Believe: 879. How far will you go to find the truth? He is among us.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word and we thank you for this man, John the apostle, and His testimony. He gave us so many rich things like the gospel of John and 1 John and 2 John and 3 John and the book of Revelation, all that are so exalting of Jesus. And I pray Lord that a little of that would rub off on us as we study his life and his message and his person. Lord I pray that we would indeed believe more and more and reap the benefits of that faith. In Jesus' name, amen.
A few years ago the Gallup Poll organization discovered in their polling of Americans that 81 percent of Americans claimed to be Christians. Eighty-one percent of the American population claims to be Christian. Operative word: "claims" to be Christian. Because you probe a little bit deeper, and what that means may be very different from what you and I know that means. In the poll, they discovered by asking a simple question, here's the question: What do you think of Jesus or who do you think Jesus is? They discovered 70 percent said Jesus was not just another man. Now that's a little ambiguous. So, He was a man but He wasn't just another man. He was a little bit special; a little bit different. Forty-two percent stated Jesus was God among men. Twenty-seven percent felt that Jesus was only a human, but divinely called. And nine percent said He was divine in that He embodied the best of humanity. So, here's Jesus. He's different; He's atypical and He embodies the very best of the human characteristics, thus that makes Him divine. So it's clear that the majority of people don't have a good handle on who Jesus was or what He was.
Now, even John the apostle, who wrote this book, he knew that Jesus was different and that Jesus was atypical and that Jesus was special. But eventually he came to believe that Jesus Christ, the guy he'd been hanging out with for three years, was God. And that's how he begins the book: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And we know who that is because we come to our verse today, verse 14: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." And it becomes clearer. Now, when Jesus came to this earth, we call that the incarnation—God becoming man. The world did not expect that to happen. First of all, they weren't expecting God to show up in human form. Second, those who were expecting Him, the Jewish people, didn't think He would be God. They thought Messiah would simply be a human ruler who would knock out their opposition—the Romans. And the Jews would stand tall at that time. They weren't expecting this.
I heard about a little church up in the mountains and they're located on a, on a main road where truckers go by. And as truckers go by and they get on their CB radios and they send signals to each other, sometimes the frequency gets caught in the church PA system. So it was very dramatic when one evening somebody in church prayed out loud and said, "Oh God, come and help us," and just then the signal over the PA was a trucker saying, "Ten-four, ten-four, I'll be right down."
Essentially, that is what God has done. He has come down to help us in our hour of need. And that impressed John. It's easy to see that Jesus really impressed John. And here's how I know that. In chapter one alone of John, chapter one alone, John employs 22 different names, titles, for Jesus. Twenty-two different ones. He calls Him Jesus, calls Him Christ, calls Him Lord, calls Him the Word, calls Him God, calls Him Light, calls Him Life, calls Him the True Light—22 different titles for Him.
Billy Sunday was an evangelist 100 years ago and he wrote, "There are 265 different names in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ and I suppose it's because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could ever express." I think John would go, "Amen! I agree with that." Well, we're today in verses 14 through 18 of John chapter one and as a reminder, we're in the introduction. This is the prologue, verses one through 18 is one long message, though we've broken it up into three. One long message that is the prologue. It's the briefing. What John is doing is giving us the whole book summarized in 18 verses. So verses one through 18 summarize the whole book. But verses 14 through 18 summarize verses one through 18. So it's sort of like an even more encapsulated form of the entire book. It is sort of the core of the summary; it is the capstone of what he wants to tell us.
And what John wants us to know clearly is that Jesus Christ is unique. He is unique. And he wants us to know how unique He is. I think that is the best term to describe Him, given this paragraph. He is one-of-a-kind. That's why I've called the name of this message, "One of a Kind." And John uses a word to help us. In verse 14, he uses the word "only begotten." Now I know you're thinking, you don't know your math very well—those are two words. But in Greek it's one word. "Only begotten" is the word monogenés. And it means one and only or only begotten or the unique one. And it appears again in verse 18: "The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him."
Now John is the only one in all of Scripture who uses that term. "Only begotten." Monogenés. There's no one like Jesus, John wants us to know. He is unique. If you were in France and you were in Sunday school, French Sunday school children are taught to memorize John 3:16. But their translation goes literally like this: "For God so loved the world that He gave His unique Son." So we want to look today at four ways from our paragraph that Jesus Christ is the unique One. Let's begin in verse 14 and read to verse 18:
"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. 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.'" And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him."
So verse 14 basically says, "Here's the first way Jesus Christ is unique. He was unique in His nativity—in the way He was born." It's fascinating, is it not, that 2,000 years after the fact, people are still celebrating the birth of Jesus? And I mean, everywhere. I was shocked when I went to Baghdad, in Iraq, some years ago, and there were Christmas decorations everywhere. There were Christmas trees and manger scenes, with Jesus, in Iraq. So He is unique in His nativity. The Word became flesh.
Now Christmas, and we're coming into the season, is viewed differently by different people. To a child, Christmas is the, it's the best time of the year—it's the most exciting time of the year. But to a child it means shiny lights and trees and gifts and Santa Claus and just, excitement. To teenagers, it means a time out of school, get to sleep in, maybe a new wardrobe. To adults, it's very different. It means time spent with family and friends, it means going to the mall and having overcharged credit cards and checkbooks and it means wondering if your relatives gained weight or lost weight and if you're going to buy a size that will insult them or not. All of that stuff goes through our minds. If you're a believer, Christmas is usually taken off the information given in Matthew and Luke. For Christians, Christmas means shepherds and wise men and the manger and Joseph and Mary and all of that.
But John tells us the story behind the story. John basically, in verse 14, tells us about Christmas without even mentioning Bethlehem, without even mentioning shepherds or wise men or mangers or Joseph and Mary. He gives us the real behind-the-scene information. He gives us Christmas, not historically, but theologically. Theologically. This is the kind of stuff, if you were on the hillside and heard the angels, you wouldn't know, unless you got this information from God. And if you were in the manger and saw the baby born, you wouldn't get the whole story unless you get John's testimony. And so he gives it to us; he answers the question: What Child is this? And this is what he says: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we, we beheld His glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." So here's John, sort of peering over the shoulder of the wise men and the shepherds into the crib and says, "That, that baby there—is the Word!"
Now, that term, "the Word," we discussed it a few weeks ago; it's an odd term to our ears. It's so impersonal. If you walked up to somebody and said, "Hey, I want you to meet my friend—the Word." People would like at you like you're weird or he's weird. But it was a term, as we discussed, that both Jews and Greeks understood well. Because the Greeks believed in the word, they called it the logos, that's the Greek term. And they said, "There's got to be some reason for order in the universe; why we can observe the ordered rotation of the earth and the sun rising and setting and all this great reason, has to have an explanation." And they called it the logos; the word. So John is going, "Hey you Greeks! This word you talk about, this reason, this logic, this power—you got to know something. It's found in a Person called Jesus Christ. He was the Word. He was with God, He was God, and now He became flesh."
And the Jewish people, that was a term they were used to. They talked about the Word of God; the Word was the source of all that God did and all who God was. So that in the Old Testament, God spoke His Word and when He created the world, He created it with His Word. And the Word of the Lord came to so-and-so, and the Word of the Lord came to that prophet. So they were all about the Word and so John says to the Jewish audience, "The Word is Christ. He is the final Word." And that's why I love the way Hebrews opens up to the Jewish people: "God, who at different times and in different ways, spoke in the past to the prophets or to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son." In other words, God always gets the last Word. And the last and final Word is Jesus Christ. And so he uses that term.
Notice what it says: "The Word," what? Was born? Was created? No, the "Word became flesh." That's an interesting construction. See, John wants us to know that the idea isn't that God created Jesus out of nothing, like everything else was created. But that the Word, Christ, already was existing and then He became flesh. "In the beginning was the Word," "The Word was with God, the Word was God," "He was in the beginning with God." And now the Word "became" a man. It's a very simple statement but it's a very, very profound statement. In fact, I think it is the most profound statement in all of history. Think about it. Infinity became finite. The invisible now is visible. Eternity is now squeezed into time. The supernatural is confined by the natural. Or if you please, God just moved in to our neighborhood for 33 years. "The Word became flesh."
In one of the opening scenes of Camelot, King Arthur is seen standing in a field, not dressed like a king, but like a peasant, in common garb. Nobody recognizes him because he's not dressed like a king. In fact, when Guinevere first meets King Arthur she has no clue that this guy is the king over all of Camelot. Because what he is wearing doesn't reveal his status. And so the way Jesus came did not reveal apparently to the eyes who they were dealing with. But John saw it. This is one of the great imponderables of the Bible. It really is impossible to get our minds around this; I tried. On my best day, I tried to understand this. I thought, "I'll have a lot of espresso and I'll take some time and I'm going to wrestle this one down." You know what happened? I blew a fuse. I know you're thinking, "Oh, that's what happened to you!" But the greatest minds can't figure this one out. And I'm not one of them, but there are some who are and they can't figure it out. A.T. Robertson, the greatest Greek scholar of the 20th century said, "This is beyond the power of interpretation." This is just a simple statement that you take based upon the evidence. And that's why Paul said to Timothy, "Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness that God was manifest in the flesh."
Ok, question: How could, and why would, God ever become a person? Why would God ever want to do that? Hold that thought; hold that question, we'll get back to it. But for now, what we should see in verse 14 is here's John basking in it. He says, "We beheld His glory." Now the word "beheld" is theaomai, we get our word "theater" from it. You know what a theater is, you sit in it and you gaze at one direction for an hour or two or three. And you look at something; it means "to study intently; to gaze upon." It even connotes scientific research. There's John saying, "We looked. We gazed intently. This is the Word of life. We beheld His glory." Now at some point, we don't know when, but at some point, who Jesus was dawned on John. At first John saw that this is Jesus, He's saying some cool stuff and we're going to follow Him, but as time went on, he had to have thoughts like, "Oh my goodness—that's God eating chicken! That's the chicken He made! He's eating it! Those are the people He made that are going against Him and rejecting Him and saying those things!" "We beheld His glory." We studied Him. We really checked Him out.
You have to understand, the apostles were not just a bunch of "yes" men who really needed to believe in some Messianic figurehead. No. You know what the New Testament says about some of these guys. Thomas was a pessimist, far from that. Peter was a pragmatist. Simon the zealot was a terrorist. And they were all on the same team and the they're all hanging around Jesus, but after three, three and a half years, their lives were totally transformed by what they saw—by what they gazed upon. By what they beheld. Now I have a question because I'm asked this question a lot and I'll bring it up: What did Jesus look like physically? I get asked that a lot. A lot of people wonder, "What did He look like?" Well here's what's interesting. As much as John or the other apostles hung out with Him and gazed upon Him—they never told us what He looked like. There's never a physical description in all of the Gospels of what He looked like. Now, if you look at Western depictions of Christ, He is sort of tall and thin and has light brown hair. I got to tell you, if He looked like that, the Gospels probably would've written it because He would look so unlike everyone else that they would have noted that He looked that way.
But, according to the best clues that are based upon history and archaeology and even DNA samples of first century male Jews, Jesus had dark eyes, not light eyes. He would have been bearded, because that's Jewish tradition. And probably His hair was shorter and tightly curled. I know that defies every picture you've ever seen. According to an article a few years ago, December of '02 in Popular Mechanics, one researcher wrote, "The analysis of skeletal remains of archaeologists firmly establish that the average build of a Semite male at the time of Jesus Christ was 5'1 with the average weight of 110 pounds. Now Jesus worked outdoors as a carpenter, and since He did until He was 30, it's reasonable to assume that He was more muscular and physically fit than Westernized portraits suggest." I'm glad I found that article and I'm glad I read it, because I always wondered when I saw those Westernized portraits, I thought, "He can't look like that." I mean, we picture Him as so frail and so light and so almost effeminate. And then He's glowing, on top of that. I look at the pictures and I think, "You need to get sun!" But He didn't look like that. But here's what I want you to know: it wasn't important how He looked. If it was important, they would have told us. What was important is who He was and what He did. And what we need to know is that the greatest Christmas gift ever given isn't some shiny toy in a shiny wrapping paper with a shiny bow. The greatest gift was God in a package of skin put upon this earth. He is unique in His nativity. "The Word became flesh."
Second, Jesus was unique in His supremacy. Verse 15 is all about that. He writes, "John bore witness of Him." This is John the Baptist, not John the apostle. John the apostle, the writer, never mentions himself in the book. And so when he talks about John, it's always the other John, John the Baptist. "John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said," This is John the Baptist talking, "'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'" Now I suppose that the whole point so far of John's writing the gospel of John in chapter one has been about how uniquely supreme Jesus Christ is, right? "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God." He made everything; He's the source of all life, all light. So John is exalting Him from the very get-go. Now he brings John the Baptist in again as a witness that Jesus Christ is not only unique in His nativity, but unique in His supremacy.
Now, John the Baptist had a following. He was quite popular; he was a very fiery, confrontive preacher. And he had a lot of people interested in him. They even thought, some of them, he was the Messiah. And when he said, "I'm not the Messiah," he still had people following him. In fact, it says in Luke, "multitudes" followed him. Multitudes. Mark's gospel says, "All of Judea and Jerusalem came out to hear him." So he was quite popular. In fact, John the Baptist was so popular that after Jesus came and died and rose, and the gospel spread through the world, there already were John the Baptist followers still in Ephesus. In Acts chapter 19, Paul comes to Ephesus and he asks this question, "Have you guys received the Holy Spirit since you believed?" And they go, "What's that? We never even heard there was a Holy Spirit." So Paul goes, "Really? So then, what were you baptized into?" And they said, "John's baptism." That's all they knew. There was still this little John the Baptist cult, if you will, following. It was all about John and John is the only preacher that we listen to, that kind of thing.
In fact, history says a John the Baptist following persisted into the second century AD. But here is John and John is saying, in effect, "I'm not supreme. He's supreme!" And this is how he says it: "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'" Now what does that mean? Well John was born first. He's older than Jesus by six months. He also started his ministry first and this is John saying, "I know I'm older, I know I started my ministry first, but you got to know something. This guy, Jesus, is God. He existed from eternity." That's the meaning of that little statement. He is supreme. Let me give you a little mind-bender based on this. Jesus is the only Person who ever lived before He was born. He's the only Person who ever existed before He was born. Now He's going to say that. He's going to say that to the Jewish people who will confront Jesus on one occasion. This is what they say; they go, "Ok. Are you greater than our father Abraham?" Remember what He said? "Hey, before Abraham was, I AM." And you might go, "That's not, like, good English." It's great theology. "Before Abraham was, I AM." And the Jews knew exactly what He was saying because they picked up what? Stones to kill Him. Because that was blasphemy and they said, "You being a man are making yourself out to be God." Duh. That's the whole point. And John the Baptist is saying that, "He is before me. He existed long before I ever came." Greater than everyone and greater than me, this noted preacher in Judea.
There was a book put out a few years ago by Michael Shapiro, a Jewish author. It was called The Jewish One Hundred, subtitled A Ranking of the Most Influential Jews of All Time. Number one on Shapiro's list? Moses. Number two on Shapiro's list? Jesus. Number three, according to his book, Albert Einstein. Number four: Sigmund Freud. Number six, Paul the Apostle. Number seven, Karl Marx. Number nine, the Virgin Mary, and number 98, Sandy Koufax, the pitching great for the Dodgers. Well, if John the Baptist had his list, number one: Jesus. And you know why? Because that's God's list. "He was before me, He's preferred before me, because He was before me." Now Jesus is supreme. Here's my question to you and to I, myself, this morning: Is He supreme in your life? I mean, here's John the Baptist, a great guy, a notable guy, a famous guy at his time, and he goes, "I've got to tell you something. It's all about Him. I live for Him. I exist for Him. He was before me and He is the Supreme One." And so we who claim to be followers of Christ: is He supreme or are we just once-a-week giving homage to the figurehead of Christ or twice a year? Or is He supreme? John said He is supreme and He deserves honor because of that.
Third, Jesus Christ is unique in His generosity. In His nativity, number one. Number two, according to John in chapter 15, His supremacy and now His generosity. Look at verse 16. "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth," he likes that word grace. Already four times in this paragraph, he mentions grace. "But grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." Verse 16, I will admit, is a difficult verse to translate and that's because of the word "fullness." And here's why it's difficult. John never uses that word in all of his writings, plērōmatos is the word. He never uses it except right here. But Paul does use the term. In fact, it's a favorite word of Paul. Paul uses it a lot; John never uses it except here. And I think this is what he's saying, he means that Jesus Christ is the unique channel of God's blessing to us and it's based upon grace. It's based upon grace—not what we deserve, it's based upon grace.
Now, we all receive grace. "Of His fullness," it says, "we have all received." Everybody receives what we call common grace. Whether you're a believer, an unbeliever, a Muslim, a Mormon, a Catholic, an evangelical, have no faith at all—we all receive common grace. Things like health, air, knowledge, friendship, good times, that's common grace that God gives to all. But once we say, "I believe in Jesus Christ," and we come to Him by faith we enjoy something else: covenant grace. Salvation, Holy Spirit living within us, peace, heaven to boot. All of that is covenant grace. And, and listen carefully, every single resource we need to live the Christian life is given to us when we come to Christ. Everything. Second Peter chapter one: "He's given us all things that pertain to life and godliness." Everything you will ever need to please Him, to live for Him, to live victoriously, is yours. And you might be thinking, "Oh, but I failed! I failed along the way!" That's why it says right after that, "And grace," what? "Grace for grace." You know what that means? Grace on top of grace on top of grace on top of grace. It means when grace leaves, more grace comes. Sort of like the ocean. You go and look at the ocean, and one wave comes and then it crashes, then it recedes, then another wave comes and crashes, and it recedes and it comes and goes and more comes. And go back in an hour, it's doing this. And come back in a week, and it's doing this. And come back in 20 years, and you know what's happening? This. It keeps coming. And send your grandkids in a hundred years and it's doing this again. In other words, it's inexhaustible. That's the point of it. "Of His fullness we have all received." He's so generous.
Grace for grace. Some of you hearing that might think, "Skip, you don't know my problems." You're right, I don't know your problems but I know Christ and He has no problems. And He's given us everything we need. You might be thinking, "Still, but you don't know what I've been through." You're right. But I know what He's been through. And what He's been through enables you to have all that He promises. So, no matter how bad you are or filthy or vile or hopeless you are, listen. Grace can handle you. Grace can handle you. "Oh, but you don't know..." Grace can handle you. There's a great text of Scripture in Romans 5. It says this, "When sin abounds grace overflows." How cool is that! Literally, when sin reaches the high watermark and you go, "This is just so bad," grace comes higher. Listen, I was going to church as a young boy, taking drugs, and believing God wanted me to take drugs because it made me happy, that's how far gone my thinking was. And God's grace could handle me. And so God's grace can handle you.
Verse 17, just to continue that thought: "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." See what he's doing? He's drawing a line between the old covenant of law under Moses and the new covenant under grace under Christ. The law did come by Moses, but grace and truth came through Christ. The law just convicted sinners of their inability to keep God's perfect standard. That's what it did. People looked at the law and said, "Man, have I blown it! I've done that and that. It says, 'Thou shalt not,' but I've done it!" So all it does is convict sinners of their inability to keep God's righteous standard. It only takes one sin to make a sinner. That's all: one sin. You ask people, "Are you a sinner?" "Well, I'm not a sinner; I've just done a few..." You're a sinner. One thing wrong; it takes one sin and one sin under the Law is enough to kill you. The Law came by Moses. Grace and truth came through Jesus. We could exhaust this further, but I want to move on. Let me just sort of sum it up by giving you the difference. Under the Law, God demanded righteousness from man. Under grace, God gives righteousness to man in Christ. Huge difference. One, God demands it; second, God gives it, and says, "I declare you righteous." Under the Law, righteousness is based upon good works—yours. Under grace, righteousness is based upon a good work—His. His good work on the cross is enough. Under the Law, blessing accompanies obedience, but under grace, blessing now flows freely as gifts. As it says here, "grace upon grace" upon grace.
You will never find another system of religious belief in all the world that has this kind of grace built into it. Grace upon grace. Tremendous truths. Here's the bottom line, really, to sum up these two verses. This is what you need to know, ready? It's really profound: God loves you—a lot. I used to be amazed hearing Dr. Billy Graham preach. Every couple of minutes, you could almost time your watch to it, he would say, "And God loves you." And then he'd say some more truths, "And don't forget, God loves you. And God loves you." And he'd keep on. It's like, "Ok, I get it." But he wanted us to get it. Dr. Carl Barth, a 20th century theologian, one of the greatest theologians ever. I disagree with a lot of his premises, but nonetheless, a brilliant thinker. And he was interviewed by a reporter who said, "Dr. Barth, of all of the thoughts you have ever had in that brain of yours, what is the deepest and most profound truth you've ever come across?" And the reporter waited for some deep kind of wordy statement and Dr. Carl Barth paused a moment and he said, "Ok. Here it is, ready? Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Simple that a child can sing it; profound and deep enough that a theologian could drown in it. It's that deep.
Fourth and finally, Jesus Christ is unique in His clarity. Verse 18, what I mean by that is, if you want to see God clearly, you look at Jesus. He came to make Him clear. Verse 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." Now I got to tell you about a translation issue. Some of the better, newer translations render this differently and some of your Bibles perhaps, already render it that way. The word "Son" isn't in the best manuscript; it is thought "God" is. And that is really the thought of John. "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father." "The Word was with God." "He has declared Him." It's a very powerful statement that Jesus Christ, who is God, begotten in human flesh, came to make God perfectly clear to the world. What does he mean when he says nobody has seen God? You know what it means? It means nobody has seen God. Nobody has seen God in His pure essence. Nobody has seen God in His full and undiminished glory. Yeah, I know. Moses had a vision of God and wanted to see the full glory of God but God said, "You know, Moses, if you do that, you know what's going to happen to you? You'll die. You can't handle it." And other people got theophanies and visions but they never really saw God in fullness but the only begotten God, God the Son, who's with God, He has declared Him. He's made Him known. The word "declare" means "explained." We get our word exegesis from that word. He broke it apart; He came and He explained and He lived and He reflected. And so when Jesus came, people could go, "Oh! I get it! That's what God is like! He moved into our neighborhood and we beheld His glory!" And now we know what He's like.
Now, without Jesus Christ, God would still be fuzzy and unclear and distant and unknowable. So Jesus came in a way that men can understand God. That's the reason for Bethlehem. And that's the reason for the manger. And that's the reason for Christmas: is to make God clear in a package we can understand. He became like us. Now we asked a question toward the beginning. Why would God ever become a person? What's up with this whole incarnation? Why would He do that? Now I want to explain it in closing. You and I are in the natural world and we are bound by the natural world. Our boundaries are time and space. We live in the time-space continuum. We don't live outside of that—that's the supernatural. That's where God is. We live in a confinement of space and time. The natural world. You may want to get out of it, but you can't go into a phone booth and become Superman and now have a super nature. You just have a human nature. Time and space—you're bound by it. Though I do want to escape my natural world, I want to get in touch with God. And every now and then, somebody will come by and say something like, "Well, if you read the Koran and pray five times a day toward Mecca, you can poke a hole in that box and you'll be in the supernatural." And somebody else will say, "No, you can't do that, that's not the way. But if you read the Bhagavad-Gita you could poke a hole through the box and you're in the supernatural." And somebody else will say, "Well, that's not true. But if you meditate on these crystals for a long period of time, you can poke a hole through the box and you're in the supernatural."
You know what? You can't poke a hole through the box. The only solution is that God has to crawl inside the box. And did He do that? Boy, did He! He blasted in to our natural world as "the Word became flesh" and we checked Him out. And He was the only begotten God full of grace and truth. So He brought the supernatural into the natural world. That's why Jesus could say, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father. We have the same nature."
Christmas is coming and we're going to get lots of cards. I get lots of Christmas cards and eventually I throw them away. You do, too. When I get them we do pray for the ones that send them, we make that our policy, but then we throw them away. Unless it's a very unusual card. And I've kept a couple very unusual cards. Let me tell you about one. The front of the card is alarming because there's a picture of world dictators, Mao Test-Tung, Stalin, Adolf Hitler, on and on and on. That's enough to arrest most people at Christmas. And you open up the card and then is the explanation. It says, "History is filled with men who would be god. But only one God who would be a Man." Such a powerful statement. There are people who puff themselves up, but there's one God who humbled Himself and became a Man. And why? C.S. Lewis said, "God, or the Son of God, became a Man that men and women might become sons and daughters of God." And that is the truth. That is the truth and it can't be divorced from grace because He's full of what? Grace and truth. And that's mentioned twice. Grace and truth.
So here's the deal about grace, this generous, unmerited favor. God gives you grace when you believe the truth. If you don't believe the truth, you won't enjoy the covenant grace. You'll have air to breathe and friendships and good times, but covenant grace comes when you believe truth and when you believe truth, grace becomes a part of that experience.
Heavenly Father, we are so thankful for the Truth that is in Christ, that is expressed in the words of the Old and New Testament, but is seen ultimately in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is full of grace and full of truth. And because You are so generous, Lord, we ought to be the happiest, most confident people on the earth because we have received the fullness and everything we need. Lord help us, by Your grace, once again to tap into that and to tap into those resources and to be all that You want us to be. Thank You for this congregation. Thank You for their love for You, and thank You that we can all gather and celebrate Your love for us, and we do that again as we close. In Jesus' name, amen.