Would you think there would be much similarity between now and over 2000 years ago? Would you think there would be the same conversations taking place today as there was over 2000 years ago? Would you think that the challenges and the battles would still be the same now and over 2000 years ago?
Consider what Solomon says…
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
–from Ecclesiastes 1
How much do people remember from the past? How much do people study the past? How much do people learn from the past? How much of the past continues to be repeated? How many struggles are reoccuring? How many of the challenges are being re-lived? Over the centuries there is so much that can be learned! Over the centuries there are so many learnings to be considered! Over the centuries why do people still have the same struggles and the same arguments and the same disagreements?
Why does the name of Jesus trigger such resistance today as it did in the first century? Why does the name of Jesus trigger such angst today as it did in the first century? Why does the fact of who Jesus is generate the same arguments and the same disagreements and the same resistance as it did in the first century?
We read how Jesus is the rock on which the church is built! We read how Jesus is the cornerstone and how we can stay aligned! We read how Jesus causes some to stumble and others to fall out of disbelief!
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
–from 1 Peter 2
The battle in the first century is the same battle we are facing today…
Sharing Jesus with the world around us! Helping them to understand who He is! Helping them understand what He has done! Helping them to understand what He is doing! Helping them understand what is yet to come! Helping them understand their part in it all!
Will you help people realize there is a God? Will you help people realize that they need him?
We’ve all missed the mark and we all need a savior! We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!
No One Is Righteous
9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Righteousness Through Faith
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousnessis given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
–from Romans 3
What will it take for people to go beyond believing there is a god to believing in God? What will it take for people to go from believing there is a god to believing in the one true God? What will it take for people to receive Jesus into their hearts and start the relationship of a lifetime with Him?
1. There is no one like Jesus … Psalm 53:1-6
2. Jesus is the one and only … John 1:1-28
The whole of John’s Gospel from start to finish is an answer to the question, ‘Who is Jesus?’ John’s answer is that God is like Jesus and he is worth believing in. Jesus is totally unique. He is the ‘One and Only’ (vv.14,18). He is the ‘one-of-a-kind God-expression’ (v.18, MSG). The purpose of John’s Gospel is to lead you into an experience of communion with God through friendship with Jesus.
You are a friend of Jesus. But who is Jesus?
- Unique Word of God
John’s Gospel opens with a brilliant description of Jesus as ‘the Word’. To us this seems like a strange concept, but to John’s original readers it would have been much more familiar. The idea of the ‘word of God’ would have been important to Jewish readers. They would have remembered the words of God in creation (Genesis 1), and all that the prophets had to say about the ‘word of the Lord’ (for instance Isaiah 40:6–8 and Jeremiah 23:29).
For Greek readers the idea of ‘the Word’ would have been associated with the search for the meaning of life. Philosophers often used ‘the Word’ as a shorthand way of referring to the unknowable meaning and purpose behind the universe.
John’s opening words would have been electrifying to both groups. He was in effect saying, ‘I am going to tell you about what you’ve been searching for all this time.’
It is absolutely clear that ‘the Word’ that John is writing about is Jesus: ‘The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood’ (John 1:14a, MSG). Jesus was not only with God at the very beginning: ‘The Word was God’ (v.1, MSG). Jesus was and is God.
- Unique Creator of all
‘Everything was created through him; nothing – not one thing! – came into being without him’ (v.3, MSG).
It is through Jesus that the entire universe came into being. ‘For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him’ (Colossians 1:16).
- Unique light of the world
‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all the people. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it’ (John 1:4).
Light is a synonym of goodness and truth. Darkness is a synonym of evil and falsehood. Light and darkness are opposite, but not equal. A little candle can light a whole room full of darkness and will not be dimmed by it. Light is stronger than darkness; darkness cannot prevail against light.
- Unique transformer of lives
‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God’ (vv.12–13).
Belief in Jesus brings about the biggest and most significant transformation possible. As you receive Jesus into your own life, so God receives you into his own family.
- Unique revelation of God
‘No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known’ (v.18).
Everything in the Old Testament was leading up to God’s supreme revelation in Jesus. ‘We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, this endless knowing and understanding – all this came through Jesus the Messiah’ (vv.16–17, MSG). This is why everything we read about in the Old Testament needs to be understood in light of Jesus.
Jesus is contrasted with John the Baptist. The emphasis is on what John the Baptist is not. He is not ‘the light’ (v.8). He is not eternal (v.15). He is not the Christ (v.20). He is not Elijah (v.21). He is not the Prophet (v.21).
Although Jesus says of John, ‘There has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist’ (Matthew 11:11), John the Baptist says of Jesus, ‘He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie’ (John 1:27). John the Baptist’s task, like us all, is to point away from ourselves and to the one and only Jesus, the unique Word of God, creator of all, light of the world, transformer of lives and revealer of God.
–from Day 119: Bible In One Year 2017
3. Jesus is the unique saviour … Joshua 15:1-16:10
Joshua and Caleb were the only two of the original group to enter the promised land because they were the only ones who obeyed God and followed him wholeheartedly. (Joshua’s name means ‘Yah Saves’, or ‘The Lord Saves’. ‘Joshua’ is the Hebrew form of ‘Jesus’.) Joshua foreshadows Jesus. Joshua and Caleb were exceptional but, unlike Jesus, they were not unique.
Hebron, a portion of land in Judah, was given to Caleb by Joshua (15:13) but he still had to go in and take it (v.14). Similarly, salvation, the greatest blessing of all, comes to us by grace as a gift, yet we still have to receive it and take hold of it for ourselves by faith. ‘Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ (John 1:17) – it is a gift given to us.
All the way through the Bible, God is looking for your response. He is looking for you to ‘seek God’ (Psalm 53:2) and ‘call on God’ (v.4). You have to take hold of the gift given to you and believe in Jesus. When you do, you are given the right to become a child of God (John 1:12).
Jesus is the unique saviour. There is nothing more wonderful than taking hold of salvation through faith in him and becoming a friend of Jesus.
–from Day 119: Bible In One Year 2017