Looking at the Light through John - Chapter 14

“I Will Come Again”

The Lord knew the apostles would be reeling under the rapidly transpiring events connected with His crucifixion. He had just informed them that one of them would betray Him. He had emphasized that the same thing He had told the Jews He was now telling them, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” And the Christ had just let the bold Peter in on the secret that Peter would deny Him before the rooster crowed. Their dreams, because they were focused on an earthly kingdom, were being turned upside down.

The operative words are: “Believe in God, believe also in Me.” The apostles were the first in the faith, and were motivated by the concept that Paul so well expressed in his epistle to the Philippians: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Philippians 3:20,21).

 

 

The Way

Satan has tried to convince the world that there are many ways to heaven. The Hindu guru basically says, “There are many paths to heaven, my son; but I, the guru, will show you the shortest path!” The denominationalist says, “You go your way and I’ll go mine, and we’ll both get to heaven at the very same time.” Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Mathew 7:13,14). The biggest frauds on earth are those who cloak themselves in religious garb, and offer a false way of salvation. “Beware,” said the Lord, conscious of those coming ones, “of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). The Lord Jesus told the truth, and the truth continues to cut like a knife through the souls of men.

When Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father but through Me,” He was stating a simple truth, but one which is revolutionary to a rebellious world. All the man-made religions and philosophies are but fluff, vain imaginings of a people who somehow think they are going to trick God into accepting them. But His words should rivet every truth-seeker’s attention, and produce in them the desire to be certain that they are following the only One who can get them to heaven. Jesus is the way, and there is no other.

 

Knowing God

The purpose of God’s word is so that man might “know God.” Man can know of God’s existence through the Creation, and can know that the Almighty is a God of order and precision. And man’s built-in conscience lets him know of God’s basic standards of right and wrong. But to “know God” in a face-to-face, friend-to-friend relationship requires revelation from heaven.

It is important to stress that God’s purpose is not limited to forgiving man’s sins. Sin is a barrier to man’s knowing God, and remission of sins clears that blockage away. Remission thus does not guarantee man’s knowing God, but it is an essential part of the entire package.

Fellowship with God! That is what God wants for man. But it is a fellowship by faith, a fellowship established only through the written revelation of the Bible, and a fellowship established only through seeing the Father in the risen Son.

 

 

“Do You Believe?”

The challenge that God has of getting man truly to have faith in Him must be very great indeed. In the distant past, Abraham could only see a dim glimmer of the light of glory. The best in Israel merely had the grey of early dawn by which to peer into the mists surrounding His brightness. Only a visit from “the Sunrise on high” brought enough brightness for the saint to see, with the clear eye of New Testament faith, His glorious Majesty (Luke 1:78). “Show us the Father,” Philip had said. “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” was Jesus’ reply.

The intervention of the Divine Power into the affairs of men for the purpose of providing for their rescue through faith can be challenging to mankind’s thought processes. The race overall bogs down in trying to contemplate the oneness of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, not being able to grasp a spiritual realm that has no boundaries and the limitations imposed on the realm of space and time. The child’s wondering “what color hair God had when He was young” is no further removed from the truth than the theologians’ explanation that the three parts of God are like the three parts of an egg: yolk, white, and shell. No! Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in Jesus, and there is nothing in the physical realm that will adequately depict or illustrate their spiritual identity.

 

 

Jesus’ Belief in the Disciples

The God of glory has so arranged His system of developing faith that He uses men as partners. Jesus, risen from the dead and more radiant than the sun in its brightness, would not announce the terms of pardon to Saul of Tarsus. This was left for a man, one trusted disciple named Ananias. An angel of the Lord, appearing in an afternoon vision to the centurion Cornelius, would not proclaim the glad tidings. This was left for a man, one trusted disciple named Simon Peter. God will not do an “end around” on His disciples — the gospel goes where they go, and lost souls are saved when disciples immerse them. But, in order for those disciples to be successful, the great Coach in the sky must give them the tools, backing, and encouragement necessary for the accomplishment of their mission.

God, lover of the souls of men and Redeemer of the saved, has given the disciples of Jesus the sense of their great worth and the value of their contribution. Furthermore, He has provided the tools and training for the saints, that they might execute their mission. And He believes the saints can get the job done! Will the saints respond, or will they let their Father down?

 

 

Power of Prayer

God has raised a mighty army from their graves and has caused them to stand on their feet. This army is equipped to engage in spiritual warfare; each has weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left. This army is not very impressive to those who view the battlefield with a fleshly eye. As the apostle Paul noted, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble” (I Corinthians 1:26). But this army is the only one capable of winning the war with darkness, a spiritual set of troops fighting victoriously on spiritual grounds. “For our struggle,” Paul informed us, “is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). This army is great, not because of its impressive physical mien, but because each soldier can tap into the power of God.

The prince of darkness is no match for the King of love and light. The footsoldier of the King, with full assurance of faith, can march boldly into the strongholds of evil, knowing that he will never be overmatched or run out of supplies. March on, then, fellow soldier and fellow worker, and continue to plant the triumph standard of the King in new soil.

 

 

Assistance Within

When Jesus first selected the twelve, He sent them out. “And He appointed twelve,” Mark recorded, “that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out demons” (Mark 3:14,15). They were sent on a mission, and in the process they were to learn to trust in the Master’s ability to provide. “The worker,” He affirmed, “is worthy of his support” (Matthew 10:10). The night in which He was betrayed was, among other things, a time to review lessons learned. “When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals,” He questioned, “you did not lack anything, did you?” (Luke 22:35). But He was going to the Father, and they were going to have more responsibility in providing for the sustenance and security. “But now,” the Lord instructed, “let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one” (Luke 22:36). The Teacher was moving them to the next level of spiritual maturity; having provided for them directly in the physical realm, He was now ready to show what He could provide in the spiritual realm.

“Another Helper,” Jesus had said. Obviously, disciples need help, and the great God was providing awesome spiritual assistance for all eternity, as the Lord noted, “that He may be with you forever.” Yes, it is He who is the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:1).

 

 

Beholding the Lord

The pattern of the Christ on earth was always to be preparing His disciples for an upcoming phase in their spiritual journeys. Whether words were spoken in sending out the twelve the first time two-by-two, or whether the conversation centered on the more distant concept of being born again, the Word made flesh was setting His hearers up for a future stage. In keeping with His divine consistency, as He approached the Garden of Gethsemane, the mighty Maker really worked to prepare the apostles for the indwelling Spirit. The Spirit, explained the Lord, was with them (as He had been walking with them in the flesh for the past several years), and would be in them.

Disciples of Christ have not been orphaned. Rather, they have been adopted into the Family of God with full rights; they even have the privilege of “beholding” the Father by faith on a continual basis. This family is a spiritual unit, as the Lord Jesus is with the Father, and He is in them and they in Him. What a blessing to behold!

 

 

Loving Jesus

Talk is cheap, as the saying goes, but action is much more costly. This is especially true about love. “Love,” as God’s greatest quality, is most vehemently attacked by forces of hatred and darkness. But because love is so pure and good, Satan cannot assault it directly; he can’t have minions marching in the streets, waving placards saying, “Down with love.” The devil, then, master murderer and viceroy of violence, works to so destabilize society that people withdraw inside their little shells and engage in solitary self-preservation. “And because lawlessness is increased,” observed the Lord of such breakdown, “most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). But most of the assault on love is an attack on an understanding of what it is, replacing substance with shallow feelings, commitment with personal convenience and pleasure, and action with talk.

Those who love Jesus will keep His commandments. Those who are there loved by Jesus have the opportunity to see His glory by faith. This disclosure is indeed a high honor!

 

 

The Coming Abiding

It would be one awesome thing for God to come for a visit; how much more if He were to come and stay!

Man, the physically-oriented beast, has an extremely hard time comprehending the spiritual God. The realm of flesh has its boundaries, its weights, its measures, its times; God who is Spirit cannot be limited, weighed, or confined to time. God’s earnest desire is that each man might know Him and have eternal fellowship with Him, but the rules of the game require that all this be accomplished within the parameters of what God defines as faith. And the rules of the game require that to “know God,” the redeemed are to have Christ dwell in their hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17). Hence the coming abiding was to be tied to God’s generation of “the faith” in the minds of believers.

Before the foundation of the world, the plan was to have God dwell in the hearts of men and thus for men to have true fellowship with God. But there was to be a sifting mechanism to sort out those who are worthy to walk in white from those who are not; and the sifting mechanism was to be the word of God. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word,” are words which will ring down through the ages. And the promise: “We will come to him, and make Our abode in him.”

 

 

The Helper

Man can determine the nature of the physical realm through the processes of observation and reason. But the spiritual realm — the realm of faith — can only be determined by the receipt of revelation. Satan’s goal, then, is to block or to confuse the revelation. Hence it is that the spirit working in the sons of disobedience manages to get most of the human race off into flights of spiritual fantasy. The Joseph Smith’s, Jr., the Mohammed’s, the Pope’s, the Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s, the Dalai Lama’s, and assorted gurus of the world have their opportunity because of the tendency of man to make a faith universe to his own liking. There is nothing new under the sun. The Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah to Israel 2700 years ago: “And when they say to you, ‘Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19). How would someone consult God? The answer comes: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (Isaiah 8:20).

But the complete revelation was to come through the apostles of Jesus Christ. They were to stand as the liaison between the risen Christ and the unregenerate and blinded world, teaching of His life on earth, His suffering, and the glories to follow.

When Jesus in this section made a general statement that would refer to all Christians to come, He used words like “anyone.” But when He spoke specifically to the apostles, He used words like “you.” Jesus here promised the apostles that they would be taught all things, and that all Jesus’ teaching would be brought to their remembrance. This is extended only to all the brethren in that the scriptures record the words and events of Jesus’ life and what the apostles were taught. But it is there for study, salvation, and power.

 

 

Peace Beyond Comprehension

The search for inner peace is one of the strongest drives in all mankind. Whether the individual seeks a few hours respite in an alcohol “feel good” experience, “zoning out” for an evening on some mind-altering hallucinogenic, or dropping into a Buddha-like trance meditation, the goal is to escape the persistent pounding of a guilty conscience. But peace is not to be found in any of those escapes; only a return to a world where the problems increased during the attempted “time out,” and where the pounding inside the brain was exacerbated.

Then there are those who offer platitudes: false comfort for the bereaved, false hope for the depressed, and false salvation for the seekers. But the hypes of mere positive mental attitude programming or the fleeting joy of a new toy do not satisfy. True peace only comes from the Prince of Peace, and on His terms.

What an offer has come from the Prince of Peace! His peace — not just peace — has been tendered to each serious disciple. The fearful, fluttering hearts are gone; quiet hearts are now governed by the pacemaker of Jesus’ deep and abiding peace.

 

 

Going to the Father

Heaven is a really nice place. Earth, even with the best it has to offer, by comparison is not a nice place. Heaven is such a nice place that it is worth whatever sacrifices of earth are necessary to enter its courts. And because eternity is such a long time, whatever pain or suffering earth has in store is a mini-blip and not worthy of consideration in the grand scheme of eternal bliss.

But because earth is the only experience of man, unless his consciousness of heaven is elevated by the word of God, making a better life on earth for himself becomes his all-consuming drive. The vision of what constitutes a better life on earth is variegated, and depends greatly upon the circumstances of the society in which the particular individual lives. A scion of Rome, for example, might have pressed for more slaves and a villa in Naples; the herdsman of Scythia’s steppes might have driven for more animals for his flock and an extra fold-out for his tent. And, make no mistake about it, there could easily have been some sort of body count in the wake of a drive for more slaves in attendance or more animals for the flock.

Jesus, by huge contrast, was glad to be leaving earth and returning to His heavenly home. But He was coming back: first, in Spirit form to dwell in the hearts of those who would be obedient to the faith, and second, to return in His radiant glory to execute judgment.

Jesus’ exit from earth would be through a nasty crucifixion, a set of circumstances that would disconcert the apostles. But they were to maintain their faith in Him, and rejoice in His return to the Father.

 

 

Ruler of the World

The battle for the souls of men is fierce. Onto the battlefield has stridden the mighty Son of God, resplendent in radiance, the calm brilliance of His light spreading out into the darkness. Out on the edge of the light is a snarling pack of spiritual wolves, viciously ripping and tearing, killing every soul that wanders into their domain.

Head of the forces of darkness is Satan, the Adversary of old. Once an angel of God, he has chosen rebellion against the good God, and has descended into a seething cauldron of hate and destruction. His hatred for man is challenging to comprehend; the master of disaster is also master of disguise and deception. “Even Satan,” stated the apostle Paul, “disguises himself as an angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14). And he has some power, as Paul also noted: “For we wanted to come to you — I, Paul, more than once — and yet Satan thwarted us” (I Thessalonians 2:18). While he occasionally puts road blocks in front of the workers for the Lord, Satan’s major grip is on those held captive by sin. “We know that we are of God,” the apostle John exhorted first century believers, “and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (I John 5:19).

The prince of darkness — the ruler of the world — was on his way. Troops of the world — Roman soldiers — were on the march. Religious authorities of the world — Sadducees and Pharisees — had organized and orchestrated the march. And the turncoat of the world — Judas Iscariot — was leading the march. Jerusalem slumbered, not knowing that the forces of good and evil were marshalling, and they would clash in the darkness of Golgotha’s hill. The ruler of the world was coming under the cover of darkness, but he had nothing in the soon-to-be-victorious Son of God.

 

 

Love and Truth

Love and truth are not different coins; they are the obverse and reverse of the same coin. Rather than being competitive and therefore excluding one another, they are cooperative and share the same mission. The God who is love, when He took on flesh, stated that He was the truth. Love and truth share the same mission, the mission of rescuing souls interested in truth and reconciling them to loving fellowship with God the Father.

Love and truth commingled in the work of Jesus on the cross. “But God demonstrates His love toward us,” expostulated the apostle Paul, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s love of the lost was visibly placed in full view of the world through the awful truth of His gruesome death by hanging on the tree. The “ruler of the world” came to shut the mouth of Jesus, but in the greatest “sting operation” in the history of the world, Jesus rose from the dead and offered His spiritual blood in the true Holy of Holies. Praise God that Jesus kept His Father’s commandment!