1 14-18 Is It Possible To See God
liberty bible church 10/7/07 a.M.
By Tom Zobrist
“is it possible to see god?”
Illus. of an old fort in the wild west was about to be attacked. The wily old General sends for his trusty Indian Scout. "You must use all your thirty years of skill in trying to estimate the sort of army we are up against here." The trusty Indian Scout laid down and put his ear to the ground. "Heap large war party," he says, "maybe three hundred braves, four chiefs, two on black stallions, two on white stallions. All have war paint...many, many guns. Medicine man also with them." "Good grief!" exclaims the General, "you can tell all of that just by listening to the ground???" "No, General," replied the Indian, "I can see under the gate."
When it comes to God, many claim that they have seen Him in ways that most never have nor will this side of Heaven; miraculous visions where they see God in physical form. Some of their testimonies conjure up thoughts of the OT saints like Jacob or Moses or Ezekiel and NT saints like Paul or Stephen. The question is, can Christians today see God in visions like some of these saints of old? If so, why don’t we all have this opportunity and if not, why not? Is it possible to see God?
OPEN to passage.
Prop. In this passage, we see how God has been revealed to man.
Open in PRAYER.
PREVIEW the passage. We’ve been going though this 18 verse prologue into the Gospel of John. We have seen that Jesus is God and that John the Baptist came to be a witness of who He was. Many rejected John’s witness. Cf. v 10-11 But all who received Him, could be called the children of God. Cf. v 12-13 Today we finish the prologue and see how the glory and character of God are made visible to a sinful world. First…
i. the glory of god revealed vs. 14-15
Illus. of when Jesus came to this earth, there was no glowing head in the manger. So how is God’s glory revealed?
A. the glory of god is revealed through Jesus. How?
V 14a 1. Once again, the Word refers to Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God. That becomes even more clear in these 5 verses. He didn’t just look like a man. He was a man. He was God and man at the same time. Cf. Phil. 2:5-11 (Our Scripture reading)
2. “flesh” does not refer to human nature or sinfulness. It refers to the fact that He became a physical being and “dwelt among us.” Illus. of how God dwelt among His people in the Tabernacle in the wilderness. The word for dwelt is from the Greek word for tabernacle. Jesus was tabernacled among His people for a while. God’s presence was with the people of the world.
V 14b 3. His glory was evident. Wait, I thought his glory was revealed. Other than on the Mount of Transfiguration, that indeed John was a witness to, Jesus’ glory was not revealed. So what does this mean?
V 14c 4. It was a unique glory from the Father that only the Father’s Son could reveal. It could be seen in His life, His miracles, and in His death and resurrection. It is different from the glory evident in the lives of God’s other children who have believed in Jesus. V 12 It is unique to God’s Son alone.
V 14d 5. His glory is a gracious and truthful revelation to man. By His grace we are saved and this is true. That that receive this are children of God and those that reject it are not; very black and white and very unpopular. The glory of God is revealed in Jesus.
b. the glory of god is echoed through the rest of the children
Illus. of how younger siblings look up to and brag on their big brothers or sisters. There is something different here with John the Baptist.
V 15a 1. As the older cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist would be considered superior to Jesus from a legal perspective. Yet, it was John who bore witness of Jesus and directed people to Him.
V 15b 2. “preferred” means “is ranked higher” than. Jesus was born after John, His ministry started after John’s, yet by John’s testimony, Jesus ranks higher than John. Why?
V 15c 3. Because Jesus was before Him! Cf. v 1-5 John knew this and he told the people about Jesus. We’ll talk more specifically of what John’s ministry was and how it related to Jesus’ message next week.
Trans. THE GLORY OF GOD IS REVEALED IN JESUS. It is seen in His life, ministry, death and resurrection. We have the privilege of witnessing to the world about these events. Now, what about…
ii. the character of god revealed vs. 16-18
Illus. of Grandfather in Heaven quote- “We want, in fact, not so much a father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven: a senile benevolence who, as they say, “liked to see young people enjoying themselves” and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, a good time was had by all.” Source unknown
Although this sounds great, this doesn’t really reveal what God’s character really is. What is it like? First…
a. the character of god is gracious to us
V 16a 1. “we” and “all” refer to John and all believers since. “fullness” refers to the sum total of all the spiritual favors brought through Jesus. We have all received the grace of God through Jesus Christ if we are born again.
V 16b 2. “grace for grace” is literally “grace in place of grace.” Like waves continually pounding toward shore, so God’s grace keeps coming to those who are His children. Even in trials, our lives are full of God’s grace; one after the other. Illus. of the glass is half full or half empty. We should be full glass people when we realize how much of God’s grace is in our lives.
V 17a 3. Moses gave the Law. This was great for that time. For the first time ever, God had revealed Himself to a special people. But the Law could not save us. Just like John’s baptism could not save, it only revealed the need for salvation. The Law was good, but it was not the best.
V 17b 4. Jesus brought “grace and truth.” He is the Truth that sets us free. Salvation is the gracious gift of God sent to man through Jesus. This is not the complete character of God, but it’s enough revealed here to lead us to salvation.
b. the character of god is revealed through jesus
V 18a 1. This phrase causes a problem for some. Isaiah claimed to see the King in Is. 6:5. Yet Paul said God was invisible in 1 Timothy 1:17. And then in 1 Tim. 6:16 says no has nor can see God. So which is it? Here, John means that no one can see God’s essential nature. We may see God in a theophany or anthropomorphism, But His nature is only revealed through Jesus.
V 18b 2. Once again, Jesus is unique and comes from the very person of God, since He is God. As John ends His prologue, He takes us back to what He started with; Jesus is God. V 1 Before He begins His Gospel, he wants us to remember that Jesus is God. He is the unique Son of God. He has an intimate relationship with God. This is why He can…
V 18c 3. “declare him.” Or “has made Him known.” The Greek word used here is word we get exegesis from; “to draw out.” It’s the word we use of preaching the Word. We exegete it or draw out what is there and share it with others. Jesus exegetes God to us. He is able to do this because He is God in the flesh. Through is life, ministry, death and resurrection, the unique character of God is revealed.
THE GLORY OF GOD IS REVEALED IN JESUS. It is seen in His life, ministry, death and resurrection. We have the privilege of witnessing to the world about these. Second, THE CHARACTER OF GOD IS REVEALED IN JESUS. It too is evident in His is life, ministry, death and resurrection. So, why do others’ say they can see or hear Jesus?
1. It comes from a lack of faith in God’s Word. Like the Pharisees of old, they want more proof than God has given in Jesus. They want a sign but will only be given the sign of Jonah. Cf. Luke 11:29b-30 “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. 30“For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.”
We must believe the testimony of God’s Word, which is complete. Cf. Heb. 11:1 “1God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” We’re not saved through visions and heavenly voices, but through faith in Christ. GOSPEL
2. When we seek miraculous signs, we are susceptible to demonic deception. Many who “see” and “hear” voices may have contact with the underworld and mistake the voice of Satan as that of God. Cf. 2 Cor. 11:13-14- “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.”
3. When we seek miraculous signs, pride may cause us to deceive ourselves and think we have experienced the miraculous. Cf. Acts 19:11-17 “Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. 15And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” 16Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”
Illus. of “Children Sold As Slaves” In 1212 a French shepherd boy by the name of Steven claimed that Jesus had appeared to him disguised as a pilgrim. Supposedly, Jesus instructed him to take a letter to the king of France. This poor, misguided boy told everyone he saw about what he thought he had encountered. Before long he had gathered a large following of more than thirty thousand children who accompanied him on his pilgrimage. As Philip Schaff records it, when asked where they were going, they replied, “We go to God, and seek for the holy cross beyond the sea.” They reached Marseilles, but the waves did not part and let them go through dry-shod as they expected.
It was at Marseilles that tragedy occurred. The children met two men, Hugo Ferreus and William Porcus. The men claimed to be so impressed with the calling of the children that they offered to transport them across the Mediterranean in seven ships without charge. What the children didn’t know was that the two men were slave traders. The children boarded the ships and the journey began, but instead of setting sail for the Holy Land they set course for North Africa, “where they were sold as slaves in the Muslim markets that did a large business in the buying and selling of human being. Few if any returned. None ever reached the Holy Land.” Two cunning men enjoyed enormous financial profits simply because they were willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of children.
Family Survival in the American Jungle, Steve Farrar, 1991, Multnomah Press, pp. 60-61
Like these children, many people are searching today. There heaping up teachers who are willing to tickle their ears. We need to be careful to discern God’s Word carefully so as not to be lead astray with the masses. It is possible to see and hear God, but only through His revealed Word in the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ. When we trust in Jesus for salvation, we are privileged to be God’s children and have a special, intimate relationship though His Son. We experience His grace and love each day in every circumstance and He becomes very clear.
Are you seeing God today? If not, it’s because you’re either not saved or not growing. He is there and He is visible in a special way, through His Son Jesus Christ.
“is it possible to see god?”
Can Christians today see God in visions like some of the saints of old? If so, why don’t we all have this opportunity and if not, why not?
i. the glory of god revealed vs. 14-15
A. the glory of god is revealed through…
Cf. Phil. 2:5-11
B. the glory of god is echoed through…
ii. the character of god revealed vs. 16-18
a. the character of god is ________________ to us
b. the character of god is revealed…
Cf. Is. 6:5; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16
Why do some say they can see or hear Jesus?
Cf. Luke 11:29b-30; Heb. 11:1
Cf. 2 Cor. 11:13-14
Cf. Acts 19:11-17