Sunday, December 21, 2008

In Him Was Life

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
John 1:1-2 (NKJV)

“Word,” as used in the English translation of verses one and fourteen of John’s gospel is translated from the Greek word “Logos.” In verse one of chapter one (quoted above) we see “Logos” (The Word) as being the person of God. The meaning of “word” is simply a statement of or an expression of thought. We prefer the Greek “Logos” because it not only signifies thought, a word spoken and speech, but it extends to include eloquence, doctrine, reason, or the faculty of reasoning and is very properly applied to Him, who is the fountain of life and the true light to every man who comes into the world, (John 1:9).

“All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
John 1:3 (NKJV)

Though everything He made had a principle of life in it, whether vegetable, animal, or intellectual, that life was not the light of men; not that light which could guide them to eternal life; for “the world through its wisdom did not come to know God.” (1st Corinthians 1:21 NASU)

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
John 1:4 (NKJV)

The life of the “Living God” is defined as “absolute life:” He is indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16), having no beginning or end of days.

“For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;.”
John 5:26 (NASU)

God as “Logos” or “Word” (John 1:1) is also indestructible life and is the source of all life forms (John 1:3; John 4:26; John 14:6; Colossians 3:4; 1st John 1:1-2; 5:20).

The Apostle John had just affirmed (John 1:3) that the “Logos” or “Word” created the world. One part of that creation consisted in “breathing into man the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). God is declared to be “life,” or the “living” God, because He is the source or fountain of life (Psalm 36:9). The Apostle John here ascribes this attribute to the “Logos” or the “Word of God.” The Word did not only create the material worlds, but He also gave “life.” He was the agent by which all that lives has life; and by which man became a living soul, or was endowed with immortality.

The ability to give life is a “higher” proof that the “Word is God” than the creation of the material worlds; but there is another sense in which He is “life.” The “new birth” or “new creation,” the renovation of man and his restoration from a state of chaos due to sin, is often compared with the six day creation taught in the book of Genesis; and as the incarnate Logos (John 1:14; 5:26) is the source of “life” then, so, in a similar but higher sense, He is the source of “life” and “immortality” to the soul dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).

Therefore, the expression, “in Him was life,” is not to be understood as natural life, but eternal life which He, as the “light” revealed to the world (2nd Timothy 1:10), to which He taught the way (John 14:6), which He promised to believers (John 10:28), which He purchased for them (John 6:51,53-54), which He is appointed to give them (John 17:9), and to which He will raise them up (John 1:29), because He has “the life” in Himself (John 1:26).

Eternal life is the highest quality of life and means more than eternal existence; it refers to eternal fellowship with God. Jesus, the Living Word of God, defined eternal life as fellowship with the Father through the Son. “This is eternal life,” He declared, “that they may KNOW You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3 NASU).

To KNOW God is more than a mere speculative acquaintance with the character and perfections of God. To know God is to know Him through the One who is “Life” and “light,” Jesus Christ the Righteous (John 1:18). To know God includes, of course, love, reverence, obedience, honor, gratitude, supreme affection; all wrought by the Spirit of God whom He has given us. To know God as he is---is to know and regard Him as a lawgiver, a sovereign, a parent and a friend. It is to yield ones whole being to Him, and strive to obey His law from a heart motivated by a deep sincere love for Him and empowered by His Spirit.

To know His Son, Jesus Christ, is by revelation from the Father (Matthew 16:17). Revelation by the Spirit is to have a just, practical view of Him in all His perfections as God and man. To know Him is to know that in Him the cherubim and the flaming sword are removed and men once again have access to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24). To know Him is to possess Him as a mediator and intercessor, as a prophet, a priest, and a king. It is to feel our need of such a Savior, to see that we are unable to save ourselves and that we have a need to yield the whole being to Him, knowing that He is a Savior suited to fill our needs, and that in His hands our souls are safe.

According to the apostle Paul, to know Him is freedom from sin; and eternal life consist of holiness, and a positive relationship with God the Father. This is in contrast to spiritual death, which results from a life of sin (Romans 6:21-23).

Therefore, Christianity is not a religion, and salvation is not about doctrines taught by men, nor ritualistic practices or observances of rules and regulations imposed by men, but it is eternal life through a loving relationship with God the Father through the Redeemer Jesus Christ.

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
John 1:5 (NASU)

Just as light is symbolic of wisdom, knowledge and eternal life, darkness, in the Bible, commonly denotes ignorance, guilt, or misery and spiritual death (See Isaiah 4:6; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 5:8,11; Romans 13:12). It refers here to a deceived, wicked and ignorant people residing in spiritual death. When it is said, “the light shines in darkness,” it is meant that the Lord Jesus came to bring wisdom, knowledge and life to an ignorant people whose souls were dwelling in darkness and being destroyed or dying in a wicked world. This has always been the case. It was so when He sent His prophets, so during His own ministry and so in every age since. His efforts to enlighten and save men of ignorance have been like light struggling to penetrate a thick, dense cloud of smog in the middle of the darkest night; and though a few rays may pierce the gloom, yet the great mass is still an impenetrable darkness.

The word translated “comprehend” here means did not “admit,” or did not “receive.” The word “comprehend,” used in modern day terms means to “understand.” This is not the meaning of the word used in the original. The proper meaning is: the darkness did not “receive” or “admit” the light; the shades of darkness were so thick that the light could not penetrate them; or, to drop the figure, men were so ignorant, guilty, debased, deceived and so caught up in the traditions of men and their own religiosity that they did not appreciate the value of His knowledge and wisdom; they despised and rejected Him. And so it is still. The great mass of men steeped in sensuality and sunk in the fleshly pleasures of sin will not receive His teachings, and be enlightened and saved by Him. Sin always blinds the mind to the beauty and excellency of the character of the Lord Jesus. The fleshly pleasures of sin make the mind unwilling or unable to receive His instructions, just as “darkness has no fellowship with “light;” (2nd Corinthians 6:14) and if the one exists, the other must be displaced.

Jesus often spoke of Himself as being “the light of the world.”

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’”
John 8:12 (NASU)

Biblically speaking, life and light are synonymous. Life gives light and light leads to life. Light is words of wisdom and knowledge. Jesus said,

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
John 6:63 (NASU)
“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”
John 12:46 (NASU)
“But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says:
‘Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
Ephesians 5:13-14 (NKJV)
“While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”
John 12:36 (NASU)

Those who come to the “light” have “life” and the “life” is light unto men. Now Jesus shares His title, “The Light of the World,” with those who believe in Him. He says,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Matthew 5:14 (NASU)

The apostles, ministers, all the “born again,” all who have the “life” are lights of the world, because they, by their teachings and examples, show what God requires, what is the condition of man, what is the way of their devotion to faith, peace, happiness and the way that leads to eternal life.

“Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.”
Matthew 5:15 (NASU)

The meaning here is the sons of light do not subdue or hide the light by timidity, unbecoming conduct, such as sensuality or sin, but through holy conduct give light to all who observe him.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16 (NASU)
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.”
Philippians 2:14-16f (NASU)
“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
1st John 3:9 (NASU)
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls.”
Proverbs 11:30 (NASU)

The bottom line to this teaching is, the “born again” are to be as He was in the world. Selah.

James C Sanford

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