God Reached Out to Us...

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:52
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For whatever reason, all of my kids are late crawlers. My youngest is 10 months and he has not started to crawl yet. Just like any good dad, I want my kids to succeed and excel at life so I have attempted several times to give my 10 month old baby some instruction on how to crawl. This can be quite difficult as you can imagine. Now I could sit him down on my knee and go over all of the finer points of crawling, going into the importance of learning to crawl for one’s development, and how the mechanics work, and what you can do to start building your muscles up so you can crawl. And I could give him a very well articulated pep talk about crawling, but what do you think his response would be? Most likely you would smile at me and blow raspberries, or he would start to cry because he is either hunger or tired or both. Would he have comprehended anything that I tried to tell him? Why not? What if he really wanted to understand and comprehend and do what I wanted him to do, would that make any difference? No- he is completely unable on his own to communicate with me at my own level. If any kind of communication is to happen, what needs to take place? Well, I am the one who is going to have to stoop down to his level and reach out him in a way that he can comprehend. It has to start with me. So, what I have tried doing is to get down on the floor with him, put him on his stomach, and then pull his knees up underneath him and help guide his little body through the motions of crawling. So far I have made little progress. But I figure that if I keep reaching out to him on his level, in a way he can comprehend, eventually progress will be made.
How can we comprehend God? How can we understand Him? Wouldn’t God, by definition of Who He is, be at such a higher level that it would be impossible for mere mortal humans like to us to understand Him? How does one understand what God wants of us? How do we get to know Him? Where do we even begin to start?
Last week we started a new series in the Gospel of John. And the underlying belief, the lens if you will for how we are viewing John’s gospel is from Heb 4.12-13.
Hebrews 4:12–13 NASB95
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
In other words it is the Bible that is living and active. It is the Word of God that can reveal our inner most thoughts and beliefs of our hearts. No creature is hidden from God’s sight- God will use His Word to expose our inner most thoughts and beliefs.
When I ask the question- “How can we comprehend God?” My expectation is not to answer that question for you based on my own beliefs. My expectation is to show you for yourself what God’s Word has to say about the question. Because the important thing is not what I believe the answer to the question is, but what you personally believe the answer to this question is. I don’t want to tell you what to believe. I want to show you what the Bible says for itself, and let you make your own well-thought-out conclusions.
The other premise of this study is to get us to think about leading someone we know that has never read the Bible, or has read the Bible very little. What if we asked that person to sit down with us and read the Bible together so they can see for themselves what God’s Word has to say and they can for themselves make their own well-thought-out conclusions? How would we do that? How would we go through John’s gospel differently if we were leading someone through it for the first time?
This is the approach we are taking to John’s gospel. Imagine you asked one of your friends who has never read the Bible this question, “How can we comprehend God? Where do we even begin to start?” What would they say? How does the Gospel of John answer that question?

I. Where does the process of comprehending God start? (John 1:14)

John 1:14 KJV 1900
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
What was the recurring problem in vv. 1-13 of John?
John 1:5 KJV 1900
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
John 1:10 KJV 1900
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
John 1:11 KJV 1900
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
If our natural problem as humanity is that we cannot comprehend Him, if we cannot or will not know Him or receive Him, then how are we supposed to begin to understand God?
All religions speak of humanity’s trying to reach God. The process starts within each person. How effective is this? Think about this.
Imagine that I am sitting in a living room, and over in the corner I see an ant. Suppose that this ant wants to communicate with me. What should he do? Should he come over, crawl up on my shoe, and yell at me in ant language? But what if I don’t want to talk to him? I could leave the house, and the ant would never have the chance to reach me. So before the ant can speak with me, I have to want to speak with the ant. Could we possibly find God if He didn’t want to speak with us? Doesn’t it make logical sense that God would have to take the initiative in communicating with us before we could communicate with him? Suppose I did want to speak with the ant. How would I do it? I could go over to the ant and talk to him, but he wouldn’t understand. I would have to speak “ant language” to him. I would have to describe myself in terms that the ant would understand. Because I am far more complicated than the ant, I would have to describe myself very simply. If an ant wanted to get to know me, then everything would depend on me for this to take place. However, the best way to communicate with that ant would be to become an ant! Great idea, but it could be dangerous. There are millions of ants in the world. What if they didn’t like me? They could even crucify (oops!), uh, kill me! How has God chosen to communicate with us? What does verse 14 say?
John 1:14 KJV 1900
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Look at any of the world’s major religions. Religion is humanity’s attempt to reach God; the direction goes from us to God. The Bible is the only religious book that turns the process around and starts with God. As we can see in v. 14, humanity did not reach out to God first, but God reached out to humanity by becoming one of us. I don’t know about you but when I think of my own limited understanding, if God didn’t reach out to us first, would we ever have a chance at understanding God?
What does it mean to behold someone’s glory? (Example: Klay Thompson- 37 points in a quarter) What if that person claimed to be God? What kind of glory would you expect them to show off?
What does the term “only begotten” mean? It does not refer to time but to priority. The same term is used in Hebrews in referring to Isaac as Abraham’s “only-begotten son” (Heb. 11:17). This term then cannot be referring to time, because Ishmael was Abraham’s first child in terms of time. Rather than going into a lengthy theological discussion, it is usually enough to understand that Jesus is God’s only son- the one whom God gives priority to in His will for mankind.
If you would like to study this term more for yourselves you might compare Acts 13:30-33 and Psalm 2:7- I find an exact answer for what God means when He begets his only Son.
Coming back to John 1:14- what are grace and truth?
John 1:14 KJV 1900
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
If we commit a crime and have to go to court for it, what do we hope the judge will do? Show us grace, of course – that is, overlook our bad deed. The last thing we want is the truth! What do we want if we are innocent? Would we be interested in grace? No, what we want is the truth. In any case, we seldom see the two terms, grace and truth, together in the same context. We need to discuss each term separately first.
How would you define grace? Get everyone’s opinion on this question, then look it up in a dictionary. Grace is undeserved and unearned favor, in spite of earned punishment.
Example: One of my children was not in the mood to do the chores the other day, and was complaining about having to do the work. Kids you never do that do you? Instead of yelling at him to just get to work, or giving him a consequence for his attitude, I said, give me the worst chore and I will help you get your work done and afterword we will play a board game together. Now is that undeserved and unearned favor, in spite of earned punishment?
Have you ever met anyone full of grace? What does it mean to be full of grace? He must have gone around constantly showing undeserved and unearned favor. Do you know anyone who does that all the time? What is our immediate response when someone cuts us off on the highway? Is it full of grace? Can a mere human be full of grace all the time?
How would you define truth? You can have some long interesting discussions with people on the subject of truth. Is there only one kind of truth? How many different kinds of truth are there? Truth can be absolute or relative. Everybody has there own view of what is true. Many a philosopher has made the claim that ALL truth is relative. Some truths are relative. If I were to ask you what team is the greatest NFL football team of all time what would be your answer?
But, is all truth relative? Are there some truths that are absolute? For example, if you jumped out of a fifth-floor window, you would fall down, not up. You might experiment by throwing a small rock out of the window a thousand times. Each time it would fall down, not up. You would probably assume that if you jumped out, you would fall down, not up. If you try to violate this truth, you are in for a real shock. Jumping out of the window proves that you have not appreciated the gravity of the situation!
We humans cannot violate a truth just because it does not appeal to us. We learn this in the physical world as we grow up, and we know it intuitively as adults. Does the same hold true in the moral world? Are there moral truths that will automatically produce negative results if we violate them? Can we make any truth relative, as it pleases us, without expecting consequences?
What if you are faced with two systems of relative truth? How do you choose the right one? Is there a right one? Can they both be right at the same time?
Let me give an example. Assume you are a student and you have to take a test. Your teacher returns the test to you, and he had written across it, “Failed.” You ask him why you failed the test, and he says, “You only got 15 percent of the answers correct. You needed 70 percent correct to pass.” What if you told him that he had to give you a passing grade because your grading scale requires that you only need to get 10 percent correct to pass. Because you got 15 percent right, you deserve a passing grade. What would the teacher say to you? If he did anything but laugh at you, he might politely point out that his grading system was the “right” one to be taken into consideration for this test. After all, the teacher made the test. It was the teacher’s test, not the student’s test.
John 1:14 says that the Word was full of truth. Is that speaking of relative truth or absolute truth? We could ask it this way, does God have a grading system? Is God’s grading system relative or absolute?
What if we find our moral values conflicting with God’s moral values? Who would be right? Do we believe we can talk God out of his views and make him change His mind to agree with our way of seeing things? What if we can’t? What if God’s “truth” is absolute and does not fit into our relative way of thinking (i.e., that we can’t change a rule to suit our whims)?
If the Word is full of truth- what if God’s standard of truth is too high for us to achieve? What if God requires us to be perfectly truthful, what if God requires us to measure up to His full standard of truth exactly as He does?
Can you imagine what heaven is like? Do you think that everything and everybody will be perfect in heaven? If so, are you perfect? If heaven is perfect, but you are not, then if God let you into his heaven, it wouldn’t be perfect anymore! Why should God let imperfect you into His perfect heaven?
Again, I want you to think about what the Bible says and come up with your own well-thought-out beliefs. Does the Bible line up with your views of truth? Could it be possible that your view of truth is different from God’s view of truth? What are the consequences for holding views that are different from those that God holds?
If the Bible is God’s word, and you discover something in the Bible with which you disagree, what will your reaction be? The normal reaction will be to reject the Bible as God’s Word, but what if you’re wrong? It doesn’t seem very safe or clever to disagree with God. What do you think?
How does your thinking line up with v. 14
John 1:14 KJV 1900
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Have you ever heard a discussion about grace and truth in the same context? We cannot have grace without a standard by which to measure it. A judge cannot show grace without a standard of judgment by which to determine why a person has not deserved this grace. There must be a rule or a law that has been broken that requires a judgement before grace, rather than punishment, can be given. What standard of judgment or truth does God use to measure whether we have earned heaven? Why should God show us grace? On what basis have we “earned his grace” (or is this a contradiction in terms?)
Some people think that they can earn their way into heaven. I think that idea demonstrates how incredibly proud human beings can be. Most people who believe this usually have their own scale in mind. When they die, they hope that their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds, so they can go to heaven. If not, they assume they will spend some time between heaven and earth, suffering somehow, to pay for their overabundance of bad deeds. Then they think that they will be allowed into heaven. If the scale shows only bad deeds, they assume that this person will go to hell.
Everyone asks, in effect, “How many good deeds do I need to get into heaven?”
What I find interesting is that no one ever asks, “How few bad deeds are allowed before entrance into heaven is barred?” What if God does not allow any bad deeds in this life? What if the scale has to be tilted completely toward the side of good deeds? How can someone believe that he could live a life “good enough” for God? How can a person believe that he can do anything good enough for God? Are we saying that God has to accept our puny efforts at perfection just because we can’t do any better? How good is God compared with us?
I’ve heard people say, “If that person gets into heaven then I’ll make it, too. I’m just as good as he is.” What if God’s standards are not our standards?  An unsaved young man once said to the late Dr. John Mitchell, “If you get into heaven, then I will, too. I’m just as good as you are.” Dr. Mitchell sadly replied, “What a rotten standard of measurement you are using!”
If a person has to meet God’s standard of perfection, then who can get into heaven? Only someone who is perfect. Could a person be a sinner in this life and yet God sees him as perfect and let him into heaven? What would it take to make God look at you and declare you to be perfect?
If we keep reading long enough, we will get the answers to these questions in John’s Gospel.
What does it mean that the Word was “full of truth?” Maybe it means that He was always truthful. Do you know anyone who never tells a lie? Do you lie? Admit it. We all do at times. We usually justify it by describing the color of the lie: “It was just a little white lie.”
If we can’t think of anyone who is “full of grace” and “full of truth,” to whom could John be referring in this verse? Certainly not just a normal human being! What else does John say about this person?
That is a lot of questions for one verse isn’t it? Do you have a personal answer for these questions? Do you have a well-thought-out faith, or do you have a blind faith?
Could you see yourself sitting down with a friend who has never read the Bible and asking them questions like these? Are you willing to pray that God would lead you to one friend with whom you can read the Bible?
Hebrews 4:12 NASB95
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Do you really believe that? Are you willing to put hands and feet to your prayers? Do you believe that God will use His Word to lead someone to faith in Jesus Christ? What are you going to do about it?

II. What/Who was necessary for us to know God? (John 1:15-18)

John 1:15–18 KJV 1900
15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Someone read v. 15 again:
John 1:15 KJV 1900
15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
V. 15- Do you see an apparent contradiction in v. 15? How can a person come after someone, and still have existed beforehand? Of whom is John talking? Until now, we still have not read any name for this person (Word) who is being described. What name do we find in v. 17?
What is the goal of John in v. 15? To bare witness. What does John’s witness seem to be saying about Jesus Christ?
Someone read v. 16:
John 1:16 KJV 1900
16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
V. 16- What does John mean when he speaks of the fullness of Jesus? What have all humans received from His fullness?
What kinds of things do we receive from God every day without thinking about it? What things do we take for granted? The air we breathe, the bread on our table, etc...
Why should God give you one more breath of air to breathe? What should God let you live one more second upon His earth? Have you earned that next breath of air? What right do you have to God’s air? What right do you have to the life you have been given? Have you earned that life?
What then does “grace upon grace” mean? Can a person be given too much grace? Can a person be given enough grace?
Someone read v. 17:
John 1:17 KJV 1900
17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
What law is John speaking about? Who was Moses? What example do we normally think of when we think of the law of Moses? How many laws did the OT law contain? What term best describes the OT law- grace or truth? Was there any grace in the law?
Where does grace come from then? Is it grace alone that came by Jesus Christ? Why is it significant to combine grace and truth? Can you have grace without truth? If grace came by Jesus Christ how can we get that grace? Does everyone have that grace? What does John’s gospel say? Let’s keep reading and find out.
What is the difference between “was given” and “came by”? “Came by” is a state of being verb- came into being, “were realized” is the idea. Hand on to this as it may be significant later in John’s gospel.
Someone read v. 18-
John 1:18 KJV 1900
18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
V. 18 is a summary of the ideas that John has expressed so far.
“No man has seen God at any time.” Where was this idea expressed in the first 17 verses?
What then was necessary in order for us to know God? God had to reveal Himself by becoming a human being. Most people have rejected Him. Some have accepted Him and have thereby become children of God. In any case, Jesus Christ, the God-man, has come to show us what God is like.
If you wanted to know what your neighbor was like, and you did not want to ask him, whom would you ask about him? You could ask the milkman what he was like. He might tell you that your neighbor drinks three quarts of milk a week, but this information will not do a lot of good in really getting to know your neighbor. You might ask the mailman and learn that your neighbor writes and receives few letters. You might deduce from this information that your neighbor is lonely, but you cannot be sure. You might ask his boss or one of his employees, but you are still stuck with not really knowing your neighbor. Your best choice would be to speak with his wife or children. They would be considered the “closest” to him.
What comes to mind when you hear the words in the bosom of? Closeness? Unity? Love? Attachment? Intimate knowledge? What earthly example do you think of? Most people think of a happy little baby, resting against his mother’s bosom. Can we see why John uses this phrase to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son? The unique, special, close, intimate relationship could not be expressed better. Who else would know better what God was like, if not God’s very own Son, with whom He has lived for all eternity past?
What is John really claiming about Jesus? Let’s go back to our example of getting to know our neighbor. Apart from meeting him personally and developing a relationship directly, we are limited to speaking with others about him. Jesus goes beyond just saying that He wanted to tell us about God. He claims to show us God.
If someone came to your home and said that they had a message for you from God, you might laugh and not take that person seriously. If he came, however, and claimed that he was going to show you God, you might become concerned for his mental health. If he were serious, you might ask him to prove that he was close enough to God to be able to show you what God was like. That would require miracles of all kinds.
The problem we face here is what kind of “evidence” are we willing to accept as proof? As we read further in John, this problem will confront us repeatedly. Jesus performs miracle after miracle, but most of the people do not accept his miracles as evidence of his credibility. Guess what question you will have to ask your unsaved friend over and over again as you read John’s gospel? Are you willing to accept factual evidence for belief? A well-thought-out faith (not blind faith) will be the deciding factor in your friend’s lives.
Someone read v. 18 again:
John 1:18 KJV 1900
18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Has any man ever seen God at any time? How do we know what God is like?
“What does God look like (not His physical form), as portrayed by Jesus? Does this picture of God match my own preconceived views of how God should be? What if God is different from whatever I have imagined Him to be? If Jesus is God, and if His portrayal of God is correct, should my picture of God change, or should I demand that God change to fit my picture of how I think He should be?”
The main ideas in verses 14-18:
1.  God initiated the process of reaching out to us by becoming a man.
2.  Although grace and truth are usually considered opposites, we need both to live in this world.
3.  Relative and absolute truths are distinctly different.
4.  What does God require before he will let a person into His heaven? Discuss the concept of “good works” and “perfection.”
5.  Where do we get everything we take for granted (such as the air or the sun)?
6.  Contrast Moses with Jesus. Keep it simple.
7.  God has chosen to become a man in order to show us what He, God, is really like. 
8.  Are we willing to accept Him as he is? Or do we want to hang onto our own ideas of how we want God to be? Are we demanding that God change Himself to suit us so we can remain comfortable in our views?
What are you going to do about it?
Read John 1 this week and imagine asking your unsaved friends these kinds of questions to lead them to an understanding of Scripture.
Pray that God would lead you to at least one friend with whom you can read the Bible with.
Put hands and feet to your prayers- go out into your Jerusalem and make redemptive relationships with unsaved people.
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