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John 1:3 January 27, 2007

Posted by Joe in Gospel of John.
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Lar,

It is good for us to return to the gospel of John.  Now that is a great understatement huh?  For sure it is!  Anyhow, you charged me with commenting on verse 4 during your weekend away (which I am of course praying for brother!), but after reviewing our posts so far, I think verse 3 is deserving of more words.  After all, it doesn’t seem like we are in any rush to get through the book.  And it surely won’t hurt lingering over the Scriptures!

John 1:3 reads, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

Again, we find John emphasizing the fact that Jesus is Divine.  Of course, he is not doing so explicitly in this verse, but implicitly.  By saying that all things were made through Jesus Christ–the Word–John is clearly implying that He is above the created order.  That is to say that Jesus Christ is Creator!

Yet the word through is an important one.  Though the Triune God always acts in harmony with Himself in His three Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do perform different functions or roles.  There is a clear economy of action within the Trinity–or it should be said, a glorious economy of action within the Trinity.  Though they act as One and as equals, God the Father is clearly stated to be the One from whom are all things, while Jesus Christ is the One through whom are all things.  And that is an important distinction.  1 Corinthians 8:5-6 makes this plain.

“For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’–yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

Lest we think that this somehow implies an inferiority of the Son to the Father, we are wise to look at the created order and in particular, the marriage relationship.  The Bible makes plain that the husband and wife are equal persons.  Both have been created in the image of God (“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27)  However, in the marriage relationship, the male and female perform different roles or function.  The Bible makes plain that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church and as God is the head of Christ.  1 Corinthians 11:3 says,

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

This points plainly and significantly to the great reality that there can be and is equality within the Persons of the Trinity (and in this case specifically, the Father and the Son) while those Persons perform different roles or functions and in fact, submit to one another.  Marriage is beautiful when the husband is properly and faithfully performing his role as the head and the wife is properly and faithfully performing her role in submission to her husband.  Such marriages are supposed to be a faint reflection of the submission within the Trinity.  Marriage is a high calling indeed!

Back to the point, however, we can see that the world was created by the Father through the Son.  Other verses could be cited, but suffice it to say that verse 3 of John chapter 1 makes plain the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all things as Creator and God.  “Without [Jesus Christ] was not any thing made that was made.”  Such truth should make us fall down at His sovereign feet in adoration in worship.  And it should especially do so when we keep at the forefront of our minds what He, the Creator, has done for us!

Lines such as these in Scripture should and must cause worship deep within our souls for the One who, though He created all things, submitted Himself to the rules of the created order, to that we might be reconciled to our God and take part in His great work of redemption!  Let us labor to keep such glorious truth in view as we worship our Maker and Sustainer–Jesus Christ.  And let us never fear of exulting in Him too much!

I’m praying that your preaching this weekend might point those listening to seek Him harder and rejoice in Him more.  May the Lord grant you mercy brother.

Basking in the One through whom God the Father created all things,

Joe

John 1:2 November 8, 2006

Posted by Joe in Gospel of John.
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Lar,

You are no doubt right that the second verse of John serves to affirm one of the truths presented in the first.

“He [the Word, Jesus Christ] was in the beginning with God.”

However, the fact that he would say it again seems to me to be worth a good bit of reflection. I think we can say confidently that he means to emphasize this great truth. It’s as if he were saying, “Did you get that? Do you understand what I am saying? Are you following and appreciating the magnitude and weight of this glorious reality, namely, the eternal existence of the Word, Jesus Christ? Let’s make sure, for it is that important. Let it sink it deep. Hold it before your mind’s eye. Do not read too fast!”

Maybe John wouldn’t put it exactly like that, but the fact that he would say the same thing speaks volumes about that thing which he would choose to repeat. It’s almost as if he is giving us a second chance to appreciate and admire the glorious truth that starts off this gospel. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the eternal expression of His glorious and perfect nature, was with God in the beginning, in perfect fellowship with Him. They have forever enjoyed one another and bask themselves in a perfect harmony of being and delight. It simply does not get any better than this. For this Fellowship defines all other fellowship. It is the Joy of all joys, the Love of all loves. All else flows from this mind-challenging, heart-enlarging truth–He was with God in the beginning.

O how prone we are to reading the Bible too quickly! Let us slow down. And let us thank the Lord for seeing fit to repeat Himself. We can be O so dull! I always think of the words that C.S. Lewis once quotes, “We need to be reminded more than instructed.” I find that to be O so true. Every morning I need a simple reminder of the gospel (at the very least), a simple reminder of who God is and what He has done for us through the Eternal Word, Jesus Christ. For this sustains and strengthens my soul. We don’t need to know a lot of things. We just need to get what we already know!

So I thank you brother John for repeating yourself. “He was in the beginning with God.” Before all things came into existence, Jesus Christ was there. He was forever there. Never was there a time when He was not. Can I get enough of such truth? O, I think not! Let us bask ourselves in such glorious reality Lar. Let us never tire admiring the eternal, self-existent Son!

Basking in the glorious Word with you,

Joe

Back to John November 7, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Gospel of John.
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Well brother, we’ve not gotten very far in blogging through the gospel of John, have we?  A couple of weeks ago we started by reflecting on John 1:1 (click Gospel of John on the categories section of the side panel) and then we’ve gotten too busy quoting and linking to others to do any more!

So here is the next little part in John 1,

2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

It seems like verse two is a restatement of what John has said in verse 1; perhaps it is so shocking that he must tell us again!  The Word was in the beginning with God.  As you wrote ab0ut verse 1, there has always been a perfect fellowship within the members of the Godhead.  There has been perfect delight and joy between the Father and the Son, and Edwards suggests that this delight and joy that exists between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Godhead.  Maybe you can explain that one, Joe! 

Either way, the Word was with God, and so we can know that God created nothing out of need.  He did not create the universe, or Adam and Eve, because He was lonely and needed someone to love Him.  From the beginning, the Father and Son have loved one another perfectly.  Out of this love flows everything that was made.  In verse 3 John makes it crystal clear that Jesus is not a created being by saying that everything that was made, was made through Christ.  Therefore, Christ Himself cannot be made.  Maybe this seems plain to us, but this was a widely spread heretical teaching in the early centuries after Christ’s life.  John’s wording of verse 3 guards against the heresy that Christ was created.  Every word in this gospel is carefully chosen to reveal the riches of the divine Word.

I’ll post a couple of thoughts on verse 4 some time in the near future (hopefully sooner than two weeks from now!)

Larry

John 1:1 Continued October 24, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Gospel of John.
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Joe,

What more do I say to all that but, ‘Amen’!  I mean really, that was a little more than I was expecting, and I hope you aren’t expecting all that from me!  I suppose some days there will be more to write than others, and right now there’s not much time.  But I just wanted to step back from all the details that you gave and just make two broad observations that strike me as I begin reading this awesome display of Christ’s glory that is the gospel of John.

First, I am struck at how different John’s gospel is than the other three gospels.  When you read these opening words, there is something mysterious, something awesome, that hits you.  I know many people recommend that an unbeliever begin reading the New Testament with the gospel of John, and it seems like this is why.  You read the first 18 verses and your first thought is (at least my first thought is), ‘What’s going on here?’  My first impression of John’s words here is that we are entering into holy ground, into the holy of holies so to speak.  All the Scriptures are sacred, but here we are diving into the infinite depths that is the ocean of God’s glory.  John writes of Jesus the way no other man has ever written of Him.

Second, it is clear to me how much we are in need of divine illumination and grace to understand John’s portrait of the eternal word.  The very first verse is an assault on our pride and arrogance in dictating to God what He can and cannot do, and who He can and cannot be.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  This makes absolutely no sense.  How can someone be with God, and God, at the same time?  Vast amounts of people simply dismiss this as double talk.  It is impossible.  And yet with the infinitely wise Triune God, all things are possible.  The Word was God, and the Word was with God.  We cannot understand this, and yet we affirm it and love it and sing of it and proclaim it to others. 

The opening verse of the gospel of John is an invitation to have your world rocked.  Small, trivial, humanly logical ideas of God must be thrown out.  We must deal with the reality of God on His terms, not ours.  The Word eternally is God, and the Word eternally was with God.  Let us pray for grace to understand, and grace to rejoice.

Larry

John 1:1 October 24, 2006

Posted by Joe in Gospel of John.
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Lar,

I seem to remember that when we started this blog, one of your first posts was in regards to the Trinity. Now you want to ‘blog through’ the Gospel of John. I love it and count myself thankful! I do hope our words can serve to stir up the whole of Blog Nation, however, I am quite sure that no one will profit more than we will. May the Lord give us insight and diligence to think and meditate and write so as to point to Jesus Christ and stir up the affections of our own souls and all those who listen in on this conversation! I trust He will grant such grace. So here I start with John 1:1.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Let’s take note of a few glorious things….

1) “In the beginning was the Word…” Note particularly the first three words. It is surely no coincidence that the gospel of John begins with the same words as the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. John writes with a view to commending Jesus Christ, so he wastes no time with pleasantries. He jumps right into things and points to the eternal deity of the Son of God. For what else can commend Him as much as His deity–His place as the Most High God? In the very first sentence, John makes it plain that we are not dealing with some human messiah, but the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who alone dwells in immorality and unapproachable light. This first phrase alone should make us tremble.

Before the earth was brought forth, before even the angels of heaven were created, indeed, an eternity before all these things took place, Jesus Christ was there. He was with God in the beginning. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). He is eternal, self-sufficient. Time is in His hands.

2) And not only was He there in the beginning, but He “was the Word, and the Word was with God.”

a) First note John’s use of the word “Word”, or in the Greek (what little I know at this point) ‘logos’–word, utterance, meaning. Jesus Christ is the expression of the deity in prime as it were. “Word” points to speech and is it not true that we are especially revealed by what we say? For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Well, God the Father ‘speaks’ that which is perfect, that which is eternal, that which is an exact expression of the infinite riches and glory of His Person and Deity. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “He [Jesus Christ] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (1:3). Jesus Christ is the eternal Word, the perfect expression of infinite perfection.

b) Second note that Jesus Christ is not merely an expression of God the Father, but in fellowship with God the Father–“the Word was with God.” From all eternity, God the Father and God the Son have not merely co-existed, but enjoyed perfect and intimate and infinite joy in fellowship with one another. God the Father loves and delights in God the Son with a awesome, infinite passion. As the most beautiful of Beings–indeed the Essence and Source of Being–God can do no less than delight fully in the riches of His Image or Expression or Word. The Father and Son have never been, are not now, nor ever will be lukewarm in their affections for one another. Never will their fellowship wax and wane, never has their been a dull moment in the Trinity. Never have they become bored with one another, and never will they be bored with one another. Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Word was with God–and their fellowship was sweet and rich and intimate and infinite and deep. And so it is now. And so it will forever be. O let us marvel at our great God!

3) “The Word was God.” Jesus Christ, it must be emphasized again, did not merely enjoy fellowship with God as we one day we, as creatures, will through Him. No. Jesus Christ enjoyed fellowship with God the way God enjoys fellowship with God–because that is exactly who He is. Paul says, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15). By firstborn, He does not mean first among the creatures, but first and preeminent over all creatures–for in the whole context, Paul is pointing to the Deity of the Son. Jesus Christ was there in the beginning not simply as a spectator to the glory of God as revealed in creation, but as the glory of God Himself–as the Creator Himself. “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

At this very moment, we breathe because Jesus Christ gives us breath. We see because Jesus Christ gives us sight. We live because He lives. He is the Source. It is through Him–the Image and Expression of God the Father–that the Triune God Himself created all things. And it is through Him that He sustains all things. O let us beware of thinking small thoughts of Jesus Christ! Let us embrace Him and bow before Him now for how He is revealed! He is the eternal Son of God, the perfect expression of Deity–for in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:19)–the infinite, holy, Most High Messiah.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So it was then and so it is now, for as God, Jesus Christ does not change. He is immutable. “Jesus Christ if the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). All that He ever was in eternity past, He is now in eternity present and He will forever be in eternity future. Therefore our hope is secure and our joy can forever be full. If we trust in Jesus, we can forever enjoy gazing upon the fullness of glory that we find in the perfect fellowship of the Father and Son. Never will we tire. Never will we become bored. Forever we will search out His riches with eager expectation. Day by day we will live and long to behold the glory found in Jesus Christ–the Word of God.

Lar, rejoice with me brother. I thank you for making this suggestion (or one might say ‘demand’?). This time itself has been well worth the effort. But isn’t this always the case when we think of God? Surely I have never regretted meditating upon His Word (yes, there is a double meaning there!). I suppose we are wise to take note of that which we never regret in order to order our lives with true wisdom.

Beholding the eternal glory of the Son with you,

Joe

Speaking of Big… October 22, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Gospel of John, Random Musings.
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Joe,

You are right, a great Tozer quote. Our God is a big and mighty God. There may be no better place in the Scriptures to see just how big God is than the gospel of John (Did you like that segue, brother?). Last night Michelle and I took two hours (I know it’s not easy to find that time for the couple with young kids, but maybe it can be done?) and read through the entire gospel of John. Talking about a recommendation, that is a phenomenal way to spend a couple of hours!

Sometimes I can get so caught up studying the Word slowly and digging into details like conjunctions and verb tenses that I can miss the big picture. Both practices (reading slow and reading fast) can be beneficial, and last night was a very refreshing time with Michelle giving heed to the words of John the Baptist in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” It was sweet to behold Him; John (the Apostle) is one great story-teller! Only this is no made-up drama, it is the truth of the beauty of Jesus Christ, God Almighty incarnated in flesh and blood, dwelling among us and revealing the riches of His glory for our enjoyment.

As we read, I had the thought that it would be a rich experience for us to blog our way through the gospel of John. There would have to be some balance between moving slow and fast, and we could still blog on whatever else God is laying on our hearts, but to systematically move through the gospel of John and share our thoughts with one another (and Blog Nation of course) would be a sweet time in my opinion.

So that’s my proposal, starting with 1:1-4 tomorrow. As is the case now, we may have days where we can write more or less, but tell me your thoughts. I think I can find a way to take twenty minutes or so a day and share my thoughts on a short passage in this great gospel.

Enjoy the rest of your Sabbath,

Larry

PS — Michelle says no one will know what the word ‘segue’ means because it’s not spelled like that. But check the dictionary and you’ll see that even though she does have a degree in astro-physics, the journalism major prevails this time!