"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word was made 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" (John 1:1,14).
"AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH"--what great and wonderful truth is bound up in these few short words (for which we can never praise God enough)! It is mind-boggling, as a human being, to try to think about God and try to comprehend Him--God, the Almighty One, who is Spirit (who is invisible); God, Supreme Intelligence, the Eternal Self-Existent One (the great I AM); God, the essence and totality of perfection (whose character consititutes the law of the universe); God, who has called everything into being (and, as Paul said, "in him we live, and move, and have our being"); God, who exists as Supreme Personality (who is greater than the sum total of everything). And some small minds would arrogantly speak of "the philosophical conception of the inconceivable." But, "the Word was made flesh"!
Not only was God "reconciling the world unto himself" (II Cor. 5:19) in becoming flesh, He made it easier for us (with our fleshly limitations) to understand him. "And the Word was made 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." The apostle Paul declared, " For in him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead (Deity) bodily" (Col. 2:9). An interesting exchange of words is found in John 14:8 and 9, "Philip saith unto him, Lord shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" In John 10:30 Jesus had declared, "I and my Father are one." God is not just "the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity" (Is. 57:15), He has manifested Himself in the most practical way to his intelligent creation in the physical realm. "Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Mt. 1:23). When we think about God, it is still mind-boggling, but we have something more concrete upon which to fasten our finite minds. No, we had no problem in believing in God as Spirit (everything points to His reality, Rom. 1:20). It is just that in the Word becoming flesh, we can better behold His glory, "the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Man needed that, and God has accommodated us.
In presenting the great and majestic truths of God, the Bible and eternity, we need to do the same. It is ever so commendable to engage in talk, discussion and writings about the great doctrines of the Bible. But if we don't come down to a practical application, "what doth it profit?" Many may ascend upon high into their ivory theological towers among the clouds (with their theoretical and theological concepts) far removed from everyday reality. One person spoke of such a one. In great "theological" treatments he could go the deepest, and stay in the longest, to come out the driest! Moses was not like that. He scaled the lofty and holy heights of Mount Sinai to be with God in experiences unparalled, but when he came down he had the Ten Commandments. The apostle Paul could write about some of the most profound and lofty doctines, but he always came down to practical application of that which he wrote. The book of Romans is a good example of this. The great doctrines are seen in the first ten chapters. After these exalted truths, and praising God for them ("O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!.. Rom. 11:33-36), we have Romans 12:1 and 2 (then the rest of this great book). He begins the practical application: "I beseech you THEREFORE (on the basis of the wonderful doctrines of the preceding chapters), brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God." The first three chapters of Ephesians are the same way (how wonderful!), but he gets around to the "THEREFORE" of practical application beginning in chapter 4:1. These books are not exceptions, but the rule with him. Let us learn from this inspired man.
And the Word needs to become flesh in other ways too. People can hear preaching about Christ and being a Christian (being like Christ), but they need to see it. Christianity came into the Roman Empire as an alien religion. In a world of sensuality (void of love), the life-style it advocated was decidedly different from what they had been used to seeing. Even as Christ became flesh, the world needs to see the great and noble teachings of Christ embodied in a human being. The world must see a real life sample of the product we represent. Then, and only then, will the people of the world be impressed. That is why preachers, elders and teachers must be the real thing. The new converts need to know what is expected of them, in a practical way, by looking to leaders and those who are already Christians. Paul's words are more meaningful if we keep this in mind. Paul urged the Corinthians, "Brethren, be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (I Cor. 11:1). Being burdened that some were not embodying the truth as it is in Christ, Paul charged the Philippian Christians, "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample" (Read Philip. 3:16-19). And being more specific, Paul told the Thessalonians: "For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought [nothing]; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not the power [the right to be supported as a preacher], but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (II Thess. 3:7-10). Paul worked in order to show the Thessalonians that this is honorable (and what every Christian should do)--although as a preacher of the gospel he had a right to be supported in his work. At Ephesus he went a step further and said that he had showed them (in his working) how they should do this in order to be able to take care of the needy (Acts 20:34,35). Elders are to meet certain qualifications of maturity (the Word becoming flesh in them) so they can be examples for the flock to follow (I Peter 5:3; Heb. 13:7; I Tim. 3:1-7).
"And the Word was made 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" (John 1:14). What great and glorious truth that is! But the Word needs to be made flesh again, and again, and again. You get the message. And may we be God's flesh and blood message to the world (in deed and in truth). Amen. (VOL. 27, NO. 2, 1989)
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