There are three great chapters which deal with this sublime subject: John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1, and added to these 1 Timothy 6:15-16 and Luke 10:22 should beget in us the holy reverence that becomes those who are permitted to think at all of the eternal existence and glory of the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Along with this there must be a readiness to listen with faith to the words of the Holy Spirit, humbly seeking to understand those words, and careful that we neither take away from them nor add to them. The result of this attitude will be that we shall be transformed by the renewing of our minds. I am not speaking of being changed from the position of those who are dead in trespasses and sins to the peace of those who have received life and forgiveness through our Lord Jesus Christ, but I am speaking to Christian young men who know this, and I say advisedly, we need to have our lives transformed. We are all commonplace sort of people, much as the writer of the fourth Gospel was, for after all John was but a fisherman by the lake of Galilee. There was nothing intellectually, or morally, to distinguish him from the other fishermen, and yet he wrote in the simplest language the most holy and profound book that has ever been written. What brought about his surprising result? Nothing less than that he was transformed by the shining of the glory of the Person of the Son of God upon his soul; the sublime truth concerning the Person of Christ held him, not as a truth merely, but in living contact with Him whom he knew and of whom he wrote. A transformed life is brought about by a living acquaintance with the glorious Person of the Son of God. May God accomplish it in all of us to His praise.
John begins his Gospel without preface; at once he makes the profound statement, "In the beginning was the Logos." That is a personal name of our Lord Jesus Christ, He is the Word, and that not only as the means of communication, but as the very thing communicated.
In the Greek there are three words used to express speech: "lalia," the words that are said; "rhema," the thing that is uttered; "logos" includes the thought that gives rise to the communication, and therefore involves personality. Our Lord said to those around Him (John 8:43), "Why do ye not understand my speech" (lalia) what I am saying, "because ye cannot hear my word" (logos). You have not grasped the fact of who I am; consequently my words have no meaning to you.
There is a great deal of talk today about following the teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, while all the time the glorious Person who uttered it is denied by those who so speak. They cannot, however, understand His words, nor do them, until they have confessed Him as the Divine Word, the very Son of the Living God. There is something behind the words that I speak to you, namely the thought in my mind, and that thought would not be there unless I were a living person, and it is that which is implied in the word "Logos," thought expressing itself in words. It tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ is none other than God, for only God could express His own thoughts. Luke also uses the name "Logos" chapter 1:2, where we should read, "Those who were eye witnesses and attendants upon THE WORD," a beautiful touch at the commencement of the Gospel which sets forth the exquisite graces of the Word become flesh. There are two names used in John 1 which must never be separated; one is "The Word" the other is "The only begotten Son," or again, the Son is He by whom God has spoken.
Verse 1 tells us that in the beginning He was, taking us back beyond all time, not when time began to be, but before time was, beyond the farthest limit of human mind can reach, "the Word" is found not beginning to be, but existing eternally. At the same time He was a distinct Person, "the Word was with God." The preposition used does not simply mean alongside of, but towards, conveying the idea of intimate communion with God. Then lest our minds should conceive that although anterior to creation, He was an independent being, exterior to and something less than divine, it is added, "The Word was God." Thus we ascend from His eternal existence, to His distinct personality, crowned by the fact of His absolute Godhead. Yet so liable is the human mind to err in respect of so stupendous a statement that we might imagine that He was evolved from the Godhead, or as some say, "Begotten of the Father before all worlds." No, the second verse guards such a thought, "The same was in the beginning with God."
Everything that was created owes its being to Him, "And without Him was not anything made that was made." Is that a needless repetition? No, for people talk about eternity of matter; but there is no such thing, God only is eternal. "In Him was life." That short sentence solves all the problems of life that the scientists worry their minds about. A learned professor addressed the British Association a few years back, and having discussed the origin of life at great length, left off where he began, yet here it is settled in four words of one syllable, "In Him was life." Of every form of life He is the Author, and above all the Source of spiritual life by which moral beings can stand in relation to God, for "The Word became flesh." Mystery of mysteries, blessed object of faith, which no creature mind can comprehend. He became man, never ceasing for a moment to be all that we have read in the first verses of John 1. Though He took a place of humiliation He was never less than God. The outward glory was laid aside, but not the intrinsic excellence that belonged to Him. He was still the eternal Son, He was still a distinct Person dwelling in the Father’s bosom, He was still God over all blessed forever. There is no other light or revelation of God but in Him. The message He brought was this, that God was unveiling Himself in His own beloved Son. That is the true light which like the sun in the heavens shines for every man. What was the condition into which He came? The world was not only in darkness, but darkness itself, and it comprehended not the fact that light had come. But Israel was a people to whom God had spoken in partial revelations of Himself. There had been a gradual preparation through Old Testament times for the coming of the light but when He came to His own, they received Him not.
But there were some who saw the light, some who received Him. But how did this come about? Only because there was a divine work in them, they were born of God, and no one has ever seen the light or received Jesus as the Christ in any other way. It does not come about by blood, i.e., by natural birth. People do not believe on His name because they belong to a certain race or family. Neither is it by the will of the flesh, i.e., by moral improvement, it is not by the development of the moral faculties. Nor again, is it by the will of man, for it is not by cultivation of the intellect that t state is produced capable of receiving Him. It is solely and simply of God. Take John the fisherman, how did he come to see the glory of the Lord? Not because he was of the chosen race of Israel, not because he was morally better than anybody else, and certainly not because of his attendance on the schools of learning. None of those things brought him to see it. He was born of God, and the same is true of all into whose hearts the light of the glory has shone. What was the glory that they saw? It was the revelation of love. They saw in the One who daily walked with them the only begotten Son of the Father.
The title of "only-begotten" does not refer to His birth in time, but to the place of intense love and intimacy that had been eternally His in the bosom of the Father. The same word is translated "my darling" in Psalm 22:20. In reference to His birth of the Virgin in time, we read in Psalm 2:7 "Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten Thee; Thou are my Son," for He was already "the Son" when He came into the world, and in manhood He is still "the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). He brought with Him all the deep affection and tender love of the Father, and manifested this in His Person and by His words and works. Rejected, misunderstood, and walking in the midst of darkness that was not dispelled by the light, yet just as much the Son in the bosom of the Father as He was before all worlds. Further explanation of His Person is impossible. No finite mind can understand the Person of the Son; let us not attempt it, but rather worship and adore. What one would greatly desire is, that this glorious Person might become more intensely real and commanding to us. If we know Him, His words will be supreme over us, and shut out every other voice. If His greatness and the glory of His love hold us, as it held the writer of this Gospel, we shall want to understand His words and do exactly what He says, for that alone will be of account in the day when we shall indeed see Him face to face. Let us remember, too, that it is by this test of obedience that He measures the reality of our love to Himself. (John 14:21)