I have felt the Lord saying to me recently that he wants me to plow through some Scripture for those who are listed on the ITG receiver list, so that is what I’ll do, beginning with the book of John, chapter 1. You know, the book of John is considered by many people to be one of the best evangelistic books, and essentially the first place to start for those who are new believers. So if you’re a new believer, this is the book for you. If you’re not a new believer, then this is still great meat to chew on – it will help you to know how to explain the gospel to your friends. Indeed, the book of John is loaded, and if you’ve never gone through it carefully, I think you’ll be surprised.
The overall purpose of the book, according to John 20:31, can be said to be two-fold:
1. To convince us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus is the Son of God
2. To persuade us, on the basis of who Jesus is, and on the basis of the benefit to be gained by doing so, to put our faith in Jesus.
For John writes, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31)
Consequently, we can read the book of John knowing that John’s purpose in writing is clearly spelled out. He has not written a haphazard book, but one which clearly defines for us just who exactly this Jesus is, why he came, and the benefit of believing in his name.
The first section I’ll deal with is John 1:1-18, in which John deals with the question, “Who is Jesus and where did he come from?” He starts out by writing, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) This is a somewhat surprising statement, and hard to understand in its isolated context. Indeed, you would not understand it, except by reading the material that follows it. For John goes on to explain just exactly what he manes by “the Word”.
This first verse is an immediate challenge, and one which should grab our attention! “The Word” was in the beginning, John says. And “the Word” was with God. Not only this, “the Word” was God! Don’t be deceived by those who insert the letter “a” in front of the word “God”, thus rendering the sentence, “the Word was a god”. They are deceived and have inserted the word against the true meaning of the Greek. These are Jehovah Witnesses, who deny that Jesus was God in the flesh.
But does this first sentence really speak of Jesus Christ? Read a little further in the chapter, and you will see that it says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) And yet a few verses later, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) So there you have it! Putting John 1:1, 1:14, and 1:17 together, John clearly was referring to Jesus Christ when he wrote “the Word”.
Why did John write, “the Word”? Why this language? John explains that in verse 18: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Notice John’s statement, “the only begotten Son (Jesus) … he hath declared him”. This can also be translated, “the only begotten Son … he has made him known” (or “has explained him”).
Language explains. Language makes known. Jesus has “made known” or “explained” who God is. Thus, it is appropriate to call him, “The Word”. Another way of understanding this is that in order to understand who God is, you need to “read his word” – you need to know who Jesus is.
Do you know who Jesus is? Have you met him? Stay with us in this study, and you’ll come to meet him, and understand him, and understand God in a way in which perhaps you have never known before.
In preparation for our next lesson, in which I’ll dig into this passage a little deeper, if you have not done so already, and even if you have, I would encourage you all to read John 1.