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About this series
Jesus Unfiltered - Believe
When life gets really hard, because of choices you've made, or circumstances in which you find yourself, wouldn't it be great to know you've got the source of all wisdom and strength right there with you? That's what Jesus promised you could have. That's what He longs to do for you. Knowing the real Jesus is the most important relationship you will ever have. Chip Ingram reveals, from Scripture, who Jesus really is and how you can have this relationship - beginning today and for forever!More from this series
Here’s what the Scripture says. God wants to speak powerfully to you and you’re going to learn in just a minute how this can happen. But He says, If you really want Me to speak, if you want to know Me, if you want to experience Me – not just intellectually, not just cognitively – if you want to know what to do about this struggle in your marriage, you want to know what to do with this financial problem, you want to know how to resolve this conflict with someone at work, you want direction and vision, here it is! If you seek Me as silver and search for Me as hidden treasure, then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. That’s Proverbs 2.
The wisest man in the world says, “God wants to speak, but the jewels are not on the top of the ground.” He says, I want to see that your heart isn’t just to use Me. I want you to dig because I want to know you and I want to reveal Myself to you.
And you start by observation. And then you make some clear observations, and then we will move to how He speaks. But are you ready for this? Here are a few observations and, okay, just tell me if these are fair. I read chapter 1, verses 1 through 18. “The Word was before time began,” verse 1. True or false? Okay. You can agree or disagree, but that’s what it says. All we are trying to figure out is what it says.
“The Word is God and was with God.” It might cause a few problems, but is that what it says, or not? Okay. “The Word created everything.” Observation. “The Word is the source of all life,” verse 4. “This life is the Light of men.” That’s what it says. “The Word is Jesus,” the Word became flesh, verse 14. And Jesus reveals what God is like. That’s what it says, right?
Now, think about this. Just moving to, Wow, so would this mean, like, in all of heaven when those angels are going, “Holy, holy, holy,” and the seraphim cover their eyes and in the book of Revelation, when we hear, “Who was, and is, and is to come,” and when everyone comes in contact, they fall on their face before Him. And if He has created the source of all of life, that He made my DNA and every animal that breathes, and every solar system, and he heals all things by the word of His power, and He is the king of glory and He fulfilled all of these prophesies and He is all knowing and He is all powerful and His light shines out, that expresses to every human being and God is wooing and drawing individuals. That’s who I get to pray to? See the difference? All I did was make a couple of observations. That’s what it says.
Fourth, the observations help us see what is really being said. It’s the truth, it’s what I call “the answer.” So, what I try and do, remember the little box on the front? First century, truth delivered, 90 A.D. You know what this is? This is the answer to big issues that were happening in A.D. 90. Right? Gnosticism, materialism, fear, struggles, persecution – a timeless principle.
I now know the truth – how does this truth apply to me as…and then you fill it in. …a single mom, an overworked dad, a single person wanting to get married, a person with an addiction, a person who just really needs some direction. How does this apply to my life? Okay? God, okay, I get it! You’re the Creator – blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah – I heard all that stuff Chip said.
Fourth, here is how you discover this. Play spiritual Jeopardy! with the text to clarify what relevant questions God’s truth is answering, okay? How many of you have ever seen on TV, the game show, Jeopardy!? You know what I’m talking about?
Okay, what if you now know the answer? Answer: This is who Jesus is. And it was addressing issues then. What if I played spiritual Jeopardy!? Now I know the answer. What question in my life and in my world does that truth answer? Do you follow me? Let me give you an example.
Here are four questions that I pulled out of John 1 through 18 that were pretty normal. So I pretend, and I don’t really pretend because, that’s probably not a good word at all, because Jesus is not “was” – “is.” I can have a conversation with Him.
And so, if I wanted to have a personal conversation out of what I just read and observed, I would say, Who exactly are You and where did You come from? Is it fair to say that verses 1 through 5 answer that? Who exactly are You? In the first century, Who is this Jesus you’re telling me about? In the twenty-first century, you’re at work, and someone says, “You’re a follower of Jesus? Like, are you kidding me? Who is He and where did He come from?”
Jesus would say, “This is who I am. I am the Logos.” In the Old Testament, the logos was the personal, divine personality of God, the communication. John took from the Greek world, “And the Logos was the divine source of reason and truth that is behind all of the universe and all reality.” The infinite reference point.
They may not know who God was, but the Logos was whatever this communication, whatever the core behind all of life is. So the apostle John takes this Old Testament concept, knowing where people were living with all this Gnosticism, and he gives Jesus this name of the Logos, the living God.
And Jesus would say, “I am the God who was and is and is to come. I am the Creator of all that there is, I am the source of all life – your life, your future. I know the beginning from the end. I am in charge of all history.” In fact, it is “His story” – Jesus.
“I am all powerful, I am all knowing, I am the King of kings, I am the Lord of lords. Angels bow down to Me, I have no beginning, I have no end. My purposes cannot be thwarted and I personally am committed to you.”
Whoa. That’s who You are and where You came from? And then I follow it up with an application question like: Okay, if all the angels, if all of history, if all of time, if all eternity, if every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, and You are the CEO of the universe and the Creator and the source of all life – do You have the same place in my heart that You have in the universe?
Isn’t that the logical question? And then I ask that out loud, just in my little time with God. And then I sit quietly. And often I will hear little, you learn to hear, I will hear whispers of the Holy Spirit, You know what? It is in your marriage now, Chip. I’m really proud of you. Or, Chip, you know what? Yeah, you really have surrendered your money. You have trusted Me with your finances. Or, You know what? Yeah, you know what? You were really fearful about these things and you are really…
And then He will whisper some other things, right? And you’re pretty controlling when it comes to this, because, well, why? I thought you trusted? I’m in control. I’m God! I live inside of you. And as I listen to that, do you understand what happens here?
We have gone from reading a chapter, trying to be a good, moral person and come to church semi-often and thinking that somehow I am going to get my life worked out – to a personal, living, dynamic relationship with the Lord of lords and the King of kings who will speak to you and whose Word is written, who becomes living and it’s sharper than a two-edged sword, and it pierces to the division of soul of bone and marrow and divides the intentions of the heart, and it will begin to speak to you and give you direction and wisdom and conviction.
Question number two, in view of verses 6 through 9: I don’t want to be disrespectful, but can anyone corroborate Your story? These are fantastic claims. Isn’t that a fair question? If I was back there I would say, “Well, is there someone who can tell me that this wild story about God coming to the planet – oh yeah! John the Baptist! Oh.”
It’s not just John the Baptist, though. He quoted Isaiah. There are seven hundred prophesies about Jesus coming He fulfilled. The role of Isaiah 40. Two thousand years of testimonies of people. How do you…personal testimonies of billions of people whose lives have been transformed.
Or part of it, you know, we get so narrow, we think how we think, let’s get back to A.D. 90. You know what virtue was? Ruthlessness and power! It’s the Roman world! We take over the world. We just crushed Jerusalem, A.D. 70. What does it mean to be a real man? You treat women like dirt, kids are just – you can take them, throw them on the dump if you don’t like them. It’s ruthlessness, power, selfishness, “I am a Roman!”
But in sixty years, fifty to sixty years, instead of ruthlessness being a virtue, mercy is a virtue. Women, instead of being pieces of property to be used and abused and thrown away are co-heirs with the grace of God. Children, instead of being thrown on the pile because they weren’t a boy or a girl or some defect or you just didn’t want one, the Christians went to the dumps daily and they would take the little children and raise them as their own.
Instead of – three plagues happened in the first century. Plagues where millions of people died, the only people who stayed in the cities were the Christians. And they are willing to martyr themselves and give their lives following Jesus and they would nurse both Christians and non-Christians and they loved people.
Rodney Stark, in his book, The Triumph of Christianity – sociologist, I have no idea where he is coming from, it’s a historical book, says, “By the year three hundred, of the sixty million people in the Roman Empire, thirty-three million were followers of Jesus.” And he says, “In large measure, because they were the only people, as populations were devastated, you were a person who was loved by a Christian or you were a Christian and survived, or you had a relative of someone that the only one who cared were these crazy followers of Jesus.”
You have an amazing testimony. The testimony of law, the testimony of government, the two thousand years of wherever Christianity [has been] – are there some black marks on Christianity? Absolutely. Are there people, who in the name of Jesus, have done terrible things? Absolutely.
But step back and taken as a whole, wow. And so, I would say to myself, Okay, I would ask something like, If John was a testimony for Jesus, so people could believe, who do I know who draws me to Christ more than anybody else? Have you ever thought about that? Maybe I’ll jot them a note.
Someone is going to get a call and get loved today because of this passage, because God is speaking to me. And then I might ask a question like, What kind of testimony am I for you? How are we doing? What people at work? What would my kids say? What would my roommate say? What would my husband or wife say? How am I doing in terms of communicating in a way that really demonstrate You are who You really say that You are?
And then I sit quietly. And usually I get some, Atta boys! And I usually get a few not-so-atta-boys, right? And you know what I do? I thank God that there is progress and then when He whispers, You know, in that situation last week when you were in a real hurry and you did this and you did this? I think maybe dropping by and apologizing to that person would be a very Christlike thing to do.
And I get out my pen and my journal and, Oh, really? Can’t I just say I’m sorry? I’m good. Are you good? Oh no. Okay. You know? Are you seeing what happens?
Third question I would ask Him: So, in Your time on earth, what was Your greatest disappointment? What was Your greatest joy? What was His greatest disappointment? What did He say? He came to His own and those who were His own rejected Him.
His greatest joy had to be, “But as many as received Him, He gave the right to become children of God,” and they got related to Him and they turned from their sin and they loved Him.
And I just think to myself, Wow. And then, are you guys getting the idea of how you begin to say, Okay, that’s what it says. That’s what it means. You know where I’m at now is: What does this really mean to me? And so, I would ask this question: Lord, I’d like to start with a positive. What is Your greatest joy with me right now? Just where we’re at. What is it about how I think, how I live, how I love that just puts a smile on the very God of heaven?
And I sit and I listen. And then, Lord, is there anything that disappoints You right now? I know You love me, I know You’re not down on me, I know I live by grace, I know You’re patient, I know I’m human, but is there anything that just is disappointing You right now?
If you asked that and I asked that out of this, do you think God would speak? See, what I am trying to explain to you is that God, He will give you graphic, clear direction and He wants to affirm you. But as He even points something out, if you act on that light, Jesus said He will give you more light. And His voice gets louder and louder and louder every time you, you know when you hear it? We have all had these, right? I think I should stop and help this person. I’m too busy. I think I should stop and jot a note to so-and-so. Oh, I will later. And you don’t do it.
Every time God speaks to me and I say, “No,” the voice gets fainter and fainter and fainter. And every time I say, “Yes,” He says, “They that have light, I will give more light. They that say ‘no’ to the light that I give them, eventually, I take away the light that I have given them.”
God wants to speak to you! He loves you! He wants to interact! Believe me, He has got software solutions. He’s got company solutions. He’s got childhood solutions. He’s got medical solutions. He wants to whisper in your ear and give you direction and wisdom and help and encouragement. He loves you!
And, finally, the question is: Why did You choose to come to earth the way that You did? What was Your purpose or mission? And the answer – why? Because the answer is in 14 through 18. And I think in my own words, this is what Jesus would say.
“I chose to come because I made you. And I want to be with you. And I miss you. And I really love you. And I wanted you to really know what I was like. And so I thought if I took on human flesh and I walked around and you could see how I respond and how I live and what I say, that you would really know who God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is. And ever since the garden, you have been in rebellion with all those other humankind, but We created you for Us. Let Us make man in Our image. And We love you. And I just, I came and I came and lived a perfect life and I fulfilled that Law because it came through Moses. I fulfilled it completely. I never sinned in thought, word, or deed. And then I came to bring truth and grace.
“And so after I lived that perfect life, I died. But I was innocent. But because I am perfect, My death had infinite value. But because I was human, fully human, fully God, the hypostatic union, I was able to die. And when I died, I took your sin and the sins of all people of all history of all time and they were placed on Me and I covered them. They are done!
“So that whosoever, you don’t have to, but whosoever would say, ‘I want what You did for me on the cross to count for me,’ they could receive Jesus and have their sins forgiven and begin a relationship with Me. That’s why I came. I miss you. I want to direct you. I want to love you. I want to help you.”
And then I would probably say something like, Lord, have I received that gift? If You want to be with me, if I have received the gift of eternal life, do I like hanging out with You? Do we spend any time together? Is this a theological set of things that someone told me I should believe and maybe or maybe not? I filled out a card or prayed a prayer or did this or did that. Or is this, is this like coming home? Is this like being loved? Is this like not just believing the facts but believing and trusting and entrusting and accepting forgiveness and like Nathanael and Philip and Andrew and Peter, I just want to follow You and get to know You, and I want to take as many people the moment I find out, with me.
Do you understand now who Jesus is? Who He is to you? What difference He makes?
We have modeled this, but the final point is to ponder deeply the implications and the application of the truth to your personal life circumstances and relationships. And I did that just a little on each one. And sometimes I spend fifteen or twenty minutes doing this and sometimes I look up and it’s been an hour. But isn’t that what you do when you have coffee with a friend? Sometimes you only have time to catch up. Sometimes you spend a half a day together.
The gospel is the good news. You are deeply valued. And He longs, not just to forgive you, but to do life with you in ways beyond your wildest dreams.