5/25/10

John 1:16-17 - Truth Through Christ

John 1:14b & 16-17 – Truth Through Christ

John 1:14, 16-17 (ESV) — 14b…glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

In our text, John has thus far told us that grace and truth were through the Word.
• Last week we talked about how grace came through Christ and what grace was.
• Today we will tackle truth – how it came through Christ and what it is.

1) HOW TRUTH CAME THROUGH CHRIST

In the context of verse 14, as with grace, truth came through Christ through the incarnation – “Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.
• We discovered last week, with the story of Zacchaeus, how exactly grace came through Jesus.
• Today we will also look to Scripture to see exactly how and what truth came through Jesus.

What Scripture Says:
• Psalm 78:2–3 (ESV) — 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.
• John 17:8 (ESV) — 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
• John 8:31–32 (ESV) — 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
• John 17:17–19 (ESV) — 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

The truth came from the spoken word of Jesus Christ!
• This fact gives further insight into why John called Jesus the “Word was God”.
• Jesus was, in every conceivable way, the “Word” of God who spoke the word of God.

As in the past few lessons, we again see (and will see) the intimacy and “hands-on” or “word-on” interaction Jesus had with His creation.

But what was the truth that came through Christ?

2) WHAT TRUTH CAME THROUGH CHRIST?

Christ said that He came to “bear witness to the truth”.
• He said that all those who are “of the truth” listen to His voice.
• And to these statements Pilate asked the same question we ask, “What is truth?”

John 18:37–38 (ESV) — 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.”

So we ask the same question as Pilate, but to answer it we need to know something to narrow our search.
• What category of truth does John refer to as coming through Christ?
• What category of truth is John meaning to reveal that Jesus bears witness to?
• Does he mean to say that Jesus bears witness to philosophical truth, doctrinal truth, spiritual truth, moral truth, the law of gravity, the law of thermodynamics, quantum physics, DNA translation and transcription, photosynthesis, the irreducible complexity of blood clotting, etc.?
• Surely anything that is true is upheld and sustained by Christ, but John and Jesus seem to be more narrowly focused in their treatment of the truth.

The category of truth:
Jesus helps us narrow our search down.
• John 1:17 (ESV) — 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
  o This truth is revealed through the incarnation as Christ’s spoken words (as we saw earlier).
• John 5:32–34 (ESV) — 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.
  o John the Baptist bore witness that Jesus is the one who bears witness to this truth
  o This truth saves
• John 8:32 (ESV) — 32 “…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
  o This truth sets free
• John 8:40 (ESV) — 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.
  o This truth was given to Christ by the Father
• John 14:6 (ESV) — 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
  o Acceptance of this truth is gives access to the Father
  o Denial of this truth precludes one from entering the presence of the Father
• John 17:8 (ESV) — 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
  o From this truth, it follows that Jesus is God
  o From this truth, it follows that Jesus was sent by the Father
• John 18:37 (ESV) — 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
  o This truth is discriminatory, only those of the truth can truly “hear” it
• Luke 4:18-20 (ESV) — 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
  o This truth is a fulfillment of prophecy
  o This truth entails the state of humanity before God

We can see then, in the below summary, that the truth we are dealing with is:
• Revealed through incarnation
• Attested to by John the Baptist
• It saves – It sets free
• Given to Jesus by the Father – Gives access to the Father
• Reveals that Jesus is God – Reveals that Jesus was sent by the Father
• It is discriminatory – not everyone can “hear” it
• It is a fulfillment of prophecy
• It concerns the state of humanity

So from these observations, I think we can safely say that we are dealing primarily with a category of truth that deals with the spiritual and moral standing of man before God as spoken of AND as remedied by God incarnate, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

POI – This is NOT to say, by any means, that other categories of truth are not addressed by Jesus and/or the rest of the New Testament writers.
• If Scripture does not bear witness directly to these categories of truth mentioned earlier (and all other truth for that matter) we can be assured that, at the very least, these categories of truth proclaim and bear witness to the majesty of the Creator who made them possible and sustains them.

Now that we narrowed our focus down to essentially the moral/spiritual realm of truth, we can isolate in detail what truth John probably had in mind that came through Jesus.

To help us, we need to know what the Greek word “truth” used in our text means:
• The TDNT states that alḗtheia, the Greek word for truth in our text, can denote “the real state of affairs” that is “seen” or “expressed” or “disclosed” as opposed to “concealed” or “falsified”.
• R.C. Sproul says it like this; “Truth is that which corresponds to reality as perceived by God”.

We can now frame our question in a way that helps us determine what truth came through Jesus.
So what exactly was the “real state of affairs” that Jesus the Messiah revealed concerning Himself and mans’ standing before God?
Or, put another way, what was the “reality as perceived by God” that Christ bore witness to pertaining to spiritual/moral truth?

In studying and researching these questions in John’s Gospel, it appears that John seemed to focus on essentially 3 aspects of truth that Christ bore witness to with His spoken word.
• It could be argued, then, that it was the following that John had in mind when speaking of the truth that came through Christ.

The Word spoke the word of truth revealing the “real state of affairs” concerning:
• BTW - Notice how often the truth is associated with Jesus’ speaking (the through the incarnation part)!

TRUTH 1 – SALVATION – Without belief in the words of the Word there is no salvation but damnation.
• John 11:25–26 (ESV) — 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
• John 3:3 (ESV) — 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
• John 5:28–29 (ESV) — 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
• John 6:40 (ESV) — 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
• John 7:37–38 (ESV) — 37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
• John 8:23–24 (ESV) — 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”
• John 14:6 (ESV) — 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

TRUTH 2 – AUTHORITY – Jesus is of the Father, has authority from the Father, was sent by the Father and to reject Jesus is to reject the Father.
• John 5:26–27 (ESV) — 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
• John 6:57–58 (ESV) — 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.
• John 7:16–17 (ESV) — 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
• John 7:28–29 (ESV) — 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.”
• John 8:28 (ESV) — 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.
• John 10:37–38 (ESV) — 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
• John 12:44–45 (ESV) — 44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.
• John 12:49 (ESV) — 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
• John 16:27–28 (ESV) — 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

TRUTH 3 – HEARING/OBEY – If you are of me you will “hear” me; if you are not of me you will not “hear” me. Those who don’t “hear” me are of the devil and will be judged for not “hearing” me.
• John 8:43–44 (ESV) — 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him…
• John 8:45–47 (ESV) — 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
• John 6:35–37 (ESV) — 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
• John 6:43–45 (ESV) — 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.
• John 6:63–65 (ESV) — 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
• John 8:37–38 (ESV) — 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
• John 10:25–27 (ESV) — 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
• John 12:47–48 (ESV) — 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
• John 15:22–24 (ESV) — 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
• John 9:39 (ESV) — 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

BTW – What does Jesus mean when he says “hear”?

POI - Jesus withheld from those that did not “hear” His word and shared all with those that “heard”.
• John 15:15 (ESV) — 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
• Mark 4:11–12 (ESV) — 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
  o Mark 4:12 is from Isaiah 6:9-10, about which J.E. Smith says, “How long must he continue to preach a message which would cause his people to entrench themselves ever deeper in sin?”
  o And John MacArthur says, “[The] Lord speaking in parables is a judgment to the non-believers who are fixed in their rejection”.
  o William Kaiser says Jesus had, “the same (retributive) purpose behind the call of Isaiah: to harden the hearers in their unbelief”.
• So when Christ spoke to those who did not “hear” he entrenched them deeper in their sin!

POI – It seems that those that believe “hear” something different than those that don’t believe when confronted with the words of the Gospel.
• The one who believes is the one “who has hears to hear”.
• Why is that? Is it something in their will or is it the “grace that empowers our choosing”?


Summary:
John seemed to have some specific things in mind we discussing the truth that came through Jesus.
It seems clear that the category of truth mostly at issue was spiritual/moral truth.
And the truth spoken by the Word of God was:
1. Without belief in the words of the Word there is no salvation but damnation.
2. Jesus is of the Father, has authority from the Father, was sent by the Father and to reject Jesus is to reject the Father.
3. If you are of me you will “hear” me; if you are not of me you will not “hear” me. Those who don’t “hear” me are of the devil and will be judged for not “hearing” me.

Do you believe…can you hear the words of the Word?
Does the truth Christ speaks penetrate your heart & mind or dull your heart & mind?
The answers to these questions have eternal significance!