Chosen By God – 3

Third, Their Presentation to All Believers

A third sign of their election of God is their example to all believers. “ You became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” (1 Thess. 1:7). Paul cites two ways that they became examples. First, they were models of mission. “The word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia” (v. 8). They “sounded forth” God’s Word in Macedonia and Achaia. The verb “sound forth” [execheo] literally means “to make a loud noise from out of” something. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, 2278) They made a loud noise about the gospel. In A. Lopez, there is an annual village fiesta. But the fiesta music there is so loud that Rj and Dian cannot sleep. The sound system is right outside the house. The noise robs them of sleep.

The Thessalonians made such a loud noise of the gospel that it reached many places throughout Macedonia and Achaia. They were a missionary church, spreading the gospel in many places. The problem with some churches today is that they make a loud noise inside the church only; but they don’t make a loud noise outside of it. Some churches are so good in making loud music in church; but they are silent about the gospel outside of their church.

GGCF has sounded forth the gospel in Mactan, Bohol, Bacolod, and Toledo; we have planted about six churches in our history. Next year, we will make a loud noise in two more places in Cebu. We are not that good in making a loud noise of the gospel but we try. There’s a mega church in Cebu City—Bible Baptist Church. That church has planted more than 800 churches in its 70 year history. If only many churches will evangelize more and plant more churches, more people will come to hear the gospel and be saved.

Second, they were models of faith. “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (vv. 9-10). Their faith in God is their trust in a trustworthy God.

What is the substance of their faith in God? One, they turned toward God. It is a faith that turns to the true God from false gods and to the living God from dead idols. What kind of faith do you have today? Is it a faith that is God-centered?

In 1972, a young Egyptian businessman named Farahat lost an $11,000 watch. He was stunned when a garbage man dressed in filthy rags found it and returned it to him. Farahat asked him why he didn’t just keep the watch. The garbage man said, “My Christ told me to be honest until death.”

Farahat later told a reporter: ‘I didn’t know Christ at the time, but I told [the garbage man] that I saw Christ in him. I told [him], ’Because of what you have done and your great example, I will worship the Christ you are worshiping.’” Soon afterward, Farahat studied the Bible and trusted Christ as his Savior. He turned toward God and turned away from his idols of money and power. Later, he became an evangelist and church planter in Egypt.[1]

Two, they turned away from idols. It is a faith that forsakes idolatry. Is your faith today a faith that rejects idols and images?

Three, they served the true and living God. It is a faith that serves the true, living God and not false, dead idols. Are you serving God today or false idols in your life?

Four, they waited for the coming of Christ. It is a faith that waits for the Son from heaven. Are you waiting and working for the Son today?

These four things—turning to God, turning from idols, serving God, and waiting for the Son—signify conversion. When I became a Baptist, they asked me why I converted to Baptist. But in the NT, conversion is a turning from spiritual adulthood to spiritual childhood in Christ in order to enter the kingdom (Matt. 18:3). It is a turning from Christless-ness to Christ such as Epaenetus, “who was the first convert to Christ in Asia” (Rom. 16:5). Conversion for the Thessalonian is the act of turning to God, turning from idols, serving God, and waiting for the Son.

I hope and pray that GGCF Toledo will be a model of faith in God. I pray that we will bring in converts to Christ—people who turn to God, who turn from idols, who serve God, and who wait for the Son.


In summary, the signs of their election are their reception of the gospel, their imitation of Christ, and their presentation to the believers.                

Have you responded to the gospel? Have you believed in Christ as your savior? have you turned to God from idols to serve him and wait for his Son? Are you imitating Christ now? Are you an example to other believers?

If you say yes to these questions, then I say with Paul that you are one of those chosen by God. You are a member of the elect of God.


Chosen by God – 2

Second, Their Imitation of the Lord

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (v. 16). A second sign of their election by God is their imitation of the Lord. The Thessalonians saw the good example of Paul and his team and they admired it so much that they imitated them. They saw the life of Paul and Christ and they imitated it.

Do you imitate the life of a godly believer today? Maybe you now imitate the life of your pastor. I remember our program director in AGST, Manila, Dr. Edwin Perona. He spoke so gently and thoughtfully that I wanted to imitate him. I’d like to imitate his gentleness in speech and conduct.

Paul wrote, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul wants the Corinthians to imitate him as he imitates Christ. Imitate only those who imitate Christ. Do not imitate those who do not imitate Christ.

How did they imitate Paul and the others? They imitated him in two ways—with affliction and with joy of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 1:6). “Affliction” [thlipsis] means “intense pressure.” In Acts 17, we read that many Thessalonian Greeks believed in Christ. But the Jews were jealous; they called some goons, formed a mob, and attacked the house of Jason. They dragged Jason and some of the brothers to the city authorities. They accused them of being rebels against Caesar, promoting another king named Jesus; and the people and city leaders didn’t like them. So the Thessalonian church was born in affliction.

Have you been afflicted when you believed the gospel of Christ? Maybe people did not drag you out of your house and brought you to city hall. Yet perhaps some people have said bad things about your new faith in Christ. Maybe people call you weird or fanatic or crazy. It’s okay—we imitate Christ in his suffering.

They imitated Paul and Jesus with the joy of the Holy Spirit also. They suffered bad things but they suffered with the joy of the Spirit. Joy is the fruit of the Spirit; joy comes from the Spirit. Paul and Silas suffered with joy. One day they were preaching the gospel in Philippi, Macedonia. They met a slave girl there who had a demon spirit by which she predicted the future. Her owners made lots of money by her prophecies. Paul cast out the demon from the slave girl. That made the slave girl’s owners angry because their money-making business was over.

But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison. (Acts 16:19-23)

They received many blows to their bodies. They experienced soreness in their bodies. They suffered physical pain in their bodies. Yet despite their sore bodies and chains in a Philippian jail, at midnight, they sang hymns to God (v. 25). They still sang songs of praise to God. They bore their suffering with joy.

You can bear your suffering if you bear it with joy—the joy of the Spirit.

Chosen By God

[Sermon delivered to the brethren of GGCF Toledo City, Cebu in our First Worship Service there last July 18, 2021]

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thess. 1:2-10, ESV)

Like Paul, I thank God for you brothers and sisters here in Toledo. I always enjoy our fellowship with Christ and with each other in small groups. Like Paul, we always pray for you and Pastor Julius. Today is a historic day for it is the first worship of GGCF Toledo. It will go down in history as the first congregational worship in GGCF Toledo. You are the first group of believers here.

Today, I’d like to tell you that you are chosen by God. That’s what Paul wrote in v. 4—“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.” Paul then gives three reasons why they are chosen by God.

First, Their Reception of the Gospel

The first reason of their election of God is their reception of the gospel. “Because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (v. 5). The gospel came to them in four ways. First, the gospel came to them in word, but not just in word. The gospel is more than words; the gospel is power.

Second, the gospel came to them “in power” for the gospel is power. “Power” [dunamis] is singular which refers to the power of the gospel message and not the plural [dunameis] which refers to miracles. The power of the gospel here is not the power of miracles but the power of message of the gospel of Christ. It is the power of God unto salvation. Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). The gospel is the power of God that can save people from their sins. This gospel is the power of God that made the Thessalonians turn to God from idols, that made them serve God instead of idols, and made them wait for his Son (1 Thess. 1:9). This is the power of the gospel. And this is the gospel that you have believed.

One day, Mylene was riding a taxi when the taxi driver told her that he was a former drug addict, murderer, and convicted criminal who spent many years of his life in prison. At first Mylene felt alarmed that he was a criminal. But the taxi driver said, “I was a criminal before, but I’m a Bible Baptist Christian today.” Then he told his story of how he heard the gospel.

One day they attended an evangelistic tent meeting. There was this Baptist preacher proclaiming the Gospel. At first, he didn’t respond to it. Later, he attended a preaching service. There, he knew that God was talking to him. He repented his sin and trusted Jesus that day. He prayed, “Lord Jesus, please prove Your power by changing my life.” Jesus really changed his life from then on. He said, “My values have changed. My outlook has changed. Now I want to tell others the Gospel.”

Third, the gospel came to them “in the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit works in your heart to convict you of sin, to connect you to the cross, and to conform you to Christ. The Holy Spirit works in your heart to draw you to Christ. Were you convicted of your sin and convinced to believe in Christ? That is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. You believed in Christ because of the convicting work of the Spirit.

Fourth, the gospel came to them in “full conviction.” The words “full conviction” [plerophoria] means “full confidence.” This full conviction is the full confidence of Paul in the gospel. They believed in the truths of the gospel with all their mind and heart. They were sure of it; they preached it with full confidence. We at GGCF are sure of the true gospel; we stand on the true gospel; and we say this true gospel with full conviction. This same gospel came to you here in Toledo with full conviction.


His Guidance in the Way We Should Go

“Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul . . . Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (vv. 8, 10)! This New Year, you should ask God to guide you in the way you should go; ask him to teach you his will; and ask him to lead you on level ground. David wants to know the way he should go. The way of the LORD is the way of righteousness. “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous” (Ps. 1:6). It’s not the way he wants to go in his selfishness. Rather, David wants to know the way of God, the way of righteousness. David wants to follow the way of God which is the way of righteousness. Thus, to ask God for the way you should go is to be willing to follow his way of righteousness. To follow God is to do his will.

David gives the reason for doing God’s will—“for you are my God” (v. 10). He is saying, “LORD, you are our covenant God. You are bound to your promise to Israel. You have a relationship with us. You are my God and I am willing to obey your will.” Thus, the basis of David’s obedience to the LORD is the promise of the LORD to be the covenant God of his people Israel. (Vangemeren) The ground of David’s obedience to God is the covenant relationship of God with his people. On this ground and this ground alone, David will do the will of God. It’s not because he’s more religious. No, it’s because of God’s covenant relationship with his people. On this ground, David will do and obey the will of God.

Let me ask you—why are you here today? Why are you worshiping God here in this church? Are you here because your parents or your wife forced you? Are you here because you like the worship and the word? Are you here for any other reason except God? For if you are here today because of something or somebody else except God, if that someone or something will go away, there is a good chance that you may also go away.

But if you are here today because of God and your relationship with God and with this church—it is God whom you trust; it is God whom you lift up your soul; it is God whom you are thirsting, Christ whom you are trusting; and him alone whom you are following together with us; then on that ground, and on that basis alone, I will say, you will obey God together with us and stay in this church, and serve the Lord together with us.

This New Year, ask God to show you the way you should go. Then tell him that you will do his will, for he is your God and Christ is your Lord.

His Faithful And Righteous Commitment To Preserve Us (Vv. 11-12).

Finally, let’s ask God this year to preserve our lives. “For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant” (vv. 11-12). Notice that when David asks God to preserve his life, he always says—for your name’s sake, by your righteousness, and by your steadfast love. It means that David is more concerned for God’s glory. David wants God to move in order to magnify the glory of God.

This New Year, they say that there’s a new COVID mutation. They say the vaccine is not effective against the mutation. They say business might not be good this year; they say some people will lose their jobs. Some people are in despair today.

Let me tell you what the Bible says—Fear Not. Can you say that to the person next to you—Fear Not. Do you know how many times the Bible says, Fear Not? 365 times; that’s one “fear not” for every day of the New Year.

This New Year, do not despair. If you despair, you will be like David; and like David, you can take your despair to the Lord in prayer and faith.

This year, ask God to preserve your life—for his name’s sake. Ask God to bring you out of trouble—by his righteousness. Ask God to cut off your enemies—by his steadfast love. Ask God to move in your life so that he will be magnified in your life. Ask God to move in your life in ways that will magnify the glory of God.

His Speedy Reply When Our Spirits Fail

“Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit” (v. 7). It’s our privilege to ask God for a fast reply when our spirits fail. David’s situation is different. He felt that if God will not answer him, he is like one of those who go down to the pit. He feels like he’s a dead man walking. That is why David asks God to answer him speedily.

I searched the gospels last night and I saw the story of the blind man.

One day, a blind man cried out to Jesus.

‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?”

‘Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. (Lk. 18:38-42, NIV)

That is one speedy reply from God!

We can ask God to answer us speedily this year when your spirit fails and your spirit is crushed to the ground. Call on God and ask God to answer you quickly and speedily. “Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me” (Ps. 40:13, emphasis added)! “Hide not your face from your servant, for I am in distress; make haste to answer me” (Ps. 69:17, emphasis added). “Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call” (Ps. 102:2, emphasis added)!

It is your privilege as a child of God to ask God for a quick reply when you are in despair, when you need his grace to strengthen you.

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (v. 8).  Even in despair, David asks God to let him hear his “unfailing love” in the morning. O what a nice prayer!

I’ve often wondered why he asks to hear God in the morning. Then I read Ps. 130:6, “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” David is like a watchman or a guard who waits for the morning dawn. Ps. 30:5 says, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” David looks forward to the unfailing love of God in the morning because in the morning, the steadfast love of God will come to him. He expects to receive the favor of God in the morning. God’s favor is joy for David; so the favor of God that comes in the morning will bring him joy to him in the morning. That’s why he asks God, “Lord, let me hear your unfailing love in the morning.”

Are you weeping today? Are you loaded with care today? Let me assure you—your weeping is only for the night; but joy will come to you in the morning. The favor of God will come to you in the morning.

Ask the favor of God for you this New Year. Claim the favor of God for you this New Year. Your weeping will be turned into joy in the morning.

His Help When We Cry

Let’s ask for his help when we cry.

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.

4 Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.

5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.

6 I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

This is a prayer of lament. Lament is a genre in OT literature wherein the person pours out his anguish to God. There is a book of Lamentations that we seldom read. Lament is part of our spiritual life; part of our relationship with God while on this earth. Because of sin, struggle, and despair, we lament.

This is the lament of David. His enemy has crushed him to the ground. Therefore his spirit faints. So David stretched out his hand because he was crying for help from God.

The stretching out of David’s hands to God is a cry for help. “Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary” (Ps. 28:2). “My eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call upon you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you” (Ps. 28:2).

David was crying out to God like a thirsty land needing water. The reason is because of an enemy who hunts him to kill him. This enemy has “crushed” (daka, piel perfect) him to the ground (Ps. 143:3). The picture is a dead animal’s body crushed to the ground (Ps. 89:11). Sometimes, when I drive around Cebu, I see the carcass of a dog, cat, or rat crushed to the ground by passing vehicles. David says that his oppressor has made him feel like a dead man (Ps. 143:3).

His spirit faints within him (v. 4). The verb “faints” (asaph, hithpael imperfect) pictures the fainting of babies who faint in hunger and thirst in the streets of Jerusalem during war (Lam. 2:12). “My strength leaves me” (v. 4, NET).

His heart is “appalled” or “astounded” (shamem, hithpoel, BDB) (v. 4). “I am absolutely shocked” (v. 4, NET). His strength leaves him; he is shocked by the weight of despair (v. 4).

Have you experienced it like David? Your so discouraged; your spirit is  crushed, so shocked; your spirit faints within you; you’re so discouraged.

So David remembers the acts of God in the past. He ponders the works of God in redemption (Ps. 77:11-12). The more David remembers God’s works, the more he longs for God. (Vangemeren)

In his depression, David did not go out of town to relieve himself of despair; he didn’t go to the gym; or eat away his worries at Viking’s. Rather, he allowed his problem to lead him to God. He let his misery and heartache to lead him to God. He let his thirst for deliverance lead him to the living water of God.

That’s what we should do this year. I will not promise you only good things this New Year. There will be good things but also bad things. So expect the best but prepare for the worst. Prepare for bad things to happen—things that will discourage you and depress you; your spirit will faint; you will be crushed to the ground.

But instead of feeling self-pity on yourself when problems come, you should go to your God. You should let your problems make you look up to heaven. The devil will throw everything at you to crush you. But like David, let your heartache, your suffering, and your disappointment this year lead you to God. Stretch out your hand to God. Cry out to God, thirst for God, and ask for his help.

His help will certainly come in the day of trouble.

His Mercy for Our Unrighteousness

“Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you” (v. 2). This year, we must ask God for his mercy for our sins, our unrighteousness. David asks God that God will spare him from divine judgment. The reason, David says, is that no one is righteous before God.

If God will judge every sinner in this church, no one will stand. Psalm 130:3 says, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand?” Who can stand before God if God will count our sins? No one. No prayer will be answered in that case.

David is aware of his unrighteousness before God. He is conscious of his sin before God. He knows that there is sin in him and if God will judge him for his sin, he will not be able to stand before God. He will not be redeemed by God and thus, he will remain in his troubles. So David asks God, “Lord, please have mercy on me a sinner. No one is right including me. Please don’t count my sin; don’t judge me. I’m asking of your mercy.” That is the point of David because he is aware of his sin and so he asks God to spare him from judgment.”

Like David, we should acknowledge our sin before God at the beginning of the year, today. The acknowledgement of our sin is the beginning of our confession of sin. Like David, it is when we are cornered with discouragement and despair that we begin to be aware of our sinfulness and our inadequacy before God.

The prodigal son wasn’t thinking about his sin of his selfishness, his disrespect of his father, and his greed. He wasn’t thinking of his sin when he wasted his money in wild living. He only began to realize his sin when he lost all his money and there was a famine in the land; when he found himself among the pigs; when he was hungry and starving to death; it was only at that point when he was cornered in his despair that he began to remember his sin against his father and he made the decision to go back to his father and confess his sin against heaven and against his father (Lk. 15 11-21).

When we are cornered in our misery, we become aware of our sin. That’s a good thing; that’s what happened to David. In his despair he remembered that no one is right and thus he threw himself upon the mercy of God.

David’s recognition of his sin moved him to throw himself upon the mercy of God. Think about it; your self-assurance and self-righteousness can move you away from God. Your self-blaming can move you toward despair, depression, and discouragement. But your admission of your sin will move you toward the mercy of God. That’s what we should do this year—acknowledge of our sin and throw of ourselves upon the mercy of God.

So how can we start the New Year right? We can start it right by admitting what is not right in our lives now. What is not right in your life right now? If there is something that is not right in your life before God now, I encourage you to get right with God now.

Acknowledge your sin and confess it to God. Throw yourself upon the mercy of God.

Make Me Know the Way I Should Go: A Prayer For 2021

Psalm 143 is a prayer of David. It is a prayer for mercy, strength, guidance, and deliverance. It is a prayer of faith amid despair.

You may wonder why I’m beginning the year with a sermon on prayer. The reason is that we need to learn to pray. God wants us to get closer to him in prayer.

Our relationship with God is a two-way street. God speaks to us by his Word; we speak to God in prayer. If we do not pray, we do not relate with God. If we pray, we get closer to God. For 2021, we need to get closer to God in prayer.

Yesterday, we held a Prayer Walk at 5:45 AM at Paseo, Banawa. We started 2021 in prayer. Last Wednesday, I told Mylene that there’s only one way to learn how to pray. The only way to learn how to pray is to pray. Pray before you go to sleep and pray when you wake up. Pray on Worship Wednesday and pray during small groups. The only way to learn how to pray is to pray. You and I need to pray every day.

What can we learn from David’s prayer? What can we learn from this prayer that we can ask God for the New Year?

I. His Faithful and Righteous Commitment to Answer Us (V. 1).

We can ask God for his faithful commitment to answer us. “Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness” (Ps. 143:1)! David asks God to answer him by God’s faithfulness [emuna]. The faithfulness of God is the “firmness, steadfastness, fidelity” (BDB) of God to keep his covenant promises to his covenant people Israel. (Willem Vangemeren)

David is asking God, “Lord, you are our covenant God, please be faithful in answering me because you have promised so in your covenant with your people. I appeal to your faithfulness, O God, your steadfastness, your firmness in fulfilling your promise to your covenant people Israel; and so by your faithfulness I’m asking that you will answer me.” That is the prayer of David.

The word faithful is the same word for “steady” in Ex. 17:12. “But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady [emuna] until the going down of the sun” (Ex. 17:12). This was in the battle against the Amalekites. When Moses’ hands went down, Israel would lose the battle. When Moses’ hands were held up, Israel would win the battle. So they made sure that Moses’ hands were steady.

David is asking God, “Lord, in your steadiness, your faithfulness, your firmness, your fidelity to your covenant with your people Israel, I’m asking you to answer this prayer.”  

David also appeals to God’s righteousness to answer him. By this he means the benefits of God’s righteousness to his covenant people (Ps. 103 17-18). The benefits of god’s righteousness include his answer to the prayers of the righteous (4:1); his deliverance of Israel from her enemies (9:4-5; cf. 5:8; 7:9; 31:1; 34; 35:24; 103:6; 125:3); and his righteous kingdom rule (9:8; cf. 11:3, 5, 7; 96:13). (Vangemeren) So David is appealing to the righteousness of God—“Lord, I’m asking you by your righteousness, please answer my prayer.”

Do you know that you are a member of the new covenant of Christ? If you have trusted Christ as your savior, you are a member of the new covenant of Christ in his blood. In the same way that Israel is the covenant people of God, we are the new covenant people of God through the blood of Jesus Christ; and God is obligated to answer your prayers in Jesus’ name because he is righteous and faithful to his covenant in Christ.

So this year I encourage you to ask God for his righteous and faithful commitment to answer our prayers.

God is Seen and Known in Jesus

“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (v. 18). There are three important thoughts here. First, God is not seen by any man. Moses saw the glory of God, but not God himself (Ex. 33:20). Moses saw the form of God, but not God.

In 2000, a 6 year old boy, Alex Malarkey, wrote a book, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. It became a best-seller. “The book’s publisher, Tyndale House, had promoted it as ‘a supernatural encounter that will give you new insights on Heaven, angels, and hearing the voice of God.’” But 5 years later, the publisher pulled the book from the market.

The decision to pull the book came after Alex Malarkey wrote an open letter to many Christian publishers. “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven . . . I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.”[1]

No man can see God. Don’t believe anyone who claims he has seen God.

Second, God is seen in Jesus. “The only God, who is at the Father’s side” has seen God. John calls this only God “Jesus Christ” (v. 17).  Jesus was with God; he is from God; thus, Jesus has seen God. Jesus said, “Not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father” (John 6:46). “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Do you want to see God? See Jesus and you will see God.

Third, God is known in Jesus. John says the Word was with God. How close was the Son with God the Father? John says the Son is “at the Father’s side” (v. 18). The phrase “at the Father’s side” (ton kolpon tou patros) means “in the bosom of the Father” (NASB). “Bosom” (kolpon) means “breast, chest.” (Gingrich) John wrote that he was “reclining on Jesus’ breast (John 13:23,  NASB). To be at the Father’s side, to be in the Father’s bosom, is to be close God, to be intimate with God, and to know God. Jesus was so close and so intimate with God that he knows God.

John said, “He has made him known” (v. 18). The verb “make known” is from exegeomai where we get our English word “exegesis.” It means “explain, interpret, tell, report, describe.” (Gingrich) Jesus explains God; he interprets God; he tells about God; he reports about God; he describes God. Jesus has made God known to us in the Bible. Do you want to know God? Know Jesus in the Bible and you will know God.

Christ gives you grace today; it’s generous; it’s limitless; it’s free. You need to receive his free grace today.

John Piper wrote, “This Christmas he wants to treat you with grace—to forgive all your sins—all of them!—to take away all your guilt, to make your conscience clean, to help you with your problems, to give you strength for each day, and to fill you with hope and joy and peace. Isn’t that the meaning of grace? And isn’t that why he pitched his tent among us?”

Won’t you receive the grace of Christ today? Take his grace; receive it; enjoy it today. Then receive more grace tomorrow and every day. Receive his grace upon grace, grace after grace. Then you will be glad there’s Christmas; for the Word has become flesh and dwelt among us; and we continue to experience his grace—grace upon grace—every day.


God Gives Us Grace Upon Grace in Christ

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (v. 16). In the Greek, it reads, “Because out of his fullness we have received grace upon grace.” (oti ek tou pleromatos auto hemeis pantes elabomen kai karin anti karitos) John says, the Word is full of grace and truth because out of his fullness we have received grace upon grace. They have taken it; they have grasped it; they have experienced it. They have received “grace upon grace (karin anti karitos).”

The preposition “upon” (anti) here means “after,” or “upon” (Gingrich); thus, “grace upon grace,” “grace after grace,” or “grace replacing grace.” It means that “fresh grace replaces grace received, and will do so perpetually . . . inexhaustible grace.” (Beasley-Murray) As a new wave replaces an old wave at the seashore, Christ’s grace replaces grace in our lives. (A. T. Robertson) As a new leaf replaces the old leaf that fell from the tree, Christ’s grace replaces grace in our lives. O what a wonderful truth! In the Word, in Christ, who is full of grace and truth, we have received grace upon grace, grace that replaces grace, forever and ever, limitless, endless, and boundless grace! There is “unli(mited) rice,” “unli(mited) drinks;” and there is also “unli(mited) grace” from Christ.

Where can you get this grace? It’s not in your baptism, communion, religion, priests or pastors; not even in Mary. The Douay-Rheims (Catholic) Bible calls Mary “full of grace” and the NKJV and NIV, “highly favored” (Lk. 1:28). However, the Greek is perfect participle passive, which is literally translated, “being favored” and not “full of grace” or “highly favored.” The Bible says that only Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Only Jesus has the “fullness” of grace and truth (v. 16). Thus, only the Word, Jesus Christ, can bestow “grace upon grace” to believers. Believers can receive this forever grace only from the Word who is full of grace.

We just announced the wedding anniversary of a lovely couple here. In marriage, you need to give each other grace upon grace. You can hurt each other every week with hurtful words. I have offended my wife many times; I have asked her forgiveness many times; she has given me grace upon grace. Give new grace to replace the previous grace.

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (v. 17). The conjunction “for” gives the reason for receiving, “grace upon grace.” We received grace upon grace through Christ for this reason—the law was given through Moses; and grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

There are several reasons why “grace upon grace” refers to the continually replenishing grace of Christ only rather than both law and grace. First, John applies the word grace only to Christ in the context (“the only Son . . . full of grace and truth” (v. 14); and “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (v. 17). Conversely, John does not use the word “grace” to describe the law.

Second, the grace of Christ is the fulfillment rather than the announcement of the Law of Moses (John 5:46). The announcement cannot be properly categorized as the fulfillment.

Third, John appears to draw a contrast between the giving of the law through Moses and the giving of grace through Christ rather than showing the law to be a kind of grace. Verse 17 then makes a distinction between the law of Moses and the grace of Christ rather than an explanation of “grace upon grace” in v. 16.

Fourth, John is clear that the grace of Christ is the gift of grace through Christ rather than the Law.

Thus, grace upon grace is the continuing replenishing of Christ’s grace for believers. We receive new grace replacing previous grace—grace upon grace.