“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
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.”(John 1:1-14)
The Evangelist John opens his gospel by pointing us back to the beginning (of Genesis) where in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth by speaking: “And God said”. The Evangelist reveals that God’s Word is a person – the Son – eternally begotten of God the Father. (The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God in three distinct persons, who created heaven and earth.)
In his Prologue, the Evangelist lays two foundations for his gospel: (1) to clearly establish Christ’s divinity as God’s Word made flesh; and (2) to focus the reader on the power of the Word. This power was exercised by Christ throughout His earthly ministry when, for example, he raised Lazarus from the dead by the simple command: “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43). But the power of the Word is also active in the written Word, as the Evangelist tells us near the end of his gospel: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 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.” (John 20:30-31)
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
That the Church has endured and grown to the size it is today, having led billions of souls to Christ over the course of her history, is a miracle and testimony to the power of the Word. For Christ and His witnesses do not preach to a willing or even a neutral world. Our world is shrouded in darkness. It is spiritual darkness that resides naturally and universally in the human heart, separated from God and captive to the powers of sin, death and the devil.
Christ enters into the world as Light (i.e., the Word) which shines (i.e., speaks or preaches) in the darkness. Using the analogy of natural light, it is as if someone flipped on a light in a dark room, but the room stays dark. Or, it is like a blind man sitting in a dark room: someone flips on a light, but the blind man remains in darkness despite the fact that the light is shining brightly on him.
The Evangelist tells us concerning the Light that the “darkness has not overcome it.” Other translations have “darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:5 NASB). Both translations convey the opposition that the Word faces from the world. On the one hand, the darkened heart does not comprehend the Word. We do not comprehend because in our natural blindness we love “the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” (John 12:43) On the other hand, the world, which would like to silence the Word, cannot overcome or extinguish Him because He is divine. Jesus said: “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” (John 10:18)
“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13)
It appears that God is in something of a pickle. How can He illumine darkened hearts with life, which neither comprehend Him nor wish to hear from Him? Claims of a Trinity, Incarnation, a crucified Messiah, and an empty tomb all register as fantasies and foolish fables to hearts darkened by sin and corrupted human reason. Reason cannot comprehend or accept any of it. Therefore, the Gospel cannot save us by a decision or assent according to reason, but only by faith which is above reason. For in no other way can the light of the Word illumine a darkened human heart.
The Evangelist tells us that the difference between those of Christ’s own people who did receive Him and those who did not receive Him was a matter of faith in His name (Jesus means “Yahweh saves”). Neither group received Him according to reason. If reason was a factor, the highly educated among the Scribes and Pharisees would have flocked to Christ. No, it is faith alone that gives birth to a child of God.
Let Christ instruct us: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24) Faith in the Gospel destroys the darkness of human reason and illumines the heart with God’s grace, forgiveness, peace and mercy. Faith converts an enemy to a child of God. Faith enables us to receive the mysteries of the Trinity, Incarnation, Christ’s atonement for our sins and His resurrection. Faith comes from hearing the Word (Rom 10:17). Therefore, let us continue to hear, digest and retain the powerful Word, by which He illumines our hearts with grace upon grace. Amen.
Glory to God on high!
And on earth peace, good will toward men.
We praise You, we bless You, we worship You!
We glorify You, we give thanks to You for Your great glory!
O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty!
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ!
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father!
You take away the sins of the world! Have mercy on us!
You take away the sins of the world! Receive our prayer!
You sit at the right hand of God the Father! Have mercy on us!
For You only are holy! You only are the Lord!
You only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost,
Are most high in the glory of God the Father! Amen.
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has left me little time to get online this past week, let alone to write. My thoughts this time around, therefore, are a bit shorter than my normal bloviation. ‘Tis the season for rejoicing. 🙂
And ’tis has been the season for shopping for presents. And wrapping them and then opening them (and then having to fight through the packaging to get to each toy and having to set up each electronic because you’re looked at as the go to guy for such even though you’re far from an expert). And ’tis the season to shop for and prepare and serve all kinds of food. And tis the season to make the rounds to visit all kinds of family and friends. Hustle and bustle, busy, busy, busy.
Meanwhile there is the battle and struggle to keep the remembrance of what this season is really all about. To deal with the blahs and bah humbugs that accompany thoughts of how commercialized and distracted we have become in our culture during this time. While balancing that with the joy that is brought to and by so many through giving and receiving. The joys of seeing the children’s faces lighting up when first seeing the gifts under the tree. The joys of giving that special gift that truly touches someone else.
The joys can hit such a high. Yet we also know of so many who struggle through this season. Those who have lost loved ones or who are down on their luck and have very little or nothing at all to give or to receive. Those who have no one to celebrate with or the children who wake up to no Christmas at all because they have no parents or parents who can’t even get themselves together enough to do a Christmas for them. And those who are depressed for however many reasons or circumstances and suffer through the holidays that they are supposed to “enjoy”. These things just don’t seem right or fair.
We should be celebrating the greatest Gift of all, yet there are so many who are suffering through so much pain. Even if we’re not the ones suffering great pain, we are still conflicted with so much that happens during this season. We struggle to come to terms with all of it.
We have been reading on these pages about the coming of Christ. For onto us a Savior is born, and He is coming yet again. An anticipation of the remembrance of His coming in the Incarnation and an anticipation of His coming yet again where He bring final judgment and set all things right once and for all. The Good News and what it all means.
Lord, we thank you for all the joy and happiness of this season. We admit to the struggles and pains of this season with which we sometimes don’t know what to do. Help us to keep our eyes on you. In what you have already done and in the promises you have given.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
“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— 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—” – I John 1:1-2
“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” – John 5:28-29
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4
1.I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I was offline much of the day and will continue to be offline more than on for the next week. I need a year end detox from social media,lest I become as toxic as folks who were still arguing politics on Christmas Day…
2.Back to our conversations about “authenticity” in the church…the Calvary Chapel split is an example of the lack of it. Because we cloak everything in faux “love” for the brethren, we cannot get our arms around the fact that some folks in the church simply don’t like each other and can’t work together. We have to make up “Biblical” reasons to oppose each other when the real reasons are as worldly as they can be…
3.I’ve been a part of major corporations who liked to talk about the company as a “family”. In truth, you were part of the “family” if you produced, the company was profitable, and you didn’t rock the boat. Evangelicalism has modeled itself after the business world in more ways than one…make your own application…
4.I will not expound on how drug cartels and the Mafia are family oriented as well…
5.There have been discussions here about whether or not both parties should be named when we report on the fall of a pastor through sexual sin. I don’t believe so, at this point. My responsibility is the protect the flock by providing information on the disqualification of a pastor to those who may not have that information, especially if the influence of that pastor exceeds the boundaries of the local church. The other issues and people involved should be handled at the local church level as there is no compelling reason for it to be spoken of elsewhere.
6.The church has often redefined “love” to where the real meaning of the word has been lost. There can be no more inauthentic act committed…
7.Authenticity in the church begins with authenticity in me…that doesn’t mean really trying to follow the rules, but really being who God made me to be…
8.Jesus was the ultimate iconoclast…which makes me wonder why we don’t value them in His house…
9.The 11th Commandment should be “thou shalt not be petty”…
10.Just for fun…name your favorite book, movie, and music for the year. Bonus points for telling us how many books you read this year…