The Word of God
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Central Theme: Know that Jesus has risen, he has gone before us, and he is in our midst.
Interrogative: Why do we have to hear and understand the Word of God?
1. The Word is eternal
2. The Word is the Creator
3. The Word is life
On the day of Good Friday, The National Public Radio (NPR) newsroom wrote an article titled, “Pope to World: Hell Does Exist.” NPR thought it would be an article of interest given that it was Good Friday. The piece aimed to examine a report by an Italian journalist who claimed that Pope Francis denied the existence of hell. The Vatican denied that the Pope ever made such statement and debunked the claim made by the atheist 93-year-old reporter. However, the interesting feature of this article is not the alluded quotation made by the pope, but the way in which the NPR article referred to Easter. The article written by Vanessa Romo and proofed by their lead political editor Domenico Montanaro described Easter as, “the day celebrating the idea that Jesus did not die and go to hell or purgatory or anywhere like that, but rather arose into heaven on a Sunday.” Let me remind you that this was written just over a week ago. As Christians, I hope you recognize that description of Easter in the report was utterly erroneous. Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Earth, not on Heaven. Jesus eventually ascended into Heaven, but that was 40 days after He appeared to His disciples and hundreds of others. Furthermore, the reporter noted that Jesus did not go to hell or purgatory, which is somewhat dubious as to how the author was emphasizing this idea, taking that she claimed to have a Catholic background. I assume that the reporter was recalling The Apostles Creed, which is recited by many churches, as a statement of faith. Written in the second century, it is used to declare faith in Christ publicly. In some churches, the creed is recited before the public declaration of the faith at baptism. In any case, the Catholic version of the creed states that Jesus descended to hell, which leads to an assumption that the reporter was recollecting and mistakenly quoting one of the creed’s declarations.
What is disappointing in this event is that Romo and Montanaro claimed to have been raised Catholic, attended a Catholic school, and yet failed to define one of the most important days of our Christian faith. What is even more deplorable and surprising is that a public and “respectable” news outlet allowed for such blatant mistake concerning one of the most revered days for Christians, in which many American alike celebrate, given its history. Apparently, the embarrassing error was caught by a Washington Post column, which concluded that the failure was clear evidence of the lack of religious literacy in the NPR newsroom. Considering the mistake, Rob Dreher of the American Conservative news outlet made a good point when he argued that the if we can’t count on leading journalists to understand the most basic facts about Christian practice and belief, how can we trust them to report accurately on matters that deal with more complicated Christian beliefs. It begs the question if we cannot trust them to report accurately and account why we believe what we believe, how will the secular world understand our worldview and allow for a meaningful conversation with them?
The point that I am making by bringing up this incident and assessing the NPR article, is that it seems that religious illiteracy is at an all-time high, even to those who claim to have some sort of Christian background. The idea of being raised as Christian or Catholic but failing on elementary facts results in real-world consequences. The notion that a news outlet who claim to have “high-standards,” yet betray to report elementary Christianity has even greater implications. Therefore, if we cannot trust those who claim to have a Christian background, nor “reputable” news outlets, then it is increasingly critical that we grasp the fundamental tenets of our faith, that realize the consequences of not distinguishing essential Christian doctrine. For it is crucial that we educate those in the secular society on the matters we believe. It is necessary that we have a grasp of our fundamental Christian norms if we are to honorably and effectively fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission.
The passage we are about to read speaks of one of the most essential principles of our faith. It is part of our Christology, the doctrine of Christ. It is the central idea that builds to the doctrine of the Trinity, and it is what differentiates us from other faiths. The verses that we will read now were the verses that were first taught to me when I became a Christian. Ultimately, shows us why do we have to hear and understand what and who the Word of God is?
“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 were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (, ESV)
1. The Word is Eternal (1:1-2)
1. The Word is Eternal (1:1-2)
As we read these verses, the reference to the Word is prevalent throughout the passage. For new readers of the Bible, the Word may sound confusing, particularly in the way it is appropriated in the paragraph. When I was first introduced to the Bible, a friend suggested that we read John together. The first thing he asked me was to substitute the “Word” for Jesus Christ. It made ask why John would not use the literal word Jesus as opposed to an eccentric reference. The reason was that John was deliberately recalling , for the “Logos,” long unknown within the world, uttered God’s mind, declared His purpose and mediated His power. John was speaking to a Hellenized as well as Jewish world, in which the term was familiar to both. John was being cross-cultural to advance a doomed world to an embryonic world with the hope of a savior. For the Greeks, it was an abstract principle of reason exhibited by an orderly universe. The Logos was the source of reason. For Jews, the Word was the revelation of God’s mind. The Word is the creative wisdom spoken in personal terms (), and an intermediate agent in creation and revelation between God and man. Thus, within the context of John, the Word had relevance and persuasiveness for Jews and Greeks. According to R.E.O White, “The Word is the perfect expression of God’s mind, will, and His absolute vehicle of redeeming power.”
Verses 1 and 2 informs us of three important principles. The Word of God was preexistent, coexistent, and self-existent. Christ was preexistent. At the beginning of all things, Christ was previously preexistent. Christ was there before the creation of the world. For He was not created or made by anything higher than Him. Christ has always existed. Pay attention that the beginning does not mean “from the beginning.” Socinians claim that the apostle John as He wrote this book described beginning to denote the beginning of the Gospel. If you are not aware, Socinianism is a heretical system, similar to Arianism, which became popular in 18th century England. Socinianism portrays Christ to be a mere man with no existence before His birth on the earth. A modern version of this view is Jehovah’s Witness. It is entirely dissenting, for it is an aberration of true Christian belief. For we know that Jesus was always there, He did not become, nor was He created, nor He ever had a beginning. He was not just a mere man as claimed by Faustus Socinus. Jesus was always with God in the beginning, for Jesus Himself affirms in , “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (, ESV)
Christ was coexistent, for the Word was with (pros) God. The word “pros” denotes both being and acting toward. Thus, Christ was both being with and acting with God side by side. He was acting, living, and moving in a perfect relationship with the Father. Consequently, moving us to an introduction to the doctrine of the Trinity. Beginning with the two persons of the Godhead, the Father, and Christ. For they were in a perfect relationship, shared communion, fellowship, an eternal bond. John declares, “The life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—” (, ESV). Jesus the Son of God, the “Logos,” has always coexisted with God.
Christ was self-existent, for the Word was God. Although distinct from the Father, He was of the very essence and being of the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Word was of the very nature and character of the other two persons of the Trinity. In Christ’s distinctiveness, He was nonetheless the radiance of God’s glory (). He was the image of the invisible God (). The God over all forever (). Christ is the fullness of deity in bodily form (). The immortal and who lives in unapproachable light (); and He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lord ().
I am reminded of a time when two Mormon missionaries knocked on my door. At the time, I wasn’t much of a church person, nor did I have a proper understanding of Christianity. I also recalled several commercials promoting the church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. With such a name, who would not relate them to be some sort of Bible prescribing denomination? I was curious, so I let them in. They gave us brochures and explained their beliefs. But one thing that caught my attention was the idea of continuing revelation. They spoke of the prospect of doctrinal changes by the president of the church, who talked to God, and who was accompanied by a quorum of twelve living disciples. That is when I became suspicious, despite my immature knowledge of the Christian beliefs, it did not seem to be compatible with the little I had learned when growing up in the Catholic church.
As I started to read about Mormonism, what I found was that unlike Christian Trinitarianism, Mormonism views the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit to be separate gods. They also believe the Father and Christ have a body of flesh, while the Spirit does not. Adam as the image of God was a physical image, God the Father Himself in bodily form on the earth. Adam eventually died and became a deity. As a Father, he was the spirit of all children including Jesus and the Holy Ghost. The Father gives divine status to the His children. Thus, we as physical beings also have the potential to become gods like the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In Mormonism, Jesus is not eternal, for he is a mere creation, a product of the relationship between god and his wife. A woman from another world! Jesus is the product of their relationship, in which the devil is his brother. Moreover, God continues to have children, offspring in heaven who will eventually have human bodies on the earth.
The point I am trying to make that Mormons smell like Christians, but they are far from being Christians considering their strange theology. They claim to prescribe to the Bible as the Word of God and claim to believe in the same Jesus as we do. Despite what Mormons say, once you define Christ as being another created god, then ones forfeit the title of being a Christian. They proclaim a different gospel that we do, for theirs is no gospel at all. Mormons proclaim a dangerous gospel. In a world that seems to have little understanding of God and His principles, we then move to a dangerous precedent. As a result, we Christians must be grounded in the fundamentals of the character of Christ and guard Him at all costs. The Word is not created nor a separate God. He is a distinct person of the Godhead, yet fully God, as One God and One God alone (), who eternally exists in three distinct persons. In short, God is one essence and existing in three persons. God is eternal; thus, the Word is eternal.
2. The Word is the Creator (1:3)
2. The Word is the Creator (1:3)
The Wisdom of God, the Word, as the master creator is echoed in , “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago, I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.” ()
Christ is the creator, the source of all things, meaning the whole creation, and all that exists to every single microscopic detail. This includes us, heaven, earth, angels. It involves all that is in the physical and spiritual realm, as we understand it. Next, I need to note the word egeneto (made), which better translates as “became or came into being.” It denotes that every substance and matter came into being when nothing existed, and absolutely nothing. Nothingness is an unimaginable concept, for even the pondering of the idea would not be. However, there was a beginning, for which matter that is not eternal came into existence. Out of His mouth, out of His will, out of His power, He spoke and out of nothing something (ex nihilo).
Note that in verse 3 John has a positive as well as an absolute statement. The positive statement emphasizes that all things and absolutely all things came by the Word. Now, the absolute statement underscores that “without him was not anything made that was made” (1:3). Beginning from the positive to the absolute, John moves from the act of creation to the state of creation. What does this mean to us? It points to a personified Wisdom by which all exists. The Wisdom of God is the personal agent actively (yesterday, today, and tomorrow) involved in the creation of everything in this world, including the simplest of details. Which leads to a realization that God is not in some distant past or place far removed from His creation. He is a God that cares about the world and every person in it. It also leads to the recognition that humans and their perceived sagacity will never solve the problems of this world. The only answer is Christ; thus, we are to surrender to Him and give our lives to know the Creator. It is then that men can live in the world as it was intended to be.
Until 1920 humans thought the Milky Way was the entire universe, but we know now that there is far more galaxies. Science in helping us realize the complexity of the created world, and in turn, it is silencing us. We become humble after witnessing its magnitude and how incredibly magnificent it is. If we even examine ourselves, we see the complexities of the human body. Did you know that the body’s entire structure, from head to foot, is a miracle of precision engineering and production? No matter what portion of the human body is considered, one cannot but be impressed with what a marvelous mechanism each member is. The major organs alone—and there are 10 of them—perform such unique feats of electric conduction that it would take a significant book to explain each one adequately. In the fraction of a second that it takes you to read one word on the page of a book, the marrow in your bones produces over 100,000 red blood cells
The universe is incredibly perfect, and the human body is an extreme engineering feat. How much more perfect must be our God, whom we depend on and give our own selves to? We must understand and evoke that Word is the Creator of all things. The Word is the Creator.
3. The Word is Life (1:4-5)
3. The Word is Life (1:4-5)
says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (). In this verse, John is interested in the source of the light (the life of Christ) and light’s purpose for you and me. From the onset, John alludes that from the very beginning of time men were to know God personally, for the knowledge of the life of Christ was the light of men. What is it the significance of the life of Christ, the light, to us? (1) Light gives real-life – eternal life – to you and me; (2) light propels you and me to walk and live the life in which we were designed to live. Therefore, the life of the Christ was the light of man’s essence, the power, the force, the energy, and the principle of our being.
Next, you ask, what is then the purpose of man? Life (Christ) is the light of man’s very objective, very meaning, and very significance of life. John later in the gospel reiterates Jesus’ words, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” ()
Finally, Christ is the very answer to darkness. For John, darkness is not mere absence to light, but real evil, he says in 3:19, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” ()
Man brought darkness into the world through his sin, but the life of Christ, the light of man, illuminated man to the way of life, the way of truth, and the way to life. Christ showed man how he should live or was intended to live. Christ showed man the truth of life, which is truth about God, man, and the world of man. Christ showed man the way to life. Light is not only linked to creation but with men’s salvation. The light espouses how to save one’s life, rather than befall to eternal death. For all men loves darkness because of their deeds (3:19); men crave popularity, money, and power. Nevertheless, Christ showed man the life, and how to be saved.
Most of us don’t like the dark. When I get home at night, I try to turn every light in the house. I don’t think my wife loves that because she keeps turning it off after me. If I spend too much time in the darkness I panic, I hate when there is no power in the house. Recently we lost energy due to windstorm, and I hated not having light. The same can be correlated with my life. I went through a period of darkness, in which there was no place for God. I lived for the things opposed to what God calls good, and in my ignorance, I did even know the things I was doing were not good. Life was a sea of trouble, sometimes depressing, angry, and notably purposeless. I thought the life we live was the end, so I was selfish. The light of God not only gave me purpose, but it also gave me life, and it saved me. The Word is Life, Jesus is the source of life: He is the way to life, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (). Friends, Jesus is the very substance of life, its very being. The Word is Life.
Brothers and sisters, the Word of God, the Word we cling to, the Word that has us come every Sunday to worship and listen to. He is Eternal. He is the Creator. He is the light. is the prologue to John’s Gospel. It is the foundation in how we see and understand who God is. It underpins how we come before Him and treat Him. He is the name above all names. Like the song says, “Name above all names, you are glorious. Wonderful and true, powerful are you. There will be a day when every knee will bow. Before Your holiness, every tongue confess.”
Friends, we must be grounded in our doctrine, and understand who Christ is, not only for your sake for the sake of others. Begin with the right understanding of Christ, so that you can present yourself to God, not ashamed, and rightly handling the word of truth. Paul made that appeal to Timothy, and I make that same appeal to you.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (, ESV)