“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word as with God, and the Word was God…”
I love words. Words have rich meaning, paint beautiful pictures, carry authority and power. The right word at the right time makes all the difference in the world.
I make my living studying and writing words. I love the theater because it tells great stories through words acted out. I love the Scriptures because these words convey truth and transform life.
Words have, by nature, definitions. I know that seems obvious, but, especially today, this matters. We seem to live in a time when words mean only what you want them to mean – marriage, morality, love, God, evil – everyone seems to be running around with their own definitions of these words. If a word, though, does not have a clearly defined usage, then all we are left with is the chaos of Babel – we may be speaking the same language, but no one understands each other.
If, for example, I ask for a chair, hopefully you and I are both thinking of a legged piece of furniture that will support me in a seated position. If, however, you bring me a Pineapple, I will know that there is a breakdown in our basic form of communication.
I heard, recently, a message on John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word as with God, and the Word was God.” I had hoped for an exposition on the Word of God incarnate, Jesus Christ. What I heard was a nebulous pondering on what God might sound like if He still spoke to us today (!?!?!), what that “Word” might actually be, and ultimately, a call to “Centering Prayer” otherwise known as Transcendental Meditation (for a good article on this click here), in which we were actually asked to close our eyes, empty our minds, and listen for God to speak to us inwardly.
(Disclaimer: 1) I did none of the above, but turned to Psalm 119 for my prayer, and 2) I should have known what was coming when the Scripture reading began with the phrase “Listen now for the word of God,” rather than “Listen now to the word of God” – like I said, words make a difference.)
How could someone stand in a pulpit and offer such an ambiguous message on the Word when words are meant to remove ambiguity, to drive away the clouds, to pull back the veil? Whatever the message was, it was not a sermon that “convinced and converted sinners, or built them up for holiness and comfort” (WSC 89). More to the point, never did we hear that the Word, which was with God and which is God, became flesh and dwelt among us. The prologue to the gospel of Jesus Christ was read without anything pointing us to Jesus Christ. The Word became flesh so that in the person and work of Jesus Christ, God could express all that we need to know for our salvation. The Word became flesh in Christ so that in Him the love and grace of God could be perfectly, completely, and definitively revealed.
While I beat my head upon my desk in frustration, here’s a little excerpt from A.W. Pink’s Commentary on John:
Christ, then, is the One who has made in incomprehensible God intelligible. The force of this title of His found in John 1:1, may be discovered by comparing it with that name which is given to the Holy Scriptures – “the Word of God.” What are the Scriptures? They are the Word of God. And what does that mean? This: the Scriptures reveal God’s mind, express His will, make known His perfections, and lay bare His heart. This is precisely what the Lord Jesus has done for the Father. But let us enter a little more into detail: –
- A “word” is a medium of manifestation. I have in my mind a thought, but others know not its nature. But the moment I clothe that thought in words it becomes cognizable. Words, then, make objective unseen thoughts. This is precisely what the Lord Jesus has done. As the Word, Christ has made manifest the invisible God.
- A “word” is a means of communication. By means of words I transmit information to others. By words I express myself, make known my will, and impart knowledge. So Christ, as the Word, is the Divine Transmitter, communicating to us the life and love of God.
- A “word is a method of revelation. By his words a speaker exhibits both his intellectual caliber and his moral character. By our words we shall be justified, and by our words we shall be condemned. And Christ, as the Word, reveals the attributes and perfections of God. How fully has Christ revealed God! He displayed His power, He manifested His wisdom, He exhibited His holiness, He made known His grace, He unveiled His heart. In Christ, and nowhere else, is God fully and finally told out.
We have the Word of God, we are no longer left in the dark without a witness. We have the Word of God, we don’t need to quiet ourselves and listen for the whisper of God. We have the Word of God, we don’t need to empty ourselves to find what God is saying to us within. If we want to know God, we must turn to nothing other than the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in Scriptures. May this be our passion, our consuming desire, our great work, to reverently, humbly, daily, dwell upon the excellencies of our Savior as they are revealed in the Bible.
I love words. More importantly, I love the Word of God. The Word gives life meaning and beauty, it comes with authority and power. Christ is the right Word spoken at the right time, and has made all the difference in the world.