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Faith and the True Light

Faith and the True Light
Text: John 1:9-13
By Mike Peek

Context

The disciple whom Jesus loves begins this paragraph using Jewish imagery. Jewish tradition said that God offered the law to all seventy nations on Mount Sinai but only Israel excepted the Word of God; therefore, the Jewish people believed the Gentiles were unenlightened. Though many Israelites disobeyed the law of God, they believed that when the law came forth at the end of time all of Israel would accept the Word of God.[1]

Isaiah 2:3

Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
The author breaks from Jewish tradition emphasizing that reception of the Word is not by ethnic birth but by spiritual rebirth. Jewish tradition applied the title “Children of God” to the nation of Israel alone but the disciple whom Jesus loved applies it to all who receive the Word as a result of spiritual rebirth.[2]

Principle

The revelation of God can be classified in two ways: general revelation and special revelation. General revelation can be seen in nature, history and humanity. General revelation is God’s communication of Himself to everyone.[3]

Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Do to the fall, general revelation does not enable a human being to come to the knowledge of God.[4] The apostle called this suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. (Rom.1:18) Since man cannot see God in creation because of sin, if man is to be reached, God must reach man by other means. 
Special revelation is God’s communication and manifestation of Himself to particular persons, at particular places and particular times. Special revelation is recorded for us in the Scriptures.[5]God revealed Himself to Moses through special revelation: communication (Word) and manifestation (burning bush) and Moses listened to the Word of God. (Ex.3:1-6) God revealed Himself to the Israelites through special revelation: communication (the ten commandments) and manifestation (thunder, lightning, sound of the trumpet, and smoking mountain) and they asked Moses to speak to them instead of God. (Ex.20:1-21)
So, if people are not converted by general revelation (the things made) and special revelation (the Word and manifestations of God) how are people converted? It is not through blood lines that people are made “Children of God.” It is not by the will of the flesh that people are made “Children of God.” Nor is it by the will of man that people are made “Children of God.” Though I cannot recall the source, I once heard a story about the 18thcentury itinerant-evangelist George Whitfield (1714-1770): A friend asked George Whitfield why he always preached “Ye must be born again.” Whitefield answered, “Because you must be born again.”

Application

All who receive Jesus as the God Man are counted among the “Children of God.” It does not matter where or to home people are physically born because no one can receive Jesus unless they be born of God. It does not matter how much money or effort is put into church programs because no one can receive Jesus unless they be born of God. It does not matter how much we desire people to be in the household of God because no one can receive Jesus unless they be born of God. If you believe that men are saved by blood lines, or by the works of men, or by the will of men you have been deceived. No one can come to the Word of God unless they be born of God; and if they be born of God, they are beloved “Children of God.” Jesus gives the right to all who receive Him to become “Children of God;” therefore, worship God and pray for those who have not yet received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Point out to people the general revelation (creation), tell people what is written in the Scriptures (special revelation) and if someone receives Jesus give all honor, glory and praise to God.


[1]Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, 2nded. (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2014), 249.
[2]Ibid, 250.
[3]Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rded. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 121-122.
[4]Ibid, 137.
[5]Ibid, 122.