Sun, Oct 20, 2013

07 - John’s Prologue

1 John 1:1-4 by Charles Clough
Series:1 John
Duration:45 mins 42 secs

© Charles A. Clough 2013
Charles A. Clough
1 John Series

Lesson 7 – John’s Prologue

20 Oct 2013
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD

(Opening prayer)

I’ve spent a lot of time on the introduction to John. You may wonder why we keep going through all this introduction material; but there’s a simple principle that I’ve learned over the years. That is if you don’t come to the Scriptures asking the big questions, you never will get the big answers. The Scriptures are in many ways like a sponge. You have to squeeze it to get the water out. All the water is there. It’s embedded in the Scriptures; but the difference is that it takes effort on our part to get the water out of the sponge. The different drops of life cause us as we get asked bigger and bigger questions then the Scriptures are going to give us those.

So I’m going to start back again with the slides. I want to emphasize something because today we’re going to deal with the first four verses of the epistle. These four verses the Holy Spirit has preserved from the Apostle John because he is dealing with an issue. We don’t know all the details of what was going on back then in the first century; but we can smell some of the Greek culture that’s causing a problem in that Christian church.

You say, “Well, we don’t have that kind of a problem today.”

Well, yes we do. Paganism or unbelief—remember I’m using the word “pagan” as a technical term to refer to anyone who believes in something other than the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. Muslims couldn’t be classified technically as pagans because they profess at least to operate off the Bible though it’s a counterfeit of scriptural faith. Anyone else is basically a pagan. That is how I use the term. In fact, in our school system, Western secularism is a form of paganism. It’s just an enlightened paganism in the sense that it sometimes carries over with Christian influences; but at heart it’s an adoption to the pagan position.

For the understanding of the first two verses in 1 John, I want to show you something in this pagan tradition. This has been true for millennia of time. It hasn’t changed. Paganism shows up in different masks (in different versions); but it is the same thing at heart.

You’ll notice over here in this diagram [Slide 2] I showed you, there is the Creator/creature distinction. Look carefully at this one—the continuity of being. The continuity of being means that existence is all one kind. There aren’t two kinds of existence. The Christian position is there are two kinds of existence. Now there is no compromise between this—either there are two or it’s one. You can’t have one and a half. So, this is a fundamental division.

Now also look on the left side of the diagram; and you’ll see three words—God, man, and nature. I’ve drawn two vertical lines between man-nature on one side of the two lines and God on the other side. That’s the Creator/creature distinction. But then if you come over to the creation, you’ll see a line drawn between man and nature. Man is not another animal. He is not another animal.

Why as Christians do you believe that? What in the Genesis narrative tells you that man is not an animal? He is a different kind of creation. He is created in the image of God. That is not used of any other part of the creation, period.


The animals were created … but Adam is not an animal.


The breath of life though is classed as the image of God. I prefer the image of God to the breath of God for the reason that the image connotes the fact that we can know Him. We are made in His image. That is a very, very vital word—the image of God. What that means is that we look like God. Think about it. What is an image? You have an image of something. What does that tell you the object that it is an image of?


Well, this is what we’re coming to. We’re coming to the incarnation. This is why I’m making these points. Now I also want to make another point. Go to the right side of the chart on the continuity of being and what do you notice missing? No vertical lines. This is what we mean by the continuity of being. You can move from one to the other. That’s called transmutation.

Darwinism or evolution, as we are brought up in our educational system, is not new. What Darwin did is he borrowed the idea of organic progress plus the fact that he was in Victorian England. At that time in England the idea of progress was what we called the Victorian myth. So Darwin grew up in that kind of thing. So when he came out to try to deal with biological reality, he interpreted biological reality as a continuum.

Now here’s the problem. In our language as in any language we have parts of speech. What is the part of speech we have to use in every sentence that is a tool of classification? A common part of speech, every sentence has it. Noun. Think about it. On the right side of the chart if all can be transmuted, what does that do with nouns? It means that nouns are labels that change. It means there is no stability to the language structure because you’re trying to take a word and define something and who knows that if tomorrow it might mutate.

This is why in California Jerry Brown, the governor, has signed a document that’s going to push transgenderism. So, a Christian man in England wrote a letter to the governor of California and said, “Dear Mr., Mrs., Ms. … And he said, “I will tell you Governor Brown why I said that. If you start with transgenderism and you can change, then right now you don’t know what your sexual identity is because next Tuesday you might think you are a woman in a man’s body.”

This in not being factious. That man is right. Transgenderism is another example in our everyday culture of the continuity of being—that everything sweeps across. There are no categories. If there aren’t any categories that are enduring, nouns become useless. Logic becomes useless.

So we want to go through our next slide [Slide 3]. These are the big three questions. In these three big questions, if you’ll notice the second row of the chart. It deals with this epistemological question. What is your ultimate authority? It’s got to be either or. If reality is two kinds (the Creator/creature); then your ultimate authority has to be God’s Word, God’s revelation. But if He doesn’t exist, what have you got left? Man’s speculations.

Now here’s the problem with this. This is what apparently was going on in the background when John wrote John and 1 John. We suspect, we know, what was going on (a little bit) in Greek culture.

So I’m going to give you an illustration here. On this white board I’ve drawn several objects and a word. Now what’s common to all those objects—two triangles, two circles, the word “t-w-o”, and the Arabic numeral 2? Those are all physically different. You can see that even on board I could have two anythings—two hymnbooks; but we’ve got two circles, two triangles, a numeral two and the word two. We could have two anythings up here—two people, two hymnbooks, two hymnals. What is common to all these? Not the word. This isn’t the word. The idea of two, exactly. The concept of two is what’s common here. It’s common to this, common to this, common to this, common to this, and common to innumerable other things—the concept of two.

Now if the concept is dependent on matter and I erase it, what’s happened to the concept? Does the concept exist? Yes, it does exist, doesn’t it? Which means the concept exists independently of matter. Correct? And that was the question the Greeks had. Where do the concepts reside? In the first chart [Slide 2] we showed is that if God doesn’t exist, then these concepts must exist somewhere in some ideal realm.

When that happened, that had ramifications. The Greeks had some sort of format or scheme. Where it effects Christian behavior in this epistle is that the Christians tended to be tempted by the culture that led them to believe that what was in this concept area they called the spirit. What was in the material area was the flesh. So it came over and it was the theological influence the spirit and the flesh. But the problem is in those terms the flesh changed with time.

So you have a situation where we have this chart [Slide 4] that I show again and again of good and evil. Notice for our purposes this morning preparing for that 1 John section, down at the bottom if you are not a Christian who holds to the ultimate authority of the Word of God, you are stuck. You are stuck at that pagan level where good and evil constantly exist. You can’t separate good and evil. Good and evil are part of matter.

That’s why in the yen-yang symbol here, you’ll notice in the white there’s a black dot and in the black there’s a white dot signifying the fact that you can’t separate these things. That’s the dilemma. What it led to in Christian life with people thinking that way was a lackadaisical attitude to the flesh because the flesh was hopelessly corrupted.

So therefore we can live any way we want. We can raise hell and do what all we want to do because it’s all the flesh. It doesn’t matter what you live; it doesn’t matter because you’re part flesh. What matters is the abstract spirit. So this had an effect, and it still has an effect.

Next slide [Slide 5]. Here’s what happens in the scholarly world. When we deal with Jesus, unlike any other historic figure, we are dealing with the spirit and flesh together, the form and the matter together in the incarnation. This means that down on the bottom we use two words. The historical Jesus and kerygmatic—the historical Jesus is the Jesus of history, the Jewish carpenter, the physical body walking around. The kerygmatic Christ is what the church preached Him to be.

Now John when he says we saw His glory meaning John had a profound concept of the incarnation. He didn’t have to go the Mount of Transfiguration to see a big flash and say, “Ooo! I saw a flash; and that’s God.”

John would say that by looking at this man walking around he saw God. The two are together.

Now when you have O’Reilly writing his latest book The Killing of Jesus, O’Reilly frankly says out in the open that, “I’m writing about the historical Jesus. I’m not going to write about the Christ because it’s ‘not objective’ ” or some sort of thing.

The latest biography of Jesus by a Moslem scholar did the same thing. What they do is they split Jesus apart. Here is the physical Jesus, the historical real Jesus and the kerygmatic Christ is what the church preached Him to be.

So when we talk in the New Testament what this mentality does—it tries to bifurcate the text. It goes through the text and says what text in the text—what’s talking about the real Jesus and what is a speculation of the church? That is what you will learn in the media. That is what you will learn in the culture; and that is not the truth. That is a fabrication. It’s an influence of this pagan idea that goes back to the Greeks in form and matter.

Now with that said let’s look at the text. So, let’s turn to 1 John 1:1–2. I’m using the New King James translation here, but you will have other translations. There are not some critical differences here; but there is one textual problem that I’ll talk to, but not in the first few verses.

Let’s look at the structure of this text. Look at the first verse.

NKJ 1 John 1:1, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—

Then he goes on.

NKJ 1 John 1:2, “the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—

There’s a lot of stuff in here so let’s go through this slowly. Let’s look at the verbs. Let’s look at the tense of the verbs.

We have seen and we have heard.

Perfect tense. This connotes the fact that this thing has happened; and it’s left an effect.

“We have seen”

“That which we have heard, that which we have seen”

With that if that’s about God it means that His eardrums, His physical eardrums, have heard sound and he has heard the words of God speaking to him. See this clashes. No Greek—fundamentally they would have a problem with this—that you heard God.

Then he says:

“We have seen”

Notice how he emphasizes it. Look at the next clause. When he talks about sight, what does he put in that clause that emphasizes his sight? We have seen with what? We have seen with our eyes.

“These eyes,” he said. “This is not my imagination. This isn’t a dream. I’ve seen it with my eyes.”

Now if you’re talking that way to someone a friend of yours about something. You saw an automobile accident.

“I saw it with my eyes.”

You’re in a trial somewhere. Why would you say it that way? Because you saw it, and you want people to understand we saw this

Then he says:

“which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled”

Now he’s going to do something with these two verbs. He sets them in a different tense. Here he says:

“which we have looked upon,”

It’s the word actually related here to our word theatre.

“which we have looked upon,”

… at a point in time.

Then he says:

“and our hands have handled”

Of the four Gospel writers, which one talks about Thomas, thinking he saw the Spirit? John. John was there. So in this very packed sentence he brings these things together. Today we would say these are empirical observations of a historical Jesus. John doesn’t divide the historical Jesus from the kerygmatic Christ.

This is what … Now we’ve looked at the verbs. Let’s look at the subject of the verbs. Who’s “we” that he’s talking about? Obviously, it’s a plural—first person plural. Who besides John must be included in “we”? Apparently the way he uses this is the apostolic circle. These are the leaders of the church. “We” have seen this sort of thing.

Now he goes on, and he also says something else concerning the Word of life. Now this is a little different from the Gospel. In the Gospel he says:

NKJ John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word,”

But now he says:

“the Word of life—"

He tells you … He’s looking at Christ but he’s looking at something about Christ that has to do with life. The expression is the revelation of life.

Now we go on further and in the second verse and what does he say? The life. Where does he say—look at that second verse. Where does he say the life was before he saw it? What does it say? The life was with the Father, and it was shown to us. What does that say about the Old Testament?

Eternal life was with God; but apparently it wasn’t manifested like it was to John. There is something significant about the incarnation. This has led to genuine discussion in our conservative circles as to whether the Old Testament saints were truly in the New Testament century regenerated. Now we know they had something like regeneration because the Old Testament uses the words “circumcised of the heart.” But something happens here that’s different. You want to kind of think about this. Something happened in the incarnation. A life that was with the Father has now been manifested that we can touch it; that we have seen it.

This has implications because John was the one—nobody else–John was the one who records the high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17. In John 17 we have the Trinity talking to Themselves. At the baptism of Jesus, Jesus comes out of the water what does the Father say?

“This is My Son.”

There’s a voice. It’s not Jesus’ voice. It’s the Father’s voice. So we have an intra-communication going on between the Father and the Son. Keep that in mind.


Joel is bringing up the not-touch aspect of God in the Old Testament, and then Jesus talking about not touching. I haven’t recently studied that passage about Mary not touching Him; but I remember a discussion that we got into years ago going through that passage with some New Testament guys. There’s a humor in that passage apparently where she’s so excited about Jesus she grabs Him.

He’s saying, “Hey, cool it. Things aren’t this exciting.”

I’m not sure about that one. I have to look that up. That’s a point about the Old Testament. God is holy and you don’t just waltz into His presence. People have an attitude like Jesus is some sort of divine Santa Claus and you can just walk in. We have to think of the fact that when you get on a computer you have a password. When you’re in the military, you go into the command center you can be shot and killed if you don’t have the proper code. When you walk into God’s throne, you don’t walk in without a password. The password is “Jesus”. You’re not going to get into the throne in any other way except with that password—period—because God doesn’t change. That’s His holy character. He’s immutable.

Several things we want to make here because on you handout if you’ll notice I’ve got a quote from Pascal. The reason I got it in there is because man made in God’s image … Let’s connect these two ideas—man made in God’s image and inside the Trinity, inside the Trinity, internal to the Trinity; there is communication going on. Jesus in His high priestly prayer in John 17 talks about love—is going on. The Father has eternally loved the Son. The Son has eternally loved the Father. There’s a personal relationship that is eternal and immutable in the Trinity. I want to emphasis this, people, because sometimes we get intimidated by people.

“Ah, you believe in the Trinity.”

Yes, I do. Do you know why? If you do not believe in the Trinity, you do not have a personal God. That sounds shocking, but I’ll ask you a question. If you don’t believe in the Trinity and you believe God to be eternal, how could He love? What did He do, love Himself? How could He have an object external to Himself that He loved and could exercise His attribute of love? He couldn’t. He had to have created in order to exercise His attribute of love, which makes Him dependent on the creature. These are the kind of problems you get into when you mess with the theology of the Scriptures. The theology of the Scriptures is very coherent. You mess up here, and it has results over here. So, God the Father and God the Son loved one another. And the Spirit was involved in this too.  

So you have this ongoing life. Now this communication that was going on inside and internal to the Trinity—that is said to be life. Now wait a minute. Haven’t we used l-i-f-e the word life to depict something physical? Haven’t we used the word life to go from rocks and chemistry to organic matter? We say that goes from non-life matter to life matter.

So our view of life is a biological idea. That’s what we mean when we say life. So-and-so is alive and so-and-so died and we have a funeral. He’s no longer alive. But that is physical life. That is life that has been created by God. What did we say? Everything that God has created is a revelation of something else in Him. The creation around us is a revelation of God.

Even here we are in autumn, and we see the trees with the color. The color was there all along. It’s just that the chlorophyll goes away. But isn’t that a picture of age and life? So even the changing of the trees is a part of general revelation that reveals something about our God.

What I’m getting at here is that when John calls this internal thing life; and it’s a particular kind of life – it’s not biological, physical, temporal life. He uses the word for the first time – “declare unto you the” what life? Eternal life Why is it eternal? Because it was always there in the Trinity. It’s a feature of the Trinity. So this is a very big idea for him.

What I’m trying to do is to de-trivialize the word eternal life. I’m trying to get it big enough so that while he starts talking about the Christian getting eternal life through the Son, we don’t just say, “Well that’s something added on to our existence.”

It’s we are admitted into the relationship that the Father eternally had with the Son. That’s the lofty view here of getting eternal life. It’s like you’re being admitted into a new society. You are being admitted into the kind of relationship the Father eternally had with the Son. John is going to embellish this. That’s the thing you want to notice here [Slide 6]. It says in verse 2

NKJ 1 John 1:2, “the life was manifested,”

“and we have seen, and bear witness”

Remember I said something about the verbs over here. I said see those two verbs [heard, seen]. They are in the perfect tense. See these two [looked, touched]? They are in the aorist tense. Of the four verbs there are only two of them that John could convey to us. The first two verbs (I have seen and heard), he can tell us what he saw and what he heard. But can he communicate what it was like to have touched Jesus? Jesus isn’t here. He is in absentia. He’s in Heaven now. John can’t really communicate what it felt to him to touch Him. He can’t do that.

“And gazed upon.”

We can’t do that either because he sat there with Him and said, “I gazed upon Him.” Of the four verbs only two occur in the second verse.

Now he says:

NKJ 1 John 1:3, “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you,”

This is how John ends his epistle. What did he say?

NKJ John 21:25, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.”

It was sort of an idiomatic expression but there are some things of special revelation that John couldn’t communicate, one of which was what it was like to have touched Jesus. He can’t tell us that because He’s not here; and we weren’t there. So that’s incommunicable. He can’t communicate that; but he can communicate what he has seen and heard.

“that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

This is used over and over again used by John. This is why scholars who have studied this issue to say that what we have here is almost a legal case. John again and again uses this legal term of testimony. That’s what this word means. It was used in this technical sense often.

“I testify to you these things.”

Which, by the way, says for ethical Jews, what is the 9th commandment? Does any body know the 9th commandment?

NKJ Exodus 20:16, “You shall not bear false witness …”

If the Jewish writers who believed the Ten Commandments are testifying to what did not happen, we have an ethical problem. That’s why you don’t have … see this is again—you mess with the Scriptures at one point and it starts unraveling around the whole sweater. You can’t have errors in the text of these men who are testifying. If they have testified to that which is false, they violated their own 9th commandment.

“I testify to you. I declare to you. I’m explaining to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.”

We’ve seen this for the first time—the first time that the human race has ever gotten inside what was going on in the Trinity.

John said, “I saw it and I saw the Father talking to Him. It was manifested to us.”

Now let’s go on to the next slide [Slide 7]. This will be verses 1 John 1:3–4. Wait a minute before I get there. I want to show you these two intermediate slides.


Past tense is “I killed somebody yesterday.” Perfect tense is “I have killed him.”

Why would you separate these two? When you use the perfect tense, you’re adding something. You’re not just reporting something about the past; but you are linking the past with the present.


The Greek perfect tense isn’t much different than the English perfect tense that way.

Now I wanted to show you these two slides [Slides 7 and 8] because I want to show you the ramifications of what happens here. Now you may be sharing the gospel with loved ones or people (and I hope you are) in your family and so on. You’re going to get blowback. Sometimes it’s very uncomfortable, the blowback that you get when you do this. But if you can relax and think back why these people are reacting the way they are to what you’ve said, what you’ve shared. Here’s a kind of a way to look at this.

Here’s the virgin birth claim [Slide 7]. And by that I mean the whole idea of the incarnation, the idea that God became flesh. Here’s the unbeliever. The unbeliever rejects. Why does the unbeliever reject this in particular? Because he has a view of God, man, and nature that’s pagan. With his paganized view of God, man, and nature he can’t get it together. The incarnation just becomes inconceivable to him, so he rejects it.

Let’s go to the next slide [Slide 8]. Here is the presentation of the king. This is His life. The unbelievers can look at the historic Jesus and not be persuaded because they have no concept of God revealing Himself. Their whole idea of a God who would speak, a God who would project Himself down inside the creation is foreign to them.

“I don’t get it. I can understand what you’re talking about, a historical Jesus; but I don’t get it when you’re talking about Jesus Christ as God in the flesh. That doesn’t register with me.”

What I am pointing out here in these slides is that there are deep ideas that lurk in men and women’s souls that you engage in the moment you try to present the gospel. Sometimes you don’t have to bother with it because they kind of go along. Other times they get stuck in it. Then the conversation has to revert back to a more primitive, more basic concept.

Next slide [Slide 9].

Just a brief word … remember this? We dealt with the Trinity: nature, person, and personality. Just think about what we are saying here. John is looking at the Son so now we see the person. He’s looking at the Father, the Father who is the nature who shows up in the person of the Son.

Next slide [Slide 10]. Here’s Pascal. What Pascal is getting at—famous quote by the way. Pascal was a great mathematician. He was a statistician. He started probability theory because he was dealing with casinos. Some of his friends went bankrupt because they bet the wrong dice.

They came to Pascal and said, “Hey, how can I go to the casino and not lose my shirt?”

That was one of the triggers in Pascal’s thinking about probability theory. This guy is amazing. He had atmospheric pressure. He built one of the first barometers. He built one of the first calculating machines, but he was also a Christian. As he got older, he began to realize that the human heart cries out to be filled.

This is a wonderful quote. It says … and I’ve got it for you in the handout. It is neat for you to read this because this will help you and encourage you when you’re trying to deal with an unbeliever and you feel like it’s water off a duck’s back. You pour water on and nothing happens. It helps you to know you’ve got a Trojan horse in their heart. Every unbeliever has a Trojan horse in his heart. We said they are made in the image of God.

Here’s what he said.

What does this raving, and helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? He tries in vain to fill with everything around him … seeking the things that are not there, the help he cannot find in those that are though none can help since …

And here’s the famous sentence.

… this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God Himself.

We know that exists for every unbeliever.

Reverse side of your handout I gave you four different examples of the heart-cry of men trapped in different religious systems. The first one is Hinduism. You see the problem with Hinduism—it has an impersonal God. We’re made in God’s image and looking for a personal god—not an “it”, not a process, not a bromine ...

The Buddhist: salvation in Buddhism is elimination of all desire which means you eliminate your personhood.

Islam, there is no personal relationship with Allah. You don’t dare have a personal relationship with Allah. You can talk about him. You can go do your five things everyday, but that does not constitute a personal relationship with God.

The western secularist is just material needs. So, every person has an empty heart. That’s the source of Augustine’s—there’s a god-shaped factor or as I pointed out Kaufmann had the idea. He was an atheist professor at Princeton for many years. He referred to man as a god-infatuated ape. It was his way of expressing the fact that he observed this lurking hunger to know God.

John MacArthur has a neat way of saying conscience is our skylight. But it’s built there to get light.

NKJ John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

See it’s getting inside the Trinity and seeing that relationship and sharing it.

Let’s look at verses 3 and 4 [Slide 11]; and then we’re going to run out of time for today.

NKJ 1 John 1:3, “that which we have seen and heard”

See, there are the two verbs.

“we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us;”

Then there’s a parenthesis.

“and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

NKJ 1 John 1:4, “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”

Let’s do the next click [on the slide].

NKJ 1 John 1:3, “that which we have seen and heard”

That constitutes the testimony. He’s repeating himself. It’s the third time he’s used these two verbs. Do you think these are important? You bet.

“we declare”

Purpose clause. This is why we’re doing it.

“that you also may have fellowship”

We want you to join it. So that leads us to that concluding box on the handout. This is the difference between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism because in Roman Catholicism they would hold to this that you can’t know God apart from the church and apostolic oral and written tradition that the church is constantly upgrading down through time.

The Protestant position is Apostolic teaching is available only as preserved in the written tradition of Scripture and that revelation is better understood as time goes on; but we’re not adding to that corpus of revelation. There is a distinct difference going on.

Now there is one closing note that may be confusing a little bit; but it’s not a big deal. That is there is some textual uncertainty about “our” or “your” joy here. The King James has your joy. But both of the manuscripts have our joy and I think that’s the better reading.

The reason is that’s exactly the way John thinks in 2 John and 3 John. By using the word “our” rather than “your”, the emphasis is on his pastor’s heart. This is his concern. John is a pastor. His joy is not full there until he sees that his believers are walking in fellowship with God. The key here, by the way, he’s not talking about salvation; he’s talking about fellowship.

That’s where historically where Bob Scheihing and the men started this particular church that’s why they used Fellowship Chapel. In fact, this is the verse of this particular congregation.

So that’s the fellowship. This is the prologue of John. What we’re going to next week, we’re going to get into the next big section. But we’ve gone through the prologue and I think that you probably now understand that John is dealing with all kinds of things in the background. But this is heavy material. We are dealing with the essence of God Himself here and the idea that we can have fellowship is unknown in every other religion. All religions are not the same. You hear it said all the time, particularly in our modern culture, our postmodern culture that, “Well, I think all religions are basically teaching the same thing.” No. You can see they’re different.

“Well, but they are all after the same thing.”

That’s your speculation. You’re dealing with a generic deity that somehow is behind the Buddhist, the Hindu, and everyone else. I think a way in our conversation with such people to help them see that is to simply say, “Well, I worship the God of the Bible and I understand the Muslims believe in god of the Quran.” If you’ll introduce that kind of thing in the conversation it might trip some thinking.

(Closing prayer)