There was a man sent from God whose name was John. The same came for a witness to bear witness of the Light that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world …
This second tranche of verses in the first chapter of John continue the strategic theme of Christian spirituality. Jesus Christ – the Word of God, divine companion in Creating the world – is a light for mankind. Not just any light but the Light.
Again a strategic allusion to the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, and the creation narrative.
In the first words of the Bible, Genesis chapter 1, God is identified as Creator. And in the first words of his Gospel John the Evangelist identifies Jesus the Word as God and as the Person at work in Creating the world.
In Genesis, the first act of God is to create light, and God does so by speaking it into existence.
And God said: Let there be light; and there was light
In his Gospel, the Evangelist John takes up the same theme of light; not the natural light of the material world; but the spiritual Light of the spiritual world which is behind and which is the determinant of all visible material existence.
John the Evangelist identifies this the most powerful of all lights as Jesus Christ, first and foremost The Word.
The spiritual Light and the spoken Word of creation are intimately entwined in Jesus Christ; and they are intimately entwined in the fundamental reality of Christian spirituality.
Much is made today of spiritual experiences, but precious little is done to distinguish Christian spirituality from false spirituality.
John the Evangelist here provides us with critical insight. Christian spirituality is bound up with the words [message, teaching] of the Word, Jesus Christ.
The gospel message – the Good News – of Salvation through Jesus Christ is a spoken message about Jesus Christ. It is not an experience of our natural senses, but a reception of good news about Christ and what he has done.
It is about believing that message as the fundamental philosophy of our lives, and of living accordingly.
Just as John here records. Jesus came to his own – the Jews – but they rejected him. John then goes on to say but as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God, to them that believe on his name.
To those who receive the message of Jesus Christ the Word, the Light. Who receive this message as true, and who then believe on his name.
Biblically [and you can verify this by your own study of the words believe and faith in the Bible] belief is not the acknowledgement of data as true. Belief is about trust and believe on means to put your entire trust in – to rely upon. In the same way that you rely on a chair to hold you up when you sit on it, or on an aircraft to stay up in the air when you fly in it.
As James makes very clear in his epistle [letter] later in the New Testament, the demons believe about Jesus Christ – they certainly don’t believe on his name.
Belief on his name is to act accordingly – it is to do what Jesus tells us to do. It is to obey. James makes this abundantly clear.
This is Christian spirituality: to do as Jesus teaches. No more, no less. The rest is false spirituality; the rest is to be tempted to disobedience. The rest is to wander off into the darkness, something this writer has witnessed all too often.
By their fruit shall ye know them.
Salvation comes through obedient belief in Christ and his teaching; and continuation and purification [sanctification] come through obedient belief in Christ and in his teaching.
And no other way.
Which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.
And that Word – that message and the power bearer of that message, Jesus Christ – become real in the life of the one who trusts and obeys.
As the hymn writer said:
Trust and obey – for there’s no other way – to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.