Shining and Receiving the Light

Posted: October 19, 2014 in John

John 1:6-13, “Shining and Receiving the Light”

Bright lights can sometimes be a shock.  When you’ve been sleeping in a dark room, usually the very last thing you want is for someone to suddenly switch on a light right in your eyes.  The light is necessary, but it can be a bit of an adjustment, and not everyone is ready for it.

That’s one thing when we’re trying to shake the sleepy-dust out of our eyes; it’s quite another when we’re talking about the light of salvation.  We NEED the light of Jesus…but not everyone knows we need the light of Jesus.  Sometimes we need to be told.  Some people respond well…other people, not so much.

As John opened his gospel, he began by describing Jesus as the Word, the λογος of God.  He is the expression of God, having been in the beginning with God, being very God Himself.  He created the world, and all of creation is sustained and held together by Him.  Whether we realize it or not, we are utterly dependent upon the Word, as He gave us the very breath of life.  Read it again:

John 1:1–5, "(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (4) In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (5) And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."  This is who the Word is, what the Word did, and what the Word continues to do.

In vss. 4-5, John described the Word as having life in Himself, being the light of men.  That light shines in the darkness and cannot be overcome by it.  As John continues in vss. 6-13, he shows that it is not only the message and work of Jesus that is light; it is Jesus Himself.  HE is the Light of the world.  That Light was announced/proclaimed to the world – it was rejected by some in the world – and it was received by others. 

The Light has been shown among us.  What will we do with Him?

John 1:6–13

  • The Light Proclaimed (vss. 6-9)

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

  • John “was a man.”  Sounds simple enough, and it seems pretty obvious. (Don’t you love in-depth Bible studies? J)  Stick with me…there’s actually something pretty profound in this fact alone.  Remember how John began his gospel account: he proclaimed the ever-existent Word of God who is Himself God.  He was in the beginning, and nothing existed without Him.  There’s a giant leap from that concept in vss. 1-5 to vs. 6.  The Word at one point in time was NOT a man, though He was always God.  But the one sent to proclaim the Word to others WAS a man, and he was never anything BUT a man.  John the Baptist received a lot of attention in his life (some of what will be seen later in Ch. 1), but John was a man just like any other man.  He was a great man – the greatest of all men born among women, according to Jesus (Mt 11:11) – but he was a man, nonetheless.  Any man or woman can be greatly used by God, and John the Baptist is a tremendous example.
  • This man had a purpose.  He was “sent from God.”  The word used here is interesting and immediately recognizable.  It’s a form of the word αποστελλω, from which we get “apostle.”  This is more than just sending something away, like we would send a letter in the mail.  This is to send someone with a purpose, like a world leader might send an ambassador or emissary.  An “apostle” is someone sent by another with a specific purpose.  Obviously the 12 apostles of Jesus have a very specific role and ministry, but more than just the 12 had a type of apostolic ministry.  For that matter, ALL of us in the Church have been sent out by the Lord Jesus to make disciples of all the nations.  There is a sense in which every believer in the Lord Jesus could be considered that kind of apostolic ambassador.  We have been sent into the world to represent Jesus to all the world, and to proclaim His message of salvation.  Likewise, this was John’s purpose.  John did not call himself into the ministry.  He didn’t wake up one day and decide it would be a good thing to walk around in camel-hair robes, eat honey, and dunk people in water, all the while calling the Jewish and Gentile rulers to repentance.  That’s not something that John decided for himself; that was chosen for him by God.  God sent him, and John walked in that sending and calling.
    • If John did it, why not us?  We’ve also been sent by the same God for the same purpose, though our methods are obviously a bit different.  John had a “mission from God” and so do we.  The Great Commission is not called the “Great Suggestion” for a reason.  We’ve been sent out; we need to go do it!
  • The note about John’s name is interesting for at least one reason: there’s no qualifier on it.  In every other gospel account, John the Baptist is specifically called “John the Baptist.”  The gospel of John certainly shows John the Baptist engaging in the practice of baptism, but he never identifies John as “the Baptist.”  So what?  So it’s one more piece of evidence that the apostle John (the son of Zebedee) was the author of this gospel, even though John never once mentions himself by name.  After all, the author saw no need to distinguish between the two “John’s” who were each well-known among the early church.  Every other gospel writer did, but not the author of the 4th gospel.  Why not identify the Baptist, unless there were some other compelling reason that the original reader would not be confused as to which John was being written of?  If John the son of Zebedee is the author, than the distinction is already obvious.  Of all people in the early church, the apostle John was the only person who didn’t need to state the difference between him and the Baptizer.

7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.

  • John’s mission.  We know John was sent with a purpose by Almighty God.  What was that purpose?  That’s what is stated in vs. 7.  It’s two-fold:
  • First, John came as “a witness, to bear witness.”  Just as people are called to be witnesses in a court of law to testify of the things they know and have seen, so was John called forth by God to witness of Jesus.  His sending was his divine subpoena (so to speak).  This was the very reason God called John into ministry.  John was supposed to testify of the Light of God that had come and was shining in the dark world.  And the world was indeed dark!  (Nelson’s) “How great was the darkness so that God had to send a messenger to point out the light.”  So lost were we as mankind in our darkness that we had to be told, “There’s the light!  There’s safety there…go to it!”  That was John’s mission.
    • People still need to be told about the light.  There’s so much darkness, sin, grief, and falsehood in the world that people don’t know what to believe.  People get so used to the darkness that it becomes comfortable to them.  It’s all they know, so they cling to it.  We sometimes hear these awful stories of kidnap victims who are held so long by their captors that they don’t leave when given the opportunity. They are so used to their situation that they fear anything else and they have to be led out.  It’s so often a similar thing in the proclamation of the gospel.  The light of Jesus is shining, but people need to be told.  They need to be led to safety.
    • This is the work of martyrdom.  Obviously God hasn’t called everyone to die for the faith, but the original word “martyr” simply refers to someone who bears witness of Jesus Christ.  In fact, that’s the very word used here to describe John the Baptist.  John did lose his life in the course of ministry, though it had more to do with his unwavering stand for the truth of God in the Scripture than it did for the gospel proclamation of Jesus. (He was imprisoned by Herod for preaching against Herod’s illegal incestuous marriage, and Herod’s wife wanted him dead.)  But there is no doubt that John was a faithful martyr – a faithful witness of God in whatever the Lord called John to do.
    • This is the work of all the Church.  Again, we’re not all called to die in the course of ministry, but we ARE all called to testify of Jesus and be His witnesses.  Acts 1:8, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." []  This was spoken to the apostles, but the commission was more than to just the apostles – after all, on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit did not descend only upon 12 men, but upon the 120 that had gathered (Acts 1:15, 2:1).  ALL of us are to bear witness of Jesus, giving testimony to others.
    • BTW – this ought to take a lot of pressure off of sharing our faith.  So often we think we have to have methods or scripts memorized, and we get nervous at the thought of not having all the right answers or perhaps getting something wrong.  It doesn’t have to be that way…all we have to do is share our testimony.  A witness in court just states what they know or what they saw or experienced.  It’s no different in being a witness for Jesus.  We just tell others what we know of Him, and how we were personally changed by Him. 
  • Second, John came as an evangelist.  Not only was he to bear true witness/testimony of the things God had given him about Jesus, but there was a goal in all of it.  John stated the true facts about Jesus for the specific goal that people “might believe.”  It was more than impressing people with his knowledge of the Bible or his way of life.  Everything John did was with the intended purpose that people would put their faith God, looking forward to the Messiah with hope and humility…so that they would be believe.
    • Once more, this is also the work of the Church, of all Christians everywhere.  It’s one thing for the world to know we believe in Jesus; it’s another thing to tell the world about Jesus in such a way that THEY might also believe.  There are many people in the world who have no trouble at all identifying Christians; they just have trouble identifying any reason why they themselves ought to become Christians.  Sometimes in our zeal we can lose sight of our goal.  Jesus did not send us into the world to win arguments, but to win souls.  Obviously we never want to compromise on the word of God (John certainly did not!), but we can still stand for truth while inviting people to believe upon Jesus and be saved.  Jesus sent us in the world to make disciples of all the nations, and we can’t do that if we’re never heard by them.

8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

  • John knew his purpose and his identity.  He was well aware that he was not personally the Messiah (something which he explicitly tells the priests and Levites later on in Ch. 1).  On the contrary, he knew exactly why he had been sent as an apostolic witness from God. John attracted a lot of attention, but he never craved the attention for himself.  He always attempted to redirect it upon the One whom he proclaimed.
    • Ministry is not about us; it’s about Jesus.
  • That was John; what about Jesus?  That’s what the apostle goes on to write in vs. 9…

9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

  • Jesus is the “Light.”  As John began his prologue, he described Jesus as the Word.  As he continues, he describes Jesus as the Light.  Although the word for “Light” doesn’t have the same sort of background that λογος has, there is a relation between the two.  As the Word (the λογος), Jesus is the pervasive rationality of God – the very expression and revelation of God.  As the Light, He is still the revelation of God, but also an expression of the glory of God.  Light reveals just as speech does, just in a different way.  “Word” implies speech / mind / thought; “Light” implies vision.  We look at Jesus and see the glory of God (which John explicitly describes in vs. 14).
  • Jesus is “the true Light.”  This isn’t speaking of truth as a concept, so much as it is authenticity.  Jesus IS the truth (Jn 14:6), but this specific word is a reference to genuineness.  John was not the Light – other prophets were not the Light – imitations from false Messiahs certainly were not the Light.  Nor were any false concepts about light and dark from the gnostic heresies (which emphasized light and dark as a part of their dualistic philosophy).  There is a true Light, and that Light is Jesus.  He is the genuine glory and revelation of God, because He IS God.  Jesus doesn’t merely reflect God’s glory, He IS the glory of God.  He is the Light – the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person (Heb 1:3).
  • As the true Light, Jesus “gives light to every man.”  Earlier, we saw who the Light is; now we see what the Light does.  The Light gives light.  That makes sense when we think about it.  After all, when we turn on a flashlight in a darkened room, the light that comes from the lamp gives us the light we need to look around and see what is there.  All of a sudden, we see the stuff on the ground that would have tripped us or caused us harm.  We find the things that we were looking for, but otherwise could not obtain because it was dark.  The light we received helped us find our way.  Likewise with the true Light of God in Jesus.  He enlightens us – He illuminates us – He gives us the light that we need that we otherwise would not have.  Be careful not to think of this in New-Age sorts of terms.  John isn’t writing that Jesus is our “spirit guide” that enlightens us to a new kind of knowledge giving us a new perception of reality.  That’s not his point at all (though that is how some people attempt to reinterpret the Scriptures).  Jesus being the Light is not to say that He’s merely some sort of guide.  John has made it absolutely clear that Jesus is God.  That’s vastly more important than some sort of spirit guide, or being relegated to some sort of spiritual tool to help us feel more “enlightened.”  Jesus is the Lord God, which means He is the truth and the source of all authority.  When we receive the light that Jesus gives, we’re submitting ourselves to the truth.  We’re giving ourselves to God, entrusting ourselves to Him and His work.
  • How does Jesus give light “to every man?”  Is this a reference to universal salvation?  IOW, is John writing that because Jesus came into the world, that every man and woman who is born automatically receives of the salvation that Jesus offers?  No.  Jesus is the Light, and He gives light – He gives illumination…again, like turning on a flashlight in a dark room.  The truth of God illuminates our need for Him.  When we see sin for what it is (because the light has been turned on), then we understand our need for a Savior.  Jesus spoke of one of the roles of the Holy Spirit being to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn 16:8).  When people sin, they know it is sin.  This is something that God has revealed to them, both through the Holy Spirit and the work of God the Son.  After all, the law of God is written within our hearts (Rom 2:15).  Some things are universally considered right or wrong.  Jesus is the One who gives revelation of that.  Every person has experienced at least some illumination from the light of Christ Jesus.  It’s just that some choose to suppress it more than others.
  • The Light Rejected (vss. 10-11)

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

  • Jesus was rejected first by “the world.”  Keep in mind this isn’t only speaking of Jesus’ physical rejection by Gentiles and the cross.  John does write of the incarnation (vs. 11, 14, and even implied in the last phrase of vs. 10), but not yet.  Jesus / the Word / the Light “was in the world” in the same way that He “was in the beginning with God” (vs. 2) – the grammar is virtually identical.  Thus, to say “He was in the world” is to speak of the eternal Pre-incarnate Word.  Jesus / the Word / the Light has always existed, before the world, and among the world.  Long before the Son became incarnate and physically walked in Judea, there is Biblical evidence of the eternal Son’s existence with in the created world.  Who walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day?  Jesus.  Who spoke with Abraham?  Jesus.  Who showed the glory of God to Moses?  Jesus.  The Son did not create the world and then sit back and do nothing among it.  He has always interacted with His creation.
  • Jesus “was in the world,” and John reiterates the fact that Jesus “made” the world.  Remember vs. 3: “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”  God spoke, and the Word of God created the world.  God let loose His glory, and the Light of God shot forth over the darkness that was on the face of the deep (Gen 1:2).  Jesus is absolutely integral to creation, and John cannot help but go back to this truth time and time again.  Question: Why is it so important to emphasize Jesus’ role in creation?  Because only GOD can create from nothing.  Creatures can re-arrange or assemble that which God has already provided, but only God is capable of the act of creation. [old joke… “get your own dirt.”]  If Jesus created, then He is God.  He is no angel, or any other created thing.  Jesus is nothing less than God of true God, being the same substance / essence of God. He is everything that God is, and nothing that God is not.
    • That is who John proclaimed, and that is the one of whom we testify.  That is who we worship, and the one who saved us.  The Creator of heaven and earth moved that same heaven and earth for our salvation.  He came into the world that He created, loving us to the point of His suffering, death, and resurrection.  Amazing!
  • Jesus made the world, but He was rejected by the world.  “The world did not know Him.”  The very world that He created did not acknowledge or recognize Him.  This was true both before AND after Jesus came incarnate.  The world rejected Jesus when the world rejected God, because Jesus IS God.  To reject the Father is to reject the Son, and to reject the Son is to reject the Father.  As Jesus said to the Jews, if they had known God the Father, they would have known Jesus also (Jn 8:19). But because they did not know Jesus, they showed they did not know God.  The point here is vs. 10 is that it wasn’t limited to the Jews, but it was true among all the world.  The whole cosmos saw God the Son and refused to recognize Him for who He is.  Paul wrote much the same thing about the Godhead in general.  Romans 1:19–20, "(19) because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse," []  It’s not as if God has not given evidence of His existence.  As we saw last week, OUR existence is evidence of God’s existence.  Everything around us is proof of a God who created it all.  For mankind to live in this world and deny our Creator is similar to us driving a car and denying that (1) someone designed the vehicle, (2) built the vehicle, (3) processed the gasoline that provides fuel for the vehicle, and (4) constructed the road upon which we drive the vehicle.  It’s no wonder the Bible declares “the fool says in his heart there is no God” (Ps 14:1).  To willfully deny the existence of God is to willfully blind ourselves to the evidence that surrounds us.  Of course beyond the general failure of the world to recognize God, is the specific failure of the world to recognize God the Son when He came incarnate and walked among it.  Pilate may have placed a sign above Jesus’ head labeling Him the King of the Jews, but Pilate certainly did not believe it enough to actually do something about it.  Inanimate creation responded to the presence of its Creator.  When Jesus acted, the storms at sea calmed, the dead were raised, the bread multiplied, the water was turned into wine – all of these things and more responded to the voice and will of the Creator of the universe.  Yet the pinnacle of creation – the part of creation that God made in His very own image, did not.  The world of men witnessed God walking among them, and barely gave Him a notice or a second thought.  The world of men was dark (so dark that we had to be told a light was present), but men loved darkness rather than the light (Jn 3:19) and the world turned away from the Word.

11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

  • Not only was Jesus rejected by the world, but He was rejected by the Jews.  There is a bit of debate as to what is referred to by “His own.” Some think that this is a reference to His own creation (i.e. the world, as stated in vs. 10), but the most reasonable idea is His own nation.  The Word of God came unto the covenant people of God, the Hebrews.  Promised since ages past, the Son of God came unto His people, exactly according to prophecy.  This was the primary declaration of John.  He came as a voice in the wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord (1:23).  And the Lord came!  God promised to send the blessing of the world through Abraham – He promised to send another prophet like Moses – He promised to send a king in the line of David – He promised to send a servant who would suffer for their sins and a Son of Man to walk in the glory of God (per Isaiah and Daniel).  God promised all of that and more, and Jesus came exactly as expected.  The Son of God came into the world and went straight to the Jews, being born a Hebrew, living among the Hebrews, and participating in all of the customs of the Hebrews.  He went to the Jews first before He ever went to the Greeks.
  • Yet although Jesus came to the Jews, Jesus was not received by the Jews.  They did not welcome Him as their King.  He revealed Himself to them, fulfilled prophecy among them, performed miracles on their behalf, taught them with all of the authority of God, and yet they did not receive Him as God.  Despite all of the proof, they rejected Jesus and turned Him over to the Gentiles to be crucified.  Even after Jesus rose from the dead, many Jews still rejected Jesus.  Remember that John wrote his gospel account ~85AD.  Already the Church was starting to become primarily Gentile.  John was likely writing from Ephesus, among the Gentile church originally planted by Paul.  Jerusalem had been ransacked by the Romans, and the church there had all but disappeared.  That would remain the case even to the present day.  Jews continually reject Jesus as their Messiah, having their hearts hardened and blind to the truth.  Thankfully that won’t always be the case, but it is now.  They are just as much lost in darkness as any Gentile in the world.
  • The Light Received (vss. 12-13)

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

  • Thankfully, not everyone rejected Jesus; some “received Him.”  In contrast to those in the world or among the Jews that did not recognize or know the Light of God and turned away from Him, others welcomed the Light and gladly received Jesus.  This is true of Jew and Gentile.  All among the original church were Jewish, including the writer of this gospel account.  He and other Jews took the gospel into the world, and many people saw the Light, heard of the Word, and received Jesus for the good news that He is.
  • How does someone receive Jesus?  We have to “believe in His name.”  In vs. 7 we read that John the Baptist’s intended purpose in his message was that people might believe; the word is repeated here.  “Believe” is a favorite word of John, used around 100 times in his gospel.  Interestingly, “faith” is not used once, though the two terms are related.  “Faith” is a noun, while “believe” is a verb.  Faith is something you have; to believe is something you do.  Obviously one leads to the other, but John’s emphasis is consistently on the need for people to believe.  What does it mean to “believe” in the name of Jesus?  It is to place one’s trust in Jesus – to entrust oneself TO Jesus.  To believe in Jesus is more than just knowing a few facts about Him; it’s to sincerely believe those truths about Jesus and take them to ourselves.  Many people can recite the basic facts that the Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins and rose three days later.  Far fewer could say that they believe those facts in such a way that their lives have been fundamentally transformed because they’ve surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ in faith.  Someone says they believe Jesus rose from the dead; the proof of their belief will be seen in how they respond to a living Lord Jesus.  If someone doesn’t actively receive Jesus as alive as the Bible proclaims, then they haven’t really believed what the Bible says about Him.  Real belief is demonstrated in more than just the mind, but within someone’s total life.  When we believe, we believe with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  (And that’s what Jesus calls us to do!)
  • What happens to those who receive Jesus?  He grants to us “the right to become children of God.”  KJV says “power,” but the idea here isn’t so much ability as it is authority.  In ourselves, we have no claim to the promises and blessings of God, but through active belief in Jesus that is exactly what we are granted.  Jesus gives us that right – that authority – to be made God’s very own children.  We are privileged to receive of the grace of God, and to be brought into His own family.  By nature, we are children of wrath (Eph 2:3) – by nature, in our sin we are at enmity against God (Rom 8:7).  But believing upon Jesus changes all of that.  We who were irreconcilably estranged from our Creator have been brought near by the grace of Jesus.  We’ve been given the privilege of calling unto God as our Father, because we have been made His children.

13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

  • Children are born, and the spiritual children of God are no exception.  We need a new birth.  This is something that Jesus will later discuss in depth with the Pharisee Nicodemus in Ch. 3.  Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (3:3).  Those who are children of God are made children in two ways: (1) by being given the spirit of adoption (Rom 8:15), and (2) by being spiritually born as God’s children.  Birthdays imply brand new starts – something that is completely fresh and new.  Parents rejoice when their long-awaited children are born, and God rejoices over every person that is newly born as one of His children.  We’re made new creations, given a new start and a new identity.  We have new privileges and a new inheritance…things that only come to people by right of being children.  There are certain privileges that my daughter has with me that no other child will have, no matter how friendly they are.  My daughter has those privileges because she is my daughter, and for no other reason.  Likewise with us and God.  Apart from being His children, there are some privileges we can never have.  We could never have the freedom to approach God for grace.  We would never have the assurance that God hears us when we pray.  We would never have the promise of grace and forgiveness.  We would never have confidence of eternal life.  Those are privileges given only to the children of God…and that is exactly what we become through belief in Jesus Christ.
  • The birth doesn’t come through genealogy: “not of blood,” i.e., “bloodlines.”  It’s not about being physical descendants of Abraham.  Other scholars suggest that “blood” could refer to the blood of sacrifice shed at the temple altar.  Either way, Jewishness is implied, but Jewishness is insufficient to receive salvation.  Some Jews came to John the Baptist believing their salvation was assured because they were children of Abraham.  John told them they had no such confidence because God could raise up children of Abraham from the rocks upon which they stood (Mt 3:9).  Nothing of Jewish culture or life brings the new birth.  It’s not about being physical descendants of Abraham; it’s about being the newly born children of God.
    • BTW – we are not exempt from that same line of thinking.  Few people in East Texas put their confidence in Jewish heritage, but a bunch put their confidence in their church membership.  “My grandmother was a founding member of this church, of course I’m a Christian.” “I’m an American, of course I’m a Christian.”  That is no different from the Jews placing their confidence in their family history, and it is no confidence at all.
  • The birth doesn’t come through natural means: “nor the will of the flesh.”  The birds and the bees tell us what we need to know about natural pregnancies and childbirth, but it doesn’t tell us much about our needed spiritual birth.  Being born spiritually is not about the things that we can do in our flesh, though that is what people want to be.  The world is full of religions that focus on the things we DO, in an attempt to try to earn or guarantee our way into heaven.  If we just say enough of the right prayers, give the right amount of money, go to the right priest, or humble ourselves through the right penance, etc., then our way to heaven is assured…we’ve earned it.  The Bible says “no” to all of that.  The spiritual birth written of here doesn’t come through any of those means; it comes to those who believe upon the name of Jesus.
  • The birth doesn’t come through natural desires: “nor the will of man.”  A husband and wife might desire to have a child, and do what is necessary to produce one, but no amount of desire can produce a spiritual birth.  It cannot be planned – it cannot be wished.  Someone can believe the very best about himself or herself, but our will cannot change reality.  No one gets “wished” into heaven.
  • The birth ONLY comes through the will “of God.”  We have to receive Jesus as Lord, but our willing reception of Jesus is still an act of grace that originates from the will and mind of Almighty God.  Because God wills it, God gives the grace necessary for someone to receive that new spiritual birth.  No child can will itself to be born; his/her parents have to act first.  Likewise with the spiritual birth.  God always acts first, and that is exactly what is demonstrated in Jesus.  When did God have the plan to send Jesus?  From the foundation of the world.  When did God act in sending Jesus?  Long before we were ever a gleam in our great-grandfathers’ eyes.  When did Jesus come and die for us?  Nearly 2000 years in the past.  There can be no question that God acted first in our salvation.  It is His will that we be saved, and He’s done everything necessary in order for us to be saved.
    • This is God’s will for each of us, but it doesn’t excuse us from the need to actively believe.  We tend to think of these concepts as polar opposites: either God acts and we do nothing, or we act and God does nothing.  Yet that’s not what John writes at all.  John writes very specifically that (1) people must receive/believe upon Jesus to be born again, and (2) that birth is via the will of God.  John doesn’t see these things as opposites, but as something that is completely true and reconciled in the gospel. 
    • In the end, from our perspective the only thing we have control over is how we respond to the gospel, and God calls upon us to believe.  We have to make the choice to believe; will we do it?

The Light came into the world, and was proclaimed by John.  In response, both the world of Gentiles and the nation of Jews rejected Him.  They willfully refused to recognize their Creator.  Yet some believed and they received the Light, welcoming Him as the Savior, and receiving the new birth that He offers.

That’s the gospel in a nutshell, is it not?  Jesus has come, and we have the choice of receiving Him or rejecting Him.  To receive Him is to receive a new life, a new birth, and new grand privileges of being made the children of God.  To reject Him is to choose to remain in darkness, and thus remain lost for all eternity.  Make the right choice!  Believe upon the name of Jesus and be saved.

Have you believed?  Have you entrusted yourself to the Light of the world – the very radiance and glory of God?  Look to Him and be saved from an eternity of darkness – look to Him for life and forgiveness, and He will give it.  Believe upon His name, upon His person, upon His work, and be saved.

If you have believed, whom have you told?  John the Baptist is not the only one sent out by God to proclaim the Light; this is at the core of the very mission of the church.  How Jesus is proclaimed might vary from person to person.  One person might hand out gospel tracts; another might invite a friend to coffee.  Someone else might join an evangelistic team online, while another person might give a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus.  The methods of proclaiming Christ are myriad.  There’s no lack of opportunity; just a lack of those willing to try.  May we be those (and may I be among them) whose eyes are open to the opportunities God gives us, and be faithful to testify of the One who gave us new life.


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