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We welcome all of you in the name of the Lord, and as we look in the word, there’s a principle of Bible study that is indispensable. Only God can reveal God, and so we need to trust the Holy Spirit to take the written word and unveil the living Word to our heart.
I want to share a verse before we actually go to prayer. It’s Acts 16:14, and it’s about Lydia, and it says that Lydia was listening to the word, and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. It’s always God’s way that we listen to the word, and then He opens our hearts to respond to that word. So, let’s just trust Him together as we look into this precious gospel of John.
Heavenly Father, thank You for gathering us together. You have told us that You feed Your sheep among the lilies, and You have taught us lily-life, that we can just trust You and rest in You. So, Lord, instruct our hearts, and save Your people from anything I might say that is from the flesh and that is not of You, and we just pray that as You have promised, all the words that go out of Your mouth will not return void. We commit this session unto You in the matchless name of our Lord Jesus. Amen.
Welcome here to our little gathering. We call this place “Bethany” because that’s the one place in the Bible where Jesus was completely accepted. So, He’s completely accepted here, and so we just sort of dubbed it “Bethany”.
Anyway, the Bible is God’s instrument through which we behold the Lord. We’re going to have a Bible study, but we’re not here to study the Bible. We’re here to see the Lord. Every time we open this book, God’s heart is that He reveals Himself. So, even to us, who have learned a little bit of that, the Bible is closed unless the Holy Spirit causes us to respond. So, in our meditations we’ve come to the gospel of John.
Let me review just a little where we were, where we left off, and then we’ll pick up the new material. If you’re here for the first time, don’t think you’re lost because you’ve missed a few lessons. When you present Christ, you can come in at any time and leave at any time and still be blessed. If we were presenting other things, like doctrine or something, one would build on the other, and you couldn’t miss a lesson. But when you present the Lord Jesus, He’s always ready to bless in every lesson. So, we welcome you.
I pointed out early in our introduction that the gospel of John is unique in many ways, but in one way he’s unique because he doesn’t leave us to guess and wonder and try figure out why he wrote. He tells us and spells it out. John 20:31, “These things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.” In that sentence are three wonderful reasons that John spells out, “Here’s why the Holy Spirit led me to write this book. #1 That you might know Me, that you might know Christ, that Jesus is the Christ.” #2 That, knowing Him, you might believe in Him. #3 That believing, you might have life in His name.” He wants us to know Him, He wants us to trust Him, and He wants us to enjoy Him. That’s why he wrote. When it comes to trusting the Lord, I love the way the amplified version worded it, “Believing, cleaving to, trusting and relying upon Him,” and that’s exactly the message.
So, He wants us to have life, and to enjoy life, not just existence. Listen to 1 John 5:12, “He who has the Son have the life; he who does not have the Son of God, does not have life.” He may have existence, but he doesn’t have life, and He wants to give us life. So, we’ve just summarized the purpose of John; to know Him, to trust Him and to enjoy Him. That’s what the book is about. If we go through the twenty-one chapters in the gospel of John, and we don’t know Him more intimately, and we don’t trust Him more completely, and we don’t enjoy Him more fully, we’ve missed the heart of God. That’s what this book is about.
We were discussing, when we left off, the first eighteen verses which commentators have called the “prologue”, sort of like an introduction, the prologue to John. We didn’t get very far last time. In fact, we didn’t even quite finish the first verse. So, we are very early in the book. I tried to expound a little on his wonderful title in verse 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The fact that He’s called “The Word”, that we have words for communication; that’s how we communicate. That’s how we fellowship, with words. The fact that Jesus is called “The Word” in the very first verse of the gospel of John, is showing His heart; He wants to be known; He wants to communicate; He wants to talk to us; He wants us to hear Him and enjoy Him.
I’m not going to go over the same ground, but here’s the big view we saw. When John says, “In the beginning,” he goes further than Matthew and Luke. When he says, “In the beginning,” he’s talking about the unbeginning beginning. He goes beyond human history; he goes way back beyond the creation of the universe. He goes back before the creation of time and before there was an eternity. Eternity is a creation. You say, “What was there when there was no eternity?” The answer is in John 1:18, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” It says that Jesus came out of eternity, but it also says that He came out of the bosom of the Father. That was what was before all time and eternity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
At the end of verse 1, we see that the Word was God. Verse 14 tells us that the Word was made flesh. So, the Word was God, and God was Jesus, and Jesus is God, and we looked at all of that the last time. People say, and I mentioned it last time, that when someone is newly saved, they say to give them the gospel of John. It’s so simple, simple words, but it’s not a simple gospel. It’s profoundly simple. “In the beginning the Word was God.” God is only three letters, so tell me everything there is to know about that simple word. According to this, Jesus said, “The Word was made flesh and came to explain God.” It’s a simple word, but He came to explain God.
So, the Word was made flesh. God was too big. “I can’t get it because it’s too big; break it down.” So, the Word became flesh. Now we’ve got the gospel, the history of Jesus, and we can study the history of Jesus. We say, “Thank You, Lord, that the Word became flesh, but it’s still too much. I don’t get it; I need more help.” And God said, “Alright, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I gave the word ‘God’ and you couldn’t handle that, so the Word became flesh, and you can’t handle that, so I’ll take that Living Word and I’ll put it into the written word; I’ll give you words, so the words can explain the Word, so the Word can explain God.” So, we have this book, sixty-six books, more than three quarters of a million words, and we read the words, and we say, “Lord, thank You. I couldn’t handle “God”, and the Word made flesh was still too much, and it blows my mind. So, He said, “Alright, I’ll give you the Bible.” So, we study the Bible, and we study the prophesy and the history and the poetry and the epistles and we just scratch our heads and say, “It’s still too much.” He said, “Alright, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. 2 Corinthians 2:11, ‘Who among men knows the thoughts of a man, except the spirit of the man who is in him? Even so, the thoughts of God no on knows except the Spirit of God. Now, we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.’”
Now, I speak as a fool, but if could go into your heart… If you received me, and I was thinking something, if you had my spirit, you would know what I’m thinking. If you don’t have my spirit, I can think something, and you don’t know what I’m thinking. If I had your spirit, I’d know what you are thinking. How are we ever going to know God’s mind? We have His Spirit; He gave us His Spirit. So, 2 Corinthians 2:16, “Who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of the Christ.” It’s because God has said, “You couldn’t handle ‘God’, and then He became a man and studied His life, and that was still too much, so I gave you the whole Bible, and you still didn’t have enough, so I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll put My Spirit in your heart, and My Spirit will take the words from this written word, and He will translate it, and I’ll give you a revelation of the Living Word, Christ, and then Christ will explain God.” That’s what we looked at last time, and that’s only the beginning of this prologue. So, it’s simple, but oh my, it is profound!
I want to return to the prologue again, and I want to repeat, as we called attention to, the main revelation of Christ in the prologue, what the theologians call “the incarnation”, “the word became flesh”. We can’t hardly handle the truth that God (I don’t like words like “desperately” but God bent over backwards, and He’s desperate to make Himself known. We say that we want to know the Lord, but not like He wants to know you, not like He wants to be made known. God does everything to make himself known. We say this in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and in verse 14 He becomes flesh, but listen to verse 18, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” That’s how the prologue begins. God starts off that He’s the Word and He’s God, and verse 14, He becomes flesh, and He wants to be known.
What’s in the middle; what’s in between? He’s God, and He becomes flesh, and I’m going to suggest to you that the thing that’s in the middle is more indications of how anxious God is to make Himself know. What He has done to make Himself known is mind-blowing; it is awesome. In addition to the main fact that He’s so anxious to make Himself known, He came down to earth and became man and He took on your sin and He took on my sin, and He died and He was buried and He was raised. That’s the main thing. Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” You say that He can’t do any more than that; He becomes man, He dies for us, and that demonstrates His heart. But God said, “It’s not enough. They still don’t know that I want them to know Me, so I’m going to give some more ways I make myself known.
In the prologue He mentions, and that’s what we’ll look at today, four more things He did, just because He wants you to know Him, trust Him and enjoy Him. There’s really five, if you take the balance of scripture, but the prologue only mentions these four, so I’ll stick to these four. By the way, the fifth is that the Holy Spirit draws us to Christ and reveals Christ. That’s not in here, but that’s the fifth.
These four things we’re going to look at in the prologue are true, and this is God’s way to reveal Himself in addition to His great demonstration, in every generation, to every person who lives on this globe, in every place you can think of, and there are no exceptions; every time somebody is born into the world, He’s going to be faced with these four demonstrations of God’s heart saying, “Please, let me reveal Myself. Please trust Me. I want you to trust Me, and I want you to enjoy Me.” I’ll mention them one at a time, and then at the end we’ll group them together and see the amazing revelation of Christ, His earnestness, and His passion to be known.
The first instrument, and don’t forget that it’s the Word that’s doing all this, the Word made flesh, all of this is what Jesus does, is that the Word is also the Creator, and creation is God’s great instrument to make Himself known. John 1:3, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being.” Let me make a technical point. It’s really technical. It’s often thought when we think of creation, we say, “Well, God the Father created,” and it’s true, because every time one Person of the Godhead appears, they all appear, and so, it’s true that the Trinity created, but the agent of creation was not the Father and it was not the Holy Spirit. The agent of creation was the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
It’s not only mentioned there in John, “All things were made by Him,” but listen to Colossians 1:15&16, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or ruler or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” There’s hardly anything left out there—heaven and earth, visible and invisibles, thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, all things by Him and for Him. The context clearly shows that it’s referring to the Lord Jesus, the Word made flesh. Hebrews 1:2 teaches the same thing, “In these last days He has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” Jesus is the agent of this creation. John 1:10, this is part of the prologue, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.”
It’s interesting to go back to the record in Genesis where the creation story is given and look for Jesus, since it says that He’s the One, so where does He appear? Well, of course, in Genesis 1:1, you can’t get back further than that, “In the beginning God created…” so we know Jesus is there because the Word was God. So, He’s mentioned first right in that, “God created heaven and earth.” But it addition to that, where is the next place He’s mentioned? And many go to verse 3, “God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’” Since John’s prologue calls attention to Christ as the light, they say that’s the second mention of Him. John 1:4&5, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Verse 9, “He was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” Let me call Genesis 1:3 again and show you that He appears before the word “light”. Genesis 1:3, “Then God said…” The word “said”, that’s the Word, “God said…” He’s going to create through the Word, and that’s what John is developing, that the word “said” is the Son of God. God the Father is now generating from God the Father, is God the Son, the Word, and He is creating all things.
Now, creation is illustrated in this prologue, but it’s developed in other places, like for example, in Romans. What I want you to know, not so much about the creation, but how God bent over backwards. Did He make this entire creation just so we could know Him? Is that what it’s all about, vast as it is with all of the galaxies? We look up in the sky and we say, “I see all the stars.” No, you don’t see all of the stars. You don’t even see a little bit. You see a little bit of your Milky Way; that’s all you can see. In recent years, with the invention of the Hubble telescope and then with the Webb telescope, and now with this X x-ray telescope they have, it’s estimated that there are two trillion, with a “t”, galaxies, and that’s as far as the lens could take us. We know there’s more beyond that. Every one of those two trillion galaxies have billions of stars, and some with individual mass thousands of times larger than our sun, and our sun is a million times larger than the earth. Did God do all that just to say, “I hope this impresses them,” and, “I hope that they get My attention; I want to be made known.” We say, “What a revelation; look at creation, and the power of God!” Listen to the prophet, God’s servant, Habakkuk 3:4, “His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise. His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, and there is the hiding of His power.” His creation is not the revelation of His power; it’s the hiding of His power.
In six days He created this marvelous universe, and in another six days He could have created another one, and in another six days another one, and every six days until the present time, and He could have created it where He would not duplicate one shape, one color, one space, one law; everything would be completely different. He hasn’t run out of creative ideas. He just said, “This is about all they can handle. I’ll give them this creation, because I want to be made known.” We just read these things la, la, la. Oh, Brothers and sisters in Christ, may God show you how He desires that you’d know Him, that you’d trust and you’d enjoy Him. He not only sent His Son, but He made this great creation. If I were to take the whole universe that He made that we can see and reduce it to nothing, from everything to nothing, how big a space is that, how big a distance? That God would come into His creation is a greater distance than everything reduced to nothing. We don’t even begin to understand how much God wants us to know Him.
We don’t usually visualize the baby in the manger as the One who has created all of this, but that’s the fact; even more, it’s hard to realize that, is it true that the One who created this universe lives in my heart, and lives in your heart? Pull out all the stops and believe it with all of your heart. That’s the instrument that He uses. It’s expounded, for example, in Romans 1:20, “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” God has given us this visible creation on purpose, to let us know how much He wants to reveal Himself. The whole thing is nothing but a museum of His majesty. Psalm 19:1, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” That’s the purpose of creation, to declare the glory of God, so we would see it. Verse 3, “There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard.” It’s just a silent testimony of who He is.
The Holy Spirit in Psalm 19 puts the focus on the “sun”, the sun in our sky, and describes it as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber and going from one end to the other end. One day my Lillian and I were meditating on this precious Psalm, and we were discussing, “Creation declares the glory of God,” but what if somebody is deaf. We began to discuss it. Well, they’ve got eyes. My, they can see the glory of God. And then we said, “What if somebody is blind?” We said, “Well, they’ve got ears, and they can hear the sounds of the brook and the sweet birds and the thunder and all. They can hear, they can hear voices and communication.” And then my Lillian said, “What if they’re both blind and deaf at the same time. How does creation declare the glory of God?” It’s so interesting in verse 6 of the Psalm, “His rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” That’s part of the testimony. The rays of the sun on the skin, the heat; they can feel the wind, they can feel objects, and they can feel the rain, and they can feel the heat of the sun. So, His physical creation is the first evidence after the big one, that He manifested Himself.
He gives us that, so that we’ll know Him, but what does the sinner do with that great evidence? Romans 1:25, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” They began to worship creation—the sun, the moon, the stars, nature, animals, and Romans says that they even worshipped the bugs. They deified beetles, and so on.
Alright, that’s the first thing; God gives the big thing. He demonstrates His love in that God became man and took our place, but then He says, “Just so they’ll know Me, I’m going to create this universe.” Then He said, “Well, they still might not get it, so I’m going do another thing.” So, let’s look at the second instrument that He’s given man.
John 1:4, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Verse 5, “The light shines in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Verse 9, “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” What is the Light that gives that enlightens every man? There’s a reference that God gives that enlightens every man. There’s a reference to it in the Old Testament. Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts.” Isn’t that a wonderful verse! He set eternity in their hearts.
There is such a thing as primary truths. A primary truth is a truth that is intuitive, and everybody believes. They might deny that they believe, but everybody believes it. The Bible doesn’t start out explaining God. It’s says, “In the beginning God..” Do you know why? It’s because everybody knows there is a God. God put it in their heart; He put eternity in their hearts. Also, not only is that a primary truth, but that there is life after death, everybody knows that. That’s why they have totem poles, and that’s why they have “happy hunting grounds” and that’s why they have pyramids, and they bury servants and horses and animals, because of the afterlife. It’s automatic; it’s in their heart. Also, judgment to come, that they’re going to answer. It’s a primary truth. They know that. That’s the whole purpose of guilt, otherwise guilt would have no meaning. What’s guilt except that I’m accountable, and I’m going to answer for this, and I feel bad about it.
When you are sharing Christ with someone, don’t try to prove a primary truth. Take it for granted that they believe it. You just start with God. I remember sharing one time and somebody said, “Well, I don’t believe there is a judgment.” I said, “Well, someday you’re going to stand before God, and He’s kept records of your sin, and you’re going to have to answer.” And he said, “But there is no such thing,” and I said, “And if you’re not forgiven, because of that, God is going to judge you, and He’s going to judge you by your work.” I just kept pressing home what he knew was true, and God used it and broke him down. Don’t try to prove there’s a God. Don’t try to prove somebody is a sinner. They know it; God put eternity in their heart. “Oh, I’m just an animal, and I’m going to die and I’m going to be buried like an animal.” They know better. They might say, “I don’t believe in God; I’m an atheist.” There is no such thing as an atheist. Do you know that verse in the psalm where it says that they denied God? It says in the Hebrew, “They refused to have God in their heart.” Nobody denies God. They all know it. Anyway, God has put this in their heart.
This eternity that He’s put in their heart, he gave a name, and that name is in Romans 2:14, “When gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternatively accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” It’s called the conscience; that’s the second thing. God has put a conscience in every person whether they’re a cannibal or whoever they are, every person has been given a conscience. God said that if you won’t believe that I gave Myself for you, if you can’t believe this great creation, now I’m going to put a conscience in you, eternity in your heart, in order that you might know you are a sinner.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “Let your conscience be your guide.” That works before you’re saved. 1 Timothy 4:2 calls it a “seared conscience”. Titus 1:15 calls it a “defiled conscience”. Hebrews 10:22 calls it an “evil conscience”. Romans 2:15 calls it an “excusing conscience”. “Let your conscience be your guide,” and it doesn’t matter that it’s seared and defiled and evil and excusing. What a horrible guide! I’ll tell you what, when you saved, He replaced your conscience with the Holy Spirit, “Let the Holy Spirit be your guide.” I’d like to say that shuts your conscience up, but it doesn’t. Your conscience only knows one word; it’s whole vocabulary is “guilty”! That’s all it knows, because that’s the Law written in their heart, and that’s all the Law knows, one word—guilty, guilty! So, your conscience will scream at you, “Guilty,” and the Holy Spirit will remind you that Christ has taken your sin and your guilt and you have His righteousness. Conscience knows nothing about forgiveness, and knows nothing about God’s righteousness, knows nothing about imputation. So, we can’t listen to our conscience; we have the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:14, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.”
I want to say one more word about our conscience, and I’ll just continue to say it. Don’t live under condemnation. When you know something from God’s word, and you know it’s true, and that you’re perfect in Christ, and you are seated in the heavenlies and that He leads you in triumph, when you know those things, and conscience screams…. Listen to 1 John 3:20, “We know this, that we are of the truth, and will assure our hearts before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” Isn’t that wonderful? So, we don’t need to be condemned and live under condemnation. The Lord wants to be known, and I don’t know what else He could do. He bends over backwards; He gives a whole creation, just so maybe you’ll be able to see Him, and then He says, “If that doesn’t work, I’ll put eternity in their heart, and I’ll write primary truths in their heart, and they’ll know there’s a God, and they’ll know there’s an after-life, and they’ll know they are accountable, and I’ll write that in their heart, and I’ll give them a conscience.”
Then, they rejected that. Then God says, “Alright, I’ll give them another thing.” The prologue shows that God has, also, in order that we might know Him, trust Him and enjoy Him, given a human witness of His word. Let me read the text first, and then I’ll state it in clear words. It’s John 1:6-8, “There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.” This new evidence is the witness, that God has given a human instrument to preach the word. Later in John we’re going to read more about John the Baptist, an interesting and thrilling thing, but at first just meditate on this.
When I was studying the prologue, I wondered why all of a sudden, he threw in John the Baptist. That’s sort of anti-climactic. I had been studying the eternity of the Word, the deity of Christ, the glorious incarnation of Jesus, the creation of all things, the Word explaining God, and then a word about John the Baptist. I was let down, “What’s that all about?” It didn’t seem to fit, but oh my, it fits perfectly, because what God has done, He’s not only given us creation, He’s not only given us conscience and eternity in our hearts, He says, “I will send My messengers with the word of God, that they might proclaim, and they might be witnesses of the light, and that they might say, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” Later in Romans He develops that. Romans 10:13, “’Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” Verse 15, “How will they preach unless they are sent?” There was a man sent by God whose name was John. They’ve got to be sent. God in His desire to be known has gifted His servants to be preachers, to tell the word, to give out the word, and it’s one of God’s wonderful expressions.
As they preach the word, notice verse 11, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” They preached the word. Aubrey, the preacher, he preaches the word. Brandon, the preacher, he preaches the word, but then it says that He came to His own. They preach, and He comes. They are just witnesses of life; they aren’t the life. They just testify of the life, and if the life doesn’t come, their ministry is nothing. That’s why John’s called “the forerunner”. He can baptize with water, and he can get you wet, but He said, “After Me comes One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” Only God can reveal God. They preach, He comes unto His own. In this case, they didn’t receive Him. So, that was God’s provision. He gives provision. He gives creation, He gives the conscience, He gives witnesses of the light who are trusting, that they are just preparing the way and following on. They can gather water, but God has got to turn it to wine. God’s got to do the miracle, but it’s all God’s provision saying, “Will you please know Me. I want you to know Me. I want you to trust Me. I want you to enjoy Me. I can’t do anything else. I came from heaven, and I became flesh, and I took your sin, I died, I rose, I gave you everything, I was your substitute, I made this great museum, this great creation, I put eternity in your heart, and I sent you preachers who witness to the life.
Notice the double response. Verse 11, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” Notice the other response, verse 12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Those who received were born again; they became part of God’s family. What is God’s provision? “I will send forth witnesses, human witnesses, of the light, and then I will come, and then you’ll have a choice. You can receive Me or you can reject Me.” So, it’s all in the prologue; it’s all in seed form. It will be developed as you go through John and the rest of the Bible, but those three lights are always true. Every person has creation, every person has a conscience, every person will have a witness, and if they live up to the light of creation and the light of conscience, God will send a human instrument, somehow, to them.
There’s a fourth instrument that’s hinted at in this prologue that illustrates God’s great desire and passion to be known. It’s suggested in verse 16, “Of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” That’s an interesting verse, and it makes you scratch your head, “Of His fullness we’ve all received, and grace upon grace.” Let me first address “of His fullness we’ve all received”, and then we’ll look a little bit at “grace upon grace”.
Let me start, since we’re going to receive of His fullness, what is His fullness? I’m not going to use my own words. Let me describe His fullness in the inspired words of the Bible. Colossians 1:19, “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all fullness to dwell in Him.” I’m not going to go into it, but you go through the scriptures, there’s the fullness of the gentiles, there’s the fullness of the blessing, there’s the fullness in Ephesians 1:10, “The fullness of time where all things in heaven and earth are summed up in Jesus.” Everything is related to Jesus. Colossians 2:9, “For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form.”
So, what does it mean when we say, “He has fullness”? It means that He has all fullness. Any kind of fullness you can think of is in Him. Here in Colossians 2:9, the fullness of deity dwells in Him. So, that’s fullness. In the gospel of John we’re going to come to chapter 3:34, and it says, “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God: for He gives the Spirit without measure.” What is His fullness? It’s the fullness of the Godhead; it’s the fullness of everything; it’s the Spirit without measure. There’s no measure; He’s got all of God. That’s the fullness of Christ.
What does it mean when it says, “Of His fullness we’ve all received,”? The Holy Spirit has bent over backwards and has taken great pains when He describes our fullness to show its measured. He has the Spirit without measure, but ours is measured. 1 Corinthians 12:7, “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:11, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” The Apostle Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, knew that he had a measure of the fullness of Christ. He didn’t have all that Christ had, but he had a measure of the fullness of Christ, and he was so timid, that he did not want to step out of his measure and step into yours. He was so careful. Listen to 2 Corinthians 10:13, “We will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you.” Then again in 2 Corinthians 10:15, “Not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you.” There’s a whole message to be said on that verse; it’s tremendous, because our measure will increase as those in our measure get their measure, but they’re in our measure, so we got their measure, and our capacity to know Him increases as we know Him. That part let me just lay aside.
Christ has the Spirit without measure, but each of us has a measure, a portion, of His fullness. Ephesians 4:7, “To each one of us, grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Each one of us, in order to mature in Christ, God has put the light on Christ, and each one of us is to grow in the light, walk in the light as He is in the light for you, and you walk in the light, as He’s in the light for you, and we each grow into Christ. Listen to Ephesian 4:13, “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
I’m not going to doubt that you have all of Christ in you, not a portion, and not a percentage, but you have all of Jesus in you, and I have all of Jesus in me, and each one of us has all of the Lord, but we don’t have all His fullness. We have all of Him, and a measure of His fullness. Each one has a measure of His fullness. Ephesians 1:22, “He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” The fullness of Him who fills all; that means all people, all the members of His body, all in His church. The Bible calls the whole church “the fullness of Christ”. I’m not the fullness of Christ, and you’re not; we are, the whole church. That’s what God has done. He said, “If they’re not going to believe creation, if they’re going to resist their conscience, if they’re not going to believe the preacher when he comes bearing witness of the light, I am going to take My fullness and spread it all over the globe, wherever there’s Christians, in every personality, in every temperament, I’m going to put My life in the choleric and in the phlegmatic and in the melancholy and in the sanguine and in the poor Christian and in the wise Christian and in the dumb Christian. I’m going to put My fullness, a measure, every place, so everyone on the globe can see Christ being manifest.”
You manifest Him this way, and you manifest Him this way, and I manifest Him this way; one Christian cannot contain the fullness of Christ. It takes the whole body. If all you ever get is the fullness that one Christian experiences, you are poor, indeed. If you only get what one Christian sees of Christ… I thrill that you allow me to share Christ with you, my measure, but if all you have is my measure, you are poverty stricken. You need to see Christ manifest in every Christian. That’s what He has given, so that He can be known. He’s small enough to live in each one of us, but His fullness cannot be known, except by all of us. May God help us see this! The church, every member, is the body of Christ, and each member manifests His fullness in a different way. I’ll use an illustration. I speak as a fool. If I lived in your heart, and you had to be conformed to me, and I live in your heart and you had to be conformed to me, we’d all be the same, and we’d all be little robots that look like Ed Miller. What a tragedy that would be! But to have Christ living in your heart, and you’re conformed to your measure, it’s not uniformity. It’s diversity.
We’re all different, and He knows we’re different, and He said, “I’m going to spread out My fullness in the differences, so that those who live there, and have that temperament, and they have to face hard times and sickness and stand at a graveside, and they’re going to manifest Christ, and these people are different, and they’ve got an experience, they’re going to manifest Christ, and I’m going to put My fullness all over this earth, so everybody can see who I am, because oh how I want you to know Me, and how I want you to trust Me, and how I want you to enjoy Me! I don’t know what else I can do,” says God. “I came down, I took your place, I’ve given you this great creation, I’ve put eternity in your heart, I sent out My messengers to proclaim the light, I’ve promised I’d follow-upand come to them, I’ve spread My fullness out through each one of you.” Of His fullness we’ve all received, and grace upon grace. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, teaches the same thing, under a different figure, that we’re all a fragrance of Christ manifesting the beauty and the fragrance of Christ.
I want to say a word about verse 16, “grace upon grace”. How am I going to live up to the measure of Christ that’s in me, and how are you? The answer is grace. But then you have to ask the question, “What follows grace?” The answer is grace. And what follows that? The answer is more grace. That’s why we read, “Grace upon grace upon grace, and faith upon faith upon faith, glory to glory to glory.” It’s the same, and it’s by the grace of God. That’s what makes the Christian life so exciting. I don’t know if it’s become an adventure to you, but if hasn’t, you’re not looking to Christ, because, I’ll tell you, the Christian life is such an adventure. Who knows what’s coming next? What is He up to? He lives in you. What blessing will grace give? What’s the next step that grace is going to take you? What challenge is going to come with the next experience in your life? Our message is “growing up into the measure of Christ which He’s given, so that the world might know Him.” Can He do more? What’s after? He’s created everything and put eternity in your heart and sent out His people to proclaim the good news, and made every Christian a portion of His fullness, so His fullness might be seen in the church. He can’t do any more, except there’s the fifth that I didn’t mention. I told you how no man can come except he’s drawn by the Father. That is another lesson.
Let me close with going back to creation; the Creator lives in your heart. When God mentioned Christ as Creator, it is always connected with another title of Christ. Colossians 1:16, “By Him all things were created; He’s before all things and in Him all things hold together.” As I grow older and things begin to wind down, sometimes I feel like things are falling apart, and I’m losing control. That’s not bad, by the way. We even have expressions, and we say, “Everything is falling to pieces. The roof is caving in; everything is coming apart. I don’t seem to be able to hold it all together.” That’s why that title is “Creator and He holds all things together.” You might feel like some stuff is coming apart in your life. Shakable things need to be shaken. This is not our foundation.
I’m going to quote a poem. I love poetry. It’s by my favorite author; his name is Anonymous. Have you ever sung or heard the hymn “How Firm a Foundation”? Let me read it:
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith, in His excellent word.
What more can He say, and to you has said,
To you who for refuge, to Jesus has fled.
Fear not, I am with you, oh be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, I’ll cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous omnipotent hand.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient will be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design,
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
Let’s pray. Father, thank You for giving such powerful proof that You want to be known, trusted, and enjoyed. Forgive us, Lord, for ever resisting any part of that proof. Work these things in our heart, we pray, and we commit these next several weeks to You, and Thanksgiving, and just be with these dear folks as they celebrate and thank You for all the blessings You’ve put into their lives. We ask You to work all of what You have intended for us, according to our measure, in our lives. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.