The Word: Not What You Think... But Even Better

The Gospel Of John: The Visible Image, Volume 1

Missionary and theologian Lesslie Newbigin once asked, "How do you begin to explain that which must in the end be accepted as the beginning of all explanation? That is the problem of the evangelist." The book we begin studying together in this episode is the apostle John's revelation of the deity of Jesus Christ, the "uncaused cause." If our purpose is to be and make fully-devoted followers of Christ, we have to have a perfect understand of His character and person.

Todd WagnerOct 10, 2010John 1:1-5; John 20:30-31; John 20:30-31; John 1:1; John 1:2; Genesis 3:15-16; John 1:3; John 1:4; 2 Corinthians 4:6; John 1:5; John 1:1

I am fired up about where we are headed. Probably my favorite series I have ever done at Watermark was done in 2000, 2001, and 2002. I taught through the gospel of Mark. We say at Watermark, and if you come today to Connecting Point, and I hope you do if you're not deeply connected here already, that we will measure our success by our ability to be and to make disciples.

We talk about the fact that our purpose is to call all people to be fully devoted followers of Christ. If you're here this morning, we will make no apologies about this. We hope you come to know who Christ is, we hope you fully respond to who Christ is, and we hope you experience the fullness of life that he intends for you.

Not just fire insurance but that you might be led to life indeed right now and you would be increasingly conformed to his image that the process of sanctification would move you toward God's ultimate purpose for you, which is to be in perfect relationship with him and that he would glorify you to make you the man or woman he intended for you to be initially.

For that to happen, you have to have your sin dealt with through this idea of justification, which was fully accomplished through this Jesus who then participates with you by faith to make you like him until one day he will complete that process which he began in you. Early on, if that was our purpose to do what the Scripture said we should do, which is to call all men to be his disciples and teach them to observe everything he commanded us, I thought we had better figure out who this Jesus is who we are called to be like, so we studied the gospel of Mark.

I rushed through that in about 65 weeks, and it was great. It always makes me laugh. Since then, people go, "Don't you ever teach through a book of the Bible?" When we're teaching through a book of the Bible like we're about to do, people go, "Don't you ever do anything except teach through a book of the Bible?" Some of you guys… "It's too loud in here." "I wish you guys would let the music go and let it free." "It's too cold in here!" "I wish you guys would turn the heat up a little bit." Such is the life of a leader.

We're glad you're here. Quit your complaining. Follow Jesus. I don't care if we go through chapter 1 through chapter 21 or we grab a hunk somewhere and move on, but I cannot wait to do what I'm about to do. I have said many times when folks ask me, "What is your favorite section of Scripture?"

I keep saying this. I have been diving into John lately, and it is currently my favorite book. I said that when I taught through Colossians and when I taught through Galatians and when I taught through Malachi and when we did Obadiah. Every time I'm in a book I'm just amazed at the beauty of God's Word, but I have to tell you the gospel of John I cannot wait to learn from and to share with you.

It is as close as you get to New Testament poetry. It is as close as you get to philosophy in the Scriptures. It is absolute, unabashed, unashamed propaganda. It's interesting. When you start the book of John, many scholars will tell you that you shouldn't start in John, chapter 1, verse 1, but you should start in John, chapter 20, verse 31.

Why? Because John just goes ahead and tells you, "This is why I am writing you." Open up to John. You're going to live there with me for I don't know how long but it will be a while and look at John, chapter 20, verse 31. This is what it says. He said, "I'm not going to tell you everything."

In fact, if you went over to chapter 21, verse 25, he says, "There are so many great things about what Jesus did that I imagine all of the books in the world could not contain them if they were written in detail," but what John is going to do, and I'm going to spend some time on that this morning is he's going to give you seven specific signs.

John doesn't deal so much with miracles. He calls them signs. It's a key word in the gospel of John. The reason John chooses these seven signs I'm going to give you a little glimpse of today (we're going to take a whole week on each one of them when we get to them throughout the discourse) is this is the purpose of the book.

John, chapter 20, verse 31… In fact, we just got through with a series called Compelled to Converse. If you are ever going to go all in to implore and beg and use your relational capital to get somebody to come and hang out with you here, this is the time to do it. Many folks will tell you that when you first come to know who Christ is and you're trying to figure out who he is to read the book of John.

If you have a friend you've been praying for who you love and who you want to reach out to, do what great friends have always done, which is to say, "You have to come and see this guy." We're going to unpack him for you. You're going to see him like you've never seen him before. I have. I've read this little book I don't know how many times, but just this week as I've paused over it and really didn't just read it devotionally but studied it, I was just amazed at what is there.

John 20, verses 30 and 31: " Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed…" The ones in John 21:25 he said of that if all of them were written all of the world itself could not contain the books to talk about them."…Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

Let me just tell you what John wants to do, and I'm going to start with this and close with this. If you don't already have it, what John wants you to do is come to initial faith in Jesus, so this morning I'm going to reveal to you who this Jesus is. I'm going to let John do it in a way that was unique amongst the Gospels.

John wants you to come to initial faith. He wants you as you learn of him to have not just an initial understanding but a deep, humbling, overwhelming, informed faith. He wants your life to become, if you will, a PhD in Jesus-ology, so he says, "Walk with me through a study of this man."

Then, catch this, because we don't study the Bible to become smarter sinners. We are not here to kick Northwest Bible Church's butt in Bible trivia. The purpose of studying the Scriptures is to be impacted by them. The purpose of having a relationship with this Jesus you will come to understand is to be impacted by him.

John says, "I want you to have an initial understanding, I want you to have an informed understanding, and I want you to be impacted by this Jesus." That word believe is a key word not only in the book of John but in the entire New Testament. Interestingly, it shows up in John probably as much in the whole other part of your New Testament combined.

The word, believe, shows up 98 times. I'm going to talk about what that word believe means at the end of my time today so that you might respond and initiate a relationship with him or you might be impacted with what you say you already understand. John says, "We're not just doing this so you have a good book to read. I want you to be forever changed, because if you get a glimpse of this Jesus, this personal friend of mine, it will rock your world."

If Jesus is anything less than that, then let's treat him just like everybody else does, as a good teacher, as a winsome philosopher, as an insightful rabbi, or as a good man, but let's not sing about him. Let's not worship him. Let's not call him the Desire of the nations. Let's not pivot our history on him, but if he is who he says he was then you'd better go all in with this man, this Jesus.

John, chapter 1, verse 1… I did a little series a while back, and we talked about the metanarrative, the grand story. The series was called Why. If you want to get a good understanding of your Bible from front to back, go check out that little series at Watermark Radio called Why.

In that little series, I took you to the beginning of your Bible. When most folks think they're to go to the beginning of the Bible, where do they turn? Genesis. The word means beginnings. It starts with, "In the beginning…" but did you know Genesis 1:1 is not the beginning of history? Genesis 1:1 is the beginning of God stepping into history to create a world that could know him and enjoy him forever, but there was history before Genesis 1:1. Guess where that is. It's the other place in your Bible that starts with, "In the beginning…"

In the chronology of time and, in fact, outside of what we understand as time, John 1:1 exists. Now, it's the beginning. Why did John write this gospel? What I want to do is just take a second, because John was the last of the Gospels to be written. A full 45 or 46 percent of your New Testament is just stories of Jesus or biographies of Jesus.

We don't have four different biographies. We have one biography of Christ from four different perspectives, and three of them were around for sometimes decades before John wrote the book of John. What John decided to do, obviously stirred by and led by the Holy Spirit, was to say, "There is something missing. I'm glad you're getting a glimpse of who Jesus is in the books that were written in what are called the Synoptic Gospels."

If you've been around the Scriptures very long, you'll hear that term (synoptic). Syn- is a little prefix that means together or with. You put that in front of words like synagogue. -Agogue is to gather or a gathering place. When you are Jewish, you go to the synagogue. You go together with others to a place to gather.

Synthesis. A thesis comes from the word which basically means to proclaim or, if you will, to place a truth that is out there. A synthesis is to place this truth in kind of a grand narrative. "Let me just synthesize the big story here." A synonym comes from where we get the word name (anonymous, a name we don't know). Synonym means same name or two words that mean the same thing.

Synoptic. We get the word optics from the second part, if you will, of that word, synoptic, so Synoptic Gospels are gospels that are Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and they see together the life of Jesus. Three different men who watched the life of Christ or who were revealing an eyewitness testimony about the life of Christ, so they saw together.

They saw in what was called a linear way. They begin with his genealogy. In the case of Mark, I'll show you in a minute that Mark just kind of jumped right into it. It's the shortest of all of the Gospels, and Mark starts right with his public ministry. All four gospels start with John the Baptist interacting with Jesus in terms of his public ministry.

All three of these different gospels had already existed, and John, who was in Ephesus which is modern-day Turkey right before he went into exile, was stirred to tell yet another perspective on Jesus. Now, I want to show you a little chart I put together. It is basically a way for you to understand.

As always, don't write furiously. Just look at it with me. Everything I've put up here is at Click on the notes section. It's there for you. If it shows up here, it will show up there. Here's the deal. You see the probable date these different gospels were written. When the dispersion or the persecution came, the apostles were no longer there to continue to teach the way they were, so oral tradition needed to be recorded, so the Gospels were put together.

You can see Matthew. Let's just focus on him. He wrote in the Palestinian region which is Israel or maybe a little north of there. He wrote primarily to the religiously privileged people of the day, to the Jews, so his primary message is to the Jews. There are more references to the Old Testament in Matthew than all of the other three gospels combined.

Matthew consistently said, "These things were written so that you may believe." It was written so that you can see it was fulfilled." They're called fulfillment passages. Jesus is your Messiah King. When he starts with the genealogy, he says, "I'm going to show you that Jesus is the rightful King of Israel," and he traces the lineage of Jesus from Abraham through David down to this Jesus so that he has the right to sit on the throne of David. He is a descendant of Judah which is where we find the Messiah would come from.

Mark wrote primarily to the politically privileged people. Mark wrote a gospel that was largely to the folks in Rome. All of the Gospels and biographies have application to all of us, if you will, but Mark elevates Christ as the servant Redeemer. He's a man of action. The Romans really loved people who got after it or they valued your worth to them. Mark says, "Do you want a man of action? Do you want a man of strength? Then, get to know this Jesus."

Matthew would say, "Find your hope in him." Mark would say, "Find your redemption in him." The word immediately is Mark's favorite word. It shows up all throughout his gospel because Jesus gets after it. He has no limit to his authority and no restriction on his power. He is the great King.

Yet, he is a servant, so Mark is the classic gospel to say, "Caesar, do you want to know how to be great? It's not by conquering the world; it's by conquering your pride and becoming a servant of the world like the King of the world did." Mark doesn't even mention his childhood. He just jumps right in and says, "Let's get after who this man is." The Romans didn't really care where he came from. They just wanted to know, "How good are you? What do you have?" Mark said, "I'll tell you what he has."

Luke wrote, really, to ordinary people (those who were without hope and without God in the world), the Greeks primarily. He just lifts up Jesus as the perfect man. He is the one who is the descendant and Luke, therefore, traces the genealogy of Christ not back through David and Abraham but all of the way back to Adam. He is the second Adam. He is the one who will remove the curse by bringing the covenant of blessing. Luke just lifts up Christ as the Son of Man, which is a messianic term, and he says, "Follow him. Follow him."

These gospels were there. John had relationships with the men who wrote these other stories. He probably taught from them, but now late in his life as a teacher and a leader and as one who himself was one of the original Twelve and followed Jesus, he was stirred to say, "There is something incomplete out there for folks when they read and understand who this Jesus is," so John dives in and says, "You need to know that God came for everyone."

One of the key words in John is cosmos. It's the word for world. This is a message for all of the world to hear. He is the desire of all the nations. Jesus is the eternal I AM. He is very God of very God, and John does not give a genealogy. Why? Because deity has no beginning and no origin, so he's saying, "I can't trace him back because he always was." He is the uncaused cause.

I'll give you one more little chart up there to show you how they all work together. Again, all of this is out there for you. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are primarily historical, whereas John is going to be very theological. If you want to get a good understanding of what God is saying about himself in a proper view of the Word of God, read John. Look at this.

Forty-two percent of Matthew's gospel can only be found in Matthew. If you're going to read Mark, Mark is the most heavily borrowed from, if you will, or the one that borrows from others, but only 7 percent of the gospel of Mark is unique to Mark. You see in Luke 59 percent, because Luke wrote in greater detail, but in John, you have to go to John to only get in John what you can get in John.

Ninety-two percent of this biography or this perspective is only here. That's why he wrote this. He said, "We have to get some stuff down here that needs to be infinitely clear." Why? Because God loves you, and he wants you to have a complete and full understanding of this logos, this Word. Who is he?

He had a more public ministry focus in John and more private interactions. You have parables and miracles. There are some 40-plus parable and 30-plus miracles in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but in John you have allegories or metaphors and signs. There's that word again (signs), and seven of them specifically.

The teaching emphasis is practical. "This is who Jesus is. This is what it means to follow him. This is what the kingdom of God is. This is how you respond to it." To John, it was much more, "This is who I am." There are seven "I am" statements in the book of John. Don't miss him. The relationships that are called the Synoptics… They see together.

That's why Matthew, Mark, and Luke are Synoptic Gospels, but John is a supplementary gospel. "Now that you see together all that he is about, understand this is who he is. In case you missed it, don't miss it! I am writing this so you might believe that Jesus is very God of very God and in coming into relationship with him you would have eternal life."

Do you get that? Now, he does it beautifully. By the way, I love doing this. I love teaching like this, but this stuff is all out there. You can go get it. Go buy yourself a good study Bible. Read it. I love when I get to look at this stuff and go this way, so we're going to take a look at who this Word was.

When John starts to write, he has a problem. He's going to try to explain something that cannot be explained, and he has to start using things people understand to get them to where they have to go that they couldn't possibly understand unless you took them there. Let me just read you a rather extended quote that I think says as well as anybody why John wrote the way he did.

In fact, most scholars believe in John, chapter 1, verses 1 through 18…some people call it the prologue and some people call it the overture…that he went back when he was done writing and then he wrote these 18 verses and stuck it up there. He's like, "You're getting ready to read my perspective on Jesus," which is the Holy Spirit's perspective on Jesus which has already been revealed in some ways throughout the text but with great clarity now, because he loves you. "Let me be clear." John was very clear.

When he went back at the very end, he goes, "Folks are going to start reading this. Let me be clearer still. I know I closed the book telling folks this is why I wrote this, but let me start the book with a preamble or with a prologue (a word before) that you might fully prep yourself, because you don't want to miss this."

That's what John, chapter 1, verses 1 through 18 are. Look what this one guy wrote. This is a very well-worded couple of paragraphs that I want to go ahead and share with you. This is a guy who for years served overseas in an Asian Indian context. He wrote yet another, if you will, of the many, many commentaries that are out there on the book of John, and I've enjoyed dipping in and learning some from him. Listen to what he wrote.

He said, "The gospel is news about a man called Jesus, and there were witnesses who had known him, seen him, heard him speak, and touched him. These witnesses had gone everywhere telling the story of Jesus, but when the hearers (Jews, Greeks, sophisticated students of religion, and illiterate slaves) began to ask, 'But who is Jesus?' how could one begin to answer the question?

That is the inescapable problem of the missionary. Obviously, the missionary can only begin by using words which have some meaning for his hearers. He has to begin by assuming a common framework of language and experience of inherited tradition of axioms and assumptions embodied in the forms of speech.

He can only introduce what is new by provisionally accepting what is already there in the minds of his hearers, but what if the new thing which he wants to introduce is so radically new that it calls into question all previous axioms and assumptions, all inherited tradition and all human experience, so that even language itself cannot serve to communicate it?

What if the new thing is, in fact, the primal truth by which all else has to be confronted and questioned? How do you begin to explain that which must in the end be accepted as the beginning of all explanation? That is the problem of the evangelist (how to do it)." So let me ask you, "How do you do it?"

You love this girl! You met her. You're having a good time with her, and you feel things you never felt before. "How do I communicate what I can't communicate?" You write a poem. You sit down, and in your genius and your romance, you go, "Roses are red… No. I can't use that." You get creative, and you use allegory, because nothing can communicate in the context of normal dialogue and interchange the beauty.

This is really what John did. This is just beautiful stuff. I mean, it just flows. Hebrew poetry doesn't rhyme like our poetry (the typical American dumb, "Roses are red; violets are blue…"). We could go on from there to try to rhyme with blue. Hebrew poetry uses what is called parallelism. It uses semantic thought. It uses ideas that are congruent and just states it a different way. You'll see this somewhat in John.

It also says, "Do you think you know light? I'm going to show you light. Do you think you know bread (where to eat and where to get filled)? I'll show you where to get bread and get filled. Do you think you know life? I'll show you where life comes from." That's what John is going to do. He's going to take what you know and grow it and make you love the true Light. "Do you think you know man? Let me show you the perfect God man and who he is and where he came from."

Oh, man! We haven't even gotten to John 1 yet and it's 9:50! Quickly, John 1. Here we go! " In the beginning…" Before the book of Genesis. This is the beginning before the beginning. Genesis 1:1 in the beginning is the beginning of God stepping into this world he created and revealing himself to the world and who the people were in the world he had made.

When we got here, there was already an Enemy present that came before the, "In the beginning…" of Genesis that you can find in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Go read your Bible, or go get that series called the Why and go through it with your Bible. You'll see there was a creation, if you will, prior to the creation of this earth. It was the angelic realm.

There was a rebellion in heaven. They were thrust out of the presence of God, and because they were apart from God, there was chaos. There was trouble. There was darkness. Why? Because God is light. There was death. Why? Because God is life. If you're separated from God, you cannot have light and you cannot have life.

What God did in the domain, if you will, of that rebellion was to create beauty. He entered into it, and he created something in his image, and he put him in that place. Now, I'm starting to teach the Why series. Go listen to it. Check it out. In the beginning, prior to even the angelic realm, "…was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

What John is going to start to do in this poetry is to reveal specific things about who this Word was. Now, John very wisely used the word Word (logos). Why? Because it was a common word. Remember what we saw here. You have to use where people are to get them to where you want them to be, and there were Stoic and Greek philosophers (lovers of wisdom) who were trying to figure out how this world was stacked the way it is.

In Stoic or Greek philosophy, they used the term logos to describe this force, this mind, if you will, or this logic that causes the universe to act in a certain way. There are certain natural laws which they observed and could not deny. They just didn't know what the force of this law or what the cause of this thing was.

To them, it was an impersonal divine mind, but you could never really know it, so you just had to get Plato and Socrates and Aristotle and a succession of other guys to take their best hack at it. They were always standing on top of each other going, "Now, Plato was not bad." "But check this out," Socrates said. "That's not bad, but check this out," said Aristotle. Since then all the way down to Dr. Phil and Oprah it just continued. "Check this out. Check this out."

What John says is, "There is no need to check anything else out when you find truth. This is the truth, and when you find the truth, you don't need to build on it. You don't need to add to it. You just need to build on it and make it your foundation for everything." What John is going to do here is say, "That Word you're looking for (that divine impersonal force)… Guess what. You're right about the divine part, but the impersonal part? You could not be more wrong." In sentences, John is going to reveal some things to you.

"In the beginning was the Word…" If you had to put one single word to describe that one single sentence, what would be that word? "In the beginning…" How long has this thing been around? Since the very beginning. In fact, this is such a key part of who John reveals Jesus to be, that's why we're going to get to the I AM sentences in just a little bit. When God was asked by Moses and by Abraham, "Who are you?" he said, "I am Yahweh. I am Jehovah. I will be who I will be."

Moses said, "Who are you?" He said, "I AM THE GREAT I AM. I've always been. I am the preexistent, self-existent, uncaused Cause. You can't know me. You can't approach me. You can't figure me out. You can't accommodate me. Don't make me something less than who I am. I am so far beyond anything that you would ever imagine me to be that, if I did not reveal myself to you, you would never get to where I am. I am who I am, so sit down, shut up, and take notes."

I want to tell you, if there is a God… We have this view of God that he's just this old man who hopes you come visit him. That's not who he is, folks! He has screamed into your darkness. "Over here! Sinner who deserves judgment, I'm going to show you grace. You will find out about justice, because perfection is just, but perfection is also loving. How do you resolve this fact that I need to judge you who left me; yet, I love you and want to restore you? I'll show you, but listen up. Don't you make me out to be like you. I am nothing like you. I made you to be like me, and you rejected that. How is that working out for you?"

Guess what happened. The philosopher said, "Without these divine rules that exist in math…" In other words, there is order here. We can make sense out of things. We can do business together because we both agree. Without this common morality… All around the world there is a common morality that we can all agree on. You don't take another man's wife. You don't walk up and steal another man's chicken. You just don't do it. Nowhere in the world do you do that without there being some problem.

The Greeks said, "That is the impersonal divine force that is out there." It's gravity. It's why we don't float off into nothing. What is the cause of gravity? Why are we not everywhere all of the time? Why are we anchored here? What is that which anchors us? They said, "Without this thing…" They didn't know what it was because they were lost. They were blind men groping.

Philosophers typically use this analogy of a blind man walking across a wall figuring out what is there. That's why there is that famous illustration of a blind man that comes up to a certain part of an elephant. He grabs the tail. They say, "What is an elephant?" He says, "An elephant is like a rope." Another blind man goes up and feels the leg. He goes, "An elephant is like a tree." There's another guy who goes up and touches his side and says, "No! An elephant is like a wall."

What is an elephant? He is none of those things. He is all of those things. Right? A blind man would sometimes grope along. Whenever they found something, they'd go, "This is it!" Then, they'd get little pieces of it here and there, but what they knew was without this anchoring truth and without this strong reality the world would be in chaos.

If we go, "You do what you want and I'll do what I want," chaos! "You add 2 and 2 and get what you want." Chaos. "We all float everywhere, and there is nothing that anchors us." Chaos. John is saying, "Into the chaos steps the Word." The reason there is not chaos is because the Word is a God of order. When you leave him, chaos and darkness come in because you have left order and life and light. You have left life, and you have death.

What's the Word? "In the beginning was the Word…" Well, I would get the word eternal. The very first thing we're going to note at the very outset is that John says, "This Word has always been." It is not something that has evolved. It is not something that has processed itself out. It just always was.

"…and the Word was with God…" The Word is unique. The Word is distinct and separate from God. "…and the Word was God.""Wait a minute. You just blew me away here, because you said the Word has always been around. It's eternal. You just said the Word was distinct and separate from God. Then, you said the Word was God. That doesn't fit in my little box!"

Exactly! That's why you could never get there. The idea of Trinity… Last fall, I did a series called The Big Twelve. Do you remember it? Some of you guys were here. Go back and listen to week two or else we're going to finish about 12:30 today. Go back and listen to week two. I taught there about the biblical revelation called the Trinity. One of the places we go is in John, chapter 1.

You need to understand the Trinity is not just some spin-off thought. It's not what we as Christians have grabbed onto to make ourselves unique. It is part of God revealing who he is. "Don't call me a rope. Don't call me a wall. Don't say I'm a tree. I am the Father, I am the Son, and I am the Spirit."

All three are eternal, all three are distinct, and all three are one. I talk about how that is not a contradiction. It would be a contradiction, I mention there, if you say things like, "God was only one person yet three persons." That's a contradiction. I don't say that. God is one essence but three persons. It would be a contradiction to say that God is one in nature but he has three natures. That's not what I said.

Go back and listen to that message on the Trinity. Now, you have to listen to 65 weeks of Mark, 10 weeks of the Why series, and just one so far of The Big Twelve. I'll keep you busy. Quit wasting your life watching bad college football. Here we go! He is eternal, he is distinct, and he is God (verse 1).

Verse 2: "He was in the beginning with God." Now, we're going to find out the Word is not just some impersonal force, but it is a singular male pronoun (he). What's interesting about that is that immediately solves a question that would have been out there floating around since Genesis, chapter 3, verses 14 and 15.

Genesis 3:14-15 is the protoevangelium. It is the foretelling of what is to come (the good news). That is where man left life, left light, and left order and goodness and kindness and left Eden. The garden's name means delight, and we left that. We were cast out of it because of our wanting no fellowship with the only place you could get life and light and order and delight.

I want to just say this right here. The reason, gang, God will not ever offer you satisfaction in sex, in drugs, in material possession, in popularity, in fame, or in fortune or whatever it might be is not because he doesn't love you. It's because it doesn't exist there. It only exists with him. With him, it says there can be fortune.

With him, it says there can be sex. He is the inventor of it and a big fan of it. You'll find him in Scripture cheering on those who are using that gift the way he intended for them to use that gift. He says, "Attaboy! Go get you some and enjoy it. Drink deeply." God says these things are fine. Just don't try to make them God.

I love this little statement. If gold is your god, then you might well be suspected to do anything for it, and if you'll do anything for money, it is the beginning of all kinds of evil. You'll compromise morality. You'll be deceitful. You'll be duplicitous. You will sabotage. You will be Gordon Gekko. That's not a very attractive person, but if God is your gold, then you can enjoy money and use it for that which will bring great pleasure to you and service to others.

The same with sex. Don't make sex your god, but let God be that which gives you your greatest pleasure. Then, he will show you how sex will bring you the most pleasure without guilt, without shame, and without scars. We have a good God! The reason he doesn't offer life apart from him is because it doesn't exist apart from him, but he's willing to show you where life can be found in using all of these things. What a good God!

Genesis 3:14 to 15… When we're in that chaos because we've left the eternal Word, it says, " The LORD God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this…'" Because you have lied about my nature and my goodness and the consequences of leaving me, "…cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life…"

Verse 15: "And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." Do you get that? "…He shall bruise you on the head…" What is that? That is a singular male pronoun. "You're going to clip him. You're going to make him trip up. You're going to take him down for a time." The cross did not get away from God. He saw it from the very beginning. It was the means through which his perfect justice would be satisfied and his perfect love would be revealed.

"You're going to go ahead and take him down. That's my plan, because that infinitely perfect Word, that infinitely perfect singular male pronoun who is very God of very God always was and always will be will be the means through which my eternal goodness will be propitiated or satisfied, but I want to tell you something. When he rises back up, it will be to crush death and the author of it, and he will stomp on your head."

I love the way the movie The Passion of the Christ starts. That snake is slithering through the garden, and because Jesus was fully God yet fully man, he did not want to go to that cross. Who would? He had to get another deep as he denied his Trinity. That doesn't mean he didn't stop to be God.

He for a second said, "I'm not going to appeal to my own eternal power. I will walk as a man. I will live in faith. I have to set my mind on things above not on the things that are on the earth." He went to Gethsemane, that winepress. He just broke his own life, and he said, "Not my will but your will be done."

That Serpent said, "Why? The Father has forgotten you. Don't love him." He's thinking, "You might be right." Then, he goes. Boom! He stomps on that snake's head and says, "Onward to the cross. That is my cross. That's not your cross. That's where you're going to clip my heel." That's a great part of the movie. I love it right there at the beginning. Boom! Done! He was in the beginning with God unified yet distinct, and eternal yet personal deity.

Verse 3: "All things came into being through Him…" He is Creator. "…and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." You see the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. You can't read the Bible without seeing that in creation all three of them (distinct persons but all God) have revealed himself in the context of creation.

You might say the Father is the architect, the Son is the GC, and the Spirit is the means or the sub that gets it done. They all work together. I don't know how you want to break it out, but they've all participated in creation. What John is saying is this Jesus was the Creator just like the Father was the Creator and just like the Spirit was the activating power (the dunamis of God). "All things came into being through Him and part from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."

Verse 4: "In Him was life…" What does that mean? That means he is the source of all life. He is not life, as you know it; he is the activating force. He is the eternal power behind life. You cannot find life apart from him. That's why Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the resurrection and the life. Do you want to come out of your deadness or your lostness? You're groping along looking for meaning in north Texas or in Sudan or in Medina. Do you want to look for life? It's found in me. Stop looking."

Pete Maravich went everywhere in every world religion looking for life. Speaking one day at an FCA banquet, a guy came up and said, "Pete, do you know So-and so?" Pete goes, "He's one of my best friends. He and I sought for life together all across the way." He was like, "I know you did, and I know you've come to understand where real life has been found."

Pete Maravich used to put on his mansion that he built by playing basketball landing pads for aliens so when they came he could get revelation. "Land here! Tell me first!" Pete Maravich was looking for it everywhere. The guy was a nut! Then, he came to Christ. The guy said, "Write a note to my buddy. Write a note to your friend." Pete goes, "I don't have much time, but I don't need it. Give me that." He took a napkin and wrote on there, "I have found it. The answer is Jesus."

In other words, "We've looked everywhere. We're still searching, but I have found John, chapter 1, verse 4, that in him is life. It has always been there and is nowhere else." "…and the life was the Light of men." What do I mean by that? "…and the life was the Light of men." What does John mean by that?

What John means with the fact that the life was the Light of men is that men in their darkness, in their death, in their groping, and in their wandering are looking to see if they might find life somewhere else, and they can't, so we are blind leading the blind, and we're all falling into the pit.

He's over there going, "Come here! If you don't let Christ be your life and light and if you don't follow him, it's going to mess you up theologically, it's going to mess you up philosophically, it's going to mess you up maritally, it's going to make you emotionally depressed, it's going to make you anxious, and it's going to socially isolate you. It's going to jack with you in every area of your life."

He says, "Over here, boys! Out of your chaos. Not into some divine and impersonal teaching but back into relationship with a loving Father." This is what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:6. Paul talks about this. He says, "When you come back into relationship with God, you are taken out of darkness into light." Second Corinthians 4:6 is a great little passage. He says, " For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." That's what he said.

"Do you want to know what good is coming out of me? It's nothing but me revealing to you what God has reminded me of that he is good, that he is life, and that he is light. Out of my darkness, out of his broken, earthen vessel, if you guys are blessed by me in any way relationally, spiritually, or emotionally, it is because light is streaming forth out of my darkness as I speak words from God. That's the only usefulness I have to you as I become the kind of man God said I should be (a servant) and when I use whatever gifts God has given to me for your benefit."

Now, there's only one other place… By the way, the way I titled this whole series is The Visible Image. That's who he is. Colossians 1 says he is the visible image of the invisible God. Colossians 2:9 says, "…all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…" This is good stuff, and you'll want to drink deeply here.

Note to self: one of the things Jesus says is, "I am living water. Physical water will quench your thirst for a while, but you need to constantly go back to that well, but if you drink of me you will never thirst again. I am the Bread of Life. Physical bread will take care of you for about three days, but you have to go back to the buffet." Thank goodness! I love to eat.

He says, "Do you really want to get satisfied? I'm the man! I'm the resurrection. Y'all are going to die. You die a thousand deaths everyday, don't you, when this world disappoints you, when you live in a way that costs you respect, when you live in an ornery way that doesn't let somebody else cherish you." That's a thousand deaths and it all is a symptom of the larger problem that death is on you. "I am the life."

He wants you to understand that when you come to Christ you get eternal life not just then at the grave. That's fine, but you get now. "I have come that you might right now have life the way I, a good God, wanted you to have life, a life that you delight in." I cannot tell you how many times this week I just stopped on my own and just said, "Lord, thank you! I've got a good life. I have peace with my wife. My kids love me and respect me. My community largely counts me as a blessing. I have delight."

Not just me. My friend, Isaac, from Liberia has suffered all kinds of persecutions. His wife and his six kids are half a world away. I sat with Isaac whose name means laughter. He said, "I delight in the goodness of God." Can you say that? If you cannot, it's because you do not know this Word.

Then, in verse 5, I love this. We're going to close with this right here. John 1:1-5 is all I intended to get through today. "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [katalambanō] it." Listen. Some of your Bibles are going to say, "…did not comprehend it," and others will say, "…did not overwhelm it." Why? Because katalambanō basically means to seize. Kata means down. If you ever see kata-, it's the Greek word for down or to take down.

If you katalambanō, it means that you get on top of it like a leopard on a gazelle. That is why some scholars translate that word as overwhelm it. It says, "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not take the light down." It couldn't do it. It couldn't leopard the gazelle of the beauty of light. It tried. It tried.

John put this in there because there is this idea out there of dualism. If you will, there's Darth Vader and Yoda. They are warring with each other. That is an unbiblical theologically perverted understanding. There is a not a yin and a yang. The same John, when he wrote 1 John, in chapter 4, verse 4, said, "…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." Fret not, little ones. He can kick darkness in the butt.

What does darkness do when light comes on? It flees. It cannot take it down. All darkness can do is thrive in the absence of light, so when we turn to the light it goes dark. When we hide ourselves in light, it gets dark. Yet, light knocks at the door and says, "If anyone opens the door, I will come into him and he with me, and I will dine with him, and it will be well with your soul."

It says that light came in the darkness and the darkness did not overwhelm it. First of all, he wins, people! He wins! You fret not. Also, it did not comprehend it. In other words, this is like if you have a little pea brain like mine, sometimes you hear these great thoughts, and you go, "I can't take that down! I can't process that! I can't get all the way through that. That theory of relativity or that Newtonian law or that physics or that understanding of reality… I can't quite take it down. I am finite in my understanding."

Basically, it's saying that darkness can't get a grip on it. Sometimes darkness blinds the mind of the unbelieving. What I want to say to you guys is that John wrote this book so you could start to get it. He used words that you are familiar with and concepts you are familiar with to express to you something that words cannot express.

Do you see who Jesus is? He is everything and in him is life. He is Messiah, the Anointed One. He is Mighty God, Eternal Father, and the Prince of Peace. He is Wonderful Counselor. I don't know what kind of dead church you've been in. I don't know what kind of Bible you have been perusing through, but let me just tell you what we believe here and what we have found to be true. In him is life not when you just have some belief about him that is knowledge or even knowledge you agree to.

This is why you need to get your tail to Connecting Point. This is why you don't just need to lead a Community Group but you need to live in community. This is not why you just need to own a Bible. You need to read your Bible. This is why you're not just to read your Bible. You're going to let your Bible be your guide. This is why you ought not just to take up a faith in Jesus.

You have to lean not on your own understanding and in all of your ways acknowledge him, because this word that shows up 98 times in the gospel of John that means believe is to say to activate. It means to trust. It means to commit. I'm going to tell you when you believe in Jesus and you live as he tells you to live and you're reconciled to Light through him and he is the means through which you pass out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of his blessed light, it is delightful, and there is life here.

If you are here today and you're wondering where the abundant life is, it is because you are not walking in faith with this Jesus and you have some fancy little understanding and he is to you some little trinket or some little insurance policy that maybe you'd better make sure you say something about him in case he is the God.

He says, "I'm not looking for just cheap applause. I'm not looking for your vote. I'm not running for God. I am God. Get to know me. Don't just say I'm your King. Let me be your King." I hear it again and again, folks. "Where is the abundant life?" Well, they don't live as Christ tells them to live. You will never find life apart from him not because he's cruel but because it doesn't exist apart from him. That is why he keeps saying, "Come on back, children. Come on back."

Father, I pray that we would come back and that you would use this book. I can't wait to get to verse 6. No, I can't wait to go back through verses 1 through 5 and learn again and be reminded who you are. You are Messiah, name above all names. You are the one who became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in you. You are the personal eternal King that is the means through which God is revealed.

Father, we thank you that you are knowable not because we can somehow ascend to you. We could never take you down. We could never write about a God who is this beautiful and this good, but you have come down into our darkness and revealed the Light. It is our job only to respond to it. I pray as a result of our study together that many would come and have an initial faith, that this morning somebody out here would come to know Jesus as their Messiah.

I pray all of us would grow in our understanding, that we'd go back and get 65 weeks of it in Mark, that we'd go back and get an understanding that he is not the Father and not the Spirit but he is God, and that we would have a biblical triune understanding of the Trinity and the reasons that is necessary and what that means and we would then have an impactful faith that would change us to the point that we could become ourselves lights to the world pointing people to the ultimate Light, Jesus Christ. We thank you for this revelation and the privilege of not just knowing about it but trusting in it. Teach us. Amen.

We sang that song once. Now that you know something about it, let's sing it again. Here we go.


If all you would do is just open your Watermark News and check that box to say, "I want to know more about how to come to life again through Jesus Christ," check it. We will follow up with you. Come right now and let us introduce you to the Messiah, the Anointed One, the desire of your heart, the one who can take you out of darkness into his blessed light.

If you are a dead, inoculated north Texas Christian, would you wake up and have an informed faith? We don't do this because we're born in America. We've done this and respond to him because of his kindness. He has called us out of that darkness to experience life again. Enjoy him! Follow him!

Be impacted by this truth. Repent of your tepid, weak, isolated reflections on Jesus. Walk with him. Be the light of the world as you come to know him. Come. If you know him in that little cracked vessel of yours, go let that light shine as you live by faith.

Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.

About 'The Gospel Of John: The Visible Image, Volume 1'

Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.