Is God calling you? God’s call will go to the core of who you are and what you do.
‘I have called him… and he will succeed in his mission.’ Isaiah 48:15 NIV
God told Jeremiah, ‘Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.’ (Jeremiah 1:5 NCV)
When God decides to use you, five things happen:
First, there is a call. God asks common people to do uncommon things, like Peter getting out of a boat and walking on water.
Second, there is fear. When God called Moses to stand before Pharaoh, he basically said, ‘I’m not a good enough speaker; use somebody else.’
Third, there is reassurance. The thought of filling Moses’ shoes must have shaken Joshua to the core, so God told him, ‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.’ (Joshua 1:5 NKJV)
Fourth, there is a decision. Sometimes we say ‘yes’ to God and sometimes we say ‘no’. When we say ‘yes’ we live with joy; when we say ‘no’ we forfeit that joy. But there’s always a decision.
Fifth, there is a changed life. Those who say ‘yes’ to God’s call don’t walk perfectly, not by a long shot. But because they say ‘yes’, they learn and grow even from their failures. Indeed, their failures often become part of their ability to minister to others. And those who say ‘no’ to God are changed too; they become a little harder, a little more resistant to His calling, and a little more likely to say ‘no’ next time.
In the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Jesus’ command to "follow me" appears repeatedly (e.g., Matthew 8:22; 9:9, Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27; John 1:43). In many cases, Jesus was calling the twelve men who would become His disciples (Matthew 10:3–4). But other times, He was speaking to anyone who wanted what He had to offer (John 3:16; Mark 8:34).
In Matthew 10:34–39, Jesus stated clearly what it means to follow Him. He said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."
Jesus’ bringing a “sword” and turning family members against each other can seem a little harsh after words like "whosoever believes on Him shall not perish" (John 3:16). But Jesus never softened the truth, and the truth is that following Him leads to difficult choices. Sometimes turning back may seem very appealing. When Jesus’ teaching went from the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3–11) to the coming cross, many who had followed him turned away (John 6:66). Even the disciples decided that following Jesus was too difficult the night He was arrested. Every one of them deserted Him (Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50). On that night, following Christ meant possible arrest and execution. Rather than risk his own life, Peter denied that he even knew Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69–75).
To truly follow Christ means He has become everything to us. Everyone follows something: friends, popular culture, family, selfish desires, or God. We can only follow one thing at a time (Matthew 6:24). God states we are to have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7; Mark 12:30). To truly follow Christ means we do not follow anything else. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." There is no such thing as a "halfway disciple." As the disciples demonstrated, no one can follow Christ by the strength of his own willpower. The Pharisees were good examples of those who were trying to obey God in their own strength. Their self-effort led only to arrogance and distortion of the whole purpose of God’s Law (Luke 11:39; Matthew 23:24).
Jesus gave His disciples the secret to faithfully following Him, but they did not recognize it at the time. He said, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing" (John 6:63). And "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them” (verse 65). The disciples had walked with Jesus for three years, learning, observing, and participating in His miracles. Yet, even they could not follow Him faithfully in their own strength. They needed a Helper.
Jesus promised many times that, once He had ascended to the Father, He would send a "Helper" to them—the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26). In fact, He told them that it was for their good that He was going away so that the Holy Spirit could come (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit indwells the heart of every believer (Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:16; Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20). Jesus warned His followers that they were not to begin testifying of Him "until you have been clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4). When the Holy Spirit came upon those first believers at Pentecost, they suddenly had all the power they needed to follow Christ, even to the death, if needed (Acts 2:1–4; 4:31; 7:59-60).
Following Jesus means striving to be like Him. He always obeyed His Father, so that’s what we strive to do (John 8:29; 15:10). To truly follow Christ means to make Him the Boss. That’s what it means to make Jesus Lord of our lives (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 4:5). Every decision and dream is filtered through His Word with the goal of glorifying Him in everything (1 Corinthians 10:31). We are not saved by the things we do for Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9) but by what He has done for us. Because of His grace, we want to please Him in everything. All this is accomplished as we allow the Holy Spirit to have complete control of every area of our lives (Ephesians 5:18). He explains the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:14), empowers us with spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11), comforts us (John 14:16), and guides us (John 14:26). To follow Christ means we apply the truths we learn from His Word and live as if Jesus walked beside us in person.
God is asking for your participation; will you answer him?
"LORD, SEND SOMEONE ELSE.” EVER SAID THAT?
Do you have a favorite person from the Bible? (Besides Jesus, of course!) Moses is a personal favorite of mine. I find him very relatable. Not the plague thing or the Red Sea thing. It’s that scene at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-3), but a very specific part of it. Exodus 4:13 was actually one of my ‘life verses’; “But Moses pleaded again, ‘Lord, please! Send someone else.’” It was right up there with, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13) as long as he doesn’t ask me to do anything. It’s easy to have faith in God and trust him when we’re sitting on the couch binging Netflix. And the truth is, that’s where I related most strongly with Moses, telling God no. Well, more like dragging my feet and whining a lot, hoping that God will eventually get the message and just give up on me and change his mind.
I’m wondering if the idea of God as Father comes from us acting like children so much of the time:
What exactly was it that Moses was so dead-set against doing, and why?
God had gotten Moses’ attention with the burning bush and was now speaking with him. Let’s look at what God was asking.
‘Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. 9 Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. 10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt”’ (Exodus 3:7-10, NLT).
The first thing we notice is that there is a lot about what God has done and will do, and very little with regard to Moses.
Moses was to go and lead. God is going to deliver his people and he wants Moses to lead them when it happens. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? So begins one of my favorite conversations in all of Scripture.
"But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11).
Moses knew who he was. He had spent the last 40 years defining himself. He had tried to deliver his people 40 years ago, and that ended in murder and his being rejected by his people. This event is what drove him into the wilderness in the first place. He was an exiled murderer and he knew God was talking to the wrong guy.
But God tells Moses exactly who he is; or does he?
God answered, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12a).
Look at what God is saying here:
But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13).
Now Moses is talking to God. “Oh yeah? Well who are you?”
Moses had been waiting for 40 years, but the Hebrews hadn’t heard from God in over 400. To them, he was literally the God of their ancestors; a people long dead and gone. They knew the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but did it mean anything to them? Was God relevant to them now? And that was all just a few hundred years earlier.
What expectations are we to have of God when we look back 2,000 years to the time when he walked the earth with the disciples? We hear stories of miracles and great moves of God from the past, but is that the same God who’s calling us now?
Is God still relevant today?
‘God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.
This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations”’ (Exodus 3:14-15).
Here, God drops the mic with this phrase, I AM WHO I AM. This is a verb, not a proper noun. It carries with it the idea of identification through action. It also transcends time and has been translation by some scholars as I will be who I will be. God is declaring himself the ever existing one; who I WAS then, is who I AM now, and who I WILL BE in the future.
This is not the name that others call God; the descriptors of his character, but what God calls himself. This is the name only God is holy enough to utter. And—just like those who saw the opening of the ark in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark—Moses’ ears should have exploded on the hearing of it and his face melted off his head.
This is God’s name yesterday, today, and forever.
Then God goes on for another seven verses, finishing out the chapter as if this should have settled everything with Moses: you’ll say this to the people and they’ll say ok, then you’ll tell Pharoah the plan, but I know he’ll say no, so then I’ll flex and he’ll finally say yes and then you’ll do this… And it should have settled it.
But Moses was too broken to fully accept that. He was still too caught up in himself to accept the power and importance of God’s presence in his life. He knew God was wrong about him.
‘But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?”’ (Exodus 4:1).
This goes back to identity, but not what we think of ourselves. Rather it’s what we think others think about us. We prejudge ourselves before others have a chance to. And doesn’t that all begin with the idea that I’m nobody that God would ever use? This false humility is the most evil form of pride because it says right to God’s face, “You’re wrong about me. I’m not the one you’re looking for. You’ve made a mistake.”
When we don’t answer God’s call, we’re saying we know better than he does.
Then God answers Moses’ concerns with three miraculous signs. God recognizes the game Moses is playing and pulls out the stops. First there’s this thing with the staff turning into a snake. Then there’s Moses’ hand turning leprous and being restored. And just to make sure there’s no longer any confusion who is God in this situation, God turns water from the Nile into blood (Exodus 4:2-9). Personally, I think this would have made me more nervous.
‘But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”’ (Exodus 4:10).
This verse is often said to have the meaning that Moses had a stutter. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think it might have had more to do with Moses being an introvert and having spent the last 40 years in the middle of nowhere, with no one but sheep to talk to. I won’t go into why I think Moses was an introvert, but we don’t know exactly what he’s referring to here. What we do know is that Moses lacked confidence in his ability to do what God was calling him to do. Again, he’s questioning God’s judgement. But I don’t really think Moses was intentionally calling God out. I think he was afraid and disparately clawing at any excuse that might get him out of God’s plan. I think he had become so comfortable with his sheep and the situation he ended up in, that he didn’t want to leave. He may have thought he had little time left in this world, so why start some new project? His time to make a difference had passed.
‘Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say”’ (Exodus 4:11-12).
I nearly weep at the graciousness behind this verse every time I read it. God is saying, I made you the way you are. I know it’s not easy. Nothing of any worth ever is. Now let’s go. I’m right here with you and I won’t leave you alone. Take my hand, we’ll do this together. I’ll teach you everything you need to know.
Does this sound familiar? Come to me; take my yoke; learn from me; I will be with you always (Matthew 11:28-30).
God is calling all of us. How will you answer the call? How did Moses?
‘But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else”’ (Exodus 4:13).
Moses finally resorts to honesty. He didn’t want to do it. Moses was simply afraid. And I think it was this honesty that God had been waiting for.
Then the Lord became angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. 15 Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. 16 Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. 17 And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you” (Exodus 4:14-17).
A lot of the commentaries speak of this passage as a rebuke, that God is so angry that he’s punishing Moses by making him share the spotlight with his brother. Honestly, until I started preparing for this, I saw it the same way. It’s a great motivator, “Do what God calls you to do or he’ll get mad and punish you.” Personally, I’ve grown tired of being scared into following God.
The New American Standard Bible is a more literal, word for word translation and puts it this way, “Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses.” Looking at this more literal sentence structure and the original language, it could also be understood to say, “The face or breath (the countenance) of the LORD enflamed or blazed up.” I think this paints a vivid dual picture of God’s anger and the burning bush.
Remember the burning bush? I can imagine the gentle warming flames flashing into a raging inferno in response to Moses’ declaration, the scorching heat pushing him back in startled terror. God had gotten Moses’ attention. He was letting Moses know that he’s not going to win this argument. Moses was getting too comfortable standing there talking to smoldering shrubbery. It was time for Moses to feel the heat. Those previous signs were just that; God manipulating the world. This was an experience of the raw power of God.
What does Jesus tell us again? I will give you rest for I am gentle and humble in heart (Matthew 11:29). Remember I AM, the same yesterday, today, and forever. And look at what follows. God, again, goes out of his way to accommodate Moses. Oh look, there’s your brother who’s “just happening” to be coming this way, and what do you know, he’s a great speaker. What luck! And it says Aaron was already coming to see Moses, before this whole thing started.
God is not going to call you to do something without providing you with everything you need to accomplish his work. You may not get everything you want. And it may not be easy. But I can tell you from experience, well, a little experience, that it’s a blessing beyond description.
ANSWERING THE CALL
How do you know you’ve been called? Right there in the second half of Exodus 3:12, “And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”
The fact that you’re here today is the sign that you have been called. God has called you for something; that’s why you’re here.
What is it that God is calling you to do? What have you been trying to avoid? What Excuses have you been making? It’s nothing God hasn’t already heard. Or maybe you’re right where God wants you, doing what he has for you to do, but you’re stressed and burned out because you’re relying too much on your own ability.
What might you need to let go of? Or maybe you’re doing God’s will and are constantly blessed and joyful. In that case, you really need to be up here sharing with us your secret.
What does answering the call look like? I can show you one example of what answering the call looks like. It looks like me following through on God’s call for me to share this message with you.
What will it look like for you? I have no idea. Maybe it’s to go to another country with the Gospel. Or maybe just next door. Maybe it’s going to the homeless on the street, or maybe a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while. Maybe God’s given you a testimony and he wants you sharing it, or maybe he’s leading you to serve in some other way. What God has called you to do is between you and God and whoever he might have called you to.
What is God saying now? I have come down to this earth, I have seen through your eyes, I have heard through your ears, I have experienced your suffering. I came to rescue you from the power of sin in your lives and lead you into a new kingdom flowing with mercy and grace.
Now go! God is sending you out into the world to lead people to him. I want to leave you today the way Moses left the people of Israel he had been leading for 40 years. Passing the mantle of leadership to Joshua, Moses—the man who was afraid to talk to Pharoah—stands before hundreds of thousands of Hebrews and declares, “be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid. The Lord will prepare the way and be with you”
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
God is calling you, but it’s up to you to respond.
In 1 Timothy 2:4 it says: “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God has an incredible plan, and He wants to use you! He wants to save you from a life of sin and unhappiness, to a life of true peace and joy. He wants to prepare you for eternity. He wants to use your life to glorify His name. God is calling you. He loves you and wants to help you!
So how does God call you? Maybe you meet someone whose godly life challenges you, or you read or hear something that creates a longing for something more. Maybe you try to live a good life and react in a good way, but always fall short, and you feel empty deep down inside. This is God calling you. He is drawing you, but it’s up to you to respond.
In Hebrews 1:1-2 it says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” God sent His Son Jesus to earth as a human being, where He experienced the same temptations and trials we do, but never gave in to sin. In this way He left us an example to follow.
Now He is inviting you to let Him into your life, to guide, strengthen and help you live the same overcoming life. “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20.
This call of love is like a powerful magnet, always pulling in one direction; to turn completely from everything that is bad, corrupt, evil and self-seeking (sin) towards God’s Son Jesus Christ, to follow His example and come to a life of righteousness, peace and joy. But the choice is always yours, because God has given you a free will.
Opening your heart to Jesus is making a decision to stop living for yourself completely, and giving Him full control, as your Lord and Savior. It is a totally life-changing decision. You don’t have to carry on sinning, losing your temper, being irritable, being offended. Jesus came to save you, and make a way out of all these things, and this amazing new life is what God will lead you into, step by step, if you will answer His call.
Don’t let anything hinder you from making life’s most important choice – open the door of your heart to Jesus today!
We always hear Christians say things like “I have been doing everything right. I have been fasting and praying, giving, loving my neighbor, obeying the Lord, reading Scripture daily, and walking faithfully with the Lord.
What did I do wrong? Why has God allowed me to go through such hard times? Does He not care about me? Am I saved?” To be honest we have all felt a little something like this.
Here is what I have learned on my walk of faith. Be on guard because when you’re asking all these questions and questioning God, Satan will try to attack. He will say, “no he doesn’t love you. Look at those unbelievers who are not going through adversity, but you say Jesus Christ died for you, and yet you are going through the worst troubles of your life.” Don’t let the devil give you fear.
Trials can lead into atheism. When your faith is small the devil can rip it out. Don’t let him put you in despair and bitterness towards God. Don’t ever forget the other times God has delivered you because He will do it again. The devil will try to say it was a coincidence, but with God there is no coincidence. Cry out to God. Block Satan off and always remember that we have victory in Christ.
Trials and tribulations
What does the Bible say?
Think of trials as training! God has to train His troops. Have you ever heard of any staff sergeant who got to where he was without going through tough situations? God has to prepare His children for the future.
I remember when I said, “why God, why this, and why that?” God told me to wait for His timing. God has delivered me in the past, but when you are going through bad times all you’re thinking about is right now. I’ve seen God use trials to build me up, answer different prayers, open doors, help others, and I’ve seen many miracles where I knew it was only God who could have done this.
While I was worrying, the Lord gave me comfort, encouragement, motivation, and He was working behind the scenes. If as believers we’re burdened by when our brothers and sisters suffer, imagine how God feels. Always remember that He loves you and He reminds us time after time in His Word that He will never forsake us.
1. Trials help our perseverance.
James 1:12 “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Hebrews 10:35-36 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
2. I don’t know.
Sometimes we have to admit we just don’t know and instead of going crazy and trying to find out why, we must trust in the Lord that He knows best.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Proverbs 3:5 -6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
3. Sometimes we suffer because of our own mistakes. Another thing is we should never test God.
In my life I’ve suffered because I followed the wrong voice. I did my will instead of God’s will. I can’t blame God for my mistakes, but what I can say is God brought me through it and made me stronger and smarter in the process.
Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.”
Proverbs 19:2-3 “Desire without knowledge is not good– how much more will hasty feet miss the way! A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.”
Galatians 6:5 “Assume your own responsibility.”
4. God is making you more humble.
2 Corinthians 12:7 “even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.”
Proverbs 18:12 “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”
1 Peter 5:6-8 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
5. God’s discipline.
Hebrews 12:5-11 “And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Proverbs 3:11-13 “My child, do not reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t get angry when he corrects you. The Lord corrects those he loves, just as parents correct the child they delight in. Happy is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gets understanding.”
6. So you can become more dependent on the Lord.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
John 15:5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
7. God wants to spend time with you, but you lost your first love. You’re doing all these things for Jesus, but you’re not spending quality quiet time with the Lord.
Revelation 2:2-5 “I know what you do, how you work hard and never give up. I know you do not put up with the false teachings of evil people. You have tested those who say they are apostles but really are not, and you found they are liars. You have patience and have suffered troubles for my name and have not given up. But I have this against you: You have left the love you had in the beginning. So remember where you were before you fell. Change your hearts and do what you did at first. If you do not change, I will come to you and will take away your lampstand from its place.”
8. God could be protecting you from a bigger problem that you don’t see coming.
Psalm 121:5-8 “The Lord guards you. The Lord is the shade that protects you from the sun. The sun cannot hurt you during the day, and the moon cannot hurt you at night. The Lord will protect you from all dangers; he will guard your life. The Lord will guard you as you come and go, both now and forever.”
Psalm 9:7-10 “But the Lord rules forever. He sits on his throne to judge, and he will judge the world in fairness; he will decide what is fair for the nations. The Lord defends those who suffer; he defends them in times of trouble. Those who know the Lord trust him, because he will not leave those who come to him.”
Psalm 37:5 “Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.”
9. So we can share in the sufferings of Christ.
1 Peter 4:12-16 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
2 Corinthians 1:5-7 “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
10. It helps us grow as believers and become more like Christ.
Romans 8:28-29 “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan. God knew them before he made the world, and he chose them to be like his Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters.”
Philippians 1:6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
11. It helps with developing character.
Romans 5:3-6 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”
12. Trials help to build our faith in the Lord.
James 1:2-6 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Psalm 73:25-28 “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”
13. God’s glory: The storm will not last forever and trials are an opportunity for a testimony. It gives God so much glory when everyone knows you’re going through a tough trial and you stand strong, trusting in the Lord until He delivers you, without complaining.
Psalm 40:4-5 “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.”
Psalm 71:14-17 “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.”
14. You can help someone because you have been in that situation. Throwing around Scriptures will be hard to understand for someone who is grieving, but you can comfort them because you have been through the same thing and through the pain you trusted in God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
15. Trials give us a greater reward in Heaven.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Mark 10:28-30 “Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.”
16. To show us sin in our lives. We should never deceive ourselves and try to hide our sins from God, which is impossible.
Psalm 38:1-11 “Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me. Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.”
Psalm 38:17-22 “For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin. Many have become my enemies without cause; those who hate me without reason are numerous. Those who repay my good with evil lodge accusations against me, though I seek only to do what is good. Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.”
Psalm 40:12-13 “For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Be pleased to save me, LORD; come quickly, LORD, to help me.”
17. To remind us that it is God who is always in control.
Luke 8:22-25 “One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
18. Trials increase our knowledge and they help us learn God’s Word.
Psalm 119:71-77 “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands. May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word. I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.”
Psalm 94:11-15 “The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile. Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law; you grant them relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance. Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.”
Psalm 119:64-68 “The earth, O Lord, is full of thy steadfast love; teach me thy statutes! Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in thy commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I keep thy word. Thou art good and doest good; teach me thy statutes.”
19. Trials teach us to be more thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Always be joyful. Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”
20. Trials take our minds off of things of the world and put them back on the Lord.
Colossians 3:1-4 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Stop saying, “I’m going to pray” and actually do it. Let this be a start to a new prayer life you never had. Stop thinking you can do things on your own and trust in God. Tell God “I can’t do it without you. I need you my Lord.” Come to Him with all your heart. “God help me; I will not let you go. I will not listen to these lies.” You must stand strong and have faith God can bring you through it even if it seems impossible.
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Revelation 19:10 makes a bold statement regarding the relationship between prophecy and Jesus Christ: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (NKJV). The book of Revelation is a book of prophecy given by Jesus Christ to His servant John (Revelation 1:1). The term revelation refers to a revealing or the making known of something that was previously unknown. Revelation is like pulling back a veil to show what’s behind it or unwrapping a present to see what’s inside.
What is prophecy, then? Simply put, prophecy is communication from God to mankind. Some prophecy can be speaking of future events, and other prophecy might not be. Prophets were utilized as a mouthpiece for God—they listened to God and then conveyed God’s message to the masses. Some examples of prophets are Elijah, Isaiah, Moses, and Jonah.
In the context of Revelation 19:10, John has seen the fall of the evil world system called Babylon the Great (Revelation 18). A great multitude in heaven is celebrating and singing praise to God because of that judgment (Revelation 19:1–3) and because it is now time for the wedding supper of the Lamb (verses 6–8). An angel says to John, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9). At this proclamation, John falls to worship at the feet of the angel who is communicating this prophecy, but the angel insists John rise to his feet, for he is but “a fellow servant” (Revelation 19:10; cf. Colossians 2:18).
In response to John’s wrongful worship, the angel says, “See that you do not do that! . . . Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10, NKJV). It is critical to understand that this statement is a response to John’s intention to worship the angel. Because of the construction of the clause in the original language (Greek), there are three common understandings of the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy:
1. Jesus is the substance of all prophecy, or, put another way, Jesus is the common theme among all prophecy.
2. All true prophecy bears witness about Jesus. Therefore, all prophecy should cause us to worship Him alone.
3. The message or testimony given by Jesus is the essence of true prophecy. Jesus is the Word, and no prophecy comes to us except through Him, ultimately pointing to God as the source of all true prophecy.
The NIV translates the angel’s statement as “It is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” The NLT’s wording is “The essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.” The wording of both these translations prefers one of the first two interpretations, above. The third interpretation, however, seems to fit best within the context of Revelation 19:10. John is not to worship the angel but God alone. Since John was worshiping the angel in response to the prophecy given, the angel ensures that John understands Jesus is the source of the communication and He alone is worthy of the worship (cf. Luke 4:8; Acts 14:11–15).
Following the angel’s command to John, we ought to worship God alone. We are to worship not the purveyor of the message but the Source of the message. While God has made many beautiful things, such as angels, He is alone worthy of our praise (cf. John 17:3; 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:15; 1 Samuel 7:4).
''While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message" (Acts 10:44).
When we read verbs like "fell upon" to describe the Spirit's activities, we all too easily think about the Spirit of God in terms of a non-personal force or power. Surely such unbiblical thoughts must grieve the Spirit of God! Were it not for the Spirit of God personally speaking to God's people, the gospel would have never left Jerusalem. It was the Spirit who told Philip to go to the Ethiopian eunuch (8:29).
The Spirit was the one who assured Peter he sent the three Gentile men from Caesarea (10:19; 11:12). And it was the Spirit who spoke to praying believers to set Paul and Barnabas apart to preach the gospel to the nations (Acts 13:2–4). The gift of Holy Spirit, dear friends, is not a "thing" we receive.
The gift of the Spirit is a divine person who comes to live inside us, to speak with us, and who is eternally one with the Father and the Son. He who has ears to hear, therefore, let him listen! "
The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost" (Rev 22:17).
Most people are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They were given a command not to eat from a tree, which they did not follow and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
One act of disobedience put mankind on this path that has led us to where we are today. This all started with some fruit, but what was that forbidden fruit in Genesis 2 where this account takes place? While there are no specifics on the type of fruit, there are some lessons we can learn from their experience.
Do We Know What the Forbidden Fruit Was?While we don’t know what that fruit was, somehow in many pictures and imageries an apple gets portrayed as that fruit. To clear up any confusion, here is what Genesis actually says about the fruit.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (Genesis 3:6).
Here is all we know about the forbidden fruit in Genesis. It was good for food, meaning it was edible. It was pleasing to the eye, which means it was attractive. Finally, they thought it was desirable for gaining wisdom, which means they thought they would gain something from it. By the way these are the same trappings of sin that we are faced with today (more on that later).
Because there are so many different types of fruit that grow on a tree, there really is no way of knowing what type of fruit it really was. (Sorry apples you have been blamed for something that you may have had nothing to do with.)
In all honesty the type of fruit doesn’t matter. When you are reading the story, your focus should not be on what the forbidden fruit in Genesis was. It should be on the act of disobedience that Adam and Eve committed.
What Does the Bible Say about the Tree of Knowledge?When you read the creation story you discover from Genesis that there were plenty of trees in the garden.
“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:8-9).
God put them in the garden and provided them with plenty of choices of food to eat. I would imagine that every type of tree bearing fruit was probably represented in the garden. This is only my speculation, but I would say think of any fruit that grows on a tree and it was probably available in the garden. I don’t have proof of this, but it is a reasonable assumption.
There were however two important trees in the middle of the garden that were different from the rest. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life as it states gave life, particularly eternal life. The other tree would produce death.
A question that often comes to mind is why was the tree of knowledge in the garden to begin with? For many Bible scholars the main answer is about free will. God created man for intimacy and fellowship with him, but from the very beginning this was not a forced fellowship, it is a chosen fellowship. From the beginning until today God gives every human the same free will. We can choose to follow and obey or we can choose to go our own way.
Why Did Eve Eat the Fruit?This is the question of the ages, but I don’t want to hate on Eve too much. Eve fell victim to temptation in much the same way we do. I want to show you what happened to Eve because this still plagues us today. To keep it simple, Eve rejected what God had provided in search of something else or something different.
I want you to consider the similarities between the fruit on all the trees in the garden. In Genesis 2:9 and Genesis 3:6 you see that the trees were good for food (edible) and pleasing to the eye (attractive). What was different about the fruit on the tree of knowledge? She thought she would obtain something that the other trees did not provide her. The serpent influenced her to believe that God was holding out something from her. Remember what she said that highlights the difference. The fruit was good for food, pleasing to the eye and – here’s the difference – desirable for gaining wisdom.
I don’t believe Eve ate the fruit simply because it was edible and looked good. There were plenty of other trees that had those characteristics. She ate the fruit because it promised her something she did not have and wanted to gain or experience. Often this is how sin works in our lives. God has provided everything we need for this life, just as he did with Adam and Eve. So what is it about sin that looks so attractive to us? It promises something that we have not experienced or something that we can gain from it. The problem is that this is an empty promise and the consequences never live up to the expectations.
What Was the Result of the Forbidden Fruit?The result of eating the forbidden fruit was sin entering the world and all the pain and suffering that happens as a result. As God promised, death happened. This was not physical death, but spiritual death that caused a separation between God and man because of sin.
Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden. I know Adam and Eve did not know the gravity of the action they committed when it happened. However, I think it is safe to say they came to understand quickly how bad a decision they had made. I believe they experienced remorse just like we often do when we endure the result of our sinful decisions. Remember they were the only ones in human history who ever lived on this earth in a sinless environment. I am sure they longed for the days when they could go back to Eden as it was. Unfortunately, with sin, sometimes it costs us more than we want to pay and there are some things you lose that you can’t get back.
The Silver Lining:
If the story of Adam and Eve was just about fruit and getting kicked out of the garden that would be a tragedy. Yet there was something else that happened in that garden that gives us hope. The choice of Adam and Eve set in motion God’s plan of redemption. While eating the forbidden fruit might have been a decision Adam and Eve did not know they would make, it was one that God knew they would make.
From the moment the forbidden fruit in Genesis was eaten, the promise of the savior who would redeem mankind was made. In Genesis 3:15, God made a promise about the seed of the woman crushing the head of the serpent. We know that seed is Jesus who would come and redeem us back to the Father. Through Adam we lost it all, but in Christ we gained back all that was lost.
“For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
The ultimate end of our righteousness in Christ is that one day we will be able to eat from the tree of life and so be with our Lord forevermore. Never again will we have to deal with the issue of sin for all eternity. Yes, Adam and Eve set the sin wheels in motion, but thankfully Jesus has turned it all around.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:1-5).
The writer of Hebrews informs readers that God’s Word is more than simply a historical record of events and people: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
In this passage, Word of God refers to His revelation in a general sense, meaning any method God uses to communicate with humans. Our primary exposure is through His written Word, the Bible. We learn in Scripture that the Word of God is alive and active—it not only lives but works. Let’s explore these two characteristics of God’s revelation to humankind.
The original Greek word translated here as “living” means “to have life” or “alive.” The Word of God is alive because God is a living God (Hebrews 3:12). Jesus said, “The very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63, NLT). In the parable of the sower, Jesus compared God’s Word to seed (Matthew 13:1–23). Seed, like the Word, is a living organism that, when spread and planted in fertile soil, produces abundant life.
Christians are made alive spiritually and eternally because we are “born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). Believers “enter God’s eternal rest” (receive God’s free gift of salvation by grace through faith alone and not by self-effort, Ephesians 2:8–9) through the life-giving power of God’s Word. This truth is the main point the writer of Hebrews has been driving home in the previous verses (Hebrew 4:1–11), that no one can enter God’s true rest except those in whom God’s message has taken deep root and complete control. God does the work of salvation by the power of His Word when we submit to God’s dominion and trust Him to save us through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
The term active in Hebrews 4:12 means “effective, powerful, producing or capable of producing an intended result.” The Word of God is vibrant, dynamic, energizing, and productive. It is not static or idle in the lives of genuine believers. The apostle Paul explained that the Word of God is “at work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
God’s Word is powerful, not only to give life, but also to deliver warnings and bring judgment and punishment to the disobedient: “Is not my Word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29, ESV).
God’s living Word is not something to read or listen to passively and then forget. James taught Christians to look “intently into the perfect law that gives freedom” and to focus on it by doing what it says (James 1:23–25). Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, NLT). If we let God’s message do its work deep inside, it will change our character and behavior.
Astonishing, life-generating things happen when God’s Word goes forth. It is fully capable of accomplishing its purpose: “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it” (Isaiah 55:11, NLT). On the Day of Pentecost, when Peter preached the message of salvation in Jesus Christ, those who heard it “were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37), and about three thousand people were saved (Acts 2:41).
The author of Hebrews described the Word of God as “sharper than any double-edged sword.” Paul called it “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). This sword imagery also appears in Isaiah 49:2, Revelation 1:16, and Revelation 2:12. As a sharp, double-bladed sword, the Word of God is our definitive offensive weapon against the assaults of a spiritual enemy. When Satan tempted our Lord in the wilderness, Jesus wielded the sword of God’s Word to counter the devil’s attacks (Matthew 4:4). His example teaches us to do the same.
The vital power of God’s message exists in its ability to pierce and penetrate the innermost depths of the human soul. It can cut through any obstacle to access and inspect our unspoken thoughts and hidden secrets (Matthew 10:26; Luke 8:17; 12:2; Mark 4:22).
It can cross-examine and judge the attitudes of our hearts. God knows our intentions, and our hearts.
Because the Word of God is living and active, Peter encouraged Christians to pay close attention to it (2 Peter 1:19). May we let it be a lamp to guide our feet and a light to illuminate our path through this life (Psalm 119:105).
Author: John 21:20–24 describes the author of the gospel of John as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and for both historical and internal reasons this is understood to be John the Apostle, one of the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5:10).
Date of Writing: Discovery of certain papyrus fragments dated around AD 135 require the gospel of John to have been written, copied, and circulated before then. And, while some think it was written before Jerusalem was destroyed (AD 70), AD 85—90 is a more accepted time for the writing of the gospel of John.
Purpose of Writing: The author cites the purpose of the gospel of John as follows: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Unlike the three Synoptic Gospels, John’s purpose is not to present a chronological narrative of the life of Christ but to display His deity. John sought to strengthen the faith of second-generation believers and bring about faith in others, but he also sought to correct a false teaching that was spreading in the first century. John emphasized Jesus Christ as “the Son of God,” fully God and fully man, contrary to a false doctrine that taught the “Christ-spirit” came upon the human Jesus at His baptism and left Him at the crucifixion.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent’” (John 6:29).
“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” (John 10:10).
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’”(John 11:25–26).
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father”?’” (John 14:9).
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” (John 19:30).
“Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (John 20:29).
Brief Summary: The gospel of John includes only seven miracles—John calls them “signs”—to demonstrate the deity of Christ and illustrate His ministry. Some of these miracles and stories, such as the raising of Lazarus, are found only in John. His is the most theological of the four Gospels, and he often gives the reason behind events mentioned in the other gospels. The gospel of John shares much about the approaching ministry of the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ ascension. There are certain words or phrases that create a recurring theme in the gospel of John: believe, witness, Comforter, life – death, light – darkness, I am, and love.
The gospel of John introduces Jesus Christ, not from His birth, but from “the beginning,” before creation. John calls Jesus “the Word” (Logos) who, as God Himself, was involved in every aspect of creation (John 1:1–3) and who later became flesh (verse 14) in order that He might take away our sins as the spotless Lamb of God (verse 29). The gospel of John includes several spiritual conversations, such as Jesus’ talk with the Samaritan woman that shows Him as the Messiah (John 4:26) and Jesus’ meeting with Nicodemus that explains salvation through His vicarious death on the cross (John 3:14–16). In the gospel of John, Jesus repeatedly angers the Jewish leaders by correcting them (John 2:13–16); healing on the Sabbath, and claiming traits belonging only to God (John 5:18; 8:56–59; 9:6, 16; 10:33).
The last nine chapters of the gospel of John deal with the final week of Jesus’ life. Jesus prepares His disciples for His coming death and for their ministry after His resurrection and ascension (John 14–17). He then willingly dies on the cross in our place (John 10:15–18), paying our sin debt in full (John 19:30) so that whoever trusts in Him will be saved (John 3:14–16). Jesus then rises from the dead, convincing even the most doubting of His disciples that He is God and Master (John 20:24–29).
Connections: The gospel of John’s portrayal of Jesus as the God of the Old Testament is seen most emphatically in the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus. He is the “Bread of life” (John 6:35), provided by God to feed the souls of His people, just as He provided manna from heaven to feed the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16:11–36). Jesus is the “Light of the world” (John 8:12), the same Light that God promised to His people in the Old Testament (Isaiah 30:26; 60:19–22) and which will find its culmination in the New Jerusalem when Christ the Lamb will be its Light (Revelation 21:23). Two of the “I Am” statements refer to Jesus as both the “Good Shepherd” and the “Door of the sheep.” Here are clear references to Jesus as the God of the Old Testament, the Shepherd of Israel (Psalm 23:1; 80:1; Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:23) and, as the only Door into the sheepfold, the only way of salvation.
The Jews believed in the resurrection and, in fact, used the doctrine to try to trick Jesus into making statements they could use against Him. But His statement at the tomb of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), must have astounded them. He was claiming to be the cause of resurrection and in possession of the power of life and death. None other than God Himself could claim such a thing. Similarly, Jesus’ claim to be “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) linked Him unmistakably to the Old Testament. His is the “Way of Holiness” prophesied in Isaiah 35:8; He established the City of Truth of Zechariah 8:3 when He was in Jerusalem and preached the truths of the gospel. As “the Life,” Jesus affirms His deity, the Creator of life, God incarnate (John 1:1–3; Genesis 2:7). Finally, as the “true Vine” (John 15:1, 5), Jesus identifies Himself with the nation of Israel, who are called the vineyard of the Lord in many Old Testament passages. As the true Vine of the vineyard of Israel, He portrays Himself as the Lord of the “true Israel”—all those who would come to Him in faith (cf. Romans 9:6).
Practical Application: The gospel of John continues to fulfill its purpose of evangelizing the lost (John 3:16 is likely the best-known Bible verse) and is often used in evangelistic Bible studies. In the recorded encounters between Jesus and Nicodemus and the woman at the well (chapters 3—4), we learn much from Jesus’ model of personal evangelism. His comforting words to His disciples before His death (John 14:1–6, 16; 16:33) are still of great comfort in sorrowful times. Jesus’ “high priestly prayer” for believers in chapter 17 is also a wonderful source of encouragement for believers. John’s teachings concerning the deity of Christ (John 1:1–3, 14; 5:22–23; 8:58; 14:8–9; 20:28) are helpful in apologetics and provide a clear revelation of who Jesus is: fully God and fully man.
No other verse in the Bible so succinctly summarizes God’s relationship with humanity and the way of salvation. Some consider John 3:16 as the "theme verse" for the entire Bible. John 3:16 tells us of the love God has for us and the extent of that love—so great that He sacrificed His only Son on our behalf. John 3:16 teaches us that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, will be saved. John 3:16 gives us the glorious hope of eternal life in heaven through the love of God and death of Jesus Christ.
John's Gospel is rather different from the other three. Whether or not he knew them (or any one of them) continues to be debated. In any event, his witness to Jesus goes its own way, highlighting matters that in the other Gospels remain implicit and underdeveloped. The literary style of this witness of Jesus is also unique among the Gospels; here focus is on the "signs" of Jesus' identity and mission and on lengthy, theologically rich discourses.
John begins with the profound announcement that Jesus is the "in the beginning" creative Word of God who had become embodied (incarnated) as a human being to be the light of life for the world. After this comes the proclamation that this Jesus is the Son of God sent from the Father to finish the Father's work in the world (see 4:34 and note). God's own glory is made visible in him ("Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father," 14:9), and what he does glorifies the Father. In him the full grace and truth of God has shown itself. Strikingly, a series of "I am" claims on Jesus' lips echoes God's naming of himself in Ex 3:14, further strengthening the link between the Father and the Son (see 6:35; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7,9,14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1,5).
Jesus' words to Nicodemus nicely summarize this Gospel's central theme: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (3:16). Although a variety of motivations for the composition of John's Gospel have been posited by interpreters (such as to supplement the other Gospels, to combat some form of heresy, to oppose the continuing followers of John the Baptist), the author himself states his main purpose clearly in 20:31: "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
For the main emphases of the book see notes on 1:4,7,9,14,19,49; 2:4,11; 3:27; 4:34; 6:35; 13:1 -- 17:26; 13:31; 17:1-2,5; 20:31.