Saturday, May 13, 2017

What are You Becoming? (John 1:1-18)

John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” Part of this process of becoming God’s children is what we call discipleship. 

Years ago in his Life of Christ class at San Jose Bible College, one of Professor Dallas Meserve’s assignments was to memorize the Prologue to St. John’s gospel. These very first eighteen verses are astonishing in their literary and doctrinal quality. They comprise a widely acknowledged masterpiece in scripture worthy of memorization. They are perhaps most noted for using the Greek word logos or ‘word’ as a title for Christ Jesus, which was applied to His deity in the context of His eternal and manifest incarnate nature. Many commentaries expand on the depth of the Logos.

Through the years I’ve read and recited these verses many times. Recently I reviewed it in again in a Greek-English interlinear text and made a discovery I don’t recall from any past teaching on this gospel. Looking through five books on John collected over the years found some mention but no comprehensive development.  Following is not such a scholarly development but a highlight for further pondering.

The Greek word for to become (ginomai) is a very hard working word in the New Testament. Vine in his "Expository Dictionary of the NT" shows it was translated by 39 English words in the KJV including “arise”, “marry” and “wax”. Strong in his concordance says it was “used with great latitude” (1096). 

Ginomai is used in six places in the Prologue:

<> Creation through Christ (vss 3 and 10 “All things came into being through Him [Jesus]” )

<> John the Baptist as the witness of Christ (vs 6 “There came a man sent from God whose name was John…”, literally “…came into being a man…”)

<> Believers in Christ born as children of God (vs 12 see above)

<> Incarnate Christ, Jesus born to Mary (vs 14 “…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”)

<> Jesus, the pre-existent and exalted Christ (vs 15 “John [the Baptist] testified about Him… saying, …‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I…” [Jesus was both born (of Mary) and ordained after John] a more literal translation of “has a higher rank” is “He who… has become before me”, and note the word "comes" is the common word for "to come")

<> Jesus, who brings into being real grace and real truth as superior to the ceremonial law of Moses (vs 17 “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” literally “…grace and truth came to be…”.

Here is another exalted view of the coming into being of our faith: Christ creates all things, sends His messenger, gives His people new birth… ever becoming our glorious Lord and Savior, “the radiance of God’s glory and exact representation of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Here we find a foundation for our struggle in this world to know God by faith and to live as His people. It takes more than the do’s and don’ts of religious law; it takes real grace and real truth from a real God. 

Our reading through scripture can be at times somewhat casual, a check mark on our list of things to do each day. It’s good to be reminded of the exalted nature of the Holy Word of God, the revelation of the new covenant as given by Christ Jesus and his apostles. Take some time to prayerfully meditate on these eighteen verses and receive what the Holy Spirit may ginomai in you.


…Ken Paxton
verses are from the NASB

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Reading Psalms

   your Profile Photo, Image may contain: bird, outdoor and waterThe book of Psalms in the Old Testament contains a variety of ancient Hebrew poetry which includes worship songs, prayers for deliverance from trouble, confession of sin, thanksgiving and much more. Some time ago I realized there are many Psalms that are as good, if not better, than any daily devotional I might read. But not all are written for that purpose, so it is good to be choosy. My daily reading now begins with a stanza from Psalm 119 and a selection of the other Psalms. These are read purposefully and prayed through, often aloud. I've found, as so many have through the centuries, no other expressions of faith, praise, thanksgiving and supplication in pursuit of a daily connection with the Almighty to be superior. 
   When we pray through Psalms we are reminded and we affirm it is only God who helps us; only His word that revives us; only His justice that rights the wrongs of the world; only He who is worthy of our adoration and praise; only His fellowship that gladdens our heart, quiets our soul and calms our mind.
   God bids us to do one thing in life, listen to Him. Listen means hear and obey. The very first Psalm tells us that those who listen to God's word are blessed. All the metaphors of scripture as to how that becomes real in our life aim to convey that simple relationship. Jesus put it this way, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
  How do we follow our Savior? We learn from Him. How do we learn? We listen and obey. It is the heart of a living relationship with our loving God.