Word Made Flesh

20131209_wordmadeflesh

We ought always to reflect on the profound reality of the Incarnation.

Over the course of time, we have added a bunch of cultural traditions to the celebration of the Christmas season, which is absolutely fine, but at the same time we want to take care not to obscure anything central. So, enjoy the fudge, and the sleigh bells jingling, and bringing the woods into your living room… but enjoy it all for the right reason.

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 KJV)

John’s gospel begins with the words in the beginning, deliberately echoing the first words of Genesis (Genesis 1:1). Just as God created the heavens and the earth, so in the arrival of Jesus, He was recreating the heavens and the earth (v. 1). In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. What does this mean? The withness is defined by the word Word. The Word was with God the Father in the way our words are with us. They are not the same. And yet, at the same time, our words reveal us and are to be identified with us. We are what we speak. Out of the abundance of the heart, a man speaks, and we are this way because God is the same way. Out of the abundance of His heart, He speaks. Now, this perfect Word, this Word that came from the Father without any degradation of meaning, this Word which was also to be identified with the Father, what did He do? He became flesh, John says, and dwelt among us (v. 14). Did this bring about degradation of meaning? No, John says—we beheld his glory (v. 14). What glory? The glory of the only begotten of the Father. What glory? A glory that was full of grace and truth.

In one sense, Jesus said that He was the only one who had seen the Father (John 6:46). But in His famous encounter with Philip later in this gospel, Jesus also said, “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?” (John 14:8-9). Jesus says here that the Word of God is not perfectly spoken within the triune life of God only. God has spoken Himself into a very imperfect and broken world, and He has done so perfectly. What does this mean?

Man in his sinful condition does not want to be saved. That is part of what it means to be a sinner. This means that man wants, by various strategies, to put himself out of God’s reach. Some want to do it arrogantly, like the modern atheist who says there is no God. Communication is not possible, and the problem or fault is on God’s end. He is to blame for not existing. But others want to pretend to a kind of humility, and so they act as though the problem is with our hearing, and not with God’s speaking. “Yes,” they say, “God speaks perfectly, but we are finite, limited, and selfish. We cannot pretend to know what He has said to us because we can only hear imperfectly. Anyone who claims to have understood what He has said must be really arrogant.”

This postmodern foolishness makes a great show of adjusting to limits, and refuses to consider the implications of the Incarnation. As Francis Schaeffer put it in the great title of his book, He Is There and He Is Not Silent. Modernists and postmodernists both believe that anything that proceeds “downstream” from a source is necessarily a degradation. Only the source can be pure. But their problem is that they have forgotten that God is triune, and that His Word is the express image of His person (Hebrews 1:3). This is not like a series of gnostic emanations, or a line of xerox copies, with each one getting progressively blurrier, or some version of the telephone game, where the message gets increasingly garbled. Away with all that! We are Christians.

What does the Word say? The Word is the Logos, and He is not the om of Eastern mysticism. He does not smudge everything. He articulates it; He speaks it. Our Lord encompasses and embodies and exhibits everything that words do—exclamations, sentences, poems, stories, parables, sermons, lectures, novels, whispered conversations, propositions, questions, and more poetry. God speaks, and we are called to listen.

We worship the Speaker, the Spoken, and the Interpretation. Our triune God is not one frozen word, eternally stuck. The conversation is everlasting, glorious, swift, and beyond all reckoning. If this conversation were water, do not think of an infinite static ocean, but rather of an infinite cascading waterfall. No top, no bottom, no sides, no back, no front—and falling with infinite swiftness. God the Father speaks all of it, and the Word is all that is spoken. But who could possibly understand any of this? The Holy Spirit is the Wisdom that understands the conversation, all of it. “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).

Now, consider the nature of the miracle we celebrate at Christmas. Without losing anything “in the translation,” God brought this conversation into this world, starting in the womb of a young Jewish woman. The Word (the Word we have been speaking of) became flesh, and all carnal philosophy and wisdom fall backwards, like the men who came to arrest the Lord.

This post is an excerpt from the great little book God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas Is the Foundation for Everything by Pastor Douglas Wilson. Pastor Wilson has graciously granted us permission to republish it here.

  • James Dean

    can not we as Christians just have the faith to believe that it is not always about US? and that we can fully rely on Gods direct and profound word for our life because it is TRUTH.

  • http://www.warnerpress.org John Warner

    It’s so easy to get caught up in the materialism of the season, but you’re right on, we need to celebrate that with Christ in our mind. HE is the reason for the season!

  • Bob Demyanovich

    It is communication and well described, thank you Doug. The sinner does not want to communicate with God. The deeds of sin are darkness, prefer darkness and hide from confession and repentance. Sinners are lost except that God calls them. When we try to communicate we seek something common between us, a practice that is fraught with confusion. It is not only confusing but dangerous. It is more evident with the paganism of Christmas yet the occasions for sin meet with our friends, neighbors and coworkers. We want to be friends sharing the goodness that has overcome us. We cannot reason enough, or call the lost. It is God who calls the lost. Is it a wonder that not many wise are called? 1Cr 1:26 Those with nothing to lose are more open to the call. The Spirit of God interferes with the things of this world.

    Our communication is problematic. We are born physical beings who know only that which we have experienced. This is why we must be born again. It is not possible to communicate things of the spirit with physical examples. We must impart an image to God in any attempt to understand or communicate that which is a mystery to physical beings. This is why the Holy Spirit is life who transcends the infirmities of the flesh. Rom 8:26
    Who should we pray to? It is hard for some to say that Jesus is God. One cannot say triune enough to put it into the Word of God. It is not there.

    • http://www.marriageanchors.com James Michael Grunseth

      Hi friend,
      I am not quite sure what you mean by your last twp sentences, “One cannot say triune enough to put it into the Word of God. It is not there.”

      Please clarify.

      Thanks so much! I enjoy your writing. Keep it up! Jim Grunseth, Rev, MA-CP, CRU

      • Bob Demyanovich

        Triune is employed as a creed. Nougat, scrod, nylon are words of invention too yet not as deadly. Triune is a best guess that is not a biblical word. Oh but it is just a descriptive word. Test it in yourself and see that it has resonance and enforcement. It is very hard to deny yet it is not found in scripture. The problem with familiar conversation is deception.
        God is our righteousness it is not in us apart from Jesus. We do not call the lost, God does. The Spirit makes intercession for us, it is not of ourselves. Now all of this is of God not us so how do we presume to add a word that is not of God? If it were just conversation there would be no harm. It is included when teaching of God, it is deadly. Should we infer what Jesus means or should we hear what He says? Do not attempt to speak for God or to describe the Holy Spirit you sons of man. Note the precision, fear and worship the scribes had for the Word of God.

        • Bob Demyanovich

          The just shall live by faith.
          Rom 1:7, Gal 3:11, Hbr 10:38, Eph 2:8

  • Jerry S.

    Doug,

    I’ve read your article twice and apart from the “Trilogy” debate you may or may not have intended to step into… I’d like to comment on it.

    I understand the analogy you’re putting forth concerning Jhn 14:8-9 HNV (now comes the but), but it may be over reaching a bit beyond what is meant by the words printed on the page. Yeshua proved Himself the Messiah by His miracles, Mat 11:2-6 HNV that is what Phillip was seeking, just as John was, based on the incredible statements Jesus made just prior to Phillips and Thomas’s questions and what Jesus was relaying in His response. Phillip may very well be an example of our carnal condition, but that is not exclusive to him or these verses.

    Here’s a question for you… see – nothing up my sleeve, so there’s no trickery involved in here;

    Who and what would you say was/is the Word or word (upper/lower case “w”) prior to John penning Jhn 1:1,14 HNV in his original text document?

    J.

    P.s. Hint – the answer to the question helps us all understand what the Hebrew Messiah has spoken to all carnal mankind.

  • Mark Hayes

    Hallelujah.

    On the matter of comprehending our God some things just are unfathomable for us and only the Spirit can reveal it.

    Having read words from Bob, James and Jerry also here are some scriptures that are brought to mind and worthy of pondering..

    Jesus said “I and My Father are one” John 10:30

    Of whose glory and who did Isaiah see when Jesus said the words “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him”? John 12:41

    This we know is directing us to Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 6:1-3.

    “In the year that King Uzzi’ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple.
    Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
    And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

    God is Spirit and no man can see the Father’s face and live. – written in Exodus 33:20
    But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live.”

    BUT also taught to us 1 Timothy 6:15-16, (a confirmation).

    “the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has imortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, WHOM NO MAN HAS SEEN OR CAN SEE, to whom be honour and everlasting power Amen.”

    So I ask again who then did Isaiah see…

    Why of course as scripture teaches us Isaiah saw the express image of The LORD Almighty in His Son Jesus. This surely can be the only reason that Isaiah can still have lived.. Hallelujah!!

    Who is this Jesus then that Isaiah saw on the throne in heaven surrounded by the seraphim?…

    He is the only Son, begotten from eternity, the wisdom of God , possessed by the Father and with the Father as His Son in creation. Psalms 2:7, Proverbs 8:22-23,

    This is what Jesus declares to Philip as Doug rightly teaches of in John 14:8-9.

    When people speak of a triune God we should recognise it is man in his attempt to understand the nature and being of our God whose witness or testimony is three. 1 John 5:7 eimi treis martyreō Matthew 28:19.

    What is too difficult for the mind of man to fathom – the Christ, the Teacher, by the Holy Spirit through God’s prophets and apostles has taught us…

    This I see makes it simple for me.

    When a man is baptized He is baptized in the name of God, God being the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19

    Our God is one, His testimony or His witness is three. 1 John 5:7 eimi treis martyreō

    Hallelujah and Amen.

    In Christ
    Mark H NZ.

    PS I. what started out as intended to be a short sharing grew in length. But who can contain the joy of the Lord!!

    PS II. Isn’t it worthy of noting that when the LORD said He would pass by Moses and speak His name “The LORD” that The LORD commanded Moses to stand on the ‘rock’.

    “And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me where you shall stand upon the rock;” Exodus 33:21.

    But we then see The LORD Himself place Moses in a cleft in the rock. Exodus 33:22

    “and while My glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by;”

    Great and wonderful spiritual truths are in this…

    Later when Moses cleft the rock at God’s command out came a stream of water to provide life (sustenance) for the people.

    Moses placed in the ‘cleft of the rock’ points us to the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and seals us in the Father’s Son Jesus ‘the spriritual rock’, ‘the fountain of life’, so that we won’t perish in God’s wrath.

    “and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by;” Exodus 33:22

    Once we have been given to the Son by the Father, the hand of the Father covers us, so we won’t perish. Remember Moses had to be protected from seeing the face of the Father.

    Such is Christ to us.

    Who is the hand of the Father in Exodus 33:22 but the Son Jesus Christ? This is He whose blood is given us as a covering and a washing and a cleansing of our sins that we may know the Father. By the hand of the Father, Jesus now covering us we enter into the Father’s presence now and for eternity.

    Our God is one. Hallelujah Amen.

  • http://stephenahale@comcast.net Stephen

    His Birth In Human History.”…that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ was born into this world, not From it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of-He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God incarnate-God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord’s birth was an Advent-the appearance of God in human form.”
    ~Oswald Chambers~

    A little more; I just finished this reading Randy Alcorn’s book, “Heaven” [good book]. Randy proposed the idea of eternity and a possible new found ability once in heaven to view the past present and future as if it were the same time. He suggested the idea of our being able to view the birth of Jesus as if it were the exact time He was born. See His birth for ourselves in person. What an idea.
    What a Christmas that would be.

  • Kenneth Keeler

    I believe that the word “Triune” is not found in the bible but the concept of a triune God is all throughout the bible. So speaking and teaching of a triune God is a biblical mandate.I have been teaching for 30 years and believe with all my heart that Jesus was, is and always will be “God in the flesh”. Jesus had two natures but there is only one God in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I find that when something is difficult to understand many will claim an alternative idead rather than a biblical truth.All three persons of the God head are seen many times in the bible.

    • Bob Demyanovich

      Is triune a doctrine or spoken by the Holy Spirit?

      • Kenneth Keeler

        The understanding of the Trinity is not a doctrine but rather an understanding. In Genesis you see a plural account as in “our Image” in Matthew we see Jesus following God’s will being baptized and the holy Spirit descending and God speaking all at the same time.There is much more. One fantastic thing about being a born again Christian is reading the bible and realizing that the words are made alive by a living God through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Author might be the Father the Son fulfilled the Prophecy but the Holy Spirit brings the true message to light.

      • Bob Demyanovich

        None can know God except that God imparts the revelation of His person. Mat 16:17, 11:27, Luk 10:22, 1Cr 2:14
        Flesh and blood attempts to know that which can not be physically discovered. Must God exist in only one place as our only experience, our frame of reference knows? The hardest thing for human surrender is our own sufficiency. Faith is the essential and truly difficult requirement. Confidence in the surety of our own decisions prevents revelation from God. Does the Word of God say triune?