And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
The Word (John 1:1-3)
John’s prologue begins with the same phrase used by Moses in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning.” This is not coincidental. The apostle focuses attention on the divine nature of the Word by introducing the timelessness of the Word who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). God is eternal. The Word is eternal. Thus, “the Word was with God and was God” in the beginning. There has never been a moment when the Word was not divine. God exists outside of time, space and matter. The Word, who is God, created all these “in the beginning.” No wonder Scripture says, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth…For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6, 9; see “God said” in Genesis 1). The Word was at work creating all things in the beginning. John boldly and unequivocally identifies Jesus Christ as our Creator. Jesus is eternal God who took upon Himself flesh (John 1:14). In Him alone, deity and humanity are miraculously joined. Jesus is God, the Word who brought “grace and truth” to the world (John 1:17, 34). This fundamental truth is central to faith and life in the Son (1 John 5:11-13).
Life and Light in the Word (John 1:4-5)
The Word’s creation of the world is ample proof that He is the source of life (John 1:3). Not only did He create life on our planet, He also spoke into existence the light that sustains that life. Beyond this, He is also the source of a light that is far greater than the sun, moon and stars. The Word, who was with God and was God, is the source of eternal life. The life He came to give is abundant (John 10:10). Those who believe in Him “shall never die” (John 11:26). The everlasting life He brought to the world illuminates the path out of sin’s darkness to the presence of the Father (John 14:6). The light of His life is so powerful that the darkness of sin did not overtake (overwhelm) it (John 1:5). Jesus taught, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24). The Word gives us life and lights our path to the throne of God. Unquestionably, Jesus is the light of the world, and he who follows Him “shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). The eternal life Christ gives through His word is stronger than the darkness of sin and death. Trust and follow the word of God. Walk in the light of His truth, and have life eternal.
The Witness of John (John 1:6-9)
John the baptizer was the Messiah's predicted messenger, the forerunner who testified Jesus to be the Lamb of God and the Son of God (John 1:29-34; Malachi 3:1; Mark 1:1-4). John’s work prepared the people to believe in Jesus as the Christ (Luke 3:3-6). John testified that he had been sent before the Christ, the One who came from heaven and who is “above all” (John 3:28, 31). John further testified that Jesus spoke the words of God that bring life to all who believe in Him (John 3:34-36). As John called sinners to repent and to believe on the One who came after Him—Jesus, he drew attention to the Light that the Word brought into the world. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16). Allow the Light that Jesus brought into the world to shine in your heart and life. Believe in Him and let His light of truth guide your feet in the way of peace (Luke 1:79).
Accepting Jesus (John 1:10-13)
He who created the world came into the world to save the world, but His creation (humanity) did not know Him. They did not perceive who He was, even though His Light shined in the dark world to replace death with eternal life (John 1:5, 9). He came to His chosen people (Israel), but the nation did not accept Him. When people received (accepted) Jesus they believed in His name and were given the right to become children of God (v. 12). Please note that accepting (receiving) Jesus did not make the believer a child of God, it gave that person the right (the authority, power, or freedom to act) to become a child of God (to be born of God, v. 13). Yet, to this day the lost are being told they are born again when they accept Jesus. No, the believer has the right to become God’s child; that is what verse 12 says. The new birth does not occur at the moment of faith. The new birth, of water and the Spirit, occurs when the believer calls on the Lord’s name by being baptized to wash away his sins (John 3:5; Acts 22:16). Accepting Jesus is the beginning, not the end, of becoming a child of God.
Born of God (John 1:12-13)
God gives believers the right to become His children – to be saved in the Son (1 John 5:11-12). John explains that birth into the family of God is not due to physical lineage (“not of blood”) or fleshly procreation (“of the will of the flesh”). The apostle Paul said, “nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham” (Romans 9:7). One is not born into the family of God by the will of man. Neither human desires and wishes, doctrines, creeds or confessions produce the new birth. Birth into the family of God is of faith, not of flesh. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). Children of God are born of God and have life in the Son. Children of God walk in the light. Such rich blessings of salvation come “by grace, through faith” to those who put on Christ, which occurs when the believer is baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27).
The Word became Flesh (John 1:14)
The Word (eternal deity who created the world) became human and lived on the earth He created (John 1:3). He did not relinquish His deity when He came to earth, but He did empty Himself of its form (its glory) to take upon Himself flesh (Philippians 2:6-7). He became a man and lived among men. But, He was unique, “the only begotten of the Father,” because “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). His divine nature was revealed to the world by His words and by His miracles, then recorded by eyewitnesses who beheld His glory (John 20:30-31; 1 John 1:1-4). The Word brought the fullness of grace and truth to the world. He is our one and only true source of grace and truth. God’s grace is completely available in the truth, the word of God (John 17:17). And, God’s truth is always consistent with His grace (Galatians 1:6-7). What wonderful comfort it is to know God’s grace and truth are available to us in the Word, the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
The Testimony of John (John 1:15)
Jesus bore witness to the truth that He is the light of the world, and His testimony of Himself was true (John 8:12-13). Even so, additional testimony was given to convince people that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten of the Father (John 5:31-35). The testimony of John corroborated the incarnation and glory of Jesus as the only begotten of the Father, whose Light brought life, grace and truth to the world (John 1:6-9, 14). John ranks Jesus higher than himself (he is “preferred before me”) because He (the Word, the only begotten Son of God) existed before John and created John (John 1:1-3). The Lord’s forerunner bore testimony that Jesus is eternal God who became flesh. As it is testified, “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17). To think of Jesus as merely a good moral teacher misses the mark. His claim, as well as John’s testimony, was that He is God. If He is not, then He is not good, and He is not moral. If He is God, then He is the source of grace and truth who must be honored above all. The evidence is overwhelming – Jesus is Immanuel (“God with us”).
of God is in Jesus Christ
Looking back to John 1:14, where the Word is announced as “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” John returns to the abundant grace found in the only begotten Son of God. In Jesus Christ (not Moses), a never-ceasing source of grace has appeared and is available to the entire human race. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). God’s grace offers salvation to everyone. God’s truth teaches us what to do to receive grace and to stand in it (Romans 5:1-2). Thus, grace and truth meet in Jesus. By God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). The gospel of His grace convicts us of our sin and its truth corrects us to obtain an eternal inheritance (Acts 20:24, 32). The Son of God is the only begotten (unique, one of a kind). We have not seen the invisible God (John 5:37; 6:46). But, the Son, who is eternal God, is qualified to do so (John 1:1). He shows us who God is and what God does. That is why He is the Word, and His Light brings life to the world (John 1:4-5, 9). Hear Him and live in His grace and truth.
U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem
Last Monday the United States officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
It did not take long for the false teachers to say this indicates the approach of a 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth from His throne in Jerusalem. John Hagee (senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio TX) said in the closing benediction of the ceremony, “Jerusalem is where Messiah will come and establish a kingdom that will never end” (“Franklin Graham Talks Jesus Christ's Return, Fulfillment of Prophecy as Jerusalem Embassy Opens,” Stoyan Zaimov, christianpost.com). Franklin Graham posted on Facebook, “[Seventy] years ago today, the State of Israel was established. In fulfillment of prophecy, God brought the nation into being, and He is sustaining them for the day when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will return and establish His throne in Jerusalem as Scripture tells us” (Ibid). This is not at all what Scripture tells us.
The State of Israel is not the nation (kingdom) of prophecy. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly…” (Rom. 2:28–29; see also, Rom. 9:6-8). The State of Israel was left desolate for rejecting Messiah (Matt. 23:38). The kingdom of God is not of this world; it is within you (Jno. 18:36; Lk. 17:20-21).
Jesus Christ is now upon His throne, ruling as king and serving as priest over His kingdom (Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14; Mk. 1:14-15; 9:1; Acts 2:30-36; Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:6, 9). These passages attest that the kingdom now exists with Christ on His throne. His church is the kingdom of prophecy (Isa. 2:2-4; 9:6-7; Heb. 1:8-9). The Israel of God is the church, not the 70-year-old State of Israel (Gal. 6:16).
When Jesus returns He will destroy death and deliver the kingdom to God the Father (1 Cor. 15:24-26). Upon Christ’s return, the resurrection of the dead will mark the end of the kingdom on earth, not its beginning.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 05/16/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA