Tuesday, March 6, 2012

From the Beginning

The Spring Quarter contains six powerful lessons in Unit 1 under the topic heading "The Word Was in the Beginning." Last week we looked at the role of Wisdom and its divine origin in Proverbs 8:22-35. This week we shall look at the role of the Word in John 1:1-14. The Gospel itself is anonymous, but there are many good reasons for believing that it was written by the Apostle John, one of the twelve. The author identifies himself at John 13:23; 21:20-24 as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." There are numerous details in the book to give credence to John's authorship.

'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.' John 1:1-2 "Word" is defined as "Logos." The Greeks were familiar with the age-old definition of "logos" as meaning "Wisdom, reasoning, utterance." John used it to show a message of God's full self-revelation through Jesus Christ, Word of God, and Word of Life. Jesus was also our Redeemer. God had no beginning. Likewise, the Son of God (the Word) had no beginning. John is referring to the beginning of creation when He states the Creators were present. Only two of the Persons in the Godhead are mentioned in verse 1 - the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is not mentioned, but all were in the beginning prior to creation. Jesus preexisted with God before creation of the universe. 'And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.' John 17:5 (See also Prov 8:30.) And Jesus, the Word, was God. He was with God and was God because He was a separate Person (substance) within the Godhead. 'Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:' Heb 1:3

'All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.' John 1:3 To understand the creation in Genesis, we must understand the Creator. First you must accept that an all-powerful, omnipotent God created all things in the universe. He would never create a Being with qualities and characteristics like Himself. As stated at verses 1-2, the Word had an existence with God prior to created Beings. The Word also possessed the attributes of omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience because He was the Second God of the Godhead. 'For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.' Colos 1:16-17 The Third God of the Godhead was present during the creation, also, although He is not mentioned in verse 3. '...And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.' Gen 1:2c

'In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.' John 1:4-5 In the Word was life. Life is translated as "zoe" in the Greek. Jesus wants us to receive a full physical and spiritual life that is devoted to God, a life that is full of blessings. 'The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.' John 10:10 The Apostle John lets all readers know that the life you find in the Son of God is a light for all men to take away all darkness of sin, if we can accept it. Light shines to overcome darkness. Do we have eyes to see and ears to hear? 'Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.' John 8:12 It is sad to see people so involved with sin today that they are unable to see the light. Let us make sure that the light of Jesus shows in us. We may save a soul.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.' John 1:6-8 The Apostle changes his focus in the chapter at this point. He begins to write about John the Baptist who was sent from God to bear witness as the forerunner of the Great Messiah. Even his birth was prophesied. 'Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.'Mal 3:1 (See also Mal 4:5-6.) John the Baptist was ordained as a Nazarite (set apart to do God's work) from birth. (Luke 1:15) He led many to repentance and baptized them on the Jordan river. He did not believe He was worthy to baptize Jesus, however. 'I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:...' Matt 3:11 So, he testified and pointed the way to Jesus Christ. John the Baptist knew he was only a man, even though he had been supernaturally sent by God. He did not try to attract the crowd for himself, but took second place so that all men who believed in Christ would be saved. 'And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.' John 1:33

'That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.' John 1:9 John the Baptist was not the true light. His calling was to lead believers to the true light. Jesus was the true light who kept believers on the right path, kept them from danger, and would not deceive them. He comes into the creation of the universe, the earth, the humanity to remove darkness and ignorance. He came to allow us an opportunity of eternal life. He is 'A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.' Luke 2:32

'He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.' John 1:10-11 The Word was in the created universe as Jesus the Incarnate Man. The world He created rejected Him. The chosen people, Jews, did not recognize Him as the Messiah. They have yet to recognize Him. His ministry was then preached to the Jew and Gentiles.

'But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.' John 1:12-13 Not everyone rejected Jesus (the Word), and there is still room for acceptance today. He does not get upset and close the door to eternal life to those who would believe in His name. 'Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.' Rev 3:20-21 He gives them the power, the right to become sons of God. As adopted children of God through Christ, we receive a privilege that God chose to give us. 'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:...' Eph 2:8 We can not be born into the family of God unless we are converted. '...Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' John 3:3b We receive the power to be reborn. This process of conversion is called regeneration. It is not by blood (such as the first birth), nor of any power of our flesh, nor can any man will a rebirth unto salvation. It is initiated by God.

'And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.' John 1:14 Here the Apostle strenthened his testimony stating the Word who had always existed as God, even before creation, had purposed living among humanity as a Man. Jesus had not shed His Deity. He simply took our human nature and lived Incarnate as both Divine and Human in order to do the work of His Father. And he dwelt/tabernacled among the rebellious people. His purpose is found in one of the most quoted Scriptures. Jesus taught Nicodemus about the new birth saying, '...For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.' John 3:16,17. The Apostle John was a witness to the lifestyle of Jesus, His preaching, teaching, and miracles to the rebellious in order that they might be saved. But he also witnessed the glory of Christ shown to him, Peter, and James on the Mount of Transfiguration. 'And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.' Matt 17:2 He, therefore, testifies that his experience with the Word was one full of grace and truth. It could be nothing less. Jesus was full of grace which is defined as unmerited and undeserved favors. He was also described by John as full of truth. Jesus is not a pretender.

Just as the Apostle John wrote and John the Baptist testified as to the genuineness of the Word, Jesus, from the Beginning, it is today and to everlasting. Will you be ready for eternal life with the light? Or are you preparing for darkness?

Written by Deborah C Davis

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