Friday, January 11, 2019

The Word

Thank you to those of you who took the time to leave feedback on my last post (you know who you are). Though I have some Harley performance related posts in the works, this one is a slight variation on the format (with different content) of my last post.

And for those who prefer to read rather than listen, here is the text of the above multimedia presentation:

For today's text I would like to go to what I believe to be one of the most glorious, and informative, and profound places in the Bible, though there are many texts that fit that description.  This one is found in the Gospel of John chapter one.

John 1: 1-14

This text is just loaded with information about the person of Jesus Christ, and in fact it is one which most plainly teaches us about the deity of Christ.  This book, penned by the apostle John begins with a phrase that points us right back to the first book of the Old Testament. The Gospel of John starts out with, "In the beginning was the Word".  The book of Genesis starts with, "In the beginning God".  And note that by only the third verse of Genesis, the three persons of the Trinity have been revealed.  

Gen 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Clearly when the book of Genesis says "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," it is referring to the Holy Spirit.  Not so obvious without the book of John is that when God spoke those first words of command, "Let there be light," the word which was spoken is somehow eternally linked with the person we call Jesus. It is tempting to say that when God the Father speaks, what comes out of his mouth is Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God.  But that paints a picture that is not quite right either, because the Bible elsewhere informs us that God the Father is a spirit, not a being with physical features like a mouth. 
Perhaps the definition from Strong's Concordance of the Greek which is translated as “the Word” here in John 1 would be helpful.  It suggests that especially when used with the article "the," "the Word" can be understood as "divine expression."  The book of Hebrews seems to support that understanding.  It says this in chapter 1: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;   Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power,"

I find this last phrase here in Hebrews intriguing.  It says upholding all things by “the word of his power.”  Not “by the power of his word”, as we might expect it to say, but rather by the word of his power!  I even went so far as to consult several other Bible translations of this phrase from the book of Hebrews and they all agree.  Upholding all things by the word of his power. But if we consider that definition from Strong’s Concordance that I mentioned a moment ago, it becomes a little easier to grasp. So, if we were to paraphrase it, it might go something like this: [Jesus], being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, upholding all things by the divine expression of his power.

Of course, the interrelationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, which we refer to as the Trinity, can sometimes be a bit confusing, but I think it is often the case that we make it more confusing than we need to.  In the simplest form it is that Jehovah God is one being or one thing, but three persons.

As RC Sproul has said, the doctrine of the Trinity as found in the Bible is something we can apprehend, even if we cannot comprehend it. In other words, we may not be able to completely understand it or comprehend it, but we can apprehend it or see it clearly taught in the Bible.

On the other hand, as we contemplate the Triune God of the Bible, we might admit along with the Psalmist, " Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it."

But there is a great deal more to be found in this text at the beginning of the Gospel of John. Toward the end of our text, it says of this Jesus, The Word, "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."   So I would ask you, have you received Christ?  Do you believe on his name? 

You might ask, "how does one receive Christ?"  The text goes on to clarify that those who received him "were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."  So, it’s not something in your bloodline that you inherited from your parents.  It’s not something by the will of the flesh, such as doing some physical thing, and it’s not even by your own will such as having the willpower to be a good person.  No, it is by the will of God, and in fact the answer as to how we might receive Christ Jesus is right there in the text: “Believe on his name.” 

This believing on his name involves believing what Jesus has revealed of himself in the holy scriptures, but it is more than that.  Some translations use the phrase believing in his name, some like the one I just read use believing on his name, and some literal translations use the phrase believing into his name. All of those translations are attempting to convey the sense that this believing is much more than just your mind accepting the facts about Jesus.  It has to do with trusting him and putting that trust into action. We often call this faith.

The name Jesus itself is also important to our understanding of what we are to believe on.  If you trace the meaning of the name Jesus back to its Old Testament roots you find that it is the same name as Joshua which means Jehovah (or Yahweh) saves.  The fact that God saves, or Jesus saves is what we need to believe on or into. 
Nothing we can do will save us from the guilt of our sins or from the penalty for our sins. We cannot make up for past bad deeds by doing good things.  God does not have a scale with your good deeds on one side and your sins on the other with your eternal destiny dependent on which way the scale tips. 

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah tell us this: But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

So you see, if there was such a scale, your good deeds would have to go on the same side as your sins, condemning you.  Only the righteousness of Christ can tip the scale in your favor, and that righteousness is counted as yours when you believe on Him!

Only the death of Jesus Christ can pay the penalty for our sins to keep us from condemnation, and only His righteousness can earn us a place in heaven.  But just as important, only His resurrection from the dead can confirm for us that God the Father found his sacrifice to be acceptable.  That is what we need to believe on to receive Jesus