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God's Will

Throughout the Gospel the priority of the divine is insisted upon. Salvation is simply not a human possibility at all. John's whole Gospel is concerned with the way in which God has brought men life through the sending of His Son; "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" >John20:31<
This is expressed also in the contrast of Grace with law; "For the law was given through Moses, but Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ" >John1:17<
"And the word of God became flesh (human being) and dwelt among us, and we beheld His Glory, the Glory as of the begotten of the Father, full of Grace and Truth" >John1:14<
"And of His fullness we all recieved, and Grace for Grace" >John1:16<
Though John uses the word Grace these four times only in his
gospel, the idea behind it is everywhere. Now the very idea of Grace means the priority of the divine. Grace is one of the great Christian words, and it is full with the thought of the unmerited favor that God extends to men. Unmerited! The very idea of merit excludes that of Grace. Wherever, then, we get the thought of Grace, we get that of the divine action to bring men Salvation quite apart from man's deservings. When John reminds us that the law was given by Moses, he is directing attention to the very heart of Grace. The Jewish people were very proud of Moses and of their place as the custodians of the law that he gave. And they interpreted the law as pointing men to Salvation by their own merits. John saw it differently. He did not deny that the law given to Moses was of divine origin. His
gospel shows that he was always more than respectful of it. But he saw it as pointing, not to Salvation by human merit, but to Christ. He tells us that; Phillip Found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote- Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph" >John1:45<
The whole OT on John's view prepares the way for the coming of Jesus. Those who read it aright will welcome Him, just as did Phillip and his friend, Nathanael. The same truth is behind our Lord's word in [John5:39]. There is doubt whether we should translate "Ye search the scriptures" or "search the scriptures" in the opening part of the verse, but there is no doubt about the conclusion, "there are they which bear witness of me." John tells us that his aim in writing the Gospel was; "that ye may believe that Jesus
is the Christ" >John20:31<
Now the Christ is a figure foretold in the OT. The Jewish people lovingly went through the prophecies that spoke of His coming, and they looked and longed for Him. When John speaks of His aim as showing that Jesus is the Christ, then, he spoke of the way in which he understood the scripture to foretell His return, and of the fact that he saw the return as the will of God. It is in the Spirit that he records the turning of the water into wine [John Chapt2]. There has been much discussion as to exactly what happened here, and what it is that John is trying to teach us, it seems that one thing that John was doing, at any rate, was showing the superiority of Christianity to Judaism. While there is no reason to doubt that John had set himself the task of recording something that had happened
(he was not adapting a pagan legend of manufacturing an edifying allegory), yet it is significant that he records that it was water "set there after the Jews' manner of purifying; "Now there was set six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece" >John2:6<
that was changed into wine. The water of Judaism, under the influence of Christ, became the wine of Christianity. And it is possible that the cleansing of the temple which John records in the same Chapter points us in the same direction. Many commentators agree that this incident reflects a dissatisfaction with the temple system, the heart of Judaism, and a determination to replace it with something better. In none of this is there a repudiation of the OT or a denial that the Jewish people
were the people of God. But there is the thought that the OT is not God's final word. It is the preparation for a fuller revelation. And the same thing may be said about the religion of the OT. It was divine in origin, but it looked forward to the coming of the Christ and the new way that he would inaugurate. The purpose of God is foreshadowed in the OT and it's religion, but that purpose is realized in Jesus Christ. Therefore, for John, everything must be evaluated in the light of Christ. There we see God's purpose as we see it nowhere else. Specifically, John sees the will of God to issue in the Cross. In the best-known text in the whole of scripture, we read; "For God so loved the world that he have His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" >John3:16<
Salvation is not
something wrung from an unwilling God by the desperate intervention of a compassionate Son who took pity on those subject to His Father's destroying wrath. Salvation proceeds rather from the loving heart of God the Father Himself. It is an expression at once of His love and of His righteousness. This is a precious truth, and it must never be lost sight of. But it is not always noticed that if the Cross is an expression of God's love it is also an expression of His righteousness. If there was nothing but His love to be considered, it would be difficult to see why the Cross should be necessary at all. The Cross is as eloquent of God's concern for moral law as it is of His
love. In line with all this, John makes it clear that Jesus' will was perfectly at one with the will of the Father; "I can of myself do nothing, As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is righteous, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent me" >John5:30<
We are not to think of Jesus as willing one thing and the Father another, so that in the end he had to bow in submission. The two see things the same way. So close was His unity with the Father that Jesus could say; "I and My Father are one" >John10:30< "Jesus said to him, "have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Phillip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'show us the Father' >John14:10<
"If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you have known Him and seen Him" >John14:7<
Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what he sees the Father do; for whatever he does, the son also does in like manner" >John5:19<
"do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; But the Father who dwells in Me does the works" >John14:10<
John could hardly make the point more emphatically. He speaks of a real incarnation, and is at pains to show that Jesus was a true man. It is the incarnation of One who is with God, and John emphasizes the community of will which illustrates this. What the Father willed the Son willed. This means that the Salvation that Jesus dies to bring is divinely appointed. It does not rest on any human wisdom or any human contriving, not
even that of Jesus considered as a man. It is that to which all preparation in the ancient scriptures pointed. It is that in which the will of the Heavenly Father is perfectly revealed. Those, then, who believe on Jesus Christ, and see in Him the Son of God, have the deep seated certainty that the way of Salvation in which they have been led is the way that God planned from of old whereby men might be saved
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