How could the Son of God, God Himself, come into time and space, take on human flesh, walk the dusty roads of our world, proclaim the gospel of salvation, go about healing and doing good, manifesting the glory of God in flesh so we can really see. And how can, in spite of this majestic display of God's goodness and His desirability, the answer to every need of the human heart, how can mankind categorically reject Him?
That's hard to BELIEVE!
That's one side of that double meaning (double entendre of "Hard to Believe")
The second is that, the reason man rejects Him, and part of what John is saying here in the prologue to his gospel, is… "It is HARD to believe!"
... he was still wrestling with doubts about his need for righteousness and need to be saved. But when he finished preaching, teaching through Psalms, his next assignment was the book of Romans.
And as he started to teach chapter one, he wrestled with the words of the text because he understood that God had spoken... we need to understand what he said... we need to wrestle with the words. He said it the way He wants to say it.
And he came to the concept - the righteousness of God... turn to Romans 1:17. This was the decisive moment. This question opened for Luther the way of salvation.
Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."
Now, Luther, interpreting the Bible as he ought to, understood that we need to read verse 17 in the light of verse 16, because what's the "It" talking about?
This Week: THE WORD: CREATOR / SUSTAINER / REVEALER
So they tell us we should be less propositional. But in the same kind of culture as the New Testament you find the apostles being very propositional. They make truth statements again and again and again. And you see this in the gospel of John. He wants them to understand who Jesus is and he makes proposition after proposition after propositional statement.
Now, I think it's important for us to take a moment and understand something about the emergent church movement that will help us in our attitudes because this is something that's really sweeping the landscape. It's growing in momentum. Especially among the younger generation.
And so, we need to know how to converse with those who claim to be Christians, and some of whom are, of course, some of who think they are, but are not. But we need to converse with them and help lead them toward the truth.
There is a new wind blowing across the landscape of evangelical Christianity. There are those who say, and it's increasingly common to hear, things like this in the evangelical church. There are those who say:
"We need less doctrine and more devotion."
"We need less learning and more loving."
"It's not what you believe that matters, it's whom you trust."
"We need to focus on the heart, not the head."
"We need to move from conviction to conversation."
"We need to move from the absolute to the authentic."
The things that I've just said to you are buzzwords, almost, in a growing movement that is sweeping the church today. That is the emergent church movement.
Please turn with me in your Bibles to the book of John, the Gospel of John.
This morning I actually want to introduce the book. In fact, the title of the message is: "An introduction to the author and message of the fourth Gospel"...
Verse 30 and 31 (chapter 20) is a key passage in the book which really gives us the purpose of the book and we'll look at it a little bit later as well as right now. But we'll use it as a starting point this morning.
Before we read it, though, I want us to consider a couple of questions.
The first question is, "Why... why a Gospel?" for a new book.
Of course, "Why not?". But, why did I feel led to move to a Gospel?
... I felt like it was time for us to go to a Gospel. That we need to look directly at Christ!