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A Word From God, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
December 12, 2023 12:00 am

A Word From God, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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December 12, 2023 12:00 am

Just as Christian theology hinges on a literal interpretation of John's opening words, many false religions hinge on a misinterpretation of them. But where does the confusion lie? Is John's meaning really up for debate? Stephen brings us an emphatic answer. Access all of the lessons in this series here: https://www.wisdomonline.org/christmas-light

 

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John writes, many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples.

They're not written in this book, but these have been written. Why, John? That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ that is the anointed Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

He's saying, my record is not comprehensive, but it can be conclusive for you. Thanks for joining us today on Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Today we're focusing on the important doctrinal truth of who Jesus Christ really is. You'll never understand the importance and significance of Jesus' birth without first understanding the truth that Jesus is eternally God. His birth in Bethlehem was not his beginning, it was his incarnation.

He's always existed and he's always been God. We're going to explore this truth together right now. Today, Stephen Davey begins a series entitled, Christmas Light. This lesson is called, A Word from God. In his recently published commentary on the Gospel of John called, Insights on John, Chuck Swindoll retells the story of Thayer Warshaw, that English teacher who lived in the Boston area, concerned with the absence of scripture from his public school system, concerned for the illiteracy of his students, and so he did what he could to teach them. One of the ways he sort of came around the back end to do it was he would give them, his graduating students, a quiz. And that quiz of course would be instructional. But it was interesting and he shared the fact that many of these students heading for college knew so little of the phrases of scripture that are actually used in secular culture.

And not only did they not know them that well, but they didn't know their source. And every year he would give this quiz. I thought it would be a good idea to give you the quiz.

You'll do wonderfully, don't worry about it. But just fill in this blank. 79% of his students could not finish this sentence.

Here it is. Many are called but few are chosen. 84% of his students couldn't finish this one. The truth shall set you free. 88% could not finish this sentence. Pride goeth before fall. And 93% of his students could not finish this.

The love of money is the root of all evil. I told you you'd do fine. Okay? His quiz also included matching questions and answers. I used to love those in school because I knew on that piece of paper the answer was to be found if I could just through a process of elimination find it. At any rate he would give those. Still his students connected the wrong things. Some of them thought Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple. That Eve was created from an apple. That Jesus was baptized by Moses. That Jezebel was Ahab's donkey. Not too far off on that one. That the four gospels were Matthew, Mark, John, and Luther.

Warsaw made his point clearly. Now for even the people among us that get all the answers right, perhaps you're older in the faith, you know there are still questions that are difficult to answer. In fact there are questions that remain to this day among us. Incredible mysteries. We've been singing about one of them.

This season rehearses the truth of it. I remember years ago our youngest daughter Charity came home from Sunday school here at Colonial. She was in the first grade and it was the Christmas season and she had a piece of paper and Marsha got it, read it, and handed it to me with a little smile. On one side she had drawn an angel in the sky. It was a masterpiece worthy of the refrigerator which is where it went.

On the other side were a number of questions like these. How come God is called Jesus' father? Why does Jesus need a father? If God is invisible, how does he see? If God the father is invisible, how does Jesus see him? And the teacher had written a little note that said these are questions your child has about God take time to answer them. That's what Sunday school is for, right?

Thanks a lot. Well of all the questions that you might be asked or that you might have, the one question that is most important is clearly revealed in the scriptures and it is this. Who is Jesus Christ? Everything not only about your life now but your eternal future, in fact everything about Christianity properly understood hinges to that question. Who is Jesus?

It's not a question that people like to leave unanswered. Even the unbelieving on the planet. Just in recent years an individual like Dan Brown with his best-selling book The Da Vinci Code which he presented as historical yet it was fiction, it was interesting fiction, I read it, a page turner, and yet it just simply repackaged old ideas tracking back to Gnostic gospels of the third and fourth century. But he was expounding that this was the secret kept safely locked away, that Jesus was just a man. He married Mary Magdalene, Gnostics love to get those two together somehow, they lived in the south of France and raised a large family. In fact Brown postulated in his fiction that the bloodline of Jesus traces through a dynasty of French kings. It's fascinating.

And eighty million copies have been sold. The Oxford scholar who died just a few years ago, Giza Vermes, in fact he was considered by the liberal world to be the foremost scholar on Jesus. So you think okay, the foremost scholar on Jesus. Yet he would teach that Jesus was just a Galilean rabbi, he had no desire whatsoever to found a church or a movement, he had no divine claims, he had no divine attributes, and that's what the greatest scholar until a couple of years ago believed. In fact he lectured, I read in his brief bio, he lectured at UNC Chapel Hill, lectured at Duke University. Both champions of Orthodox Christianity, right?

I mean basketball, I get those mixed up all the time. One author in fact following suit from these that typically track back to the Dead Sea Scrolls or to the Gnostic documents found there, and so willingly, eagerly believe it. He admitted this, he said, in order to reach our speculations, we are obliged to read between the lines, I'll say.

We are obliged to fill in gaps, deal with omissions, innuendos, with references that are at best vague. Barbara Thirring, long time Australian professor of the Dead Sea Scrolls, author of the bestseller that has been reprinted numerous times entitled Jesus the Man, the central thesis of her book is simply that Jesus was the leader of a rather radical sect of Essene priests that he had been crucified but he didn't die. Fortunately his leader's followers slipped him some venom which brought about an unconscious state, fooled the Romans, and when they took him down he eventually revived.

It's called the swoon theory. It's been around since his crucifixion. And he then went on to marry, of course, Mary Magdalene again. However, she believed that the Lord, or Jesus, I should say, not the Lord to her, but Jesus divorced her and then married Lydia from Philippi that he had met when he was traveling with a guy named Paul, interestingly enough, and basically wandered around in obscurity until he died in obscurity in Rome. I couldn't help but sort of be overcome with sadness as I learned that Barbara Thirring, who taught this for decades, died three weeks ago in unbelief. Who is Jesus?

It's the most important question you will answer. In fact, that question started making the rounds 2,000 years ago when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that unbroken colt. It said, the Gospel of Matthew said, and the whole city was stirred asking who is this man. When the religious leaders were stumped by his brilliant answers, on one occasion they huddled together and asked, who is this man? Even the disciples as they watched Jesus still that storm from their boat and with a word he said, hush, literally hush, and the wind immediately stilled and the waves turned into glass and they said to each other, who then is this man? If he is only a man, you can safely forget him. But if he is who he claims to be and who those eyewitnesses claim him to be, then you are actually created by him to worship him and to love him and to serve him and to walk with him and one day to live with him.

We can't get this wrong. It's one thing to mess up when Moses lived and who Jesus was baptized by and mix up the donkey and Jezebel, but it's another thing entirely to miss this. So what I want to do today and next Lord's Day, Lord willing, as we rehearse these wonderful truths of the Incarnation is take you to the writings of an old man. He is writing one of the last books of the New Testament even though in the order it is presented earlier as one of the Gospels. It was written about fifty years after Jesus Christ ascended to the Father and now intercedes for us.

Fifty years the Gospel has been tracing its way around that world and disciples are declaring an empty tomb and a resurrected Messiah. John is the name of this author and if you haven't figured it out by now, he's the last living apostle. When he wrote this Gospel, keep that in mind, he's the last living apostle as he pens his Gospel. Peter has already been martyred along with the other disciples. The apostle Paul has already been executed by Nero. John is the last among them and he's nearing the tape.

He's in his last lap. I say that because if it's all wrong or if it's all made up or if it's all a misunderstanding, now would be the time for John to say, look I kind of went along with the crowd but I want to straighten it out now. I don't want this on my conscience. It's time for a deathbed confession. Instead this dying apostle is more committed than ever. Go to the end of his account in chapter twenty-one and notice how he wraps it up.

I'll deal with the last verse or two in the first verse and that's about it, nothing in between. You'll notice he says, and he's speaking by the way in legal language, this verse twenty-four is the disciple who bears witness of these things and wrote these things and we know that his witness is true. Rather interesting shifting in pronouns.

Let me give you an analogy to tell you what is happening. Over the years I've had the privilege of doing something that not many get to do. Ship's captains can do it, justices of the peace can do it, judges can do it and for the time being I'm licensed to do it as well. I don't know how much longer that will last but until then I have the privilege of joining in what we call holy matrimony, a man and his wife and we're sticking with that by the way.

So I get to do that. Now before that big day the couple will go downtown Raleigh and they'll pay a fee to obtain a very important document. They'll answer some questions, they'll show their driver's licenses, social security number, they'll prove who they are and a little easier now than it was in my day. In my day you had to give blood and I faint whenever that happens but I lived through it for the sake of the joy set before me and that was my bride. But at any rate they'll go get that and then they get this certificate and it's printed on heavy stock linen paper.

I just love the way it feels and what it says. And then after the ceremony is finished, can't do it beforehand, after it's over I will take out my pen typically at the reception and I will sign my name and it'll ask for my address and the county and the date and I put it all down there. You have to actually do it twice but I'll put it there and then I invite two witnesses to join me and they sign and they're attesting that my signature is really mine, that they actually saw me do this, that this was really a legitimate ceremony and we took it all the way to its conclusion. And so this is effectively my sworn statement attested to by eyewitnesses. It was customary in Rome to have all legal documents signed and sworn testifying to their authenticity and other witnesses would be there to verify. And that's what John is doing here at the end of his gospel.

In fact, you notice the way he changes the wording. This is the disciple who bears witness of these things. In other words, I'm signing here and I'm writing these things, I'm the one that wrote these and we know that his witness is true.

In other words, I've got witnesses that are attesting to this, that this is true. It's as if John says, I know that when you get close to your deathbed, you know, you're going to want to tell the truth, right? You're going to want to unburden yourself. You want to come out with a secret, maybe something that you've carried for years or perhaps decades and you have this compelling desire to set that record straight and clear your conscience. It's time to come out with the truth. I don't have time, but I can tell you that in my research, I thought I might have time. Maybe I'll tell you a little bit about it next floor today, but just all you have to do is Google 10 famous deathbed confessions. Don't do it now, okay?

It's dangerous to say people got their iPads and are already looking down. Don't. But you have all kinds of revelations from theft to murder. I'll tell you one of them, okay?

You force me. One of them, a silent screen movie actress and with her leading man who mysteriously is killed, murdered, shot, never able to solve it. She died several decades ago, but before she dies, she has a heart attack.

She's lying on her kitchen floor. There's not enough time to get the priest there. She's a Roman Catholic. So her neighbor, she says, I must confess to you that my leading man all those 50, 60 years ago, I pulled the trigger.

And she dies. There's an intuitive sense that I'm going to give some kind of account and I need to unburden my conscience. I don't want to die with this. And John is basically saying as an old man, I'm coming to the end and I want to set the record straight. I want you to know my conscience is clear.

We didn't make it up. We didn't steal his body. He really is the Messiah. He really did die. He really was buried. He really rose again. I saw it.

This record is true. Now John adds, if you look there in that last chapter, look at what he says in verse 25. And there are also many other things with which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written. In other words, if you think that I have written some things that are rather amazing and difficult to understand, that remain mysterious and are rather remarkable about the ministry and life of Jesus and what he did, let me tell you, if the world was filled with shelves, there wouldn't be enough bookshelves to contain everything if I put it all down. And you're left wondering, well, John, at least write a little more, you know, maybe another chapter or a verse. In fact, it leads you to wonder why the Spirit of God would inspire him to write these things, seven signature signs in this gospel.

Why those? Well, John answers that question. In fact, turn back one page. You'll read in chapter 20 and verse 30 his very clear purpose statement. John writes, and many other signs, therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples.

We all saw it. In other words, they're not written in this book, but these have been written. Why, John? That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ that is the anointed Messiah, the son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name. He's saying my record is not comprehensive, but it can be conclusive for you.

It's not exhaustive. It's not an exhaustive account of Christ's life and ministry and all that he did, but it is adequate. I'm giving you enough so that you can believe the gospel and answer the question, who is Jesus? Now let's go to the beginning of his account for the time remaining.

Chapter one of this gospel gives us a number of key phrases or words that describe who Jesus is. And for those of you that like outlines, I'm going to give you two truths. That's all we'll have time.

In fact, we're probably going to go a little over time. Truth number one is this. Jesus Christ is eternally equal with God the Father. Jesus Christ is eternally equal with God the Father. Verse one, in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. Now if you're young in the faith and this is your first time to see this particular text, you might be wondering well who is the word?

Well skip down to verse 14. John clears up any mystery. And the word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father full of grace and truth. John bore witness of him and cried out saying, this is he of whom I've said, he who comes after me has a higher rank than I for he existed before me. Oh interesting, he was born after John the baptizer but he existed before him. And of course he goes on. In the beginning was the word Jesus and the word Jesus was with God and the word Jesus was God. It's as if he brings you in at this point and then the second point and then the third tightens the vice of truth. Jesus was in essence fully God of divine eternal essence and this obviously creates a lot of heartburn doesn't it? Because I don't know of a cult on the planet that doesn't want to use the Bible in some way shape or form.

In fact they typically do. They may have their own translation where they've noodled on the text and turned things around a little bit. For instance the New World Translation of the Bible published by the Jehovah's Witnesses.

You can Google, not now, you can Google the text and read their opening statement here, how they'll treat verse 1. You've got to do something with this because it's so clear that the word Jesus was God. And that doesn't mean it's easy to understand but it's a clear statement equal in essence to God the Father. And so what they do is they add a little word because they say that this definite article is dropped before you get to this particular phrase and so it can mean a god or any god. And so they simply translated that the word and the word was a god. Of course they create a bit of a conundrum because now you've got two gods.

You've got two gods. It doesn't really say that Jesus wasn't God now they've just said that Jesus is another god. They do drop the capital G though and put a little case G. I'm not sure if that solves anything but he's a little g god and it doesn't solve their problem either because now they they have to continue translating.

In fact if they translate consistently according to that little rule where there's no definite article and I know this is exciting to you to hear about articles and these things but stay with me. You would have to translate verse 6 and there came a man sent from a or any god because there's no definite article. And of course they they leave that one alone because they want John the Baptist coming from God and so they'll leave it alone and say there came a man sent from God. And you'd also need to by the way translate verse 12 differently which they don't according to that same rule so that it would read but as many as received him to them he gave the power or the right to become children of a god or any god. Listen whenever you plagiarize whenever you tamper whenever you fiddle around with the text so it suits your ism it suits your cult it suits a god you'd really rather have than the god of the Bible at some point it's going to take you to a dead end. But when you believe the text you're led to believe something amazing something miraculous something you can't understand something however that is consistently presented throughout the record of scripture that Jesus Christ is equally eternally God the Son having at a point in time taking on the form of human flesh and blood through that miraculous conception. As we've explored this important truth today looking precisely at who Jesus Christ really is I hope you've been encouraged by what you've heard this is wisdom for the heart featuring the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey today's lesson is called a word from God and it comes from the series Christmas light this message is incomplete but we don't have time to bring you the rest today we'll have part two of this message next time if you'd like to send Stephen a note or make a donation to our ministry our address is wisdom international p.o. box 37297 Raleigh North Carolina 27627. Join us again for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-12 00:11:32 / 2023-12-12 00:20:39 / 9

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