Experiencing the Word of Life

Scripture: 1 John 1:1-10, John 1:1-5
Date: 07/11/2009 
Lesson: 2
There are similarities between the openings of 1 John and John's gospel, and the role of fellowship and witnessing in the church are explored.
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Good morning and welcome to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church. We want to welcome you from wherever you're joining us around the world. By the list of the requests for songs, I can see that people are joining us from just about anywhere. And as our tradition is, we want to start out by praising our Lord this morning with singing. And this morning we're gonna start with hymn number 205, "gleams of the golden morning.

" This is a request from nelson in brazil, dorothy and Michael from jamaica, joyann from New York, jim, dianne, jamie and buffy from florida, and linda from Pennsylvania. Thank you so much for this request. And we're gonna sing the first, second and fourth stanzas. Amen. The blessed hope of Jesus' soon return.

If you have a song request, I want to invite you to go to our website at saccentral.org and just follow the directions there and choose your favorite song. And if it's in the--i don't know what the directions are, but you'll figure it out. Push some buttons and you'll come to it. Push all of 'em. That's what I do.

Open all of 'em up and soon you'll find it. And you'll get to see lots of pictures along the way. And if it's in this hymnal, eventually we will try to sing it. And our next song is "standing on the promises." It's hymn number 518. "Standing on the promises" is a request coming from barbara in California, mike in Canada, imrah from dominica, nono from england, Michael from grenada, tina from Montana, melissa from New Jersey, reggie from New York, debra from Oregon, eugene from the Philippines, e maylecia from saint vincent and the grenadines, jean from south africa, Johnghwa from south korea, marcelline from Virginia, sharon from Washington, nathalie and cindy from australia.

And nathalie is 7 years old. Cindy is 5 years old. And they both enjoy telling others about Jesus through songs. And so their favorite song is "standing on the promises." Let's sing verse 1, 2 and 3. Amen.

I love that song. That's a beautiful song. We were just talking earlier about our favorite promises. And I like jessica's. Jessica, what was your favorite promise this morning? Lo, I will be with you even 'til the end of the world.

"I will be with you 'til the end of the world." Ah, I love that one too. That is wonderful. Let's bow our heads and pray. Lord, we want to thank you so much for your mighty promises. Your precious promises that we can stand on and that give us hope, Lord.

We just thank you so much. Lord, we invite your presence to be here with us, another promise that you will be with us, even to the end, Lord. And we just pray for your presence in this room, for your spirit to teach us and guide us this morning as we study Your Word. And another promise is that Your Word would not return unto you void, but it's going to accomplish your purpose, Lord. And we pray for that, for this world, Lord.

We pray for pastor steve, that you'd please speak through him this morning. And we thank you so much. Thank you for your dear son, Jesus, who died for us and who is going to redeem us and take us home with him, Lord, forever. We want to live with you for eternity. We want to see you face to face we want to reach out and touch you and hug you every day.

And we want to bow down and finally give you the praise and adoration that you so long and deserve, Lord. We love you so much, in Jesus' Name, amen. And now pastor steve will give us our lesson study. Happy Sabbath. Fantastic.

How has everyone been this week? Wonderful. Praise the Lord. Have you ever heard, seen or experienced something that completely changed your life? Yes. Undoubtedly, we all have had something that has been a life-altering event happen to us. But not many of us can say that we've experienced something like the holocaust.

Over 6 million jews died during that horrible event. I'm reminded of the story of dr. Miklos nyiszli. He was a hungarian Jewish doctor who was conscripted by the nazis to be the assistant of the infamous angel-of-death doctor, dr. Josef mengele.

And he along with millions of others would never be the same after that catastrophic event called the holocaust. At the end of the war, at the end of his captivity and his forced service, nyiszli says these words. I'm gonna read to you a little bit out of his book, because I can't tell you the horrifying events. They're just too graphic to repeat here. But here's what he says.

He says, "sick at heart and physically ill, I started my long voyage homeward. I felt that I should rest, try to regain my strength, but I kept asking myself, 'for what?' On the one hand, illness racked my body. And on the other, the bloody past froze my heart. My eyes had followed countless innocent souls to the gas chambers, witnessed the unbelievable spectacle of the funeral pyres. And I myself, carrying out the orders of a demented doctor, had dissected hundreds of bodies so that a science based on false theories might benefit from the deaths of those millions of victims.

I had cut the flesh of healthy young girls and prepared nourishment for the mad doctor's bacteriological cultures. I had immersed the bodies of dwarfs and cripples in calcium chloride or had them boiled so that the carefully-prepared skeletons might safely reach the third reich's museums, to justify for future generations the destruction of an entire race. And even though," nyiszli writes, "all of this was in the past, it was all behind me, I would still have to cope with it in my thoughts and dreams. I could never erase these memories from my mind." There are some things you just cannot forget. Isn't it true? Talk to any veteran of any war and they will tell you that even years later they wake up from nightmares, reliving those days that they were in battle.

The images, the sounds, the associations, they all come back to haunt. They linger in our thoughts and in our dreams. And so nyiszli here in his book, "auschwitz, a doctor's eyewitness accounts," he says, "I could never forget the events that I saw, that I experienced." Aren't you glad there's a day coming when God has told us there will be no more tears or sorrow. There's a day coming when actually, I like this, it says that there will be no more remembrance of these former things. They will have passed away.

You know what? There are some things I want to have erased from my memory, don't you? Some things I think that this world we need erased from our memory because heaven would not be the same with those things still lingering there. And so John begins his little book. Let's go there. John, it's the epistle, the letter of John. John wrote a Gospel, but now we're looking at his little epistles, his little letters in the back of the Bible, right before you get to his final book, the book of Revelation.

And we start with the first epistle of John. John writes this book as an eye witness...and in stark contrast with dr. Nyiszli's accounts, we find the apostle John's account. Because he saw something that transformed his life, not for the worse. Right? Not giving him nightmares for the rest of his life, ghosts that lingered in his mind, but instead this John who wrote the letter here of John saw something that transformed his life and gave him a joy and a peace that was unsurpassed.

You want to find out about this? Let's go check it out. In fact, John saw. He saw the one who was going to put an end to this great holocaust that's called the Great Controversy. Isn't that right? The one that was begun by satan millennia ago. Let's read it: 1 John 1.

Let's read the verses we'll be looking at this morning, verses 1 through 4. Here's what it says. "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes," here's the eyewitness part, "what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life. And life was manifested, and we have seen, and testify, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with The Father and was manifested to us," John says. Verse 3, "what we have seen and what we have heard we proclaim to you also so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with The Father and with his son Jesus Christ.

" And then he ends this little paragraph by saying, "these things we write so that your joy may be complete." What is John saying here? He's saying, "we saw something that changed our lives." Isn't that what he's saying? He's saying, "we saw something that was so life-transforming, we--i have to share it with you." That's how life-transforming this was. Isn't that what he's saying? "I want you to experience this remarkable joy as well," he says. And so the lesson--and by the way, if you do not have one of these lesson quarterlies that we have now begun, it's called, "love and loving: John's epistles," on your way out of church today, make sure you pick one up there at the hostess desk on your way out. So in the lesson quarterly, it asks the question, it says why do you--this is the question it was asking us this week--why do you believe John's witness? Why do you believe it? And for that matter, why do you believe anything that the Bible has to say? Why do you believe it? Have you ever thought about it? Think about it for a second. All knowledge in essence is about believing.

Is it not? Think about it. Think about it for a second. How do you know that humans really went to the moon? Anybody here ever actually go to the moon with the astronauts who went to the moon? Oh, you've heard this one before. Maybe they just put a picture on tv to get us all excited, right? Maybe all those encyclopedia articles about neil armstrong stepping on the moon are just a, you know, a hoax. Right? How do you know? Well, ultimately we have to take someone else's word for it, don't we? Okay, how many of you know that there's a war going on in iraq right now? Anybody know? Who's been there? Anybody been there? Now if there was someone here that had been there, we would say--they would raise their hand, they'd say, "yeah, I've been there.

I've seen it. I've experienced it." And we would say, "well, but I haven't been there, so I'm not gonna believe what you have to say." Is that what we would say? Even if we see it on tv, we have to take it by faith, don't we? How do you know that those things, those pixels that you're seeing on your tv screen are actually real, right? So knowledge, doesn't matter how far removed or how close it is to us, to some extent there's an element of faith involved you could say. And so as I navigate through this reality, my reality that I call life, okay? This is my reality. I have chosen in my life to accept certain things as being real. Alright? And really when it comes down to it, it's really hard for me to tell you that you should have the exact same reality, but here's what I've chosen.

I've chosen to believe that this book right here called the Bible is what I want to base my beliefs, my reality on. That's what I've chosen. And I have found that as I have done that, I've chosen to do that, that what this book says--it says that there's a God, right? It says that this God wants to have fellowship with me. Isn't that right? It says that he wants me to know him. And as I've read this, guess what? In my own personal experience I have begun to see these things confirmed in my life.

I have seen them confirmed through my own--the impressions of the Holy Spirit of my life through a sense that I get when I know God is close to me as I'm reading His Word. I think that's the Holy Spirit speaking to me. Through many other things, circumstances in my life that I've seen. I just--it can't be happenstance. It has to be a divine hand that has done these things in my life.

And because of this, I have to--I've come to the conclusion that my choice to base my faith of what is real on this book, that choice is not unfounded. But in fact it is--it is a good choice. It's one that is--was a wise choice. And so we all have a choice. We can choose what we want to believe.

Isn't that right? We can. Some people in our world today say, "hey, you know what? There's no God out there. I chose to believe that." And that's their--they're free to do that, aren't they? They're free do to that, just like we are free to say, "you know what? I choose to believe there is a God, that this is His Word." I think this makes a little more sense as I look at the world around me, a lot more sense. Alright, well, so here we go. John says, "I am an eyewitness of Jesus.

" Now there was not only John, but there were many others who were also eye witnesses of Jesus. In fact, later on, we may look at a verse that's in Corinthians 15 where Paul says--by the way, there were over 500 people that saw Jesus after he had resurrected, been resurrected from the dead, over 500 people. History does not leave any doubt that Jesus existed, and that he--what he did on this earth according to the Bible actually happened. And that he actually died and there were eyewitnesses that saw him after he was resurrected. But we gotta ask the question.

What else, what other reasons are there that we want to believe this witness here that John gives us? You know I like this one right here, verse 4. Verse 4, 1 John 1:4, we're gonna be looking at those four verses today exclusively, along with a few other passages. But from this book, only those four verses. Here's what he says, "these things we write." And why are they writing it? So that what? "Your joy may be full." You know what? I'll tell you what, you can be a skeptic, can't you? You can say, "I don't know. Ah, you know, it's kind of dubious whether or not Jesus actually was like this or not.

I don't know." But you know what? When it comes right down to it, if you will just lay down your doubts, and if you'll say, "you know what? Just let me experience, let me try it out for the pure reason that I want to experience that joy," you know what? I think that's worth it, isn't it? In fact, in fact, that right there is another incentive for us to believe what God has told us in His Word. God wants to give us a life that is unsurpassed by anything this world can offer us. And so John says, "there are two things I want you to have. Number one, I want you to have," what? What is the first thing? Verse 3, "so that you too may have," what? "Fellowship." Fellowship. And the second thing is so, in verse 4, "that your--" you can have a lot of joy or happiness.

Two things he wants us to have: fellowship with The Father and The Son--and it probably includes fellowship with other people in The Father and son's body, which is called the church--and joy. Have you experienced that fellowship with The Father and son before? Not too long ago I did something that I do whenever I feel like I need to reconnect in a just, you know, you need that recharge, that recharge with God. And so I drove out, up to the mountains. And there's this place that when i--i used to work up at weimar academy. I was a Bible teacher up there.

And when I was a pastor in lincoln, I would go to--it was out there by the American river, a little spot that I always go to, drive out down this winding road. There's a spot you can hike. And I sit by the river. It was not long ago I did this. I thought, you know, I just need to go out there again, my little spot where I connect with God.

And sat down there. The river's flowing past, full of water. It's springtime, right? The breeze, I can feel it. I can smell the fresh air from the pine trees. And I could hear God's voice.

And I have to say that, you know, in my life I can honestly say that I have experienced this fellowship with God in a remarkable way, especially when I'm out there in nature with him. I really have. And you probably have experienced that too. How many of you have experienced something like that in your life? And you know, it doesn't have to be just out in nature. I know that when I get up early in the morning and i--in my apartment, I sit there.

I have a chair where I sit, and I can look out my window. There's some trees out there over the city of Sacramento. And I can look out, beautiful greenery. And i--it's quiet. And I can hear God's voice again through His Word.

And I found that if I make an appointment with God, if I make an appointment to spend time with God, guess what? God shows up. And I think he'll do that for you too. In fact, I know that. So the lesson moves on. Monday's lesson goes to another little bit of a different topic.

It now says, "alright, let's compare this letter, this epistle of John here in 1 John to John's Gospel that he wrote prior to the time of writing this epistle probably. So let's do that. Let's just go through that real quick. First of all, John 1:1-5, through 4 that is. John begins.

What was from the beginning? Now if you go back to John--that was 1 John 1:1, I'm sorry, John 1, the Gospel, what does he say? "In the beginning was the word. And the word was with God, and the word was God." Okay. So both letters, both the Gospel and the letter start with a reference point. When is it? The beginning. Does it remind you of anywhere else in the Bible, the very first verse, "in the beginning, God," right, "created.

" And actually, it's interesting because in the Gospel of John, John there kind of echoes that theme because he says, "in the beginning was the word, the word was with God, the word was God. All things were made by him," creation. Right? "In the beginning God created." Who was that God that created the heavens and the earth? Who was it? It was Jesus. In fact, I like to say that it was--Jesus was the active one, because it was both The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit who were involved in that creation. The Godhead was there as a whole.

It says, "the Spirit of God moved upon the waters." The word "elohim" is a plural word for God. So the similarities between the Gospel of John now and the letter of John are these. Both of them point back to the beginning. They apparently reference Genesis 1:1 in the creation. Both of them talk about God The Father.

Don't they? And they both talk about the word. And in the letter to John that we're looking at today, it talks about the word of life. Doesn't it? And in John 1, the--Jesus is just called the word. Who became flesh. You know what? The Greek word there is the same: logos.

We'll talk about that more in a minute. Or maybe we won't actually. Let me see. I've got it somewhere here I think. Anyway, okay.

And both of them in the first chapter talk about two things. They talk about the images of life and what else? Light. Don't they? Life and light. Alright, so what are the differences? Let's look at the differences for a minute here. First of all, the Gospel of John emphasizes that Jesus is God, while the letter, the little epistle that we're looking at doesn't talk about that aspect of Jesus' person as much.

The epistle, the letter, emphasizes both his humanity and his divinity, but does not directly apply the term "God" to "Jesus" in the little letter of John as it does in the Gospel, where it clearly says, "Jesus is God." Period, right? Very clear. The Gospel, John, talks about Jesus' role as creator, which again is another evidence of his divinity. And I want to spend just a minute talking about that. Now I have someone out here I think who has Isaiah 45:18, if you want to turn there. And they are going to read that for us.

Isaiah 45, okay, avis right here has that. "And thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who has created it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord, and there is no other." Thank you. "Thus says the capital l, capital o, capital r, capital d. Whenever you see that in the Bible, especially in certain versions--i have the new American standard Bible. You might have the King James, or something else.

What does that tell you? What Hebrew word is being used in that passage at that point? The one that is the word that we often call yahweh. Right? We translate it yahweh or jehovah. "Thus says jehovah." "Thus says yahweh, who created the heavens." Who created the heavens? It was yahweh, wasn't it? Okay. It says he is the God, "who formed the earth." He made it. He established it.

And then it says at the end of verse 18, "I am the Lord," I am jehovah, "and there is--" what? "No one else." Period. No room for debate there. Now wait a minute. We just read John 1:1. Who created the heavens and the earth? It was Jesus.

Now some people say, "well, wait, wait, wait. I thought God The Father was yahweh. And Jesus was kind of a, you know, lesser God of some sort." And there are people who believe that. But as you look throughout the Bible, you will see that the word "yahweh" is applied to both Jesus and The Father. And I believe if you look in Romans as well, it is applied to the Holy Spirit where it talks about those who call-- that the Holy Spirit is Lord as well.

And so you could say that yahweh is the family name of the Godhead, The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit are all Lord. They are all yahweh. They are all Lord. And Jesus, the Lord referred to here, in verse 18, yahweh, the one of the Godhead who was the active agent in creation, the one who says, "I am God, and there is none else." Just like, who was it? Peter in acts 4:12 said--how many names under heaven can we be save by? Only one, the name of who? Jesus. So now you go to Colossians 1, and someone else has that verse out here for us.

Colossians 1. I want to look at one more passage. And Michael, thank you, you're going to read that for us. Colossians 1, let's see, verses 15 through 18. Go for it.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things consist-- thank you. He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning of the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may have preeminence.

" Thank you. Sorry for interrupting you there. Now, I wanted to throw in a couple verses. First of all, what does it say? It says how many things were created by him? All. Alright.

So now if he was created, how would it be true that he created all things if there was one thing even that he hadn't created? You get the point? How many things did Jesus create? Everything. Could he have been created then? Impossible if you take this book as it reads. Here's the other thing. Some people say, "alright, well what about verse 15? What does it say?" "He is the image of the invisible God, the--" what? "The firstborn." Well, there you go right there. See Jesus is the firstborn.

He, you know, he was so far back before everything else that he just kind of came into existence. And it wasn't really a creation. And so therefore we don't call that a creation because from that point forward he created everything. And I think it's a very, very insidious and very--it seems like it might be true, but it's not true. First of all the word "firstborn" here was applied to many different situations.

It's a symbolic term in many cases. First of all, it was applied to people like Jacob. Was Jacob the firstborn? He actually wasn't. Guess who was the firstborn? It was esau, wasn't it? And it was applied to Jacob because it signified a position. It was a title, not so much about chronology.

Does that make sense? Here the interpretation could simply be this. It could be said like this. "He is the firstborn of all creation, existing before all creation," the lexicon says. Or like this: existing superior to creation. Christ as the creator of everything is the one who exists superior to everything that is created.

And of course this is actually even clearer as you look down here in verse 18. It says, "he is the firstborn from the dead." So wait a minute. Was Christ the first one resurrected from the dead? In the Bible, was Christ the first one resurrected from the dead? No. Who was the first one resurrected from the dead that we know of? Probably Moses, right? Back there in the old testament. We read about it in Jude.

It says that the angel, archangel Michael contented with satan over his body. So firstborn here again does not indicate chronology. We're not dealing with a timeline. We're not dealing with something that has to do with a literal sense. We're dealing with a symbolic title, a symbolic position that is given to Christ as the firstborn from the dead.

He is the one. He is the one who stepped down into flesh and became one of us. Isn't that right? He is the one who--we'll talk about it in a minute here--was the incarnate one who also stepped down into a form the angels could see and feel and touch. Ellen white, I like what she says in the book, "maranatha," page 302. Listen to this.

She says, "in him," Christ, "was life. And the life was the light of men." She's talking about the Gospel of John there, chapter 1 now. It says, "it is not physical life that is here specified, but immortality, the life which is exclusively the property of God. And if you're in any doubt about that, read 1 Timothy 6:16 sometime. It says that only God has what? Immortality.

No one else. Word "only," underscore the word "only," only God. So if Jesus has immortality, then he must be who? He must be God. It's just uncontrovertible. Verse--okay, keep going on.

She says, "the word who was with God and who was God had this life. Physical life is something which each individual receives. It is not eternal or immortal, for God the life-giver takes it again. Man has no control over his life. But the life of Christ was unborrowed.

No one can take this life from him." "I lay it down of myself," he said. Again, there's an evidence of Christ's divinity. He laid his own life down. And he took it up again. "He said, 'in him was life.

'" I like this, "original." Original means it was originated with him, right? Didn't come from anywhere else. "Unborrowed," it didn't come from The Father. "He was eternal himself and underived. This life is not inherent in man. He can possess it only through Christ.

" And so as we look at the divinity of Christ, the creatorship of Jesus, the ability to generate life out of nothing, something we humans just can't do. We tried it in laboratories. Haven't we? We've tried to do it. We can't do it. Only God can do this.

I like what c.s. Lewis says. He says, "if Jesus wasn't God, he doesn't leave us the option of calling him just a good man." He says, "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him." This is what they say. "They say, 'I am ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God.'" And then he says this. "That is the one thing we must not say.

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher." And here's why. Because Jesus claimed to be God, right? And so c.s. Lewis says, "he would either then be a lunatic on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg." I like that. "Or else he would be the devil of hell." Only two options really. If you don't want to accept him as God, you gotta say he's a lunatic or else he was actually someone who was evil and claiming to be God, knowing full well that he was doing it falsely.

"You must make your choice," c.s. Lewis says. "Either this man was and is The Son of God, or else a madman or something worse." And then c.s. Lewis adds this. He says, "you can shut him up for a fool.

You can spit at him and kill him as a demon. Or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher, because he has not left that option open to us. And he did not intend to." And I couldn't agree more. And so John in his letter says, "I was an eyewitness.

" I saw God in the flesh. You ever imagine what it'd be like to see God. Imagine what it'd be like to see Jesus. You want to shake his hand. Give him a hug.

Imagine Jesus coming and saying, "hey, I'm gonna wash your feet." Wouldn't that be amazing. This is God. Dwell on that for a minute. Think about that. Think about God being in the flesh.

What--he was in your body. He was in a body like yours. He knows what it's like to be on this, this messed up, sinful planet. Isn't that right? How does that help you cope with the stresses and the strains of life. God, the creator God, the one who made us, stepping down into our life.

And so, going back to John, Monday's lesson--Tuesday's lesson, "the word of life." What was from the beginning? Verse 1, "what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word," the word, the "word of life." What is this term, the phrase, "word of life?" What does that mean? Why is the title, the name--and by the way, God has many names in the Bible, many names. I have a poster on the wall of my office that has over names for God found in the Bible. This is one of the names applied to Jesus. Why does that phrase so fit him? Why is it such an accurate term? What does the word, "word," mean? What does it mean? A word is a communication, isn't it? A word is a--in fact, many words make up--or even just one word can make up a message. Correct? So Jesus is the communication between heaven and earth.

He is the intermediary between God and humanity. He is the message that came to this earth. The word is translated from the Greek word "logos," which means a message or word. And it can have many meanings actually, but that's the best way to probably understand it in this context. And it actually is kind of a verbal echo from Genesis 1:1 again, "in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

And the earth was without form and void. And darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the waters." And then God did something. What did he do? He said. What did he do? He spoke.

His Word went forth and what happened? What His Word said happened, didn't it? That's the power of God's Word. And that's why John picks it up there in his Gospel. And he picks it up again here in his epistle, and he says, "you know what? I know this God. He was in the flesh. He is the creator God, the powerful one who made this world.

You see, I think prior to Jesus' incarnation, Jesus was the one who was known among the angels as the member of the Godhead that they could communicate with. And there are a few reasons I know this. First of all, in the Bible there is a divine being called the angel of the Lord. Even Bible commentators and translators for centuries past have translated this with a capital a, angel of the Lord. The angel of the Lord.

He is called Michael the archangel in apocalyptic literature. And so throughout the Bible we see this angel showing up and worship being given to this angel, something that other angels don't allow. Book of Revelation, angel said, "don't worship me, John, I'm not--I'm not God. Don't do that." But this angel back in the old testament would allow worship. In fact, he would ascend in the flame of sacrifices that were made to him.

Remember Samson's parents, maNoah. So, I think that prior to his incarnation, this is kind of just something that I believe. And I think it makes sense that Jesus was the one who went among the angels as one they could connect with, just like he came among us as one that we could connect with. And one of the reasons why satan was so upset about not being able to be a part of the triune God's inner circle is because he saw this one who is the archangel, who he thought, you know, "he's no different than me. Look at him.

He's got the form of an angel. He looks like us. Oh yeah, we worship him, but, but--" and so satan said, "you know what? Hey, he's just like us. Why should he be able to go and spend time with The Father and the Spirit there in such a special way?" And so satan cast out in the minds of the other angels until finally we know there was war in heaven. Michael and satan, the dragon, fought until the dragon was cast out.

Jesus is the one who has always been incarnate. The one of the Godhead who came down and said hey, "I'm gonna show you in real flesh-and-blood terms what it's like to be living the life that we want you to live." So you like that picture of Jesus, the word? Alright, let's ask the other part. "Concerning," verse 1, the last little part there, "concerning the word--" of what, the word of what? "The word of life." The word of life. Thank you, lisa. The word of life.

Now wait a minute. What did Jesus say? John 14, going back to one of John--the Gospel of John, John 14:6. We won't look at it. What does it say? Jesus said, "I am the--" what? "The way, the truth, and I'm the life." That's a pretty boastful claim unless you are actually God. And he is.

He was, wasn't he? Again, Jesus had life in and of himself. And so just as we are like the moon, the moon only reflects the sun. It cannot produce light on its own, can it? It cannot. And so we are like that in our lives. And Christ is like the sun.

He gives us life. Jesus claimed that he was the one who could give life. Go back to the book of Daniel. I wanna look at this one. This is actually a really good verse, Daniel 5:23.

This was in your lesson study line-up of verses. There were a couple verses in this lesson I didn't quite understand how they fit with our topic, so I did not include them. But this one actually makes--it's a good verse. I think it really fits in. Daniel 5:23.

Now the context is that belshazzar, he was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. He was the King of Babylon at this time. You know the story, had a big party. Middle of the party they're drunk. When you're drunk you do stupid things, right? Don't drink.

So he invites, or he commands, that the gold and silver vessels taken from the temple of God--i mean these are the sacred vessels used in the holy place and in the service of God. He says, "hey, bring 'em on in here." He knew what he was doing, didn't he? He knew that he was pretty much, you know, giving it to God. He was like, "you know what? I'm gonna show God who's in charge here." So they bring it in. They pour in their alcoholic beverages into these gold and silver cups and goblets and bowls. And they start to drink.

And as they do this, they praise the Gods of gold and silver and bronze and iron and wood and stone. Handwriting on the wall... It says belshazzar's loins were loosed. He wet his pants. That's what it says.

And calling in people, "come on. I don't understand this. Show me what's on the wall." Here's what happens. Daniel comes in. He says, "hey king, you knew.

You knew what you were doing." Verse 22, "yet you his son," or his grandson, "belshazzar," this is Daniel speaking to him, Nebuchadnezzar's--you knew about his life. You knew about his story. You knew it. You "have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this. But you have exalted yourself against," who? "the Lord of heaven.

And they have brought the vessels of his house before you, and you and your nobles, and your wives and your concubines, have been drinking wine from them. And you have praised the Gods of gold and silver, and bronze and iron, and wood and stone, which do not see or hear or," or what? Okay, but look at this. "But the God in whose hand is your life breath, in all your ways you have not glorified." I like that little, that little phrase at the end there. "God in whose," what? "Hand is your life o king?" You think you're pretty important? You think you've got everything under control? You think that everything's, everything, you know, come on. You're powerful.

God's got your life in his hand, isn't that right? And he's got all of our lives in his hand, doesn't he? Without God we don't live, do we? In fact, acts 17:28 says, "for in him we live and move and have our being." It's a reality. Without Jesus, we don't live. Period. Colossians 1:17, we were there just a minute ago. Michael just read it.

But I want to just quote one little part from there once again. If you want to open there you can. It says, "by him," or through Christ, "all things consist." Some versions, my version, the Greek language can also mean this: "all things hold together." Without Jesus, everything would just what? Fly apart, wouldn't it? In fact, I'm no physicist, but I was doing a little research and going back and seeing what some of the fundamental truths of physics. One of them is there are four different forces identified in this universe. One of those, the one that we interact with the most if we bump into something or we, you know, see other people and interact.

It's the electromagnetic force. Isn't that right? In fact, let me tell you a little bit about the electromagnetic force to kind of refresh your memory. It's the one that holds the electrons and the protons together in the atom. And it also is--those are what hold the atoms together in the molecules, right? And so without this force, this electromagnetic force, those little atoms that make up molecules that eventually make up our bodies and everything else in this world, none of that would hold together. Would it? And so I asked the question, well where does the electromagnetic force come from? Hmm.

And could it be that maybe there is something that Jesus has to do with providing these forces in our world. Maybe he's the one who keeps everything from flying apart, by supplying this electromagnetic force that really is what allows us to live. Might it be a divine influence behind the things that we see in our world, that make up our world today, our physical world. You think so? And so Jesus said, "I am the one that holds everything together." Now if this is true, if it's really true that Christ is the one who keeps everything held together, that stuff doesn't just fly apart, you know. If this is true, then what Matthew in Matthew 5--i think it's verse 45, says, he says, God causes his son to what? Shine on who? The evil and--or the good and the evil.

In fact, so I'd like to put this in there now. God holds together the good and the evil. Isn't that right? In other words, without his watch care, without his actual active intervention, even those who defy God and say he doesn't exist and say they hate him, they wouldn't exist, would they? And none of us would either. Does that kind of humble you to think about that, think about how remarkable it is that God holds everything in this world, our very life itself. We consist, we are held together because of him.

So practical application now. Matthew 8:8, if you want to read this with me. Jesus comes down from the mountain. Large crowd is there. Heals a leper.

Goes on into capernaum. Meets a centurion. Centurion says, "at home I have a servant. He is ill. He's deathly ill.

" Jesus says to the centurion, "I'm gonna come and heal him." And the man says, "no, no, no. Don't come because I'm not worthy for you to come under my roof. I'm a sinful person. I'm not a good person compared to you, Jesus. You're too righteous for me.

But just," what? "Just say the word." And what's gonna happen? "My servant will be healed. That's all you gotta do, Jesus. Just say the word." Do you think Jesus still today has that much power? Does His Word have that much power? Just say the word, Jesus, in my life and my spiritual life will be restored. Right? Just say the word, Jesus, and my son or daughter, maybe Jesus, you can transform their life so that they'll be saved as well. Can we pray that God will still use his power, the power that created this world to transform lives around us, to transform our own life? I think we can.

So, Wednesday's lesson, I like what it said. I'm gonna read to you what the lesson actually said. It says this, it says, "the apostles were eye witnesses of Christ's life, death and resurrection. This Christ event," I like that, "influenced them to such an extent that they could not refrain from communicating it to others." So influenced, they just had to tell somebody. And so John in his letter tries to emphasize the reality of his personal connection with Jesus.

And so John says, "I saw Jesus. I know what it was like." In fact, in acts 4:20, you know it, the apostles there, here they were. They were standing before the sanhedrin. And they said, "we cannot but speak the things that we have," what? "Seen and heard." They had influences so much. They've impacted our lives so much, we just can't help but tell about it.

Have you ever been that excited about something? You're so excited, you can't help but just talk about it. Something that impacts you that much. Today there are no direct witnesses to Jesus' life and death alive among us, are there? But can we still believe? Can we believe from the word that they wrote down? I believe that we can. But I like what the lesson says. Especially in our day today, historical document like this is valid, but it's not as effective as someone saying this: "hey, you know what? I've taken tHis Word into my life.

Here is what it's done for me." That's more effective, because in our post-modern world, people are into this thing they think the truth is relative. "What's, you know, that's your reality. This is my reality. Whatever you think is true is true for you. And I'm not gonna judge you.

It's all good." And some of that might be good, but here's the thing. What's gonna influence people in our world is saying this: "you know what? Listen. God has done something incredible in my life. I want to tell you what His Word has done for me. I want to tell you that what tHis Word says right here is actually real.

" You think that's gonna be a personal witness, a powerful witness in this world? A personal eyewitness account of what God can do in our lives, what he has done in our lives. So what is your eyewitness account today? You see, the lesson writer notes here in the quarterly that God has no grandchildren. I like that. Anybody here a grandchild of God? Doesn't work that way, does it? It doesn't matter how young you are, how old you are, you are a child of God. Isn't that right? And here's why.

Because you see two Christians get together. They say, "you know what? We're gonna have a kid. So they have a kid. And they produce another Christian, right? Not really, because that child eventually is going to grow up and have to make a choice about whether or not he or she wants to serve Jesus. Isn't that right? Because it's a personal thing.

Christianity is not a hereditary thing. We don't pass on Christianity in our genes, do we? That's why, you know, you know what Jesus said to nicodemus. He said, "you've gotta be born again. You might have been born once, but that's not enough. Sorry.

You gotta be born again. You are lost until you are-- you accept Jesus." Now I'm not talking about all of the intricacies of how a baby of Christian parents is saved if that child doesn't grow up to accept Jesus or something, or you know, dies before that point. But we're talking about people who have the choice have to accept Jesus. It is not something that comes to us through our heredity. So the lesson notes that in this sense, Christianity is a very personal and solitary experience.

It--no one else can do it for us. However, there's another side to that coin, isn't there? And that other side of the coin is this. It's the fellowship side. You see? 'Cause Christianity is not all about just us being on our own little island out here. And I'm independent.

You know, personally I used to kind of think that. I thought it was all about me and God just connecting. And there were a lot of Christians back in the day who thought the same thing. And so they established these places called monasteries. Right? You heard about that.

And they become hermits, right? And they go live out in a cave. And they'd say, "you know what? If we can just be holy enough in the cave by ourselves, then we will get to heaven. And that's what it's all about." But it's not all about that. Jesus wasn't a hermit, was he? He didn't call us to be hermits. In fact, it's about fellowship as well.

Fellowship: Romans 12 says, it says, "we are all members of one another. Isn't that interesting? All members of one another. It talks about us being a body. Now I'd like to do an experiment. How many of you think that if one part of the body suffers, that the rest of the body doesn't need to worry about it.

What do you think? Anybody agree with that? But sometimes we treat it that way in the church, don't we? We act like that in the church. I am guilty of that. And you probably are too. But if we were to do an experiment and say, "alright, let's put that theory to the test." Bring someone up here, say, "alright, would you please put your foot out there a little ways away." And then we had someone else stomp on their, just their little toe, not the big toe, just the little toe, really hard. Stomp, stomp.

Do you think that we would all agree that every part of the body matters? You ever had a broken toe before? It's not fun, is it? Every part of the body affects the rest of the body, doesn't it? You can't ignore one part just because it's not that important. It hurts the whole body. Alright, so there's something else to fellowship though. Sometimes fellowship can be tough. Now I'm not sure of the origin, the etymology of the word "fellowship," but break the word down for a second.

What does it sound like? Fellow ship, what does it sound like? Fellows in a what? Ship, okay. I'm sure that's not the origin. Doesn't have anything to do with fellows in a ship, but anyway let's just imagine that it did. And I kind of like the idea that it might have. You ever been in a ship with somebody? You ever been in a ship with a bunch of people? And you know what sometimes happens when you're in a ship with a bunch of people, especially small ships with a bunch of people is that some people get seasick.

Isn't that true? Do you learn how to help each other? Yeah, or else you learn to hate each other, right? And fellowship is what this involves. Do you see, it's not always pleasant, but it is something that is practical when you're together on a boat. Is it not? You gotta help each other. You gotta get to know each other. It is something that you can't avoid.

So, in closing, John tells us, he says, "you know what? The ultimate fellowship, yes, it's with Christ's body, but it's also with The Father and The Son." Amen? It's with The Father and The Son. Today our free offer is offer number 155, "life in the Spirit." Call our number on the screen, -866-788-3966, for our free offer number 155, "life in the Spirit."

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