We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.
Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. What's God like? Look at Jesus. He is God among us. Basically, He was God with skin on.
Jesus became human without ceasing to be God. God had an important message to deliver to mankind. He was surrounded by heavenly messengers called angels, but He had a different plan. He could have written His message across the sky or fashioned creation itself to reveal His words. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out instead God chose to deliver the message Himself, clothed in humanity, born as a baby. Today we'll look at the message and the God-man who was born in a manger.
This is the day, the day when life begins. Alright, well let's grab our Bibles and we're going to turn to the Gospel of John. Now over the years I've taught through all the Gospels, of course, and each Gospel has its own unique perspective.
It's sort of like taking photos of something from different angles. Each Gospel gives us a different angle. One Gospel is not better than another. They're just different from each other.
One is not more insightful. It's just different insights, all pictures of Jesus. Take the Gospel of Matthew, for instance.
Jesus is presented as the Messiah of Israel. It was written 30 years after His death and resurrection. And Matthew is showing that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah with 129 quotations from the Old Testament. That's unique to Matthew's Gospel. There's some other things in his Gospel that we don't find in the others, like the story of the wise men and the nativity story, as well as the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is only in Matthew's Gospel. Then there's the Gospel of Mark. By the way, that was the first of the four Gospels that was written. Some believe it was actually dictated by Peter to Mark.
We don't know for sure about that. But Mark's Gospel almost, he almost writes like a reporter. There's a breathless quality. There's like movement in it. One of Mark's favorite words is immediately.
In fact, he uses it 42 times. So he has Jesus in movement, Jesus doing things. It's sort of like the Gospel for people with ADD.
I don't know. But it's a fast-paced Gospel, a shorter Gospel, 16 chapters in total. Then there's the Gospel of Luke.
And again, really unique. By the way, Luke was not one of the apostles. He was not an eyewitness of the life and ministry of Christ.
In fact, he came back and interviewed the people that were involved in the story. And Luke was a physician by trade, an educated man. He also was something of a poet. The way that Luke writes in his particular version of the nativity story is stated so beautifully. But he was a stickler for details and so he probably interviewed Mary, the mother of our Lord, and Simon Peter and the other disciples. And he has some unique features as well, like the two disciples on the Emmaus road that's only found in the Gospel of Luke. As is the story of the prodigal son, one of the best known stories in the Bible. That's only in the Gospel of Luke. Well, that brings us to the Gospel of John. There's no nativity story in John's Gospel.
And by that I mean the story of the birth of Christ. There's no genealogy in John like there is in Matthew and Luke. In fact, 90% of the material found in the Gospel of John is found nowhere else. While other Gospels focus on key events in the life of Christ, John focuses on the meaning of them.
Let me say that again. While other Gospels focus on key events in the life of Christ, John focuses on the meaning of them. In fact, many of the great I am statements of Jesus are found only in the Gospel of John. Where we read Jesus saying, I am the bread of life. I am the good shepherd, John chapter 10.
I am the resurrection and the life and he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And of course, the very familiar John 14, 6, I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father but by me. So why did John write his Gospel? Well, for starters, he was an eyewitness of the ministry of our Lord.
And he was sort of in the inside circle. Remember how Jesus would take Peter, James, and John with him on special occasions. They were there when the daughter of Jairus was raised from the dead.
They were there when Jesus was transfigured with Moses on one side and Elijah on the other. Peter, James, and John were there in the Garden of Gethsemane where Christ's, what is it word, great drops of blood. And Dr. Luke points that out uniquely in being a physician. Maybe he is describing a medical condition known as hematridrosis.
That when a patient is under extreme stress, they can actually have perspiration mixed with blood. So these guys saw a lot of things that the others did not see. And John often describes himself as the apostle that Jesus loved. Now that almost sounds arrogant.
I go, I was the guy he loved. Well, actually, I don't think it's arrogant at all. I think it would be arrogant if he said he was the apostle who loved Jesus. Now he didn't boast of his love for Christ.
He boasted of Christ's love for him. And in fact, John was very insightful. John seemed to pick up on things that the others would often miss. After Christ was risen from the dead and was standing on the shore with some fish that he had cooked for the boys for breakfast, he called to them and it was John, the perceptive one, who said, it's the Lord. Peter was like, what? John was like, it's Jesus. After Christ had risen and the tomb was empty, John and Peter came to see the empty tomb.
Peter was trying to figure out what it meant and went away with a certain degree of skepticism. John looked in, got it, saw, and believed. That was John.
Very insightful guy. But why did he write this gospel? He actually tells us in John 20, 31. He said these things were written that non-believers might believe.
These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. Whenever I talk to someone who says they want to start reading the Bible, you might be surprised to find I don't say start in Genesis. Not that it's a bad thing to start in Genesis. But I often tell them to start in the gospel of John. And the reason I say that is because it was specifically written so a non-believer could believe.
So I think it's a great place for a person to start and of course a great place for anyone to start who wants to read through the Bible. And I'll tell them to pray something along the lines of say to God if you're real, make yourself real to me as I read this gospel. In 21 chapters, John proves that Jesus is the son of God who should be followed. Number two, John's gospel was written that we as believers might experience more of his life in us because he says that believing you may have life in his name. So John wrote the gospel for those who already believe because the word that he uses there for believing speaks of a continual action. In other words, John is saying the more we believe, the more life we will experience. Thus John wrote to convince the skeptic but also to convince the believer in the commitment they've already made. So John's gospel was written that we as believers might experience more of his life in us. Pastor Greg picks up our study in just a moment with one of the most important precepts of the Christian faith. And it's a truth revealed right here in the gospel of John.
More about that in a moment. You know, Pastor Greg, the last couple of years have been so tough on everybody. Not just here in the U.S. but all around the world. You know, with the pandemic, with the cultural decline, political chaos, economic chaos, and certainly spiritual chaos.
Many companies are scaling back and many are just trying to get through it all amidst all the uncertainty. But Harvest Ministries seems to be doubling down in its mission in 2023. Tell us about that. Yeah, you know, Dave, the Bible says when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him. Listen, this is not the time to retreat. This is the time to advance. This is not the time to lose ground. It's time to gain ground. And by that I mean we march forward. Jesus said we are the church and the gates of hell will not prevail against us.
What does that mean? Think of one of those old movies you've seen where they're storming the castle and there's the big gate in front. And of course they're pouring the boiling oil over the side of the wall. So what do they do? They get a battering ram. Maybe they even set the battering ram on fire and keep hitting the gate till it finally opens.
So here's the picture. We're the folks with the battering ram. The fortress is the culture controlled by the power of the devil. So Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against you. It simply means we're going to win as we storm the gates and as we move forward. I'm asking folks listening right now to join us as we storm the gates.
Join us as we seek to invade instead of evade, to permeate instead of isolate. Join us as we seek to give the gospel to as many people as we possibly can. And one way you can do that is through your financial investment in Harvest Ministries.
Here's David to tell you more. Yeah, your investment in Harvest Ministries right now is so strategic. It's the most pivotal time of the year as we're poised to enter a new year of ministry, a year filled with plans to reach further than we ever have before. Can we count on you to be a partner with us? Get in touch today and let us know you want to become a Harvest partner. Our telephone number is 1-800-821-3300. Call any time, night or day. And again, the number 1-800-821-3300.
Or go online to harvest.org. And now here's Pastor Greg with more of today's message. The Gospel of John and the way it begins is amazing because he goes way back before the little town of Bethlehem. He goes way back before Mary and Joseph. He goes way back even before the Garden of Eden. He goes back to the solar system.
He goes back to the beginning of the beginning. So that's where we're going to start. John chapter 1, starting in verse 1. We'll read verses 1 to 5. 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 and without him, nothing was made that was made in him was life.
And that life was the light of men and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. So we'll stop there. Now this is interesting because there's not a definite article before the word beginning. Meaning you cannot pinpoint this moment in time where there was a beginning. So really when he says the beginning, we don't even know where that starts. But John is taking us back to eternity past. Further back than the human mind can imagine. And that brings me to my first point about Jesus.
If you're taking notes. And here it is. Jesus is God. Jesus is God. That's a really important thing to understand and believe for a Christian.
Jesus is God. Before there was a world. Before there was planets. Before there was light or darkness.
Before there was matter. Before anything else there was the Godhead and there was Jesus. Jesus Christ, co-equal, co-eternal, co-existent with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Word was with God. The Word was God.
Jesus was deity in diapers if you will. He did not become identical to us but he did become identified with us. In fact he could not have been any more identified with us than he was.
It was total identification without a loss of identity on his part. Jesus is God. That by the way is an essential for Christians.
There's no wiggle room here. If you don't believe Jesus is God to be blunt you can't be a Christian. Because who is he? Just a great man? A prophet?
A guru? What? Jesus claimed to be God and for us to be genuine Christians we must believe that he is God. Jesus was fully God but just as true as that is this is also true. Jesus was fully man. How's that possible?
I'm not really sure. But he was fully God and he was fully man. Verse 14 says the word became flesh and dwelt among us.
I mean think about it. Jesus Christ who had neither beginning nor end who has always existed came to this earth as a living breathing human being. He who was larger than life he who created the solar system became an embryo. He went from the throne of heaven to a feeding trough. That's effectively where he was born there in that manger or that cave. He went from the presence of angels to a cave filled with animals. I think it's hard for us to wrap our mind around the idea of deity and humanity in one person.
Well a good example of this would be Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee. He was tired from a day of ministry and fell asleep. And a radical storm came pitching the boat back and forth and they were waking him up saying, Lord save us or we will die. So what could be more human than falling asleep, right? But then what could be more as an illustration of deity than the fact that he stood up after they woke him up and calmed the storm.
Probably because he wanted to go back to his nap again. Wake up. Lord wake up we're gonna perish.
Oh whatever okay. Peace be still. So here's the storm. He stops.
He goes back downstairs. I don't know if that happened. But that was deity on display. That he could speak to a storm.
And by the way the phrase that's used there in the original language is peace be muzzled. As though he was talking to a wild animal. I think he was talking to the spirit behind that storm in this particular instance which was the devil. Again what could be more human than his crucifixion and death. To see him beaten. He bled real blood. He felt real pain.
He experienced real thirst as he hung on the cross. But what could be more divine than the veil in the temple ripping from top to bottom in a earthquake in a darkness covering the land as he bore the sin of the world. So I think people try to wrap their minds around God.
It's not an easy thing to do. They consider his attributes. That God is omniscient. That God is omnipotent. That God is omnipresent. That God is sovereign. That God is righteous and God is holy. And those things are all true. But if you really want to know what God is like just look at Jesus.
That's it. What's God like? Look at Jesus. What does God think of children? Look at Jesus.
Taking the children into his arms and blessing them. What does God think about that? Look at Jesus. He is God among us. Basically he was God with skin on.
God had a face. Jesus became one of us without ceasing to be himself. Jesus became human without ceasing to be God. And the Bible is clear in pointing out that Christ always was God himself. In fact before the creation of the universe Jesus was there.
Notice verse one. The word was with God. He was with God.
And that can be translated the word was continually toward God. So what that implies is a closeness among the Trinity. It implies a closeness between Father and Son being face to face. It's hard for us to fathom how close the Father and the Son were but the preposition with implies nearness.
Along with a sense of movement toward God. So if you're really close to someone you might lean on them, right? It's relationship.
It's intimacy. And that is the idea that's being implied here. In fact Jesus said I always do the things that please the Father. Who could say that? But Jesus. I don't even know if he could say that for five minutes of my life.
Much less all of my life. But Jesus said Oh I always do the things that please the Father. And then in John 17 which really would be the technical Lord's Prayer. You know we say the Lord's Prayer is our Father who art in heaven hallowed be your name. And nowhere in the Bible does it call that the Lord's Prayer. If we wanted to be accurate it should be called the disciples prayer. Because it's a prayer only we would pray Christ would never pray that prayer. He gave it in response to the request Lord teach us to pray. Because Jesus would never say our Father who art in heaven hallowed be your name forgive us our sin.
You see he wouldn't ask for the forgiveness of sin. That's a good prayer for us to pray. But if you want to read the Lord's Prayer read John chapter 17. Where that's the prayer only Jesus could pray. And he said to his Father there in John 17 Oh Father glorify me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world began. And you know Jesus as a member of the Trinity was hands on at the creation of everything. Verse three says all things were made through him without him nothing was made that was made. So that verse is telling us that Christ is the creator. In fact Colossians 1 16 says for by him all things were created. Things in heaven and on earth visible and invisible whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities all things were created by him and for him. Okay so you're saying no wait wait I'm confused because I read in Genesis 1 one that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now you're telling me Jesus created the heavens and the earth.
So who created it? God the Father or God the Son? Okay you ready for the answer? Write this down. The Holy Spirit did it. What what what? Now you're really confusing me.
Okay simple answer. The Father the Son and the Holy Spirit all participated in the creation of all things. Because in Genesis 1 we read the earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters and God said let there be light and there was light. So Father Son and Holy Spirit all played a part. The whole Trinity was working. Here's another interesting thing about the Trinity. Genesis 1 26 has the Father saying let us make man in our image and in our likeness. So who was God talking to? Angels?
I don't think so. Are you made in the likeness of an angel? Sometimes we'll say of someone oh she's just like an angel. Well no angels are created beings.
So it wasn't angels. So I believe it was the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit having a conversation. And then in Genesis 3 22 we read behold man has become as one of us. And then it says let us go down and then in Genesis 1 27 we read God created man in his own image. So the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit in a way we can never wrap our minds around are having a conversation about us.
So coming back to my main point Jesus was and is God. Today on A New Beginning Pastor Greg Laurie with the foundational insight from one of our top 10 most requested studies. He's focused on one of the central precepts of Christianity and there's more to come from this message. Hey everybody Greg here with a very special guest in studio Sally Lloyd-Jones the prolific author of so many amazing books for children.
And she has done a series of four books for the really little ones. One is called Found, one is called Loved one is called Near. Found is based on Psalm 23. Loved is based on the Lord's Prayer. Near is based on the first part of Psalm 139 and Known is based on the last part of Psalm 139.
So Sally thank you for being with us and I'm wondering if you would do us all a favor and just read this book to us now. And your beautiful British accent in a way that only you can read because you wrote it and no one can do it like you so please share the contents of this book Known with us now. Known, Psalm 139. God is a good daddy and I'm his little child. He knows when I wake up and when I put my shoes on and when I run outside to play. He knows my name and the color of my eyes and the dreams inside my heart. He knows everything about me and he loves me completely. He's interested in what I think and what I have to say. When I talk to him he listens to me.
He thinks about me all the time more times than I could even count. He takes care of me every day of my life. No wonder God knows me so well. He made me. How wonderful.
Beautiful. Now folks, if you know Psalm 139 King James, it says, you know my down-sitting, my uprising you know my thoughts before I even think them. She's taken these words and made them understandable to a child and maybe to a few adults listening as well.
Good reminders. And this book is beautifully illustrated by an artist known as Jago. It's a very thick book.
Perfect for a little one to hold in their little hands and it'll survive if they bite it or drool on it or throw it. It'll be something you'll return to again and again and you'll keep in your library for other little children to read as well. We're offering this beautiful book written by Sally Lloyd-Jones illustrated by Jago for your gift of any size this month to a new beginning so we can continue to teach the word of God and proclaim the gospel.
Yeah, that's right. And we'd like to send a copy to you right away. It's our thank you gift for those who invest in the work of the gospel right now. It's such a pivotal time for this ministry as we reach out to people in surprising, innovative new ways. Countless lives will be impacted through the generosity of those who partner with us.
So thanks for considering the part you can play right now. And when you give, be sure to ask for Known, Psalm 139 by Sally Lloyd-Jones. And we'll only be able to mention this resource a short time longer. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here around the clock to take your call. That's 1-800-821-3300.
Or go online to harvest.org. Well, next time, Pastor Greg reminds us just how big our God is and just how small our challenges are in comparison. We'll learn how we can leave our burdens in God's hands and sleep better at night. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Lord. This is the day, the day when life begins.
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