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Synopsis 002b

As we’ve already studied, the Bible is God’s instruction book to us.  Since we are rewarded based on our performance, on our obedience and faithfulness, this instruction book tells us how to be obedient and faithful.  What God wants us to know is in there.  Sometimes, we have to dig and work.  “By the sweat of your face, so shall ye eat.”  We don’t live by bread alone, but by every Word of God.  We have to work for it.  Isaiah 28:10 tells us, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.”  For any study in the scriptures, one must study the text carefully and build line upon line. 

We started the study a few weeks ago, doing a chronological, verse by verse, word by word study of the Gospels.

God’s word, since it’s our instruction book it will not and cannot contradict itself.  God is not ambiguous and God cannot lie.

You won’t find a single passage in the Bible trying to prove the existence of God, but you will find out who is responsible for everything in the universe and you will find out everything you need to know about Him.

We’ve already established Luke’s authority.  We can trust what he wrote.

We’ve discussed a little about the background of John.  John was not destitute; his father was a fisherman who had the ability to hire men.  Yet, John was willing to give it all up and drop it on the spur of the moment to follow Jesus.

We established that he was probably the nephew of Jesus, which may have contributed greatly to the special closeness they had.  We don’t know what kinds of games they played together growing up or what they talked about; we can only imagine.  But, hatever the reason, John was called, “that disciple whom Jesus loved”.

John’s mother attended Jesus throughout His earthly ministry, and John, along with his brother James and the apostle Simon Peter constituted a core group, an elect group from among the apostles (John was special even among the elect group).  This group was treated to special privileges and teachings the others were not privy to.

John himself gives the reason for writing this Gospel towards the end of the gospel, in John 20:31 says, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name”.  It was written to show that Jesus is the Christ – the Messiah, the Son of God and that believing we might have life.  This idea is consistent throughout this Gospel.  Jesus is the Son of God.  John dwells on the divinity of Jesus more than the other Gospels.  The other Gospels dwell more on His miracles and the external evidence of His ministry.  John showed that Jesus was the Messiah.   From Jesus’ own words, he shows what characterizes the Messiah.

[John 1:1-5; keep your place marked here.]  Now last week, I had to rush through some things, as the study was disjointed in such a way that I had to come to the conclusion instead of stopping in the middle and digging a little deeper.  So we’re going to go back over a few of these things and expound upon them, and finish the study that we started.

John 1:1:  It begins with “In the beginning”; it does not say, “from the beginning”.  This phrase is identical to the phrase used in Genesis 1:1.  Not only in the English, but also in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation from the Hebrew.  John consistently throughout his Gospel quotes the Septuagint, uses Roman time, and uses many other non-Jewish references; John wrote for the spiritual man; he wrote for the entire world!

John here in this verse is drawing on Genesis 1:1 and is trying to take us back to the very beginning, much before creation, to the very beginning; the very limit of eternity, which has no beginning.

In the beginning was the Word.  The Word was not created, the Word simply was.  The beginning had no beginning!  Everything that was made was made through Him.  John 1:3 tells us, “All came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being which has come into being”.

Now, the Word, or the Logos; our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, if you look down in verse 14, “became flesh”.  Why?  So he could dwell amongst us.  The word always was, but became flesh in order that He may dwell here on this Earth and we could gaze on His glory.

Here in verse 1, it is not “from” the beginning, as it is in John 15:27, which says, “And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning”.  “From the beginning” and “in the beginning” are not synonymous.  “From the beginning” is common in John’s writings to designate when something begins.  This contrast leaves no room for doubting the eternal pre-existence of Jesus the Christ, our Messiah.  The account in Genesis starts at the beginning and brings us down through history; John takes us up from the present to the beginning.  “In the beginning was the word”.

This word translated as “word” is the Greek word Λογος and is from λεγω, an old word that means to lay by, to collect, to gather.  Hence to put words side by side, or gather words together, so to speak.  Λογος is a collection of not only things in the mind, but the words that express them. Λογος is common for reason as well as speech.  Many ancient writers used this word for the principle that controls the universe.  Λογος is never used in a merely grammatical sense, but is used as a way of embodying a concept. 

[Hebrews 1]  Why is Jesus referred to as “the Word”?  As we have seen, a “word” is that by which we can communicate our will and convey our thoughts.  [Hebrews 1:1-3]  Christ is the means by which God declares His will and issues His commandments. 

Now, if you remember, in the Chaldee, which was the language of commerce and social intercourse in Western Asia and became the popular language employed by the Hebrews after the exile, we also see the “Word” being employed in a similar and very powerful sense.  “Word” was used in the Chaldee translation of the Old Testament, as in Isaiah 45:12, which says, "I have made the earth, and created man upon it."  In the Chaldee it is, "I, by my word, have made the earth".  Isaiah 48:13 says, "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth." In the Chaldee, "By my word I have founded the earth."

The Jews used “Word” in reference to the Messiah.  God’s covenants and intentions toward the children of Israel were avouched or declared by the “Word of God”.  They promised Him something, He promised them something; they were unfaithful, but He keeps his promises.

[Psalm 33]  I would like to show you another use of “word”.  [Psalm 33:6]

How powerful is the Word?  Eight times in Genesis, there occurs the phrase:  “And God said…” The Word is powerful enough to create the universe!  Heb 11:3 says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds [or the ages; figuratively, everything] were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”  Compare this to what we read in Hebrews 1:2 which says, “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds [ages]”.  The word “ages” and the word “worlds” are the same thing.  God said, “Let there be light, and there was light”.  Period.  He spoke the universe into existence. 

[Revelation 19]  Now, remember, Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the sword of the spirit is the Word of God.  [Revelation 19:15]  The Word is powerful enough to create everything, but it’s also powerful enough to destroy.

[Hebrews 4:12]  The Word of God is quick, or living and operative.  The word of God has an incisive and penetrating quality. It lays bare self-delusions and misleading or false moral arguments.  It leaves no room for doubt of the truth.  The word of God divides asunder the soul and spirit.

As men, we can’t see the difference between soul and spirit; but God can.  The soul (psuche) is the living part of man, or the life, if you will.  The soul is the sensual part.  The spirit (pneuma) is the immaterial and immortal part of man.  Animals have souls, but they have no spirit.  Man, created in the image of God is a trichotomous being; he has three parts.  [1 Thessalonians 5:23]  The Word of God can discern between the soul and the spirit.

The Word of God can reach through to the soul, which is the lower part of man’s nature or the seat of animal desire; The Word of God can take this part which man has in common with the brutes and separate if from the spirit; the spirit is the higher part of man that is receptive to the spirit of God.  When the soul or life is removed, the body dies.  [Isaiah 53:10:  Go to note]  It pleased the Lord – which means it was voluntary – It pleased the Lord to what? Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.

Side note:  The Hebrew word for “soul is “nephesh” and the Greek word for “soul” is “psuche” and you can find these words applied to animals in Genesis 1:20, 21, 30 and Revelation 8:9 and 16:3.  Scripture shows us clearly that animals have souls, but spirit (pneuma) is never applied to animals.

Here in Hebrews 4:12, It says the Word is also a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  This word “discerner” has to do with judging.  It’s from the Greek word “kritikos” (from which we get the words critic and critical), which carries the thought of rightly dividing or separating.  Judgment involves the sifting out and analysis of evidence.  The Word of God is like an eye that can see our intentions and our thoughts.  Throughout the Bible, we are told King David was perfect; it doesn’t mean he was without sin or without fault; it means that his heart was after the things of God; God knows our intentions and thoughts.

The Word of God is living; it is penetrating and lays bare our innermost being; it dispels myths and lies and false teachings and moral lies; it can distinguish and separate the soul and the spirit; it is like an eye that sees our intentions and our thoughts and it also sees our very souls or our lives.

[John 1:4; In the Word was life, and the life was the light of men.]  In Him was life; in the Logos, there was life, and the life was the light.  The life was the light.  The use of the definite article “the” with both life and light makes them interchangeable.  The light was the life of men.  The life was the light of men. 

Notice that it does not say the Word was the light.  He is the light in that He provides the light, just as a flashlight or a candle does, but the focus is not on Him.  The focus is on the life and the light.  But, what is the light that he provides?  In the Word was life, and life was the light of men. 

[John 12:46]  “Believe” is in the present tense.  “Everyone who is believing…”  Current action or belief is involved.  Everyone who is believing shall what?  “Should not be remaining in darkness.”  There’s a possibility of failure here; the possibility of not continuing to believe; the possibility of being unfaithful.  The tense of these words means that those who do the required action will – not may – receive the result of this action or shall not abide in darkness.  Those who believe – present tense – shall abide in the light.  Conversely, those who quit believing shall abide in darkness.  Even as a Christian, we can still abide or dwell in darkness; if we abide or dwell in darkness, it’s because of our own actions or inactions, and we will have much to answer for at the Judgment Seat of Christ!  Believing in the present tense implies faithfulness; not just a cursory “believe”.

[John 1:5; The light shineth…]  This verb is also present tense.  The Light is continuing to shine in the darkness right now.  The light is a beacon for all men.  John 9:5 says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world”.  This verse tells us that whenever He is in the world, He is light to the world.  I think this could be spiritually or physically.  How do you see light?  [Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.]  This verse tells us that the clean in heart shall see God.  Remember, the Word of God sees our intentions and our thoughts and not just our actions.  But, the light is through life.  The light is the means by which we see.  The light shines in the darkness for us.

Let me show you something.  [Matthew 6:22]  The light of the body is the eye; the light of the soul is the Word of God.  This word “single” is in a moral sense.  It doesn’t mean that you’re a Cyclops.  The picture underlying this word is that of a piece of cloth, folded once, without a variety of complicated folds.  It projects the idea of singleness or plain and pure as opposed to evil or diseased.  Possibly with reference to the double-mindedness and indecision condemned in [Matthew 6:24].  If you let the Word of God lead you and you keep yourself “single” or pure, you will be able to see; you’ll have plenty of light.

[John 1:5; the darkness comprehended it not.]  This word does not mean a mere understanding; it means to seize or grasp hold of. 

[1 Corinthians 9:24]  “Obtain” is the same word that’s translated “comprehend” back in John 1:5.  Just as we run a race to obtain a prize, we are to run our Christian race to obtain a prize.  We can obtain the light, but the darkness can’t.  Even where the light shines the strongest, darkness still exists [shadows]; the darkness did not appropriate the light.

[1 Thessalonians 5:4]  This tells us that the brethren are not in the darkness.  Matthew 12:50 tells us that brethren are those who are obeying God, not all Christians.  Those who are obeying God are not in darkness.  Why are the brethren not to remain in the darkness?  That the day may not overtake you.  What day? 

Turn with me to one last passage.  [Matthew 25:33-46]  Goats are clean animals: Numbers 18:17 says, “But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou shalt not redeem; they are holy”.  Goats are holy.

The goats aren’t lost people; God doesn’t refer to lost people as being holy; they’re going to the lake of fire!  Goats are Christians who have not lived a faithful and obedient life; they did not continue in “believing”; they have lived a soulish life and not a spiritual life.  Remember, this passage in Matthew 25:46 and also one in Luke 18:20 are talking about life in a future sense; it’s in the age to come.

This passage about the goats and the sheep tells us that those that abide in darkness will go away unto age-lasting punishment; those that abide in the light – the righteous or the brethren – shall go away in to age-lasting life.  This is talking about the Millennial reign, not the rest of eternity.  We’re not saved by being obedient, we’re saved by “believe”.  (The Greek does not say “everlasting”; the word used here is singular; it’s “age-lasting”)  This is talking about rewards and punishment.  Kolasis is chastisement, not punitive.  You chastise your children; criminals are punished punitively; two different words in the Greek.  Remember, the lost will not be judged at the judgment seat of Christ; the Judgment Seat of Christ is to judge works of believers (Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10); the book of Revelation tells us the lost are going straight to the lake of fire from the Great White Throne, do not pass Go.  (There will be plenty of “good” people in hell, and plenty of “bad” people in heaven; we all know some.)

This passage in Matthew 25 cannot be talking about losing one’s salvation, for one’s salvation cannot be lost, thank God!  If our salvation were based upon our perfect obedience, we’d all be in trouble.  There’s not some magical line of good and bad above which you’re saved and below you’re lost.  [Acts 16:30,31]  Only place in the Bible where the question of how to be saved is both asked and answered.  Believe, and you shall be saved.  It doesn’t say “may” be saved, nor does it say, “believe and perform good works” and you shall be saved.  It simply says, “believe (aorist; once) and you shall be saved”. 

Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith plus a bunch of good works.”  No, it doesn’t say that:  It simply says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God.”

Anyone can be born from above; all they have to do is accept the free gift that has been offered.  Once you’re born into the family of God, you cannot be unborn any more than your child can be unborn!  But, you are expected to live a faithful life.

1 Timothy 2:4 says, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”  Notice it uses the word, “all”.  All can believe and all can be saved.  God wants everyone to be born into His family.  Not only does He want you in His family, but also he wants you to grow into the “knowledge of the truth”.  Knowledge here is “epignosis”, which is “knowledge upon knowledge”; a deeper knowledge; not just a superficial knowledge.  He wants you to dig for truth, which is what we’re doing.

God made provision in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ for every person who believes to be saved.  Hebrews 2:9 states, “he by the grace of God should taste death for every man one.”  He died that every man may be saved.  How?  By believing (aorist; once). 

All can be saved, but not all will be.  Not all who are saved will live an obedient life. 

The sheep and the goats are marked out by their behavior, and the Word of God can see the intentions of the heart.  The Word tells us that we are to minister to others; goats look after themselves only.  Sheep may help goats, but a goat never helps sheep. 

Sheep do not know which way to go; they follow their master’s voice trustingly.  John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  Goats on the other hand are a pain in the neck.  Goats go wherever they please; you have to fight with them to get them to go or stay where they’re supposed to be.  Goats are not too interested in what any shepherd wants, except where it involves food, attention, and things that they might like.  Sensual, soulish things.

I lied.  I want you to turn to one more passage.  [Jude 18, 19; Talking about the apostles.]

Goats or disobedient Christians aren’t going into the lake of fire forever, come judgment time, but they are going to get burned.  They have not been obedient to God, ministering to the brethren or the saints; they’ve been interested in their own personal sensuousness or soulishness.  There will be rewards handed out for those who have been obedient.  The age to come can be wonderful if we’re faithful here.  It can also be pretty lousy, but it will beat the lake of fire.  As you sow, so shall you also reap.  (Galatians 6:7)

John leaves no room for error on who Jesus is:  He’s the promised Messiah; He is the eternal God made in the flesh.  All things came into being through Him.  The world and the universe came into being; they weren’t always here.  Jesus the Christ always was. 

Only the Word of God can discern whether an action is spiritual or soulish.  What will the Word of God find in your heart today?