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Lord���s Day 23, 2009

I was glad when they said to me, ���Let us go to the house of the Lord.���

Self Dedication.
Augustus Toplady (1740–1778)


Jesus, my Saviour, fill my heart

With nothing else but thee;
Now thy saving pow���r exert,

And more than conquer me:
Each intruding rival kill,

That Minders or obstructs thy reign:
All thy glorious might reveal,

And make me pure within.

Through my soul in mercy shine,
   Thine Holy Spirit give;
Let him witness, Lord, with mine
   That I in Jesus live;
Set me free from Satan���s load,
   The gift of Liberty dispense,
In my heart O shed abroad
   Thy quick���ning influence.

Let the gifts bestow���d on me,
   Live to thy praise alone;
Lord, the talents lent by thee
   Are thine and not my own:
May I in thy service spend
   All the graces thou has given,
Taken up, when time shall end,
   To live and reign in heaven.

The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady (Sprinkle Publications, 1987).

Having finished the Psalms from the Geneva Bible, I am now going to begin the Gospel of John. I���ll be using the NASB, and including commentary from J. C. Ryle���s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels.

imageThe Gospel According to John

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

imageThe Gospel of John, which begins with these verses, is in many respects very unlike the other three Gospels. It contains many things which they omit. It omits many things which they contain. Good reason might easily be shown for this unlikeness. But it is enough to remember that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote under the direct inspiration of God. In the general plan of their respective Gospels, and in the particular details,���in everything that they record, and in everything that they do not record,���they were all four equally and entirely guided by the Holy Spirit.

About the matters which John was specially inspired to relate in his Gospel, one general remark will suffice. The things which are peculiar to his Gospel are among the most precious possessions of the Church of Christ. No one of the four Gospel-writers has given us such full statements about the divinity of Christ,���about justification by faith,���about the offices of Christ,���about the work of the Holy Ghost,���and about the privileges of believers, as we read in the pages of St. John. On none of these great subjects, undoubtedly, have Matthew, Mark, and Luke been silent. But in St. John���s Gospel, they stand out prominently on the surface, so that he who runs may read.

The five verses now before us contain a statement of matchless sublimity concerning the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. He it is, beyond all question, whom St. John means, when he speaks of ���the Word.��� No doubt there are heights and depths in that statement which are far beyond man���s understanding. And yet there are plain lessons in it, which every Christian would do well to treasure up in his mind.

We learn, firstly, that our Lord Jesus Christ is eternal. St. John tells as that ���in the beginning was the Word.��� He did not begin to exist when the heavens and the earth were made. Much less did He begin to exist when the Gospel was brought into the world. He had glory with the Father ���before the world was.��� (John xvii. 5.) He was existing when matter was first created, and before time began. He was ���before all things.��� (Col. i. 17.) He was from all eternity.

We learn, secondly, that our Lord Jesus Christ is a Person distinct from God the Father, and yet one with Him. St. John tells us that ���the Word was with God.��� The Father and the Word, though two persons, are joined by an ineffable union. Where God the Father was from all eternity, there also was the Word, even God the Son,���their glory equal, their majesty co-eternal, and yet their Godhead one This is a great mystery! Happy is he who can receive it as a little child, without attempting to explain it.

We learn, thirdly, that the Lord Jesus Christ is very God. St. John tells us that ���the Word was God.��� He is not merely a created angel, or a being inferior to God the Father, and invested by Him with power to redeem sinners. He is nothing less than perfect God,���equal to the father as touching His Godhead,���God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds.

We learn, fourthly, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things. St. John tells us that ���by Him were all things made, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.��� So far from being a creature of God, as some heretics have falsely asserted, He is the Being who made the worlds and all that they contain. ���He commanded and they were created.��� (Psalm xl. 8.)

We learn, lastly, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the source of all spiritual life and light. St. John tells us, that ���in Him was life, and the life was the light of men.��� He is the eternal fountain, from which alone the sons of men have ever derived life. Whatever spiritual life and light Adam and Eve possessed before the fall, was from Christ. Whatever deliverance from sin and spiritual death any child of Adam has ever enjoyed since the fall, whatever light of conscience or understanding any one has obtained, all has flowed from Christ. The vast majority of mankind in every age have refused to know Him, have forgotten the fall, and their own need of a Savior. The light has been constantly shining "in darkness." The most have "not comprehended the light." But if any men and women out of the countless millions of mankind have ever had spiritual life and light, they have owed all to Christ.

Such is a brief summary of the leading lessons which these wonderful verses appear to contain. There is much in them, without controversy, which is above our reason but there is nothing contrary to it. There is much that we cannot explain, and must be content humbly to believe. Let us however never forget that there are plain practical consequences flowing from the passage, which we can never grasp to firmly, or know too well.

Would we know, for one thing, the exceeding sinfulness of sin? Let us often read these first five verses of St. John���s Gospel. Let us mark what kind of Being the Redeemer of mankind must needs be, in order to provide eternal redemption for sinners. If no one less than the Eternal God, the Creator and Preserver of all things, could take away the sin of the world, sin must be a far more abominable thing in the sight of God than most men suppose. The right measure of sin���s sinfulness is the dignity of Him who came into the world to save sinners. If Christ is so great, then sin must indeed be sinful!

Would we know, for another thing, the strength of a true Christian���s foundation for hope? Let us often read these first five verses of St. John���s Gospel. Let us mark that the Saviour in whom the believer is bid to trust is nothing less than the Eternal God, One able to save to the uttermost all that come to the Father by Him. He that was ���with God,��� and ���was God,��� is also ���Emmanuel, God with us.��� Let us thank God that our help is laid on One that is mighty. (Psalm lxxxix. 19.) In ourselves we are great sinners. But in Jesus Christ we have a great Saviour. He is a strong foundation-stone, able to bear the weight of a world���s sin. He that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. (1 Peter ii. 6.)

���J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Baker Books, 2007) [Westminster (PB) | Amazon (HC)], 3:1���4

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Alistair Begg
Bret Capranica
David Legge
David Strain
John MacArthur
John Piper
Mark Loughridge
Mark Dever
Michael Beasley
Paul Lamey
Paul W Martin
Phil Johnson
Phillip M Way
RC Sproul
Steve Weaver
Thabiti Abyabwile

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted 2009·06·07 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Augustus Toplady · Complete Works of Augustus Toplady · Expository Thoughts on the Gospels · J C Ryle · Lord’s Day

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