The Eternal Word
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John.
7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.
8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
In this passage John establishes a premise: That Christ is the Eternal Word of God, manifest to the earth. Here is the foundational concept of the Christian Faith – That God manifested Himself to us in the person of Christ Jesus. God’s relationship with man is in Christ and through Christ and all things are revealed in the person of Jesus.
This concept, this wonderful revelation, is paramount to understanding God, Jesus, the Bible and ourselves. It is here, in this foundational understanding, that all truth abides.
The catch phrase is – In Him, through Him, He came, He gave… It is not about a continuation of the law, but the fulfilment of it. It is not about the organization of the church but about the person of Christ. It is not about the succession of authority but the person of the authority. It is not about doctrinal purity but personal relationship. It is about HIM!
I find it interesting to see how this plays out in the 21st Century, in our Western Culture, where we profess to be Christian but are historically and culturally removed from the days that Jesus walked the earth and ministered to the people He encountered. It seems to me sad that we spend so much energy trying to get the structures and organization of the church right, and focus on programs to meet the expectations of our peer groups and may, very possibly, miss the person while dealing with the context.
I have asked the question in several settings, over the past several years, “What are the writers of New Testament talking about when they talk about ‘The Word of God?’” Invariably the answer to the question is, “The Bible, of course.” But when they were writing, there was no Bible. In fact, the Bible as we know it was not compiled into one volume until 397 AD. And at that time there were many other writings considered and rejected for various reasons, affirming the 27 books of the New Testament.
So, the writers of the New Testament books were not referencing the Bible as being The Word of God while they were writing their books, simply because there was no Bible yet.
They were not referencing a thing but a person: Jesus. He is the Word of Creation and the means of creation. He is not a manuscript, paper and ink, tablet and doctrinal statement, He is Life itself. He is the express image of the Creator and the sustainer of all things.
I worry about our Christian faith when I see the Bible used as an addendum to the Old Testament, as a continuation of the law and just another rule book. It is more, far more. It is the testimony of Jesus, the description of the person, the shadow of the substance and the record of His grace. Yet, if we are not careful we reduce the person to the shadow and worship the description rather than the person and reduce the revelation of Him to a set of laws, practices, forms, traditions and rules, and thus push Jesus into the past as a historical figure rather than a present reality and presence.
He is here, just as much as He ever was. He is working and moving, here and now. Understanding what He did cannot become a substitute for what he is doing and will do. Declaring the inspiration of scripture should never interfere with the ongoing revelation of the person of Christ who yet lives, inspires and working in the affairs of mankind.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
There is no authority in history or in the Bible to establish that the presence of the Eternal Word, and all of the creative authority that is in Him, has, for some unknown reason, been legislated out of the human experience. The tragedy of our current church is that we have missed the power of His presence by relegating His presence, His power and His creative nature, to the historical events of the Bible.
He lives! He is present! It is not that He does not work today, but that we cannot see it because we have reduced Him to a past doctrinal purity and intellectual dispensationalism that is neither true or scriptural.
We have entered an era of competitive intellectualism about doctrinal purity. We argue about forms, rituals, apostolic succession, apostolic authority and proper titles and miss the present possibilities of the Eternal Word made manifest.