Bill Glass, the 6-foot-5, 270-pound quarterback at Baylor University became the All-Pro defensive end who helped the Cleveland Browns win the NFL championship in 1964. Bill was a devout Christian who frequently shared the story of his conversion to Christ at churches and conferences across the country. When I was a college student I had the opportunity to hear him speak. As I recall, his story went something like this:
My conversion to faith in Jesus Christ was like an experience I had playing quarterback in a football game. It was a running play and I saw an opening in the scrimmage line after I received the ball. As I tried to run through the opening a huge lineman appeared in front of me. I tried to dodge him, but every time I veered he veered with me. Since I couldn’t avoid him, he crashed into me and that was the end of the play.
One day I found myself face-to-face in my mind’s eye with Jesus Christ. He was like that lineman; I couldn’t avoid Him. What would I do with Him? The Bible said He is the divine Son of God who died for my sins. I could have rejected Him and turned away; but I decided to trust Him as my Lord and Savior and receive forgiveness.
The most important question you will ever hear is the one Jesus asked His disciples at Caesarea Philippi, recorded in Matthew 16:15:
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
There still seems to be confusion about the answer to that question, even among people who profess to be Christians in America.
Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research published their State of Theology study; and the results show a confused collection of beliefs held by American Christians and especially evangelicals.
The study consisted of interviews with 3,000 adult Christians and followed similar surveys given in 2014 and 2016. Startlingly high percentages of respondents again revealed clearly heretical beliefs when they were asked about the nature of God and belief, their opinions on certain sins and the role of the Bible. 52% responded that most people are basically good, 51% believe that God accepts the worship of all religions and 78% subscribe to the Arian Heresy, which teaches that Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God the Father.
John began his gospel account differently from the other gospels.
- Matthew began his account of the gospel with a genealogy showing Jesus’ identity as royalty, His kingly lineage.
- Mark began his gospel at the bank of the Jordan River in Perea with the ministry of John the Baptist,showing Jesus’ identity as Messiah, His mission to save the world from the penalty of sin and usher in the kingdom of heaven.
- Luke began his gospel at a stable in Bethlehem when Augustus Caesar ordered a census, showing Jesus’ identity as the suffering servant, the perfect man who would sacrifice His life to bring salvation and peace to the world.
John began his gospel at the beginning of the universe. “In the beginning” hearkens back to Genesis 1:1:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
The name Moses used for God is Elohim, which means “strong one,” “mighty leader,” supreme deity.” It is also in the plural, which allows for the New Testament revelation that God exists in three persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
John states that the Word was present at the beginning of the universe. He used the imperfect tense, continuing action, to say that the Word was already in existence before the world was created.
John Phillips wrote:
“The word did not have a beginning. The word will never have an ending. The word belongs to eternity… But says John, when we think of Jesus, that is where we must begin. We must go back to the dateless past, to a time before time. We must think of Jesus as never having begun at all. He is eternally God.”
Athanasius, when he was refuting the Arian heresy that said Jesus was a created being, put it this way “There never was [a time] when He was not, when the Son of God was not.”
John identified Jesus as the “Word,” in Greek, “logos,” a term from Greek philosophy referring to the guiding principle of reason and intelligence that brings order out of chaos. That concept was helpful to John’s Greek readers, but it does not exhaust John’s meaning for the Word.
John used the Word from a Jewish perspective. It means an expression of thought that leads to action. The prime example is the creation narrative in Genesis one. God literally spoke the creation into existence.
- “And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”
- “Then God said, ‘Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place.’”
- “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens…”
God thought about what He wanted to create and expressed those thoughts in words that actually accomplished the creation.
To John the Word was more than just expressions of thoughts.
“The Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
God the Father ordained the creation.
God the Son administered the creation.
God the Holy Spirit empowered the creation.
This Word was “with God”, means that the Word, that is, Christ, was in a face-to-face conversation with God. The meaning of this statement can only be grasped when you understand that God exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christ, the Son, has a personal relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. John is careful to distinguish the three persons of the Holy Trinity, but he asserts that Christ, the Son, possesses all the attributes of the Divine nature. The Son is equally a part of the God-head with the Father and the Holy Spirit. “The Word was God.”
Bishop Moule once stated “A Savior not quite God is a bridge broken at the farther end.”
John Mitchell put it :
“If Jesus is not God, then we are sinners without a Savior… If Jesus were only a man, then He died for His own sins. And we are still in our sins. We have no hope.”
When Jesus asked His disciples, “…Who do you say that I am?” Peter gave the correct answer:
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
We can believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, because He was the divine Son of God, who came to earth as a man.
What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be,
Some day your heart will be asking,
“What will He do with me?”
J. Ray Smith, President, Fair Havens Publications
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