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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Title:Meet the One John calls the Word
Text:John 1:1-5 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son
 
Preached:2016
Added:2016-07-13
Updated:2016-08-20
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 75:1,2

Psalm 32:1,2 (after the law)

Psalm 18:1,9

Hymn 23

Hymn 37

Scripture reading:  Psalm 33

Text:  John 1:1-5

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of Christ,

Many of us have done it at some time or other.  We’re at a gathering with a bunch of people.  We see a friend there and another friend and they don’t know one another.  But for whatever reason you think it would be good for these two friends to be introduced.  So you bring them together and you say, “Hey, I’d like you to meet so-and-so.” 

The beginning of John’s gospel functions in the same kind of way.  The apostle John was close to Jesus, perhaps closer than any of the other apostles.  As he begins his gospel, he wants to introduce us to Jesus Christ.  He says, “He’s the most important person who has ever lived and I had the privilege of knowing him and walking with him.  Now I want you to meet him as well.  I want you to get to know him or to know him better.”

John introducing Christ to us in his book has a distinct purpose.  Not only the introduction, but the whole book has a clear purpose.  With some books of the Bible, it’s not always easy to say what the purpose is.  Not so with John.  It comes towards the end of the book.  John writes in John 20:31 that he wrote his book “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.”  The purpose of John’s gospel is to bring everyone who reads it to faith in Jesus Christ – and a growing faith in him.   

Today we’re at John’s introduction, or prologue as it’s sometimes called.  Here under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John begins telling us what’s most important to know and believe about Jesus Christ.  So I preach to you God’s Word from John 1:1-5, Meet the One John calls the Word.

Here we’re introduced to:

  1. Who he is
  2. What he’s done

The first words of John are familiar.  “In the beginning” makes us right away think of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  You hear the words “in the beginning” and you think of creation – and that’s where your thoughts are supposed go here.  Through John, the Holy Spirit wants to take us back to the world of Genesis 1:1.  When it comes to Jesus Christ, you might think his story began at his birth or perhaps at his conception, but here God says “No, you have to go back way further than that.”  In fact, you need to go back to eternity past, you need to go back to when time hadn’t even been created yet.

“In the beginning was the Word…”  John calls the Son of God “the Word.”  In Greek, the word used here is Logos.  This is a unique way of referring to Jesus Christ.  Nobody else in the Bible calls him the Word or the Logos.  Why does the Holy Spirit lead John to use this word for Christ?  What’s so special about this expression?  This is probably the most widely-researched single word in the whole entire Bible.  Millions of words have been written about the Word.  Some say that John is addressing the Gentile world which had its own notion of the Logos.  There were Greek philosophers who used this word Logos to describe a force which held the universe together.  So, they say, John is taking that word over and now filling it with Christian content.  However, there’s no explicit indication in John’s gospel or his other writings that he was familiar with Greek philosophy and was trying to address it.  It’s best to see this word Logos in connection with the rest of the Bible, and especially with the Old Testament.  The Old Testament was written almost entirely in Hebrew, so the Greek word Logos obviously doesn’t appear in the original text.  But it does appear in the first Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint.  For example, in Psalm 33:6, “By the word of the LORD, the heavens were made…”  In the Septuagint, the Greek translation familiar to John, it said, “By the Logos of the Lord, the heavens were made….”  So the background of this word is biblical.

But again, what does it mean?  Why couldn’t John just say, “In the beginning was Jesus…” or “In the beginning was the Son of God…”?  Why “the Word”?  Why “Logos”?  It all has to do with revelation.  When the Son of God came into this world, he came as One who revealed God.  He not only spoke and taught about God, but he concretely showed what God is like.  His whole person and life was a message about God, a Word from God about God.  This is why John chooses to call him the Word, the Logos.  Christ is the One who reveals God, you could call him “the Revelator.”

So the Son of God, the one we call Jesus, he’s the One John calls the Word.  And John wants us to meet and learn more about who he is.  One thing that’s put in front of us right away is the fact that he is not created.  Just like Genesis started with “In the beginning, God…”, so John starts, with “In the beginning was the Word.”  Just like Genesis wants to tell us that God was not created, but is the Creator, so also John wants to tell us that the Word was not created, but is the Creator.  The Word is separate from everything created, to be distinguished from it.  He stands before creation in eternity past.  That flies against cults and heretics who have claimed that the Son of God was created at some point.  For instance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that.  They say that there was a point when the Son of God, the Word, was not.  Then God created him.  No, the Holy Spirit says here that the Word was in the beginning, just like God was in the beginning in Genesis 1:1.  The One John calls the Word is not created, but eternal and distinct from creation. 

Then we read in verse 1 that “the Word was with God.”  If you look at verse 2, the same thought is there, “He was in the beginning with God.”  That tells us that the Word is also in some sense distinct from God, yet in fellowship with him.  The Word has communion with God, is close to him, intimate with him.  This intimate fellowship is something from before the beginning, something from eternity past.  When creation happened, this relationship between the Word and God was already in existence.  The One John calls the Word, the One he wants us to meet, he has close communion with God. 

Then comes the most surprising statement of all, “and the Word was God.”  Literally it reads, “and God the Word was.”  “God” is put first here to make sure that you don’t miss the point.  The point is:  the Word is not only in communion with God, in some sense distinct from him, but also one with him in his essence.  The Word is God himself.  Make no mistake:  this is a clear statement of Christ’s divinity.  What’s said here will be reaffirmed elsewhere in John’s gospel.  Why do the Jews want to stone Jesus in chapter 8?  Because he claimed to be God:  “before Abraham was, I am,” he said in John 8:58.  Later, after the resurrection, you remember how Thomas reacted when he met the risen Jesus.  John 20:28, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus did not rebuke Thomas.  Thomas was right. 

And the Jehovah’s Witnesses are dead wrong.  They’ll try and tell you that Jesus is not God, but simply a god, with a small ‘g.’  They have their own Bible, called the New World Translation.  “Translation” can only be used loosely, because it’s such a perversion of God’s Word.  Do you know how they translate John 1:1?  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”  Listen, that’s simply a twisting of Scripture.  They do that in every single instance where the New Testament speaks of the divinity of Christ.  Here in John 1:1, the Holy Spirit is saying that the One John calls the Word is in fact God himself.

That’s who he is.   He is the Logos, God’s revelation.  He was not created.  He has fellowship with God.  He is God.  Loved ones, meet your Saviour, meet him again.  As we read what’s said about him in these first two verses and we reflect on it, we’re being led to worship him.  The Holy Spirit is working through the Word to bring us to our knees.  There’s to be an effect upon our hearts, an impact upon our affections.  We’re to praise the One who came to show us the heart of God, his love, his compassion, his mercy for broken sinners.  Praise him with me in your heart.  We’re to exalt the One who was there in the beginning as the world was shaped and formed along with all its creatures.  Exalt him with me.  We’re to make much of the One who has eternal communion within the Godhead, with both the Father and the Spirit.  Make much of him right now.  We’re to lift up the name of the One who is the exalted God himself, true God of true God as we confess in the Nicene Creed.  This is the Saviour worthy of our worship and praise forever, worthy of our commitment, worthy of a life of love to him.

Service and worship are also going to come out of considering what he’s done.  Here we’re moving along in our text to verses 3 to 5.  Verse 3 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”  Here John is speaking about what the Word did in creation.  Already in Genesis, we get hints that when God created the universe and everything in it, there was more than one person at work.  Genesis 1:2 speaks of the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters.  Then in Genesis 1:26 God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”  God uses the plural:  us, our.  These are early hints of what we find more fully revealed here in John 1:3. 

Here we learn that when the universe was created, God did it through the Word.  God did it through his Son, through Christ.  Now it sounds rather abstract to put it that way.  When I hear that God created the world through his Son, through the Word, I want to ask:  “What does that look like?  What does that mean exactly?”  I imagine that some of you are asking the same sorts of questions.  What does John 1:3 actually look like in concrete terms?  We can think back to Genesis 1 and 2, and also passages like Psalm 33.  Those Old Testament passages say that God created through his command, through his Word.  He gave the order and things came to be.  Then we have passages like our text and other passages like Colossians 1:16 which teach that creation took place through Christ.  If we combine the teaching of those passages, we need to envision God the Father giving the order to create this or that, and then the Son cooperating by executing the order.  The Father says, “let there be light,” and the Son instantaneously creates light, and so on.  All things were made in this fashion, says John.  Everything that exists was created through Christ.  Every creature, every molecule, every atom, everything has its origin in the Word, in Jesus Christ.  Nothing that exists has come into existence without him. 

Loved ones, this is so important to grasp because the world around us has a different explanation.  The world’s version of John 1:3 goes like this: “All things were made through random chance happenings, nothing suddenly became something and the universe created itself.”  The universe used the instruments of chance and evolution to bring everything into being.  But in the world’s story, there are no persons involved.  Everything is impersonal.  Everything is reduced to chance and random events.  One second there’s nothing and then the next there’s something and it’s just happened.  There’s no one behind it, no purpose involved.  Stuff like that just happens.  That’s the story the world wants you to believe.  The Holy Spirit tells you here in John 1:3 that the world’s story is a fairy tale.  It’s just not the way it is.  The reality is that the universe has come into existence because Someone commanded it to.  There is a world around us because Someone carried out the command – that Someone is the Word John wants you to meet in his gospel.  The Word is the Mighty Creator of all things!

The Holy Spirit also wants us to see that he is the one in whom we can find life and light – the one in whom sinners find salvation.  Verses 4 and 5 speak of life and light – in the background are death and darkness.  Darkness is mentioned directly in verse 5, but death is implied.  Between verse 3 and verses 4 and 5 comes the fall into sin.  Soon after the world was created through the Word, Adam and Eve rebelled against God and introduced spiritual darkness and death.  They brought brokenness upon a good creation.  But God had a plan to turn this around and provide rescue. 

The Word had life in him, life which would give light to those in spiritual darkness.  The Word, Christ our Saviour, he had it within himself to provide salvation for us who don’t have it within ourselves.  He had the desire to save us through his life and death on this earth, but he also had the means to do it – he had the power to do it.   Mankind put itself in the dark, but Christ came to bring into the light those who would believe him, to save them from eternal death and condemnation.  There are just a few living creatures that can survive in the dark.  For almost all creatures, light is necessary for life.  For us to live eternally, we need the light that the Word came to bring.  Jesus Christ shone brightly in his work here on earth, showing us the God of our salvation, showing us his love and mercy for sinners.  Brothers and sisters, the One John calls the Word is the light of our salvation.  See him, believe in him, love him, worship him. 

Then also reflect him.  Think of Matthew 5:16 where Christ our Light says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others…”  We are to reflect him with the way we live our lives.   Jesus, the Word, he came into this world to show us what God looks like.  We’re to reflect him reflecting God.  The way that begins is by carefully studying him, observing him and what he’s like from the Bible.  If we just look at this passage, the Word as the Light means life.  As Christians, we’re to be pro-life in every sense of the word, not only in the sense of being against abortion, but also in the sense of helping people around us find what it really means to live, to live in Christ.  We want to reflect Christ’s light with godly lives, but we also want to engage the lost around us so that they can be brought out of the darkness too.  If you look at the lost, you see people with empty lives, lives focussed on things that are vain.  That’s what life in the dark is like.  Introduce them to the One John calls the Word, help them meet the One who has come to bring life and light, to bring meaning and direction into our lives.

The light of the Word, the Logos, has come to shine in the darkness, says verse 5, and shine it has, and shine it does.  This is a powerful light and it reveals things.  It reveals the reality of sin, but also the salvation that is there in Christ.  The darkness gets defeated before the light of the Logos.  “The darkness has not overcome it,” says John.  Sin and death have no power over Christ.  Because he is God, he cannot be conquered by the powers of evil or its effects.  Satan and his armies of demons have nothing on him.  There is no stopping the Word.  When he wants to rescue, he will do so and there’s no one and nothing that can stand in his way.  “The darkness has not overcome it” and it never will.  The light of the Word always wins. 

Now if you stop and think about it for a moment, this is a really comforting thought.  Think about it.  The Holy Spirit is teaching us here that our Saviour cannot be defeated.  If he lived a perfect live in your place, if he died on the cross as your substitute, if he rose from the dead for you, if he gave his Spirit to you to work faith in your heart, then there’s nothing and no one that can stop you from reaching perfection in glory.  Yes, there are a lot of ways in which the darkness threatens us.  The darkness tempts us, the darkness entices us.  Sometimes we even flirt with the darkness.  But God’s Word promises his children that the darkness will not win.  Loved ones, believe that promise.  Don’t become fatalistic about your sins and your struggles.  Don’t give up.  Remind yourself of what Scripture says here, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”  That’s your Saviour; he’s powerful, he’s victorious, and when you believe in him he’s on your side.  What he’s done in the past, he’ll continue to do.  Don’t give up hope.  Keep on trusting in him, brothers and sisters.

As you can see, these first verses of John are packed with meaning.  In fact, the whole gospel of John is like that.  It offers us a richer and more meaningful understanding of who our Saviour is and a closer relationship with him as a result.  Today we’ve see who he is:  the Logos, the Revelator, who is uncreated, in fellowship with God, and God himself.  We’ve looked at what he’s done in creation and salvation.  If these things are true about him, and we must believe that they are, then there’s nothing more important than meeting him and getting to know him as well as we can.  There’s nothing more important than have a vital and living relationship with him.  May God work through the hearing of his Word to help you live closely with the One John calls here the Word.  AMEN. 

Prayer:

O Son of God, Jesus Christ our Saviour,

You are the Word, the Logos.  We praise you for revealing to us the Father.  We praise you because were not created or made.  No, you have eternally existed.  We exalt you as the one in fellowship with the Father and the Spirit.  We lift up your name as our God, worthy of all our worship and adoration.  Lord Jesus, Mighty God, how great Thou art.  Your Word tells us too that you were involved in the creation of all things.  We look around us and we see a world of stunning beauty and intricate design.   It’s all your doing, Lord, and we praise you for it.  Then you came to bring life and light to us.  You came to bring us out of darkness and into your marvellous light.  Thank you, Saviour.  Your light has shone in our darkness.  We pray that you would help us to shine your light into the darkness of others too.  We all know lost people.  Some of us have lost family members, brothers, sisters, sons, or daughters who are in spiritual darkness.  They’re on the broad road that leads to destruction.  That bothers us.  Lord, please help us with your Spirit to be your instruments to bring them into the light of your salvation.  Help us to have your compassion and your love, but also your courage and boldness to speak.  Let your Spirit work in their hearts so that they see their sin and their need for you.  Saviour, we also think of your invincible grace and persevering love for us.  We pray that when we get discouraged or tempted to give up, that would remind us the darkness has not overcome you.  Instead, you overcame the darkness and you did it for us.  Help us with your Spirit always to look to you and to trust you as our powerful Saviour.                                                 

                

 

                                        




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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