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—DECEMBER 21.—JOHN 1:1-18.—
OUR Christmas Study is one of the most beautiful in the whole Bible. Genesis goes back to the beginning of things earthly; but this lesson goes back to the beginning of all beginnings, when God was alone. The very beginning of Divine operation was the Logos—"the Beginning of the creation of God"—"the First-born of every creature."—Revelation 3:14; Colossians 1:15.
Logos signifies mouthpiece, or special messenger. Not only so—not only was the Logos the beginning, or Alpha—but He was also the last, the Omega, of Divine creation, as He Himself informs us. (Revelation 1:11; 21:6.) The first and only begotten Son of Jehovah was given an exclusive place, so that "all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made." (V.3.) Thus highly did the Father honor Him as His Agent in all the creative work, both as respects angels, cherubim and men.
The Greek text is not fully represented in our Common [R5352 : page 346] Version. Accurately translated it reads, "The Logos was with the God and the Logos was a god; the same was in the beginning with the God." Here the majesty of our Redeemer in His prehuman condition is fully set forth, and yet He is distinctly shown to be the Son and not the Father—to be a god and not the God.
The word god signifies mighty one; but there is only one God whose name is the Almighty. St. Paul affirms this great truth, saying, "To us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him." (I Corinthians 8:6.) Again, the Apostle writes, "The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the Head of Christ is God." (1 Corinthians 11:3.) This is the claim that Jesus made for Himself—not that He was the Father, or Jehovah, but that He was the Son of God, who came to do the will of His Father in Heaven.
The so-called doctrine of the Trinity, put into the Nicene Creed by Emperor Constantine, A.D. 325, has been the cause of much of our confusion when studying the Bible, which contains neither the word trinity nor any suggestion of it, except in the one passage acknowledged by all scholars to be spurious, namely, I John 5:7. This passage is not found in any of the old Greek manuscripts.
The Redeemer was not deceitful when He prayed to the Father with strong cryings and tears, "My God! My God!" Neither was He deceitful when He declared to Mary after His resurrection, "I have not yet ascended to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God." He declared His oneness with the Father, and desired that a similar oneness should prevail amongst His followers—oneness of spirit, of purpose. Therefore He prayed for His Church, "That they all may be one, even as I, Father, and Thou, are one."—John 17:21-23.
St. Paul tells us of how He who was rich on the spirit plane for our sakes became poor, leaving the Heavenly comforts for the scenes of this world, darkened by sin and death. (2 Corinthians 8:9.) And so our lesson tells us also. (V.14.) "The Logos became 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." St. Paul also corroborates this, declaring that our Lord stooped from His high position, took the bondman's form and was found in fashion as a man, of the seed of Abraham. (Philippians 2:7,8; Hebrews 2:16.) But lest we should get the wrong thought, that He had become a sinful man, we are guarded by the assurance that He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." (Hebrews 7:26.) We are also assured that His body was especially prepared, separate and different from [R5352 : page 347] others of our race, all of whom were of Adamic stock and all tainted with sin and the seeds of death.—Hebrews 10:5-9.
But, on the other hand, we are to guard ourselves against the thought that the Logos remained a spirit being and merely materialized, or appeared in human form. This unscriptural thought is the one held by many, and styled incarnation. The angels incarnated, or got into flesh, when they materialized from time to time, as described in the Old Testament Scriptures. Our Lord Himself incarnated, or appeared in the flesh, to Abraham in company with others; and He talked with Abraham, who knew not that he was entertaining Heavenly beings, mistaking them for human travelers.
Similarly Jesus after His resurrection appeared in various forms of flesh. That is to say, He materialized, or incarnated, for the purpose of teaching certain lessons to His disciples, because after His resurrection He was a spirit being, as He was before He was made flesh. As a spirit being, He appeared and disappeared, the doors being shut. Thus He taught His disciples a double lesson:
(2) That He was no longer a human, but a spirit being—"put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit."—I Peter 3:18—Emphatic Diaglott.
As Bible students we are learning that we must strive more earnestly than we have done to keep close to the Word of God. It was the perfect man Adam who sinned and was sentenced to death, and under the Divine Law he could be redeemed only by the sacrifice of a perfect man. The Law declares, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a man's life for a man's life." Hence the blood of bulls and goats could never make atonement for Adam's sin; for they did not correspond. It was not a bullock nor a goat that had sinned and was to be redeemed, but a perfect man.
Because all of the human family were children of Adam and sharers in his death sentence, therefore, "no man could give to God a ransom for his brother." (Psalm 49:7.) God so shut up the matter that Adam and his race could not have been redeemed except by the finding of a perfect man who would be willing voluntarily to die on their behalf. It was because there was no such man that God arranged with the Logos, His only begotten, that he should become a man and be the Redeemer of the race—Adam and all his children.
But even this might not be demanded of the Logos. The Heavenly Father, therefore, as St. Paul points out, set before His Son, the Logos, a great proposition; namely, that if He would demonstrate His faith and loyalty to the extent of becoming man's Redeemer, the Father would still more highly exalt Him and make Him partaker of the Divine nature, far above angels and every name that is named. (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 2:5-11.) The Logos, full of faith and obedience, heartily entered into the proposition, was made flesh, consecrated His life, kept nothing back, finished the work at Calvary, and was raised from the dead by the Father to the Heavenly nature and glory and honor.
The Logos was made Jesus. The work of Jesus in the flesh, however, is not the completion of the Divine Plan, but merely the beginning of it. His death constitutes the basis of all future blessings to the Church and to the world. According to the Father's Plan, an elect class was to be gathered out of Israel and out of every nation to be the Church of Christ, His Bride, associates with Him in His Throne, glory and work.
With the completion of the Elect, the Kingdom for which we pray, "Thy Kingdom come," is to be established. Satan is to be bound; all evil is to be brought to an end; every good influence and enlightenment is to be shed; and He who died for the world is thus to become the Light of the world. He has not yet been the Light of the world, but merely a light to His people. As St. John declared, His light shined in darkness, and was not appreciated. Similarly the light of Truth upheld by His consecrated Church will not be appreciated, so strong are the powers of the Prince of Darkness influencing the minds of the world, which, as yet, lies in the Wicked One.—I John 5:19.—Diaglott.
But the Prince of Life and His Kingdom will cause the light of the knowledge of the glory of God to fill the whole earth, as the waters cover the great deep (Habakkuk 2:14), so that none shall need to say to his brother, Know thou the Lord, for all shall know Him, from the least to the greatest. (Jeremiah 31:34.) Thus according to His promise Jesus eventually will be "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (V.9.) The great mass of humanity have never seen nor even heard of this true Light—not merely the heathen millions, but the masses in civilized lands.
The resurrection of the just will be necessary to bring the Church to glory and joint-heirship with her Lord. But the resurrection of the unjustified, which includes practically all humanity, will be for the very purpose of permitting them to see the true Light, which God has provided in His Son and which will be shed abroad during His Millennial Kingdom. Only those who refuse the light, preferring the darkness, will die the Second Death.
John the Baptist was a messenger sent to call attention to the Light, but he was not the Light. He was not even one of the Church class, of whom Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world"; for John the Baptist did not continue to live to the time of the begetting of the Spirit, after our Lord's sacrifice.
The world recognized not the great One who was in it, the Logos, by whom it was made. His own nation recognized Him not, but crucified Him. Yet some then and some since have received Him, and to such He has given the power, the right, the liberty, the privilege, to become children of God. No such privilege was given to the Jews, nor to any of the fallen race, until Pentecost—after Jesus had appeared in the presence of God to make atonement for our sins.
These sons are all begotten of the Holy Spirit. Theirs is not a fleshly sonship. Their birth of the Spirit will be the resurrection change, when they shall be made like their Master, see Him as He is and share His glory.