Monday, November 25, 2013

How Animals can be more Human than Humans

(This post was generated from my sermon Lusty Old Men found here)

The Puritan Ralph Venning illustrates this very sharply from his book The Sinfulness of Sin.  When a man gives himself over to sensuality(Ephesians 4:19) it...1) It makes him like a animal, 2) It makes him like the worst of animals, 3) It makes him worse than the animals.  

1) Sensuality  makes man like an animal
This is primarily seen in the mind.  In 2 Peter 2, Peter is warning the church about false teachers.  v. 3 says that “...many will follow their sensuality..”  False teachers have given themselves over to sensuality, and they attempt to deceive other to follow them it it.  Because of this, Peter says they are like animals.  2 Peter 2:12 says that “...these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant...”  The person who has given them self up to sensuality is like an animal. 
[FYI: Sensuality  deals with the senses—sight, sound, touch, taste, smell.  God did in fact make our senses very good(Genesis 1:31). He made them for us to enjoy and to think about Him.  Sensuality, however, turns the 5 senses into a religion.  Sensuality is only concerned with how to make our senses feel pleasure.  It is a complete focus on our natural instincts, and our physical appetites. It is a devotion to indulge in them in order to secure happiness.  When a person gives himself up to sensuality, he’s giving himself up to everything and anything this planet has to offer.  Except for God.]

2) Sensuality makes man like the worst of animals.
Whenever sensual men are compared to animals in the Scripture, it is never to gentle and innocuous animals, unless it is to point to their stupidity(cf. Prov. 7:22)  They are  always compared to ferocious or dangerous animals.  Sensuality makes man like the worst of animals.  Proverbs 28:15 “Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people.”  The wicked sensuous man is like a roaring lion because he has no pity.  Likewise, Jesus spoke to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:33 “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”  These leaders weren’t compared to serpents because of their wisdom but rather because of their venomous hatred toward God.  That is what sensuality does, it makes those who have given themselves up to it like the worst of animals. 

3) Sensuality makes man worse than the animals.
Venning says here that the sensual man is worse than animals because “...the beasts do not transgress the law of their nature, but man has done and does so over and over again.”  You see animals only do that which God designed them to do.  They do not break his moral boundaries.  Man, on the other hand constantly trespasses the moral boundaries that God has established.  Venning goes on to say that “It is no sin in an animal to be sensual, but it is so in man, who although created for higher ends and purposes, is so degenerated as to be in many [ways] more sensual and carnal than the animals are.  Sin has made man so unsociable and cruel that bears are more kind to one another than men are.  Proverbs 17:12 “Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly.”  If you are thinking that maybe a fool would be better to meet than a bear about to rip you apart, you’re not letting that word air out it’s full meaning.  It’s not speaking of the class clown here, it is speaking about those fools who actually have the power to press their folly upon you.  The Mao Tse Tung’s of the world. “[Sensual] man is more hurtful to man than the animals are to man.”
The human being is who has given himself up to sensuality is not only like an animal, and like the worst of animals, but he is worse than all the animals.

The solution to this problem that all people share is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Please listen to the above linked sermon to here this good news.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

All Things Were Made Through Him

Here's a link to listen to the sermon. 

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:3

This is an extremely incredible verse considering what we’ve seen so far. Two weeks ago we looked at the intimate fellowship of the Trinity, how God the Father has always beheld and enjoyed His own perfections.  Those perfections were beheld in His only Son, whom He has always exulted over.  He was daily His delight. [Prov. 8:30] The Son likewise has always rejoiced before his Father. [Prov. 8:31] We saw this when John said “The Word was with God.” They have been together since before the creation of the world. The Father delighted in seeing His image in His Son, and the Son delighted in being in the Father’s presence.  And this mutual ecstasy and mutual delight for each other proceeded forth in an infinite and sacred love...who is the person of the Holy Spirit.  Three persons, one God.  One God who delights in the perfect fellowship of the Trinity.  This God who is never bored, never lonely, never tired, but always perfectly happy.  He is the happy God. This God is self-sufficient and doesn’t need anything. He doesn’t need the angels, He doesn’t need the heavens, He doesn’t need the earth, and He doesn’t need humanity.  You and I need things.  We need water, and shelter, and clothing and air.  God needs nothing! Acts 17:24-25 “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not...need anything.”  He doesn’t need anything outside of Himself to continue His existence and He doesn’t need anything outside of Himself to bring Him pleasure.  God is pure pleasure.  He is the fountain of all pleasure! 1 Timothy 6:15-16 says  “...He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”  Our God is a perfectly thrilled at being God, and He lacks nothing, including creation, in order to sustain His joy.  So we should ask ourselves, why v. 3 here?  If this is all true, that God is self-sufficient and infinitely thrilled with being God, then why create at all?     Here’s the best answer that I have found.  God is the fountain of all pleasure.  What do fountains do?  They overflow.  In this case the overflowing of God’s pleasure in Himself is the creation.   Meaning that the heavens and the earth and all things visible and invisible and all of mankind are the result of God’s happiness in Himself overflowing. God’s joy in being God spilled over, and that over spilling is creation.  Thus John says “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
Now as we are looking at verse, God the Son is still on center stage in John’s mind here.  v. 3 flows from v. 1-2.  This Him here is the Word who is Jesus Christ. If we were to insert His name in this verse, it would read this way  “All things were made through Jesus, and without Jesus was not any thing made that was made.”  This verse is ultimately about the supremacy of Christ.  This verse is ultimately about the glory of Jesus Christ in the work of Creation. 

The Big Idea...The glory of Christ is seen in creation and providence. 

I. The Glory of Christ in Creation
II.  The Glory of Christ in Providence

I.  The Glory of Christ in Creation
This is the pre-incarnate Son in this verse.  Meaning that, this was the Son of God before He put on flesh.  This verse like the last two verses, declares that the Son of God is God Himself.  The last part of the verse says 
“...without him was not any thing made that was made.” Consider two proofs from this verse showing that Jesus is God Himself.  1) A created being cannot create all things that have ever been created, because that would mean He would have to self-create.  Self creation is a contradiction.  A nothing cannot become a something on the strength of it’s own power, because a nothing doesn’t have power, it is nothing!  Jesus made all the created things, and not even one thing that was created was done so apart from Him.  This means that Jesus was uncreated.  And if He is uncreated, than He is eternal God Himself. Jehovah’s witnesses, Mormons, and others who try to continue to use the Bible, but deny that Jesus is God, are in grave danger.   This verse flatly contradicts their position.  2) This verse proves that Jesus is God, because, according to the rest of the Scriptures, only God has the power of creation.

Genesis 1:1  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” 

Psalm 102:24-25 “O my God,”...Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.”

Revelation 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

So if God alone has the power of creation, and Jesus is said to create, then the invincible conclusion is the Jesus is God.  Any who would deny this reality are trying to steal away the glory of Christ.  And this is the most dangerous ground that one could stand on.  For the Scripture says that He will not give His glory to another.  Isaiah 40:8 “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other...” Any who try and undermine this King is the offspring of Satan. He attempted the same rebellion thousands of years ago, and now he and his demons await the judgment of eternal damnation. Jesus is God, and therefore He is glorious in the work of creation. 
Now “All things were made through Jesus...,” but I would not want to leave you with the impression that the Father and the Holy Spirit did not participate in creation also.  Creation is a Trinitarian word.  Notice this verse uses the word “through” here.  “All things were made through him...”  Jesus was the means or the vehicle through which creation was accomplished.
  In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  How did God create?  By speaking.  What did God use when He spoke?  He used words.  He used the Word.  This Word that we are looking at in John 1.  So it was “through” the Word, as our verse declares, that God the Father created all the world. 
The Holy Spirit was also involved in creation.  Genesis 1:2 says “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  The Spirit was there hovering over the created chaos like a bird hovers over it’s brood; sustaining, protecting, and perfecting it.  All three persons of the Trinity are responsible for the creation.  It is the Father who begins by speaking, the Son who establishes by being spoken, and the Spirit who perfects by hovering over.  Psalm 33:6 “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.” “The Father speaks, and on His Breath his Word is heard.”
  The Father speaks His Word(which is His Son) and He goes forth on His Breath(which is His Spirit).

Lets consider now how the glory of Christ is seen in this creation.  What is included in creation? Colossians 1:16 helps us out:  “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”  All things in heaven and earth.  Is there any other place?  No, that means He created all things in every place.  All visible things and all invisible things.  Are there any other kind of things?  No.  That means that He created the spiritual and the material world.  All things whether they be thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.  Is there anything high and lofty and above us that He has not created?  No, even the most marvelous archangel, which if we saw, would cause our heart to be in terror is under God’s creating power.  The highest and most lofty thing that is not God, was created by God, and specifically through His Word, through Jesus. 
This is an awesome thought if you just consider it for a moment.  You and I have never created anything in our lives.  Nor, for that matter has any other human being, or angel.  Mankind only have the power of manipulation.  We take pre-existing matter and shape it into objects for our uses.  But we have never created ex nihilo, meaning, “out of nothing.”  Let your mind consider that. Think of anything in this room or outside of this room for that matter.  Cars, computers, t.v. sets, jewelry, books, clothing, anything that you can think of.  All of those things came from the original creation.  Out of the ground, or from animal and plant life.  This pulpit, those chairs, this concrete, your home.  All of these things were made through Christ, and man merely manipulates and shapes them.  King David humbly declared 1 Chronicles 29:14 “For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.” All things come from God and when we give back to Him, it is His own stuff that we are offering.  All glory be to the Father.  All glory be to the Son. All glory be to the Spirit.  “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” [Romans 11:36]

II.  The Glory of Christ in Providence
Providence is a word that has been lost in our culture, and I hope to regain it at this church.  Providence is God’s preserving and governing all His creation.  Q.11 in the Shorter Catechism, which we we be getting to in a few weeks on Tuesday nights reads “God’s works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all His creatures and all their actions.” So let’s break God’s providence down into two parts: 1) It is God’s Preserving and 2) It is God’s Governing. 

The Glory of Christ is seen in His sustaining all things. 
Jesus Christ sustains, or preserves, or upholds all the creation. Hebrews 1:3 says that “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”  Jesus does not just simply create and then walk away from His creation, He upholds the creation, meaning He nourishes it, and carries it, and keeps it alive.  He is the invisible power that stops everything from flying apart. Colossians 1:17 says “ him all things hold together.”  
My information may be outdated, but the last time I checked, quarks are the smallest things that scientists discovered that make up atoms.  Atoms are the basic building blocks of existence.  They are made up of protons, neutrons, electrons, and a nucleus. Quarks are the smaller components that make up those parts. Now, do you want to know what is in between those quarks? Nothing. Empty space.  What is holding the quarks together?  Jesus Christ.  Colossians 1:17 “ him all things hold together.”  That is the glory of Christ in providence!  When John tells us that “All things were made through him,” He doesn’t mean to tell us that Christ walked away from that creation after He made it. Creation does not have the power to sustain itself. Self-existence or self-survival is not a characteristic that creation has or can have.  That is a power that belongs to God alone.  And not even God can give this power to His creation.  God alone has the power of self-existence.  He cannot give this power away any more than He could make another God.  It is a contradiction to create something that has self-existence.  The moment it is created proves that it cannot be self-existent or even self-sustaining.  All of creation depends on God  As Job 34:14-15 says ”If he should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.”  Christ’s glory is seen in the fact that we are not disintegrating at this very moment back into nothing.   He is sustaining us, for it is through Him that all things are made. 

The Glory of Christ is seen in His governing of all things. 
John in our verse says that Christ made all things.  Let me ask a question: are actions or events things? According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary they are.  The very first definition of a thing that is listed is “an event or action.”
  It comes from the Latin evenio, which you can even hear the word event in that word: evenio.  So the definition of a thing isn’t limited to material things, or even spiritual things, but it also includes events and actions.  Which means that John here is including here the idea that Jesus made all events as well.  Consider these verses:

Isaiah 48:3 “The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth, and I announced them; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.”  What came to pass?  Events.  Events that God declared from before the beginning.  Events that God made through Christ. 

Isaiah 46:9-10 “...I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’”  Christ’s purpose is not only seen in creation but also in every event that has ever transpired underneath the sun.  There is not one thing that you can conceive of that was not pre-planned, and purposed by Christ.   
Consider, have you ever been outside in the winter when giant snowflakes were falling?  And then you looked up and was in wonder of all those billions and billions of snowflakes falling in every direction.  Every one of those snowflakes that travels from the heavens to the earth is an event.  Which means that the exact path that they take is a path that Jesus Christ determined before the creation of the world. “The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth, and I announced them; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.” [Isaiah 48:3]  Is that too wonderful for you to fathom? When King David considered things like this, he declared. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” [Psalm 115:3]
What about events that includes human beings?  Events that seem to happen by chance?  In the O.T. there is a story of a wicked king named Ahab.  A prophet of the Lord told him that he was going to die in battle for his wickedness.  Ahab decided to disguise himself so that the enemy would not know who he was.  Do you think that that thwarted God’s purposes for him?  1 Kings 22:34-35 “...a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” And the battle continued that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died.” So picture, this random guy, shot, at random, an arrow, and struck the king in the only place where his armor would allow the arrow to go through. That was an event.  That took place because Jesus made all things.  “The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth, and I announced them; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.” [Isaiah 48:3]  The glory of Christ is that He is the Word that is spoken by God that declares all things before they happen.  The Father announces them through His Son and they were created, and then they come to pass.  Nothing happens apart from Jesus Christ, and this is His crown and this is His glory. 


 These truths are for comforting the godly.
“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. “  Recall that at the beginning I said that creation is an overflow of God’s happiness in being God.  This should be the source of your everlasting joy, that God is supremely happy in being God, and He has made you to be supremely happy in Him.  God is for the happiness and comfort of His creatures, when this happiness is found in Him alone.  When we are happy in our Heavenly Father, we are most like Him.  As we behold Him, we become more and more like Him and we conform to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.  2 Cor. 3:18 says “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  So we fulfill God’s purposes for creation when we find all our joy and fulfillment in Him alone plus nothing.  The happiest Christian is the one who can lose everything, but know that they have everything when they have Jesus. 

These truths are for gravely warning the sinner.  
“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. “  One of the things that Christ has made are the wicked.  Proverbs 16:4 says “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”  This verse tells us that God through Christ made the wicked for a purpose.  They were not an accident, or an oversight.  If He wanted to, He could have withheld creation from them since He knows all things.  But He didn’t.  God created the wicked for the express purpose of showing Himself righteous, in judging and punishing them.  It is more important in the mind of God that His justice be displayed than not.  God had the choice to either not display His justice by withholding creation from the wicked, or to display His justice in the everlasting punishment of them. He chose the second.  That truth should make us fear the Lord and repent if we have not yet done so.  We are all commanded to repent of our treason for hating this Christ who made all things.  We are all commanded to repent of our ignoring this Christ who made them for His glory.   There is a glory in Christ accomplishing all of these things, and He wants us to see it and enjoy it and praise Him for.  The wicked hate this obligation and in rebellion turn away from it.  Be warned those of you who are turning away from the Lord.  On top of everything else that Christ made, He has also made a day of judgment.  Romans 1:16 says that there is a “ God will judge the secrets of men through Jesus Christ.”  On that day there will be weeping and gnashing teeth, for judgment will be exact and vengeance will be the Lord’s.  In that day a new creation will occur.  Both the wicked and the righteous will have new bodies made for them, by Christ.  The righteous will have new bodies to enjoy heaven, but the wicked will have new bodies given to them so that they can endure the unspeakable horrors of hell. If you are wicked, turn from your wickedness and live that you will not be given such a body for such a purpose. 

These truths are for encouraging the doubting.
“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. “ Christ has also made the day of salvation. 2 Cor. 6:2 says “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”    I don’t think I’ve shared with you that I have lived in G.C.  10 + years.  Years that I have been addicted to drugs, to sex, and to hatred of God.  The darkest years of my life.  In fact if you want to know where I lived, just go down to 44th and Adams, and you will see an empty lot there.  I lived in the shed in the front.  They were dark years where I was in bondage to Satan, and I loved my sin.  Christ Jesus delivered me from that.  He created a day of salvation for me and He offers that to everybody here as well.  The Scripture tells us all repent of our sin, which means that with grief and hatred of our sin we turn from it towards God.  It means, that, with as much energy as you spent loving your sin, you not hate it all the more energy.  And then by faith alone, you receive Jesus Christ as the treasure of your life.  It  means that you trust Him.  It means that you believe that His sacrifice on the cross is enough to pay for your crimes against God.  It means that you believe that nothing that you do will ever satisfy God’s justice except for the sacrifice of Christ alone.  It means that you love Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God Himself, who made all things for His glory.  And it means that you live a life where you spend your time pursuing Christ either until He returns or until you die.  Trust Christ for that.  Believe that He can make your sins whiter than snow.  Even your sins that you are so ashamed of, and that nobody knows about.  Christ already knows about them and He has created a day in which you can be saved.  “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

In the Beginning was the Word Pt. 2

Here's a link to listen to the sermon.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  John 1:1-2

Last week we started the gospel of John and we looked at the first two verses. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”  This Word that John spoke of is clearly Jesus Christ.  We saw this from v. 14  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”   
Our big idea from last week was that this Word is eternal, this Word is personal, and this Word is God Himself.  Under the first point, we said that Jesus Christ is eternal.  Time is a created thing, but Jesus is not.  He was in  the beginning with God, meaning that when time began, Jesus was already there.  Therefore we discovered that Jesus is eternal.  The second point we looked at is that this Word is personal.  v.1 says the Word was with God and v.2 calls this Word a He. This is a Personal Word. Jesus has always and forever shared intimate fellowship with His Father.  The third point that we looked at is that Jesus Christ is God Himself.  He is not a god amongst other gods, and He is not a created being.  He is God!  The end of v. 1 says “the Word was God.”  So John declares unashamedly that Jesus is God.  
But John is not alone in this declaration.  Jesus Himself affirmed over and over again throughout this gospel that He is God.  In John 5:17-18, Jesus said “‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’  This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”  Later in John 10:31-32, we read “The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.’”  So without hesitation or fear of misinterpretation, the Bible declares that Jesus is God!   
So here is the problem.  Our text declares that Jesus is God and that Jesus is with God; and yet the Bible is very clear that there is only one God. 

Isaiah 45:5 says “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God...” 

Isaiah 45:21 “Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.” 

Hosea 13:4 “But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.”  

Isaiah 44:6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god...”  

And the verses could go on and on.  There is only one God.   
And yet...the Bible says more than that.  It says that the Father is God(John 20:17), the Son is God(Rev. 1:8) and the Holy Spirit is God(Acts 5:3-4).  These three are the persons of God. They are distinct or separate persons, yet each one is fully God.  This is called the Tri-unity of God., or we know it as the Trinity. Tri meaning 3, unity meaning 1.  There is a plurality(3) in the unity(1) of who God is.  If this is confusing to you, what do you expect?  You’re not God!  You’re not infinite.  You’re not eternal.  You are finite and you are a creature of this God.  God doesn’t need your permission or your understanding for Him to be who He is.  He is God. “Who is like me? [asks the Lord] Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me...” Isaiah 44:7  “To whom will you liken me [says the Lord] and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike?” Isaiah 46:5  If anyone dismisses the idea of the Trinity for the reason that they don’t understand it, because isn’t like anything they have ever even thought of, God agrees with you. He just asked “To whom will you liken me?”  There is no one like Him in the heavens above or the earth below. Not in eternity past, nor in the present, nor in the ages to come.  He is uniquely and extravagantly God.  This is part of the delightful mystery that John uncovers for us in these first two verses.  So let’s look at our big idea and then we we hopefully dive into some of this mystery in a way that makes us adore and admire Him more. 

The Big Idea...the Word was with God means that the Father and Son have eternally loved each other through the person of the Holy Spirit. 

Remember I said last week that there is a very intimate flavor to this book.  I believe the big idea reflects this.  This type of loving language is found all over this book. 

In John 3:35, Jesus says “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.”

In John 5:20, Jesus says “...the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.”

In John 14:31, Jesus says “...but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”

In John 15:9 Jesus says  “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”

So this theme of the Father lavishing His love upon Jesus and His people will continue to come up again and again as we proceed through this gospel.   Our task tonight is to look at the nature of this Triune God.  Or as John says it, this “...Word [who] was with God, and...[this]...Word [who] was God.”   

I. Who is God?
Let me ask you this: how do you approach God?  What I mean is, how do you primarily define Him?  Creator?  Ruler?  The Almighty?  One Christian author says that’s a big mistake.  He says  “...if I start there, with that as my basic view of God, I will find every inch of my Christianity covered and wasted by the nastiest toxic fallout.”
   Hmm... those are strong words.  Are they called for?  Well consider. “Josh, who is your wife?” you ask.  If I answer “dishwasher,” or “baker,” or maybe something more dignified like “educator,” we know that something is wrong.  That  response would be tragic on so many levels.  Defining her by what she does rather than who she is reduces her to a tool.  She is not defined by what she does, but  rather by who she is.  The same mistake can be made with God.  God does create.  He does rule.  He is almighty, but does that mean he is primarily some sort of cosmic police officer?  To define God like that, primarily, is to approach Him in very alien terms than what is found in Scripture.  
Who is God?  Maybe a question that will help illuminate His essence is to ask:  What was God doing before creation?  That question was asked to Martin Luther once and he responded by saying “Making hell for those cheeky enough to ask such questions.”
 As funny as that is, I think in this case his witty comeback has done the church a disfavor. It’s actually a good question, and the reason why we know it’s a good question is because Jesus Himself addresses it.  He pulls back the eternal curtain, as it were, and lets us see what the triune God was doing from all eternity.  In John 17:24 Jesus says “Father...You loved Me before the creation of the world.” (NIV) Father.   God is essentially or primarily Father.  God’s identity is Father.  He doesn’t do fatherhood, His being is wrapped up in fatherhood.  This is how Jesus, who is the Word of God, defines who God is.  Father.  What is a father?  Well a father necessarily has a child.  In this case, a Son.  His only begotten Son.  And this Father Loves His Son.  And that is the Trinity.  That has to be our starting point in approaching God.  The Trinity ought not to be something we are embarrassed about, nor shy away from because we don’t understand it, it should be the very heart of our Christian faith, because it is the very heart of THE Christian faith.  
II. Who is the Son?
Consider this picture of the Trinity. Now this is an attempt to understand some of the Scriptures in the Bible.  But remember that the Trinity is the most profound of all Divine mysteries and even after a billion millennia of ages we will still not perfectly understand fully who He is.  But we do have some great clues now.  Let’s consider these facts. (This is largely adapted from Jonathan Edwards conception of the Trinity found in his essay on the Trinity)
God is infinitely perfect.  Contained in that infinite perfection is an infinite beauty, an infinite love, and an infinite holiness.  That is a sight to behold!  There is nothing more stunning than to gaze upon infinite beauty, and love, and holiness in that one Being.  Not only it is stunning to gaze upon that sight, but it also results in an unimaginable happiness.  So God   has gazed upon His own perfections for all eternity. And He perfectly enjoys this view or this image of His own excellencies.  Furthermore God has always had this perfect image of Himself, because He is eternal.  Therefore this perfect image of Himself has been an eternally perfect image of Himself.   That eternally perfect image of Himself is the Son.
  Consider these Scriptures and listen for Jesus being called an image. 

2 Corinthians 4:4 speaks about “...the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Colossians 1:15 says that “He is the image of the invisible God...”

Hebrews 1:3 “He[Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature...”  

It’s clear from these Scriptures that Jesus is the exact image that God has of Himself.  The Son is the infinite beauty, and love, and holiness that God views in Himself as His image.  That image stands outside of Himself as His own person in the Son.  
Another way to say this is that Jesus is the perfect idea that the Father has of Himself.  So follow me here from the last point:  if Jesus is the image that God has of Himself, then that is the same as saying that Jesus is the idea that God has of Himself.  Certainly God has a perfect idea of who He is.   This  “...idea which God has of Himself is absolutely Himself.” So much so that God’s idea of Himself stands outside of Himself as His own person with all the same attributes or characteristics of God Himself. Consider these Scriptures and listen for Jesus being called the idea that the Father has of Himself.   

1 Cor. 1:24 says that  “...Christ [is] the wisdom of God.”
What is the wisdom of God except the very thoughts of God Himself?  This verse says that Jesus is the thoughts of God.  Or the perfect idea that God has of Himself. He’s more than that, because He is an eternal distinct person. But He is not less than that.

Colossians 2:2-3  says that “God’s Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” This verse is acknowledging that this is mysterious.  Christ is God’s mystery!  “God’s Christ...”  Then this verse goes on to say that in Christ  is all wisdom and knowledge.  Meaning that Christ, who is the eternal Son, and second person in the Trinity, is the very thoughts begotten by the Father Himself.

Proverbs 8:12 speaks about the wisdom of God.  In this place wisdom is personified.  That means that wisdom is given personal traits or characteristics.   12“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,and I find knowledge and discretion. 22The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up,at the first, before the beginning of the earth.  When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, 30then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.” [Proverbs 8:12; 22-25; 30-31]  There are three important things to notice here.  1) This wisdom is a person.  It is the Son of God.  The Word of God.  Jesus Christ. 2)  This person was brought forth.  Twice the text says that He was “brought forth.”  This is the language of being begotten.  The Son was begotten of the Father.  The N.T. in several places records the Father saying “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’” [Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; Heb. 5:5]  The difference between a human father begetting a human son and the Divine Father begetting the Divine Son is that the Divine begetting is an eternal begetting.  Jesus was eternally begotten of the Father.  He never began to exist.  3) This begotten Son was the delight of Father, and He always overflowed with joy in the Father’s presence.  v. 30 says “...then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always...” The Son is here exclaiming that He has eternally been the Father’s delight.  The Father has always admired His Son.  He has always taken perfect pleasure in His company.  The Son returns this love by saying that He was always rejoicing before Father. The Son loved being the Son. He has forever been full of joy because of His relationship with the Father.  Being close to the Father was the foundation of the Son’s eternal happiness.   They shared an all-powerful and unimaginable love from all eternity.  

III. Who is the Spirit? 
Who is the Holy Spirit?  We don’t see the Holy Spirit explicitly in John 1:1-2, but He is there implicitly and He is very present in the rest of the Scriptures.   Where does He fit into this relationship between the Father and the Son?  Quite simply, He is that all-powerful and unimaginable love that flows from the Father to the Son, and from the Son from the Father.  The Scriptures tells us that the Son proceeds forth or is begotten from the Father, which is why we call Him the Second Person of the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is called the Third Person of the Trinity because He proceeds forth from both from the Father and Son.
  He is the Divine love that proceeds from the Father to the Son; and the Divine love that proceeds from the Son to the Father.  This Divine love is so identical to the Father and the Son that it also stands forth as His own person with all the same attributes or characteristics of God Himself.
Consider these Scriptures and listen for the Holy Spirit being the very love of God.

John 3:34-35 says “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.”  John here is telling us that Jesus can speak God’s words because the Father sent Him the Holy Spirit.  The Father and has given Him the Holy Spirit without measure.  Then John declares that the Father loves the Son.  How do we know that?  Because the verse says that He has given all things into His hand.  But what is the highest token of the Father’s love for the Son?  The previous verse says it is the Holy Spirit who was given to the Son without measure.  That is how we know the Father loves the Son.  Because the Divine love, the Holy Spirit, proceeds from the Father and rests upon the Son. 

1 John 4:12-13 says “...if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.  By this we we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit”  Here we see the same argument in both verses.  In v.12 He says that if we have love in us, it is because God is dwelling in us.  In v.13 He says that this love is God’s Spirit.  In other words, the love that God sends His people is His Holy Spirit.  That is the Third Person of the Trinity.  That Divine love that is ever flowing between the Father and the Son. 

Romans 5:5 says “...hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”  This verse says that two things have been given to us, God’s love and the Holy Spirit.  But as we read the verse we find that God loves us by giving us the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is God’s love sent to us.  “...hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

The Trinity is an infinite ecstasy of love.  Jesus excitedly proclaimed to the Father  “Father...You loved Me before the creation of the world.” [John 17:24]  The Father loved His own image, which was eternally His Son. And that love that they mutually shared together was the eternal person of the Holy Spirit.  The Word was with God. 

One author has said this about the Trinity:  “The Triunity of God is the secret of His beauty.” (Michael Reeves Delighting in the Trinity)  When we press into the Trinity we will discover a beauty that transcends all the world. When we press into the Trinity we will sing with David when he said “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” [Psalm 27:4]  The Triunity of God is the secret of His beauty.  The Triunity of God is the secret of all satisfaction.  What does it mean to be satisfied? To be satisfied means to have your desires fully gratified.

The Trinity can satisfy your soul.  The Trinity can gratify your soul. The deepest parts.  The most hungry and thirsty parts.  The Trinity is the true object of all enjoyment.  There is no higher delight, no greater enjoyment, no superior satisfaction than that of the grace of the Father, the beauty of the Son, and the love of the Spirit.  How can there be a higher delight than the Trinity?  The Father with all His infinite strength, power, and wisdom did not create something in order to make Him happy in His eternal state; He already possessed infinite happiness.  He had perfect joy in the person of His Son, and He lavished upon Him the love of His Spirit. “He did not need to create the world in order to satisfy himself...The divine majesty of this God is not dependent on the world.  The Father, Son and Spirit ‘were happy in themselves, and enjoyed one another before the world was.’  But the Father so enjoyed his fellowship with his Son that he wanted to have the goodness of it spread out and..shared with others.  The creation was a free choice borne out of nothing but love.”

The Trinity is not some useless appendage added on to the Christian faith.  It is the very heart of the Christian faith.  The Athanasian Creed says this “Whosoever will be is necessary that he hold the [orthodox] faith; which faith [if not kept] whole and undefiled [by the individual] without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.  And the [orthodox] faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity.”  Now why is this the case?  Because the Trinity is who God is!  If you don’t worship the Trinity, you worship a different god, which is no god at all but rather a demon.   The Trinity is the identity of God Himself.  Even if God were to allow wrong ideas about the Trinity to be accepted, the fact of the matter is, if He is not Trinity He cannot save us.  In order for God to remain righteous, He must punish all sin.  Every sin will be punished.  No exception.  The problem is, if all sin is punished on all humans, then all humans will suffer everlastingly in hell.  The only way that the Father can save some humans, like you and I is if He punishes a substitute in our place. He chose to punish His Son, who took on human flesh and suffered on behalf of all those who would believe on His name and ever repent of their sin. Now that cannot happen if God is not Trinity.  If the Son is not equally God, the cross counts for nothing. Other religions who have a Jesus on a cross whom they do not believe is God cannot save them.  Jesus said in John 8:24 “...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”  That is unless you believe that He is God, you will die in your sins.  God must be Trinity in order for any sinners to be saved.  The way to that salvation is to repent of your sins.  That means to be grieved and hate your sins and turn towards God.  Then you must believe in Christ, which means you receive forgiveness for your sins, because of His sacrifice on the cross.   Believing in Christ means that you receive Him as a treasure.  Matthew 13:44 says “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  Christ is the treasure in that field.  Saving faith is receiving Him as a Treasure.  When that happens we are promised to enter into eternal life with this Trinitarian treasure for all eternity.  

Sunday, April 28, 2013

In the Beginning was the Word Pt. 1

Here's a link to listen to the sermon...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  John 1:1-2

Introduction to the Gospel of John
This book that we are starting this evening is “The Gospel of John” or “The Gospel According to John.”  The word gospel means good news.  So this book is the good news according to John.  Who is John?  What is this good news that he brings?  John was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, who later became an Apostle.  He referred to himself throughout this book as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  He did not say this out of arrogance or conceit but rather because he knew the love of the Savior and he knew he was loved by Him.  During the last supper, the gospels record that John was “...reclining on Jesus’ bosom.”
 So picture these men around a table, perhaps after the meal is over, and John was resting his head on Jesus’ chest.  And it wasn’t strange.  Jesus didn’t rebuke him for it, and John obviously was ashamed of it.  He loved Jesus, and was confident that he was one “whom Jesus loved.”  So the flavor of this book is book is very intimate.  
But what is this good news or this gospel that he brings?  The briefest description that can be given about the gospel is this, it is the Gospel of the Glory of Christ.  In other words, John brings us good news about the glory of Jesus Christ.   There is a glory or a splendor or a magnificent beauty that belongs to Jesus Christ, and this glory is more valuable then the entire universe.  

“Behold the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales...All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.  To whom then will you liken God?  Or what likeness will you compare with Him?...Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?  Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?  It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.  He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.  Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely have has their stock taken root in the earth, but He merely blows on them and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble.  “To whom then will you liken Me that I would be his equal? says the Holy One.” [Isaiah 40]

Jesus Christ is this Holy One that Isaiah speaks of.  He is the glorious one, of whom, this gospel is about.  This gospel of John is the Gospel of the Glory of Christ.  This gospel is a portrait of His life, His death, and His resurrection.  This gospel is a portrait of His person, meaning He is fully God and fully man in one person forever.  This gospel is a portrait of His soul, and His burning passion to always do His Father’s will. This gospel is a portrait of Jesus esteeming the honor of His Father in everything that He does.  All of these things that John’s gospel show us point towards one thing:  the Glory of Christ, the worth of Jesus Christ, the unimaginable treasure and delight of Jesus Christ.  John shows us these things, and He points the way for us to enter into that treasure.  John 20:31 says “...but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”   
So although our goal at this church is to make Jesus Christ famous in Garden City, John’s aim is to make Jesus Christ famous in all the universe.  Because the truth is, is that He is already famous, we just need new taste buds, and new eyes in order to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” 

The Big Idea...In the beginning was the Word; this Word is Eternal; this Word is Personal;  and this Word is God Himself. 

First of all, who is this Word?  We know that it is a person because v. 2 calls this Word a He.  v. 2 says “He was in the beginning with God.”  So who is this He or who is this Word?  This Word that we are talking about is Jesus Christ the Son of God.  v. 14-17 makes this crystal clear: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth...For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  So this Word from v. 1-2, is the Son sent from the Father-v.14, and the man Christ Jesus in v.17.  That is the who John is speaking of when He refers to Him as the Word.  So if we were going to read it in this light, it would say “In the beginning was the Son and the Son was with God, and the Son was God. He was in the beginning with God.”  
Now it does mean that, but John doesn’t say that.  He says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”  So why does John use this language here?  Why does He call Jesus Christ the Word?   I’ll give a short answer this evening and we’ll go deeper next week when we look at the Trinity.   Basically, Jesus is called the Word here, because, a word is a revelation of the mind. When we speak words, we reveal to others what is in our mind.   Revelation just means “the making known of the unknown.”  So words, make known the hidden or unknown thoughts of the mind. Words bring-out-into the-open the thoughts that were previously hidden. Our words in this way imitate the Word, because, Jesus the Word makes known the unknown God.  This is what v. 18 says  “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.”  Why?  Because He is the Word.  He is the revelation of God the Father.   Jesus reveals who God is, because He is God’s Word. He is the announcement of God, or the vision of God, or as John says it, the Word of God.  

I.  This Word is Eternal
“In the beginning was the Word...”

We need spiritual eyes to see what John is saying here.  Because our natural eyes with either fail to understand what’s He’s saying or they will trick us into thinking that John is simply reporting facts about God.  As if these are just neat and tidy pieces of information about God.  But we must resist the temptation to think about God as merely neat pieces of information.  This is everlasting God that John is reporting to us! “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  Psalm 90:2  Or Job 36:26  “Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.” No, these words that John opened up his gospel with were not intended for us to causally read and be unaffected by.  They were intended to grip us, in the inner most part of our being, and cause our hearts to burn with passion for this everlasting God.   These two verses let us in on the reality that God has always been. He is independent.  He is in need of nothing.  He is God!   So John says...“In the beginning was the Word...” Let’s compare two different things.  Let’s compare the universe with this Word that John is speaking of.  When we speak of the universe, we say that “...the [universe] was from the beginning, but the Word was in the beginning.”
Do you hear the difference between from and in“The [universe] was from the beginning, but the Word was in the beginning.”
  Meaning, the universe began to exist at the beginning.  From the beginning until now the universe has existed.  But the Word existed in the beginning.  It was already there before the universe had a beginning.  This means that the Word is eternal. He never, ever had a beginning.  He always was.  This beginning that John is speaking of in v. 1 is the beginning of all created things, including time.  Time had a beginning.  Before creation, time did not exist.  There was not a “then” before creation.  “There was no ‘then’ when there was no time.”
  If time always existed, then John could not say “In the beginning” because there is no beginning to time if it has always existed. This is part of the deep wonder and mystery about God.  God’s “...years neither come nor go...God’s years stand all at once...His years are one day...with Him today is eternity.”
  The Bible testifies to this truth when it says “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8
  This Word that John speaks of is eternal.  This Word has never not existed.
II.  This Word is Personal
“...and the Word was with God...

Think about your own words for a moment.  Think about how there is an invincible and intimate connection between the words that you speak and the thoughts that you think.  There is a closeness and an intimacy that words share with thoughts. Ideas are buried in the very heart of words.   Ideas are the souls of words.   That means that words are always with thoughts.  The same thing is true about this Eternal Word.  v. 1 says that “...and the Word was with God...” This Eternal Word has always shared intimate fellowship with God. This Eternal Word, who is Jesus  Christ, spoke this way about this intimate fellowship that He shared with God. “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” John 17:5  Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, shared in God’s own presence before the world existed!  This Eternal Word is personal.  Meaning, He is a person. That is what John calls Him in v. 2 He was in the beginning with God.”  John personalizes this Eternal Word by calling him a He. The Eternal Word is personal, meaning He is a person!  He’s not a concept, or merely an idea, or a theory.  He is a very real Eternal Person.  And since He is an Eternal Person, that means He is more real than you or I are or ever will be.  He always was, he never became like you and I. That means that He is more personal than you or I will ever be. 
The scandalous thing is that this Word has come and has decided to share this intimate fellowship with His creatures.  Listen to how John describes this Eternal Word in his letter in 1 John 1:1-2 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life”  Did you hear what He said about Him?  He said that he heard Him.  How?  Because this Word is a person who speaks !  He said that he saw Him with his eyes.  How?  Because this Word is a person who revealed Himself to the world.  He said that he touched Him.  How? Because this Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  This Eternal Word, became very personal with His creation.  And now John wants to share that with us!  He continues on in v. 2 ”..the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us...”  So John’s is desire is to preach to us this Person, this Life, this Word.  Why?  To what end?  For what purpose?    He tells us these things, just as I am telling these things to you now so that you can have fellowship or intimate relationship with Him.  He continues on in v. 3 “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”   In other words, he’s saying that the highest thing that we can achieve in life to have personal intimate relationship with this Personal Word.  

III.  This Word is God
“...and the Word was God.”

Here’s where the world becomes very violent against the Bible.  We can talk all day long about how compassionate and how loving Jesus was.  We can talk all day long about how patient He was when He was being attacked by his enemies.  We can talk all day long about how wise He was.   But...when we say that this Jesus, this Eternal Word is God, people lose their minds.  Perhaps one of the oldest heresies that the early church had to fight against was the denial of Jesus’ Deity.  Meaning, that there were those who denied that Jesus was God.  This heresy, or false teaching, was condemned by the whole church in those days but it has made it’s way back into the main stream in the form of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons and other smaller groups.  These groups started inside of the church and went out to the world, so it’s very important to address this idea inside of the church.  What some of these groups say is that this phrase  “...and the Word was God” should actually read “...and the Word was A God”  In other words,  Jesus was just another god, but not the supreme God.  Well you could prove that it doesn’t say that in the Greek, which is what the original Scriptures were written in, but you don’t even need to do that.  It is impossible that there be more than one God.  It is impossible in any possible world.  Consider that one of the names for God is the Almighty, meaning that He has all power.  You can’t have two gods who each individually have all the power.  Either one god has all the power, and the other god doesn’t; or the other god has all the power and the first god doesn’t.  But they both can’t be all powerful at the same time.  This is a contradiction and it is impossible now, and it has always been and always will be impossible.   But the objection might evolve at this point and say that God made Jesus to be a god.  This is also impossible.  A quality that God must have in order to be God is that He must be eternal.  That belongs to His God-ness.  God can’t make another being God because He can’t create another being who always was.  It is a contradiction to say that God created something that always existed. 
John’s text is perfectly clear and offers no contradictions “...the Word was God.”  Make no mistake about it.  Without apology, without hesitation, without fear of misinterpretation, Jesus Christ is God!  This was John’s unmistaken description of Jesus.  Jesus said this about Himself, over and over again in this book.  

“‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”  John 5:17-18

“‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.’ So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”  John 8:56-59

“The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.’” John 10:31-32

“My Lord and my God!”Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:28-29  Thomas called Jesus God, and Jesus did not correct him.  And yet everywhere else in the Bible when things like this happen, the person is corrected because it is blasphemy to accept this title, unless you are God.  That is who Jesus is.  God.  He says this in Revelation 1:8  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  This is who Jesus is.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”  
This Word is Eternal; this Word is Personal;  and this Word is God Himself.

1.  These truths are for comforting the godly.
If you are in Christ, what do you have to fear?  He is the Word sent from the Father for you.  He has eternally been the Word, meaning that He never grows old and becomes too weak to help you.  He never becomes feeble in mind or senile, so that He cannot give wisdom to you.   He has eternally been the Word and that means He never changes.  Though this world is constantly changing for the worse and things are growing increasingly evil, He never changes.  He is, and was and always will be perfectly holy, and He knows how to protect those who are His. 2 Peter 2:9 says that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.”  Furthermore this Christ, this Eternal Word is Personal.  He intimately knows you and your situation even if all else fail you.  King David prayed to this Personal Word and said: “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” Psalm 139:17-18   If you are in Christ, then He personally loves you.  And since this Eternal, Personal Word is God Himself, then His personal love for you is invincible.  Paul declares in Romans 8:35-37 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

2.  These truths are for gravely warning the sinner.  
This Eternal, Personal, Word who is God will exact revenge on His enemies.   Psalm 2:12 speaks of Him saying  “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.”   There will be a time when this Eternal Word will come back to the earth, and this time He will unleash His anger on His enemies.  This Psalm says that His wrath is quickly kindled.  Meaning, that the fire of His anger will surely come to pass.  And it will come like a thief in the night, so that sinners will not be ready for it’s appearing.  That is how God warns those who have despised His glory.  That is how God warns those who live their lives completely ignoring the majesty of this Eternal, Personal Word.  Ezekiel 33:11 says “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die?...”  Oh wicked person, turn from your wickedness. Forsake your  evil ways, and run to Christ. God takes no pleasure in your death...but make no mistake, if you do not repent of your sins and turn to Jesus Christ you will perish everlastingly.  Those whose sins have not been paid for, will have this Eternal, Personal Word as their immortal enemy. 

3.  These truths are for encouraging the doubting.
This Eternal, Personal, Word who is God Himself freely offers pardon to sinners right now. As we go through this gospel, we will find that everywhere Jesus is offering forgiveness to god-hating criminals like you and me.   He says things like this “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  John 7:37-38.  Only by coming to Jesus naked and despairing of our own self-righteousness can we be saved.  Only by coming to Him in simple faith, in the simple faith of a child can we be saved.  Only  by recognizing that we are thirsty for Him, and knowing that He alone can forgive us by His perfect life and His death on the cross can we be saved.  Jesus lived and died in order to bring home more sons and daughters for His Father.  2 Peter 3:18 says “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.”  He suffered on the cross so that all who would repent of their sins could be saved.  Repentance means that you see the mercy of God in Christ, and you with grief and hatred of your sin, turn from it unto God.  And then you simply believe on His name.  You receive Him as a treasure, believing on Him.  If that happens to you, you’re saved, and you will desire to spend the rest of your life chasing after Him and desiring to please Him in all that you do.  You will live a life of continual repentance over your sin, asking God forgiveness for those things that you do that grieve Him.  And you will experience this Eternal, and Personal Word as your Lord and Your God.