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Grace on Top of Grace

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Introduction to John’s Gospel

Written by the apostle John towards the end of the first century.
Why?
Mark focuses on what Jesus did.
Matthew and Luke give more details on what Jesus said.
John focuses on who Jesus was.
He writes to encourage believers to stay in the faith.

Today’s Reading

John 1:1–18 NKJV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Summary of Passage

This passage introduces to two people - Jesus and John the Baptist (not to be confused with John the apostle who wrote this book). We will look at John next time. But here’s what the passage says about Jesus:

1. Jesus is the perfect communication of who God is

That’s why He is called “the Word”
John 1:1 NKJV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2. Jesus is Eternal, He existed before He became a human being

2. Jesus is Eternal, He existed before He became a human being

Notice, in the beginning, the Word was already there.

3. Jesus is both distinct from God, yet also God

“the Word was WITH God, and the Word WAS God”
[picture - ice in a glass of water]
Analogy: the ice is with the water, and the ice is water
Jesus is a distinct person from God the Father, but He is in very nature God.
Jesus is a distinct person from God the Father, but He is in very nature God.

4. Jesus is the agent through which God created all things

5. In Jesus is light that darkness cannot overcome

6. Jesus was rejected by His own people, but those who put their faith in Him were given the right to become God’s children

Jesus was rejected by His own people, but those who put their faith in Him were given the right to become God’s children

Jesus was rejected by His own people, but those who put their faith in Him were given the right to become God’s children

7. As a result of believing in Jesus, we have received an abundance of grace

It is this last point that we will be focusing on today.

Abundance of Grace

John 1:16–17 NKJV
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:16-1y
“grace for grace” can also be translated, “grace on top of grace”, in other words, we have receive abundant grace.
Grace means unmerited favour. It is the opposite of law.
The law of Moses is the 613 commandments that God gave Israel through the ministry of Moses. They consisted of religious rituals, judicial laws, as well as moral standards.
This grace is contrasted with the law of Moses.
The law of Moses is the 613 commandments that God gave Israel through the ministry of Moses. They consisted of religious rituals, judicial laws, as well as moral standards.
Under the law you had to keep the commandments in order to be righteous.
But under grace we are made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ.

The law brings death and condemnation, grace brings life and justification

Problem: no human being can keep the law. Therefore, the law only leaves us feeling condemned!
Galatians 3:10 NKJV
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
Galatians 3:
Trying to be righteous by keeping the law is a cursed experience, as it will just show you how sinful you are:
Romans 3:20 NKJV
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
[justified means “declared righteous”]
Instead of imparting life, it will leave you spiritually dead:
Furthermore, the law’s commandments not to sin actually make you want to sin, resulting in condemnation and spiritual death:
Romans 7:7–11 NKJV
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
Grace, however, is different. Instead of leaving you condemned, grace gives us righteousness as a free gift through faith in Jesus Christ:
Grace on the other gives us justification (i.e. righteousness) as a free gift through faith in Jesus Christ:
Romans 3:24 NKJV
24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Romans 3:28 NKJV
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
Instead of producing death, it leaves us spiritually alive:
Romans 5:17 NKJV
17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
“Reign in life” simply means that we enjoy spiritual life instead of spiritual death. “Life” characterises those who receive God’s grace and free gift of righteousness.

Commandments not to sin make you want to sin, thereby prodcucing spiritual
Romans 7:7–11 NKJV
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.

The law brings rejection, grace brings adoption

Because we cannot meet God’s holy standards, being under the law means we cannot enjoy fellowship with Him.
Isaiah 59:2 NKJV
2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
Isaiah 59:2
But grace brings us back into fellowship with God by adopting us into God’s family as His dear children:
John 1:12 NKJV
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

The law enslaves, grace sets free

law enslaves, grace sets free

Depending on observing the law in order to be righteous makes you a slave to the law.
There were some false believers who were trying to bring the Galatians back under the law of Moses. Paul said this to them:
Galatians 5:1 NKJV
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
God’s grace sets us free from bondage to the law!
But grace sets us free from that bondage:
Galatians 4:21–26 NKJV
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Gal 4:21-26
Hagar, who was Sarah’s bondwoman, represents Mount Sinai

The law demands obedience, grace produces obedience

law demands obedience, grace produces obedience

Whilst the law gave us many commandments, it didn’t give us the spiritual ability to keep them.
Under grace, God empowers us from the inside to live the way He wants us to:
Jeremiah 31:31 NKJV
31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—
Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV
33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
The law of Moses consisted of:
Jeremiah 31:31–33 NKJV
31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
ritual laws (e.g. sacrifices, feasts, Sabbaths etc.)
Jeremiah 31:31
judicial laws (i.e. laws of pertaining to the governance of the nation)
God’s eternal laws (e.g. love your neighbour as yourself, you shall not lie etc.)
The law of Moses consisted of ritual laws (e.g. sacrifices, feasts, Sabbaths etc.); judicial laws (i.e. laws of pertaining to the governance of the nation); and God’s eternal laws (e.g. love your neighbour as yourself, you shall not lie etc.)
As Christians, we are not bound to a literal observation of the ritual and judicial laws of Moses (although we are to learn from their principles).
God has now written these laws in our heart so that we have not have a new nature that wants to fulfil them:
However God’s eternal laws have become part of the new covenant. God has now written these laws in our heart so that we have not have a new nature that wants to fulfil them:
Philippians 2:13 NKJV
13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
The law gave the command, but with grace, God Himself works in your heart so that you can live as He pleases.
Romans 8:3–4 NKJV
3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Through the Spirit, grace enables us to live right!

Summary

The law brings death and condemnation, grace brings life and justification
The law brings rejection, grace brings adoption
The law enslaves, grace sets free
The law demands obedience, grace produces obedience

Discussion / Prayer Time

In groups of 4-5 discuss what you love about living under grace! Also share what stuck out to you from today's message.
Pray for each other that you would live in the confidence that comes from knowing you are righteous because of God's grace!

Choir - Tues, 7:45
Bible Study - 18th March, 6pm
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