John – Gospel


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Knowing where to begin in witnessing to a Jehovah’s Witness can be difficult because there are so many subjects where their teachings disagree with the Word of God. However, I recommend that at least initially you stick to the most imporant subject and keep the conversation from running down rabbit trails. The most important subject is the Deity or non-deity of Jesus Christ.

It is great if you know more, but you only need to remember two passages to have a meaningful conversation.

First, ask the Jehovah’s Witness to read John 1:1 outloud from their New World Translation. It will read, “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

Notice that instead of the correct translation “the Word was God”, their version says “a god.” Let it go for now.

Second ask the Jehovah’s Witness to read John 20:24-29 outloud from their New World Translation. The passage is the conversation between Jesus and Thomas after the resurrection of Jesus, verse 28 states, ” In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!”

Notice that in the New World Translation Thomas calls Jesus God with a capital “G”.

You can then ask the Jehovah’s Witness, “Is Jesus a god little g or the God big G?” In compassion for them I would say something like this, “God preserved part of His Word in the New World Translation so that any Jehovah’s Witness could read John 20 and agree with Thomas that Jesus is God and believing in Him have life in His name. Do you agree with Thomas that Jesus is God?”

I hope this post helps you in sharing the truth with the Jehovah’s Witnesses you meet. Memorize the two references, John, 1:1 and John 20:24-29. Now you can answer that door with confidence or have that conversation with that coworker or family member that you know you need to have. If I can be of further assistance please drop a comment.

Definition that will be helpful as you read:  Racism is racial prejudice with a heart full of malice.

One of the most important things that has happened in this election is the acknowledgement of the progress that has been made in the area of race.  Now this does not mean racism is no longer a problem.  I believe that many, many votes on both sides were cast with race being the primary consideration.  A multitude of times every day race still plays a factor in actions, attitudes, and words.  I wish it was something that would just completely be a non-issue, but because of humans’ sin nature, I do not believe it is something we collectively will get over until the return of Jesus.  However, we can give thanks as great progress has been made!

Though many are not racists everyone on our planet carries racial prejudice with them like an old, dirty, t-shirt that was meant to be thrown away a hundred times but still keeps getting worn – often hidden under a shirt that is nicer to look at.  It is important to understand in your own heart how much racial prejudice you have and what you are attempting to do about it.  One of the things I am most proud about my grandfather (a hard working southern dairy farmer now passed) is how he knew the culture he grew up in was wrong, he knew his own tendencies toward racial prejudice, and he allowed the Holy Spirit to work in his heart.

I’m sure all of us have experienced racial prejudice to one degree or another.  We usually take great note of the unfavorable kind, and normally don’t even realize the favorable kind is even occuring.  If I am on the basketball court and feel that I am not given a fair opportunity because I am white, I get ticked off.  When I get pulled over and a white cop gives me a warning, I rarely think, “I wonder if he only gave me a warning because I am white?  What if I was black?  Would I have gotten a ticket then?”  No, I just take a deep breath and go.

I think people often miss the element of anti-racism/anti-prejudice teaching as they read the Scriptures.  The Good Samaritan, the woman at the well, and the need to care for widows in Acts chapter six are all examples.  If you are aware of this when you read, I am confident you will find many other instances.  May we seek to do with away with any sin of racism and racial prejudice and seek to have the heart of God on the subject.  “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7b).  Do I even need to mention, “Love your neighbor as yourself?”  Racism and racial prejudice just are not compatible with being a follower of Jesus.

We should be very thankful for the work of William Wilberforce, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others who lined up with the heart of God on this issue. They all were sinners and had their shortcomings, but in this area they each had an important role to play.  Thank God they pressed on in the face of extreme odds and opposition.  May that be a lesson to us in this and in every area of social justice, to keep pressing forward.

A prayer:  “Dear Father in Heaven,  I thank you for your love for all the people groups.  I thank you that your Son Jesus died for each one.  Help me to see as you see and to have the heart that you have for all people.  Help me not to judge a man or a woman by the color of their skin, but rather to have discernment as to their relationship with You.  Whether the person needs the Gospel of Jesus, prayer, or love and fellowship, help me to see it that I may act and speak according to their need.  Lord please protect those who would be subject to racial violence today.  Lord please help your people to have the right heart and to love and to act in love.  In Jesus Name! Amen!”

Regardless of whether Obama or McCain wins tonight or whether you will be happy or shed tears after the election results, please keep a few things in mind if you are a follower of Jesus.

God’s people must let nothing keep us from the priorities that God has set before us – to proclaim the Good News about Jesus.  I am encouraged that so many followers of Jesus I know really love God and love people and strive to live what they believe.  Let us endeavor more to share the love of God!  Let us endeavor more to be generous with all that God has made us stewards over!  Let us endeavor more to help the most oppressed!  Let us endeavor more to be salt and light and hope in our very dark world!

1.  We have a responsibility to pray for our leaders (I Timothy 2:1-2).

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

The Scripture does not tell us to pray for them only if we like them.  Praying for our leaders to have wisdom, discernment, justice, peace, love, and truth is commanded for us to do.  

2.  Jesus is still the only true and eternal hope!  (Luke 4:18-19, John 14:6).

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, 
      because he has anointed me 
      to preach good news to the poor. 
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners 
      and recovery of sight for the blind, 
   to release the oppressed, 
    
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Words of Jesus)

 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

3.  We must endeavor to love, live, and share the Good News about Jesus, the payment for our sins (I Timothy 2:3-7).

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.”

4.  We have a responsibility to stand up for the oppressed.  (Isaiah 1:17)

“Learn to do right! 
Seek justice, 
encourage the oppressed. 
Defend the cause of the fatherless, 
plead the case of the widow.”

5.  Regardless of who our leaders are, God is still God, and our privilege is to look forward to the day when Jesus Christ will reign (Revelation 11:15).

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.'”

I am so looking forward to the day when there will be no more tears and no more pain.  In that day, we will no longer have to wonder whether our leaders know what they are doing, or if they have good or bad intentions, or if they are wise enough for the job.  Our King Jesus will reign and all will be as it should be – finally!  What a sweet and blessed hope we have in Jesus!


Many followers of Jesus are totally missing out on the enjoyment of the abundant life, and most all of us go through periods of time where we are not dialed in.  It is therefore good to look at a few Scriptures on the subject.  I recommend that you read Romans 8:1-11 and II Corinthians 5:14-21 before continuing.   www.biblegateway.com is a good place to read the Scriptures online.  For most of my postings I use the New King James Version.

“Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep'” (John 10:7-11). 

Let’s notice that Jesus is once again claiming that He is absolutely necessary for salvation.  See the post “Is Jesus the only way” for more on this subject.  The wonderful news is that Jesus desires to give us life and not just life, but a more abundant life.  Oh and don’t forget that life is also eternal life (John 3:16).

Romans 8 tells us that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Those who are believers in Jesus are free from the penalties of sin!  God has declared them to be innocent because of what Jesus has done.  It stands to reason that since God has not condemned us that we should not condemn ourselves.  This being said, Romans 8 continues to tell us that the flesh cannot please God. The reality is that only God the Father’s children can please the Father.  Those who refuse Him cannot please Him.  Those who are “in Christ” should walk in the Spirit we have been given knowing that in the Spirit we can and do please God.

II Corinthians 5 states that the followers of Jesus are “new creations”.  We are not defined by our past, but by our place of newness in Christ.  Because of this we can have confidence in God’s ability and desire to work in us and through us in the “ministry of reconciliation”.  

In summary verse 15 of the same chapter states, “and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  The abundant life is the life that is lived for Jesus.  If your definition of an abundant life is different than that you may seek, but you will not enjoy the abundant life.  Even now Jesus holds out the offer of the abundant life for those who do not know Him to by faith believe in Him.  And for those of us who are already His, Jesus desires that today we would fully participate in the abundant life, the life free of condemnation, the life that shares in the ministry of reconciliation with Him!  May God work in your heart according to your need.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment.  If you don’t want your comment to be seen by the world, just put the words “private comment” in your text.

June 23, 2008

The ABC evening news reported a survey released today by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The result of the survey is that 70 percent say that their religion/belief system is not the only way to heaven. Here is the breakdown of the percentage of people who believe there are multiple ways to heaven:

83% mainline Protestants
79% Catholics
82% Jews
56% Muslims
57% Evangelicals

These numbers are not surprising since inclusiveness is in vogue and a claim to exclusive truth is viewed as arrogant and hateful. In addition, there is the understandable desire for most everyone to be okay – that only those in the league of Hitler would be kept from eternal life.  The problem for those who claim to be followers of Jesus is that He doesn’t view it this way.  He emphatically states, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me!” (John 14:6).  When Jesus is stripped of these claims, the pseudo-believer ends up with a different Jesus and a different Gospel altogether.  

Is it arrogant and hateful to teach that Jesus is the only way to eternal life?  I do not believe so.  Let’s assume for one moment that Jesus is the only way.  If that is true, and if I teach that you are okay to believe whatever you want to, would that be loving?  No, the only loving thing to do would be to teach Jesus as the only way.  As for arrogance, the belief in Jesus is anything but arrogant because the believer must admit that he NEEDS Jesus because he is not good enough on his own.

A question worth asking is, “Why is Jesus the only way?”  The answer is because He is the only one who was sinless and by death could pay for the sins of others.  Sin is our serious disease and Jesus is the solution. In love He offers eternal and abundant life to you – even now. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17-18).

Do you believe in Jesus as He really is or are you swimming with the popular current?

After Jesus unexpectedly turns water to wine (see previous post), we find something even more unexpected.

It is the time of Passover. Jewish people from all over the Roman Empire would travel to Jerusalem for this time of celebration and worship. It was a celebration of how God brought them out of slavery in the land of Egypt and a reminder of potential future deliverance from oppressive rule. However, there were many in the temple system who had impure motives. They wanted to get rich off those coming to worship, so they charged ridiculous exchange rates and sold sacrifices.

In the next scene we find Jesus making a whip of chords. Now this is not what I expect Jesus to be doing. I would think that a strong talking to would come first as a warning. Many others though have this view of Jesus that He was a physically weak and mild person yet very smart and like-able. Truly He is wise, but He is also, dare I say, manly!

Now the Scripture do not state that He actually hit anyone with the whip…but it was at minimum intimidating as he cracked the whip and caused a stampede of animals. With great force He turned over the tables of the the merchants and money changers. No one was willing to physically stand up to Him.

So why did Jesus take such a bold stand?

1. To fulfill the prophecy found in Psalm 69:19, “for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.”
We should always be mindful of our motivations for service.
2. To be a wedge. The true Jesus is a wedge that divides people into one of two camps…those who sincerely want to worship God and those that have different motives.

3. To fight against religious hypocrisy. Jesus knows the damage caused by false religion…that’s why in John chapter 4 He states, Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

When I read the Gospels, I sometimes find myself surprised by what Jesus does or says in a particular situation. Jesus does what we don’t expect Him to do, and sometimes what we don’t want Him to do. Sometimes He makes us uncomfortable because He breaks the mold we have tried to force Him in. Let’s look at three of these instances.

The first unexpected event has to do with the first miracle Jesus does to begin His public ministry – turning water to wine. He has just called his first disciples (some of the twelve), and they along with Jesus’ mother Mary and His brothers went to a wedding in Cana.

We need to understand that weddings in the culture Jesus is in are very different than what we have in our U.S.A. culture today. On the wedding day, the bride would put on a wedding dress, jewelry and a veil. Her bridesmaids would be with her in her parents house. The groom with his friends and musicians would go to the bride’s house and receive her from her parents. The bride and groom, and all their family and friends would go back to the groom’s house for a wedding feast. That evening after the feast the bride and groom would be taken to their bedroom. The next day the festivities would resume and last for one to two weeks. The honeymoon is at the house and the whole community is invited for a huge party.

In this instance the wedding party has a big problem. The wine has run out.  Jesus’ mother comes to Jesus and tells him about the problem. Jesus is not quick to answer her request for help because He has not yet started His public ministry. Mary tells the servants at the party to do whatever Jesus asks them to do. Jesus tells them to fill up the 6 water pots (20-30 gallons each) with water. When they do Jesus tells them to take some of it to the master of ceremonies. The master of ceremonies receives the cup and an unexpected surprise. It is high quality wine. The M.C. pulls the groom aside and says, “Everybody sets out the fine wine first, then, after people are intoxicated, the inferior, but you have kept the fine wine until now!” (John 2:10).

To me it is unexpected that Jesus would make 120-180 gallons of fine wine for a party. If Jesus were to do that at a party today many of us would say, “Jesus please stop…you are going to enable all these people to sin by getting drunk.” A common arguement is that Jesus wouldn’t turn water to wine today and that no Christian should drink anything because of the culture of alcoholism we have. However, were there not people getting drunk at parties in Jesus’ day? Were the Romans who occupied Israel at the time T-Totallers? The M.C. in John chapter 2, history, and common sense has those answers.

At the same time there are others who will just as wrongly argue that since Jesus made all this water into wine it is okay to indulge yourself in it….that it is okay to get a little tipsy…that it is okay to get your buzz on…that it’s even okay to get a little drunk now and then. That’s just plain foolishness. Jesus doesn’t give us license for anything to excess…not food, drink, sleep, work, or play. Moderation is key.

So why did Jesus turn the water to wine?

  • to display His glory so His disciples would believe in Him (John 2:11).
  • to bring joy to life
  • to honor the request of His mother

Big Time Lessons:

1. The last words recorded of Jesus’ mother Mary, Do whatever He tells you,” should be listened to by all of us.

2. Note that Jesus asks the helpers at the wedding to fill up the water pots. He asks us to do what He has enabled us to do, and He takes care of the rest. There are many things in life that are beyond our abilities. We can simply ask for help in the Name of Jesus, yet there are many things that through His strength we can do.

Are you answering Jesus’ call and following Him?