February 18, 2018
Tomorrow is my spiritual birthday. On February 19, 1981, after discovering that God sent Jesus to die for my sins so I could be made right with God; and learning that all I had to do was put my trust in Jesus and I would receive a new life, eternal life through Him – well for the first time the gospel made sense to me. After all, you didn’t have to convince me that I was a sinner. You didn’t have to convince me that I had gone my own way, and that my sin was an offense to God. But to put my trust in Jesus, to surrender my ways to His ways… Now that wasn’t so easy for me. After all, I found it hard to truly trust anyone, let alone God. By then this Pastor told me something I’ll never forget. He told me that if I believed God exists, then the evil one, the devil also exists. He told me that I was close, but that the evil one would do everything in his power to keep me from putting my trust in Jesus. That made sense to me too. But instead of receiving God’s gift of salvation at that moment, I told him I didn’t want him to be the one to persuade about Jesus… if I was going to put my trust in Jesus, it had to be between me and God. So after he left, I sat there for a couple of hours looking back at my life and at what Jesus had done for me. And then it struck me… if God was willing to give His one and only Son to die for me; if God was willing to give His best for me, then there would be nothing in my life I couldn’t trust Him with. I realized that God was truly good, and I could trust Him, that I wanted to trust Him. So that’s what I did. That night, I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. That night my life changed forever.
When I received Jesus Christ as my Savior, I became a new person. This old foul-mouthed, angry, anxiety-ridden, aimless, empty sinner found a new life. I now had a relationship with God I never knew was possible. I had a peace in my life that I could not explain. And for the first time in my life as an adult, I could laugh without the help of alcohol. In receiving Jesus, it was as if God had down-loaded a new power into the core of my being. I felt clean, unburdened, and alive. God was with me and everyday was a new adventure. And what was even more amazing, is that I had this new hunger – a hunger for God’s Word. I was changed. And I couldn’t believer how great it was to know Jesus, to walk with Jesus and tell others about the Jesus who found me.
And I’m here to tell you this morning that Jesus wants to change you. That Jesus is far more than a religion. He is the life you’ve been looking for all your life, and when you receive Him, He will change your life in ways you never thought were possible.
You see, far too many people, have never heard about the life God gives when you receive Jesus. But this morning, I want you to be clear, I want you to know the good news about Jesus: What you should expect to find when you receive Jesus. So if you brought your Bible with your today, let me encourage you to turn to the Gospel of John. Our passage today is John 1:1-18, where God’s Word tells us about the Life you can expect to find when you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
And the first thing you will find is this: 1) You Will Find the Light of Life Look at John 1:1-5 with me and listen to how John introduces Jesus to us: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5
Jesus is the Light of Life because he is the Word – the very expression of God, the very speech of God. When you listen to Jesus you hear God’s voice. But what we see here is that Jesus is more than just God’s messenger. I love the grammar of this portion of Scripture. John uses a little Greek preposition that tells us the Word has always existed in the presence of God. That preposition is the word “pros” and it is translated as “with”, which commonly means “to” or “towards.” So the picture the author wants us to grasp is a picture of intimacy: Jesus has always existed in a face-to-face relationship with the Father. He has always enjoyed a personal relationship with the Father. Jesus has always been “with” the Father. That’s why God sent Jesus to us, so that when we receive Him, we too can be “with” the Father. Christianity is not a religion we adhere to, but a relationship we enter into: a relationship with God.
And that’s why when you receive Jesus, you are not simply receiving a messenger of God, but God himself. For here we see as plain as day, that from the very beginning the Word was God. Jesus has always been with the Father and has always been God. For it is through Him that all things have come into existence. And as we learned last week, Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, of all life. So, it makes sense that He is the source of life: physical life or spiritual life – for all life finds its origin in Him. That is why Jesus is called the light of life. That’s why when you receive Him you receive life!
That’s the good news of Jesus. For if all life exists in Him, then you don’t need to look anywhere else for life. All we need for life: spiritually, emotionally, physically, eternally is found in Jesus.
That’s what I discovered when I received Jesus. For years I had been searching for life. I searched for life in partying, in golf, in drugs and alcohol, in friends and relationships. I’d searched for life in Education, Eastern Religion, and in moral living… but I just kept coming up empty. But when I received Jesus, the light of life, something changed. My search ended. For I had found life with Jesus.
That is why Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with God. Jesus came into the world as the light of life, so that we might find the life we were created for. That’s why we were created by Him and for Him. We were created to be with Him, to know Him intimately and enjoy this life as He intended it to be lived. And that’s what we see next. For when you receive Jesus the next thing you find is this:
2) You Will Find a New Kind of Life Look now at verse 6: There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:6-13
What is this new kind of life? It is a kind of life that is not immediately recognized with physical eyes. In fact it is a kind of life that needs a witness to testify to it. Why? Because it is an invisible kind of life – it is a spiritual life; a life that can only be seen through the eyes of faith. That’s why God sent John as a witness to the light; as a witness to Jesus. In fact anyone who ever comes to faith in Jesus, must do so by first hearing a witness declare the truth about Jesus. And John the Baptist was the first witness who told others who about Jesus. In fact, anyone who has ever come to faith in Jesus can thank John the Baptist, who was the first one obedient to God’s call to be a witness of Jesus – a calling now given by Jesus to us. We are to be His witnesses in our Jerusalem, our Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
Think about this with me: If we never speak about Jesus; if we never tell our story of faith, where Jesus is the true light of life, who gave us life, well then the people in our lives will be left in the dark. Because if all we ever do is live a good life and never connect our good life with Jesus, then all anyone will ever see from us is a nice person, or a person who is trying to make themselves look good, or a person who may be trying to work an angle. Oh, they may see something “different” about us, they may even be curious as to why we are so kind, but if we never tell them about who has made this difference in us; if we never speak of Jesus, then they will be left in the dark.
And if you are not convinced of this, look at the life Jesus lived. Let me read the text again: He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. Jesus did all kinds of good works: He healed the sick, made lame men walk, raised the dead to life, fed the 5000, freed people from their sin. “He came to that which was his own” (the people of Israel, the people who were looking for the Messiah, but they did not recognize him as God’s chosen one.) And so John tells us, “but his own did not receive him.” In fact, they rejected him. Why? Because when they looked at Jesus, they only saw what they wanted to see – a man; a religious rebel; a teacher; but they could not see the life of God within him. They were blind to that reality. And people today are still blind to who Jesus really is. The Bible says, The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4. So even though we may be obedient to God’s Word, even though we may tell our story, even though we may lift Jesus up as God’s Son, the Savior of the World… there will still be those who will not be able to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. But that should never deter us.
Because there were those who did receive him. They were people who believed John’s message that Jesus was the genuine article – that Jesus was the true light that had come into the world. This is how he puts it: Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:6-13
They believed because they listened. They had ears to hear. They were drawn to the message of good news. And from what they heard and saw in Jesus life, they believed He was the genuine article – that He was the Son of God; who came from God as the true light of life. Not because their parents believed. Not because they chose to believe in Him because he seemed like the best option available. And not because their spouse told them they should believe in Jesus. No, they received Jesus because God opened their ears to hear and their eyes to see that Jesus was the real deal.
Let me just say, no one comes to faith in Jesus by PERSONALLY DECIDING to MAKE Jesus your Savior. You can’t decide on Jesus like you decide to purchase a car, or choose Him like you would choose a meal from a menu. Jesus is not a menu item from a list of potential religious options that suite your taste. Jesus is either the Savior of the World or He is not. Jesus is either the genuine article or He is not.
And the only way you will know that HE IS THE GENUNIE ARTICLE is if God opens your eyes to see Jesus and opens your ears to hear His voice. God’s Word is very clear on this. It’s not about you making an intellectually based decision, as if you have the ability to decide who is God or who is not. That would put you one the same level as God. No, in order for you to receive Jesus, you need spiritual illumination; you need the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the only One who convinces people that they are sinners in need of a Savior. The Holy Spirit is the only One who reveals Jesus true identity as the Son of God. And the Holy Spirit is the only One who can awaken spiritually dead person so that he or she will gladly want to receive Jesus.
So if you are having a hard time believing in Jesus, stop seeing him as a religious menu item and go to your knees and ask God to help you see Jesus for who He is. Go to your knees and ask God for mercy for your sinfulness. Go to your knees and ask God to open your heart to believe. And if God is working in your life, and you are willing to believe in the One He says is His Son, then believe in Him, receive Him, and you will receive this new kind of life: this spiritual life – the eternal life of Jesus will be yours, and at that moment, God will welcome you into His family and you will become a child of God.
So let me ask: Is there anyone here this morning in need of life?
Is there anyone here who needs God to convince you of your sin?
Is there anyone here who is being drawn to put your faith in Jesus?
Is there anyone here who willing to believe that Jesus is God’s Son?
If so, then the Holy Spirit is at work in you right now, and all you have to do is receive Jesus as God’s gift to you. Turn from trusting in your self, put your trust in Jesus and receive the new life He freely wants to give you.
God’s Word says, If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are made right with God, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10
And if that’s what you are ready to do, then pray with me now. Let’s all bow: Father, I believe you sent your Son Jesus to die for my sin. Thank you that Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross has removed all my sin. I believe that. I confess freely now Jesus is my Lord, and receive Him as your loving gift to me. Thank you for Jesus and the new life I now have in Him. Thank you for making me your child and giving me eternal life. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
Now, if you just prayed that prayer, then God’s Word declares that you are not just saved, not just forgiven, but you are now a child of God. God is your Father, a new kind of life has been birthed in you, a spiritual life – a life that will now enable you to live a new way of life, just like Jesus. And that’s our final thing you will find when you receive Jesus:
3) You Will Find a New Way of Life Let’s read the text: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. John 1:14-18
When anyone receives Jesus, you don’t just get a new kind of life, you get a new way of life. John describes that life for us by describing the life he saw in Jesus. Jesus lived a life that was full of grace and truth. This is the way of living that brought glory to the Father. Jesus was full of truth: He lived life the way God intended. He loved His neighbor as Himself. He treated all people right. He treated them with dignity, love and respect. But He was also full of grace: He never condemned anyone. Instead, he gave sinners what they did not deserve. He gave them acceptance. He gave them forgiveness. And he gave them love. And the way He lived among us, is now the new way of life He gives us when we receive Him.
So Jesus revealed the difference between a life of relationship verses a life of religion: A life of religion came through the law. The law was given through Moses. But the law was burdensome. NO ONE COULD EVER MEASURE UP. “If you keep these strict standards of behavior, then you will be accepted. But if you don’t, you will be rejected.” So the law tore relationships apart – it didn’t give life, it only brought about death.
So this is why Jesus came: He came to give you grace upon grace. And what that means is this: with Jesus there is an endless supply of grace! For once you received Him, you can fail over and over again, but Jesus will forgive you over and over again. Once you’ve received Him, He sets you free from the performance treadmill, so that you never have to earn God’s approval again, because you’ll already have it, you’ll always have it. With grace upon grace, you get to live as the apple of His eye. And once you’ve received Him, you are now FREE to LIVE the life God created you to LIVE: a life full of grace and truth, just like Jesus.
THAT IS WHY JESUS IS THE LIFE!
That’s why JESUS IS THE LIGHT OF LIFE
That’s why FROM JESUS WE RECEIVE A NEW KIND OF LIFE
That’s why WITH JESUS IS A NEW WAY OF LIFE.
And that’s why God wants ALL PEOPLE to receive Jesus, INCLUDING YOU. Because He wants to CHANGE your life IN WAYS YOU NEVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE. That’s why He sent Jesus!
JESUS IS THE LIFE! To all who receive him, to those who believe in his name, He gives the right to become children of God.
So have you received Him?