Sunday, April 28, 2013

In the Beginning was the Word Pt. 1

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  John 1:1-2

Introduction to the Gospel of John
This book that we are starting this evening is “The Gospel of John” or “The Gospel According to John.”  The word gospel means good news.  So this book is the good news according to John.  Who is John?  What is this good news that he brings?  John was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, who later became an Apostle.  He referred to himself throughout this book as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  He did not say this out of arrogance or conceit but rather because he knew the love of the Savior and he knew he was loved by Him.  During the last supper, the gospels record that John was “...reclining on Jesus’ bosom.”
 So picture these men around a table, perhaps after the meal is over, and John was resting his head on Jesus’ chest.  And it wasn’t strange.  Jesus didn’t rebuke him for it, and John obviously was ashamed of it.  He loved Jesus, and was confident that he was one “whom Jesus loved.”  So the flavor of this book is book is very intimate.  
But what is this good news or this gospel that he brings?  The briefest description that can be given about the gospel is this, it is the Gospel of the Glory of Christ.  In other words, John brings us good news about the glory of Jesus Christ.   There is a glory or a splendor or a magnificent beauty that belongs to Jesus Christ, and this glory is more valuable then the entire universe.  

“Behold the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales...All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.  To whom then will you liken God?  Or what likeness will you compare with Him?...Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?  Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?  It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.  He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.  Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely have has their stock taken root in the earth, but He merely blows on them and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble.  “To whom then will you liken Me that I would be his equal? says the Holy One.” [Isaiah 40]

Jesus Christ is this Holy One that Isaiah speaks of.  He is the glorious one, of whom, this gospel is about.  This gospel of John is the Gospel of the Glory of Christ.  This gospel is a portrait of His life, His death, and His resurrection.  This gospel is a portrait of His person, meaning He is fully God and fully man in one person forever.  This gospel is a portrait of His soul, and His burning passion to always do His Father’s will. This gospel is a portrait of Jesus esteeming the honor of His Father in everything that He does.  All of these things that John’s gospel show us point towards one thing:  the Glory of Christ, the worth of Jesus Christ, the unimaginable treasure and delight of Jesus Christ.  John shows us these things, and He points the way for us to enter into that treasure.  John 20:31 says “...but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”   
So although our goal at this church is to make Jesus Christ famous in Garden City, John’s aim is to make Jesus Christ famous in all the universe.  Because the truth is, is that He is already famous, we just need new taste buds, and new eyes in order to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” 

The Big Idea...In the beginning was the Word; this Word is Eternal; this Word is Personal;  and this Word is God Himself. 

First of all, who is this Word?  We know that it is a person because v. 2 calls this Word a He.  v. 2 says “He was in the beginning with God.”  So who is this He or who is this Word?  This Word that we are talking about is Jesus Christ the Son of God.  v. 14-17 makes this crystal clear: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth...For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  So this Word from v. 1-2, is the Son sent from the Father-v.14, and the man Christ Jesus in v.17.  That is the who John is speaking of when He refers to Him as the Word.  So if we were going to read it in this light, it would say “In the beginning was the Son and the Son was with God, and the Son was God. He was in the beginning with God.”  
Now it does mean that, but John doesn’t say that.  He says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”  So why does John use this language here?  Why does He call Jesus Christ the Word?   I’ll give a short answer this evening and we’ll go deeper next week when we look at the Trinity.   Basically, Jesus is called the Word here, because, a word is a revelation of the mind. When we speak words, we reveal to others what is in our mind.   Revelation just means “the making known of the unknown.”  So words, make known the hidden or unknown thoughts of the mind. Words bring-out-into the-open the thoughts that were previously hidden. Our words in this way imitate the Word, because, Jesus the Word makes known the unknown God.  This is what v. 18 says  “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.”  Why?  Because He is the Word.  He is the revelation of God the Father.   Jesus reveals who God is, because He is God’s Word. He is the announcement of God, or the vision of God, or as John says it, the Word of God.  

I.  This Word is Eternal
“In the beginning was the Word...”

We need spiritual eyes to see what John is saying here.  Because our natural eyes with either fail to understand what’s He’s saying or they will trick us into thinking that John is simply reporting facts about God.  As if these are just neat and tidy pieces of information about God.  But we must resist the temptation to think about God as merely neat pieces of information.  This is everlasting God that John is reporting to us! “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  Psalm 90:2  Or Job 36:26  “Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.” No, these words that John opened up his gospel with were not intended for us to causally read and be unaffected by.  They were intended to grip us, in the inner most part of our being, and cause our hearts to burn with passion for this everlasting God.   These two verses let us in on the reality that God has always been. He is independent.  He is in need of nothing.  He is God!   So John says...“In the beginning was the Word...” Let’s compare two different things.  Let’s compare the universe with this Word that John is speaking of.  When we speak of the universe, we say that “...the [universe] was from the beginning, but the Word was in the beginning.”
Do you hear the difference between from and in“The [universe] was from the beginning, but the Word was in the beginning.”
  Meaning, the universe began to exist at the beginning.  From the beginning until now the universe has existed.  But the Word existed in the beginning.  It was already there before the universe had a beginning.  This means that the Word is eternal. He never, ever had a beginning.  He always was.  This beginning that John is speaking of in v. 1 is the beginning of all created things, including time.  Time had a beginning.  Before creation, time did not exist.  There was not a “then” before creation.  “There was no ‘then’ when there was no time.”
  If time always existed, then John could not say “In the beginning” because there is no beginning to time if it has always existed. This is part of the deep wonder and mystery about God.  God’s “...years neither come nor go...God’s years stand all at once...His years are one day...with Him today is eternity.”
  The Bible testifies to this truth when it says “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8
  This Word that John speaks of is eternal.  This Word has never not existed.
II.  This Word is Personal
“...and the Word was with God...

Think about your own words for a moment.  Think about how there is an invincible and intimate connection between the words that you speak and the thoughts that you think.  There is a closeness and an intimacy that words share with thoughts. Ideas are buried in the very heart of words.   Ideas are the souls of words.   That means that words are always with thoughts.  The same thing is true about this Eternal Word.  v. 1 says that “...and the Word was with God...” This Eternal Word has always shared intimate fellowship with God. This Eternal Word, who is Jesus  Christ, spoke this way about this intimate fellowship that He shared with God. “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” John 17:5  Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, shared in God’s own presence before the world existed!  This Eternal Word is personal.  Meaning, He is a person. That is what John calls Him in v. 2 He was in the beginning with God.”  John personalizes this Eternal Word by calling him a He. The Eternal Word is personal, meaning He is a person!  He’s not a concept, or merely an idea, or a theory.  He is a very real Eternal Person.  And since He is an Eternal Person, that means He is more real than you or I are or ever will be.  He always was, he never became like you and I. That means that He is more personal than you or I will ever be. 
The scandalous thing is that this Word has come and has decided to share this intimate fellowship with His creatures.  Listen to how John describes this Eternal Word in his letter in 1 John 1:1-2 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life”  Did you hear what He said about Him?  He said that he heard Him.  How?  Because this Word is a person who speaks !  He said that he saw Him with his eyes.  How?  Because this Word is a person who revealed Himself to the world.  He said that he touched Him.  How? Because this Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  This Eternal Word, became very personal with His creation.  And now John wants to share that with us!  He continues on in v. 2 ”..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...”  So John’s is desire is to preach to us this Person, this Life, this Word.  Why?  To what end?  For what purpose?    He tells us these things, just as I am telling these things to you now so that you can have fellowship or intimate relationship with Him.  He continues on in v. 3 “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”   In other words, he’s saying that the highest thing that we can achieve in life to have personal intimate relationship with this Personal Word.  

III.  This Word is God
“...and the Word was God.”

Here’s where the world becomes very violent against the Bible.  We can talk all day long about how compassionate and how loving Jesus was.  We can talk all day long about how patient He was when He was being attacked by his enemies.  We can talk all day long about how wise He was.   But...when we say that this Jesus, this Eternal Word is God, people lose their minds.  Perhaps one of the oldest heresies that the early church had to fight against was the denial of Jesus’ Deity.  Meaning, that there were those who denied that Jesus was God.  This heresy, or false teaching, was condemned by the whole church in those days but it has made it’s way back into the main stream in the form of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons and other smaller groups.  These groups started inside of the church and went out to the world, so it’s very important to address this idea inside of the church.  What some of these groups say is that this phrase  “...and the Word was God” should actually read “...and the Word was A God”  In other words,  Jesus was just another god, but not the supreme God.  Well you could prove that it doesn’t say that in the Greek, which is what the original Scriptures were written in, but you don’t even need to do that.  It is impossible that there be more than one God.  It is impossible in any possible world.  Consider that one of the names for God is the Almighty, meaning that He has all power.  You can’t have two gods who each individually have all the power.  Either one god has all the power, and the other god doesn’t; or the other god has all the power and the first god doesn’t.  But they both can’t be all powerful at the same time.  This is a contradiction and it is impossible now, and it has always been and always will be impossible.   But the objection might evolve at this point and say that God made Jesus to be a god.  This is also impossible.  A quality that God must have in order to be God is that He must be eternal.  That belongs to His God-ness.  God can’t make another being God because He can’t create another being who always was.  It is a contradiction to say that God created something that always existed. 
John’s text is perfectly clear and offers no contradictions “...the Word was God.”  Make no mistake about it.  Without apology, without hesitation, without fear of misinterpretation, Jesus Christ is God!  This was John’s unmistaken description of Jesus.  Jesus said this about Himself, over and over again in this book.  

“‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”  John 5:17-18

“‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.’ So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”  John 8:56-59

“The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.’” John 10:31-32

“My Lord and my God!”Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:28-29  Thomas called Jesus God, and Jesus did not correct him.  And yet everywhere else in the Bible when things like this happen, the person is corrected because it is blasphemy to accept this title, unless you are God.  That is who Jesus is.  God.  He says this in Revelation 1:8  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  This is who Jesus 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.”  
This Word is Eternal; this Word is Personal;  and this Word is God Himself.

1.  These truths are for comforting the godly.
If you are in Christ, what do you have to fear?  He is the Word sent from the Father for you.  He has eternally been the Word, meaning that He never grows old and becomes too weak to help you.  He never becomes feeble in mind or senile, so that He cannot give wisdom to you.   He has eternally been the Word and that means He never changes.  Though this world is constantly changing for the worse and things are growing increasingly evil, He never changes.  He is, and was and always will be perfectly holy, and He knows how to protect those who are His. 2 Peter 2:9 says that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.”  Furthermore this Christ, this Eternal Word is Personal.  He intimately knows you and your situation even if all else fail you.  King David prayed to this Personal Word and said: “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” Psalm 139:17-18   If you are in Christ, then He personally loves you.  And since this Eternal, Personal Word is God Himself, then His personal love for you is invincible.  Paul declares in Romans 8:35-37 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

2.  These truths are for gravely warning the sinner.  
This Eternal, Personal, Word who is God will exact revenge on His enemies.   Psalm 2:12 speaks of Him saying  “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.”   There will be a time when this Eternal Word will come back to the earth, and this time He will unleash His anger on His enemies.  This Psalm says that His wrath is quickly kindled.  Meaning, that the fire of His anger will surely come to pass.  And it will come like a thief in the night, so that sinners will not be ready for it’s appearing.  That is how God warns those who have despised His glory.  That is how God warns those who live their lives completely ignoring the majesty of this Eternal, Personal Word.  Ezekiel 33:11 says “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die?...”  Oh wicked person, turn from your wickedness. Forsake your  evil ways, and run to Christ. God takes no pleasure in your death...but make no mistake, if you do not repent of your sins and turn to Jesus Christ you will perish everlastingly.  Those whose sins have not been paid for, will have this Eternal, Personal Word as their immortal enemy. 

3.  These truths are for encouraging the doubting.
This Eternal, Personal, Word who is God Himself freely offers pardon to sinners right now. As we go through this gospel, we will find that everywhere Jesus is offering forgiveness to god-hating criminals like you and me.   He says things like this “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  John 7:37-38.  Only by coming to Jesus naked and despairing of our own self-righteousness can we be saved.  Only by coming to Him in simple faith, in the simple faith of a child can we be saved.  Only  by recognizing that we are thirsty for Him, and knowing that He alone can forgive us by His perfect life and His death on the cross can we be saved.  Jesus lived and died in order to bring home more sons and daughters for His Father.  2 Peter 3:18 says “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.”  He suffered on the cross so that all who would repent of their sins could be saved.  Repentance means that you see the mercy of God in Christ, and you with grief and hatred of your sin, turn from it unto God.  And then you simply believe on His name.  You receive Him as a treasure, believing on Him.  If that happens to you, you’re saved, and you will desire to spend the rest of your life chasing after Him and desiring to please Him in all that you do.  You will live a life of continual repentance over your sin, asking God forgiveness for those things that you do that grieve Him.  And you will experience this Eternal, and Personal Word as your Lord and Your God.