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Hi all,

Today and tomorrow I'm going to re-air 2 posts from three years ago about the nature of Jesus. I think these two posts will bless you and I pray we would together turn our eyes toward Jesus. Here we go.

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Let's dig into Jesus’ answer to Philip’s request:

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." - John 14:8

Have you been pondering this passage?

Here is what jumps out at me – Now normally I would put all these words in red, this being Another Red Letter Day, but today I am going to paint a just a few words in blue so they stand out.

It would be awesome if you read this out loud (or out quiet) but I want it to be oral. The more faculties you involve the more tuned in you are, so let’s have a faculty party today.

Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." ~ John 14:9-21

I know, that is kind of a big chunk of scripture for a blog post, but as you can see from what is highlighted, there are some pretty strong ties from top to bottom.

Here is what I saw as I pondered this passage.

There are two (or maybe three) aspects Jesus emphasizes, that He says will enable us to see the Father.

Indwelling, or cohabitation

The first is the fact that, as He says, “I am in the Father.” This He says three times, and two of these are followed with “and the Father is in Me.” He tells Philip and the rest of the disciples that they can know God. They can “see the Father” right before their eyes because Jesus is indwelt by the Father.

The best way for them to see God was to look at Jesus.

Words and Works

The second way they could see God was to look at the things Jesus was saying and doing, His words and works. He actually tells them that if they were not sure what to believe about Jesus’ relationship with God, this indwelling thing, they should believe just because of the works He was doing. He was… – well as Luke tells us:

You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. - Acts 10:38

Jesus, because God was with Him, the Spirit of God dwelling on the inside, did works that demonstrated God, His character, and nature.

We read again in my favorite of all scriptures (I am pretty sure this is the top of my top ten list:)

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, - Hebrews 1:1-3

We see here that Jesus is not "like" God, fuzzy around the edges, like what the prophets taught, according to verse 1. Instead, Jesus is the “exact representation of His nature.” He is not a partial image, where He is only depicting "the good parts" of who God is, but Jesus is a complete revelation of God. If you don’t find it in Jesus, it is not in God. Jesus is the complete study guide to God the Father. Jesus is perfect theology. [Tweet This] There is nothing in Jesus that is not in God, and there is nothing in God that is not in Jesus. And God has seen to it that what is recorded in the Word about Jesus is enough of a revelation for us to know the Father.

So my first takeaway is pretty simple. The best way to know God, and what God is like is to look at Jesus, His words and His works. He, Jesus, tells us this repeatedly and these other passages reinforce this idea, that He only ever did what God was doing, or would do, and His words were coming straight from the throne of God.

But Jesus does not stop here. He does not simply say, you want to see God look at Me! He takes it to a place that changes everything.

Come back tomorrow, and we will see as the other shoe drops.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon. In the mean time…

Shine where you are screwed in.

Ben

2

Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? John 7:19

Jesus is in the temple at one of the feasts and He’s teaching. His teaching amazes them. They wonder among themselves how He comes by such knowledge and authority without having an education. He has no degree. He did not train under one of their rabbis, and yet the words He speaks impact them. His words reach deep within.

The Jews then were astonished, saying, "How has this man become learned, having never been educated?" John 7:15

As it turns out, they are looking for a reason to ignore His teaching, and silence the whisper in their souls. The whispering voice of the Holy Spirit calls to them with conviction. He draws them to turn from their current trajectory and aim their lives at the Lord God.

Though they are visiting the temple expressly to keep the law (How cool is it that God law was full of feasts and festivals - but that’s a topic for another day) Jesus accuses them of ignoring the law.

Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? - John 7:19

The problem with these who seek to dispose of Jesus, the problem with many who follow after religion, is their keeping of the law is not out of love for the lawgiver. Their motives instead are self-focused.

Did you know you can simultaneously keep the law and distance yourself from God?

How so?

Do you keep the law to earn favor with God?

Do you keep the law to be seen by men - to earn favor with men?

Do you keep the law to increase business - to gain profit?

So Ben, what am I to do?

First, let’s acknowledge that keeping the law doesn’t please God. The law is a feeble relationship builder precisely because you can keep the law without it ever impacting your heart. [Tweet this]

Jesus gives us a clue.

"He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. - John 7:18

Of course, He is referring to Himself when He speaks of “the One” here, but the point still holds. When we seek to glorify the Father in all that we do—there is no unrighteousness found in us.

It’s funny because God is not impressed with their keeping of the law, but when our walk brings glory to Him, it is counted as righteousness toward us. Amazing.

Jesus said

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. - Matthew 5:16

The light shining here is not your good works, though I’ve often heard it explained that way. But if you read the verse, the light is shining on the works, and somehow this light on our works brings glory to God.

So what is that light? (I know you're dying to know.)

Let’s get back to John 7:18. It’s that heart that seeks to glorify the Father.

Paul said it this way.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, - Colossians 3:23

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. - 1 Corinthians 10:31

Ben NelsonWell - there's some good stuff to ponder today.

Keep the light on,

Ben

4

GreaterGlory

That’s the question Nicodemus asked Jesus when Jesus said this:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. - John 3:3

And again when He reiterates it in verse 7

Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' - John 3:7

Today, I am going to draw together from a number of places in the Bible what it says about how you can be Born Again.

First, let me be clear. The phrase Born Again has been used as though a Born Again Christian was a particular flavor of Christian, but that is not the case.

Born Again is just one of the ways Jesus and the Bible describes becoming a Christian. You can’t be a Christian and not be Born Again.

Some of the other terms for those who are Born Again in the Bible are:

  • Christians
  • Believers
  • Followers of the Way
  • The Body of Christ
  • The Bride of Christ
  • Followers of Jesus
  • The Flock of God
  • Redeemed
  • Saved
  • Sheep
  • Laborers in the Kingdom
  • Friends of Jesus
  • New Creations
  • Children of God
  • The Church
  • The saints

Becoming a Christian is sometimes referred to as entering the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.

So I will start with what Jesus says right here in John 3 when describing how to be born again to Nicodemus, but we will expand it a bit to include some of the things Jesus said about following Him, and some of what Paul said about the Christian too.

Paul is a really good source for this information since most of his writings were addressed to the Church (the community of Born Again people) specifically.

Back to John 3 and Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus.

In the midst of this conversation, Jesus uses the word “believe” three times and then John comes back and repeats it at the end of the chapter just in case we missed it above.

The key verse of John 3, and perhaps the most familiar bible reference in the word, John 3:16 has oft been called the gospel in a nutshell.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. – John 3:16

Right on its heals, Jesus lays out this staggering contrast.

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. – John 3:18

And John finishes up the subject at the end of the page with his own contrast.

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. – John 3: 36

Please notice in these last two verses we go back to the fact we have mentioned before, a man without Christ is both under condemnation and the living in the wrath of God.

Also notice in verse 36 the contrasting word to believe is ‘not obey.’ In the Greek it is apeitheō – where we get the word apathy. John contrasts believing and just doing nothing. Hear this, the wrath of God abides on those who hear the Word of God and just do nothing. This is why over and over in His preaching Jesus talks about those who hear and do, and James exhorts us to be doers of the word.

[Sorry – I am starting to preach – that was not the plan here]

So – the first thing we learn about HOW to be Born Again is to believe – trust in – obey Jesus.

Is there anything else to it?

Check this out:

Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." - Mark 1:14-15

When talking to Nicodemus it was just believe, but here we have another element.

Repent.

I have written and taught extensively on repentance and its wonderful power to bring us victory over sin, but let me here give a simple explanation of repentance.

The word simply means to change your mind, but Paul lays down some instruction on how to allow this change of mind actually transform your life.

Remember in Romans 12:2 that Paul exhorts us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, so repentance, or changing our mind, is the key to moving from the wishy-washy worldling you once were into the image of Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 Paul tells us exactly how to repent:

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. - 2 Corinthians 7:10-11

Repentance is not tears at the altar it is a passion for purity wrought over time until your body, mind and soul are free of that which once enslaved you. [Tweet this] Glory to God!!!

So we have repent and believe, is there more to being Born Again?

Let’s look at Romans 10. When I was a kid, a young man at the time taught me a simple way to remember this verse. He said it was dynamite! Spiritual TNT – Romans Ten:Nine & Ten (TNT)

…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. - Romans 10:9-10 (now that’s dynamite!)

This confess is not the same as telling someone you sinned. What is meant by confess here is simply tell someone you believe in Jesus.

This is why when we baptize folks we ask them to give their testimony before they go under the water. They need to confess with their mouth that Jesus is their Lord and believe in their heart  - in what? – in the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Now we have Repent – Confess – Believe.

So Ben, are you telling me that if I DO these things I am automatically a Christian.

I could try really hard, even get passionate about beating my sin.

I could tell people about the fact that I am a Christian.

I believe all the things they tell me about Jesus, and for sure I believe He rose from the dead. Am I a Christian now?

Strangely enough – even though we talk about what you must do to be saved, Paul tells us in no uncertain terms, that it is not about things you can do.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9

You can’t by your own effort be born again, just as you had nothing to do with your first birth. You could not make it happen and you could not stop it.

You do get to choose to believe – to trust – but that is the extent of what you can do.

There are bunches more places we could go to look at this topic, but that is all I have time for today.

Tomorrow I am going to take one good long look at what this salvation is. And let me tell you, it’s a BIG DEAL.

Thanks for coming by today.

If you have never known Christ in this way, and want to, it’s not difficult, and you don’t have to wait till you get your act together (because that day will never come – I promise)

Today, if while reading this you felt a tug somewhere inside – that was the Spirit of the Living God inviting you to come – inviting you to be Born Again.

God is not willing that any should perish (die without Him) but that all would come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Repent today – start by telling Him you’re sorry for anything He brings to mind that has offended Him, then follow Him through that repentance. Put your trust in Him today, and tell somebody about it. (I would love to hear about it – either below or via email  - ben@AnotherRedLetterDay.com)

Ben NelsonThanks for reading. I know these are fairly long posts, and I appreciate you taking the time to read all the way to the end.

Walk in the light today.

Ben

Ok – I have a question.

I am studying 1 Corinthians 15 in preparation for some preaching I will be doing at the end of the month, and I wanted to put this concept out there for some group think.

Twice in the top of this chapter Paul uses a term that would fit nicely in my formerly hard and legalistic theological structure.

In verses 1 & 2 he says this:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Then again in verse

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:10

What’s bugging me is this idea that somehow because he worked (labored) it proved that he was indeed an apostle.

Does this mean that in the first section, our salvation somehow does not count if we don’t get to work?

Clearly Paul militates against this idea in the book of Galatians where he reprimands them for going back to a trust in works after being saved by faith.

Ephesians 2:8-10 also clearly demonstrates that works are a result not a cause:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10

It is interesting that the Greek word is not the same in both cases

In verse 2 the word is “eikē”  -

1) inconsiderably, without purpose, without just cause
2) in vain
a) without success or effort

In verse 10 the word is “kenos”

1) empty, vain, devoid of truth
a) of places, vessels, etc. which contain nothing
b) of men
1) empty handed
2) without a gift
c) metaph. destitute of spiritual wealth, of one who boasts of his faith as a transcendent possession, yet is without the fruits of faith
d) metaph. of endeavours, labours, acts, which result in nothing, vain, fruitless, without effect
1) vain of no purpose

So here is what I think at this point in my process. It sound to me like in the second case, Paul was given a gift  - that of apostleship. Had he denied it, suppressed it, ignored it dispensationalized it (saying for example he could not be an apostle because he did not walk with Jesus) or what ever – the gift would be like that juicer you received as a wedding gift that still has the ribbon on it. All it is good for is using up space on the shelf, though it is capable of so much more.

I think many of us Christians (myself included) leave the fabulous gifts the Lord has chosen for us, prepared us for, and equipped us with unused, perhaps because we don’t even realize we have them.

But what’s up with this first one – the word believe is the standard word for faith, so I have a hard time reconciling this, without some sugar coated cop out answer.

What do you think?

Do you have questions – or some topic you would like to discus in the this forum? Click the link in the side bar and ask away. I don’t promise right answers, but you can at least watch me think – LOL

Ben NelsonSee you again soon

Ben

 

 

Thanks to blueletterbible.org for the definitions!

 

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