Source: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
With little more than a week and a half of the Biden Administration under our belts, America has already contracted a raging case of “buyer’s remorse” when it comes to our 46th president.
It began when Joe Biden—who mercilessly taunted President Donald J. Trump for “not having a plan” to stop the China Virus as he campaigned against Trump from his basement—addressed that issue two days after being inaugurated. “There’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic over the next several months,” he told a stunned nation. His beleaguered and comically underprepared press secretary, Jen We’ve-Only-Been-Here-Fill-In-The-Blank-Days Psaki, was left to sputter for the 77th time that she would “circle back” on what Biden was talking about. (As a kid, I had one of those Hasbro SpiroGraph toys that—in its years of nonstop playtime—didn’t “circle back” as much as Jen has.)
Then there were all those executive orders signed by LunchPail Joe (the “worker’s friend”) responsible for closing the Keystone XL pipeline, halting oil and gas leases on federal lands, and getting the ball rolling on ultimately eliminating the fracking industry. This will blow a big hole through America’s energy independence under President Trump and send oil prices for home heating through the roof, not to mention gasoline prices at the pump and all those vaporized energy sector jobs.
As for the pointless and now-doomed “trial” of his predecessor by Democrats in Congress, Biden has done a masterful impression of Sgt. Schultz on the old Hogan’s Heroes television series. “I know nothing!” is his watchword, declaring all that messy business is the doing of Chuck Schumer and other members of Schumer’s lynch mob—er, I mean, Senate colleagues. Obviously, John F. Kennedy did not have Joe Biden in mind when he wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage.
But nothing is more serious and deeply disturbing than how Biden’s mantra of “unity” has produced just the opposite. That is unless your idea of unity is conformity to looney Democratic Party agenda items, including renaming schools, surrendering an entire generation of children on the altar of the AWOL teachers’ unions, and the unfettered muzzling of free speech by Big Tech.
Jim Daly, president of Colorado-based Christian organization Focus on the Family, reports the group’s Daily Citizen account has been locked out of Twitter for allegedly violating Twitter’s rules against “hateful” content. Daly states: “It’s simply not true. We did no such thing.” So what was the alleged offense?
At issue was a tweet pointing to an article about Dr. Rachel Levine, President Biden’s controversial nominee for assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. The tweet also contained the following sentence: “Dr. Levine is a transgender woman, that is, a man who believes he is a woman.”
Poof! The Daily Citizen is now locked out of Twitter. As Jim Daly notes, according to Twitter simply acknowledging a biological fact is now “hateful.” This continues the blitzkrieg by titans of Big Tech to silence individuals and organizations that don’t knuckle under to their political and social point of view. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter now like to sneakily hide behind “our employees being upset by this content” as they stamp out viewpoints of conservatives and especially Christians.
Yes. As the unfettered forces of repression have been unleashed by the new administration and their lackeys on Capitol Hill, they’re slowly transforming America—founded on the cornerstone of Judeo-Christian values—into the Biden Roach Motel. Like the old Raid product, liberals hope Christians will check in.. but they won’t check out. Liberal media outlets are working overtime to muzzle-and-marginalize people of faith in America.
The new dog whistle is “Conservative Nationalism.” Especially in the wake of the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol, every anti-Christian crackpot has found new audiences on CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times and other outlets.
Thomas Edsall penned a column in the Times titled “The Capitol Insurrection Was as Christian National as It Gets.” Another article in the Times carried the incendiary headline, “How White Evangelical Christians Fused with Trump Extremism.” Yale University sociology professor Philip Gorski was recently quoted as suggesting the Christian National boogeyman was front and center in the January 6th riots: “Many observers commented on the jarring mixture of Christian, nationalist and racist symbolism amongst the insurrectionists: there were Christian crosses and Jesus Saves banners, Trump flags and American flags, fascist insignia and a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ hoodie.” Professor Gorski added the riot “was really a fruit cocktail: White Christian Nationalism.”
Which circles us back, again, to “Mr. Unity” himself, President Biden. If he truly is the man of faith he’s always professed to be, it is time for Biden to put on his Big Boy Mask and demand that the forces of his political allies abandon the dangerous Christian-bashing they’ve unleashed. For years Biden and his fellow Democrats have draped every racist nut or fringe group in America around the neck of Donald Trump. Should we crank-up the same smear machine, tying Biden to every anti-Christian nutter who crawls out from under a rock?
Rather than waste any more legislative time and, oh yeah, taxpayer dollars on a stupid trial to “remove” a president who has already left office, it’s Biden‘s responsibility to pump the brakes on “Cancel Culture” whose mantra is: You will comply—or you will be silenced.
By any definition, that isn’t unity. It’s totalitarianism.
Tom Tradup is VP/News & Talk Programming at Dallas-based SALEM Radio Network. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bragging points include:
Fox News Contributor Jonah Goldberg weighs in on cancel culture and ‘intolerance’ on both sides of the aisle.
— Read on m.youtube.com/watch
Bad as the Covid-19 virus is, even worse is the Left’s cynical and ruthless exploitation of it for political ends–to wreck the Trump economy and to establish a regime of state control over our lives.
— Read on m.youtube.com/watch
Council of Economic Advisers member Jared Bernstein tells ‘Fox News Sunday’ the president is ‘absolutely willing to negotiate’ with Republicans on coronavirus…
— Read on m.youtube.com/watch
Politicians and the American people are demanding answers after the deadly insurrection on the US Capitol this month. But while some are calling for a steady approach to the situation, others are looking to throw more security and regulations at the issue. This is compounded by the fact that it is becoming more and more apparent that government leaders knew something like this was possible if not likely. This week’s episode of Just Press Play features this story and everything from the saga surrounding GameStop stock to a clip of Larry King’s last interview as we remember a true legend of broadcasting.
— Read on m.youtube.com/watch
Joe Biden has been slammed from both left and right for not fulfilling at least one campaign promise, getting #BidenLied trending, triggering his supporters to try and hijack the hashtag to distract from the criticism.
After decades in politics, Biden being accused of lying to the public by critics is nothing new, but his first days as president have even some supporters questioning his honesty.
As numerous liberals called out Biden for his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus plan offering $1400 direct payments to Americans when he actually promised $2000 “immediately” after taking office (though he’s attempted to explain the discrepancy through some questionable math), conservatives and other critics jumped on the bandwagon and got #BidenLied trending on Twitter.
— Bela Lou Ghostley (@BelaGhostley) January 31, 2021
— Deadite Phil ☭ (@PhilHite) January 31, 2021
— M.C. wants a Resource Based Economy (TZM/TVP) (@5Missy3) January 31, 2021
— Yehs Lawd Arts 🦉🍎 (@YehsLawd) January 31, 2021
— Bernie Used To Do It (@BernieDoesIt) January 31, 2021
Conservatives used the hashtag to point out other controversial positions from Biden’s past.
• 1974 voted against desegregation
• 1994 Crime Bill will help the black community
• Revoked permits for pipeline
He pretends to like LGBT but..
• 1993 he voted to ban gays from the military
• 1996 voted against gay marriage
— Kimberly Klacik (@kimKBaltimore) January 31, 2021
– Having a Covid plan
– Court packing
— Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) January 31, 2021
Biden loyalists were clearly triggered by the wave of hate headed toward the president and desperately tried hijacking the hashtag to keep criticism from flooding users’ timelines.
Some leaned on the Donald Trump crutch and called out the former president as a liar and raged against conservatives jumping on the hashtag.
“Donald Trump lied 30,573 times in office according to the Washington Post and the GOP didn’t care about a single one of them, yet it took Republicans only 10 days of Biden being in office for them to get #BidenLied and their grotesque hypocritical fake outrage trending on Twitter,” liberal author Seth Abramson tweeted.
“Donald Trump incited unhinged racist gun nuts to assault the Capitol and murder members of Congress, simply because he can’t admit he lost an election. Go on with your #BidenLied garbage,” author John Pavlovitz added.
— Katie Johnson2020 (@KatieJohnson214) January 31, 2021
Others took a different approach and added the hashtag to random tweets expressing fandom or just pictures of their pets and other animals.
— Donna Woods (@Elliemay1020Dw) January 31, 2021
— Zack (he/him) (@StandLikeMike) January 31, 2021
— Elsie the Dogue🐶 (@ElsieMayBay) January 31, 2021
— jack (@jacksgoblin) January 31, 2021
According to a new report citing senior North American Treaty Organization (NATO) commanders, coalition forces will not be leaving Afghanistan by May, a deadline Donald Trump hoped to meet as president.
“There will be no full withdrawal by allies by April-end,” one NATO official told Reuters.
According to the source, “conditions have not been met” to justify a full-scale withdrawal, and the new administration will likely present “tweaks in policy.”
“With the new US administration, there will be tweaks in the policy, the sense of hasty withdrawal which was prevalent will be addressed and we could see a much more calculated exit strategy,” he said.
Trump had been adamant during his presidency about bringing troops home and ending the 20-year war that rages on in Afghanistan. His administration negotiated with Taliban forces last year for a full-scale withdrawal by May of this year, should conditions stabilize in the country and on the condition that the Taliban sever ties with terrorist groups and enter into peace negotiations with the Afghan government.
The former president also ordered the Pentagon to remove thousands of troops by mid-January, leaving only 2,500 US troops in the country, the lowest number since 2001.
“Allies continue to assess the overall situation and to consult on the way forward,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said.
A spokesperson for the Taliban told Reuters the group remains hopeful the US will leave the country by the end of the year.
“Our expectations are also that NATO will think to end this war and avoid more excuses for prolonging the war in Afghanistan,” the spokesperson said.
It remains to be seen in which direction Biden will take the war, as it was not as central to his campaign as Trump’s. He previously served as vice president under Barack Obama, who continued the wars, and Biden administration officials have signaled that a similar hardline stance will continue under his presidency.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said this month that the Taliban have not met “their commitments to renounce terrorism and to stop the violent attacks against the Afghan National Security Forces,” and because of this, “it’s very hard to see a specific way forward for the negotiated settlement.”
Kirby does claim, however, that the administration is “committed” to leaving the country. Biden did promise during his campaign for the presidency to “end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East,”though he has not presented as aggressive or specific a timeline as Trump, leaving many critics wondering just how committed he is to that promise.
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the deputy Taliban peace negotiator, said this week that the Biden administration is reviewing the peaceful exit negotiated by Trump and he hopes it is honored.
“In the history of Afghanistan, no one ever gave a safe passage to foreign invading troops. So, this is a good chance for the Americans that we are giving them safe passage to go out according to this treaty. We hope that when they are reviewing it they will come to the same positive [conclusion],” he said.
It’s not just President Trump and the MyPillow guy Mike Lindell who are facing the wrath of Twitter in recent days.
Now, the social-media giant has suspended Focus on the Family, an influential Christian-based family organization.
The supposed crime? Its “Daily Citizen” publication stated factual information regarding the biological sex of Rachel Levine, President Biden’s assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services.
“As I’ve noted before, Big Tech titans are the new emperors of the twenty-first century, wielding an inordinate amount of power by silencing individuals and organizations that don’t comport or cave to their political or social point of view,” wrote Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family.
“This past week, Twitter locked The Daily Citizen for an alleged rules violation, specifically that we had posted ‘hateful’ content. It’s simply not true. We did no such thing,” he continued.
Daly also provided a list of other individuals whose free-speech rights have been pummeled online recently.
“It goes on and on. And we’re only at the beginning of a coordinated effort to silence those of us with socially conservative convictions,” Daly said. “Please be in prayer for us as we navigate this cultural maelstrom. In reality, this tension over free speech and religious liberty have existed from the earliest days of the country – but it’s exacerbated and magnified in this post-Christian era.”
The Daily Citizen reported that there is some help coming from other family organizations:
A petition spearheaded by FPA has also been initiated. It states:
“You recently banned Focus on the Family’s The Daily Citizen from your platform for stating a biological fact: A biological male is a male.
“I stand with Focus on the Family. So, if you are going to ban them, are you going to ban millions of others like me who believe that biology is reality – and that freedom of speech matters in America?
“If your censorship continues, Twitter will become a stagnant echo chamber.”
The Daily Citizen also reported: “In addition to the petition and the letter, earlier today FPA launched a Twitter campaign, #AreWeNext? They and supportive organizations and individuals are asking if they’ll also be locked out of Twitter for stating the truth that transgender-identified individuals remain the genetic and biological sex they were born, regardless of drugs, hormones and surgeries.”
The Center for Disease Control has issued a new coronavirus order requiring DOUBLE masks to be worn for all forms of public transportation in the United States.
The tyrannical order comes after Joe Biden signed an executive order last week requiring all travelers to wear mask on federal property.
The establishment has been recently pushing double masks despite the ongoing rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines and decline in coronavirus deaths.
“Inside Edition” also lauded Biden, Mitt Romney, and Tom Cruise for double masking recently.
And the New York Times called for Americans to wear a second mask layer earlier this month in an op-ed titled, “One Mask Is Good. Would Two Be Better?“
With “double masking” now being openly pushed, a new slippery slope of mask wearing has been introduced, with some articles beginning to promote TRIPLE masking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pushed back against the mask insanity earlier this month, urging Americans, “if you’ve had the disease or you’ve been vaccinated and you’re several weeks out from the second dose, throw your mask away.”
Going to church for the first time can be intimidating. It’s like meeting a bunch of weirdos who have their own secret code. Well, it’s not like that. It’s exactly that. Luckily, your friends at The Babylon Bee sent missionaries to local churches to investigate a bunch of their slang words and phrases so we could connect with Christians and learn their ways and customs. We really just want to do life together with them and love on them. Oh no! They’re rubbing off on us! Anyway, here’s what we’ve learned so far:
- Bless her heart: May she burn in hell for all eternity.
- Doing life together: Playing video games, golfing, whatever. Literally anything.
- Love on you: As far as we can tell it just means “love you” but with some unintentional creepiness thrown in for good measure.
- I’ll pray about that: I won’t pray about that, but I totally care about you.
- Brother: A term of endearment you use for someone at church whose name you can’t remember for the life of you.
- Just: A handy word to pack into your prayers when you need to pad them out for time or stall to give you time to come up with what you’re going to pray for next.
- Doctrine: An outdated concept where you all agree on some list of beliefs in the impossible-to-find “about us” section of the church website.
- Women’s Bible study: Work-from-home pyramid scheme.
- I’ve been keeping you in my prayers, brother: I forgot that I was supposed to pray for you until this exact moment and so just whispered a quick prayer in my head a few seconds ago. Also, I forgot your name.
- Gospel-centered: Means literally nothing. Examples: gospel-centered measuring tapes, gospel-centered yoga, gospel-centered nuclear warfare.
- Relevant: Totally irrelevant. Like probably 20 years behind mainstream pop culture.
- I just need to date God for a while: I met a hotter guy.
- Wow, interesting thought: What you just said was the most damnable heresy I’ve ever heard. May God have mercy on your soul.
- I don’t feel called to that ministry opportunity right now: I don’t wanna.
- The Lord is laying this on my heart: I wanna.
- Let’s sing that bridge together one more time: Let’s sing that bridge together 17 more times.
- Too blessed to be stressed: I lost $5,000 selling essential oils from home this month.
- Short-term missions trip: Church-sponsored vacation!
- I stumbled a few times this week: I looked at porn again.
- I’m being persecuted: The Christian meme I posted on Facebook got zero likes.
- Intentional: Kinda like being unintentional but now you say it’s intentional so it’s better.
- Xtreme: A label for youth ministries that are so Extreme the “E” couldn’t even take it anymore and just exploded from all the awesome, relevant, yeet-filled dopeness.
- I’m doing fine: I’m not doing fine.
- Hedge of protection: Praying a hedge of protection is basically having God build a $21 billion border wall around your life.
- Traveling mercies: Mercies that basketball players often pray for after committing a foul.
- Come as you are: You can wear flip-flops at our church.
- Prayer request: Gossip.
- Unspoken prayer request: Probably gout or something really gross.
Our Natures Not Perfect in This World
Matthew 5:48; 1 Corinthians 13:9–12; Philippians 1:6; 3:12; Hebrews 10:14
This life was not intended to be the place of our perfection, but the preparation for it. As the fruit is far from ripeness in the first appearance, or the flower while it is but in the husk or bud; or the oak when it is but an acorn; or any plant when it is but in the seed; no more is the very nature of man on earth. As the infant is not perfect in the womb, nor the chicken in the shell, no more are our natures perfect in this world.
Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Let the Goal of Life Be Worship
The end we ought to propose to ourselves is to become, in this life, the most perfect worshipers of God we can possibly be, as we hope to be through all eternity.
Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
1:3 Through the resurrection of Christ, God’s people are “begotten” or “born again” and thus share in Christ’s undying life. The salvation that is granted is not something that can be attained by human effort, any more than a child can bring about his own natural birth.
1:3 According to his great mercy. This emphasizes that salvation is based entirely on God’s loving initiative.
caused us to be born again. Although the verb used here and in 1:23 occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, the thought is found frequently (John 1:12, 13; 3:3–8; Titus 3:5; James 1:18).
living hope. A key word in this epistle is “hope” (1:13, 21; 3:15). In the Bible, hope is not uncertainty or wishful thinking, but a confident expectation of future blessing based on facts and promises. “Living” indicates the undying and permanent character of this hope.
1:3 born again Refers to the believer’s new life that is only possible because of the death and resurrection of Christ. First Peter’s use of new-birth language to describe salvation reflects Jesus’ teaching (1 Pet 1:23; 2:2; see John 3:3, 7).
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ This rebirth is accomplished by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and serves as the Christian reason for hope: certainty of future salvation. Once dead in their sins, Christians now live with assured hope of their own resurrection.
1:3 Salvation is due to God’s mercy, grace, and sovereignty, for he miraculously gave sinners new life (caused us to be born again, cf. v. 23). Peter may be connecting “born again” to through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, meaning that the new birth was made possible because God thought of those who believe in Christ as being united to him in his resurrection (cf. Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:19–20; 2:5–6; Col. 3:1). Or he may be linking the resurrection to the living hope of believers, since that hope immediately follows the resurrection. In the latter case, the hope of Christians is their future resurrection. Believers have an unshakable hope for the future, for Christ’s resurrection is a pledge of their own future resurrection.
1:3 Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though God was known as Creator and Redeemer in the OT, He was rarely called Father. Christ, however, always addressed God as His Father in the gospels (as Jn 5:17), except in the separation on the cross (Mt 27:46). In so doing, Christ was claiming to be of the same nature, being, or essence as the Father (cf. Mt 11:27; Jn 10:29–39; 14:6–11; 2Co 1:3; Eph 1:3, 17; 2Jn 3). Also, by speaking of “our” Lord, Peter personalized the Christian’s intimate relationship with the God of the universe through His Son (cf. 1Co 6:17), an important truth for suffering Christians to remember. great mercy. The reason God provided a glorious salvation for mankind is that He is merciful. Sinners need God’s mercy because they are in a pitiful, desperate, wretched condition as sinners (cf. Eph 2:4; Tit 3:5; see also Ex 34:6; Ps 108:4; Is 27:4; La 3:22; Mic 7:18). has caused us to be born again. God gave the new birth as part of His provision in salvation. When a sinner comes to Christ and puts his faith in Him, he is born anew into God’s family and receives a new nature (see notes on v. 23; Jn 1:13; 3:1–21). a living hope. The living hope is eternal life. “Hope” means confident optimism, and: 1) comes from God (Ps 43:5); 2) is a gift of grace (2Th 2:16); 3) is defined by Scripture (Ro 15:4); 4) is a reasonable reality (1Pe 3:15); 5) is secured by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Jn 11:25, 26; 14:19; 1Co 15:17); 6) is confirmed in the Christian by the Holy Spirit (Ro 15:13); 7) defends the Christian against Satan’s attacks (1Th 5:8); 8) is confirmed through trials (Ro 5:3, 4); 9) produces joy (Ps 146:5); and 10) is fulfilled in Christ’s return (Tit 2:13).
1:3 — … according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead .…
Because we do not have a dead Savior, we have a living hope. The resurrection of Jesus guarantees that God will honor all His promises to His faithful children. That hope keeps us going in the darkest of times.
1:3 according to His abundant mercy: Our salvation is grounded in God’s mercy, His act of compassion toward us despite our condition of sinfulness. has begotten us again: God has given believers a new, spiritual life that enables us to live in an entirely different dimension than the one our physical birth allowed. to a living hope: Hope here does not imply a wishfulness but rather a dynamic confidence that does not end with this life but continues throughout eternity. “Hope is one of the Theological virtures,” C. S. Lewis said. “This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.” through the resurrection: Although this phrase may modify the phrase “to a living hope,” the context suggests that it is to be understood as the means of our salvation rather than the means of our hope (1 Cor. 15:12–19).
1:3. God has begotten us again (anagennēsas). Peter is here emphasizing the new birth with an aorist participle. Through this he identifies his readers as children of God, born spiritually into the family of God (John 3:3).
Biblical hope is a positive attitude based on a desired expectation and includes certainty (Rom 5:5; 8:24–25). The adjective living means the hope is active, affecting the Christian. Because Jesus rose from the dead, Christians have hope (1 Cor 15:30–32).
1:3 In verses 3–12, Peter sets forth the unique glories of our salvation. He begins by calling for praise to be given to the Author of salvation—the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This title presents God in a twofold relationship to the Lord Jesus. The name God … of our Lord Jesus Christ emphasizes the humanity of the Savior. The name Father underlines the deity of God’s Son. The full name of the Son is given:
Lord—the One with the exclusive right to rule in hearts and lives.
Jesus—the One who saves His people from their sins.
Christ—God’s Anointed One who has been exalted to heaven’s highest place.
It is by God’s abundant mercy that we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. God is the source of this salvation. His great mercy is its cause. The new birth is the nature of it. A living hope is its present reward. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the righteous basis of our salvation, as well as the foundation of our living hope.
As sinners, we had no hope beyond the grave. There was nothing ahead for us but the certainty of judgment and fiery indignation. As members of the first creation we were under the sentence of death. But in the redemptive work of Christ, God found a righteous basis upon which He can save ungodly sinners and still be just. Christ has paid the penalty of our sins. Full satisfaction has been made. The claims of justice have been met, and now mercy can flow out to those who obey the gospel. In the resurrection of Christ, God indicated His complete satisfaction with the sacrificial work of His Son. The resurrection is the Father’s “Amen” to our Lord’s cry, “It is finished!” Also, that resurrection is a pledge that all who die in Christ will be raised from among the dead. This is our living hope—the expectation of being taken home to heaven to be with Christ and to be like Him forever. F. B. Meyer calls the living hope “the link between our present and future.”
1:3. The contemplation of God’s grace caused Peter to praise God, the Author of salvation and the Source of hope. The words Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ are identical in 2 Corinthians 1:3. The phrase in His great mercy refers to God’s unmerited favor toward sinners in their hopeless condition. He has given us new birth; people can do nothing to merit such a gift. The words “has given … new birth” translate anagennēsas, from the verb “beget again” or “cause to be born again.” It is used only twice in the New Testament, both times in this chapter (1 Peter 1:3, 23). Peter may have been recalling Jesus’ interview with Nicodemus (John 3:1–21). The “new birth” results in a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The “living hope” is based on the living resurrected Christ (cf. 1 Peter 1:21). The Christian’s assurance in Christ is as certain and sure as the fact that Christ is alive! Peter used the word “living” six times (1:3, 23; 2:4–5; 4:5–6). Here “living” means that the believer’s hope is sure, certain, and real, as opposed to the deceptive, empty, false hope the world offers.
1:3. Peter piled up expressions in verses 3–5 to talk about a believer’s relationship with God through salvation. His opening words are those of worship and praise, reminding us that salvation did not come because of who we are or because of what we have accomplished. Salvation came as a gift of mercy. Salvation represents a new birth (see John 1:13), a changing of who we are. Salvation makes us dead to sin and alive to righteousness in Christ.
Peter linked our salvation relationship to what he termed “a living hope.” Peter is without question the apostle of hope. The hope that he had in mind is the eager, confident expectation of life to come in eternity. Hope in the New Testament always relates to a future good! Amid present and difficult dangers we are justified in viewing the future with optimism because we are securely attached to the God who deals in futures. Furthermore, our hope is a living hope because it finds its focus in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our living hope comes from a living, resurrected Christ.
1:3 “Blessed” This term (eulogētos) is not like the one used in Matt. 5 (makarios), which is exclusively used of God in the NT. We get the English word “eulogy” from this word. This is similar to the praise to the Trinity found in Eph. 1:3–14: vv. 3–5 relate to the Father, 6–9 to the Son, and 10–12 the Spirit.
“the God and Father of” Thomas Aquinas attempts to prove the existence of God by focusing on (1) design; (2) logical necessity of a first cause or prime mover; and (3) cause and effect. However, these deal with human philosophical and logical necessities. The Bible reveals God in personal categories not available to human reason or research. Only revelation reveals God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Lord” The Greek term “Lord” (kurios) can be used in a general sense or in a developed theological sense. It can mean “mister,” “sir,” “master,” “owner,” “husband” or “the full God-man” (cf. John 9:36, 38). The OT usage of this term (Hebrew, adon) came from the Jews’ reluctance to pronounce the covenant name for God, YHWH, the CAUSATIVE form of the Hebrew verb “to be” (cf. Exod. 3:14). They were afraid of breaking the Commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (cf. Exod. 20:7; Deut. 5:11). Therefore, they thought if they did not pronounce it, they could not take it in vain. So when they read the Scriptures they substituted the Hebrew word adon, which had a similar meaning to the Greek word kurios (Lord). The NT authors used this term to describe the full deity of Christ. The phrase “Jesus is Lord” was probably the public confession of faith and a baptismal formula of the early church (cf. Rom. 10:9–13; 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11).
“who according to His great mercy” This passage, extolling the character of God the Father (vv. 3–5), may reflect an early hymn, poem, or catechismal liturgy. The main character of the Bible is God! It is His purpose, character, and actions which are fallen mankind’s only hope for acceptance and perseverance (cf. Eph. 2:4; Titus 3:5).
“has caused us to be born again” This is the same root (anagennaō, cf. 1:23) as in John 3:3 (gennaō). It is an AORIST ACTION PARTICIPLE, which speaks of a decisive act. The NT also uses other metaphors to describe our salvation: (1) “quickened” (cf. Col. 2:13; Eph. 2:4–5; (2) “new creation” (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15); and (3) “partaker of Divine Nature,” (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4). Paul is fond of the familial metaphor “adoption” while John and Peter are fond of the familial metaphor “new birth.”
Being “born again” or “born from above” is a biblical emphasis on the need for a totally new start, a totally new family (cf. Rom. 5:12–21). Christianity is not a reformation or a new morality; it is a new relationship with God. This new relationship is made possible because of (1) the Father’s mercy and grace and (2) the Son’s sacrificial death and resurrection from the dead. This divine will and action (cf. v. 2) gives believers a new life, a living hope, and a sure inheritance.
“to a living hope” The adjective “living” is a recurring emphasis in I Peter (cf. 1:3, 23; 2:4, 5, 24; 4:5, 6). All that God wills and does is “alive” and remains (i.e. word play on YHWH).
“through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” Jesus is the Father’s agent and means of redemption (as He is the Father’s agent in creation as well as judgment). Jesus’ resurrection is a central truth of the Gospel (cf. Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15). The resurrection is the aspect of the Christian message that the Greeks could not accept (cf. Acts 17:16–34).
A Living Hope
Throughout his epistle, Peter encourages his readers to hope. Hope is based on a living faith in Jesus Christ. It characterizes the believer who patiently waits for the salvation God has promised to his people. “Hoping is disciplined waiting.”
- Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Filled to overflowing with spiritual blessings which he wants to convey to his readers, Peter writes one long sentence in Greek (vv. 3–9). In our modern versions, translators have divided this lengthy sentence. Nevertheless, the sentence itself reveals the intensity of the writer and the fullness of his message. In the introductory part of this sentence we observe the following points:
- “Praise.” This word is actually the first word in a doxology, for instance, at the conclusion of many books of the Psalms: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 41:13; and with variations 72:18; 89:52; 106:48). The word praise is common in the New Testament, too. Zechariah begins his song with an exuberant burst of praise: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68; also see Rom. 1:25b; 9:5).
- “God and Father.” Within the early church, Jewish Christians adapted the benedictions of their forefathers to include Jesus Christ. Note that the doxology in verse 3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” is identical to the wording of 2 Corinthians 1:3 and Ephesians 1:3 (compare also 2 Cor. 11:31).
God has revealed himself in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, all the elect share in his sonship. Through him they call God their Father, for they are his children. With the church universal, the believer confesses the words of the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth.
Because of Jesus Christ, we call his Father our Father and his God our God (John 20:17). Fatherhood is one of the essential characteristics of God’s being; it is part of his deity. God is first Father of Jesus, and then because of Christ he is Father of the believer.
Peter indicates our relationship to the Father and the Son when he uses the personal pronoun our (“God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”). Also, in the next sentence, Peter discloses that God is our Father because God “has given us new birth.” That is, the Father has begotten us again in giving us spiritual rebirth. The Father has given us rebirth because of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- “Lord.” Verse 3 is the only text in this epistle in which Peter writes the title and names our Lord Jesus Christ. With the pronoun our, Peter includes himself among the believers who confess the lordship of Jesus Christ. “To call Jesus Lord is to declare that he is God.” Moreover, in the early church Christians confessed their faith in the brief statement Jesus is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3). The name Jesus encompasses the earthly ministry of the Son of God, and the name Christ refers to his messianic calling. Four times in three verses (vv. 1–3) Peter employs the name Jesus Christ.
- “Mercy.” Peter describes our relationship to God the Father by saying, “In his great mercy he has given us new birth.” We read almost the same wording in one of Paul’s epistles (“God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ” [Eph. 2:4–5]). Apparently Peter was acquainted with Paul’s epistles (see 2 Peter 3:15–16). Together with the other apostles, Peter presents Christian doctrine on regeneration (e.g., see John 3:3, 5).
- “Birth.” Notice that we receive a new spiritual birth from God the Father. Peter writes that God “has given us new birth” (v. 3), and later he continues, “For you have been born again” (v. 23). Just as we are passive in natural birth, so we are in spiritual birth. That is, God is active in the process of begetting us, for he causes us to be born again. With the words new and again in these two verses, Peter shows the difference between our natural birth and our spiritual birth.
Peter speaks from personal experience, for he remembers when he fell into the sin of denying Jesus. Later, when Jesus restored him to apostleship, he became the recipient of God’s great mercy and received new life through restoration. Therefore, he includes himself when he writes, “He has given us new birth” (italics added). Incidentally, the passages in which Peter uses the personal pronouns our or us are few (1:3; 2:24; 4:17). First Peter is an epistle in which the author addresses his readers as “you.” The infrequent use of the first person, singular (2:11; 5:1, 12) or plural, is therefore much more significant.
- “Hope.” What is hope? It is something that is personal, living, active, and part of us. In verse 3, it is not something that pertains to the future (compare Col. 1:5; Titus 2:13). Instead, it brings life to God’s elect who are waiting with patient discipline for God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.
- “Resurrection.” What is the basis for our new life? Peter tells us that “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” God has made us alive and has given us living hope. Without the resurrection of Christ, our rebirth would be impossible and our hope would be meaningless. By rising from the dead, Jesus Christ has given us the assurance that we, too, shall rise with him (see Rom. 6:4). Why? As Peter preached on Pentecost, “God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24). Jesus is the first one to break the bonds of death, so that through him we have our rebirth, and in him we have eternal life (1 John 5:12).
Peter speaks as an eyewitness, for he had the unique experience of meeting Jesus after he rose from the grave. Peter ate and drank with Jesus and became a witness of Jesus’ resurrection (refer to Acts 10:41).
Doctrinal Considerations in 1:3
Twice in this short epistle Peter introduces teaching on the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1:3; 3:21). This teaching, to be sure, is central to the Christian religion. When the eleven apostles came together after Jesus’ ascension and prior to Pentecost, they chose a successor to Judas Iscariot. Peter, as spokesman, declared that this person had to be a follower of Jesus from the day of his baptism to the time of his ascension, and that he had to be a witness of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1:22).
As an eyewitness to the resurrection of Jesus, Peter proclaimed this truth in his sermon to the multitude gathered in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:31). When he preached to the crowd at Solomon’s porch, he said that God raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 3:15; compare 4:2, 33). And last, when Peter spoke in the home of Cornelius at Caesarea, he taught the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 10:40). Peter testified to this truth throughout his ministry of preaching and writing.
God establishes our hope in Christ (1:3)
In his play No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre gives his own vision of hell. Two women and a man, doomed to perdition, enter a room that seems to threaten no torment. But they are sentenced to remain together in that same room for ever—without sleep and without eyelids. All three enter with pretensions about their past. The man pretends that he was a hero of the revolution. In reality, he was killed in a train wreck when he tried to escape after betraying his comrades. The women have even more sordid lives. In the forced intimacy of the room their guilty secrets are all wrung out. Nothing can be hidden, and nothing can be changed. Sartre’s imagination has well prepared us for his famous line, ‘Hell is other people.’ But the moral of the play is the line of doom to which the drama moves: ‘You are—your life, and nothing else.’
Sartre rejected Christianity, but his play invites heart-searching. Who wants to say that he is what he has been rather than what he meant to be, or what he hopes to be? Sartre implies that hell begins when hope ends. Sartre’s image falls far short of the reality of hell, for God’s judgment exposes sinners not simply to the lidless eyes of other sinners, but to the all-seeing gaze of God himself. Yet Sartre reminds us of how desperately we need hope. While there is life, there is hope, we say. But if hope dies, what life can remain?
Peter writes a letter of hope. The hope he proclaims is not what we call a ‘fond hope’. We cherish fond hopes because they are so fragile. We ‘hope against hope’ because we do not really expect what we hope for. But Peter writes of a sure hope, a hope that holds the future in the present because it is anchored in the past. Peter hopes for God’s salvation, God’s deliverance from sin and death. His hope is sure, because God has already accomplished his salvation in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus was a life-changing reality for Peter. When Jesus died on the cross, it was the end of all Peter’s hopes. He knew only bitter sorrow for his own denials. The dawn could not bring hope; with the crowing of the cock he heard the echo of his curses.
But Jesus did not stay dead. On that Easter morning Peter learned from the women of the empty tomb and the message of the angels. He went running to the tomb and saw its evidence. He left in wonder, but Jesus remembered Peter and appeared to him even before he came to eat with the disciples in the upper room. Hope was reborn in Peter’s heart with the sight of his living Lord. Now Peter writes to praise God for that living hope. The resurrection did much more than restore his Master to him. The resurrection crowned the victory of Christ, his victory for Peter, and for those to whom he writes. The resurrection shows that God has made the Crucified both Lord and Christ. At the right hand of the Father Jesus rules until the day that he will come to restore and renew all things.2 With the resurrection of Jesus and his entrance into glory, a new age has begun. Peter now waits for the day when Jesus will be revealed from heaven (1:7, 13). Peter’s living hope is Jesus.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Peter blesses God, rejoicing in what he has done. He uses a form of praise to God that was an important part of worship in the Old Testament. The eighteen ‘blessings’ that we know from the later synagogue service go back to early times, perhaps in some form even to Peter’s day. Those blessings look forward to the fulfilment of the promises of God, yearning for the time of realization:
Speedily cause the offspring of David, Thy servant, to flourish, and let his horn be exalted by thy salvation, because we wait for Thy salvation all the day. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who causest the horn of salvation to flourish.
How different from the plaintive longing of that benediction is the astonished joy of the apostle Peter! Peter can bless the God and Father of his Lord, Jesus Christ. He can exult in the Offspring of David, raised up in salvation to the throne. God’s promises have all come true in Christ. There is more to come, for Christ is to come, but our living hope is real in our living Lord.
Christ’s resurrection spells hope for us not just because he lives, but because, by God’s mercy, we live. In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. By the resurrection of Christ, God has given life, not only to him, but to us. We are given new birth by God; he fathers us by the resurrection of his Son. In Christ’s triumph God makes all things new, beginning with us.
The resurrection carried Christ not only out of the grave but to his Father’s throne. The great day of the renewal of all things had already begun. Yet Peter preached that heaven must receive Christ until the time of renewal, a time still to come. The time of new birth for the universe will come when Christ comes again. But for those united to Christ in his death and resurrection, that new day has already dawned.
When we speak of the new birth, we think of the change that God’s grace works in us. We are brought from death to life. Peter speaks of our being born of imperishable seed through the living word of God that was preached to us (1:23–25). But if we think only of what happens to us, we may be puzzled by the statement that we are given new birth by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The means of our new birth is not first the message of the resurrection; it is the fact of the resurrection. When Christ rose he secured our salvation. He entered that new day of which the prophets spoke, and he brought us with him. Peter is saying what Paul also declared: when Christ rose, we rose. In giving life to Christ, God gave life to all those who are united to Christ. God’s elect have a hope that is as sure as Christ’s resurrection. Christ has not just made their salvation possible; he has made it sure.
Like Paul, Peter also speaks of baptism as the sign of our union with Christ in his death and resurrection (3:21). Some commentators would see this passage, or indeed the whole letter, as instruction given in a service for baptism. But Peter does not in the least focus on the sign, but on the spiritual reality of our new life in Christ. His teaching is beautifully appropriate for baptismal instruction, but gives no real evidence of being designed for this specific purpose, far less limited to it.3
The Father, who gives new birth to his children through the resurrection of Christ, also through Christ brings them to a living faith (1:5; 3:21). Our faith and hope are in God; his living word, the good news of the gospel, has brought life to us (1:23). The things to which believers in Old Testament times looked forward have now happened (1:12).
Yet we, too, look to the future. The salvation that was scaled by Christ’s resurrection and planted in our hearts by the seed of the Word will be revealed completely when Christ comes again in glory. Our hope is anchored in the past: Jesus rose! Our hope remains in the present: Jesus lives! Our hope is completed in the future: Jesus is coming! (1:5, 7, 13).
The apostle leads us to praise God that our salvation is his work. We could not even begin to accomplish it, and we do not in any sense deserve it. Yet, as trophies of God’s grace, we have the privilege of adoring the Father of our Lord Jesus as our Father. Peter’s praise is not a mere formula; praise is the goal of God’s gracious work, as Peter later reminds us (2:9).
3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ echoes a frequent Old Testament word of praise to God (Gen. 14:20; 24:27; Ruth 4:14; 1 Sam. 25:32; 1 Kgs 1:48; Ps. 28:6; 31:21; 41:13) and changes it so as to praise God with a name he never revealed in the Old Testament, ‘Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’.
The term ‘Father’, as applied to the first person of the Trinity, signifies not that the Father in any way created the Son or caused him to exist (for the Son has always existed and was never created, John 1:1–3; 8:58; 17:5, 24; Rev. 22:13), but that he relates to the Son as a father relates to a son normally: the Father plans and directs, the Son responds and obeys; the Father ‘sends’, the Son comes from the Father (Gal. 4:4; John 3:16, 18; 5:19, 22, 26–27, 30). The Father creates ‘through’ the Son; all things come ‘from’ the Father ‘through’ the Son (John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).
Peter encourages his readers to praise God, a helpful remedy for hearts weighed down with discouragement because of suffering. He then lists the reason for praise: By his great mercy we have been born anew. The word for ‘born anew’ (anagennaō) has a more active sense than our translation (rsv) indicates, for the root word (gennaō) often refers to a father’s role in the birth of a child (av, ‘hath begotten us again’), either literally (Matt. 1:2–20) or figuratively, of spiritual birth (1 Cor. 4:15). ‘Begot’ is archaic, however, and he ‘has caused us to be born again’ (nasb) is probably best. In blessing God, Peter thinks first of the new spiritual life that God has given to his people.1
This being born anew is by his great mercy, a phrase with the same preposition (kata) as ‘according to the foreknowledge’ (v. 2). No foreknowledge of the fact that we would believe, no foreseeing of any desirableness or merit on our part, is mentioned here or anywhere else in Scripture when indicating God’s ultimate reason for our salvation. It is simply ‘according to his great mercy’ that he gave us new life.
We have been born again, Peter says, to a living hope, or perhaps into (eis, into the sphere or realm of) ‘a living hope’. This hope is the eager, confident expectation of the life to come, which Peter describes in more detail in the next verse. It is ‘living’—by so describing it Peter indicates that it grows and increases in strength year by year. If such a growing hope is the expected result of being born again, then perhaps the degree to which believers have an intense, confident expectation of the life to come is one useful measure of progress toward spiritual maturity. It is not surprising that such a hope is particularly evident in many older Christians as they approach death.
God brought about this new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Grammatically this phrase could modify the participle ‘living’, indicating that hope is living ‘through (the power of) the resurrection’ (so Kelly, p. 48), but it is unlikely that this is the correct sense: (1) such a meaning would have been more clearly expressed if Peter had used a relative clause, ‘to a hope which is living through the resurrection’ (eis elpida hē zōsan di’anastaseōs), or even ‘on account of the resurrection’ (di’anastasin); (2) a closely parallel example of God acting through (dia) some other person or thing to give us new birth is found in verse 23: ‘You have been born anew … through (dia) the living and abiding word of God’; and (3) there is in Peter a common pattern of persons, especially God, doing something through or by means of (dia) someone or something else (1 Pet. 1:5, 12, 23; 2:5, 14(?); 3:1, 21; 4:11; 5:12; 2 Pet. 1:4).
The resurrection of Christ from the dead secures for his people both new resurrection bodies and new spiritual life. Christians do not in this age receive new bodies but God does grant, on the basis of Jesus’ resurrection, renewed spirits. Thus, spiritually, believers have been ‘raised with Christ’ (Col. 3:1; Eph. 2:6; cf. Rom. 6:4, 11).
1:3 / Peter at once launches into praise of God for planning so magnificent a salvation. The Israelites of old praised God as the creator of the world (2 Chron. 2:12) and as their redeemer from Egyptian slavery (Deut. 4:20). Peter develops the characteristic Jewish approach by adopting an explicitly Christian stance. He praises God as the Father of his unique Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and as the One who raised this Jesus from the dead. As a Christian, Peter blesses God for the new creation, as expressed in the new birth of believers, and for divine provision for them of “an inheritance” of a promised land “in heaven,” safe beyond the slavery of sin or the frenzy of foes.
The experiences of new birth and of a living hope are beyond human procurement. They are God’s gracious gift and are bestowed solely on account of his great mercy, for there is no way in which they can ever be deserved or earned. They come to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, as the direct consequence of his total triumph over the worst that the powers of evil can achieve; namely, death itself.
The concept of new birth is based on the teaching of Jesus (John 3:3–8). It speaks of the gift of spiritual life on a plane previously unknown in an individual’s experience. It can no more be acquired by self-effort than a babe can bring about its own physical birth.
The first result of this new birth, and the first characteristic of the new pilgrim life of the believer, is hope (anchor for the soul, firm and secure: Heb. 6:19). Hope is living (cf. 1:23; 2:4–5), not merely because it is active (Heb. 4:12), or is simply an improved version of the Jewish hope (Heb. 7:19). Nor are we to misunderstand the translation “have been born anew to a living hope” (rsv) to mean “hope has been restored.” Peter is referring to something of a different order: a sure and confident outlook which has a divine, not a human, source. That new quality of hope is generated in the believer by the new spiritual life brought about by the new birth. Peter is writing to encourage readers who face an uncertain future threatened by persecution of one degree or another. This living hope highlights the fact that the present life is by no means the limit of the believer’s expectation. As the word is used in everyday parlance, “hope” can prove a delusion (Job 7:6; Eph. 2:12; cf. Col. 1:5). The living hope in the newborn Christian has a vigor, a patient endurance, and an assurance beyond any human power: such hope can no more fail than the living God who bestows it. Peter elaborates the nature and the content of living hope in the following two verses.
3 Peter begins his letter with the customary thanks to God (which in pagan letters would be thanks to the gods) for the well-being of the recipients, but, like that of Paul, who uses the identical wording in 2 Cor. 1:3 and Eph. 1:3, his content is distinctively Jewish and Christian. Blessing God is well known from the OT (Gen. 9:26; Ps. 67:20; cf. Luke 1:68), and this form of praise was taken over into the Christian liturgical tradition. The One who is blessed, however, is not simply “God,” but that God who revealed himself distinctively as the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Since “Jesus is Lord” was the central confession of the early church (e.g., Acts 2:36; Rom. 10:9–10; cf. 1 Cor. 16:22), this expression encapsulates the core of Christian theology.
The specific act for which Peter blesses God is regeneration, which is not something deserved or produced by human beings, but a free act of God because of his character as a God of mercy or covenant-faithfulness (e.g., Exod. 20:6; 34:7, where the Hebrew term ḥesed, translated “lovingkindness” in the ASV and “love” in the NIV, is translated by the Greek term for mercy in the LXX). Regeneration, or being born again, is not an OT idea, although the Jews at times came close to it. The terminology, however, was “in the air” of the Greek-speaking world in both secular and religious uses, and so it was natural for Christians to use it to explain what God had done for them. They used it to designate the radical change of conversion, which was like receiving a whole new life, life that was life indeed (e.g., Jas. 1:18; 1 John 1:13). It was often connected with baptism as the point of the new birth (see John 3:5, 7; Tit. 3:5, where a similar combination of mercy, regeneration, and future hope appears), and this connection would be stressed in the later church fathers, often without the caution that Peter will insert in 3:21. Regeneration itself was not a technical term but an idea that appealed particularly to the writers of the Catholic Epistles and the Johannine literature, for a variety of Greek words are used for it in the NT; in fact, Peter is the only one to use the term he uses here, anagennaō, and he uses it twice, here and in 1:23. But then in 2:2 he can refer to the same idea with different terminology.
Peter does not focus on the past, the new birth itself, but on the future, for the goal of this regeneration is “a living hope”; that is, it points to a bright future ahead, which will be discussed in the next verse. This fits the birth analogy in that birth, while wonderful, does not exist for itself but rather to start a child on its way to maturity and adult life. Pastorally this future orientation is important for our author, for a suffering people who may see only more pain and deprivation ahead need to be able to pierce the dark clouds and fasten on a vision of hope if they are to stay on track. This hope is not a desperate holding-on to a faded dream, a dead hope, but a living one, founded on reality, for it is grounded in “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” As Paul had argued, because Jesus really did shatter the gates of death and exists now as our living Lord, those who have committed themselves to him share in his new life and can expect to participate fully in it in the future (Rom. 6:4–5; 1 Cor. 15). It is this reality which will enable the readers to face even death without fear, for death is not an end for the Christian, but a beginning.
The Source of the Believer’s Inheritance
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1:3a)
Peter assumes it is necessary for believers to bless God. The intention is so implicit that the Greek text omits the word be, which the translators added. (In the original, the sentence literally begins, “Blessed the God,” which conveys Peter’s expectation that his audience “bless God” as the source of all spiritual inheritance.) The apostle adores God and implores others to do the same.
Peter further calls Him the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, a phrase that identified God in a distinctly Christian way. Historically the Jews had blessed God as their creator and redeemer from Egypt. His creation emphasized His sovereign power at work and His redemption of Israel from Egypt His saving power at work. But those who became Christians were to bless God as the Father of their Lord Jesus Christ.
With one exception (when the Father forsook Him on the cross, Matthew 27:46), every time the Gospels record that Jesus addressed God, He called Him “Father” or “My Father.” In so doing, Jesus was breaking with the Jewish tradition that seldom called God Father, and always in a collective rather than personal sense (e.g., Deut. 32:6; Isa. 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 3:19; 31:9; Mal. 1:6; 2:10). Furthermore, in calling God His Father, Jesus was claiming to share His nature. While speaking with the Jews at an observance of the Feast of the Dedication, Christ declared, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Later, in response to Philip’s request that He reveal the Father, Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9; cf. vv. 8, 10–13). Jesus affirmed that He and the Father possess the same divine nature—that He is fully God (cf. John 17:1, 5). The Father and the Son mutually share the same life—one is intimately and eternally equal to the other—and no one can truly know one without truly knowing the other (cf. Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22). No person can claim to know God unless he knows Him as the One revealed in Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him” (John 14:6–7).
In his writings, the apostle Paul also declared the Father and the Son to be of the same essence: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 1:3; cf. Eph. 1:3, 17). Likewise, John wrote in his second epistle: “Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (2 John 3). Whenever the New Testament calls God Father, it primarily denotes that He is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 7:21; 10:32; 11:25–27; 16:27; 25:34; 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 10:21–22; 22:29; 23:34; John 3:35; 5:17–23; 6:32, 37, 44; 8:54; 10:36; 12:28; 15:9; 17:1; Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 11:31; cf. John 14:23; 15:16; 16:23; 1 John 4:14; Rev. 1:6). God is also the Father of all believers (Matt. 5:16, 45, 48; 6:1, 9; 10:20; 13:43; 23:9; Mark 11:25; Luke 12:30, 32; John 20:17; Rom. 1:7; 8:15; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 2:18; 4:6; Phil. 4:20; Heb. 12:9; James 1:27; 1 John 2:13; 3:1).
One commentator calls Peter’s use in verse 3 of Christ’s full redemptive name “a concentrated confession.” All that the Bible reveals about the Savior appears in that title: Lord identifies Him as sovereign Ruler; Jesus as incarnate Son; and Christ as anointed Messiah-King. The apostle personalizes that magnificent title with the simple inclusion of the pronoun our. The divine Lord of the universe belongs to all believers, as does the Jesus who lived, died, and rose again for them, and as does the Christ, the Messiah whom God anointed to be their eternal King who will grant them their glorious inheritance.
The Motive for the Believer’s Inheritance
who according to His great mercy (1:3b)
His great mercy was the motive behind God’s granting believers eternal life—sharing the very life of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Ephesians 2:4–5 also expresses this divine generosity, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (cf. Titus 3:5). Both here and in Ephesians, the apostolic writer added an enlarging adjective (great and “rich”).
Mercy focuses on the sinner’s miserable, pitiful condition. The gospel is prompted by God’s compassion toward those who were dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1–3). All believers were once in that wretched, helpless condition, compounded by a deceitful heart (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Eccl. 9:3; Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21–23), corrupt mind (Rom. 8:7–8; 1 Cor. 2:14), and wicked desires (Eph. 4:17–19; 5:8; Titus 1:15) that made them slaves to sin, headed for just punishment in hell. Therefore they needed God, in mercy, to show compassion toward their desperate, lost condition and remedy it (cf. Isa. 63:9; Hab. 3:2; Matt. 9:27; Mark 5:19; Luke 1:78; Rom. 9:15–16, 18; 11:30–32; 1 Tim. 1:13; 1 Peter 2:10).
Mercy is not the same as grace. Mercy concerns an individual’s miserable condition, whereas grace concerns his guilt, which caused that condition. Divine mercy takes the sinner from misery to glory (a change of condition), and divine grace takes him from guilt to acquittal (a change of position; see Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7). The Lord grieves over the unredeemed sinner’s condition of gloom and despair (Ezek. 18:23, 32; Matt. 23:37–39). That is manifest clearly during His incarnation as Jesus healed people’s diseases (Matt. 4:23–24; 14:14; 15:30; Mark 1:34; Luke 6:17–19). He could have demonstrated His deity in many other ways, but He chose healings because they best illustrated the compassionate, merciful heart of God toward sinners suffering the temporal misery of their fallen condition (cf. Matt. 9:5–13; Mark 2:3–12). Jesus’ healing miracles, which nearly banished illness from Israel, were proof that what the Old Testament said about God the Father being merciful (Ex. 34:6; Ps. 108:4; Lam. 3:22; Mic. 7:18) was true.
Apart from even the possibility of any merit or worthiness on the sinner’s part, God grants mercy to whomever He will: “For He [God] says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Rom. 9:15–16). Out of His infinite compassion and free, abundant, and limitless mercy, He chose to grant eternal life—it was not because of anything sinners could do or deserve (Ex. 33:19; Rom. 9:11–13; 10:20; 2 Tim. 1:9). It is completely understandable that Paul called God “the Father of mercies” (2 Cor. 1:3).
The Appropriation of the Believer’s Inheritance
has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1:3c)
The prophet Jeremiah once asked the rhetorical question, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?” (Jer. 13:23). His graphic analogy implied a negative answer to the question of whether or not sinners could change their natures (cf. 17:9). Humanity’s sinful nature needs changing (Mark 1:14–15; John 3:7, 17–21, 36; cf. Gen. 6:5; Jer. 2:22; 17:9–10; Rom. 1:18–2:2; 3:10–18), but only God, working through His Holy Spirit, can transform the sinful human heart (Jer. 31:31–34; John 3:5–6, 8; Acts 2:38–39; cf. Ezek. 37:14; Acts 15:8; Rom. 8:11; 1 John 5:4). In order for sinners to receive an eternal inheritance from God, they must experience His means of spiritual transformation, the new birth. Peter affirms that truth in this last portion of verse 3, when he says God has caused believers to be born again (see discussion on 1:23–25 in chapter 7 of this volume; cf. 2 Cor. 5:17).
Jesus effectively explained the necessity of regeneration—the new birth—to Nicodemus, a prominent Jewish teacher.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. (John 3:1–15)
To illustrate the means of the new birth, Jesus referred to the episode of the bronze serpent (Num. 21:4–9), an Old Testament narrative Nicodemus would have known well. When the snake-bitten Israelites in the wilderness acknowledged their sin and God’s judgment on them for it and looked to the means He provided to deliver them (a bronze snake on a pole), they received physical healing from their poisonous bites. By analogy, if sinners would experience spiritual deliverance, they must recognize their spiritual condition as poisoned by their sin and experience salvation from spiritual and eternal death by looking to the Son of God and trusting in Him as their Savior. Jesus cut to the core of Nicodemus’s self-righteousness and told him what all sinners need to hear, that they are spiritually regenerated only by faith in Jesus Christ (cf. John 1:12–13; Titus 3:5; James 1:18).
Peter goes on to declare that regeneration results in believers receiving a living hope. The unbelieving world knows only dying hopes (Job 8:13; Prov. 10:28; Eph. 2:12), but believers have a living, undying hope (Pss. 33:18; 39:7; Rom. 5:5; Eph. 4:4; Titus 2:13; Heb. 6:19) that will come to a complete, final, and glorious fulfillment (Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:27). It is a hope that Peter later described when he wrote, “according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). This hope is what prompted Paul to tell the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). At death believers’ hope becomes reality as they enter the glorious presence of God and the full, unhindered, joyous fellowship with the Trinity, the angels, and other saints (Rom. 5:1–2; Gal. 5:5).
The means of Christians’ appropriating this living hope and eternal inheritance is spiritual birth, and the power for that appropriation was demonstrated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus told Martha, just prior to the raising of her brother Lazarus from the grave, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25–26; cf. 14:19). Paul instructed the Corinthians concerning the vital ramifications of the resurrection, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). Even if one hoped in Christ in this life, but not beyond it, he would be lost (v. 19). However, Christ rose from the dead, forever securing the believer’s living hope in heaven by finally conquering death (vv. 20–28, 47–49, 54–57).
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., 1 Pe 1:3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1810). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Pe 1:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (1 Pe 1:3). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2251). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Utley, R. J. D. (2000). The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter (Vol. Volume 2, p. 215). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.
 Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 39–42). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Make the Church’s Wounds Your Own
2 Timothy 2:23
How rare is it to meet with a man that smarts or bleeds with the Church’s wounds, or sensibly takes them to heart as his own; or that ever had eager thoughts of a cure! No, but almost every party thinks that the happiness of the rest consists only in turning to them; and because they are not of their mind, they cry, “Down with them,” and are glad to hear of their fall, thinking that is the way to the Church’s rising—that is, their own. How few are there that understand the true state of controversies between the several parties; or that ever well discerned how many of them are but verbal, and how many are real!
Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
The Unchangeableness of God
Psalm 55:19; Matthew 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20; James 1:17
Consider the vicissitudes of things, and you will find in them a has been and a shall be. Think of God, and you will find an is, where there cannot be a has been nor a shall be. Rightly, therefore, Christ, who is the eternal and immutable Truth, speaks to those who are tossed by the tribulation of the world, “It is I, be not afraid.”
ANSELM OF CANTERBURY
Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
14:6 Can we really believe that all those who have never even heard of Jesus are lost? This is a question to which orthodox Christians have given several different answers throughout history. However, this verse does not directly answer it. At the very least John affirmed that, if God forgives anyone, it will be because of Christ’s atoning work on the cross. As for whether people have to have heard of Jesus for God to apply the benefits of Christ’s death to them, that will have to be decided on the basis of other texts and themes.
14:6 Can we really believe that all those who have never even heard of Jesus are lost? This is a question to which orthodox Christians have given several different answers throughout history. However, this verse does not directly answer it. At the very least John affirmed that, if God forgives anyone, it will be because of Christ’s atoning work on the cross. As for whether people have to have heard of Jesus for God to apply the benefits of Christ’s death to them, that will have to be decided on the basis of other texts and themes.
14:6 In response to Thomas’ question (v. 5), Jesus gives a comprehensive self-revelation. This is the sixth “I am” declaration in John. He does not simply show the way; He is the Way. He does not simply reveal truth; He is the Truth. He does not simply give life; He is the Life. All the concepts and abstractions are turned into a Person. The way, the truth and the life describe the three principal aspects of the Exodus: the way out of bondage (as out of Egypt), the truth which guides us in living the Christian life (the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai), and the power to live a life pleasing to Christ (the settling into the Promised Land of Canaan). The O.T. emphasis on abiding in the “ways” of the Lord (Deut. 26:17; Ps. 1:6; 25:4; 27:11) provides the background for Thomas’ question. It is interesting to note that the early disciples are known as followers of “the Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9). Truth is associated with God’s essential nature (Rom. 1:25), with Christ (2 Cor. 11:10; Eph. 4:21), and with the Spirit (v. 17; 15:26). In the Person of Christ, we have not only the statement but the fact of moral perfection realized. John plainly teaches that life is found in the Person of Jesus Christ. He who has Jesus Christ has life, and conversely, he who is without Jesus Christ has no life (1 John 5:12).
14:6 the life. Not existence as such, but existence in fulfillment of God’s design that we should be His living temple (1:4).
except through me. This is a strong affirmation that Christ alone is the way of salvation. To imagine and proclaim other ways is to mislead people and forget the necessity of His coming and redemption (Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:14, 15; 1 John 5:12).
14:6 the way The person and work of Jesus serves as believers’ pathway to God the Father.
the truth Since there were divergent Jewish traditions, it was difficult for the Jewish person of the first century to know which tradition was Yahweh’s will. See note on 1:14 (compare 1:17).
the life Refers to Jesus as the source and power of believers’ resurrection to eternal life. See note on 11:25.
except through me Salvation does not come through the law, sacrifices, religious practices, or the overthrow of foreign oppressors—all of which were beliefs held by Jews in the first century. Instead, Jesus Himself is the channel through which people can have relationship with God the Father and spend eternity with Him.
14:6 Jesus as the one way to the Father fulfills the OT symbols and teachings that show the exclusiveness of God’s claim (see note on 3:18), such as the curtain (Ex. 26:33) barring access to God’s presence from all except the Levitical high priest (Leviticus 16), the rejection of human inventions as means to approach God (Lev. 10:2), and the choice of Aaron alone to represent Israel before God in his sanctuary (Num. 17:5). Jesus is the only “way” to God (Acts 4:12), and he alone can provide access to God. Jesus as the truth fulfills the teaching of the OT (John 1:17) and reveals the true God (cf. 1:14, 17; 5:33; 18:37; also 8:40, 45–46; 14:9). Jesus alone is the life who fulfills the OT promises of “life” given by God (11:25–26), having life in himself (1:4; 5:26), and he is thus able to confer eternal life to all those who believe in him (e.g., 3:16). This is another “I am” saying that makes a claim to deity (see note on 6:35).
14:6 This is the sixth “I am” statement of Jesus in John (see 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 15:1, 5). In response to Thomas’ query (v. 4), Jesus declared that He is the way to God because He is the truth of God (1:14) and the life of God (1:4; 3:15; 11:25). In this verse, the exclusiveness of Jesus as the only approach to the Father is emphatic. Only one way, not many ways, exist to God, i.e., Jesus Christ (10:7–9; cf. Mt 7:13, 14; Lk 13:24; Ac 4:12).
14:6 — “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
The only way someone could come to the Father apart from Jesus is if that person had lived a completely sinless life, in thought, word, and deed—and no one but Jesus Himself fits that profile.
14:6 Through His death and resurrection, Jesus is the way to the Father. He is also the truth and the life. As truth, He is the revelation of God. As life, He is the communication of God to us.
14:6. Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life,” [and] “no one comes to the Father except through” Him. This famous verse is the sixth “I am” statement by Jesus in the Fourth Gospel. But exactly how way, truth, and life are related is unclear. Most likely the first element is central. Jesus is the only way to the Father (cf. 10:9). That is so both because He is the truth (cf. 1:18) and because He is the life (cf. 11:25–26).
14:6 This lovely verse makes it clear that the Lord Jesus Christ is Himself the way to heaven. He does not merely show the way; He is the way. Salvation is in a Person. Accept that Person as your own, and you have salvation. Christianity is Christ. The Lord Jesus is not just one of many ways. He is the only Way. No one comes to the Father except through Him. The way to God is not by the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, ordinances, church membership—it is through Christ and Christ alone. Today many say that it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. They say that all religions have some good in them and that they all lead to heaven at last. But Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Then the Lord is the truth. He is not just One who teaches the truth; He is the truth. He is the embodiment of Truth. Those who have Christ have the Truth. It is not found anywhere else.
Christ Jesus is the life. He is the source of life, both spiritual and eternal. Those who receive Him have eternal life because He is the Life.
14:6 “I am the way” In the OT, biblical faith was spoken of as a lifestyle path (cf. Deut. 5:32–33; 31:29; Ps. 27:11; Isa. 35:8). The title of the early church was “the Way” (cf. Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22). Jesus was emphasizing that He was and is the only way to God. This is the theological essence of John’s Gospel! Lifestyle good works are an evidence of personal faith (cf. Eph. 2:8–9, 10), not a means of righteousness.
© “the truth” The term “truth” in Greek philosophy had the connotation of “truth” versus “falsehood” or “reality” versus “illusion.” However, these are Aramaic-speaking disciples who would have understood Jesus to be speaking in the OT sense of truth which was “faithfulness” or “loyalty” (cf. Ps. 26:3; 86:11; 119:30). Both “truth” and “life” characterize “the way.” The term “truth” is often used to describe divine activity in John (cf. 1:14; 4:23–24; 8:32; 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 17:17, 19). See Special Topic on Truth at 6:55 and 17:3.
© “the life” In the OT, a believer’s lifestyle faith is spoken of as a path unto the life (cf. Ps. 16:11; Pro. 6:23; 10:17). All three of these terms are related to lifestyle faith which is found only in personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
© “no one comes to the Father but through Me” What a shocking claim! It is very restrictive but also very obvious that Jesus believed that only through a personal relationship with Himself can one know God. This has often been called the exclusivistic scandal of Christianity. There is no middle ground here. This statement is true or Christianity is false! In several ways this is similar to John 10.
6. Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life.
This is another of the seven great I AM’s of John’s Gospel (for the others see on 6:48; 8:12; 10:9; 10:11; 11:25; and 15:1). In the predicate each of the words way, truth, and life is preceded by the definite article.
“I am the way.” Jesus does not merely show the way; he is himself the way. It is true that he teaches the way (Mark 12:14; Luke 20:21), guides us in the way (Luke 1:79), and has dedicated for us a new and living way (Heb. 10:20); but all this is possible only because he is himself the way.
Christ is God. Now God is equal to each of his attributes, whereas he “possesses” each attribute in an infinite degree. Hence, not only does God have love (or exercise love), but he is love, nothing but love; he is righteousness, nothing but righteousness, etc. So also Christ is the way: in every act, word, and attitude he is the Mediator between God and his elect.
Notice also the pronoun I. In the last analysis we are not saved by a principle or by a force but by a person. In the school the pupil is educated not primarily by blackboards, books, and maps, but by the teacher who makes use of all these means. In the home he is brought up by father and mother. So also the means of access to the Father is Christ himself. We are persons. The God from whom we have been estranged is a personal God. Hence, it is not strange that apart from living fellowship with the person, Jesus Christ, who exists in indissoluble union with the Father, there is no salvation for us (cf. Rom. 5:1, 2).
Now Jesus is the way in a twofold sense (cf. also on 10:1, 7, 9). He is the way from God to man—all divine blessings come down from the Father through the Son (Matt. 11:27, 28); he is also the way from man to God. As already indicated, in the present context the emphasis falls on the latter idea.
“I am … the truth.”
Much of what has been said in connection with “I am the way” applies here also. Jesus is the very embodiment of the truth. He is the truth in person. As such he is the final reality in contrast with the shadows which preceded him (see on 1:14, 17). But in the present context the term the truth seems to have a different shade of meaning. It is that which stands over against the lie. Jesus is the truth because he is the dependable source of redemptive revelation. That this is the sense in which the word is used is clear from verse 7 which teaches that Christ reveals the Father. Cf. Matt. 11:27.
But just as the way is a living way, so also the truth is living truth. It is active. It takes hold of us and influences us powerfully. It sanctifies us, guides us, and sets us free (8:32; cf. 17:17). Basically, not it but he is the truth, he himself in person. Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (18:38). Jesus here in 14:6 answers, “I am the truth.”
“I am … the life.”
Jesus is not referring here to the breath or spirit (πνεῦμα) which animates our body. He is not thinking of the soul (ψυχή) nor of life as outwardly manifested (βίος), but of life as opposed to death (ζωή). All God’s glorious attributes dwell in the Son of God (see on 1:4). And because he has the life within himself (see on 5:26), he is the source and giver of life for his own (see on 3:16; 6:33; 10:28; 11:25). He has the light of life (8:12), the words of life (6:68), and he came that we might have life and abundance (10:10). Just as death spells separation from God, so life implies communion with him (17:3).
All three concepts are active and dynamic. The way brings to God; the truth makes men free; the life produces fellowship.
How are these three related? As more or less separate, wholly coordinate entities? Or, as forming a single concept: “the true and living way”? It is not necessary to choose either of these alternatives. Truth and life are nouns, not adjectives. Christ is the truth and the life, just as well as he is the way. Nevertheless, the context indicates that the idea of the way predominates. The meaning appears to be: “I am the way because I am the truth and the life.” When Jesus reveals God’s redemptive truth which sets men free from the enslaving power of sin, and when he imparts the seed of life, which produces fellowship with the Father, then and thereby he, as the way (which they themselves, by sovereign grace, have chosen), has brought them to the Father. Hence, Jesus continues: No one comes to the Father but by me.
Since men are absolutely dependent upon Christ for their knowledge of redemptive truth and also for the spark that causes that truth to live in their souls (and their souls to become alive to that truth), it follows that no one comes to the Father but through him. With Christ removed there can be no redemptive truth, no everlasting life; hence, no way to the Father. Cf. Acts 4:12. Both the absoluteness of the Christian religion and the urgent necessity of Christian Missions is clearly indicated.
Ver. 6. Jesus said unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.—
Brief expositions:—The way of a holy conversation; the truth of a heavenly doctrine; the life of a bliss everlasting (Leo). The way to beginners, the truth to the progressing (chap. 8:32), the life to the perfect (Ferus). I am the Way, leading to the truth; I am the Truth, promising life; I am the Life, which I give (St. Augustine). I am the Way and the Life; the way on earth, the life in heaven: I am He, to whom you go; I am He, by whom you go (ibid). The way, in which we walk by charity; the truth, to which we cling by faith; the life, to which we aspire by hope. The life in His example, the truth in His promise, the life in His reward (St. Bernard). Truth lies between way and life, as if the way to life were through truth (Leigh). The true way to eternal life (Dr. Whichcote). Without the Way there is no going; without the Truth there is no knowing; without the Life there is no living. I am the Way which thou aughtest to follow; the Truth which thou aughtest to trust; the Life which thou aughtest to hope for. I am the inviolable Way, the infallable Truth, the Godless Life. If thou remain in My way thou shalt know the truth, and the truth shall make thee free and thou shalt lay hold on eternal life. (Thomas à Kempis.)
The Way, the Truth, and the Life:—Mistakes have been made the occasion of profoundest utterances. It was so here.—
- “I am the Way.” Man’s primal communion with God in Eden was broken by his fall. Henceforth humanity became as an islet in mid-ocean, without material for bridge or boat. And the Eternal Word became flesh in order that He himself might become the causeway which should reconnect the island-man and the continent-God. He not only shows the way, as our Teacher, He is the way itself, the true ladder connecting earth and heaven. He is alike the portal, the line of direction, the true Scala Santa, “The great world’s altar-stairs that slope through darkness up to God.” His Via Doloross is our Via Gloriosa. His valley of Achor is our door of hope.
- “I am the Truth.” 1. In distinction from what is symbolic. He is the fulfiller and realizer of all prophetic hints. Thus He is said to be the True Light, the True Bread, the True Tabernacle, &c. 2. In distinction from what is phenomenal. For truths are ever greater than facts. There is no necessary morality in mere facts as such, e.g., in the fact that every particle of matter attracts every other particle in the direct ratio of its mass, and in the inverse ratio of the square of its distance. Truth is moral, and can exist only in connection with person, i.e., a person who shall somehow stand as its end or representation. Such a person is Christ. He not only has truth, He is the Truth—Himself its eternal embodiment; its source, means, and end. He is the meaning of facts. All things have been created through Him and for Him. He is creation’s definition or final cause.
III. “I am the Life.” 1. Of all animate existence; all things are also subsisting in Him. 2. Particularly is this true of man. (1) Jesus Christ is the life of our bodily nature. Poor Marthas and Marys may weep by the tombs of dead brothers; but Jesus Christ shall say, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” (2) Of our spiritual nature, “God hath given unto us eternal life and this life, is in His Son.” Conclusion: Christ is the only way, “No man cometh,” &c. Other voices indeed proclaim the contrary; but they are the voices of false prophets. Liberalism says: “There are many ways to the Father; for instance, nature, æsthetics, charity,” &c. Materialism says: “It is through the uplifting of environment.” Ecclesiasticism says: “It is through the Church, the sacraments.” But all who undertake to climb over into the fold by any other way are thieves and robbers. (G. D. Boardman, D.D.)
The Way, the Truth, and the Life:—Science tells us that there are three elements in light—the illuminating, the chemical, and the heat power. So in Him who is “the Light of the World” there is a threefold perfection.
- The truths separately. 1. Christ the Way. One of the deepest feelings in man’s nature is that of a want of something which this world is found not to supply. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing, nor the ambition with success, nor the lust with gratification. It arises from the terrible disruptions with the intervening chasms which sin has produced. Despite our downward tendencies, man is led by what he feels within, and sees around, to look up to a Divine Power. That Being we would fondly claim as a Father. But where is that Father? There is a way, but somehow we have lost it, and the difficulty is to find it. Conceive a planet wandering from its sphere. Now it is hindered by bodies attracting it or attracted by it, and forthwith it dashes through space, threatening to strike and break in fragments, or to kindle into a conflagration, all the other planets and suns it meets with. It is a picture of a wandering man loosened from the Central Power that stays him, and from the Central Light that should illuminate him. Neither wanderer will right itself till made to move in its old path. But how can we know the way? The flaming sword, turned every way to keep the sinner from the tree of life, has entered into him who is God’s fellow, and hath now power against us, and there is a way opened by which the sinner can come into the very presence of God. “I am the Way.” 2. Christ the Truth. By truth, in this passage, we are not to understand abstract or general doctrine. Systematized truth may serve most important purposes; but it is not to such that our Lord refers. Truth is defined by philosophers as the agreement of our ideas with things. If we know God as He really is, then have we truth in religion. But how can we know God as He really is? Do we not feel as if He were at an infinite distance, as if we could no more rise to Him with our spirits than our frail bodies could mount from earth to heaven? Who will give us wings that we may ascend to Him? Alas! the attraction of earth is too powerful to admit of our rising to Him. The approach must be on His part. Plato was obliged to say: “The Father of the world is hard to discover, and when discovered cannot be communicated.” But when we go on by Christ as the Way, He introduces us to the Father, and we have the truth. God is no longer at a distance; “Emmanuel, God with us.” Aristotle has said that the mind as it came from its Maker is organized for truth, as the eye is to perceive light and the ear to hear sounds. He who has found Christ knows that he has found the truth. With the truth there is assurance; the eye has found the light, the ear is listening to the sound. This, this is the reality of things. 3. Christ the Life. It is of vast moment that we know the way, all good that we reach the truth; but we must have more. The well-formed statue is an interesting object, but none of us would exchange our living condition for that of the chiselled marble. Along with the truth we must have life. There are few or no sinners so dead that they do not wish at times to have life. And yet when they would excite and stimulate it, they find that they have only the cold and the clamminess of death. Feeling never will be excited by a mere determination to raise it. There must be a something to call it forth. Nor will it be evoked by an abstract statement or general doctrine. It is called forth by a living person. Christ so lovely and so loving. Apprehended as the truth He becomes the life.
- The truths in their connection. The full truth is to be found in the union of these various truths. If we would have a true religion, and a proper theology founded upon it, we must give Christ the supreme place. Displace Christ the head from this His proper position and the whole form becomes disproportioned. 1. There are some who would have men first to find the way, and then in the way to find Christ. Who would have, e.g., inquirers first to find the true Church, and then through it to find Christ. But this is to reverse the Scriptural order. 2. Some would have us first seek the truth, and then seek Christ. Seekers of truth deserve all the honour that has been paid to them, but they will never find truth in religion till they find Christ. So Justin Martyr acknowledged, and Augustine, and Luther. Let us not go out with the tapers of earth to seek the sun. Any other light can at best be merely like the star to guide the wise men, serving a good end only so far as it guides us to where Christ as the truth is to be found. 3. Again, some would find life without Christ. Their appeal is to inward feelings, sentiments, and intuitions. But what, I ask, is to evoke such sentiments from our dead and sinful hearts? They tell us by such grand and generous ideas as the infinite and the eternal. But these ideas call forth love only when they are associated with a living being whose love is infinite and eternal. And such is Christ. 4. There are some who would seek for Christ under one of these aspects or in one of these characters, but who do not care for the others. (1) Thus, there are some who are anxious to have Christ as the way, but who stop at the entrance, instead of going on in the path. They are most anxious to have Christ for salvation; but they do not go on to establish themselves in the truth. (2) Some are contented with the truth without the life, with their orthodox creed, their reverence for the Bible, their attendance at religious meetings. Such a formal religion is offensive to man, even as it is displeasing to God. (3) Another class seek the life without the truth, led into this by a reaction against a stiff formalism or a frigid orthodoxy, or by an unwillingness to submit to any restraints. Persons are calling for a life which is to be independent of all the old forms of orthodoxy and of the letter of the Word of God. Of this I am sure, that the life which is not supported by Scriptural truth will be of a very uncertain and wavering and transient character. (J. Mc Cosh, D.D.)
The Way, the Truth, and the Life:—1. Christ is the Way, for He recovers man from his godless wandering. The metaphor views man in the light of his practical obliquities. He is estranged by wicked works from the filial fellowship in which the life of Jesus Christ was unchangeably centred. A way is that which connects the distant and inaccessible. Traversed as is our land in every possible direction by the highways of commerce and civilization, we perhaps scarcely feel the force of this figure. Poor Living-stone, who waded waist-deep through pestilential marshes for weeks, to die at last in a miserable hut by the lake shore; the traveller, who has to cut his way for hundreds of miles through tangled forest and jungle at the rate of half a mile a day; the emigrant, who has to cross the trackless alkali plain, and who may perish midway; the military commander, who had to carry his forces over mountains, some sections of which are almost perpendicular,—know how a well engineered path is the first condition of successful movement. A way is that which makes movement in some specific direction possible. Movement towards God is impossible without the work of Jesus Christ the Mediator. Jesus Christ brings together in His own person the two most distant objects the whole circle of the universe can contain, God dwelling in unapproachable light, and man wallowing in guilt, worldliness, transgression. Christ subverts and destroys the work of sin in human nature, and makes progress towards God possible to us once more. In Him the alienated are brought back into relations of gentleness, endearment, and obedience. 2. Christ is the truth, for He recovers man from his godless error. The metaphor looks upon man from his intellectual side. Men are estranged from God in their thinkings, “alienated from the life of God by reason of the ignorance that is in them.” Christ answers our intellectual need. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” Scientific truth puts us into intelligent relation with the world of established scientific fact. Historic truth puts us into intelligent relation with the facts that have determined the growth of particular types of government and civilization. Sociological truths puts us into intelligent relation with the facts that have moulded the social life of mankind. Jesus Christ puts us into intelligent relation with all the vital facts of God’s being and nature and government. He is the only possible word by which God can address Himself to a world of sinners. No intellectual activity, no induction of reason, no range of research can fill up this chasm in the mind of man. We can only know God as we give ourselves up to Jesus Christ, and suffer the energy of His spirit and presence to rule us. He is made unto us the wisdom by which we come to the saving knowledge of God. All knowledge that lies outside this sphere of contract with Christ is at the very best but adroit guess-work. 3. Christ is the Life, inasmuch as He raises men from their godless insensibility and death. The ideas deepen as they succeed each other. Knowledge passes into life. “This is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” He stands forth in the midst of the universe to counterwork the disintegration and decay that set in when the tie binding all life to its first Centre was ruptured by transgression. Union with Christ, our everlasting Life, will guard against the shock and sting and disability of death. The man who is sailing under trustworthy captainship, and in company with genial friends, out of one zone into another, is scarcely conscious of the lines of demarcation over which the ship glides. So with the man who lives and dies in fellowship with Christ. Throughout the months of summer, darkness is unknown in the latitudes of the far north. The rising and the setting suns blend their light without the hairbreadth of a shadow between. Tourists are all eager to visit the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” It seems to me that for the man who is vitally united to Christ, the event of death is very much like that. He sails through the quiet, solemn seas of the midnight sun, and before the light of the earthly life has quite gone the light of a nobler sunrise has come to blend with it. In the solemn crisis of transition, for the man who has become one with Christ his Life no darkness deepens, and the shadow of the grave marks the dayspring. 4. Christ’s words present a corrective to all distracted faith. He asks from His followers concentrated thought and attachment and expectation. They had sought a way outside Christ, though a way through whose mazes He was to guide them; a truth outside Christ, though a truth the exposition of which was to come from His lips; a life outside Christ, though a life of which His immortal reign was to be the seal and the defence. The purport of these words is, that they must seek their all in Christ. They must let their eye rest upon His person as the one centre from which all saving power, all teaching light, all quickening inspiration must come. Mark how in these words the Master leads on His disciples to faith in a Saviour unseen. The love of the disciples had been very apt to glide into an idolatry of Christ’s human form. But all this is to be corrected by the fresh events that are at hand. The text suggests a warning against all low and dishonouring views of the Saviour’s work and person. (T. G. Selby.)
The Way, the Truth, and the Life:—
- I am the Way. To what? To our eternal destiny. There are ends closer at hand than this which man, if left to himself, seeks before all other things—pleasure, fortune, glory, science. That is what the heathens ardently demanded of their gods; but never by a single word did Jesus Christ offer to lavish them upon men. 1. I know that when we speak of the higher aim of life, worldlings shrug their shoulders and smile; and a certain school, now in high favour, gravely affirms that we can neither attain it nor even so much as understand it. But I needs must know whither I go, and if I deem foolish the man who would fling himself in a railway train or embark upon a vessel without asking where the steam power or the breath of the wind is taking him, by what appellation shall I characterize those who allow themselves to be borne away in the voyage of life without knowing whether their destination is death or life? 2. “But,” says the sceptic, “supposing a higher life is indeed reserved for man, how shall he know it? So many ways are open before us! How find out the right path?” Not much science is required to discover which is the path to be preferred, of pleasure or duty, iniquity or justice, selfishness or sacrifice, pride or devotion, purity or corruption. And heathens themselves have understood this well. But how much more simple, and solemn has the question become since Christ said, “I am the Way!” To know if He speaks true, I have only to consider whither He means to lead me. What then is the end which He sets before me? It is the one, holy, just and good Being reigning over all beings: it is harmony governing the world, man loving man. Well, if that is the end towards which Christ would lead me, what need have I to argue further? Were I the most ignorant of men, I would instinctively understand that I must indeed tend towards this aim. Were I the most learned, what could I add to this ideal?
- I am the Truth. 1. That is what greatly astonishes many of those who hear Him. They are willing to accept Christ as the instructor of souls. But if Jesus Christ had been nothing more than this, we instinctively feel that, after having guided men to the true God, He should have retired in the background and re-echoed the words of the Forerunner: “God must increase, and I must decrease.” Others, and among these many of the noblest benefactors of mankind, have been compelled to speak thus. Aristotle, Copernicus, Newton, Bacon, Descartes might be unknown to us without this fact depriving their works of aught of their value. And in the religious order, knew we nothing whatever of Moses, David, or St. Paul, we would none the less be in possession of the genesis of the world, of the most heart-thrilling hymns and of the grand doctrine of grace. These men were the witnesses of the truth. This Jesus Christ has also been; but more than all this, and that is why He utters these words, which in the lips of Moses, David, or St. Paul, had been blasphemy: “I am the Truth.” 2. What is truth? It is the exact relation between two things. Thus a word is true when it corresponds perfectly with the fact or the idea it expresses; and arithmetical calculation is true when it gives accurately the results of a relation between two different quantities. Every truth, therefore, supposes a relation. Well, truth in religion will be the harmonious, and perfect relation between man and God. Now Jesus Christ has not only taught us what this relation is, but that He has realized it in His person. You ask what is the true religion. We point to Jesus Christ and answer: “Behold it.”
III. I am the Life. 1. Life, which is the most habitual and common of phenomena, is the most unfathomable of mysteries. Materialism, which triumphs to-day in so many schools, is stopped by this problem as before a brazen door for ever sealed. The Eternal God alone calls forth life; I know the terrible objection, if God alone is the Author of all life, wherefore evil? To this the gospel answers that the world is not in a state of order, that evil has, from the origin, been the consequence of the improper use of liberty. But have you observed how closely the notion of sin and that of death are bound up together; have you remarked that the sublime promise of life is essentially reserved for that alone which is in harmony with the will of God? Consequently, strong is our faith, we are able to say to all the powers of evil: “You shall not live for ever.” The gospel is the doctrine of life; earth has been visited by the perfect Being, and according to His own words: “As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.” Alone the Son of God hath life in Himself. Therefore can He say: “I am the Life.” 2. As Christ possesses life in Himself, He also brings life. Life alone can bring forth life. Christ came into a world which was literally dried up. What He did in Judæa He has done in Rome, in the uncivilized world; what He did in olden time He is doing to-day; and whilst it remains a fatal law for these nations that civilization alone leads them to destruction, it also remains a certain and striking fact that civilization with Jesus Christ is able to transform and save them. But if Christ brings life to nations, it is by imparting it to souls individually. (E. Bersier.)
The movement of the ages:—May it not be said that the movement of our age is towards life? I sometimes fancy that I can discern three epochs in the Reformed Churches corresponding in the main to those three mighty words, via, veritas, vita. The Reformers themselves no doubt laid the stress chiefly upon this first. It was on this Popery had gone most astray, obscuring the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The epoch following was essentially dogmatic when the doctors drew up systems of the truth. It was now indeed Christ as veritas! but the dogma taken alone led to coldness, dogmatism, sectarianism and formality. Happy will it be for the Church if, not forgetting the other two, she shall now be found moving on to the third development of Christ as the Life, which well regulate the two former aspects, while it consummates and informs them. The life must develop the individual, and on individuals the Church depends; for in God’s sight it is no abstraction. (J. Mackintosh.) I am the Way.—
The Way:—The most precious things lie in the smallest compass. Diamonds have much value in little space. Those Scriptural sayings which are fullest of meaning are many of them couched in the fewest words.
- How Jesus Christ is the Way, and how He comes to be so. A way supposes two points—from which and to which. 1. Christ is the Way—(1) From the guilt of sin. The great difficulty was—How is sin to be put away? Some have hoped for pardon from future good conduct, but the payment of a future debt can by no means discharge a past debt. Some hope much from the mercy of God, but the law knows nothing of clearing the sinner of guilt by a sovereign act of mercy. Here is the way for the sinner to approach the Father. His sin is laid upon Christ, who became his substitute. (2) The text is true concerning the wrath of God on account of sin. The way to escape from wrath is to escape from the sin which causes the wrath. Now, when the sin of God’s people was moved from them to Christ, the wrath of God went where the sin went. (3) There comes upon us, in consequence of sin, a deep and terrible depression of spirit. Christ is the way out of the sense of the wrath of God. (4) But more, Christ is the way to escape from the power of sin. A man may break off some of his sins by his own unaided efforts. Still, sin dwells in fallen creatures. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? But there is power which can deliver from the power of sin and make holy; it is found in Christ Jesus. The saints in glory overcame through the blood of the Lamb, and there is no other way of overcoming. The precious blood of atonement wherever sprinkled kills sin. 2. Christ is the Way—(1) To the Father. We hear talk of getting to God the Father by nature, but it is a ladder too short to reach the Infinite. It is only by Christ that we realize the Fatherhood of God. We are God’s children when we are created anew in Christ Jesus. (2) To conscious acceptance with the Father. “Made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (3) To communion with the Father. You do talk with God when you draw near in Jesus Christ. “Truly, our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (4) To resemble the Father. You imitate Christ, and so become like the Father.
- What sort of way is Christ, and for what sort of people? 1. What sort of way. He is—(1) The King’s highway, the Divinely-appointed way from sin to the Father. (2) An open way. If I am treading the king’s highway I cannot be a trespasser there. (3) A perfect way. It would not be complete unless it came down where you are. Where are you? Defiled by evil living? There is a road from where you are right up to the immaculate perfection of the blessed at God’s right hand, and that road is Christ. You think you have some preparations to make, some feelings to pass through, something or other to perform; but all you can do to make yourself fit for Christ is to make yourself unfit; all your preparations are but foul lumber—put them all away. Thou must come as thou art. (4) A free way. There is not a toll-bar all along the road. Whosoever wills to have Christ may have Him for the taking. He that will pay for Christ cannot have Him at all. If faith be in one respect a condition, it is in another respect a gift of God, and though we are commanded to repent, yet Jesus is exalted on high to give repentance. (5) A permanent way. Not a way for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, only, but for you; not for the apostles, and martyrs, and early saints, only, but for you. It is a way that never has been broken up, and never will be. (6) A joyful way. (7) The only way. 2. For what sort of people. For all sorts—(1) For wanderers. (2) For back-sliders. (3) For captives. (4) For the poorest of the poor.
III. How we make Christ our way. 1. How do we make Christ our way? As we make any other way our way: by getting into it. 2. In order to keep the way your own, all you do is to continue in it. “The just shall live by faith,” not by any other means. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Jesus the Way:—This word “way” may mean either one of two things—the road along which you must go to reach a certain place; or the thing that must be done in order to secure any particular end. When we think of heaven, Jesus is the way in both these senses. He is the road along which we must walk. He has done all that is necessary, in order that we may get there. The way of salvation through Jesus is—
- A plain way. A paved street or a turnpike road, is a plain way. But if we are travelling over a sandy desert, or through a rocky country where there is nothing to mark the path, then we are in a way that is not plain. It is hard to find the way, and at every step, we are liable to get off the right track. The way of salvation in Jesus is easy to find and easy to keep, if we only ask God to help us in finding and keeping it. (Isa. 35:8; Hab. 2:2). The father of a little girl was once in great trouble on account of his sins. He lay awake, after going to bed one night, in fear and dread. His little daughter was sleeping in her crib beside his bed. Presently she began to move about uneasily. “Papa, papa!” she called. “What is it, my darling?” he asked. “Oh, papa, it’s so dark! Take Nellie’s hand.” He reached out and took her tiny little hand, clasping it firmly in his own. A sigh of relief came from her little heart. At once she was quieted and comforted. That father felt that his little child had taught him a valuable lesson. “Oh, my Father, my Saviour,” he cried, “it is dark, very dark in my soul. Take my hand.” So he turned to Jesus and trusted in Him. A minister had a son in the army. Tidings came that his son had been wounded and was not expected to live. On arriving there, the doctor said, “He may die any moment.” With a sad heart, the father went in. “Oh, father,” said the wounded man, “the doctor says I must die, and I am not prepared for it. Tell me how I can be ready. Make it so plain that I can get hold of it.” “My son,” said the father, “do you remember one day, years ago, I had occasion to rebuke you for something you had done? You became very angry and abused me.” “Yes, father.” Do you remember, after your anger had passed off, how you came in and threw your arms round my neck and said: ‘My dear father, I am so sorry, won’t you forgive me?’ ” “Yes, I remember it very distinctly.” “Do you remember what I said?” “Oh, yes. You said: ‘I forgive you with all my heart,’ and you kissed me.” “Did you believe me?” “Certainly.” “And then did you feel happy again?” “Yes, perfectly happy, and since that time I have loved you better than ever before.” “Well, now, my son, this is the way to come to Jesus. Tell Him, ‘I am so sorry,’ just as you told me: and He will forgive you a thousand times quicker than I did.” “Father, is this the way. Why, I can get hold of this.” And he did get hold of it and was soon happy. After awhile, the doctor came in. He felt the pulse of the wounded man, and said with surprise: “Why, Colonel, you look better.” “I am better, doctor. I’m going to get well.” He got well; and he is living now, the joy and comfort of that father who made the way of salvation so plain that he could get hold of it.
- A broad way (Matt. 9:28; Rev. 22:17). There was a poor sailor who had lived a very wicked life. Once, while far off at sea, it pleased God to awaken his conscience. Then he was in great distress. There was no one on board to tell him what to do. One night he lay in his berth, and in the dim light of the feeble lamp, he was reading the Bible. He came to John 3:16. He put his finger on the word “whosoever,” “Whosoever,” said he, “that means anybody; that means everybody! Why, that means me!” Then he turned in faith to Jesus, and He received him. He got into the broad way of salvation through this sweet word. One day a minister was visiting with a friend among some of the poorest of the population. He entered a wretched looking house. A rickety bedstead, a couple of broken chairs, the remains of a table, and a few pieces of earthenware on the shelf, made up all the furniture. In the middle of the room a miserable looking woman lay on the floor drunk. The minister said to his friend: “Let us pray for her.” They kneeled down and prayed that God would have mercy on this poor woman. She lay there still and stupid, and seemed to take no notice. They went away. Some months after the minister was going again through that part of the city. A well-dressed, respectable-looking woman came up and spoke to him. “Do you not remember some months since praying over a woman who lay drunk on the floor?” “I do.” “Well, sir, I am that woman. I was respectably brought up by Christian parents. I married; but after awhile my husband died, and left me with three children in utter poverty. I saw no way of support but by my own shame. Then I took to drinking to drown my sorrow. I was at the lowest point of sin and misery when you stopped and offered that prayer. It saved me. It made me think of my dear mother, now in heaven. And, by God’s help, I hope yet to join her there.” Oh, it is a broad way of salvation that can take in such poor wretched creatures as this! A gentleman was sent for once to visit one of his class, a newsboy, named Billy, who was very ill. As he entered the room, Billy said: “Oh, captain, I’m mighty glad to see yer.” “What can I do for you, my dear fellow?” “I wanted to ax yer two questions. Did you tell us the other night as how Jesus Christ died for every feller?” “Yes, ‘Jesus Christ tasted death for every man.’ ” “Good!” said Billy: “I thought so. Now did you tell us as how Jesus Christ saves every feller that axes Him?” “Yes,” said his friend; “Every one that asketh receiveth.” “Then I know,” said Billy, with a feeble but happy voice, “That He saves me because I axes Him.” The teacher paused to wipe away a tear from his eye. Then he stooped down to speak to the boy. But Billy’s head had dropped back on his pillow of rags, and his happy spirit had gone to Jesus.
III. A narrow way. It is a broad way, because the greatest sinners may come into it, and any number. It is a narrow way, because when sinners come into it they must leave all their sins behind (Matt. 7:13). 1. There is a vessel lying at anchor. It can make no progress while the anchor holds it. It may rise and fall, as the tide rises or falls; but it cannot move away. And just what the anchor does to the vessel, one sin, one wrong thought or feeling indulged or allowed, will do for the soul. It will keep it from going on in the way of salvation. 2. A lady once was led to see that she was a sinner. The thought of her sins made her feel very unhappy. The difficulty was just here. She had been a very charitable woman, and wanted to trust in part to good works. One night, after weeping and praying in great distress, she went to bed. In her sleep she dreamed that she fell over a dreadful precipice. In falling, she caught hold of the branch of a tree. In her terror she cried out: “Oh, save me, save me!” She heard the voice of Jesus saying: “Let go that branch, and I will save you.” But she was unwilling to loose her hold. Again she cried: “Oh, save me!” The same voice said: “I cannot help you while you cling there.” At last she let go, expecting to be dashed to pieces. But, instead of this, she found herself caught in the strong arms of her Saviour. In the joy of feeling herself safe, she awoke. And so in her dream she had learned the lesson which she had failed to learn in her waking hours. She saw that the way of salvation was too narrow for her to carry any of her good works into it.
- The only way. Some people think that there are a great many ways to heaven, and that one of these is as good as any of the others. What does God say about it? (Isa. 43:11; Acts 4:12). No one can ever get to heaven who does not go there through Jesus Christ. Many will go to heaven without knowing how they get there. But they will find it was Jesus alone who brought them there. A little girl was very ill. She asked: “Papa, does the doctor think I shall die?” With a very sad heart, her father said: “My darling, the doctor is afraid you cannot live.” Then her pale face grew very sad. She thought about the dark graves, and her eyes filled with tears as she said: “Papa, the grave is very dark. Won’t you go down with me into it?” With a bursting heart, her father told her he could not go with her, till the Lord called him. “Papa, won’t you let mamma go with me?” It almost broke that father’s heart to tell her that, much as her mother loved her, she could not go with her either. The poor dear child turned her face to the wall and wept. But she had been taught about Jesus, as the Friend and Saviour of sinners. She poured out her little heart to Him with a child’s full faith, and found comfort in Him. Soon she turned again to her father, with her face all lighted up with joy, and said: “Papa, the grave is not dark now. Jesus will go with me.” But Jesus is the only one who can do this (Psa. 23:4). Some years ago there was a distinguished lawyer, who had an only daughter, the light and joy of her father’s life. The mother of this young girl was an earnest Christian woman. She had tried to teach her child that Jesus was the only way of salvation. But her husband was an infidel. He had told his daughter that we could get to heaven without the help of Jesus. This daughter loved and honoured both her parents; but as her father told her of one way and her mother of another way, she could not make up her mind which of these two ways was the right one. At the age of sixteen she was taken very ill. One day, she said to her father with great earnestness: “Father, I am going to die. What must I do to be saved? My mother has taught me that the only way of salvation is in Jesus Christ. You have taught me that we can be saved without Jesus. Shall I take my mother’s advice or yours?” The strong man was deeply moved. After a while, he came to the bedside of his daughter. He took her pale, thin hand in his, and said slowly but solemnly: “My darling daughter, take your mother’s way.” Here is a ship at sea. She has been overtaken by a dreadful storm. Her masts are broken, her sails are rent. She has sprung a leak, and now the pumps are choked, and can no longer be worked. The water is rising. It is very evident that she cannot be kept afloat much longer. There is only one way left to the poor sailors for saving their lives? What is that? It is to take to the life-boat. And we, as sinners, are just in the position of such a storm-tossed wreck at sea. Jesus is the lifeboat. (R. Newton, D.D.)
Christ the Way:—We could never rejoice in this His way, if He merely stood in the way as a sign-post, or went before us as a Guide. God be praised, our Jesus is not only Counsellor, but mighty as well; and not mighty only, but Mighty God! (Isa. 9:6). If He is as a sign-post, He is one with living arms; for He receives us to Himself, from His Cross He draws us up to Himself, He lifts us upon His shoulders; in short, He is Himself the way, the new living way, which, like a full flowing river, bears along our little bark, and brings it to the ocean of a blissful eternity. Conrad Rieger sets before us Jesus as the way, thus: “Where is the man who will give himself to another to be his way? If the king could not cross over a dyke, and were to say to one of you, ‘Lay thyself in this dyke to make a bridge that I may cross over upon thee,’ where is the meanest subject in the land who would consent to do it? But what no man would like to do for another, that Jesus does for us all.” (R. Besser, D.D.)
Christ the way to God:—
- In what respects is Christ “the Way?” 1. As a Teacher. He came into a world that was filled with error and falsehood. Everywhere men were groping in the dark, following “blind leaders.” And the Saviour affirmed, “I am the Light of the World.” “I am the Truth.” All spiritual truth is associated with Christ, because it proceeds from Him and terminates in Him. 2. As a Mediator. Many can see that Christ is “the Way” as a Teacher, but not as a Mediator. But if Christ be a Teacher, and nothing more, then He rather shows “the Way,” than is “the Way.” Between man and God there stretches a wide gulf which sin has opened. Amidst the many expedients which man vainly devises, the Saviour interposes and becomes the “one Mediator between God and man.” 3. As such—(1) He intercedes with us, and beseeches us to be reconciled to God. (2) He intercedes with God. For this the Saviour is fitted because of His atoning work. He entered into the holy place, “neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood.” “Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter,” &c. (3) He receives and bestows upon us the Holy Spirit. If man is to come to God it must be as a “new creature” that he comes.
- Some of the characteristics of this “Way.” 1. Truth. Immediately our Lord adds, “I am the Truth.” From the Fall until now the human mind has been in matters of religion avaricious of error. Now, amidst the many ways which men have invented, Christ presents Himself as the true Way—the Way which God provides, and which Scripture reveals. What other way so commends itself to an enlightened reason as this. 2. Purity. False systems of religion must accommodate themselves to man’s frailties, and enable him to compound for his sins; it is only the gospel that presents a pure and perfect standard. 3. Happiness and security. Emphatically may it be said that it is a way of peace. But can you affirm this of those methods of salvation which man has invented? “Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven.” Safe as well as happy!—for as this is a living way, all who walk in it participate in that eternal life which it bestows (Isa. 35:8–10). I think of every image that can suggest this security, but they all fail adequately to shadow it forth. I think of Noah sheltered in the ark; of Lot, plucked as a “brand from the burning;” of the criminal pursued by the officers of justice reaching the Temple; of the man-slayer in the city of refuge. “There is no condemnation,” &c. 4. Simplicity. What can be plainer than this promise, “He that believeth, shall be saved;” or than this invitation, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour,” &c.; or than this assurance, “Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out;” or than this command, “Look unto Me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved”? 5. Exclusiveness. “There is no other name,” &c. (H. J. Gamble.)
Make sure that you are in the right way:—When I was at Fall River, I was obliged to rise at four o’clock in the morning to take the train. I took my carpet-bag in my hand, and ran, but was in trouble lest I might be running directly from the cars, instead of towards them. There was not a person in sight; but I saw a light in one upper window. A watcher was there. I rang the bell, and asked information as to my way. It was given. I was about right—only needed a little help, and now, knowing that I was in the right way, I did run. A bird might have counted it doing well to keep up with me; for I expected every moment to hear the bell, and the rushing off of the train, and then I should be there, and my people without a sermon on Sunday. Only let me be sure that I was in the right way, and I was willing to run. So says the Christian, “Only let me be sure that I am on my way to heaven, and there is nothing that I am not willing to do or to bear.” Well, if you are so earnest, know that Christ is the Way; and if you are desirous to cast away all that shall hinder your race, I think that you need not doubt that you are already in it. (H. W. Beecher.)
Christ the only way:—Mrs. Bennet, wife of John Bennet, minister of an Independent Church in Cheshire, the day before she died, raised herself into a very solemn attitude, and with most striking emphasis, delivered, in the following language her dying testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus: “I here declare it before you that I have looked on the right hand and on the left—I have cast my eyes before and behind—to see if there was any possible way of salvation but by the Son of God; and I am fully satisfied there is not. No! none on earth, nor all the angels in heaven, could have wrought out salvation for such a sinner. None but God Himself, taking our nature upon Him, and doing all that the holy law required, could have procured pardon for me, a sinner. He has wrought out salvation for me, and I know that I shall enjoy it for ever.”
The way to our wishes:—Thomas was the spokesman of the disciples for the moment. The Saviour speaks to them and to us as if we were anxious to get a glimpse of a particular person, and to go to a particular place. Are not these longings strong and deep in the heart of humanity? Is not science itself in search of the Father? Is it not trying by every means in its power to get up to the Great First Cause? And does not superstition unite its sighs with those of science? When it makes its idol and falls down before it, is it not trying to bring God within the bounds of visibility? And is not Pantheism in pursuit of the same object? God everything, and everything God. Deeper still is the desire in the heart of the Church. Now Christ says, “I am the Way.” Would it not be wonderful if it were otherwise, if there were no way? We see on all sides provision made for the wants of our nature, for the gratification of the wishes of our hearts. Are we to believe that the desires which we have for the highest and noblest and holiest of all things are to be made exceptions to the rule?
- Christ is the Way by which the Great First Cause, the Father of all, has been brought within the range of human vision in a real personal form. His attributes are evident from His works. Holy men of old were permitted to hear His voice sometimes, and to behold symbols of His presence. But the Lord Jesus made the eternal God visible to the eye of man in human form—“In Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” And that was the only way in which He could be manifested personally to the eye of flesh. Mortal man could not go up to God where He is. The only alternative was, that God should come down in the fashion of a man. In no other nature could He convey a complete conception of His character to the mind.
- Christ is the Way by which man gets up to God, and dwells with Him at last in His House. When we were bearing our own sins, we dreaded Him; when He is placed before us bearing our sins, we are attracted to Him, and take hold of Him with our whole heart, as His heart took hold of us when we were perishing. When we are drawn to Him we partake of His nature as really as He partook of ours. His Spirit flows into us, and all that is good is quickened and strengthened in us, so that an affinity is established between us and Him, just as an affinity had been previously established between Him and us. “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me.” His people “seek the things which are above,” &c. “Our citizenship is in heaven.” When the souls of His people are loosed from their bodies at death they go up to Him. And the bodies of believers, as well as their spirits, will be drawn up to Him at last. “And so we shall be ever with the Lord.” (W. Simpson.)
The way to the Father:—We hear much of the Fatherhood of God, and cannot hear too much if the doctrine be truly stated. It is not a new doctrine. The heathen knew something of it; it is in the Old Testament, while it is the very substance of the New. Only in the latter, what heathenism never knew, and what the Law and the Prophets only taught imperfectly, God is our Father in the Eternal Son. This distinctly Christian doctrine is declared in our text—
- Polemically. It protests against certain religious teachings which contravene it. Throughout His ministry Christ was in conflict with men who held a false doctrine of the Fatherhood of God. 1. There were those who represented God as though He looked on His human offspring with a complacency which winked at all moral distinctions. The Supreme Father looked upon all with equal indifference. In opposition to this Christ taught that man was estranged from God through sin. He had lost the knowledge of God and was spiritually dark; the favour of God and was guilty; the image of God and was corrupt; the life of God and was dead in trespasses and sins; and that men could only secure the prerogatives of sonship by intervention from without. There are those to-day who teach the old doctrines of a philosophical Sadduceeism. Christianity challenges them. Appealing to Christ’s credentials as a Teacher sent from God, it proclaims to the world that God hath given unto us eternal life, and that this life is by a Mediator whom He hath ordained. There is no absurdity in the doctrine. Who but God can determine how we may most fitly come to Him? And as the Mediatorship is actually constituted, what lessons touching Divine love and holiness, and human helplessness and dignity, does it not pour into our ears. 2. But Christ’s ministry did battle even more keenly with those who held that God was their Father through mediatorship. Angels, Abraham, Moses, saintly pedigree, holy observances, &c., were their mouthpieces with God, and stepping-stones to immortality. Christ told them they carried a lie in their right hand; that there was but one Mediator—Himself. Alas! we have the doctrine of the Pharisees too. Men are heard proclaiming that the prayer of a disembodied saint, the magic of a Christian rite, &c., have the stupendous power to join heaven and earth together. The New Testament pronounces all this to be falsehood. Our alms, deeds, fastings, communions, baptisms, &c.—these bridge the gulf between us and God! What does a man think of himself, what does he think of God, who takes up with such a hypothesis?
- Doctrinally. Taken with its context, the text is the summary and index of a most large and precious Scripture teaching. How do men come to the Father through Christ? Necessarily the Person, character, and history of the Mediator will have much to do with the nature and method of His mediation. Who the Mediator was let John tell us (chap. 1), and His character and history let him and his brethren tell. With these facts in view men have held that the value of Christ’s mediation consists in the energy of the truth He taught, and the force of His example. Others explain that by His perfect fulfilment of the will of God as our representative, He became so acceptable to God, that by reason of what He did God is now the loving Father of us all, and in Him all men are already virtually, and will be by and by actually justified and glorified. Now both these theories mistake the entire basis, method and scope of Christ’s Mediatorship, which is essentially an economy of holy law, in which God and man sustain not simply the relations of Father and Son, but those of moral Governor and rational and responsible creature. According to Scripture—1. Christ’s blood has made satisfaction in law to Divine justice for the sins of all mankind, by virtue of which sin is expiated, and all men through personal faith may find mercy and acceptance. 2. As the recompense of the Redeemer’s passion. God gives to the world by Christ’s hands His Holy Spirit, by whom assurance of pardon is given, and new birth to righteousness. 3. Under the reign of Christ believers are protected from the evil that is in the world; subjected to providential discipline, and furnished with strength to do the will of God and make their way to everlasting life.
III. Evangelically and promissory. Men can only come to God by Christ; but by Him there is free access for every soul. To come to the Father is—1. To know God. 2. To be the object of the love of God. 3. To be with God for ever. Conclusion: 1. The words illuminate the widest possible area of religious truth. God is and always has been, whether as Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, the Father of men through a Mediator. 2. Within a narrower circle, Christ’s doctrine lays down broad lines of duty and privilege for the Church of God. Let no false charity presume to enlarge what God has straitened. It is at the Church’s peril that it dares to cripple man’s evangelical liberty. 3. The text speaks with a gracious but authoritative voice to every hearer of the gospel. (1) Do not hope to find God without Christ. (2) Do not treat Christ as though His Mediatorship was inadequate. (3) Let no man despise or neglect the Mediator, “How shall we escape,” &c. (J. D. Geden, D.D.)
Christ the only way to the Father:—Not long ago, two little children rambling from home over a wild and dangerous part of Dartmoor, lost their way. Utterly unable to find the right path, they sat down, and cried bitterly. “And what did you do next?” was the question put to them afterwards. “I said, ‘Our Father,’ ” answered the boy, “and sister said, ‘Gentle Jesus.’ ” Then they made another attempt, and discovered a moorland road which led them safely home. Surely the conduct of those little ones, lost on the moor, has a lesson for us. If any of us have wandered from the right way, and lost sight of our Father’s House, and fallen among the dangers of a sinful world, what can we do better than shed tears of sorrowful repentance; what can we do better than cry to Our Father and Gentle Jesus? (H. J. W. Buxton, M.A.)
Christ the only way of approach to the Father:—
- To come unto the Father must be regarded as the chief concern of man. 1. The nature of this coming to the Father. It is—(1) To obtain an accurate acquaintance of His character and His will. We are said to be distant from an object when we are ignorant of it. In the Sacred Writings, on the one hand, ignorance of God is mentioned as being a crime; and, on the other, to attain an accurate acquaintance with Jehovah is the highest human blessing. It is, therefore, desired for men that they may have the spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of God and His Son. (2) The enjoyment of reconciliation with Him. Reconciliation was the grand theme which Christ preached, as well as the grand work which He came to accomplish. 2. The importance of thus coming to the Father. Adopting the most general assumption that God is the Governor, and that man is a subject, and that the sanction by which the government of God is vindicated, over the retribution of eternity, then it must follow that nothing can be of importance at all compared to the attainment of a state by which the infliction of the Divine anger may be avoided, and by which the enjoyment of the Divine favour may be secured.
- The work of the Lord Jesus affords a method by which men may come unto the Father. In the whole of the series of verses, with which the text is connected, our Saviour speaks of Himself as being one who had been introduced for the purpose of accomplishing a work, through the agency of which man might be made possessor of all that is desirable in the state we have endeavoured to describe. Let us notice—1. The nature of the work which our Lord Jesus has accomplished. (1) Christ is invested with the office of a teacher. One object of His incarnation was to remove those awful shades of ignorance which had overshadowed the nations of the earth; and to inculcate all those principles of spiritual truth which were necessary for man to know and believe. (2) But we must contemplate the work of our Lord as that which also furnishes a positive atonement for sin. 2. The extent to which this work is intended to be applied. The merit of the work of the Saviour is intrinsically sufficient for the world. The means of access and acceptance with God, under the Levitical dispensation, were restricted to a small nation; but under that dispensation of grace and truth, which came by Jesus Christ, it announced that the party walls were to be broken down, and the distinction of Jew and Gentile known no more; and that whomsoever, of any age, nation, rank, or character, would come unto the Father through the work of the Son, should find in the work of the Son a ready plenitude of Almighty energy and grace. There is no limit to that promise—“He that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.”
III. To come unto the Father, except through the work of Jesus, is perfectly and eternally impossible. 1. No other being possesses the characteristics which are possessed by our Lord Jesus, and which are necessary to constitute a sufficient mode of access to the Father. For, what is Christ? He is God, and He is Man. The way to God would be shut if it were not for the humanity of Christ; the way to God would be imperfect if it were not for the Divinity of Christ. Humanity is what gives to the work of the Saviour adaptation; Divinity is what gives to the work of Christ efficacy, plenitude, and power. 2. The Sacred Writings distinctly and solemnly declare that the work of Christ, as the Medium of access to the Father, stands exclusive and alone. “Neither is there salvation in any other,” &c. “Other foundation can no man lay,” &c. Conclusion: 1. Have you come to the Father? 2. Will you come unto the Father? (J. Parsons.)
Christ the only means of access to the Father:—The passage implies—
- That it is a primary duty of all intelligent beings to come to God. God is the Father of all spirits, of all beings, to whom He has given an intelligent nature, on whom He has conferred moral capacities. From that very circumstance it is their first and positive obligation, and will constitute their happiness to come to Him, i.e., to have constant intercourse with Him. There is something solemn and impressive about it. To come into contact with the eternal and infinite mind! We feel strongly when we have a prospect of coming into contact with some eminent person. But everything falls short of the idea of coming into the presence of God. And then to have a proper idea of our responsibility, and our being constantly under His eye—and yet it is our primary duty to delight in this, and to do it.
- That there is a very remarkable singularity about the way in which man is to come to God. “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Anything like that was never uttered in heaven. It never was uttered, and never will be, in any world in which the beings continue to be just as they proceeded from the hands of God. They delight in constant intercourse with God. Why is this? Worlds that have never fallen are in a state of natural religion. With respect to us who have fallen, if we come to God we must come in a particular manner. And the singularity of this arises from our guilt. God is to be viewed by us not merely as God, but as a God whom we have offended. And, therefore, there is some process required to mark our circumstances, both upon God’s part and upon ours. And the peculiarity of the thing as revealed in Scripture is, that we are to come to God, through a Mediator, and to plead the work and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to ask the forgiveness of sin, in the consideration of that reason. Now all just views of religion rest upon this foundation. The Deist rejects revelation and a mediator altogether, because he looks abroad on the face of the world, and he thinks that nothing more is necessary to come to God but some prayer and some expression of penitence. Then, again, some men reject the idea of the Divinity and sacrifice of Christ, and think it is enough to come to God, as professing to receive the truth of Christ. These views result from very inadequate impressions of the holiness and majesty of God and of the nature of sin, and of that kind of medium which is represented in the New Testament as the way into the presence of the holiest of all.
III. That in coming to God it becomes us to have respect to the Mediator, and to come on the specific business for which He is appointed. Only imagine that one of your children, or several of them, had deeply and grievously offended you. Or imagine the case of a monarch, against whom a certain portion of his subjects had rebelled. Imagine, in either of these cases, that some kind and gracious and affectionate declaration of readiness to forgive on certain conditions and in a certain way. And just imagine that either the child, or the subject should dare to come into the presence of the parent or of the sovereign, unconcerned about the matter wherein they had offended. Imagine that your child, without adverting to the circumstances of his actual offence, and of your displeasure, and to the plan which you had designed by which reconciliation might be effected between you—that your child came and praised the properties of your character, and rejoiced in the genuine affections of your nature, and the principles of your behaviour, and praising your heart, or your hands, or your head. Or conceive of the subjects entering the presence chamber of their monarch, and that without adverting to the proclamation that had been made, they should come and unite together in some manifestation of their feelings with regard to his government and his reign, and the happiness of his subjects; never once referring to the business on which they were supposed to come. Would there not be something monstrous in all this? And do you not perceive that the child would increase his offence, and that the subjects would add something like ingratitude and contempt to their rebellion? There are many who just treat God in this way.
- That in coming in the way that has been pointed out we have every encouragement; and we shall find it to be sufficient. We shall have a welcome, and shall surely receive whatever is requisite to ensure for us happiness and satisfaction. “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” But “whoever cometh I will in no wise cast out.” And the reason why you do not enjoy all this is, because you will not.
- That those who come to God by the Mediator, and they only, are prepared for dwelling with God hereafter. It is not enough to die, and be happy, as some people seem to imagine; you may die and be damned—the Bible says so.
- That this subject is exceedingly forgotten and neglected by men. 1. There are many men who never come to God at all. They never come in any way; they never think of it. 2. There are others who come to God, professedly, but in the wrong way. They do not come to the Father by the Son. 3. There are others who neglect the spirit of this declaration. They profess to come in the right way; but the particular exercises, and the positive enjoyments of religion, are to them an end of itself. (T. Binney.) Truth.—
The Truth:—Christ is the Truth—
- In the highest sense of that word. Some by the word mean literal accuracy of speech, some a restricted class of theological truths; others some philosophical theories. We use the word to denote the whole sum of Christianity as revealed in the person, teaching, and life, of Jesus; the final test and appeal to which all religious and moral truth must be referred; eclipsing all by its glory, overtopping all by its majesty, swaying all by its authority, and determining all by its decision.
- The saving truth. A few simple facts and doctrines constitute the main features of our religion. They exhibit the Divine law broken by man’s transgression. They proclaim the eternal justice condemning man. Man is guilty, and therefore condemned; depraved, therefore impotent; hopeless, therefore wretched. This, then, is the mystery of godliness: the Christ, who is the sinless one, became the representative and the surety of the sinful, obeyed the law we had broken, endured the penalty we had deserved, is gone to heaven to shed down on our hearts the influence which alone can renew and sanctify. By faith we are united to Him. Thus we are cleansed from our transgression, justified from all condemnation, made partakers of the Saviour’s Spirit, destined to the Saviour’s glory.
III. Incomparably the most important of all truth. No error can be harmless; every truth must have its use; yet it is equally evident that all truth is not of the same importance; but this is the central, all-pervading truth. If we diverge here, we can only go further and further astray. It is in spiritual science what the law of gravitation is in physical science. Other truth will affect your intelligence, your conscience, your luxuries, your civilization, your personal freedom; but this affects your soul, your conscience, your character, your eternity.
- To contradict and refute the world’s falsehood. The first temptation was a lie; and ever after that time men were deceived. Thus it came to pass that history, with a slight substratum of fact, became little else than a tissue of fables; philosophy, notwithstanding its high pretentions, became for the most part a mere logomachy or imposing sophism; poetry was employed to dazzle the imagination, to blind the understanding, to decorate the vices; while religion, which, above all things, ought to be the unadulterated truth, became the most complicated and abandoned lie; till Christ stood in the deluded world, and confronted all its delusions, and said, “I am the Truth.” But since then even the gospel has been perverted. We have need incessantly, therefore, to refer to the first principle; to correct everything by this, “I am the Truth.”
- Notwithstanding the indifference that men generally manifest in relation to it. I know of nothing which men are so reluctant to honour. If, indeed, you will lower its tone and destroy its vitality; if you will represent it as a philosophy amenable at the bar of man, and class it as a speculation with all other speculations it will be tolerated.
- Notwithstanding the world’s hostility. Thus hostility has put the seal to the declaration. Had it not been mighty, it would never have awakened that hostility; had it not been right-hearted, it would never have dared it; had it not been immortal, it would never have survived it; but having awakened, dared, and survived it, in the person of Christ, and in His truth we see it, as if it came direct from heaven, bearing this testimony before all unequivocally and unshakingly, “I am the Truth.”
VII. As the power ultimately to subdue the world. “Great is the truth, and shall prevail.” The thoughtful of all parties assent to that; the mistake is that men should so hastily conclude that the truth is with them. Even they who are engaged in the worst of enterprises wish to have the truth on their side, and labour to have it appear that it is so. And why? Because truth is of God; the man who knowingly goes against it feels he is struggling with Omnipotence. When men see error with their eyes open the spirit shrinks away from it. And if Christ’s doctrine be not true it must perish; all the learning, and power, and skill, and genius, of the universe cannot save it from the perdition it deserves; but Christ cannot be defeated so long as this text is true. Christ’s people cannot be defeated so long as they can say, “We are in Him that is true.” Living in Him; the Church is founded upon a rock, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. Remember—1. That though this truth is set before you, it will never be yours but in the exercise of deep humility. 2. That fully to enter into this truth you must possess the spirit of Him from whom it comes. 3. That this truth is Divine in its origin, and intends to be saving in its result. 4. Take it with you as at once your defence and your law. (J. Aldis.)
Jesus, the Truth:—It is a truth in arithmetic that two and two make four. It is a truth in geometry that “the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line.” Certain facts are truths of history. And what we are taught about God or heaven are truths in religion. But Jesus has so much to do with our religion, that we sometimes put His name in place of the word religion, and say of a certain doctrine that it is a truth in Jesus. And this is what Jesus means when He says: “I am the Truth.” The truth in Jesus is the best of all truth, because it—
- Sanctifies or makes us good. The model of goodness is the example of Jesus. There is none like Him in heaven, in the earth, in any other world. He is “the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.” And that which helps to make us like Jesus is the very best thing in the world for us. It is the truth the Bible teaches us about Jesus, which makes us Christians in the beginning. And then it is only by knowing more of this truth that we “grow in grace,” or become better Christians.
- Satisfies and makes us happy. When you are hungry you have a very disagreeable feeling, and nothing will take it away and make us feel comfortable, but substantial food. But the hunger of the soul is harder to bear than the hunger of the body. Suppose you go to a person, whose soul is in trouble on account of some great sorrow or sin, and try to comfort him by telling him one of the truths in arithmetic or geography. You say to him: “Don’t be troubled; two and two make four; or the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.” Do you think that would satisfy him, or do him any good? None whatever. But suppose that, instead of this, you tell him, and he believes, about “the truth as it is in Jesus.” This is the food that this hungry soul craves. The Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Charles I., lies buried in Newport Church, in the Isle of Wight. A marble monument erected by Queen Victoria shows, in a very touching way, what her feelings were about the matter of which we are now speaking, at the time of death. During the time of her father’s troubles, she was a prisoner in Carisbrook Castle. She was alone, separated from all the friends and companions of her youth, and lingered on in her sorrows, till death came and set her free. She was found one day dead in her bed, with her Bible open before her, and her finger resting on these words: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And this is what the monument in Newport is intended to show. What a sermon in stone that monument preaches! To every one who looks at it, it seems to say: “Riches and rank cannot make you happy. Jesus only can satisfy the soul.”
III. Saves us. But this is what no other kind of knowledge will or can do. You may know all about arithmetic, geography, history, &c., and this knowledge may be very useful to you in the business of this life, but it will not be of the least use to you in trying to get to heaven. If some poor soul, distressed about his sins, should come to you and ask the question: “What must I do to be saved?” you would find nothing in all those studies that would be the least help to you in answering that question. But, if you only know what the Bible teaches about Jesus, you will be able to answer this question in a moment. It is the truth in Jesus alone which shows us the way to heaven. Some years since, a respectable-looking person said to two collectors for the Bible Society, “I belonged to a company of pickpockets. About a year since, two of my companions and myself were passing by a church. It was the anniversary of the Bible Society. Seeing so many there, we thought it would be a good chance for us to carry on our wicked business. The Ten Commandments, in large gilt letters, were on the wall behind the pulpit. The first words that caught my eye were: ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ In a moment, my attention was arrested. I felt as if God were speaking to me. My conscience troubled me, and my tears began to flow. As soon as the meeting was over, I hurried away to a distant part of the city, where no one knew me. I got a Bible, and began to read it. It showed me what a great sinner I was; but it showed me also what a great Saviour Jesus is. I prayed to Jesus with all my heart. He heard my prayer. Please accept five guineas, and may God bless you in the good work you are doing.” The late Dr. Corrie, bishop of Madras, in India, was a chaplain there for some time before he was made bishop. At that time, no translation of the Bible had been made into the language of that country. To help in scattering a little light, he was in the habit of translating striking passages of Scripture on little scraps of paper, and having his servant distribute them at his door every morning. Twenty years afterwards a missionary at Allahabad wrote to him: “I have lately visited a Hindoo, who came to this place in ill health. I was surprised to find that he was not only a Christian, but a Christian with a very clear knowledge of Jesus, and of the way in which he saves the souls of His people. ‘How is it, my friend,’ I said to him, ‘that you understand so much about the Scriptures? You told me you never saw a missionary in your life, and never had any one to speak to you about the way of salvation?’ He answered this question by putting his hand under his pillow, and drawing out a parcel of well-worn ragged bits of paper, and saying: ‘From these bits of paper, which Sahib Corrie used to distribute by a servant at his door every day, I have learned all I know about the religion of Jesus. I have read them till, as you see, they are almost worn out. All I know about Jesus they have taught me; but what I do know of Him is worth more than all the world to me. It has saved my soul.’ ” (R. Newton, D.D.)
Christ, “the Truth”:—We do not wonder to find “Truth” made the centre-bit of the arch. For “truth,” wherever it is, holds everything together. It is the integrity of a man which gathers up the man, and gives a unity to his character. Take away truthfulness, and all his virtues, if he have any, fall to the ground. In like manner, “the Truth” of Christ is the cardinal point of all the strength of Scripture. Therefore, Christ placed it in the middle. For the same reason, in the figurative dress, both of Christ (Isa. 11), and of the Christian (Eph. 6), “Truth” is the girdle—that which binds up and knits the power of the man. Consider—
- Truth was an attribute above all others, essential to the offices which Christ undertook to fulfil. 1. As Witness. In this character, He came from heaven to reveal and testify to men the invisible things of another world. But what is a witness without truth? 2. As the Substance of that of which the whole of the Old Testament was the shadow. But the substance of anything is “the truth” of anything. Therefore Christ is “Truth.” 3. As the Founder of a faith very different from all others which ever appeared upon this earth. Its precepts are the strictest—its doctrines are the loftiest—its consolations are the strongest. Now what intense veracity did all that require in Him who propounded such a thing! If one iota or any word of His should ever fail, what would become of the whole gospel, of which He was the Author? 4. As His people’s Righteousness. Truth had died out of the earth, when Christ came to re-make “truth,” to be “Truth.” But what must be the “truth” of Him who was to be “the Truth” of all the whole world? 5. As Judge.
- How does Christ become “Truth?” 1. He is nature’s “truth.” The earliest record that we have of Him is, that He was that “Wisdom” which dwelt with God when He made the worlds—that Word by which all things were made. Therefore, all things which are now in the world were first ideas in the mind of Christ. And there they lay, until His willing it gave those ideas their form, and they took the material substances with which we are conversant. That is the only idea we can form of creation. 2. He is “the Truth” of God. God is a Being of perfect love. And yet, God has announced, that “every soul that sins shall perish.” Can you reconcile it? And yet, if two attributes of God cannot be reconciled, where is God’s “truth?” In Christ the justice is satisfied that the love may be free. 3. He is man’s “Truth.” There are three empires of “truth.” (1) The intellectual. I doubt whether any mind ever attains the highest order of intellect without an acquaintance with Jesus Christ. For if everything took its rise, as we have seen, in the mind of Christ, then the true science of every subject must revert to Christ. (2) Moral. It is very certain that in proportion as nations have departed from Christ, they have wandered out of the orbit of “truth.” And every man—as he dwells more with Christ—grows in rectitude of conduct and integrity of practice. (3) Spiritual. Every undertaking of God to His people owes its strength to Christ, when it says that “all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen.” (J. Vaughan, M.A.)
Christ, “the Truth”:—Christ is the Truth, because He came to—
- Reveal truth, and, but for Christ’s revelation of it, we should be utterly ignorant of it. He is Himself the substance of all revealed truth. 1. Christ came to teach us about God. And how? “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” What could we have known of God, of His mercy, His faithfulness, His truth, His justice, but for the revelation of them that is made in Christ? 2. Christ is Truth substantially in relation to the types and shadows of the Old Testament. These all pointed to Him. Under the New Testament we are referred for all truth to Jesus Christ, let who will be the teacher. “Every man that hath learned of the Father cometh unto Me.” The office of the Holy Spirit is to take of the things of Christ, and show them unto us. And why is this? Because “it hath pleased the Father that in Him should be hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
- Confirm the truth. Christ came—1. “To confirm the promises made unto the fathers, that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercies.” God graciously sustained the faith of the Old Testament saints by a succession of prophecies, and the truth of them was confirmed by the life, and death, and resurrection of Christ. 2. To confirm the threatenings. He had said in Eden that He would punish the breach of His law, at the same time that He promised to spare the offender. Christ confirmed this truth, for in Him we see how the threatenings of the law and the promises of the gospel harmonize. 3. In confirming the Word of God, Christ shows how impossible it is for God to lie. However great the difficulty may be in fulfilling a promise in our estimation, it is impossible for God to lie; and while the infallibility of God’s promises should afford strong consolation to all that trust them, it should be a terror to them that will not obey; for the threatenings will as infallibly be fulfilled as the promises.
III. Establish the truth, and to set up a kingdom in which truth reigns, and the subjects of which have truth in their inward parts. Now, in establishing truth in a man’s heart, Christ not only sets up the principle of obedience to the Word of God, but He establishes that principle by the power of His own life. It is not so much that they live, as Christ that liveth in them. Whatever knowledge men may have of the truth, if it do not lead to the establishing of Christ’s kingdom in their hearts, it is lifeless, unprofitable, condemning knowledge.
- Use the truth? 1. He converts men by the convincing evidence of truth. Christ does not deal with us as machines, but as reasonable beings. He brings truth to bear on our understanding, reason, and judgment; and He makes men exercise them upon the truth. Thus the full responsibility of man is maintained, while the power of God comes in all its sovereign force upon their hearts and consciences. For this purpose He sends forth the Spirit; who makes men feel that they are sinners, and then He leads them to desire the salvation of Him who is the Truth. And the same Holy Spirit who reproves of sin also goes on to display the perfect righteousness of Christ, in which the sinner is accepted. 2. He rules in a converted heart by the commanding power of the truth. This power extends to all parts of God’s holy Word. His right to command is as extensive in one thing as another; His least command is as important as His greatest. (J. W. Reeve, M.A.) The Life.—
Jesus, the Life:—He is—
- The giver of life. We cannot go anywhere without finding living things. Heaven is full of life; for the angels live there. This world is full of life; for, wherever we go, we find people living. And, when we go outside of the homes, in the fields, on the hills, in the ponds, and rivers, and seas, far down to its lowest depths, something or other is found living. And the air is full of life. And it is Jesus who gives life to all these things (Acts 3:15). But it is particularly because He gives life to souls dead in sins, and makes it possible for them to live for ever, that Jesus is called “the Life.” “I say, Charlie,” said Willie to his brother, “isn’t it nice to be alive! Why, only see how I can toss my arms about, and use my legs, and feet, and hands. And, then, I can see, and hear, and feel. It’s real nice to be alive, especially when you are all alive and have no part of you dead.” “No part of you dead!” said Willie. “Who ever heard of such a thing as being part alive and part dead?” “I have, Willie. It was myself. The best part of me was quite dead; and what made it still worse was that I didn’t know it.” “But what part of you was dead, Charlie?” “My soul was dead towards God. When God spoke to me, I didn’t hear His voice; when He called me to look to Him, I couldn’t see Him; and when He told me to love Him, I didn’t do it.” “Well, how did it ever come alive?” “Well, Willie, it was Jesus who did it all for me. He sent His blessed Spirit into my heart, to show me that my soul was dead; and that I never could be happy, and never go to heaven unless my soul was made alive. Then I prayed to Him, and He heard me, and ever since He has made me feel so happy!”
- The supporter of life. We have no power to make ourselves alive, and when life is given we have no power to keep or preserve it, and therefore we need such a one as Jesus. Nothing could continue to live, if it were left entirely to itself. Some things, when they begin to live, need a great deal more care and support than others. Look, for instance, at a babe that is just born, and a chicken that is just hatched. How very different they are in the care they require! But there is nothing that requires more care than our souls, after Jesus has made them alive. We are in a position of great danger. If left to ourselves, we must perish. If we have a servant working for us, we can show him the work we want him to do; but we cannot give him the strength to do it. Jesus can do both. He is like a great mountain that can support everything that rests upon it, whether an army or a fly. And He is like the ocean, too. When men launch their huge iron steamers, by scores and by hundreds, the ocean supports them as easily as though they were light as a piece of cork. And so Jesus can support all His people.
III. The example of life (1 Pet. 2:21). When Jesus makes our souls alive, then the one thing we have to do is to try to be like Jesus. A little girl went to a writing-school. When she saw the copy set before her, she said; “I can never write like that.” But she took up her pen, and put it timidly on the paper. “I can but try,” she said. “I’ll do the best I can.” She wrote half a page. The letters were crooked. She feared to have the teacher look at her book. But when the teacher came, he looked and smiled. “I see you are trying, my little girl,” he said kindly, “and that is all I expect.” She took courage. Again and again she studied the beautiful copy. She wrote very carefully, but the letters straggled here, were crowded there, and some of them seemed to look every way. She trembled when she heard the step of the teacher. “I’m afraid you’ll find fault with me,” she said. “I do not find fault with you,” said the teacher, “because you are only a beginner. Keep on trying. In this way, you will do better every day, and soon get to be a very good writer.” And this is the way we are to try to be like Jesus. But when we read about Jesus and learn how holy, and good, and perfect He was, we must not be discouraged if we do not become like Him at once. But, if we keep on trying, and ask God to help us, we shall “learn of Him to be meek and lowly in heart;” and we shall become daily more and more like Him.
- The Rewarder of life. Those who love Jesus are the happiest in this world, and will be the only happy people in the world to come. (R. Newton, D.D.)
Christ, our Life:—Life includes—1. Appropriate activity. 2. Happiness. The life here intended is not natural and intellectual, but spiritual and eternal. Christ is the Life, as He is—
- Its author. 1. He saves us from death—(1) By His atonement, which satisfies the law. (2) By delivering us from the power of Satan. 2. He gives inward spiritual life, because—(1) He procures for us the gift of the life-giving Spirit. (2) He not only merits, but sends that Spirit.
- Its object. 1. The exercises in which the Spiritual life consists terminate in Him. 2. The happiness involved consists in fellowship with Him. He is our life, as He is our joy, our portion, our everlasting inheritance.
III. Its end. It is Christ for us to live. While others live for themselves, their country, mankind, the believer lives for Christ. It is the great design of His life to promote Christ’s glory, and to advance His kingdom. Inferences—1. Test of character. The difference between the true and the nominal Christian lies here. The one seeks and regards Christ as his life only, as He delivers from death; the other as the object of his life. 2. The true way to grow in grace, and in vigorous spiritual life, is to get more of Christ. 3. The happiness and duty of thus making Christ our life. (C. Hodge, D.D.)
Christ, the Life:—A well-known modern scientist has hazarded the speculation that the origin of life on this planet has been the falling upon it of the fragment of a meteor or an aerolite, from some other system, with a speck of organic life upon it, from which all has developed. Whatever may be the case in regard to the physical life, that is absolutely true in the case of spiritual life. It all comes because this heaven-descended Christ has come down the long staircase of Incarnation, and has brought with Him into the clouds and oppressions of our terrestial atmosphere a germ of life which He has planted in the heart of the race, there to spread for ever. (Homiletic Monthly.)
Christ, the Christian’s life:—
- Life in Chirst. As the life of the mother is imparted to the child, so Christ’s life is imparted to the Christian. Baptism symbolizes our being born in Christ, and the Lord’s Supper symbolizes our being fed by Him. Both exhibit a common life between the believer and Christ. In this lies the security of the Christian. If you saw a rill running down a mountain side, you might wonder if that stream would not soon cease to run; but if you found out that a fountain fed it, then you could readily believe that it would keep on running, and that, whatever obstacles might cross its course, it would go on and on toward the ocean. Christ is the eternal fountain—the life of the soul (Rom 8:38, 39).
- Life on Chirst. Some plants grow on that on which they lean. So the life of Christ is to the Christian a support and a supply. This life is given to us through—1. The Word. The words of the Bible are life. Christ is in them. There is not a word here in which, if you go down deep enough, you will not find Christ, as there is not a spot of ground where, if you go down deep enough, you cannot find water. 2. The Sacraments. We do not value these as highly as we ought. In the sixth chapter we read that if we partake of Christ we shall live. This, of course, is but the outward expression of the infinite truth. There is an inward oneness with Christ revealed in the sacraments. We can never understand this union unless we have experienced it.
III. Life for Chirst. No one can realize Christ’s worth to his soul until he works for Him, until he consecrates his life to Him. In consecration Christ is revealed.
- Life with Christ. The entire life of the Saviour, from Bethlehem to Calvary, is, I may say, an allegory, a mould in which the Christian’s life is cast. Christ was born: the Christian is born in Him, &c. We have no trial that Christ did not experience. We can roll all our burdens on Christ, who is by our side. (J. A. M. Chapman.)
6. Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’ This statement is the sixth of seven ‘I am’ sayings with predicates in the Gospel of John (6:35, 48, 51; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). Fundamental to Jesus’ response to Thomas’s question was that Jesus himself is the way. That he is the truth and the life are supporting statements. He is the way to the Father primarily because his death made access to the Father’s presence possible for sinful human beings.
He is also the way to God because he is the truth: he brought the truth of God into the world (1:14, 17; 8:32, 40, 45–46; 14:6; 18:37), proclaiming it and embodying it. Therefore, when people come to Jesus, they come to the one in whom the truth about the Father is found.
He is also the way to the Father because he is the life. The Gospel of John speaks of Jesus as ‘the life’ in various ways. In 1:4 we are told, ‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.’ In 5:26 Jesus says, ‘as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.’ In 6:33, 35, 48, 51 Jesus speaks of himself as the ‘bread of life’, and in 11:25 he says, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ All these texts reflect the fact that Jesus shared the divine life. Therefore, when people come to Jesus, they come to the one in whom the life of the Father is found, and in this sense also Jesus is the way to the Father.
In this text, Jesus not only said that he was the way and the truth and the life, but he also added: No one comes to the Father except through me. No-one else can bring people to God, for no-one else has seen God or made him known (1:18; 3:13), no-one else speaks and embodies the truth about God as he does, no-one else shares the very life of God and no-one else has dealt with the problem of human sin so as to bring people back to a holy God. This means that Jesus is the way to God provided for all people, and also that no-one can claim to know God while rejecting Jesus his Son (5:23; 8:42; cf. Acts 4:12). Köstenberger comments:
Jesus’ claim of himself being the way (with the corollary that no one can come to the Father but through him) is as timely today as it was when our Lord first uttered this statement. For in an age of religious pluralism, Christianity’s exclusive claims are considered inappropriately narrow, even intolerant, and pluralism itself has, ironically, become the criterion by which all truth claims are judged.
6. I am the way. Though Christ does not give a direct reply to the question put to him, yet he passes by nothing that is useful to be known. It was proper that Thomas’ curiosity should be checked; and, therefore, Christ does not explain what would be his condition when he should have departed out of this world to go to the Father, but dwells on a subject far more necessary. Thomas would gladly have heard what Christ intended to do in heaven, as we never become weary of those intricate speculations; but it is of greater importance to us to employ our study and labour in another inquiry, how we may become partakers of the blessed resurrection. The statement amounts to this, that whoever obtains Christ is in want of nothing; and, therefore, that whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection.
The way, the truth, and the life. He lays down three degrees, as if he had said, that he is the beginning, and the middle, and the end; and hence it follows that we ought to begin with him, to continue in him, and to end in him. We certainly ought not to seek for higher wisdom than that which leads us to eternal life, and he testifies that this life is to be found in him. Now the method of obtaining life is, to become new creatures. He declares, that we ought not to seek it anywhere else, and, at the same time, reminds us, that he is the way, by which alone we can arrive at it. That he may not fail us in any respect, he stretches out the hand to those who are going astray, and stoops so low as to guide sucking infants. Presenting himself as a leader, he does not leave his people in the middle of the course, but makes them partakers of the truth. At length he makes them enjoy the fruit of it, which is the most excellent and delightful thing that can be imagined.
As Christ is the way, the weak and ignorant have no reason to complain that they are forsaken by him; and as he is the truth and the life, he has in himself also what is fitted to satisfy the most perfect. In short, Christ now affirms, concerning happiness, what I have lately said concerning the object of faith. All believe and acknowledge that the happiness of man lies in God alone: but they afterwards go wrong in this respect, that, seeking God elsewhere than in Christ, they tear him—so to speak—from his true and solid Divinity.
The truth is supposed by some to denote here the saving light of heavenly wisdom, and by others to denote the substance of life and of all spiritual blessings, which is contrasted with shadows and figures; as it is said, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, (John 1:17.) My opinion is, that the truth means here the perfection of faith, as the way means its beginning and first elements. The whole may be summed up thus: “If any man turn aside from Christ, he will do nothing but go astray; if any man do not rest on him, he will feed elsewhere on nothing but wind and vanity; if any man, not satisfied with him alone, wishes to go farther, he will find death instead of life.”
No man cometh to the Father. This is an explanation of the former statement; for he is the way, because he leads us to the Father, and he is the truth and the life, because in him we perceive the Father. As to calling on God, it may indeed be said, with truth, that no prayers are heard but through the intercession of Christ; but as Christ does not now speak about prayer, we ought simply to understand the meaning to be, that men contrive for themselves true labyrinths, whenever, after having forsaken Christ, they attempt to come to God. For Christ proves that he is the life, because God, with whom is the fountain of life, (Ps. 36:9,) cannot be enjoyed in any other way than in Christ. Wherefore all theology, when separated from Christ, is not only vain and confused, but is also mad, deceitful, and spurious; for, though the philosophers sometimes utter excellent sayings, yet they have nothing but what is short-lived, and even mixed up with wicked and erroneous sentiments.
6 Although Thomas speaks for all the disciples, Jesus replies at first “to him” alone: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (v. 6). This is the first “I am” pronouncement since “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (11:25), which it resembles in two ways: first, in that Jesus says it only once, and second, in having more than one predicate (one of which is “the Life”). The dominant predicate here is “the Way.” Jesus could have just said, “I am the Way. No one comes to the Father except through me,” and the dynamic of the exchange would have been the same. “The Truth” and “the Life” simply spell out for his disciples the benefits of the salvation to which “the Way” leads. Jesus has already told Martha explicitly that he was “the Life” (11:25), and he implicitly claimed to be “the Truth” by telling a group of “believing” Jews at the Tent festival that “the truth will set you free” (8:32), and “if the Son sets you free, you will really be free” (8:36, italics added).
The central pronouncement, “I am the Way,” is profoundly significant within the chapter as a whole, for it states in so many words what Bunyan knew, that “the way” is not what Thomas thought it was, a literal route or pathway, but a Person, Jesus himself. The destination, accordingly, is not a place (not even precisely “my Father’s house”), but also a Person, the Father himself: “No one comes to the Father except through me” (italics added). The terms of the whole discussion now begin to change, from talk of a departure, a journey, a “way,” and a destination, to talk of Jesus and the Father. There is profound mutuality in their relationship, for the claim that “No one comes to the Father except through me” stands as a kind of sequel to the principle stated much earlier that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him” (6:44), or “unless it is given him from the Father” (6:65). That is, only the Father can bring anyone to Jesus, and only Jesus can bring anyone to the Father. Those who are quite willing to press the exclusivity of the latter principle—that is, that salvation is possible only through Jesus Christ—are sometimes less willing to acknowledge the exclusivity of the former—that is, that no one comes to Christ without being “drawn” or “given” by the Father to the Son. But both things are true, and therein lies the characteristic exclusivism, even dualism, of the Gospel of John.53 At the same time, the invitation is universal, for the last phrase, “through me,” recalls an earlier pronouncement that accented its positive side: “I am the Door. Through me, if anyone goes in he will be saved, and will go in and go out and find pasture” (10:9). Such is the dialectic of salvation throughout this Gospel.
6 Jesus now introduces a somewhat different topic. He has been talking about leaving the disciples, and it is with this that Thomas is concerned. But Jesus is to go to the Father (13:3; 16:5, 10, 17), and he now speaks of the way (“way” is emphasized by repetition, vv. 4, 5, 6). He not only shows people the way (i.e., by revealing it), but he is the way (i.e., he redeems us). In this connection “the truth” (see Additional Note D, pp. 259–62) will have saving significance. It will point to Jesus’ utter dependability, but also to the saving truth of the gospel. “The life” (see on 1:4) will likewise take its content from the gospel. Jesus is both life and the source of life to believers. All this is followed by the explicit statement that no one comes to the Father other than through Christ. “Way,” “truth,” and “life” all have relevance,18 the triple expression emphasizing the many-sidedness of the saving work. “Way” speaks of a connection between two persons or things, and here the link between God and sinners. “Truth” reminds us of the complete reliability of Jesus in all that he does and is. And “life” stresses the fact that mere physical existence matters little. The only life worth the name is that which Jesus brings, for he is life itself. Jesus is asserting in strong terms the uniqueness and the sufficiency of his work for sinners. We should not overlook the faith involved both in the utterance and in the acceptance of those words, spoken as they were on the eve of the crucifixion. “I am the Way,” said one who would shortly hang impotent on a cross. “I am the Truth,” when the lies of evil people were about to enjoy a spectacular triumph. “I am the Life,” when within a matter of hours his corpse would be placed in a tomb.
6 Unwittingly, the mundane question by Thomas led to one of the most far-reaching and provocative statements ever made by Jesus. For Thomas, the way to an unknown destination cannot be known. Jesus answers, “I am the way.” Jesus is not one who shows the way but the one who himself is the way. He is the way—the only way—to the Father, for “no one comes to the Father except through [him].” The particularism of Jesus’ teaching has caused many to stumble. The mind-set of secular society regards such exclusive claims as intolerant. Certainly there are other paths that lead to God. Not so! To accept Jesus Christ involves accepting all that he said, even though open support of his claims may cause a bit of embarrassment when brought up in certain circles of contemporary society.
Jesus is the only way to God because he is also “the truth.” Note that each of the three nouns (way, truth, life) is preceded by a definite article. “Truth” and “life” do not modify “way,” as though Jesus were saying, “I am the real and living way” (Moffatt). He is the truth. Ultimate truth is not a series of propositions to be grasped by the intellect but a person to be received and therefore knowable only by means of a personal relationship. Others have made true statements, but only Jesus perfectly embodies truth itself. He is the truth. And he is also “the life.” Eternal life is to know Jesus Christ (17:3; cf. 1 Jn 1:2; 5:20). Apart from him is darkness and death.
Barclay, 2:157, mentions that in this sublime statement Jesus took three of the great basic conceptions of Jewish religion and made the tremendous claim that in him all three found their full realization. The fifteenth-century Augustinian priest Thomas à Kempis (The Imitation of Christ [1441; repr., Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983], 208) joined the three as follows: “Without the way, there is no going; without the truth, there is no knowing; without the life, there is no living.”
The Only Way Home
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The exclusive claim of the Lord Jesus Christ to be “the way and the truth and the life” is wrapped up in three phrases. He claims to be the way to God, indeed, the only way; he claims to be the truth about God, himself the truth; and he claims to be spiritual life, not merely the way to life. We would think, as we read that phrase, that it has said all that needs to be said. Yet, as we read the Lord’s own words, we find that immediately after saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life,” he says the whole thing over again in different words, lest we misunderstand it. He says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” If the Lord stated this a second time, lest we misunderstand it, then we should look at it a second time also.
Only through Jesus
Taken together, these phrases mean that Christianity makes an exclusive claim. People sometimes suggest that we are narrow-minded as Christians when we say that Christ is the only way to God, and we have to confess that this is precisely what we are at this point. We are as narrow as the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord said—this is the emphasis of the verse—that he is the only way to God. There is no other way. So while it would be nice for us to equivocate on this point and say, in order to win friends and influence people, that other ways have some value—though we would like to say this, we are nevertheless unable to do so. Rather, we find ourselves affirming with the Lord Jesus Christ and with all the biblical writers that there is no salvation apart from Jesus.
Many verses teach it: 1 Corinthians 3:11—“No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ”; Acts 4:12—“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men, by which we must be saved”; 1 Timothy 2:5—“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
If you are one who is rejecting all this, if you are one who perhaps is interested in Christianity but not exclusively, if you think that perhaps Jesus Christ is a way to God but not the way to God, I want to stress that, according to his teaching, he is the only way and that any attempt to find another way is folly, is bound to produce despair, and is perverse. The tragedy is that apart from the grace of God folly, despair, and perversity characterize each one of us. We are fools because we seek another way. We despair because there is no other way to be found. We are perverse because God has told us that there is only one way. Therefore, in turning from him to try to find another way we dishonor him.
The Fool Has Said
First, there is the folly of trying to find another way. Why is it folly? It is folly because, if a way to God has been provided, it is nonsense to look for another. Who would seek for a second cure for cancer if a perfect cure had been found?
Yet this is the folly of the human heart in spiritual things. Jesus told about it in a parable that concerned a rich man. This man thought the way to life was through material possessions, so he spent a lifetime accumulating worldly goods. He was a farmer. He had produce. His wealth was in the storage of his barn. When the barn became too small for what he was accumulating, he said, “I’ll tear down my old barn and build a bigger one that can hold my possessions.” The Lord’s comment on that man’s life was: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20).
It is not the preacher who calls the unbeliever a fool. If that were the case, it would mean little indeed. The unbeliever could simply say to the preacher, “You are the fool for believing as you do.” No, God is the one who calls men fools, fools for refusing to come to him in the way he has provided.
If we explore a bit deeper to find out why this is so, we find that it is because we are determined to provide for ourselves. During World War II, my father served as a doctor in the air force in the southern part of the United States. When he was released from military service he and the family began to drive northward to the family home in western Pennsylvania. It was only a few days before Christmas. So it was no surprise that on the way we ran into an early blizzard in the mountains of Tennessee. The storm got worse and worse and eventually halted our progress. At one point, however, before we had stopped for the night and as we were going uphill in a little mountain area with a dangerous precipice at our right, a car up ahead stopped. My father realized that, if the car ahead stopped, he would have to stop and, if he stopped, he would immediately begin to slide over the precipice. So he grabbed a blanket, jumped out of the car, ran around to the back wheels and stuck the blanket under one of them to stop our descent. We were stopped. But there we were, stranded in the blizzard on the mountainside.
My father was an Irishman, and at this point two things characterized him: first, pride in his achievement and, second, determination to bring off another. He had saved us from going over the precipice. Now he was going to get us up the mountain. So he began to work, shoveling snow and placing boards and blankets under the tires. He worked for about an hour, but without much success. All the time my two sisters and I, my mother, and my aunt were in the car, getting colder and colder. We were very depressed. Suddenly a truck with wonderful traction came by. This truck moved ahead of us and stopped. It was obvious that the driver knew he could get going again. He got out, came back to my father and said, “I have a chain. Would you like me to hitch onto your car and take you up the mountain?”
Do you know what my father said? He said, “No, thanks. We’re doing fine.” And he did do fine! But it was about sixty cold and gloomy minutes later!
God says that we are exactly like this spiritually, except for the fact that it does not matter whether we spend an hour, two hours, a year, or a lifetime. We are never going to get ourselves going up the road to salvation. So Jesus says, “Look, I’ve come to provide the way to salvation. I am the way. Don’t be so foolish that you turn your back on me out of pride.”
Second, you are not only foolish, you are also on a trip to despair. If Jesus is right when he says, “I am the way … no one comes to the Father except through me,” then no other way can be found. The Father is the source of all spiritual blessings. The way to the Father is through Jesus. If you are trying to find another way, you are never going to get those spiritual blessings. To go in any other way is to embark upon a road that has no exits and no destination.
Paul spells it out in the Book of Romans, pointing to the different ways men and women try to reach God. There are three categories. First, there is the way of natural theology. This is the way of the man who goes out into the field at night and says, “I am going to commune with God in nature.” It is the man who says, “I worship God on Sunday afternoon in my golf cart.” Paul says that this is a dead end, because you cannot find God in nature. No man has ever found God in nature. You can find things about God in nature, but these condemn you.
Romans says that nature reveals two things about God. It reveals the “Godhead” of God, that is, his existence, and it reveals his “power,” because obviously something or someone of considerable power stands behind what we observe. That is all that can be known of God in nature. So if you think you are going to find God in nature, you are destined to emptiness in your search. You cannot worship an eternal power; you cannot worship a supreme being; you cannot worship a law of nature. Moreover, says Paul, “You don’t even try!” Because when you say to yourself, “I’m going to worship God in nature,” what you are really doing is using nature as an excuse to avoid God. Actually you do not want to be with Christian people, nor do you wish to be under the preaching of the Word. You find it disturbing. What you are really trying to do is to escape from God into nature. If you worship anything at all, it is nature you worship; and the worship of nature is idolatry.
Some years ago, after I had given a message along these lines, a woman said, “I found that to be true in my work with the beach crowd in California.”
I asked, “What do you mean?”
“Well,” she said, “we used to have meetings on the beach, and I used to witness to the surfers. When I would speak to them about God, they would reply that they worshiped God in nature. At first I didn’t know what to say, but after a while I caught on. I learned to ask, ‘And what is God?’ They would reply, ‘My surfboard is my god.’ ” At least that is honest, but it is paganism and idolatry.
Second, there are people who try to find God in the way of human morality. They say, “God certainly likes good men and women; therefore, I’ll be good, and I’ll get to him that way.” Paul says that this line will lead you to despair also. Why? We see the answer when we reason as follows. If God loves good people—and it is true that he does—how good do they have to be? The answer is that they have to be absolutely good, perfect, because God can settle for nothing less. But no one is perfect. So Paul says, “When you start like that, when you start thinking that you are going to please God by getting better and better, you fail to see that even if you could achieve the maximum goodness possible to anyone in this world, you would never get to God in that way because it would not be good enough.
We have a strange situation in the church today. The church has a message to proclaim; it begins with the total depravity of man. But this is offensive to most people. So the church gets cold feet at this point—ministers do, of course—and it backs off from preaching these things. Ministers say, “We admit that the Bible does say that all are sinners; it does say that all are dead in trespasses and sins; but it does not really mean that. It is hyperbole. What it really means is that we just need a little help. People are really pretty good underneath. So if we just appeal to their natural goodness, they’ll come and be Christians. Besides, they’ll join our churches and give us money.”
Does the world congratulate the church for congratulating the world? Not at all! The world knows that this is not true. So you have people like Jean Paul Sartre and other existentialists leaping to their feet to say, “If the church is not going to tell the truth, we are going to tell the truth! We know that when you scratch beneath the veneer of mankind, when you get rid of the social conventions, when you get rid of the desire to be acceptable with other people by matching up to certain preestablished patterns of behavior, what you find beneath the surface is garbage. You find a sewer of corruption.” The existentialist does not have the answer. The despair of the existentialist is proof of what lies at the end of his road. But at least he speaks out; he is not silent.
Then, in Romans 2:17–29, Paul says that there is a third way that people try; it is the way of religion, a sort of formalism. This person says, “If I cannot be righteous, at least I can do things that God likes. I’ll be baptized. I’ll be confirmed. I’ll go to communion.” Paul says that this leads to despair also. Why? Because it is based on a false conception of God. It suggests that God will settle for externals. Does he? No! People may settle for externals, but not God; he looks on the heart. God sees that although you can go through the rite of baptism, it does not mean a thing if your heart is not cleansed. He sees that although you may come to communion, it does not mean a thing unless you have first fed on Jesus Christ by faith and have drunk at that stream that he provides.
An Insult to God
To say that one is a fool for looking in another direction than Christ sounds insulting. To say that it leads to despair sounds grim. But there is worse to come. For seeking a way other than Jesus is not only foolish and leads to despair, it is perverse. It is insulting to God. How is it insulting? It is insulting because Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” So if you go another way, it is not merely that you are doing something for yourself, and it is certainly not the case that you are doing something praiseworthy. What you are really doing is saying to the Lord Jesus Christ, “Lord Jesus Christ, you are a liar!”
Do you think that God is going to be proud of you for trying to find your own way? Do you think that God is going to admire you for that, love you for that, praise you for that? God is going to regard this for what it is, an insult to the Lord Jesus Christ his Son, because that is the equivalent of saying, “You, Lord Jesus Christ, you in whom the Father is well pleased, cannot be trusted.”
Furthermore, to seek another way is not only an insult to Christ, it is an insult to the love of God who planned the way of salvation out of his great love for the sinner. What the Lord Jesus Christ did was in fulfillment of the desires of his Father. He said, “I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God” (Heb. 10:7). It was God’s will that Jesus Christ, his Son, should die in your place. So it is an insult to God to ignore it. Do you think that it was easy for God to send Jesus Christ to die for you? I am asking you fathers: Would it be easy for you to give up your son or your daughter, to see that son or daughter killed, in order that someone else might be saved? I ask you mothers: Would it be easy for you to have a son or daughter killed in your sight, to turn your back when you could save that son or daughter, in order to have someone else saved? Of course not! You who are brothers: Would you give up a sister? You who are sisters: Would you give up a brother? If it is not easy for you, why should you think that it would be easy for God? Yet that is what God did for you.
Do you think it was easy for the Lord Jesus Christ to stand with his disciples on the verge of his crucifixion and say, “I am the way”? He knew what it meant to be the way. It meant that he had to go to the cross; he had to die; he had to suffer; he had to have the Father turn his back on him while he was made sin for us; he had to have the wrath of God poured out upon him. That is what it meant when the Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the way … no one comes to the Father except through me.” Yet he said it.
Come … Come
So I ask: Is it anything but sinful, obstinate perversity for someone to say, “That is all very nice, but I am going to go another way”? To go another way is to condemn yourself to hell! For there is no other way. “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
How foolish it would be, how much despair is involved, how perverse on your part to go away, saying, “Well, that is all very interesting, of course; but I’m going to look a bit farther.” Today is the day of salvation! This may be the last opportunity you will ever have! I cannot promise that you will ever hear the gospel again. I cannot promise that the Holy Spirit will ever speak to your heart again, if he is speaking at this moment. Heed the invitation and come! The Bible says, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17).
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Jn 14:6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1540). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Jn 14:6). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Jn 14:6). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1545–1546). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Utley, R. J. (1999). The Beloved Disciple’s Memoirs and Letters: The Gospel of John, I, II, and III John (Vol. Volume 4, p. 127). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.
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