Friday, October 23, 2015
The Basis For The Gospel
In the Bible, we have four biographical accounts of Jesus’ life. Two of the, John and Matthew are by men who experienced Jesus Ministry first hand as his disciples. Mark and Luke, on the other hand, were by men who were a little younger, but old enough to interview many of the people who had observed and been affected by Jesus’ life. Details in the historical accounts differ slightly as a result of the varying perspectives of different sources. The fact that they all agree on the basic events although they list them in different order indicates they are in fact what people observed. As one former detective told me, since nobody remembers all the details perfectly, if the witness statements match too perfectly, it means their testimony has been compromised by discussing it and changing the memories to fit what they have been told rather than what they actually observed.
While the other three focused on Jesus life and ministry, verifying each other, John focuses on his teachings, recording them in greater detail than the other gospels. At the same time the other gospels share enough of his teachings to demonstrate that John’s record accurately reflect his teachings. He starts by identifying Christ as the creator of the world, as God. It is the basic premise of Christianity. If Jesus is not in fact God, the entire system is meaningless.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:1-5)
The wording here closely resembles the wording in Genesis 1:1-2. “ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” John says the word both was with God and was God, implying that they were in fact two separate and yet united beings. He goes on to say he was the creator of everything that exists, which Genesis 1:1 indicates was created by God. When created, the world was in darkness, and waited to for God to produce light. John paints a parallel picture of the spiritual world.
In Colossians 1:12-17, Paul makes the same point that Jesus Christ is the creator of the world. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” While we might not initially be sure that the “Word” John speaks of refers to Christ, Paul leaves no question as to who he is talking about, and John soon removes any doubt.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 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 bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” (John 1:6-16)
Here the author is not referring to himself, but to John the Baptist. He makes the point that John was not the Messiah, but rather a witness that that was who Christ was. As verse 15 states, John did give such testimony, as recorded in just a few verses. He went on to describe what Christ came to do, offering salvation to anyone who would believe him, and making them children of God. He was able to do so because , though he was God he became a human, living among mankind so they could see what he was.
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
God gave a set of moral and practical laws to Moses demonstrating the moral standards a person would have to meet to even think of getting into heaven. Unfortunately, as James 2:10 states, even one violation would automatically disqualify a person. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Romans 3:10 tells us there no one who keeps the law perfectly. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” As a result the Law could never save anyone. Romans 3:20 tells us, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
Thankfully, Christ brought Grace and truth instead of just the law. The word Grace means something on did not earn, in effect a gift. Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We receive salvation, not as a result of our own efforts, but as a gift from God through Christ as Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Titus 3:5-7 expresses the same thought. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
John has summed up the entire purpose for Christ’s ministry in these few verses. The rest of the book will examine the basis on which he made these claims in detail.