John 1:1 Christ, From Eternity Past 10/19/2008 ßà
#1. In the Beginning (John 1:1-3, Gen 1:1)
#2. The Light of Men (John 1:4, 14:6, 8:12, 5,9, Rom 2:15, Jer 17:9)
#3. His Reception in the World (John 1:10-13, Isa 53:2, Prov 19:21, Gal 5:17, Acts 13:48)
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 1:1 (2X). Today I want us to focus on the first verse in the Gospel of John. The reason for this is that John 1:1 teaches us about the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we need to develop a proper understanding of the eternal existence of Christ the way the Bible speaks about Him. And thus the title of this sermon is “Christ, From Eternity Past” (2X). Since Christ was sent into the world to save sinners like us, have you ever wondered where He came from? Have you ever wondered about Christ’s existence from before the foundation of the world? This is what we want to find out this morning. Let me first give you an overview of what I plan to cover in the next 50 minutes. First, we are going to see God’s plan for the activity of Christ in this world, which means that we are looking in the Bible for the counsel of God before time began. Secondly, we want to see the relationship of Christ to time, which brings us to consider the words, “In the Beginning”. Thirdly, we want to see the relationship of Christ to the Godhead. In other words we want to see what His relationship is to the Holy Trinity. Fourthly, we want to see the relationship of Christ to the universe; Christ the Creator. Fifthly, we want to see the relation of Christ to men; how He is their light. Sixthly, we want to see the relation of Christ to John the Baptist; how he witnessed of the Deity of Christ. Seventhly, we want to see the reception from mankind that Christ experienced, and how mankind can be regarded as two nations. Eighthly, we want to know what it means to be “Born of God”. Please put a sticker here in John 1, for we will be returning here many times, and let us now begin reading John 1:1-13,
Joh 1:1-13, 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. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 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. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 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. 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.
This passage reads as something very profound, very deep, and very condensed. And indeed it is a passage that is like a synopsis, a summary of the rest of the Gospel of John. It is a passage that speaks of Christ being sent into the world to save sinners, but then He meets obstacles and disappointments, like in verse 11 where “He came to His own, and His own received Him not”. We need to keep in mind that this is not a piece of history where events just happened. Christ was not surprised by the opposition He received, or by the crucifixion He endured, for all these things were foreordained in the counsel of God. When we speak of the counsel of God, we speak of the plan of God for this creation and for this world’s history that God designed before He created the first speck of dust in this universe. Please turn in your Bibles to the Second Epistle to Timothy, 2Tim 1:9 (2X). There are two themes that shine through the entire Gospel of John, including this synopsis in the beginning of chapter 1. The first theme is the Deity of Jesus Christ, and that is why He is called the Lord Jesus Christ. The second theme is the sovereignty of God in all the affairs of men. When we speak of the sovereignty of God, we speak of the providence of God, which simply means the hands of God, working in all the affairs of men, so that the counsel of God unfolds according to His plans that He has decided before the foundation of the world. We read about this, for example in 2Tim 1:9, where God says:
2Ti 1:9, Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
He saved us “according to His own purpose and grace”. This is an awesome concept, but we will see that it permeates throughout the whole Bible, and we will see that this concept of a sovereign God gives us a definite picture of who the God is that the Bible describes, and who it is whom we worship. Please turn again to the Gospel of John, John 1:1, and let us see what this says about the Lord Jesus Christ.
#1. In the Beginning (John 1:1-3, Gen 1:1)
Joh 1:1 ¶ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Through the pen of the apostle John, God describes for us here a person, who is called “the Word”, or the “Logos”, and who was with God and who was God. Unmistakably, this person is the Lord Jesus Christ. God shows us here that the Lord Jesus Christ had no beginning. In fact, when we compare this verse with Gen 1:1, and you all remember Gen 1:1, which says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, we can see that Christ, who is called the Word, is also the Creator of this universe and all that it contains. And so, Christ is called God, both in the beginning of John 1:1 and at the end of John 1:1. Not only is He called “the Son of God”, but He is also called “God” in this verse. But how are we to understand the words “and the Word was with God”, which indicates that Christ had a separate personality, but He is also God, and yet there is only one God? How is Christ related to the other Persons of the blessed Trinity, of which God the Father is credited with being the Creator of this universe? But here, in John 1:2-3 we read that Christ is the Creator of this universe. How can we reconcile all these statements about “the beginning”? God says in John 1:2-3,
Joh 1:2-3, The same (referring to “the Word”) was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
If we harmonize this with Gen 1:1 we see that these verses truly express the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. These verses say, “And God was the Word”. A word is an expression; by words we articulate our speech. The “Word of God”, then, is Deity expressing Himself in audible terms. Not only was Christ the Revealer of God, but He was God Himself revealed, and He always was and ever remains none other than God Himself. But when we read in verse 1 and in verse 2 that “the Word was with God” it indicates that He was always in the presence of God, dwelling in eternal fellowship with the Father and with the Holy Spirit, which means these verses are pointing to God the Son, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead. How Christ is related to the other persons of the blessed Trinity can be found when we study:
Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to Luke, Luke 1:35 (2X). Here is the account of the conception of the man Christ Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary. When we read about the birth of Jesus, about 2000 years ago, we realize that this person, the man Christ Jesus, had a beginning, and His beginning was when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary. We read in Luke 1:35,
Lu 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
The first thing we take notice of is that the man Christ Jesus is never called the Son of the Holy Spirit but the Son of God. From other places in the Bible we understand that the Person created in the womb of Mary was God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, united with the human being from the egg of the Virgin Mary, who was fully man. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ was fully God as well as fully man, with a human body and a human soul. When we read that the Lord Jesus was tired, and slept, and when we read that He was nailed with nails to the cross, and died, we speak about the human nature of Christ When we read that He could perceive what the Pharisees were thinking, and when He promised that all who believed on Him will be saved, we speak of the Divine nature of Christ. When we read in the Bible about the Lord Jesus Christ we must always consider if we are speaking of His human nature or of His Divine nature. Even though His two natures are intimately united in Him, making Him one Person, His attributes are always reflecting either His human nature or His Divine nature. It was His human nature that made Him suitable to be our sin-bearer, and to be our substitute during His crucifixion. It was His Divine nature that gave Him the extraordinary strength to endure the sufferings that were required to satisfy the righteousness of God. And so, when the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross said, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit”, (Luke 23:46), and when He died His human soul went to be with the Father in heaven, whereas His human body, still united with God the Son, were laid in the grave. We must conclude this because the Bible says that we were buried with Christ, and we rose from the grave with Christ. Therefore, to avoid contradictions, we must always keep in mind whether we are looking at Christ in His humanity or in His Divinity. Please turn again to the Gospel of John, chapter 1, and let us look at two other examples of this unity of the Son of man and the God the Son. We read in John 1:14,
Joh 1:14 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.
This speaks of Christ as the Son of God, who united Himself with a human being so that He became visible in the flesh. And so, when He conducted Himself “full of grace and truth”, He showed that He was
God the Son made visible in the flesh in the person of the man Christ Jesus. Drop down to John 1:18,
Joh 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
This speaks of Christ as the Son of man, who revealed Himself as the embodiment of God the Son, who was walking on earth, but who was at the same time in the Bosom of the Father in heaven. He could do that because He never ceased to be fully God. When the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the apostle John, who was banished to the island of Patmos, He said in Rev 1:8,
Re 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Here the Lord Jesus was speaking from His Divinity, for He identified Himself as “the Almighty”. Now we can understand how it is that in John 1:3 God declared: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made”. When the Lord Jesus declared in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one”, He declared that His unity with the Father is such that all that the Father has done in the creation of the world, can also be counted as done by God the Son. We read in Isa 9:6 that Christ is also called “the everlasting Father”. It is in this way that we must believe that all things were made by Christ, in His Divine nature, “and without him was not any thing made that was made”. It is in this way that Christ, in His Divine nature, is the Creator of this universe, and of the universe that is to come.
#2. The Light of Men (John 1:4, 14:6, 8:12, 5,9, Rom 2:15, Jer 17:9)
Joh 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
“In Him was life”, means that Christ, in His Divine nature, is the life giver of all those whom He is going to save from being dead in trespasses and sins to being alive to God. When the Lord Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, He claimed three additional titles to His Name. First of all He is the Way, He is the only way to heaven. Every other way leads to Hell. This why it is so scary that most people, these days, are not willing to read and believe the Bible, in order to know the only true way to God. Secondly, Christ is the Truth, meaning that the message of salvation in the Word of God is the only truth in leading people to eternal life with God. All other messages of salvation are false. This is why it is so scary that the ecumenical movement has taken hold of so many people today. Their starting point is not the Bible, but their starting point is “God is love”, and a loving God will not cast into Hell those who are sincerely trying to come to God in their own way, based on what they know. Thirdly, Christ is the Life, He is the only one who can give life where there was formerly no life. We must under-stand “life” the way God sees it. In God’s eyes someone who is not saved is “dead” in trespasses and sins, and the “dead” who are standing before the judgment throne of Christ are standing; they are not laying down. Only those who are saved are alive to God in His terminology. Perhaps you remember Aaron’s rod that budded. This was a dead stick which in one night became alive and was bearing blossoms and whole almonds. This was the miracle that showed Christ as the giver of life, and that is why Aaron’s rod that budded was placed in the Ark of the Covenant, together with the tables of the Covenant, representing Christ as the Word of God, and a pot of manna, representing Christ as the Bread of Life. When we believe John 1:4, where we read “In Him was life”, we believe that there is no other life giver than the Lord Jesus Christ. We can come alive only by receiving the gift of life from Him, which is shown so clearly in the metaphor of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, a tree which is a metaphor of the cross of Christ, of which men may not take and eat, but it must be given them freely, by grace. And so when we read in John 1:4, “and the life was the light of men”, we are reminded that Christ said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”. Christ as the Life Giver is the light of those whom He intends to save, and they shall have the light of life. But all who remain unsaved remain in spiritual darkness. Christ, the light of the world shines, but all who remain unsaved do not understand why Christ came to die on a cross and why Christians celebrate the fact that Christ died on a cross and rose again from the grave. We read in:
Joh 1:5 ¶ And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
That is why it is so scary that many people these days only believe the historical facts that Christ was crucified and that Christ rose again from the grave two days later. It still leaves them in darkness, for this Christ has done nothing for their soul. However, when we compare John 1:5 with John 1:9 we tend to believe that we see here a contradiction. God says in John 1:9,
Joh 1:9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
How can this be? Verse 5 says that Christ, who is the light, was not received because He was not understood, and verse 9 says that Christ, who is the light, does give light to every man that comes into the world. There is no contradiction. Verse 5 belongs together with verse 4. In verse 4 Christ is the light that shines on the remnant chosen by grace, leading them to salvation, and in verse 5 Christ is the light that all the unsaved do not understand, leaving them in their spiritual blindness. But in John 1:9 the light of the Word of God is the Ten Commandments which God has put into the hearts of all men to give them a conscience. God says in Rom 2:15, “Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another”. Every rational man is morally enlightened. All rational men show the work of the law written in their hearts. It is this light which lightens every man that cometh into the world, and that makes them accountable human beings. Therefore no one has an excuse. All are accountable to God for their sins, for it is a fact that man sins voluntarily. Even though mankind tends to put the blame on the stranglehold by Satan, or they put the blame on Adam’s transgression, or they put the blame on their environment, and so on, no one has a legitimate excuse, for we all sin voluntarily. Therefore, let no one claim that in each human soul there is a cavity that is the size of Christ, and each human soul is restlessly searching to fill that cavity, until Christ fills it and then we shall have rest. Or another variant of this concept is that in every man there is a spark of Divine life, which only needs to be fanned to become a flame for Christ. These are satanic lies. God says in Jer 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”. This is God’s estimation of the human soul. There is no spark of Divine life in it whatsoever. Let us now turn to some happier moments, and let us look now at the witness of John the Baptist.
Joh 1:6-8 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.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This does not refer to the apostle John, but to John the Baptist, a descendant of Aaron, for both his father Zacharias and his mother Elizabeth were descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses. We have here an abrupt switch, from the Word who was with God and who was God, and from Christ as the life giver and the Light of men, suddenly God turns to speak of the forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is referred to us as a man, whose name was John, to show us by way of contrast that the one to whom He bore witness was more than a man. This man, John the Baptist, was sent from God, to bear witness of the Light of the world. He was the lone voice, crying in the wilderness. And notice that when we bear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior of mankind, we are like John the Baptist, and we are like a voice crying in the wilderness. And then we, like John and like Jesus, are going to suffer persecution, because we bring a Gospel that no one wants to hear. That is why, only by the grace of God, someone might be inclined to listen to our Gospel message. But listen to the next verse: God says in John 1:7 that John the Baptist came to bear witness of the Light. Can you hear how sad and tragic these words are? Let us first ask a question: When the sun is shining in all its strength and beauty, who are the ones that are unconscious of the fact that the sun is shining? Who need to be told that the sun is shining? Obviously, the blind. How tragic, then, when we read that God sent John to bear witness of the Light. How sad that there should be any need for this. How sad is the statement that men are to be told: “the Light” is now in their midst. Can you see how this reveals man’s fallen condition? How tragic! “The Light shone in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not”. This is why God had to send John the Baptist to bear witness of the Light. Just before the public ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ began, John appeared on the scene, preaching that the nation should repent, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. How tragic that today, in the minds of many people, repentance is a dirty word. There can be no salvation without repentance. And how tragic that many, who claim to be Christians, never witness of the Lord Jesus. They have forgotten that the Lord said in Mark 8:38, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”. Is it possible that anyone is saved but never witnesses of the Lord Jesus. Let us hear what the Lord says about such persons in Matt 12:30,
Matt 12:30, ”He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (abroad).
Whom do we intend to please? Do we intend to please men, or do we intend to please God? The Lord Jesus spoke glowingly of John the Baptist. He said in John 5:35, “He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light”. No, John himself was not that Light, for that Light that Jesus was, is found only in God. John 5:35 is not a correct translation in the KJV. It should have read, “He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice in his light for an hour”. You see, the word Light in John 1:7-8 is a different Greek word than in John 5:35, where the light is only the light of a candle. And so, if we correctly translate the light in John 5:35 as “lamp”, it points a striking contrast between Christ as the Light of the world, and John, the forerunner of Christ, as a lamp like a candle. A lamp has no inherent light of its own; it has to be supplied. A lamp has to be carried by another. A lamp, like a candle, soon burns out; in a few hours it ceases to shine. Let us now turn to the reception of the Lord Jesus Christ by the world that was already prepared by John the Baptist.
#3. His Reception in the World (John 1:10-13, Isa 53:2, Prov 19:21, Gal 5:17, Acts 13:48)
Joh 1:10-13 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. 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.
“He was in the world” refers to the incarnation of God the Son, and the subsequent time that the Lord Jesus walked in this world for about 35 years. And then the words, “the world was made by Him” intend to magnify the Divine glory of the One who had become incarnate, and to magnify the wickedness of man in the words, “and the world knew Him not”. Who was in the world? None other than the great Creator who made the world was about to appear. And how was He received? Will not a thrill of glad expectancy run around the world? He is not coming as a judge, but He is coming to save. He is not appearing as a haughty king, but as a Man who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Will not this one receive a hearty welcome? But alas, the world knew Him not. They are too occupied with themselves, and are full of their own schemes and pursuits of happiness, but they seek their happiness without God. Just like today, people are more interested in the here and now, rather than in pursuing a life with God in the life hereafter. And I am not speaking of the people outside the churches, for it can be expected that the heathen shall continue their own pursuits of happiness. But I am speaking of the people in the churches; people who have been trained to listen to the Word of God. Even they are no longer interested in Bible study, or in getting to know and understand what God has said in His Word. Moreover, verse 11 says, “He came to His own, and His own received Him not”. This can be interpreted two ways. First, those He came to save did not want to receive Him as their Savior, for they too were in the stranglehold of Satan, and were enjoying their life according to the course of this world, and were by nature the children of the wrath of God, even as others who never become saved. Satan does not let his prey go easily. Secondly, this verse can also apply to the nation of the Jews. Since Christ was a Jew, and since the entire nation was prepared by the prophets to recognize their Messiah when He appears, should not the nation of the Jews receive Him with great rejoicing? But they too received Him not! The world is charged with ignorance, but the nation of Israel is charged with unbelief. In fact, it was a positive refusal of Him. Instead of welcoming Him, they drove Him away from their door, and even nailed Him to a cross. Who would have supposed that a people whose believing ancestors had been eagerly awaiting the appearance of the Messiah, would have rejected Him when He came among them? Yet so it was. They did not recognize Him as their Messiah. And this very fact was expressly foretold by their own prophet Isaiah. For God instructed Isaiah to write in Isa 53:2,
Isa 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He did not posses either form or comeliness in their eyes. “There is no beauty that we should desire Him”. But though men in their wickedness rejected Him, God’s plans shall continue to be successful and continue to unfold as God has planned in His counsel. God says in Prov 19:21, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand”. And so we read in John 1:12 that a small group of people, who did receive Him, and who did believe on His name, to them gave He authority to become Sons of God. In other words, even though the world knew Him not, and even though Israel did not receive Him, the purpose of God was not defeated. No, that could not be. The counsel of the Lord shall stand. However, who are these people who received Him. Did they believe on Him out of their own good heart? Absolutely not! It was a remnant of people chosen by grace. John 1:13 tells us that these were people who experienced the new birth. And the taking place of the new birth is not by being of the right bloodline, which means it is not a matter of heredity, for regeneration of the soul does not run in the veins. Nor does the new birth depend on the will of the flesh, for the will of the natural man is opposed to God, and he has no will God-ward until he has been born again. Nor does the new birth depend on the will of another man, which means that the new birth is not brought about by the well meant efforts of a father or a mother to have their baby baptized, and neither is the new birth brought about by the persuasive powers of a preacher. But this is how the new birth takes place: The new birth is a Divine work, which is entirely according to the good pleasure of God the Father’s will. The new birth is accomplished by God the Holy Spirit applying the payment that Christ made on the cross about 2000 years ago, and applying it to our soul so that all the sins on our soul are erased. The new birth is experienced in our soul, not in our body. Our soul is saved. Our soul is ready to go into heaven the moment our body dies. Our body still needs to be saved on the last day, when Christ shall come with all the souls of all the saints who have died in their body, and then He will give all the saints a new glorified body, and unite their new body with their souls, and take us up to be with Him forever. We are eagerly looking forward to this great event of the rapture on the last day. Until that time we continue to live in the wilderness of this world with a soul that is saved and a body that is still inclined to sin. Is that a conflict? Absolutely yes! God says in Gal 5:17, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would”. But while we still are in this world God calls us saints. All those who have experienced the new birth in their soul, have been transformed from sinners into saints. And who are they who have experienced the new birth? God tells us in Acts 13:48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed”. In other words, those on whom God the Holy Spirit bestows a regenerated soul will also receive faith as a sign that regeneration of the soul has occurred. It is through this faith that God communicates with us in bringing us more spiritual blessings and much growing in grace.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.