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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 1 - The Shining of the Divine Light (John 1:1 - 4:54)
A - The Incarnation of the Word of God in Jesus (John 1:1-18)

3. The fullness of God appeared in the incarnation of Christ (John 1:14-18)

JOHN 1:17-18
17 For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.

The difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament can be boiled down to the difference between righteousness by Law and righteousness by Grace. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, the laws concerning blood sacrifices and the law for bringing order into life. He who kept these precepts merited life. But whoever transgressed against one of them deserved death. In this way the law was a judgment unto death, because no human is perfect. The best of pious folk were broken in repentance and remorse in the face of the impossible task of keeping all the rules of the Law. Superficial folk, however, regarded themselves as good, as though their life pleased God. This led them into egoism, and fanatical legalism. They forgot love and boasted in the righteousness of their selfish works. Surely, the Law as such is holy because it reflects the holiness of God. But in front of it every man looks evil. In this way the Law leads us to misery and death.

In this atmosphere that reeks with death the evangelist John mentions Jesus Christ for the first time in his Gospel as the rescuer from misery and the Savior from God's wrath. The man Jesus from Nazareth is the promised Messiah anointed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. He is the King of kings, the Word of God and the High Priest. He is the summary of all possibilities for hope and salvation.

Christ did not come to us with a new legal system, rather he redeemed us from the curse of the Law. With his excelling love he fulfilled all legal demands in our stead. He bore our sins and the judgment against the world on his shoulders, thus reconciling us to God. God is no longer our enemy because of our sins, but we have obtained peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The man Jesus ascended to his heavenly Father and poured out his Holy Spirit on us. He impressed the Law on our hearts, filling our innermost feelings with pure, truthful and honorable thoughts. We no longer live under the Law, but He is in us. In this way God has given us the power to fulfill the demands of his love.

With Christ's coming, the age of grace has begun and we live in it. God does not ask from us offerings, services or sacrifices to bolster our self-righteousness, but he sent his Son to bestow on us divine righteousness. He who believes in him is completely justified. Because of this we love and thank him and offer our living sacrifice unto him for he sanctified us.

Christ does not leave us as orphans but remains with us, and pours out his gifts on us. We do not deserve the forgiveness of our sins, or the fellowship of the Spirit of God. Nor do we merit any other gift or blessing from him. Everything is grace from him. Indeed, we deserve nothing but wrath and perdition. But on account of our bonding with Christ by faith, we have become the sons of God on whom he bestows his grace. Have you realized the difference between the slaves of sin and the children of grace?

This grace is not a mere emotional feeling in the heart of the Holy One. Rather, it is a love based on judicial rights. God cannot forgive whomever he wills, because the sinner's sin requires his immediate death. However, Christ's substitutionary crucifixion in our place has fulfilled all righteousness. Thus grace has become a right for us and the mercy of God a reality that cannot be shaken. Grace in Christ is the legal basis for our life with God.

You ask: Who is this God, free to act, yet bound to his justice? We answer you: Many religions have seriously and arduously attempted to understand God. But they are like ladders set on earth that cannot reach heaven. But Christ is like a divine ladder descending from heaven, fixed on earth. Our meeting with God through him leaves no one in despair.

No man has seen the eternal Creator, because our sins separate us from the Holy One. All statements about God are no more than vague speculations. But Christ was his Son, with God from eternity, one of the constituents of the divine Trinity. Thus the Son knew who the Father is. All Previous revelation is inadequate. But Christ is God's perfect Word, and the summary of all truth.

What is the pivot of Christ's message?

He taught us to address God in prayer like this, "Our Father who art in heaven". With this manner of addressing God he declared to us that the essence of God is his fatherhood. God is not a dictator, a conqueror or a destroyer. Nor is he apathetic and indifferent. He cares for us as a father thinks of his child. Should this child fall in the mud, he pulls him out, cleans him up and does not leave him to get lost in the world of guilt. Since we have come to know that God is our Father, our distress caused by our worries and our sins has been lifted. For in returning to our Father we obtained cleansing and a welcome. We live with God for ever. The religious revolution that broke into our world in the name of the Father is the new Christian thought that Christ brought. This paternal name holds the summary of Christ's words and works.

Before his incarnation Christ was with his Father. This tender image clarifies the loving relation between Christ and God. After dying and rising the Son returned to the Father. He did not only sit on God's right hand but also is in the bosom of the Father. This means that he, one with him, he is him. Thus all the sayings of Christ about God are true. In Christ we see who God is. As the Son is, so is the Father, and as the Father is, so is the Son.

PRAYER: Our Father who art in heaven we praise and thank you, because you sent us Christ your beloved Son. We bow down to you for you freed us from the nightmare of the Law and planted us in your divine righteousness. We thank you for every spiritual gift, and magnify you because of the privileges we possess in your fatherly Name.


  1. What new thought did Christ bring into the world?


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