world, yet when he came into the world, the world did not recognize him as its creator. He came to his own people (the Jews), but they rejected him as their God and Messiah, and in fact, they are the ones who had him put to death on the cross. Yet, it was our sins, as well, that nailed Jesus Christ to that cross.

Yet, lest we get puffed up thinking we would not have rejected him, we must realize that all who have come to him through faith are now his own people, and he comes to us daily through his word, through the witness of his Spirit, through each other, and through all his created works. He is the living Word. That means he is still speaking to us today, not just through his written word, but through the Spirit within us, and through the Spirit within each other, yet all must agree with his revealed word, for not all voices we hear are truly of God.

Yet, many people who profess his name do not give God the honor due his name. They do not show him proper respect. Even many of the leaders in our churches show contempt for his name. How do they do this? They do this through teaching a false gospel absent of the cross, i.e. absent of death to sin and obedience to Christ’s commands. They also do this through empty praise and worship to God, for truly they are followers of humankind more than they are followers of Christ, and they live to please humankind more than they live to please Jesus Christ with their lives and ministry.

So, God is displeased with these disingenuous forms of worship. He would rather the doors of our churches be shut than for us to offer shallow forms of worship and praise to him, which may stir the emotions, but do not produce changed hearts, minds and lives for Jesus Christ. What the Lord desires of his people is that we turn from our sin, that we walk in obedience to Christ’s commands and to his teachings, and that we practice truthfulness and faithfulness in all we do, but especially in honoring him as our only God and husband. He desires that we worship him through the giving of our lives to him on the altar of sacrifice, living lives holy and pleasing to God. This is true worship, and this is the kind God requires.

The Battle for Truth / An Original Work / May 18, 2013

Based off Malachi 1-4

I love you. Honor me.
Tell the truth. You’ll be free.
Sing My praise all your days.
I will give all you need.

Turn from sin; cleansed within.
Stand in awe of My Name.
Teach what’s true. Walk in peace.
Follow Christ, in His ways.

Show to God faithfulness.
Do not be adult’rous.
Do not shed shallow tears.
Do not be insincere.

I have sent messengers,
Who have giv’n my address.
They call for repentance,
And they warn of judgment.

I, the Lord, do not change,
So return – blessings gain:
Healing comes; joyfulness;
Freedom from your distress.