The Incarnate Word and Sunday Mornings

by Mike Ratliff

14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. (John 1:14 NA27)

14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

I write this motivated from my Lord’s own work in my heart over the past several days to “restore my soul” (Psalm 23:2). The battle against apostasy and seeing how the visible church is becoming more and more symbolic and less and less genuinely focused on what the Apostle John calls “Spirit and Truth” has caused me to become susceptible to attacks from the enemy all designed to discourage and distract. However, at church this morning I heard a sermon on Psalm 23 and when the preacher came to v2, he spoke of how God allows us to be attacked like that. He allows us to be taken into the valley of the shadow of death and so be tested that we may become more and more reliant on God’s grace and less and less on ourselves. After these trials, he will take us to a quiet place of restoration and recovery, and, for me, that is to dig into and exegete His Word for His glory and the edification of the Body of Christ. Hence, we will look at John 1:1-18 and the Incarnate Word. 

1 Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. 2 οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. 3 πάντα δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν 4 ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· 5 καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν. 6 Ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος, ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ, ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάννης· 7 οὗτος ἦλθεν εἰς μαρτυρίαν ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός, ἵνα πάντες πιστεύσωσιν δι᾽ αὐτοῦ. 8 οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς, ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός. 9 Ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον, ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον. 10 ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω. 11 εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον. 12 ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, 13 οἳ οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος σαρκὸς οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος ἀνδρὸς ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθησαν. 14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. 15 Ἰωάννης μαρτυρεῖ περὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ κέκραγεν λέγων· οὗτος ἦν ὃν εἶπον· ὁ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν, ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν. 16 ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματος αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἐλάβομεν καὶ χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος· 17 ὅτι ὁ νόμος διὰ Μωϋσέως ἐδόθη, ἡ χάρις καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐγένετο. 18 Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο. (John 1:1-18 NA27)

1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and God was the Word. 2 This one was with God in the beginning. 3 All things came to be through him and without him, not one thing came to be which came into being. 4 In him was life and the life was the light of men 5 and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not grasp it. 6 There came a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 This one came for testimony that he might testify about the light that all may believe through him. 8 That one was not the light, but he came that he might testify about the light. 9 He was the true light coming into the world, which enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world and the world came to be through him, and the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to his own, and his own did not receive him. 12 But as many as received him, who believed in his name, he gave to them the right to become children of God, 13 the ones born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of a husband, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified about him and cried out saying, “This one was he whom I said, ‘The one coming after me ranks before me because he was prior to me.’”) 16 And from his fullness, we all received, even grace on top of grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, the grace and the truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, the one being in the bosom of the Father, that one explained Him. (John 1:1-18 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

We have looked at this passage before, however, I have had conversations during the past week or so with those used by our enemy to attack me and this ministry who would have issues with some of the truths you and I have taken to our hearts from here. The first and foremost is that the purpose of Christ and Christianity is not primarily the Church, but the glory of God. So many today have a theology that is so man-focused that the Jesus they preach (if they ever do) or the one the claim to believe in their theology is not anything like John presents him here nor in the rest of the Gospel of John.

According to v1 the Word or λόγος preexisted creation. He is with God and he is God. John also says in v10 that the λόγος created the world. He is also the life that is the light of men. This light shines into the darkness, but the darkness cannot grasp it or understand it. The unregenerate person cannot understand God or his ways. He cannot believe the gospel or come to salvation unless called by God. (John 6:44).

This λόγος, now sits in the bosom of the Father in heaven and during his incarnation, one of the main purposes of his mission here was to explain the Father to those who would hear. (v18).

I feel like John the Baptist sometimes. My job is to point people to the truth, but it seems that hardly anyone is listening. We have huge unresolved issues of ecclesiology rampant in the visible church right now and it is a much larger problem than most realize. Since I left our last church in which we were full members in 2006 after they went Purpose Driven, we have tried to become parts of several churches in our area. It seems that the churches where the Word is rightly divided are not very friendly. The churches where they are all about community are not so hot on getting their doctrines squared away.

What’s my point? I am convinced that most churches have become too self-focused and too much involved in keeping themselves afloat rather than just being about a place where the sheep can rest beside still waters finding rest for their souls. I am certainly not professing to have all the answers to this, but I would like to hear your comments on this in light of the Word, the λόγος, who became flesh and dwelt among us. He did this for something far greater than us just going to a building once a week to gather to hear a sermon, et cetera. No, we are called to be Christians all the time, what we do on Sunday mornings seems to be what has come to define us rather than that, and I think that is wrong.

Soli Deo Gloria!

24 thoughts on “The Incarnate Word and Sunday Mornings

  1. Great post Mike, and definitely on target. I have wrestled with the following question for months now. “What is church?” this is an easy question for anyone that has even a small inclination to biblical knowledge. We are the church, we are His body, etc.. But my real question is this. Why does the modern church look nothing like scripture. There is no biblical basis for the church structure most people propagate and eagerly defend. I too have yet to find a ‘church building’ that has a balance of the foundation laid in the book of Acts, and I don’t expect too. I have found true fellowship, on a daily basis, with other brothers and sisters in the faith. This has been a great point of contention with those that presume a man-made religious tradition somehow gives them authority. We have one head, Jesus Christ. And His church is alive and well… and believe it or not, I seem to find this true fellowship outside of four walls and steeple. We are His body, and I believe you to be a brother in the same faith. If you have anything you would like to share regarding what I have said, feel free. Maybe I am missing something…

  2. Lazaro, what you said echoed almost exactly what God has been taking me through brother. I read the biography of John Bunyan not long ago and he fought very much the very same battles you and I and so many of our brethren are.

  3. Hi Mike, Thanks so much for your posts. They have been so encouraging to me. Although I have been in the Christian community all my life, it is just over this last year that Jesus has become real in my life. Our family too has been looking for other believers and a church worship in but have not been able to be find one we feel totally comfortable in. We used to attend a church that functioned much like a purpose driven church. There are just not many people that care about God and His glory. So much of the time church just seems about them. The Internet has been very helpful to us.
    Sharon

  4. Mike,

    You are so right on with this thought. Church once a week just doesn’t seem to be what’s meant in this Scripture nor anywhere else in the Bible for that matter. True, we’re not to forsake our fellowshipping but what is fellowshipping really. Yes, we fellowship with other Christians for edification et-cetera but we go to Worship God. Worshipping the Lord happens everyday and sometimes most all the day. As for fellowship in Church, well, these days it’s all about rock n roll, whistling in Church, foolish talking, laughter and jokes. In other words, the Church/s I’ve been to always leaves me feeling very lonely, saddened to see what I’ve witnessed with my eyes, ears and vexed. After service, driving home, I think I could have just have stayed home and listened to a sermon on the radio or a tape. Really I crave and need at least one real Christian friend who loves the Word, who loves talking about the Lord, who loves ministering to others and whatever else Glorifies our Lord. There is nobody who is like that that I’ve met so far. It seems so superficial at Church and when trying to get a conversation going ABOUT the Lord after service is impossible. Nobody’s interested. They change the subject or have to be somewhere in a hurry. That kind of thing. Really, it has a negative affect on me.

    This website and your ministry Mike really helps alot and I praise God for you and your faithfulness. Your posts are always biblical and I learn a great deal plus the other posters are now my Christian friends even though we’ve probably never met in person. The Word is taught here and I truly believe the Lord is with us all as we come together to uphold each other, learn, have real conversations and thoughts ABOUT our Lord and His ways. This is better than any Church I’m finding these days.

    Fellowshipping with the Lord is something that holds me up in this life. I can’t go a day without it and it bolsters my faith when I feel like you do or did this week. It seems as though I’m constantly thinking of the Lord. I go to bed at night thinking and talking to Him and I wake up in the morning with Him on my mind, first thing. All day He’s on my mind and in my heart and I talk to the Lord throughout my day. Bless the Lord that He does lead us to still waters and makes us to lie down in green pastures! He’s my everpresent help and I’m so thankful that in these dark days He’s with me all day. Because to tell the truth, real live people (where I live anyway just to clarify) just are not interested in Bible studies or talking about the Lord nor anything else pertaining to our life here as Christians and our eternal estate. It’s very disheartening to say the least.

    I do pray that the Lord will put somebody in my path that loves talking about and reading from the Scriptures. For in them we find God and we learn what pleases Him and what He’s like. It just gets lonely, like I’m on some kind of an island to not have a face to face person to do that with.

    Well, guess it’s time for me to shut up since this post got so long. It wasn’t intended, forgive me. Here it is 2:30a.m. and I’m off to bed. So much for a simple comment huh? :)

    Again, thank you for your teaching, for being faithful, truthful, full of the Spirit and willing to share what you’ve learned to us. This is a ministry much needed by me and I know many others who are reading. Thank you Mike.

  5. For weeks/months (? – I’ve lost track, to be honest) I’ve been praying through some of these same things. Yesterday, we had a “state-of-the-church-vision-casting” message that left me with too many mixed up thoughts to react to at one time. I heard more talk about money than about the work of Jesus Christ (his death & resurrection); more about purposes for money than about the purpose of Christ. I see that I’m not alone in this sort of circumstance and, like others, my husband & I are now/again prayerfully contemplating what God would us do next. I can only say for now: “According to Your will, LORD — so be it.”

  6. Mike,

    I also want to add that many people have now told me that I’m taking this “Christian thing” too serious. Also that I need to relax and have some fun, meaning going out to party’s and such. Those are the type of things said to me by other Christians and non believers alike. I’m called a Bible thumper simply because I read it and won’t go partying and such. There is no common interest in the faith. That’s a sad statement isn’t it.

  7. It seems that the churches where the Word is rightly divided are not very friendly. The churches where they are all about community are not so hot on getting their doctrines squared away.

    I thank the Lord for you having put these words in as with all the posts i have read from you, Gods timing is perfect. I always am reassured i’m not alone in this world that there are still a few of us left, who are here to give God the Glory, living daily for Him. Yet we seem so scattered across this planet. Oh for the day when we can all worship Christ together.
    But until then, as long as you are able, please keep sharing as you provide church for so many of us whos local churches are just a building not a church for the one and only living Lord God Almighty.

  8. Once again, your post is timely for me as well.
    The attack that the Lord Jesus has allowed Satan to unleash
    on the saints is relentless and at times so overwhelming I feel I
    cannot stand under it. And in fact, I cannot, it is only His faith that
    makes me stand and persevere.
    I am so grateful for the WORD. Where would I be without it? I shudder to think.
    It has been such a confusing time for me the past few years. Trying to sift through
    the rubble of all that has crumbled around me. Seeing the parable of the wheat and
    tares played out right in front of me. Feeling so stupid and ashamed that I didn’t discern it.
    But, coming full circle realizing that this is HIS Sovereign plan. I do not have to understand it all,
    although that would be nice sometimes, I just have to trust. I am being sifted, to prove that
    I am the “wheat”. Seeing the tares fall through the holes of the sifter is very disheartening.
    But, praise be to God, I know who holds that sifter and He is able to keep me from falling.
    My husband used to preach that in the last days the Bride would be scattered in small groups
    here and there, unknown yet well-known. We are truly in the last days.
    The Church of the living God is alive and well, and not limited to a place or building. She will come
    out of this wilderness of apostasy with her bridal clothing unspotted and unwrinkled.
    All glory and praise be the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the earth, my Lord and Savior
    Jesus Christ.
    “Not too many days”

  9. Denise, thank you for that very well thought out comment. I have experienced very much the same thing…being all set “to go to church,” but then my wife is sick so, instead, I watch John M. online or listen to Dr. White. Yes, there is the missing element of the fellowship, but yesterday at the church we attended, we knew no one and the only people we really talked to were other visitors. Great sermon, but very “cold” environment. I fellowship with the Lord everyday as I study and exegete His Word. I fellowship with other believers daily here. When I visit a church in another city and am put in situation where a discussion of Christian living or doctrine does come up, I am appalled at the lack of Christian maturity in those who are in authority and supposed to be ‘leading.” I see a lot of leading by feeling in those environments, every effeminate, sorry if that offends, but that is what I have observed. Where is the Wisdom of the Lord? In any case, we only bring dishonor to God by the fruits of the flesh, you know that my sister.

  10. I spent far too many years in churches that were, as one “senior pastor” put it, “people driven”. The Lord used Rick Warren to provoke me to study His Word and church history and then He providentially led me and my wife to a small church that exalts Christ and rests on the Scriptures.

    Brother and sisters, no perfect church inhabits this sinful world, but there are churches that stand on and preach the Word of God and hold up Christ alone as the saviour and Lord. Seek out and find and join with such a fellowship – your soul will rejoice!

  11. Eve, I was hoping that some church leaders would read those statements as well and understand that we just sheep who need be shepherded and made to lie down in green pastures by still waters. That means we must be fed first (right doctrine) and we must be made welcome as part of the family of God, the flock of our Lord. Why can’t we have both?

  12. Angi, your last statement is exactly what I say too. I think what I am describing here is part of a judgment and the falling apart and rubble we are seeing is God not allowing these marginal churches to get away with it any more.

  13. Denise, I live in central Indiana, are you close to me?
    I count myself very privileged to have a handful of true brothers and sisters
    in Christ. We exhort one another, and also rebuke with longsuffering.
    I have been “kicked out” of the fellowship that my husband (and pastor) and I began
    in our home. After he died things just crumbled.
    I have had to take a stand within my own family, parents and siblings.
    I enjoy talking about Jesus and what He has so graciously done for me, through no
    merit of myself, only through His infinite grace and mercy and ultimately for His glory!

  14. I echo the thoughts that is a timely post Mike. I attend a Baptist church as the only other free churches in the area run those horrendous “alpha” courses which seem very dodgy and apostate to me.
    I have found it to be very worldly and compromising to the world at large rather than to fully focus on the Father and the Saviour and grace, the word “local community” to them i feel is more about being seen to compromise with the world and secularism and trying to gather the favour of the local community and the community authorities by works and not grace.
    It occured to me that that being a true Christian is rather to be hated by the world than to seek its aproval or to compromise with it.
    There are still some good sermons however and i do enjoy the fellowship of other believers and the minister is very young and with a young family, i have prayed for him.

  15. Thank you for this blog much needed to remind us of our being, beginning and end, and the Word. You describe the Christian Atheist well and the few who are the children of God. The state of the world is an example of man’s world and not God’s creation. To praise God living as Jesus demonstrates and teaches is to respect all creation. The state of affairs today is so removed from that. So many only believe in themselves and what they can get for themselves; they do not believe in God even if they think they do. Practice in faith is to deeply search for Truth within and apply our values toward others and the world outside of ourselves. Success in this does not necessarily fit the world’s definition but is a life that is a testament to the glory and praise of God, an ongoing process for the fallen. Blogs, articles, and reminders like yours are pearls of Wisdom that point us in the path to the real, everlasting life.

  16. Jack, thanks for the comment brother. You said a that economy of words what I so struggled to say last night in my frustration… Again, thanks for the encouragement.

  17. Mike, JMT and Angi,

    Effeminate is a great description and no offense taken by it. It’s true, feelings are what the people go by and there’s no, none, nada Wisdom in that whatsoever. Our hearts are wicked and decieved so going by feelings is not wise at all. Yet, that’s what I’m witnessing and hearing from Christians, they go by their feelings. I keep praying for “The Church.”

    JMT, it is scarey isn’t it. And there’s a good chance we’re not the only two from reading these posts and other articles not counting how many different denominations and Churches I’ve tried and it’s the same thing.

    Angi, I’m sorry to hear about you being “kicked out” from your own home Church and also about your husband’s demise. We don’t live anywhere near one another as I’m in California but it would be great if we did live near each other. Sounds like your and my family are alike as we take our stand. Praise God we have this ministry from Mike to talk to one another. I’ll pray for you and all of us as we all need each other. And as someone else said here, I believe also that this is judgement as it begins in the house of the Lord. We are being sifted no doubt and as has been stated by another on here, the ‘real’ Christians or the wheat, when all is said and done, will come out spotless and wrinkled free to meet our Lord on that Great and Terrible Day. And oh what a Glorious Day that will be to all Worship and Praise our Lord and God together. Just thinking about that makes me smile and my heart jumps with a thrill. Our Lord has given us great hope and for that I’m so thankful to Him. One day soon we are going to meet the King!

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