John 1

Read John 1 here.

John 20:30-31 states the purpose of John’s book, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The first thing to highlight in this purpose statement is that it contains a truth regarding the identity of Jesus.  However, it’s not simply an intellectual, theoretical truth, it’s a practical truth that brings life and changes lives.  When our faith becomes overly concerned with truths and not changing lives we’ve missed the point of the truth.

The second point to highlight is how important John regards the identity of Jesus.  We often take his identity for granted, or just think of him as Jesus Christ.  The opening chapter of John’s Gospel describes Jesus in at least 10 ways, each communicating a distinct aspect of his identity:

  • The Word (v1)
  • With God and is God (v1)
  • True Light and Life (v4, 5, 9)
  • Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (v29)
  • God’s Chosen One (v34)
  • Rabbi/Teacher (v38 )
  • Messiah (Annointed One/Christ) (v41)
  • Son of God (v49)
  • King of Israel (v49)
  • Son of Man (v51)

What do you think of this list?  Are some titles harder to understand than others?  Are some more meaningful to you than others?

My sermon also discussed “Spiritual New Years Resolutions”.  I mentioned a couple that I think are fairly common: “I’m going to pray more.” and “I’m going to read the Bible through in a year.”  I would suggest to anyone seeking to develop your spiritual disciplines in 2009 to let other people know about your plans.  Set up some accountability.  These are admirable and beneficial goals, but often difficult to maintain.  If you’re reading the Bible with someone else you’ll encourage each other.

Have you ever read the Bible through in a year?  Do you have any tips for those who might be about to begin?  Are you going to give it a try this year, or another spiritual discipline?

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9 comments

  1. mantecanaut

    With all due respect, are the best resolutions you can come up with ‘praying’ and ‘reading the bible’? How about actually doing something constructive to further the human project?
    Just a thought.

  2. ozziepete

    Excellent question! Any other suggestions from anyone? Does more prayer and study of God lead to other changes in our lives that have a direct impact on others? Is it possible for Christians to become too pious?

    (Although I’m not exactly sure what is meant by “human project”. I think it refers to things like addressing poverty, and other human rights.).

    When John 1:4 says that “In Him was life”, does refer only to spiritual life? or does it promise change in people’s physical situation and circumstances? Should Christians be seeking to bring real changes (light) in a dark world today, or is this passage only talking about sin and eternal salvation?

  3. Bonnie

    I know that I personally want to work on reading the bible and studying Gods word more this year. I also would like to spend more time volunteering within our community.

    As for spending time “furthering the human project” I believe that is true of all Christians. We need to go out into our communities and spread the word of God and show his love to those in need, both physically and spiritually. This should not be a New Year’s resolution rather our everyday mission to follow Jesus’ example.

    Mark 8:34-35 (NIV) Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

  4. mantecanaut

    Well, by “human project” I was referring to human civilisation – the knowledge, culture, arts and sciences we have been furthering. Remember, in Jesus’ time, people rarely lived to their late 30’s. It is thanks to man’s curiosity and ingenuity that we have discovered real truths about reality (germ theory of disease, plate tectonics, genetics, evolution, physics, astronomy etc).
    With overpopulation, competition for resources, climate change and countless other problems, it is a moral necessity that we educate ourselves.
    Helping in your community is of course admirable and worthwhile, but how about this for a resolution : learn. Learn CPR, anatomy/medicine. Learn physics, mathematics, a language. Open yourself up to the wonder of our world and indeed our universe. Praying is a cop out – it lets you think youre doing something when in fact you are just closing your eyes and making a wish, and I think we all know deep down that wishful thinking just doesn’t work! It’s the DOING that counts!
    Good luck!x

  5. ozziepete

    Thanks for clarifying that. What do you think church? “Mantecanaut” presents a quite humanistic approach to life that I don’t agree with, but he raises a couple of interesting questions?

    1. Is education an moral necessity? Even from a Christian perspective do we have a responsibility to educate ourselves, and not just in the Bible?

    2. Although most Christians regard prayer as a way to tap into a much greater power, not a cop out, can prayer become a cop out? Do we need to be more attentive in our doing, as well as praying?

  6. Rob

    I try to study the Bible everyday, I read the entire Bible last year from cover to cover for the first time, then I started over on the N.T. as that is where I get my commands and authorization for how I am to act and what I am supposed to do as a member of the Lord’s Body.
    Before last year I would read one book from the O.T., then one from the N.T.,
    this year I will study from Genesis to Revelation in order. Then I will read the N.T. again (somewhere around 3 or 4 time in a row) I also will look at David Lipscomb’s and Clarke’s commentaries on the N.T. as I read it to get a better understanding of scriptures that I am studying.
    I believe that prayer to some may become a “cop out”, as we can pray for something then put the “blame” on God when we do not get the answer that we were looking for. I am reminded in James 2:14-26 talks about faith w/o deeds is dead.
    Last year I prayed for 2 things to happen and God answered both of those items.
    1) was my marriage to Lisa and 2) was her baptism into Christ’s body. Now I could have just prayed and not done anything else, and those prayers would not have been answered (in most likely hood). It was by me acting and doing what God’s plan is that both of these things happened. I pray everyday that God keeps all the churches of Christ scriptural and the ones that are not I pray that God returns them to his fold. I also pray for the elders at Lawson Rd, that their decisions are based on what is permissible in the N.T. and not from what was created by man and added.
    I believe that as a Saints of Christ that we have a responsibility to go unto the world and preach the Good News, that God came to earth, was crucified by man and buried for 3 days and was risen from that death and that he is alive and all that believe and are Baptized for the remission of their sins will have eternal life and all others will be condemned to death. (This is the Gospel that has been preached since the Day of Pentecost).
    The only way that I will be able to teach is to know the material that I am teaching, and the only way that I can learn the material is by studying and learning that material( I am not going to get it through osmosis). I recently attended a congregation where the sermon was on why we need to read our Bibles, the jest of the sermon was that we need to be prepared to teach the lost and also the saved as stated in 1 Cor, Hebrews and 1 Peter: the Church was started on spiritual milk (then moved to solid food). I can not allow myself to become stagnant in my growth in Christ.
    That is why it is my responsibility to study and learn the Bible, so that I can teach my children, my wife and the world the Gospel of Christ and the history of the covenant with Abraham and the history of Israel, to show why they are no longer God’s chosen and that the Gospel is for all men as we are all sons and daughters of Abraham and that we will get our inheritance of the covenant.

  7. mantecanaut

    Thanks to Rob above for illustrating my point so well. Does he pray for an end to disease, poverty, child abuse, war etc etc. No, he prays that people will believe the same primitive medieval superstitions that he believes in. Hardly very noble is it?
    I propose, that instead of studying “scripture”, one should study what we have learned since those early, ignorant times. How we know that many of those ancient laws contained in the bible are immoral. Sure, we all accept “the golden rule” – treat others as you wish to be treated, but that had been said 500 years before jesus by Confucius, and also by Zoroaster… nothing original there.
    But the barbarity in the bible is dismissed by christians as “metaphor” or a result of the culture of the times. Yet how do we know that to stone to death someone who works on a sunday is immoral? Perhaps I misjudge you and you think that is actually a moral act. If so, you have problems.

    To be honest, a lot of Rob’s post seemed to be the incoherent ramblings of a deeply troubled mind… it’s the 21st century for goodness sake! I believe a pertinent bible quote is:
    “There comes a time to put away childish things.” Please do.
    Big Love xx

  8. ozziepete

    Actually, as Christians, praying for someone’s salvation is very noble, as it addresses that person’s greatest need. However, Christians face a temptation to keep their beliefs at an intellectual level. Once someone is saved we can bombard them with “right beliefs” that they need to learn, rather than encouraging the Holy Spirit to transform their lives, priorities and relationships.

    As Christians we now represent God, the source of all things loving and good, and yet we can get caught up worrying about what clothes we wear to worship rather than how we can express God’s love and goodness in our communities. We can fuss about whether we may raise hands in worship, and ignore whether our faith changes our movie or music choices. We can over analyze particular verses and fail to address global needs.

    As usual, I strongly disagree with mantecanaut’s analysis of Christianity (although in a religion as broad as Christianity is I’m sure there are examples of what he describes). However, I appreciate his questioning of our priorities. Is our vision too small? Do we limit God to our needs and imply that the ends of wars and poverty are too big for God?

    Some Christians would argue that the way to resolve these needs is for the world to accept Jesus as Saviour and start living for Him. But what if those who are already Christian became more involved? What impact would that have? Does Jesus want us more involved in these causes?

    Regarding the “childish things” quote, I was interested to see that Barack Obama also quoted this phrase in his inauguration address. It’s quite bizarre really. This phrase is part of theologically complicated discussion of spiritual gifts in 1 Cor. 13:11. However, in that it’s a context that encourages love over displays of spiritual fervor does have some relevance to our current discussion.

  9. mantecanaut

    Firstly, ozziepete, I must thank you for being such an understanding and congenial host… it is not my intention to offend, but I am always honest and from that honesty I fear that offence is sometimes given.
    So, to your idea that to pray for a person’s salvation is a noble act; who are you praying to? God I presume, in which case, you are asking the creator of the universe to intervene and guide the unbeliever to the path of righteousness, right? This surely violates the individuals god given “freewill”. So, god must ignore your plea on this occasion.

    Then you ask :”Do we limit God to our needs and imply that the ends of wars and poverty are too big for God?”
    An interesting question. Religion first arose to explain that for which we did not yet have an explanation… this is why the first gods were gods of the sun and moon, fertility and crops. These gods have given way over time to the Abrahamic mythologies… yet this presents a problem, in that the importance is placed in the “afterlife” and this life is just a avenue to that goal. This is why all the prayers are for intangible things, because even if god could rescind his gift of freewill, it doesn’t matter, it’s after we die that matters. This is an immoral idea, and cannot help to make things better in the here and now ie reality.
    I would suggest that:
    as scary as it may be… it’s ok to admit that you don’t really know what “it’s all about”.
    Focus on what we do know… this reality. Let’s try and make this world better, and use evidence and reason to guide us… let’s leave ancient superstitions to the ancients.
    Big Love to you all.X

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