Saturday, October 10, 2015

Undeniable Light


Key Scripture: John 20:31  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.

The Apostle John believed that this was the reason why he was led to write this Gospel. It is accepted that John wrote these words from the city of Ephesus in perhaps AD97 or AD98, when he was near 100 years old. In those days Ephesus was the Roman Capital City of Asia Minor.

Several people from our Church spent much of the last two weeks traveling throughout Asia Minor touring both classical and Biblical sites and learning about our early Church fathers and our 1st Century Church history. Asia Minor, as it was called 2000 years ago, and is still called today by many, basically encompasses the modern country of Turkey.

Our tour covered the expansion of the Kingdom of God and advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ during the middle of the 1st Century AD. We visited 4 of the 7 Churches mentioned in the 1st Chapter of the book of Revelation, as well as several other Biblical sites mentioned in the Book of Acts. We all agreed that this trip qualifies as one of the “Trips of a Lifetime!”

Turkey is a unique country. Although the majority of its population is born into a Muslim tradition, the prevailing sense one gets while traveling through city after city is more that of a European culture. Nonetheless there is a growing desire among the religious to exert greater Muslim influence on those living and visiting the country. They make some efforts to indoctrinate tourists, especially Christians, in hopes of influencing them to doubt the Holy Bible and thereby discredit their faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and only Savior of the World.

These things are attempted so subtly and with such persistence that it reminds me of a tiny hammer pecking away at a great mountain … they just keep pecking and pecking from every angle hoping the unaware or unguarded Believer will eventually experience foundational collapse.

We were able to avoid those attempts for the most part because of our constant vigil and consistent redress of errors when presented. One of the most blatant falsehoods I heard on this trip was from a guide in Istanbul while we were touring a Christian Church built in the mid 500’s. The 6th Century Church Building - Hagia Sophia, continues to be one of the largest Churches ever built in the history of Christianity. It is magnificent.

When the Turks conquered the city of Istanbul in 1453 this building which had been a Christian Church for over 900 years began to be used for Muslim prayers and later it became a museum. The history of this building includes second floor marble columns robbed from the Temple of Diana in Ephesus. At any rate, the Muslim influence over the recent past led them to write passages from the Koran on the walls and ceilings and around the domes of this great and majestic cathedral. Our guide had already quoted several of them in Arabic and in the mix had managed to misquote several passages from the Bible. Once when he asked me if I knew which verse was written in one of the domes he was pointing to I said, “John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

He quickly said, “No, that is not it … that is not the truth anyway … John 3:16 was added to the Bible in the 16th century.”  This was after he had already told the tour group that Mohammed was a direct descendant from Noah and Abraham through Ishmael which was all documented in the Holy Bible. Later he attempted to convince me that Mohammad was named in the Bible as the prophet of God only Christians did not know it.

He did not know I was a pastor but once I told him that I had studied the Bible and I knew that what he was telling the people was not the truth he said that he did not want to discuss it any further and walked off. In less than 30 seconds he came back and began to try to discredit the Bible and the Christian faith once again and I told him, “I thought you didn’t want to discuss it any further … I think what you meant was that you did not want to listen to anyone else but only wanted others to listen to you.”

With a smile and a warm heart of love and hope I told him that the Jesus of the Koran is not the same person as Jesus of the Bible and that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the one and only Son of Almighty Jehovah God and that this Jesus is the Savior of the World. With this, our tour of the Hagia Sophia concluded but our duty to spread the Gospel with love and great grace continues on and so - let’s survey this truth once more.

John 1  NKJV
1 ¶  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2  He was in the beginning with God.
3  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
4  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 ¶  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7  This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.
8  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9  That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
10  He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
11  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
13  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14  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.

There are 4 Eternal Truths we affirm from this passage:

1.   God wants all men to have eternal life.
2.   Darkness does not appreciate light but people do.
a.   Darkness flees and does not appreciate nor comprehend light and people are left standing without defense
b.   We face darkness but we rescue souls
3.   Every person can be born again and thereby become a child of God.
a.   v.13 not by bloods, (of Jewry or Circumcision); not by the will of the flesh, (desire to be a child alone won’t save us); nor of the will of man, (adoption or conversion to some tradition or religion alone won’t save us) …
b.   Jesus said, “You must be born again …”
4.   To be born again a person must believe in the name of Jesus and receive Him.

12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

God wants to show you the light of life today. Whatever situation or circumstance you may be facing right now, whether related to marriage, finances, children, sickness, an uncertain future or a shameful past, God is willing to accept you as you are, take the sins and the pains of your life, save your soul, deliver you from the bondage of sin, sickness and fear.

Why continue denying the glorious light of the gospel of Christ Jesus. He loves you just as you are and He wants to shine the light of His grace in your life. Don’t turn Him away.

Perhaps you have never sincerely given you life to Jesus. Maybe you have always intended to pray someday and ask God to forgive you and save you but you have been putting it off. Possibly you don’t feel worthy or don’t want to be a hypocrite. God’s not putting you off … He didn’t wait until you got better before sending His Son Jesus for your sins.

God knows you can’t make it without Him. Drop your foolish pride and bow your heart to His loving mercy right now and simply and sincerely ask God to accept the blood of His Son as payment for your sins. Tell Him that you believe in Jesus the Son and want to be Born Again.

If you will simply pray that prayer and direct it to God the Father of all life, He will forgive you, save you, accept you and continue with you to lead you, teach you, guide you and love on you for the rest of your earthly life and throughout eternity.

Such a loving God gave His only Son because He wanted you to become His child. He loved you when you were unlovable and He has a plan for your eternity. Right now it does not appear what we shall be but we know that when we are born again and become a child of God, things begin to change and ultimately we will be transformed and fashioned into the very image of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Give God the chance you have been waiting for … pray now!

This offer to shine light on your path is not only for the lost today but also for the saved. Perhaps you are a born again child of God and on your way to heaven but are having difficulties and pressures of life, troubles and disappointments, hardships and hurts … God wants to shine His light of mercy and grace on you as well. If you will but pray today and ask God to forgive you of your shortcomings and shine the answers of life on your path, He will. God has said so that we may boldly say, He will never leave us or forsake us. God loves every one of His children and that includes you!

John 20:31  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.