Saturday, June 30, 2012

Why Preaching Matters

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Today we want to answer this one simple question: Why Preaching?  Many churches today have come to devalue the place of preaching in the life of the church.  God has ordained one main method in the Bible by which God's people are equipped and fed to evangelize unbelievers for the glory and exaltation of Christ – namely preaching.  As we consider today the cause and reason for preaching, I will submit to you four reasons why preaching matters:

1. Character of Scripture (leads to it)   2 Tim 3:16-17
2. Commanded by God   2 Tim 4:1-2
3. Constantly Needed   2 Tim 4:3-4
4. Completes God’s Will  2 Tim 4:5

In today's blog we will consider the first of these.  So why preaching?  First of all, preaching matters because of the….

CHARACTER OF SCRIPTURE (leads to it) 2 Tim 3:16-17
Perhaps the clearest statement pertaining to the inspiration and character of the Bible is 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  God revealed the scriptures, breathed them out and gave them through and to men.  The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message begins with these words about the character of scripture: "The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction." Truly the character of scripture as God’s Word requires it to be unpacked and unfolded to hearers. 

The Bible was inspired by God to be explained and preached
In verse 16 we read that it is profitable for teaching – that is, it tells me what is right.  Secondly, it is for reproof – that is, telling me when I’m not right.  Thirdly, it is for correction – or telling me how to get right.  Then fourthly, it is for training in righteousness – or instructing me on how to stay right. 

The Bible was inspired by God for equipping and practice exhorted by preaching
Now in verse 17 we read that by the scriptures, the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  How is this to be done?  Certainly the scripture itself has this quality of being able to equip.  However the primary means of equipping is none other than the preaching of the Word.  From the moment of saving faith, through the process of the Christian’s life, exposure to the preaching of the Word is a must. 

The Bible's power to convert the human heart is connected to preaching
Romans 10:8 tells us – “what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching.”  Romans 10:14-15 later on reveals – “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”

Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 1:21 states: “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”  

The Bible's quality of changing believers into further Christlikeness is directly connected to preaching 
As preaching is ordained of God in the beginning of salvation, it is fundamental to the Christian’s growth in sanctification. Ephesians 4:11-12 bears this out – “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ”.  The Bible as the Word of God, as God’s revelation, has included with it the need for preaching.   
For those interested, follow further comments on what defines preaching @

Friday, June 29, 2012

Beginning, Middle and End

Colossians 1:18 "He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."

The Beginning, Middle and End of all things in one verse
What is amazing about these verses is how much the Holy Spirit has placed in such a short space.  Here in verse 18 we cannot help but see the connection made between creation – the beginning; the middle, which would be this current church age (Israel having been in the Old Testament) and then the end - which speaks to the wrapping up of all things.  The beginning (Genesis 1-2), middle (Genesis 3-Revelation 19/20) and the end (Revelation 20/21-22),  three main phases in the Bible’s unfolding of God’s Divine saga in the written Word. 

In Colossians 1:16-18 the original language gives us a continuous unfolding of how everything in history and eternity is centered around the Living Word, and how enjoyment of Him is the only way we can rightly understand God’s purposes for creation.  Verse 18 reveals how Christ is “the head of His church”, and that this group of redeemed humanity represents a foretaste of things to come. 

God views all that He does from end back to the beginning
The enjoyment of the Word is vital to our understanding of God’s purposes for creation.  We cannot separate what God began through Christ from what He intends to conclude through Christ.  The Bible’s vision of creation, now and the end is radically Living Word Centered, since only the written Word of God – the Bible, reveals such a vision. 

Christ, the Living Word, is central to God's purpose's for beginning, middle and end 
But now what is the purpose of God’s vision for creation and history?  We are told this in Colossians 1:18b – "So that He will come to have first place in everything".  Perhaps a clearer way of rendering that phrase “first place” would be “having dominance, supremacy”.  It’s not that the goal of creation, redemption and last things is to have Christ number one on a list of God’s purposes, rather Christ is the dominating purpose period. 

All creation will conclude because of the Living Word.  This should cause us immense joy as Christians.  Romans 11:36 states: "That from Him, and through Him and to Him are all things.”  To know that my life has a purpose in the Living Word is a joyful thought indeed, for I am but a pixel in the wide screen purpose of God revealed in the Bible: His glory revealed through the enjoyment and exaltation of His Son – the Living Word – Jesus Christ. 

As He is exalted and enjoyed by His people, he will then at the end of all the ages deliver all things up to His Father, and for the ages to come Christ will be enjoyed.  Truly then, joyful word-centered Christianity views creation rightly because:

1. Creation commenced by the Living Word
2. Creation consists by the Living Word
3. Creation will conclude because of the Living Word. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The joy of knowing who made Creation

Colossians 1:16 states: by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

All of creation, from the beginning, found joy in God and His Word
This verse stands as one of the finest statements of Christ’s supremacy anywhere in the written Word.  Without the Living Word Jesus Christ, the universe would not exist.  We know for a fact that at the opening of creation was as event full of joy.  The Lord addresses Job with the following question in Job 38:7 - Was he there “When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy?  Why were they shouting for joy?  It was because of the Living Word through whom The Father spoke all things into being. 

Paul begins and ends with the refrain of “all things being created by Him”.  In between those refrains we see what “all things” are: "both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities”.  Nothing lies outside of Christ’s authority. Since Christ is the source and the goal of joy, it only makes sense that the act of creation was a joyful event, since he was the one making it.   John 1:3 echoes this thought: “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

The Oldest Question in human thought

The oldest question in human thought is: Why is there something, rather than nothing?  Modern Astronomy will use theories like the Big Bang to try to prove the universe arose out of nothingness by chance.  Other origin models of the universe suggest the universe is eternal, and that this current one is a stage in an infinitely long series of beginnings and endings. Still other theories suggest that the universe has been around for eternity. 

The problems with these three types of secular origins viewpoints are two-fold.(see note at the end of this blog)  First, no known physical law of science demonstrates the possibility of being coming from non-being, or existence coming from non-existence.  Thus the idea of the universe "popping into being" is technically non-scientific. 

Second, no known physical law supports the idea of a more highly organized system coming from a less organized one.  Ice cubes melt and broken glass shatters.  You never see icecubes form in a warm glass of water nor a broken pane of glass reverse itself back to an unbroken state.  Clearly the universe had to had formed from something or better yet, Someone who was of a highly organized intelligence.  The universe is in a state of "winding down", meaning that all of the available, useable energy is becoming less and less.  This points to a beginning, that was in a far more ordered state than it is now.  Thus the universe cannot be eternally old. Furthermore, to say that another universe formed this one begs the question: then where would that universe had originated from? One would have to go back through an infinite series of universes, which as we have already shown, cannot be sustained by current laws of science. 

Only a Christian view of origins can lead to genuine enjoyment of the creation due to knowing the One Who made it 
In contrast to those proposals, Christianity affirms the WORD, Jesus Christ, as being the One through whom the universe derived it’s existence.  1 Corinthians 8:6 notes – “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”  Now why is this cause for joy? Because only the Christian worldview can explain why human beings believe in such things as purpose and meaning.  That purpose and meaning are found in the One who is both Creator and Redeemer - the WORD, Jesus Christ. 

Why no other worldview on origins can lead to joy
Physicist Steven Weinberg, who is one of the architects of modern particle physics and an Atheist, noted one time that the more he studies the universe, the more absurd he finds it to be.  Why is that?  Is it the data he finds, or his worldview?  Atheism assumes there not to be an underlying meaning and purpose to life nor the universe, and yet in order to do science, one must believe there to be some measure of order.  Truly any view of origins that is not centered on the Word cannot elicit joy.  For the Christian, life is not random.  There is order, there is purpose – and thus joy.  That purpose is found in Jesus Christ, the Living WORD, through Whom creation commenced.

1. This critique of secular models for the origin of the universe is based off a well established scientific law of physics called "The Second Law of Thermodynamics". 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How the Milky Way Galaxy reminded me of Christ's Supremacy

Colossians 1:16-18 by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

What it was like to see the Milky Way Galaxy for the first time
One of the greatest memories I have of the enjoyment of God’s creation occurred after a hurricane had passed through where we had lived at in Central Florida.  For over a week we had no power, and so all of the lights in a 100 miles radius were not working.  I had stepped out to get some fresh air and was blown away by the Milky Way Galaxy that stretched from one side of the sky to the other.  For over an hour I looked at one end of the sky to the other.  Despite the destruction around me, I was reminded of the joyful confidence that God through Jesus Christ is still on the throne.

Seeing the Supremacy of Christ the Living WORD
The Book of Colossians is all about showing the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things.  The last phrase in our text above captures the point of this letter to the Church at Colossae: “so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” 

Why Christ the Living WORD is at the center of all things in four words under three headings
As we study the written Word of God, we can summarize it under three headings, utilizing four particular terms.  The Headings we will use are simply how the Bible portrays God and His works as operating with a beginning, middle and end.  With the beginning we assign the term creation (Genesis 1-2).  In terms of the middle part of God's activity revealed in scripture, we assign two main terms: Providence & Redemption (Genesis 3-Revelation 19/20).  Then finally, the Bible reveals one great end to all history into eternity as described by the term Kingdom (Revelation 19/20-22). Common to all these headings and terms is that Christ is at the center. 

The Beginning-Creation = God's beginning of creation through Christ
The first term, creation, deals with the origin of the universe, life and humanity.  We read in 1 Corinthians 8:6 "yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him."
The Middle - Providence = God's means of governing all history through Christ 
The second term, Providence, covers the world after the completion of creation.  God's governing of the world and history through Christ is covered under this heading.  Sin's entryway into the creation was known and ordained by God's permission, however it was not authored by God. 
One of the oldest Baptist statements of faith, explains more fully how God’s Sovereignty and Providence fits together with the purpose of redemption and the presence of evil and suffering:

“The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that His determinate counsel extends even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions of both angels and men.  This is not merely by a bare permission, but by a form of permission in which He included the most wise and powerful limitations, and other means of restricting and controlling sin. These various limitations have been designed by God to bring about his most holy purposes. Yet, in all these affairs, the sinfulness of both angels and men comes only from them and not from God, Who is altogether holy and righteous, and can never be the author or approver of sin.”1 (see source cited below)
The most recent Southern Baptist Doctrinal Confession states this truth in the following way: "God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures." 2(see source cited below)
The Middle - Redemption = God's way of regulating salvation's plan through Christ
The third term, redemption, covers God’s Eternal desire to work forth salvation by the sending of His Son to live, die, rise and ascend and  apply salvation to all who by grace through faith believe. 

The End - The Kingdom = God's reign in bringing creation, providence and redemption to His intended end by Christ
The fourth term, Kingdom, overlaps the first three, communicating the completion of God’s purposes for creation, the defeat of sin and death, the completed purposes of salvation for believers and the return of Christ to bring about the New heaven and New Earth.  The Kingdom is the domain of Christ's activity working invisibly in and through believers and will also be a visible manifested reality at Christ's return.

These four terms, when connected together, communicate the purpose of the Bible: The Enjoyment of the exaltation of God by His people as revealed in the WORD through the Word. Christ is at the center of all of them.  In the beginning He was with the Father in creation.  In the middle He is the One through whom all things consists in providence and through whom the Father's plan of salvation was accomplished.  Then concerning the end, Christ will return to bring to pass the Divine purposes concerning the Kingdom.   
1 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith
2. 2000 Baptist Faith and Message

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The cause of great hope

1 Peter 1:20-21 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Yesterday we contended that Christianity derives its joy from being centered on the WORD and The Word.  We have seen that enjoyment of both is germane to saving faith at the beginning of salvation and that this joy is central to the believer’s continuance in Godly living.  Let’s now notice the third reason why Christianity’s enjoyment of the Word and the Word is so crucial:

Great Hope is unending in the Enjoyment Word and the word 1:17-25
Peter now begins to lift us from the realm of current circumstance to viewing our current circumstance in light of eternity.  It is in this final section where we see the character of the Living Word and Written Word as determiners of our joy and hope.  Notice how Peter unfolds for us the character of Christian hope in the context of enjoying the Word and the Word:

Driving Hope for Enjoying Godly living in the Word. 1 Peter 1:17-19
By knowing who we and “whose we are”, we enjoy Christ the living Word as we live on the basis of the price he paid with His blood for us.  Living the Godly life does not come merely from considering His example, but more so from that fact that His gladness in purchasing us with His blood is imbedded deep in the Christian’s identity.  Quite literally, what Christ did for us in His humanity drives us to hope and enjoy Godly living. 

Divine Hope for Enjoying God-centeredness in the Word. 1 Peter 1:20-22   
Peter speaks specifically of Christ as being “foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for your sake”.  This language mirrors quite closely with what John writes in John 1:1 of “the Word was with God” and in John 1:14 of “the Word being made flesh”.  Only through our partaking of Christ’s Divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4) can we enjoy centering our lives on God.  When we center our lives on God, we will enjoy loving others from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22)  This is why centering ourselves on Christ the Word yields a truly enjoyable Christianity. 

Enduring Hope brought about by the Living Word through the written Word
1 Peter 1:23 is a transitioning point in Peter’s text, because He is going to switch from talking about Christ, the Living WORD to the Bible, the written Word.  In 1 Peter 1:23 we find it hard to know which one He is talking about.  We know that the new birth is brought about by Christ the Living Word calling us from the darkness to light. (John 5:24-25)  However the scriptures themselves have this quality of being the instrument through which the Holy Spirit brings about the conversion of men and women to saving faith. (Romans 10:17) 

The Hope of the Christian is enduring because of its beginning and ending point.  In Christ, by His Word I hear His voice calling me to “follow Him”.  It is in Christ, through His Word, that I can and will endure to the end. 

Illustrating what is unfading
When I have gotten my wife flowers, I usually will include a little card.  The card will have a little phrase or term of endearment written by me attached to the flowers.  The flowers themselves are beautiful, and their scent and visual appeal delight my wife.  But  after about 5 days they begin to lose their color.  How quickly they do fade.  Yet that card doesn’t fade in comparison.  My wife can see that my love for her as not faded, even though the tokens of my affection may have. 

Christ’s love for you never fades, neither does the power and enduring quality of the Written Word.  Our hope endures because His Words will never pass away. (Matthew 5:18)

As we close, let me summarize what we have looked at these past several days.  We explored this main thought: “why Christianity must be joyfully word centered”.  We discovered through 1 Peter 1 that Genuine salvation, Godly Living and Great Hope hinge upon our enjoyment of the Word and the Word in the three headings drawn from Peter’s statements:

1. Genuine Salvation begins with enjoyment of  the Word (and the word) 1:1-12

2. Godly Living continues with enjoyment  of the Word (and the word) 1:13-16

3. Great Hope is unending in the enjoyment of the Word (and the Word) 1:17-25

May we make it our duty and delight to enjoy Christ, and His Word, and thus be the type of Christians that are a joy to be around. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Effective, attractive Christianity

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The Bible - the Book of Joy
It is with this joy over the Living Word, Jesus Christ, that the Apostle reminds us of the source revealing Christ – namely the written words of the prophets.  In 1 Peter 1:10-12 we are told of how the prophets made “careful search and inquiry” as the “Spirit of Christ in them” was revealing both His sufferings and the “glories that would follow”.  By the time the Messiah would ascend into heaven, 109 Bible prophecies would had been fulfilled.  The enjoyment of the Living Word through His written Word has only begun. 

In order for the saint of God to be effective in their ongoing Christian walk, we will consider how:

Godly Living continues with enjoyment  of the Word (and the word) 1:13-16
One thing we know about the Apostle Peter was his incessant enjoyment over the Living Word and the written Word.  In 1 Peter 1:13 he writes: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  For the Apostle Peter, focusing upon what Christ accomplished in His first coming and centering ourselves upon what He will do in His Return constitutes abiding joy of the believer.  In fact the entire 3rd chapter of Peter’s second letter is dominated by Christ second coming. 

God's people must be obsessed with the Word and the WORD
If we consider the testimony of church history, the Gospel of Mark was a compilation of Peter’s preaching about Jesus Christ by the hand of Mark as Peter expounded about Christ’s 1st coming from both Matthew and the then newly written Gospel of Luke.  Peter was obsessed with Jesus Christ and the written Word.  When Jesus for example asked the disciples in John 6:67 “So  Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Only Peter responded in the next verse: “Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.'”

Feed your desire for God by enjoying the Word and the WORD
One of the themes Peter kept warning his readers about was combating against the “lusts or desires” that war against the soul.  There are other “joys” that compete for our attention.  Every Christian is tempted with this offer throughout their sanctification: To follow Jesus Christ with reckless abandonment or to walk away.  Peter knew that temptation first hand, and yet he centered his joy around the Living Word and the written Word.  In 1 Peter 1:15 he writes:  but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 

Peter quotes from the book of Leviticus, whose chief interest is to call the believer to a closer walk and fellowship with God the Father, enjoying Him in the beauty of holiness.  If we desire God in the beauty of holiness, then our Godly living will be marked not by obligation – but true devotion. 

Christianity is most attractive when believers are enjoying the Word and the WORD
In contending that Christianity derives its joy from being centered on the WORD and The Word, we have seen that enjoyment of both is germane to saving faith at the beginning of salvation and that this joy is central to the believer’s continuance in Godly living.  If anything, unending joy, fueled by Christ and the scriptures, is the most attractive and effective way Christian's can demonstrate the legitimacy of what they claim to believe. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Genuine salvation's unending joy

1 Peter 1:23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

When we consider the biblical concept of “The Living Word”, we often will turn to the writings of the Apostle John – and rightly so.  The phrase “Living Word” is a title that applies equally to the Bible and to the Lord Jesus Christ.  John certainly bears this out in significant texts such as John 1:1-18 and 1 John 1:1-4.  It is in those texts we see joyful-word centered Christianity defined.

However there is another Apostle who took up the pen under the direction of the Holy Ghost and wrote about “The Living Word” – namely the Apostle Peter.  Peter will explain in 1 Peter 1 why the design of Christian salvation is centered around enjoyment of the Word and the WORD. 

Peter - the man of "The Word"
Peter ended up writing two letters bearing His name.  In the first chapter of this first letter, we are going to explore what Peter has to say about the Living WORD – Jesus Christ, and the Written Word, the Bible.  In fact, 1 Peter 1:23 is a text that could describe the work of either Christ or the scriptures.  Peter writes there:  "for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." 

Peter is going to underscore the centrality of the WORD (Jesus Christ) and the Word (The Bible), and even more so, the enjoyment that results from centering on both.  In this blog we aim to understand why Christianity must be joyfully word centered by considering the following three ideas from 1 Peter 1:

1. Genuine Salvation begins with enjoyment of  the Word (and the word) 1:1-12

2. Godly Living continues with enjoyment  of the Word (and the word) 1:13-16

3. Great Hope is unending in the enjoyment of the Word (and the Word) 1:17-25

Since this is such an important theme, we will only focus on the first of these ideas.  First of all, Christianity must be joyfully word-centered due to the fact that:

Genuine Salvation begins with enjoyment of  the Word (and the word) 1:1-12

1 Peter 1:1-12 is all about the unfolding of the beginning of the believer’s salvation.  Consider what Peter writes about biblical salvation:
1. God’s choosing of the believer in love in 1 Peter 1:1-2. 
2. The New birth, whereby the Divine Gifting of faith is literally “birthed” in the hearer of the Gospel, resulting in conversion.  1 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 2:8-9 
3. Ongoing growth in Christlikeness – or what we call sanctification. 1 Peter 1:4
4. The believer’s perseverance – whereby every true child of God will persevere until the very end to Christ’s appearing. 1 Peter 1:5 

Prior to God's grace, I had anything but joy towards the Word.  Jesus Christ was of no consequence in my thinking.  I tried to gain joy through self-righteousness.  Before faith came, I was in bondage, under judgment, condemned by the Law of God. (Galatians 3:24ff)  However once God in His grace called my name, I believed, and now am enjoying the riches of freedom in my salvation.  Quite literally, there is "rejoicing" over what Christ has done and is doing in having made me an heir of the promises of salvation. (Galatians 4:30)

How joy shines through the believer's salvation
Like a string of diamonds does Peter lays out the warp and woof of Genuine salvation.  Then he makes this statement in 1 Peter 1:6 which is pertinent to today's blog: “this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.”  It is here where we see the theme of “joy” or “rejoicing” as one of the chief marks of genuine conversion.  Despite the dark background of trials, of which Peter states to be normative for the Christian in 1 Peter 1:7, The joy of salvation shines through the darkness like a series of bright diamonds or brilliant stars. 

The believer's uncontainable joy - The Living WORD
In fact we see one more statement made pertaining to our enjoyment of the Living Word Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:8 states: “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”  The Greek of this verse literally pictures the believer so full of joy that they are singing joyfully to themselves over this joy that they cannot contain.    
May you and I dear friend enjoy the Word and the WORD - for the joy of our salvation demands it, requires it and will die without it. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Joy gained from cherishing the Word

1 John 1:4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

As we noted several days ago, John’s opening here in 1 John 1:1-4 functions like a Rose, wherein we can begin in the middle and work our way outward from center to circumference.  As we have worked our way through this text, we now arrive at the purpose for which John wrote these verses in 1:4 – “These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

The nature of joy
Joy by its very nature cannot be contained in solitary confinement – it must be shared with another person in order for it to be genuinely called joy.  Why? Because Joy is meant to be shared in relationship.  Consider John’s remarks about Him being both captivated and captured by His central focus on The WORD Jesus Christ and the Word – the scriptures. 

The Promise of joy to those who cherish the Word and the WORD
This fourth verse is both a promise and an exhortation.  It is a promise because the readers are told that by reading John’s words, they will have full joy.  This isn’t the first time John connects the idea of “joy” or “blessedness” to the reading of what He wrote.  In Revelation 1:3 he writes: “Blessed is the one who reads and heeds these words”.  It’s not because John wrote them, rather because of the One who is supernaturally guiding the process of the composition of those words.  The subject of the revelation is also the object to whom the revelation points. 
These are not just the ramblings of a 90 plus year old preacher writing inspirational thoughts to his readers – these are God’s words, fully inspired, God breathed through the flowing and simple language of this Apostle.  Joy, Full joy, is to be found due to these being “The Words” of God written about the “WORD of God” living. 

Powerful reason to cherish the Word and THE WORD: your joy depends upon it
The promise of fullness of joy also is accompanied by the exhortation to read these words.  Now the exhortation – or urging to do what is written – is not stated, but expected.  In other words, John is writing with the expectation that other people will read.  Communication involves the intention of the reader and the expectation that someone is listening. 

John is so full of joy over what He has experienced and witnessed for the past 60 plus years that he cannot stand to keep it to Himself.  He sees his flock, he sees them striving to be Godly, yet their joy is not full.  When a pastor sees his people struggling, the urgency is to see them full of the goodness of joy that will last through thick and thin.  As any good pastor knows, only one prescription will do – centering and enjoying oneself around The WORD and The Word. 

Practical example of cherishing the Word and THE WORD
He writes for this purpose: that our joy may be made complete.  Note what he didn’t write: “that our joy is complete”.  In order to have the fullness of joy written of in this text, the Christian must avail themselves by actually opening up their Bibles – and marveling at the wondrous things of scripture. (Psalm 119:18).  In doing so, they will meet Jesus the Living Word, whose aim is to meet with them. 

Pleasure of cherishing the Word and THE WORD
To see the rainbow, I must look through the prism.  I behold the pure white light, its point of entry.  The properties of that light remain the same in terms of substance, yet they are united with that prism.  I look at the light coming out on the other side, and I see the seven-fold colors of the rainbow.   Those that study optics will tell you those seven colors correspond to specific frequencies of light that are the same no matter what rainbow you look at.  The colors dazzle me, and my heart is amazed.

To see the infinite glory of Jesus Christ, I must see His Deity united in His Person to His sinless, post-resurrection humanity.  As I do, it is the scripture that spells out for me in specific detail how beautiful and significant He is.  The Written Word in the Old Testament and the Gospels record for me the prediction and portrayal of His Deity coming into time and entering through the virgin’s human womb.  As He is born, as He lives, as He is crucified, raised and ascended, I am beholding the glory refracted through the prism of sinless humanity.  It is the Acts and Epistles that explain to me the many-fold character of His glory. 

He is communicated brilliantly.  My joy is made full and complete.    

Friday, June 22, 2012

Never get over Jesus Christ

1 John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life

In becoming captivated by the written Word and the Living WORD - we find the key to joy in the Christian life.  The Apostle John never got over Jesus.  For 60 years after having been called by Jesus Christ, John wrote his Gospel, three epistles and Apocalypse (the Book of Revelation). The freshness of his faith breathed with joy in the Lord. 

Today I want us to look closer at this man who never got over Jesus Christ - The Living WORD.
John never got over Jesus!
As he had walked with Jesus in His faith-walk for some 60 or so years, He got to know Him.  In 1 John 1:1 John unfolds the compelling nature of his experience and knowledge of Jesus Christ: 

The Eternal Christ - The Living WORD – “What was from the beginning”

The Experience of Jesus the man - The WORD in human flesh

a. The Teaching of Jesus – “what we have heard”

b. The miracles of Jesus – “what we have seen”

c. Personal knowledge of Jesus “with our own eyes”

d. The Passion of Jesus – “what we have looked at”

e. The resurrected Jesus – “touched with our hands”

f. Concerning the Word of Life – Jesus Christ Himself and also in reference to the scriptures about Him.

We should never get over "what" He worked in our lives
In the Greek text that word translated “what” is in the neuter, meaning that John is overtaken not only by the Person of Christ, but the event and accomplishments of the Master.  John could have very easily used the word “He” in the text, wherein he could had written: “He was from the beginning, He was the One we heard” and so on.  Yet John doesn’t do that.  The Holy Ghost had John write “what was from the beginning” to express the accomplishments and events surrounding the Person of Christ.  Christ did a marvelous work in John's life - something of which He never got over. 

We should never get over the wonder of the new life implanted in us by Christ
I feel the reason he did it this way was so that we could interpret his statement “word of Life” to refer to the scriptures and Christ Himself.  John never got over what He witnessed and heard from the Living Word Jesus Christ nor the living words He heard from Jesus Christ.  In four other places Jesus Christ is depicted as the “Living Word”. (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 5:7 (KJV); Revelation 19:13)  The Bible too is elsewhere described as being the living word of God. (Hebrews 4:12) 

We should never get over the wonder of Jesus Christ
John never got over the Word Jesus Christ, since it is Christ who called him forth from spiritual death unto spiritual life. (John 1:37; 5:24-25)  John never got over how the written word imparted to him eternal life at his conversion, which Jesus spoke and taught.  He was captivated. When Jesus, the Living Word, spoke the written word: “Come, and you will see”, the Apostle John (unnamed in John 1:39) and the other disciple, Andrew, began to follow Him.  He never got over that.  For six decades he had followed Jesus, and was still exhibiting an insatiable hunger for the written Word.  We know that centering our lives around the WORD and the Word is enjoyable because what takes place in our first saving encounter with the Word and the Word should never be something we get over.