John 1-2, Psalm 103
Whenever we start a new book in the Bible, it's good to ask why the book is being written and how does it add to what has previously been recorded. This book was written almost 60 years after Jesus' death and resurrection. Most place John's gospel after his 3 letters, making it the 2nd to the last book written. Realize 60 years is a long time ( for our country, a little shorter than WW II in our nation). In that time a dangerous heresy or cult was spreading called Gnosticism. Among other things, they claimed Jesus was really spirit, not physical. They taught that all matter is evil, only the spirit is good, therefore even the most grotesque sins were no longer a problem. They taught that salvation is gained only by acquiring a special knowledge, unknown and available to the rest. Where the other 3 Gospels are called synoptic, or telling the story, John's emphasis was completely different. He was showing that Jesus is God.
Put yourself in John's position, he is the last apostle alive, and a lie is spreading which you know to be a lie. You see his heart in dealing with this in the opening of his letter 1 John:1-2, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life-the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us." John hits the cult straight on, I touched, saw, etc, so don't deny His physicality. The importance of this is summed up in the purpose of what he wrote, in John 20:31,"but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." Destroy the gospel message of repentance, dependence on what He did and not what we do, and making Him our Lord, destroys the opportunity for salvation. He opens his gospel in John 1:1-3, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him,...". He goes on in verse 14 to say,"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...". If calling Jesus the Word is questioned at all, read Revelation 19:13, when Jesus clearly returns at His second coming, and we read of Him, "He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God." Jesus claimed to be God, and everyone knew it, we read in John 10:33, "The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God."
Why is this so important to us, now? Because everything about Jesus and God is attacked daily, not by the Gnostics, but by other groups. The Jehovah Witnesses changed the opening verse to John to state that, "...and the Word was a God". The word "a" is not present in the original Greek. This one slight change completely alters the meaning. Once while sharing with a Jewish individual, he claimed that we practice polytheism or belief in more than one God, whereas they believe in only one. But this is easily refuted. In Genesis 1:1, the word for God is Elohim, which is the plural noun for God, not El which is singular. In Genesis 1:26, we read, "Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image,...". In Isaiah 9:6, in reference to the future Messiah, we read, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;...And His name will be called...Mighty God." In Jeremiah 23:5-6, in reference to the future Messiah, called the Branch of David, we read, "...Now this is His Name by which He will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness", which is a direct name for God. The New Age movement claims that their adherents can be God-like. The applicability of this book is obvious, the attacks against the truth about Jesus have only gotten worse through the years. Only by adhering to His Word and allowing it to penetrate our hearts can we refute the attacks, and strengthen in our own walk, knowing the truth behind who Jesus truly is.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: