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The Living Word
By David A. DePra
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
John begins his epistle by stating: THIS is the message we have heard of Him – Jesus Christ. Those words ought to make us stop in our tracks. John is about to tell us, in summary form, what the message is that the "Word of Life" – Jesus Christ -- has given them.
Yet if we read the prolog to John’s epistle, we begin to understand that the "message" which was given them, and which they want to pass onto us, is more than just teaching. The message is not merely words given to them by Jesus. The message is Jesus Himself. HE is the WORD. HE is the LIGHT.
This is so important to understand. Christianity is not merely a list of teachings and doctrines. Jesus did not come to hand the apostles some teachings, which, if they would follow, would constitute Christianity. No. Christianity is personally knowing Jesus Christ. It is belonging to a Person – and all of the impact which that has upon us. Included in that, of course, is the Redemption, new birth, etc.
We must get this. Christianity is not merely teachings ABOUT Jesus Christ. It is a relationship WITH Christ. Christianity is what happens when God meets man through His Son, Jesus Christ.
WHAT then, is the message John wants to give us? Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ WAS the message. He was the revelation of God Himself.
John says that the WORD OF LIFE was made manifest to them. They saw Him, touched Him, and interacted with Him. Jesus didn’t just "give" light, or "give" life. He did that. But He IS the Word of Light and Life. He IS God’s revelation of Himself to us.
Jesus said the same thing to His disciples:
I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)
According to Jesus, He was the revelation of God in human form. If we know Him, we know God -- we are therefore "in the Light." We are able to walk, move, live, and be free. We are no longer subject to the darkness – to the lies about God which bind and constrain us – which lead us down paths of destruction.
Now perhaps someone might ask, "Why does knowing God set us free?" It sets us free because everything about God is wonderful. God is love. Thus, when you know God, you know that He is FOR you and not against you. You know that there is nothing but love, and no fear. Forgiveness, and not condemnation. Once you know God you know everything is under control.
What you think you know about someone always affects everything you think, do, say, and ARE. This is true, even in human relationships. And it does not matter if what you "think you know" is the truth. If you believe it, to you it IS true. The effect will be real.
Thus, if we are in darkness, and believe lies about God, it will govern us. If we believe fear is telling the truth about God, this will motivate our attitude and conduct. If we believe that condemnation is telling the truth about God, this will do likewise. It does not matter that fear and condemnation are lies for those in Christ. If we are in darkness, we believe them. To us, they are real.
But if we are in the Light, and know the Truth about God, the Truth will govern us. And because it IS the Truth, what will result is all good. The ultimate result is exactly what John tells us it will be: LIFE.
The themes of "light" and "darkness" are ones which John uses often in his writings. He speaks in these terms at the beginning of his gospel:
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 shines 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 lights every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:1-9)
What we see here is that Jesus was the WORD – the embodiment of God’s mind; God’s Living Word about Himself. And when everything was said and done, that meant LIGHT. It means ILLUMINATION about who God is and what He is like.
The Living Word
Jesus was God Incarnate. He, in human form, embodied all that God is. That is why He is called the Living Word – God’s Living message to us about Himself. This is a Truth which is all through the Bible:
For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Col. 2:9)
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not cling to for Himself equality with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:5-11)
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. (Heb. 1:1-3)
So Jesus was the Light of the world because He was God in human flesh. He was the Light which stood out in the darkness – a revelation of God to man. Thus, when John begins His epistle, he says, "THIS is the message……that God is LIGHT." That is the message which Jesus embodied, which John says, "which we have heard of Him, the Living Word, and declare unto you." *
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