Tag Archives: Faith

The Oneness of Jesus and His Father

John 14:10  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?

John 14:11  Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me;

John 14:20  In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

John 14:21  He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

Throughout the 14th chapter of John, we see Jesus continuously mentioning the Oneness between he and his Father.  This teaching starts in verse 8 when Philip says to him, “show us the Father” and Jesus responds with incredulity in verse 9, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Apparently, Jesus hasn’t yet taught his disciples in detail about He and the Father being One, otherwise Philip’s question would have been foolish.  However, we feel for Philip because we recognize that we have desired the same thing (to see the Father) and have asked the same question.  Therefore, knowing that Philip’s question is not a foolish one, we can understand that this is a new teaching from Jesus.  Although it was only hinted at before (such as John 10:30, 13:20,31-32), it is obvious that he had hoped that they would have fully grasped  it at this point.  This would not be the first or the last time that Jesus was disappointed in the knowledge and faith of his disciples (Matt 14:31, Matt 17:17, John 13:10, Luke 22:48, Luke 22:61-62).

So what is this teaching?  What does Jesus mean that he and His Father are one?  First, we must go back to John 1:1-3.  Here we learn that Jesus, who is the Word, was with God in the beginning and, in fact, is God.  He existed in the Beginning.  He was before anything had been created.  He was the Creator through whom all things have been made.  So in these verses, we read that Jesus was God.  Yet, though he is God, he is not the only person who is God for we read that he was with God in the Beginning (we usually don’t refer to ourselves as being with ourselves –“I’m with me”).  Though he was part of creating all things, it is through him, not simply by him.  In other words, there was Someone else who was creating and He created through the Word.  When we go back to Genesis, where we read about the Creation of all things, we read in Genesis 1:1-2 that the Spirit of God was also there.  Later on, during the creation of man, we read in Genesis 1:26-27 that God is a multi-person being as He speaks to Himself in the plural – he says “let us create man in our image”.   Both Genesis and John show us that there is more to God than a single person.  We see this in other places as well (for example, Jesus as the Angel of the LORD in Genesis 18, Exodus 3, Joshua 5:13-15, Judges 6:11, Judges 13).

Jesus, is the LORD , but yet the Father is the LORD.  The Holy Spirit is also the LORD  (Genesis 1:1-2, Acts 5:3-4).  So we see that, though God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4), He is also three.  He is three persons within one being.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit is One God.  It is here that we can start to understand what Jesus meant by saying that he and the Father are one.  We can see why in John 13:31-32, Jesus explains that the Glory of Jesus is the Glory of God.

We know that God is love (1 John 4:8).  The Christian God is the only God who can actually say this.  All other gods by definition cannot be love.  This is why: To be God, He must never change because change needs Time and Time only exists after God has created it as part of the physical universe.  Therefore, to be God and Love, He must love and exist prior to creation (Eternal – no beginning or end).   Jesus and the Father, with the Spirit, are eternal – they were together in the Beginning, before there was anything created (John 1:1-3).  As God, they chose to create all things for their own glory.  However, they did not need to create.  He could have existed forever without ever creating anything.  All other gods must create if they are Love, for there is no one to love except themselves until they create, and loving oneself of necessity is not love but is vain, narcissistic, egotistic and self-centered.  Hence all other gods cannot have been both Eternal and Love for there would be a time when they could not love.  However, the Christian God is the only God who could be Love from Eternity past.  For before anything was ever created and there was nothing but God, the Father loved the Son and the Spirit, the Son loved the Father and the Spirit and the Spirit loved the Father and the Son.  A Circle of Love.  Complete and full love existed in the God who is Love for Eternity.  It will continue to exist for Eternity.

This brings us to why the Oneness of the Father and the Son is so important to us.  Not only can we know that God is Love, but that same God has given us the opportunity to join Him.  John  14:20-23 shows us that God and Jesus are one. However, it also shows that by receiving Jesus, we are invited to become one with them.  This Lovefest  of God, which has been in existence for eternity, has been opened up for us to join in.  The Circle of Love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit has been opened up so that we are invited to come in and enter into that love.   How awesome is the Love of God!  How amazing is it that He would invite us to be a part of that.  Selah.  It is the psalmist’s way of saying “pause here – understand the greatness of what has just been said”.

The great Christians of days past have understood this.  Great Christians today understand it.  It is God’s will that we all understand this.  Christianity is not about what we do nor is it about who we are.  Christianity is about relationship – specifically, our relationship with the One True God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and their marvelous invitation to join them in their Circle of Love.  Once a Christian truly understands that though they are sinners, God’s Grace has welcomed them to come into His presence, has invited them into His Circle, they should be so overwhelmed by this thought that their hearts pound in their chest, they fall to their knees and they weep over the truth that is the Love of God.  It is out of this relationship with God that we will become what we are to be and will do what we are to do.  But first comes the relationship.

Let us be amazed at the awesome love of the One True God.  Then let us be overwhelmed that we are invited to become one with Him and to join in the Circle of Love that is the Christian God.  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our LORD!

John’s Jesus

Let’s read  John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

As you read this, understand that Jesus is the Word.  Let’s re-read the verse by replacing “the Word” with “Jesus”.

“In the beginning was Jesus and Jesus was with God and Jesus was God.” 

This leads us to two distinct conversations:  the first is the deity of Jesus and the second is his eternal existence, since he was with God in the beginning – before anything was made.

First – we are told that Jesus was God.  It is important that we understand this.  It is not that Jesus was a god – one of many gods.  To make it say this, you have to change the Greek language from which this was written.  Every Greek scholar that has translated the Bible properly has translated it to mean the same thing – that Jesus was God, not that Jesus was a god. See a comparison of Bible translations here: www.biblestudytools.com/john/1-1-compare.html.  The literal word-for-word translation would actually say “and God was the Word”.  There is only one God and there is no doubt that what was written was that Jesus was God.

Second – we are told that he was “In the beginning” – in other words, before anything was created, before anything else existed.  In the beginning, before anything, was Jesus.  The only One who existed before anything was created, before anything else existed, was God.  When we say that God is eternal, we are saying that He has always existed, that He has no beginning – that is the definition of “eternal”.  All things have a beginning, since God made all things.  Only God does not have a beginning, because only God is eternal.  As we think about these two things together, this should make sense to us.  Jesus was “In the beginning” because he was God.

Which brings us to John 1:3:

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Here we read exactly what we were just discussing – that all things were made in the universe through Jesus – nothing was made without him.  He is the Creator, along with the Father and the Spirit.  See Genesis 1:1-3 (BTW – Genesis means “the beginning”):

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

So we now see that God created all things, that Jesus was with God in the beginning and that the Holy Spirit was hovering over the face of the waters.  This is the Trinity.  There is only one God but we can see that the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all eternal, pre-existing, non-created persons who created all things.

It is Jesus and the Holy Spirit who the Father is speaking to in Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

So Jesus is the God who created the universe, spoke it into being.  He created the greatest star, trillions of light years away from us and the smallest grain of sand here on this earth.

John 1:4 tells us that it is Jesus who has created life.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

He is where life came from.  He is the one who brought the living to life.  It did not happen by accident – it was the work of the Word, Jesus.

So we see that Jesus is God, that he is eternal, that he is the Creator, that he is the giver of life.  Now we head down to John 1:14.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Here we read that Jesus was not only God but that the Word became flesh.  This is what we celebrate at Christmas:  That God came down to be born as a man.  Isaiah 7:14 says:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophetically told us that this would happen when he wrote that a virgin would give birth and would call his name “Immanuel”.  Immanuel means God with us.  This verse in John reveals the fulfillment of this prophecy in the Word made flesh.  God born in human form. Philippians 2:5-11 tells us more about this:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

So we can see that Jesus is fully God but also fully man.  Why did Jesus become man? This was necessary because sin came by the first Adam, therefore it needed to be removed by a second Adam.  In other words, since it was a man who brought sin into the world, it needed to be a man who would remove it.  However, how impossible is it for a man to do this, since every one falls short of the holiness and glory of God (Romans 3:23), since nobody’s perfect, since we all have sinned?  Therefore only God Himself could do this since He is the only one who is sinless and perfect.  Do you see what a conundrum this is – that only a man could remove sin but only God is able to do this?  Yet that is exactly who Jesus is – the only one who is able to remove sin because he is fully God and fully man.

“Why would God do this?”  Only because of the Grace of God towards man.  Grace means to receive something that we don’t deserve, that we didn’t earn.  Jesus becomes a man because God has Grace towards mankind.  Recognize that man was not the only one to fall, that angels fell as well.  The greatest angel to fall was Satan.  He was one of God’s brightest creation.  However, Satan chose to try to become like God and went against God.  He sinned by doing so and brought one-third of the angels with him.  These bad angels, whom we also call demons, work against God every day.  Yet, imagine – if after centuries of going against God, sinning against the Holy One, one of these demons decided that he changed his mind.  He realized how futile it was to go against God.  He understood how evil his actions were.  He repented and asked God for forgiveness.  Would he now go into Heaven?  Absolutely not.  God has created the Lake of Fire, what we call Hell, for Satan and his demons (Matt 25:41) and there is no escape for them.

This is right and proper.  If someone were to murder your loved one, it would be a wicked judge who said, ”You are guilty of murder, but I forgive you.  You do not have to go to prison.”  If a human judge knows that it is right to punish a murderer and send him to jail, how much more must God do so, who is the most righteous judge and by nature must do what is right?  You might say, “But I’ve never murdered” but God says in Matt 5:21-22:

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

The bad angels will go to hell because it is what they deserve and it is also what we deserve because we too want to be like God, to have control, to do our own will, to think that we are right and that He is wrong.  We too sin against the Holy One every day.  Yet, if we repent and ask God for forgiveness, God will forgive us.  Why?  How?  Because Jesus did not become fully God and fully angel.  Jesus became fully God and fully man.  Why?  Here, we turn to John 3:16.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Here we learn how God so loved the world that He gave His only son so that any who believe will not perish but have eternal life.  Let’s spend some time in this verse to break down the major points: 1-God so loved the world; 2-He gave His only begotten son; 3-All who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life.

We ask the question again – “Why would God forgive us and not the angels?”  Because that is how much He loves us.  He loves us more than we can think or imagine – it is beyond our understanding.  Some people, perhaps yourself, might die for someone who loves them, but who would die for someone who hates them?  More than that, who would give their only son for someone who hates them?  For that is who we were – people who hated God.  We proved it by neglecting His law, doing our own will, believing that we are right and He is wrong, turning our backs on Him and ignoring Him most of the day, even though He is watching over us every moment of every second of the day.  A child who did that to their parent would be a hateful child.  A worker who did that to their boss would be a hateful worker.  A person who did that to their God would be a hateful servant.  Yet this is the Love of God: He loves us so much that He would give His only begotten son to die so that we could be with Him forever.

Our second point is that Jesus is the son of God in a way that we are not.  Jesus is the same as the Father in the same way that a natural born child is the same as their parents – they have the same genes, the same eyes, the same laugh, etc.  They’re made of the same stuff, the same substance.  Sometimes, we like to say that we are all children of God.  Here we turn back to John 1:12.

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

Not everyone is a child of God.  Only those who receive him are given the right to become children of God.  What does it mean to receive Jesus?  The rest of verse 12 explains – those who believe in His Name.  This means that we need to believe the things that we’ve spoken about up to now – Jesus is the eternal, Creator God who gave life and who also was born as a man to take away the sins of the world.  Not everyone is a child of God.  Only those who believe in Jesus.

Let’s come back to John 3:16, and look at this third point.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Those who are His children, those who believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  We can have eternal life by believing in Jesus.  The other option is to perish.  To perish means to not have eternal life in Heaven but instead to live in Hell, in the place that was meant for Satan and His demons.  It is not the place that God created for men.  For men, He created Heaven and wants everyone to be there.  But He has given us a choice:  do we want to be with Him and give up our lives and our control and our will to Him and make Him God, Lord, Master?  Or do we want to continue to hold on to those things and keep trying to be god ourselves?  God gives us whichever we choose. If we choose to be with God, He will bring us into Heaven.  If we choose to be god ourselves, He keeps us away from Heaven, where He is, and allows us to go to the only other option – Hell.  We enter into heaven by receiving Jesus, believing all that we have just discussed about him.  We enter hell by rejecting all that we have discussed and continuing to try to enter heaven by our own efforts.

Think about what you’ve read.  Pray about it.  We urge you to give yourself over to Jesus, to allow Him to be your Lord.  If you do, let us know because we are praying for you.

Small Faith versus Great Faith

In the Bible, we read of people who had great faith and others who had small faith.  One example of someone with small faith is the Judge, Gideon (Judges 6-8).  When we first meet Gideon, he is hiding from the Midianites in his winepress.  The angel of the Lord (see side box) comes to Gideon and calls him a valiant warrior (Judges 6:12).  Gideon struggles with his faith:  he doesn’t trust God (Judges 6:13), he doesn’t see himself as a valiant warrior (Judges 6:15), he isn’t sure who this being is (Judges 6:17) and he isn’t sure he can trust him (Judges 6:37, 39). So Gideon asks God for a series of signs in an effort to strengthen his own faith.  God will use Gideon to do one of the great miracles in the Old Testament – the total destruction of the Midianite army of 135,000 men with an Israelite army of 300.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Did You Know..? Whenever we read of the Angel of the LORD in the Old Testament, it is probably a Christophany, which is a physical manifestation of Jesus before He was born (John 1:1-2)[/dropshadowbox]

There are those in the Christian community who will say that God can only use great faith.  They will say that God has not answered prayers because the petitioner did not have enough faith.  When people are sick or bad things happen to them, then they must not have great faith (or sometimes they will go all the way to “they did not have any faith”).  Is this Biblical?  Is this really what the Bible says?

We will start with the simple answer – no.

Jesus himself says that if we have small faith, we can do great things (Matt 17:20).  Peter, the one who would become the chief apostle, had small faith but yet he became the second person ever to walk on water (Matt 14:29).  Peter obviously didn’t have great faith, even Jesus says so (Matt 14:31), yet he was able to walk on the water.  Whether faith is great or small, God works great things through the faith of His people.

While we see people like Gideon and Peter, who had little faith but God worked great things through them, we also see that there are people with great faith who are able to do the same.  In the New Testament, two people are called out for their great faith by Jesus – a centurion (Matt 8:5-13) and a Canaanite mother (Matt 15:21-28).  In both cases, these people displayed their great faith, not so much by what they did but by what they said.  Too often, we expect people of great faith to be those who perform miracles, but God sees into the heart and in the case of faith, He can see who those with great faith are regardless of what they do or say.  The reality is, those with great faith will always display their great faith with their words or deeds and in these cases, they displayed their faith with their words.  Their faith is what brought the healing of the mother’s daughter and the centurion’s servant.  Jesus worked a miracle of healing and he does it through the great faith of these two people.

[dropshadowbox align=”left” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Of utmost importance – Peter was able to walk on the water but not because he was special or had any kind of special abilities. The only reason he is able to walk on the water is because God enabled him to do so. To give Peter credit for walking on the water would actually take away from God and to make Peter a sort of god himself. This is true for Abraham, Gideon and anyone else as well – we must ascribe to God what is God’s.[/dropshadowbox]

In the Old Testament, Abraham had great faith for something he didn’t do – sacrifice his son. God sees the great faith necessary for Abraham to believe that through his son Isaac, God has promised descendants as numerous as the stars in the heavens and the grains of sand on the shore, and yet he also believes that God will give this to him through Isaac, even should he be sacrificed (Hebrews 11:17-19).  He had no idea how that would happen, but he knew God would make it happen.  What great faith!  In fact, in the Hall of Faith – Hebrews 11 – we see people mentioned who had both great and small faith and yet God recognizes their faith.

So then, why do we need great faith?  If God can use someone like Gideon and Peter as well as he could use someone like Abraham, why do we today need to have great faith?  Isn’t small faith enough?

Small faith is enough!  God does not use great faith differently than He uses small faith.  Those with little faith can be used greatly of Him.  However, though small faith is enough, it is not ideal.  It is not what God necessarily desires.  God has placed each of us here on Earth to glorify Him.  Though we can bring some amount of glory to Him with small faith, we can bring greater glory to Him with great faith.  Peter was able to do a great feat with a little faith, yet Jesus obviously desired him to have more (Matt 14:31).

Anyone who has gone to any church will have experienced a time when donations were requested for a mission or ministry.  “Joe and Jane are going to do a great work in a needy place.  They need our help to do God’s work.  Let’s give whatever the Spirit calls us to give to enable His work to be done through Joe and Jane.”  Through the help of churches throughout the world, over the past 2000 years, missionaries have been able to go out and help those in need, physically and spiritually.  This is good.

Back in the late 1800’s, a pastor named George Mueller heard God’s call to build an orphanage to house the orphans of London.  Over many years, Mueller was able to pay for the food, housing and education of the thousands of orphans that came into his care.  What sets Mueller apart from most other missionaries is that he did not once ask for donations.  His story is a remarkable story of how God provided for him and those in his care, in many cases miraculously, without his once depending on others.  His dependence was on God.  Mueller and those with him would pray for their needs and that would be the only request they would make.  God would then bring people into their lives to supply those needs.  Mueller’s life was a tremendous witness to the power and care of God.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]A sad commentary of Christianity today is our lack of knowledge regarding the great men and women of the faith who have come before us. People like George Mueller, Andrew Bonar, Robert Murray McCheyne and Hudson Taylor are all foreign to us. Throughout the history of Christianity, faithful followers have used people like them to strengthen their faith and use as role models. We would be wise to do the same.[/dropshadowbox]

So now , let’s answer the question: If God can use small faith as well as great faith, why does God desire great faith?   First, we see that though we can do great things with a little faith, great faith will overcome fear and doubt.  Peter fell into the water because he began to fear and doubt.  He had little faith and God could use that to enable him to walk on water and glorify Himself.  How much greater would it have been if he had no fear or doubt and was able to not only walk but dance and run on the water?  Though we recognize the great work of missionaries across the world, the fearlessness of Mueller to care for thousands of homeless children without any resources except those provided by God has brought great glory to God over the past 120 years.

In addition to removing fear and doubt, great faith will enable us to go longer and further than small faith. Gideon’s story ends in disaster as we see how far he ends up from the will of God (Judges 8:24-32).  Gideon’s small faith was used of God for great things, but it also did not allow him to finish strong.  Peter would have been able to continue if he had great faith.  Though he was able to walk for a while, how much more glory would it have been if he had been able to walk to the shore?  Many missionaries are able to go into the mission field for a short time.  Either they run out of money or they burn out doing the work.  Mueller was able to go longer and further even though he had no resources of his own.  Interestingly, Mueller tells us that each time God provided for them, it caused him to have even more faith in what God was able to do.  This seemingly endless loop of growing greater faith and watching God do more, enabled this spiritual engine to power his faith through his entire life.

A third and final reason we desire greater faith is because great faith will bring greater glory to God, which is what we were made to do.  Jesus desired Peter to have greater faith because he knew that throughout the Church Age, teachers and preachers would talk about how important faith is by using Peter’s small faith of getting out of the boat and walking on water as an example.  However, he also knew how much greater glory would have been given to God had Peter not feared, doubted and walked such a short distance.  On the other hand, the glory brought to God through the faith of George Mueller has been greater than most missionaries in the history of the Church.

Greater faith brings greater glory to God.  This is what God made us for.  If we want to excel at our core purpose, we must build up our faith so that we can do it to our utmost.  The best way to build up faith is to use it and stretch it past its comfort level.  Like a muscle which is seldom used, seldom used faith will result in weakness.  However, like a muscle which is continuously trained and stretched, faith which is continuously used and stretched will become stronger and bigger.  Every one of us can build our faith beginning right now.  Promise God that you will do one thing of faith today.  Then go out and do that one thing.  You will be afraid and you will have many good reasons not to do it, but if we want to grow from small faith to great faith and bring the greatest glory to God, we must overcome those excuses and trust that God will provide whatever we need to accomplish His work for His glory.