31. Essentials (1) Sin & Guilt

Reaching into Redemption Meditations: 31. Essentials (1): Sin & Guilt

2 Sam 12:5 “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die

2 Sam 12:7 “You are the man!

Significance: It may be that if you have been following this series, or you’ve just come to it and scanned the number of studies that are here, you might ask the question, why are you continuing this, why are you going over the same ground again?  The answer to that is that ‘Redemption’,  first of all, is something that so often we consign to ‘spiritual facts’ about what happened back when I became a Christian but, second, because the whole emphasis that I have felt from the outset of this series is that it is also a description of the ongoing work of God to keep us on track, being changed into the likeness of Christ and a being an active citizen of the kingdom of God and, third, all of that despite the fact that we are failures and get it wrong.

It is the combination of these last two things, that God is continually working on us sinners to bring about change, that is so significant, and it is significant because of its part in enabling us to triumph in spiritual warfare. It is when Satan whispers to us, “You are rubbish, no one loves you, you are insignificant, you are achieving nothing meaningful in life, give up,” that these things come into play as we respond, “Yes, all you say is right, but God still loves me and is still working on my life to change me so that in Christ I am somebody and in Christ I do have a purpose and in Christ I am going somewhere – so go away!!”

Why Sin? But why, you may ask, do we need to go back and eyeball ‘sin’ again, why do we need to focus on sin and guilt as our heading says? Well, again there are at least two reasons. The first is the reality of sin and the second is that when we face that reality it makes us more aware of the wonder of this whole thing about God’s redemption. Yes, we have seen some of these things previously, and we have certainly seen them in the lives of individuals and in the life of Israel, but now we need to bring this aspect right out into the open and shine the spotlight on it in order to a) understand its reality and then b) appreciate even more the wonder of God’s redemption.

Sin’s Reality: We don’t like talking about ‘sin’ because it is depressing, and it raises the spectre of judgmentalist condemnation, which the Pharisees of Jesus day were good at. It can be depressing because it is always there, lurking in the background. As God said to Cain, that we saw in an earlier study, “if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen 4:7) What that implies is that we have to be constantly alert and make positive acts of will to overcome the temptation to give way to self-centred, godlessness that leads to unrighteous acts or words. There have often been arguments in theological circles whether it is an inherent predisposition within each of us that we have inherited, or whether it is simply the moral choice we are so often confronted with when faced with people or circumstances who provoke us or present us with moral options.

The option to do our own thing, contrary almost certainly to God’s design for us and the world, is ‘sin’. It is as the Bible says, ‘lawlessness’ (1 Jn 3:4) Lawless simply means operating outside or contrary to the Law and ‘the law’ in this general context simply means the way God has designed this world to work properly. The Bible uses the word ‘folly’ a number of times, a noun that means foolishness, and any act of sin is ‘folly’ or foolish because it always has a detrimental effect, a negative outworking in our lives. David lusting after Bathsheba was folly in itself AND because it led on to other sins – trying to cover up what had happened by having her husband killed. In the New Testament Paul made that all- encompassing statement, “The wages of sin is death,” (Rom 6:23) i.e. the outworking of sin always results in spiritual death or the separation from the life that is God.

Call a spade a spade: We have this phrase or expression, meaning to call a thing what it is, and so we must from the outset eyeball our stupid acts of self-centred godlessness what they are – sin and, yes they are, stupid!  David, when Nathan told his little parable, rightly responded with anger, as our first verse above shows. It was right to be angry at the injustice in the parable and the perpetrator deserved to die. It was then Nathan spoke those terrible words, “You are the man,” and instantly, David, the man after God’s own heart, was convicted: “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Sam 12:13). It was the same language Jesus inserted in his parable of the prodigal son: Father, I have sinned against heaven and you, and am not worthy of being called your son.” (Lk 15:21) Wrongs against people are also wrongs against God.

If you steal from another person, vandalize their property, speak wrongly against them, entice their partner away, all of these things are offences against that person AND against God. They are against God because they run contrary to His design for us that we live in peace and harmony with one another, and it is like we say, “God, I don’t care about your will, your ways in the world, your design, I’ll do my own thing,” and the trouble is all such things bring repercussions, there always will be negative outworkings, the ultimate one being the accountability that God demands at the end of our lives, “Why did you act as less than the child I designed you to be, why did you act as a godless, self-centred sinner?”

God’s Remedy: The death of His Son on the Cross outside Jerusalem, two thousand years ago in time-space history, was deemed by heaven to satisfy justice, was deemed to be sufficient to act as the judgment on every individual sin ever committed. The only thing is that it needed to be appropriated by us and we do that when we a) acknowledge, confess and repent of our sin(s) and b) accept the truth that Jesus died in our place to redeem us.  It can’t work unless these two things are there in place. When we are convicted of our sin, the recognition that we are helpless and hopeless and need God’s help, God’s forgiveness, God’s transformation, it is both devastating and dynamic. It is devastating to be truly honest about yourself – I am lost! It is dynamic in that it opens the floodgates of God’s love, mercy and grace that is poured out to us and which we are then able to receive.

Individual Sins: When we blow it – and yes, we are still a Christian who loves the Lord – the short way back is as we have described above, acknowledge, confess and repent, but the lessons we have observed through the studies earlier in this series, tell us that so often there are repercussions or consequences that have to be faced. So often, life doesn’t just go on, and so to see that in detail, we’ll need to wait until the next study.   You have sinned? It is not the end, but you are required to follow the Biblical pattern – acknowledge, confess and repent – and then receive forgiveness and cleansing and a fresh start – but it must begin with honesty, I’ve blown it! That is the beginning of the next step.

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12. Reality versus Possibility

Expectations & Hopes Meditations: 12. Reality versus Possibility

Judg 6:11  The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.

The Judges Context: We’re about to consider another of my favourite incidents in the Old Testament, that has so much of significance about it. The context is clearly stated: Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.” (Judg 6:1-6)

Now I’ve titled this study ‘Reality versus Possibility’ and the verses above are the reality of life in Israel at that moment. They were a people that had turned from the Lord and so the Lord lifted off His hand of protection from over them, so that the Midianites invaded the land and oppressed Israel. That is why there is such irony in our starting verse: Gideon was threshing wheat in a wine press which, in those days, was a dip in the ground and he’s doing it there because he is hiding from the Midianites of whom he is afraid. Yes, that is the reality of this situation.

Parallels Today?  What is the reality for the Christian living in the West today? Well in most of the advanced Western nations Christianity appears in the decline and the world about largely derides Christians and their voice is muted. In America, much of its voice is associated with a particular political party and because of that has lost much of its uniqueness and is far from the pattern of the New Testament. In the UK it is such a minority that even where it is thriving, it is a battle against the world around it. In Western nations Christians are struggling to cope with materialism and relativistic morality that permits things that the Bible calls unrighteous and ungodly. Both the USA and the UK are struggling with changes that have come from changes in thinking and the outcomes are unclear and perhaps even questionable (that may bring the clear judgment of God). In many places the Church is inward looking and the majority in society continue with little or no Bible knowledge or knowledge of God. The quality of church life is so often far from the New Testament standards. That again is reality; you may disagree if your experience is different but the picture I have painted is largely true across both nations.

God chooses a Nobody: Now here’s the question: does it have to stay like that? Israel had started crying out to the Lord and so we find, first of all, a prophet coming to the land with a message of confrontation of their sin (see v.7-10) and you might have thought that that was the end of it – this reality would continue as it was – but the Lord deals in possibilities. So, he sends an angel to Gideon and this is where it starts getting funny. Here is this little man hiding away in fear and the angel says, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” (v.12) Gideon splutters over this and says, look at the reality of our situation, how can you say God is with us? But the Lord just turns to him and says, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (v.14) This is a little like Moses at the burning bush. “Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (v.15)  i.e. I’m a nobody! The Lord replies, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” (v.16) and so it turns out.

Basic Facts: Notice the characteristics of this: 1. Gideon IS a nobody but 2. The Lord obviously knows his potential, what He can do with him, and so 3. Sends him to deliver Israel, but 4. Says He will be with him and will be part of it. We have moved from the reality of the situation to consider the possibilities of the situation. If God says He’s going to sort the Midianites – and use Gideon to do it – He WILL do it.

And Today? So what does God feel about our situation today? Well certainly He must be angry with two nations who have known His blessing in the past in such measure, but there are also signs, despite how we have described the overall picture, that He IS moving in His Church where they are open to Him. And that seems to be the key issue – are the people of God open to His leading.

With some encouragement, Gideon did get on with it and Israel were delivered. It happened in stages, but it did happen. First of all it needs a people who will look at their situation and say, “This is NOT how God wants it!”  Does God want a little church that huddles fearfully making no impact on society? No. Does He want a mega-church where people get spiritually fat, sitting and listening to affluent preachers whose lifestyles are the exact opposite of Jesus of Nazareth, who run church like a corporate business? Definitely not!

A New Testament Church: So what are the signs of a church that is operating on New Testament lines?  Yes, they will study the Bible, and yes, they will pray and worship, but they will not be pew-fodder. They will be Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered people who are able to minister revelation and power to one another – and to the world outside. They will be serving the community and opening the hearts of the community to receive the love and the word of the Lord and His salvation.

And in case you wonder when I say ‘they’ that is not just leaders, that is the whole congregation. Now if your church is not like that, face the reality of where it is but see the possibility of where God wants it to be, and pray and seek His grace and His wisdom and declare your availability to be used to help bring it from the present reality into the glorious possibility that the New Testament reveals.

If you find yourself making excuses why you can’t be part of that, then you are in the place of Gideon –  but the Lord IS with you. Listen to Him and follow what he says. He will have specific instructions for you in your particular life circle and when you follow them, get ready for change! Hallelujah!

2. Once upon a time

Meditations on the Reality of Christmas:  2. Once upon a time

1 Pet 1:19,20:   Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

Many years ago I first did a study of ‘before the creation of the world’ and I discovered that in the New Testament there are seven references to the things that happened before God created anything. The one above tells us that the one who came in the form of a baby some two thousand years ago, was decided upon, not “Once upon a time”, but actually outside of time, in eternity before time came into being (because time only exists where there is a material world, in our understanding.) So back ‘then’ Father, Son and Holy Spirit existed and communicated between their individual beings.

Now if you were a new arrival to the Bible and you read the Christmas story, you might wonder how they went about deciding upon these events we are going to consider. If we didn’t know any better we might imagine God, the Father, turning (figuratively speaking) to the others and saying, “Let’s have some fun with the human being we’re going to create, let’s set up a scenario that is going to blow their minds away. Let’s drop some of the angels into it, that will freak them out. Let’s speak some confusing and contradictory ‘prophecy’ through some before hand who we’ll call ‘prophets’ and, hey, for the fun of it, Son why don’t you drop in on them to show them how superior we are?”  Such a conversation can only come when we are truly clueless about the Bible.

So why do I say that? Because that little cameo suggests a God who is self absorbed and self-concerned and who plays with mankind and makes fun of us. That sort of God sounds like a figment of the imagination that a Greek or Roman philosopher might come up with, a human god. The only trouble with that, is that everything we learn about God in the Bible says He is nothing like this. He is loving, caring, compassionate, selfless, utterly good and everything He does, He does for our good.

A more likely conversation might include, “Son, there is no other way than this for you to enter the world. It would be very easy for us to put you into the land as you are now, but if we did that they would follow you out of fear and that is not our way. We could put you into the land as one of them, fully grown, but then they would say that you did not know what it was to be truly like one of them, and they would hold you at arms length.” However, such a conversation would not touch on the real need, for as they considered the possibilities of creating a material world with material human beings the problem of giving us free will would crop up, the realisation that free will would almost certainly result in ‘sin’ and absorption with self to the exclusion of God. But enough of the hard realities behind Christmas, let it come a little at a time.

So Joseph also went … to Bethlehem … with Mary…While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.”  A couple and a baby. What a leap from the throne room of heaven in eternity where the plans had been laid in the splendor and glory of the Godhead. Almighty God, all-powerful Holy Spirit, all-glorious Son, utterly beyond our wildest imagination, with wisdom beyond anything we can comprehend, who bring material existence into being, who watch and wait, and wait and wait, until the time is right. And then on earth a child is born named Joseph and then several years later, a girl is born who is named Mary. Time will pass before the Christmas events and all we can be sure of, is that when they were born, no one could guess what would happen with these two. Can you pray, “Lord, please will you open my eyes to see the things going on around me and help me understand how things either fit your purposes or are simply activities of the world and the enemy which you will yet turn for my good.”

1. History, a Battle for Reality

(As we come to the last two weeks before Christmas, I would like to take a break from Hebrews – we will come back and complete it in the New Year – and pause to reflect on the wonder of Christmas)

Meditations on the Reality of Christmas:   1. History, a Battle for Reality

Luke 1:1-4  Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

I have at least once in the past written Advent meditations but every year when I approach this time I find I come from a new perspective, it seems, or the Lord seems to be putting a new emphasis before me. From the perspective of a gifts giving, food focused, one day orgy, I do not like Christmas, but when it comes to the Christmas story as found in Matthew and Luke, I find it the most wonderful time. Just how it is celebrated will vary all over the world but, I would like to suggest to you in this short series, how we celebrate it is almost an irrelevancy. How God ‘celebrated’ the coming of His Son to the earth is something else.

Now here is my worry, a concern I have for all of us who are Christians, and it is that we sink Christmas to the level of a romantic fairy story. I don’t know about your part of the world, but where I live in the UK, junior schools still put of ‘Nativity Plays’ by the children which are increasingly dressed up in other guises. It is almost as if teachers think, “Well, we’ve done this old story over and over again. It’s getting boring now. How can we make it something more interesting? How can we make it something that appeals to all people and all faiths?”

So here is my point: this story IS history, it DID happen and if we take the time to think about it, it IS the most amazing story ever written down in history. I always like the start of Luke’s Gospel because it is so down to earth. Yes, it does speak of another culture – how many of us have a friend named Theophilus? But it speaks of truth.

I want to keep these studies or meditations short, quicker to read in this period which seems to get so full of activity, so let me tell you what worries me about all this. It is that we Christians ‘do’ the Christmas story, year in, year out, and the danger is that familiarity breeds contempt, or at least boredom. I mean we all of us know the Christmas story, so why bother to make it the basis of a set of meditations when there is already one set of such meditations on this site?

Christian revelation involves a constant battle for reality. The enemy would seek to either deride it as utter make-believe, or make it so boring that it becomes irrelevant, or make it so intellectual that it sits in our heads without touching our hearts, or make it so romantic it simply comes with an emotional buzz but no intellectual understanding, or make it so mundane that we cease to worship the one who comes. Can we nail these options on the wall so we are aware of them, and then say, no, I will not let it be like this! Lord please open my eyes afresh to see the wonder of this story, touch my heart with the experiences of the people involved, touch my mind with the reality of the facts before us, touch my spirit to see the glory of the coming one and so be able to worship him in reality.

As a sign that these words mean something as you read them, may I ask you at the end of each of this series to pause and pray something specific? For this one, perhaps words that begin, “Lord, please open my eyes…..”

18. The Reality is Christ

Meditations in Colossians 2: 18:  The Reality is Christ

Col 2:17    These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Here we are again, simple words but profound truths that need thinking about. And again. Here we find that to see the full meaning of a verse we have to see what the link words refer to. Although it is not such an obvious link word such as “therefore” or “thus”, the first word of this verse does in fact take us backwards to the previous verse. The word ‘These’ refers to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.” (v.16) Collectively they may be called observing rituals of the Law, particular events that drew the Jew to a place of freshly considering God and of worshipping him. Before we look at what he says about these we would do well to consider them more fully.

“A Religious Festival” would be something like Passover or the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Weeks, to name just three of the seven feasts. Now the Passover reminded them of how the destroying angel passed over Egypt and every Jew who relied upon a lamb being slain was ‘passed over’ and not destroyed. In the Feast of Weeks they celebrated the Harvest, God’s wonderful provision for them in every way. In the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, the Jews erected tents or booths made of palm leaves as a reminder of their fellowshipping with the Lord in their travels to the Promised Land.

The monthly “New Moon celebration” was a statutory reminder of fellowship with the Holy God (see Num 28:14) where they offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings (Num 10:10) – And God will be reminded of his covenant with you” (v.10b Living Bible).

The “Sabbath” was a prescribed day of rest and remembrance, the latter being even more important than the former.

Now Paul says these are “a shadow of the things that were to come.” The JBP version puts it, “All these things have at most only a symbolical value,” but as true as that is, it misses the point: a shadow is cast by something else and the something else in this case is Christ. The writer to the Hebrews also uses this sort of picture: there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven,” (Heb 8:4,5) and “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves.” (Heb 10:1) What each of these say is that the heavenly or spiritual reality casts a shadow seen on the earth in the form of some observance. Very simply , the observance points towards the reality but when, as Paul says, the reality is Christ, he wasn’t made known until he came to the earth and fulfilled his ministry of revealing the Father and dying as an atonement for sin.

Paul says it very simply: “the reality, however, is found in Christ.”  So how is that so? Consider each of the things we noted above, the things that ‘These’ refers to.

We said the Passover reminded them of how the destroying angel passed over Egypt and every Jew who relied upon a lamb being slain was ‘passed over’ and not destroyed. John the Baptist described Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn 1:29) In the book of Revelation in the heavenly vision, it is “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain” (Rev 5:6) and when the host sing about him they declare, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Rev 5:9)

We said a New Moon Festival was a statutory reminder of fellowship with the Holy God where they offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings as expressions of their love and fellowship. Similarly we said, the Sabbath was a prescribed day of rest and remembrance, the latter being even more important than the former. Now Christ has come he has brought us into fellowship with the Father and by the presence of his Holy Spirit within us, we have continual communion with Him (even though we may not be aware of it.)

As one commentator has put it, ‘How can the observance of the Passover be considered a means unto spiritual perfection when “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor 5:7). What justification could there be  for imposing upon converts from the Gentile world the observation of the Jewish Sabbath, when the Bringer of eternal rest is urging every one to come to him.” Yes, Jesus is the fulfillment or reality forming the shadow of all these things and now he has come, why still bother with the shadow. Imagine you had a beautiful statue in your garden which threw a shadow on the garden wall when the sun was out. And supposing you had visitors who came and pointed out the amazing shaped shadow and said nothing of the statue. You would think that rather strange. Why do we think it any the less strange when some parts of the Church focus more on symbolic worship and ritual but nothing on the Christ life, the Spirit empowered and Spirit led life, all brought about and made possible by the wonderful work of Christ on the Cross? He is the reality and all the rest is mere shadow!

10. The Word of Truth

Meditations in Colossians: 10. The Word of Truth

Col 1:4-6   we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints– the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.

We are familiar with understanding the word ‘Gospel’ to mean Good News but here Paul also calls it “the word of truth” and it is worth pondering on the meaning of that. In prophetic circles we speak of someone receiving “a word”. We don’t mean that they have received a single word but that they have received a collection of words – from  a sentence to a whole collection of say ten paragraphs – that form a message from God. But note also that when Paul describes this word he calls it “the word”. It is not just a word which would make it just one among many but it is a single unique message from God and there is no other message like it. But more than that, it is the message of truth which implies that it is a unique message that somehow encapsulates all that is vital in and for life.

Truth? That which conforms to reality, which is exactly true and does not in any way deviate from that which is. So here, says Paul, we have this unique message from God that conveys or sums up the will of God, the reality of the plans and purposes of God. You want to know if there is a God? Ponder on the Gospel message, Could this just be the planning of human beings or has it got an origin that goes beyond us?  What sort of God is there if there is one?  Ponder on the Gospel and see a God of infinite compassion, a God of love and mercy who plans from before the beginning of time to redeem mankind that has abused its free will and got into slavery to this thing called Sin, this inescapable propensity of godless self-centredness.  You wonder if there is any escape from this self-centred godlessness that seems to lead to unrighteousness and self-destructive thinking and behaviour?  After you realise that our state is helpless and thus hopeless, we hear the Gospel and grasp for it like a drowning person.

This word tells the truth? Listen to Paul elsewhere: Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved……  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor 15:1-4) There was the Gospel encapsulated.

It is all about Christ who the Gospels reveal is the unique Son of God who came to earth from heaven. Here he lived, growing from a baby to an adult and then at about the age of thirty started three years of the most remarkable ministry that the word has ever seen. The apostle Peter described him in his first sermon to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost, first in human terms: “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22) Later he said the same thing to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38).

That is all implied in Paul’s summary and is a prerequisite to the fundamentals of why Christ came: “Christ died for our sins.” Peter spelled it out again and again: “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him,” (Acts 2:23,24 to the Jews at Pentecost) and “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead….. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10,12 before the religious leaders) and “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen….. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:39,40,43 to the Gentiles)

But the outworking brought so much more. We have seen the facts (the truth) of what happened – Jesus came, revealed the Father, was crucified and rose from the dead, all, we are told, the means to bring about the forgiveness of our sins. That is what HE did but then there is OUR response and then what HE does as a response to us! Our response, to the conviction by His Holy Spirit, is to surrender to Him, believe in Jesus (an early act of faith) and receive what he then imparts – forgiveness, cleansing, adoption and the impartation of what becomes the indwelling Holy Spirit in our lives. Thus we are ‘born again’, made new, and He reveals a plan and purpose for our lives that we live out in our remaining years here on earth.  But it doesn’t stop there. We have received eternal life and the guarantee of a glorious future with Him in heaven after life on this earth. This is the package that we call the Gospel. This is what has happened to Jesus (it is true!) and this is what has happened to us (it is true!)  This is the word of truth.. Hallelujah!

20. Revealed

Short Meditations in John 3:  20. Revealed

Jn 3:21   But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

What a package of truths in this verse! “Whoever lives by the truth.” There is within this an assumption that there is something called ‘the truth’. Trying to be spiritual be might say it is Jesus, but there may be an even bigger meaning of it. The truth, The reality must surely be existence as God designed it, not as sinful human beings perceive it and distort it by wrong living. Coming to a place of total integrity, total honesty is what coming to God is about, for in Him there is nothing false, nothing pretend, nothing artificial, just utter goodness.

The person who is seen to live like this with this outlook on life, comes to Jesus, comes to God and allows the searchlight of His knowledge to reveal; this person “comes into the light”. They are revealed, they are displayed for what they really are, warts and all as they say, and yet redeemed, for it is only such a person who can do this. Without the knowledge of redemption, of God’s incredible love-directed work through Jesus on the Cross, each and every one of us would scuttle into the shade, under cover, into the darkness, as we saw in the previous verse. Knowing what we are like, if there was no saving grace, we would run and hide.  It is only because we have come to realise the wonder of His love, working through the Cross, that we dare come to the One who is The Light, and allow his light to shine on us and reveal us for what we are.

Now when this happens something becomes clear: sinful men and women cannot be something ‘other’ unless it is a work of God, hence, “so that it may be plainly seen that what has been done has been done through God.” This is it, when we live in the truth and come to the light, others will see and know the truth – we are what we are because of God, because there is no other explanation. Which is why Jesus taught, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:16)

Truth and light go together which is why John was to write in his first letter, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 Jn 1:6,7) If we live by the truth and the light of Jesus shines on us, in us and through us, then that light will be one of the things that knit us together and enables us to fellowship together. In the absence of truth and light, real fellowship cannot happen.