The Incarnate Word

by Mike Ratliff

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life– the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us– that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-3 ESV)

The unbelief manifested from an unregenerate heart is a wonder to behold. What is it? It is a total absence of the faith that is present in every heart that has been quickened by God. Those in this unbelief “question everything,” that is, when it concerns the gospel and sound doctrine. I suppose we should stop being surprised when these same people have no problem believing the utter nonsense associated with mysticism or avatars or that “all religions are okay with our pluralistic God.” It is the manmade that is easily accepted by the unregenerate mind while it completely rejects in abject rebellion the biblical gospel. 

I received the following comment on my post Christ Our Redemption from someone whose “handle” is “enlightened.”

“in other words, your theology condemns humanity or the version of your gospel finds being human as something “Dirty” sinful” “filthy” that needs to be “Washed” by some mystical blood of an innocent divine sacrifice.”

If we read that comment with eyes of faith and discernment we see that this person, “enlightened” is being sarcastic. I did a bit of research into those who consider themselves to be “enlightened.” This deals with Buddhists for the most part, but we are beginning to see much of this in the emergents as well. What does the Word of God teach us about the unregenerate? Are they sinful, spiritually bankrupt, and utterly lost in their trespasses and sins? Yes, that is clearly taught throughout the New Testament. What is their only source of redemption from this horrible state? It is Christ our Redemption, nothing else, no one else, especially any “good work” done by self. Who is this Christ our redemption?

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 ESV)

1εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος 2ουτος ην εν αρχη προς τον θεον (John 1:1-2 WHNU)

What is the time frame John is placing “the Word” who was both with God and God Himself? The words “εν αρχη” are a direct reference to Genesis 1:1 where the same phrase is used in an absolute sense to refer to the beginning of the time-space-material universe. In other words, John is referring to that point when God created the Universe. What is this “Word?” This is the Greek word λογος, which conveys, in this context, the notion of divine self-expression or speech. This is not the same concept of λογος from Greek philosophy, which held it as an impersonal principle of reason that order to the universe. Instead, “the Word” is a person and superior in every way to this “philosophical principle.” What does it mean that the Word (ο λογος ) was with (προς) God (θεον)? This indicates interpersonal relationship “with” God, but as we see in the next phrase, “and (και) God (θεος) was (ην) the Word (ο λογος), John affirms that the Word, ο λογος, was also the same God who created the Universe “in the beginning” (εν αρχη). The one true God consists of more than one person, and they do relate to each other, and they have always existed.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3 ESV)

3παντα δι αυτου εγενετο και χωρις αυτου εγενετο ουδε εν ο γεγονεν (John 1:3 WHNU)

All things (παντα) were made (εγενετο) through (δι ) him (αυτου). This is referring to the whole universe and from this we learn that the Word (ο λογος), who is Jesus Christ, was God the Father’s agent involved in creating everything in the universe (Colossians 1:16,17; Hebrews 1:2). Not only is Christ our Redeemer, our Saviour, Our advocate, our propitiation, He is also the creator Himself.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5 ESV)

4εν αυτω ζωη ην και η ζωη ην το φως των ανθρωπων 5και το φως εν τη σκοτια φαινει και η σκοτια αυτο ου κατελαβεν (John 1:4-5 WHNU)

This is a very profound statement about our Lord. In Him, the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Word, was life (ζωη ην). This literally says, “In Him life was…” John uses this word for life, ζωη, about 36 times in his Gospel. This word refers not only in a broad sense to physical and temporal life that came through creation, but more importantly, he used to refers to spiritual and eternal life imparted as a gift through belief in Him (John 3:15; John 17:3; Ephesians 2:5). Never forget my brethren, the source of of this ζωη is found through Christ and no where else. Notice also that this ζωη is also the light (φως) of men (ανθρωπων). What does this mean? In God’s Word, “light” (φως) and “darkness” (σκοτια) are very familiar symbols. Intellectually, “light” refers to biblical truth while “darkness” refers to error or falsehood. Morally, “light” refers to holiness or purity while “darkness” refers to sin or wrong doing. Darkness is also related to Satan, along with his demons, who rules the present spiritually dark world promoting spiritual darkness and rebellion against God. John uses φως to refer to the condition of those truly in Christ and σκοτια to refer to the condition of those who are not. Notice that with Jesus’ incarnation the φως shines (φαινει) in the σκοτια and the σκοτια has not (ου) overcome (κατελαβεν) it. The KJV translates κατελαβεν as “comprehend,” but the better meaning is “overcome.” This is profound and we must grasp it for this truth will help us in our own battles against our deadly enemies on our pilgrimage. Darkness is not able to overcome or conquer the light. The powers of darkness are overcome by the person and work of the Son through His death on the Cross (John 19:11a).

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:6-13 ESV)

Most people reject Christ as the one who has overcome the darkness in the world and so reject the offer of life and light in Him. However, to all who did receive (ελαβον) Him, who believed (πιστευουσιν) in (εις ) His name (ονομα), He gave (εδωκεν) the right (εξουσιαν) to become (γενεσθαι) children (τεκνα) of God (θεου). Saving faith precedes becoming members of God’s family through adoption as His children. Those with this saving faith receive Christ as Lord and Saviour as they believe in His name. Those who do this are adopted into God’s family. These are born of the will of God not in any way by self will or by any good work of belief that may have preceded this for that is impossible (Ephesians 2:8,9).

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:14-18 ESV)

In these five verses we have the incarnation of Christ as one of us. However, He also remained God, full of grace and truth. He was sinless. It is from His fullness that we who are in Him have received grace upon grace. Grace and truth come through Him. Christ made God known to us all.

My brethren, the truth war is an ugly thing and has more facets and layers of deception than we can comprehend, but the enemies of the truth will always end up denying in some way the deity of Christ and the true purpose for His incarnation, life, death, and resurrection. They will insist on staying out of the details of the God’s Word that it is an act of pride to dig into it then proclaim the sound doctrines therein as truth. Those reading this who call yourself Christin while insisting on a man-made Jesus and a pluralistic form of Christianity are in darkness. I call you to turn from it and come into the light of Christ and receive life as you receive Him as your Lord and Saviour in belief in His name.

Soli Deo Gloria!

9 thoughts on “The Incarnate Word

  1. Thank you for this, Mike. Maybe you should do a whole series on 1 John for us! I would love it.
    Anything apart from acknowledging Jesus as Lord is pride(enlightenment). People will not see that by themselves…only the Holy Spirit can make it known to them. We were all there…we know it is true. We must not forget to pray for them.
    God bless you as you go about your day!

  2. Mike, this is my favorite passage in Scripture!!!

    Thank you for the explanations in the Greek.

    Praise our Lord, our Creator, Sustainer, Savior, Propitiation…

    It’s so sad that the darkness refuses to see the Light of the World!

  3. Thanks for this post, Mike!
    In support of your thesis, and as a Testimony of the Lord’s Faithfulness:
    Although I was Baptized at age 14, I was not Born Again by the Spirit of GOD. My family did not know Him, either. The New Testament was beyond my understanding, until I had been Born Again at age 37.
    In the meantime, there was study with a Tibetan Lama as a Buddhist, study of the Occult, and 18 years in the “church” of Scientology.
    The Lord graciously saved me out of all of that, and after me, there were many in my family that believed in the manner outlined in The Holy Scriptures.
    With Paul, I can say that my life before conversion was truely “dung”.
    Substitution of GOD’S Truth with other philosophies won’t give the results that are reserved for Belief in His Holy Word, no matter how “glorious” mans’ system might seem.

  4. You are very welcome Heather and yes it is sad. The Gospel of John is my favorite book in the Bible. John and I are black and white guys. Truth is truth, no gray areas. :-)

  5. Pingback: The Incarnate Word Part II « Possessing the Treasure

  6. Mike,
    I enjoy reading and listening to people who are careful with the truth of scripture. I also enjoy the way you also gave us a Greek language lesson at the same time instead of relying on solely on the English text. It is great that Christ not only feeds us spiritually through His word, but also mentally. I find that I love the Lord the more I know of Him.

    Thank you for this very well thought out, encouraging, and Christ centered article.

  7. Marty, I want to thank you for your encouraging comment. You may be surprised to know that many resent this sort of thing. I am actually baffled that any Christian would not want to dig as deep as possible into God’s truth. It is there that we exercise our minds and God renews us as He transforms us from what we were to what He has planned for us. Very exciting stuff. Thanks again for your encouragement!

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