The Way, the Truth, and the Life

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

The context of Jesus’ sixth “I am” statement in John’s gospel is the discourse in which Jesus had just told His disciples that He would soon be leaving them. The concern among the disciples was obviously building, especially after Jesus said, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” (John 14:4), to which Thomas replied, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (v. 5). Then Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (v. 6).

This profound declaration of His identity addressed the anxiety in the disciples’ minds, countering their confusion and uncertainty. Of course, this proclamation also has comfort for us as Christ’s followers in the midst of a turbulent and unpredictable world.

But Jesus was offering more than assurance and consolation. He was also making a profound statement of exclusivity, emphasized in the final clause “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This statement stands in direct opposition to the popular opinion of a fallen and rebellious world that wants to proclaim there are many paths to God. Indeed, we are admonished in Scripture that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5), and “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

While there are many paths leading to deception and destruction, Christ is the only way to truth and life. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, “For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction…narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life.” JPT

God Will Manifest Himself

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?Genesis 3:9

If God is present at every point in space, if we cannot go where He is not, cannot even conceive of a place where He is not, why then has not that Presence become the one universally celebrated fact of the world?…

The Presence and the manifestation of the Presence are not the same. There can be the one without the other. God is here when we are wholly unaware of it. He is manifest only when and as we are aware of His presence.

On our part, there must be surrender to the Spirit of God, for His work is to show us the Father and the Son. If we cooperate with Him in loving obedience, God will manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of His face. POG057-058

Oh, may He come to us now and light up the sanctuary of our hearts until they shall shine like the chambers above!…May He open to our vision…His own immediate, everlasting presence! Amen! CTAB061

More Than Performance

My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.—Proverbs 23:26

Many Christians live on the surface of life and rarely, if ever, look below the waterline. They do have inner longings sometimes to climb higher with God, but their response to these feelings is to focus their attention on what goes on above the waterline—the area of performance and behavior. So they try harder in terms of more Bible reading, more prayer, more giving, more Christian activities.

I would be the last person to view greater obedience as unimportant, but it is not the only, or indeed the final answer. A great mistake made by many Christians who recognize they are not receiving from God the things they ought to be receiving is to think that the solution lies solely in more spiritual effort. The assumption being that as we do more above the waterline, the problems that lie below the waterline will all come right.

Now sometimes greater obedience and more responsible effort do have this result. I have often found, for example, that when a man who falls out of love with his wife chooses a change in behavior and deliberately sets out to do loving things for her, the loving behavior can trigger loving feelings.

There is more to spiritual change, however, than a change on the surface. It can begin there, but it is not complete until the focus moves from the surface down into the depths. Those who remain above the waterline in their Christian living and resist the invitation to look beneath the surface will soon become legalists—good at performing but bad at being.

Prayer

My Father and my God, I see that if change is to take place in me, then it must take place in all of me. Help me to see even more clearly that while what I do is important, what I am in the depth of my being is even more important. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

2Tm 3:1-5; Isa 29:1-13

What did Paul say would be a characteristic of the last days?

What was the Lord’s complaint against the children of Israel?

Sympathy with God

When he heard these words, Ananias dropped dead, and a great fear came on all who heard.Acts 5:5

When God brings judgment upon someone, our natural inclination is often sympathy toward the one being disciplined. Yet when God acts in judgment, our sympathies ought always to lie with Him. Only God knows all that is at stake, and only He knows the full circumstances that provoked His wrath upon the one He is judging.

Ananias and Sapphira’s experience is one of the most perplexing stories in the New Testament. In a time when God’s grace had provided salvation for all mankind, His response to this couple seems unusually harsh. Yet there was much at stake in their deception. The church was in its formative stages. Ananias and Sapphira had witnessed the miraculous power of God and had seen thousands of people being added to the church. Nevertheless, they showed little regard for the Spirit of God when they blatantly lied to God and the church. Such irreverence would have been devastating to a church whose very life depended upon the presence and guidance of God’s Spirit. God left a sobering reminder that He would not tolerate sin.

Many times the sin of one Christian has a devastating effect on others. At times, God chooses to judge someone’s sin severely, as a deterrent for others. Don’t try to protect someone from the judgment of God. It is a terrifying thing to fall under His judgment (Heb. 10:31). Yet His judgment on one may ultimately save that person and many others. When God is judging others, take heed and examine your own life. God knows what is at stake; He loves His children enough to provide a stark warning of sin’s dangers.

VIDEO Worthy of Thanks

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Sometimes Americans, when watching a British period film, will be surprised to hear a judge, mayor, or other official referred to as “Your Worship.” Worship comes from two words: “worth” (value) and “ship” (a condition or state). So addressing someone as “Your Worship” means acknowledging their state of worth, or importance or their value.

Worship was used in secular contexts long before it entered the religious vocabulary. But it’s easy to see why it did: When we worship God, we ascribe worth, value, or importance to Him. To worship is to say God is worthy of our praise, to offer thanks for who He is and for what He has done. There is no end to the reasons to give thanks to God. In the Old Testament, a common refrain was to “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” God’s attributes, like goodness and mercy, are never-ending. Therefore, He is always worthy of our thanks in worship.

In your personal times of worship, begin by giving thanks to God. Warning: You may run out of time before you run out of reasons for thanksgiving!

The measure of our spirituality is the amount of praise and of thanksgiving in our prayer. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones


A Model for Giving Thanks (1 Chronicles 16:8-36)

The Coffee-Bean Bowl

We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:15

I’m not a coffee drinker, but one sniff of coffee beans brings me a moment of both solace and wistfulness. When our teenage daughter Melissa was making her bedroom uniquely hers, she filled a bowl with coffee beans to permeate her room with a warm, pleasant scent.

It’s been nearly two decades since Melissa’s earthly life ended in a car accident at age seventeen, but we still have that coffee-bean bowl. It gives us a continual, aromatic remembrance of Mell’s life with us.

Scripture also uses fragrances as a reminder. Song of Songs refers to fragrances as a symbol of love between a man and a woman (see 1:3; 4:11, 16). In Hosea, God’s forgiveness of Israel is said to be “fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:6). And Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet, which caused the house of Mary and her siblings to be “filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3), pointed ahead to Jesus’ death (see v. 7).

The idea of fragrance can also help us be mindful of our testimony of faith to those around us. Paul explained it this way: “We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

Just as the scent of coffee beans reminds me of Melissa, may our lives produce a scent of Jesus and His love that reminds others of their need of Him.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

How can you be “the fragrance of Christ” to someone today? How has your life caused others to sense the presence of the Savior?

Dear heavenly Father, help me to pass along an aroma of life that makes others know I represent You.

The Book of Books

The Bible is an infallible source of truth.

Isaiah 55:9-11

Step into almost any bookstore, and you can find a volume on pretty much any topic you have in mind. Want new direction for your life? Are your children disobeying? Are you hoping to live in a healthier way? There are books that were written to help, but do the authors have trustworthy credentials? 

There is a place to find accurate information and true guidance: The Bible will bless and benefit everyone who reads and applies its wisdom. Here’s what Scripture’s Author—“the God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16)—says about His own Word: 

  1. The Bible gives direction for life (Psalm 119:105). God uses His Word to lead us, no matter what our circumstances may be. 
  2. Scripture strengthens us in grief or difficulty (Psalm 119:28Psalm 119:116). By spending time processing what God says, we’re reminded that He loves us, cares about our situation, and can handle whatever we’re facing. 
  3. God’s Word helps us understand our inner motivations (Hebrews 4:12). Scripture acts like a mirror that lets us see ourselves as we truly are. 

The Bible is the very mind of God put into words so that we can know Him more fully. To what extent do you depend upon this amazing Book as your foundation for life?

The Resurrection and the Life

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25)

The backdrop to this fifth “I am” declaration of Jesus in John’s gospel is the death of Lazarus four days before Christ‘s arrival with His disciples in Bethany. Martha, Lazarus’ sister, met Jesus and said, “If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:21). Jesus then gave her the powerful declaration in today’s text, followed by “and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (v. 26).

Jesus’ declaration of being “the resurrection, and the life” went well beyond what He was going to do in raising Lazarus from the dead. He was proclaiming His divinity and power to raise any man from the dead and impart resurrection life. In John 5:21, we read, “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.”

While our mortal life ebbs away, the life Jesus gives to those who put their faith in Him never ends. John 5:24 says, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

The resurrection life of Jesus is not just for the afterlife but also provides hope and strength in the midst of a sin-cursed world. Paul declared that God “hath quickened us together with Christ…and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6), and “as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). JPT

The Being and the Seeing

They shall know that I am the Lord their God…that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God.Exodus 29:46

Adam sinned and, in his panic, frantically tried to do the impossible; he tried to hide from the presence of God. David also must have had wild thoughts of trying to escape from the Presence, for he wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7).

Then he proceeded through one of his most beautiful psalms to celebrate the glory of the divine immanence. “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (139:8-10).

And he knew that God’s being and God’s seeing are the same, that the seeing Presence had been with him even before he was born, watching the mystery of unfolding life. POG057

At the heart of the Christian message is God Himself waiting for His redeemed children to push in to conscious awareness of His presence. POG034-035

More Than a Recitation

These people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service— yet their hearts are far from Me.Isaiah 29:13

Some Christians think that prayer consists solely of reciting the words of the Lord’s Prayer, but, as the great preacher C. H. Spurgeon once said: “To recite the Lord’s Prayer and believe that you have then prayed is the height of foolishness.” This does not mean, of course, that there is no spiritual value in reciting it, providing we realize that it is not just a prayer to be recited. Personally, I would not want to deprive Christian congregations of the pleasure and joy of reciting together the Lord’s Prayer, but I do want to encourage them to view it as a departure point rather than an arrival platform.

If Jesus advised His disciples to avoid “[babbling] like the idolaters” (Mt 6:7), would He then immediately follow it by giving us a prayer to simply recite? Obviously, as I have said, one can derive great spiritual pleasure from repeating the words that Jesus gave us, but if we are to obtain the greatest value from the Lord’s Prayer, then we must view it as a skeleton on which we have to put flesh. If we view these words, not merely as something to recite, but as an outline from which we must work our way when praying, no matter what we are praying about, then we will experience a growing confidence that we are praying the way Jesus taught.

You see, it’s one thing to recite a prayer; it’s another thing to know how to pray.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I see there can be great value in reciting a prayer, but I want to be able to do more than repeat a prayer—I want to pray. Help me, for without You I can do nothing. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Further Study

Gl 4:1-11; Mt 6:5; 23:14

What is Paul saying about ritualism?

When does prayer become hypocritical?