Section Thirteen: The Writings of John [God Wants You to Have Life]

Section Thirteen: The Writings of John, God Wants You to Have Life

A Story

Once upon a time there was a mother duck that had eggs to hatch.  She waited and nested and waited and nested.  One day as she was sitting on her nest of eggs the mother duck felt something move beneath her.  Crack!  One after another the eggs began to hatch.  Crack! Filled with happiness, the mother duck watched as, one by one, her eggs hatched.

She was so excited to lead her children to the pond and teach them all the ways of being a duck.  They could only learn from her and they would soon one day go and teach others what she would teach them.  While at the pond, a lonely little swan waddled up to the duck family and just watched from a distance.  He inched closer.  And closer.  Then closer.  All of the newly hatched ducks in the pond stared at the swan and began to laugh.   The swan waddled away rejected.

Wait.  That’s not how the story is supposed to go.  Let’s try again.

Once upon a time there was a mother duck that had eggs to hatch.  She waited and nested and waited and nested.  One day as she was sitting on her nest of eggs the mother duck felt something move beneath her.  Crack!  One after another the eggs began to hatch.  Crack! Filled with happiness, the mother duck watched as, one by one, her eggs hatched.

She was so excited to lead her children to the pond and teach them all the ways of being a duck.  They could only learn from her and they would soon one day go and teach others what she would teach them.  While at the pond, a lonely little swan waddled up to the duck family and just watched from a distance.  He inched closer.  And closer.  Then closer.  All of the newly hatched ducks in the pond stared at the swan and began to laugh.

The mother duck pecked at the little ones and chided them, “That is not how we act.  Period.”  She then turned to the little swan and questioned, “What is it you want little one?”

“I wish to join you.  Where you go I will go.  Where you stay I will stay.  How you live I will live,” the little swan said in a soft voice.

“You may join us,” said the mother duck.  The little ducklings marveled at the grace of the mother duck.  She just accepted him right in.  They took note.  Many days and nights passed and the little swan was living happily with the family of ducks.

Pretty soon though, the swan lost interest.  “Eh,” said the swan, “I don’t really care about this anymore.”  One day the swan just waddled away from the pond and turned his back on the mother duck and the other ducklings.  Soon after the swan waddled away, the swan was shot by a hunter and was dinner.  Dead.

Wait.  That’s not how the story is supposed to go even though it happens quite often.  Let’s try just one more time.

Once upon a time there was a mother duck that had eggs to hatch.  She waited and nested and waited and nested.  One day as she was sitting on her nest of eggs the mother duck felt something move beneath her.  Crack!  One after another the eggs began to hatch.  Crack! Filled with happiness, the mother duck watched as, one by one, her eggs hatched.

She was so excited to lead her children to the pond and teach them all the ways of being a duck.  They could only learn from her and they would soon one day go and teach others what she would teach them.  While at the pond, a lonely little swan waddled up to the duck family and just watched from a distance.  He inched closer.  And closer.  Then closer.  All of the newly hatched ducks in the pond stared at the swan and began to laugh.

The mother duck pecked at the little ones and chided them, “That is not how we act.  Period.”  She then turned to the little swan and questioned, “What is it you want little one?”

“I wish to join you.  Where you go I will go.  Where you stay I will stay.  How you live I will live,” the little swan said in a soft voice.

“You may join us,” said the mother duck.  The little ducklings marveled at the grace of the mother duck.  She just accepted him right in.  They took note of her love.  Many days and nights passed and the little swan was living happily with the family of ducks.  He loved to play with the ducks and the mother treated him like her own.  Everything was perfect.  She taught him about life.  She taught him about love.

While the swan was living with the ducks, something divine started to happen.  As the swan lived like a duck, he actually began to change into a duck.  As the swan lived like the mother duck instructed, the little swan that joined the duck family in fact changed to become a duck.  His voice changed.  His outlook changed.  The way he flew changed.  His feet changed.  His diet changed.  Living in the grace of the mother duck, the swan became a duck.

The End.

God Wants You to Have Life

God wants you to have LIFE.  Like a Father He wants the best for you.  Like a mother duck He wants to guide and protect you.  Transformation happens the longer we live LIFE with God.

The Book of 1 John

The Apostle John walked and talked with Jesus.  He is the author of one of the Gospels (which we have already talked about) and he is also the author of three epistles in the New Testament and the Book of Revelation.  As we look at John’s writings in the epistles, we see that he makes two important emphases.  First, John’s writings in the New Testament highlight the TRUTH that God wants you and me to have LIFE.  Second, John focuses on the WAY of that TRUTH and LIFE which is love.

First Emphasis of Life

The epistle of 1 John begins with the emphasis of LIFE.  LIFE is a word used 14x in just a small span of verses in 1 John.  1 John 1:1 (much like John 1:1) speaks of Jesus as the Word…the Word of Life.”  1 John 1:2 says, The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (NIV 1984).  What is John talking about in this verse?  John son of Zebedee identifies Jesus as LIFE.  He identifies Jesus as the Son of God (from the Father).  He identifies Jesus as the One who came in the flesh and has loved us.  Based on what we have already seen in the Scriptures, God has LIFE and He has offered that LIFE to us through Jesus Christ.  The only WAY for us to have access to the eternal life John is talking about here is through Jesus Christ (think John 14:6).

We must not lose sight that the Apostle John reminds us that in order to continue to have access to eternal life, the believer must remain as part of God.  1 John 2:24-25 says, See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.  25 And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.”  This simple spiritual statement has far reaching implications for the believer.  Only those who remain in the Son have the Father and therefore have access to the promise of eternal life.  John puts this truth in Chapter 2 as a positive statement.  John puts the same truth forward later in Chapter 5, but communicates it with a more negative tone: “God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son.  12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12, NIV).  The silly bumper sticker is true: Know Jesus Know Life, No Jesus No Life.  Who knew?!

Second Emphasis of Love

The Apostle John makes another great emphasis in his writings that cannot be overlooked…love.  The word “love” is mentioned 42x in the short three books of 1, 2, and 3 John.  John was all about love as was Jesus Christ.

John first communicates to us that God loves us.  The kind of love that God has for human beings is a perfect love that does not end.  The kind of love that God has for human beings is unconditional.  It is described perfectly and poetically in 1 Corinthians 13 by another apostle.  God is love.  Love is the motivator for God for His desire that we have LIFE.  He wants us to share in LIFE because He loves us.

God ultimately manifests His extreme divine love towards us by sending Jesus Christ as our Savior.  John says as much in 1 John 4:9-10 when he says, This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (NIV 1984).

John secondly communicates that having a relationship with the Almighty Loving God means we ourselves as believers must follow the WAY of love.  Our behavior must be marked by love.  Our heart motivation towards ourselves, others, and God must be love.  1 John 4:7-8 says, Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (NIV 1984).  Love, a heart motivated by love, and behaviors of love are what bind brothers and sisters together as God’s children.

This also means that believers cannot step away from God and expect to have a good relationship with Him.  A relationship with God is an active love relationship.  We must remain close to God by connecting with love in our lives.  We realize this may sound a little “new-agey,” but John does say in 1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  We connect with God when we connect with love.

God has given us the capacity to love.  It is only by His design that we can experience this emotion and share this emotion with others.  All people (because they are human beings created by God) have the capacity for love.  Even the most rotten soul you could ever meet has the capacity to feel love and to give love.  However, only those who are part of the Kingdom of God live by love.  Those in the Kingdom of Light are to use their free will to love in a manner that worships God rather than to use their free will for selfish gain.

This love that we are to express and share cries out as a testimony of the God we serve.  This love points right to Jesus Christ.  We love because He loves us.  We love the unlovable because the Creator loves us unconditionally and He commands we love in the same manner He has loved us.

The book of 1 John illustrates this TRUTH in verse after verse:

3:10 A person not in the Kingdom does not love his brother

3:14 A person in the Kingdom loves as a normal part of life

3:24 A person in the Kingdom makes it a priority to love God and obey Him

4:2 A person in the Kingdom confesses that Jesus Christ came in flesh

4:6 A person in the Kingdom listens to the witness of the Apostles and can spot error

More than anything God wants you to have LIFE.  Only He gives LIFE.  LIFE can only be found by following the path that He has set up.  1 John 4:13-21 describes it further: “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.  16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.  18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  19 We love because he first loved us.  20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

A note on The Book of Revelation

The Apostle John walked and talked with Jesus.  He is the author of one of the Gospels (which we have already talked about) and he is also the author of three epistles in the New Testament (which we just talked about) and the Book of Revelation.  As we look at the Book of Revelation, we see an emphasis on life and death.  From the beginning to end of this prophetic symbolic apocalyptic letter, the Apostle John speaks of who will receive life eternal and who will be cast out of God’s realm (life) and where they will go…namely the “lake of fire.”

The Christian believers addressed by Jesus Christ in John’s letter are told to be faithful unto death and they will receive the crown of eternal life.  Yet, they must overcome (Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, 3:5, 3:12, 3:21, 21:7).  John makes it clear in 1 John Chapter 5 that an “overcomer” is a person “with faith in Jesus.”  Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation discloses that faith is tested and must be shown to be true even at the point of giving up one’s own life.  That is a heavy test!  John writes in Revelation 12:11 (NIV): “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

Please understand that the book of Revelation says what the rest of the Bible says.  It says that LIFE is found in Jesus alone and death comes to those who refuse the WAY of LIFE.  As we have seen in this entire study, God is the source of LIFE and will not share life with those who reject Him.  This is stated in a highly amplified manner in Revelation. In chapter fourteen for example, we have the poplar passage of the beast and those that take the mark. Who are destroyed with smoke that goes up forever in the presence of Christ and the holy angels. Due to the fact that they dwell in a lifestyle rejecting the presence of the Lord. They have become a spiritual city (if you will) that resembles those cities before like Sodom, Gomorrah, Edom and many others. They were absent of righteousness and full of evil. The author emphasizes they find no rest day or night forever. Whereas the followers of Christ find rest. Rest that comes through following and putting trust in the finished work of Christ. Accordingly, we see those that reject Gods’ rest and those that enter into Gods’ rest. The rest that God proclaims in Psalm 95:11, the prophets preached and the author of Hebrews speaks of, the everlasting Sabbath of Christ who has sat down at the right hand of God.

As Revelation continues, we see we see those that oppose Jesus Christ (called ‘Babylon’) brought into judgement.  This ‘Babylon’ is paralleled by Christ and His Bride (New Jerusalem).  New Jerusalem is the city wherein God’s face is seen and He dwells forever.  Only in the New Jerusalem is there an everlasting love relationship between Christ and His church which is eternal LIFE.  The Christian is called to believe in God’s finished work in Christ faithfully unto death because death cannot hold the way of Christ.  As Christ himself says in Revelation 1:18, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (NIV 1984).  God is the source of LIFE and consumes the way of death.  He has nothing to share with death nor will He uphold death.  Therefore, death cannot remain.

Please understand that there is not a dualistic end when God fully reveals Himself on the Last Day.  A person will either remain in Jesus (LIFE) or suffer end of life in whatever form of death God deems fit.  A person will be judged by Jesus in accordance to the life lived.  If someone’s deeds reveal faith in Christ, then they have LIFE.  If someone’s deeds reveal a self-seeking nature, then they have wrath and fury (see also Romans 2:1-11).

There is only LIFE in God.  There is no death in Him.  This is why the Apostle John prophetically sees that when Jesus returns Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire.  Revelation 20:14 terms this “the second death.”  There is only LIFE in God.  There is no death in Him.  1 Corinthians 15:26 confirms this by stating, “the last enemy to be destroyed is death” and 1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (ESV).

The point is that the book of Revelation declares Jesus as the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE just as every other book in the Bible. They all have their own genre, stories, context, history, wisdom etc., but in the end Jesus Christ and the LIFE He offers is their message.  Jesus is the means by which God reconciles the world to Himself.

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