Sermon # 2                                                                                                                          John’s Gospel


      Title:                                 “In the Beginning…”

      Text:                                 John 1:1

      Subject:               Christ the Word

      Date:                                Sunday Morning — December 30, 2007

      Tape #                 John 2

      Reading: John 1:1-18



The title of my message is In the Beginning…” My text will be John 1:1. I cannot think of a better way to begin our study of John’s Gospel than by focusing on this profound declaration with which the Apostle was inspired of God the Holy Spirit to begin his Gospel.


(John 1:1) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”


One of the old writers suggested “These words should be written upon tablets of gold and hung in every church building in the world.” In the 2nd century, Clement of Alexandria wrote that one of the atheistic Platonic philosophers, said of John 1:1, “This barbarian hath comprised more stupendous stuff in three lines, than we have done in all our voluminous discourses.” May God the Holy Spirit teach us that which he inspired an unlearned and ignorant man like John, the son of Zebedee the fisherman, to write in these three lines.


(John 1:1) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”


In the beginning was the Word.”


The other Gospel writers begin with Bethlehem. John begins with “the bosom of the Father.” Luke dates his narrative by Roman emperors and Jewish high-priests. John dates his “in the beginning.” With those words he carries us into the depths of eternity, before time or creatures were. Both the Book of Genesis and the Gospel of John start from “the beginning.” Genesis starts with “the beginning” and works downward, telling us what followed. John starts with “the beginning” and works upward, telling us what preceded “the beginning.” Before the beginning, Christ the Word, our God and Savior, already was.


The Beginning


John’s Gospel opens with three simple words that are full of instruction. — “In the beginning.” In 1st John, this same Apostle used similar language to describe our Savior and speaks of him as “That which was from the beginning” (1 John 1:1). — But what is he talking about? Certainly, he is not talking about the beginning of eternity, for eternity has no beginning. Rather than trying to determine the meaning of these words for ourselves, let’s look at them as they are used in other places by the Spirit of God (Proverbs 8:22-23; Isaiah 46:9-10; Acts 15:18; Colossians 1:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 1:10; 1 John 2:14).


(Proverbs 8:22-23) “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. (23) I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.”


(Isaiah 46:9-10) “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”


(Acts 15:18) “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”


(Colossians 1:18) “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”


(2 Thessalonians 2:13) “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”


(Hebrews 1:10) “And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.”


(1 John 2:14) “I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”


John is talking about the beginning of the manifestation or Jehovah’s purpose of grace, the beginning of his great work of saving his elect by our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, whose “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). It seems to me that he is telling us that there was a beginning before the beginning the beginning of time. Our blessed Savior went forth from the beginning as our covenant Surety to save us from our sins.


John here teaches us to look upon the Son of God, both as the Essential Word and as the Revealed Word, standing forth in the everlasting councils of the triune God as our Surety and set up as the Wisdom of God from everlasting (Proverbs 8:22-31).


(Proverbs 8:22-31) “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. (23) I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. (24) When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. (25) Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: (26) While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. (27) When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: (28) When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: (29) When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: (30) Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; (31) Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.”


In the beginning, before ever the earth was made, Christ stood forth as the Word in and by whom the Lord God would make himself known in the salvation of chosen sinners. He was not only the Word from the beginning, but “in the beginning.” — “In the beginning…”

·      He stood forth as our covenant Surety.

·      He was accepted as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

·      We were chosen, accepted, blessed and redeemed in him from the beginning (Ephesians 1:3-7).


(Ephesians 1:3-7) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”


The Word


In the beginning was the Word.” — John calls our Lord Jesus Christ “the Word.” This is a term used in the New Testament almost exclusively by John, identifying Christ as one who is God, and yet a distinct Person from the Father. I can think of only two places in which other inspired writers used this term in the New Testament with reference to our Savior. In Hebrews 4:12-13 we read — For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” In 2nd Peter 3:5 we read “that by the word of God the heavens were of old.”


A word is an expression, a means of manifestation, communication and revelation. Christ manifests the invisible God, communicates the love, mercy and grace of God, and reveals the attributes and perfections of God. The Word of God, then, is Deity expressing itself. Therefore Christ is called the Word of God (Hebrews 1:1-3).


(Hebrews 1:1-3) “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”


In Revelation 1:8 our Savior declares himself to be God’s alphabet. — I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Christ is the Word in and by whom the triune God makes himself know to men, the personal enunciation of Jehovah (John 1:18).


(John 1:18) “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”


Christ, the Word, is one of the Holy Three-in-One that bear record in heaven (1 John 5:7). “There are three that bear record in heaven.” Bear record of what? That Jesus is the Son of God? No. Heaven needs no evidence of that! These three bear record in heaven that God has given us eternal life, in strict accordance with his just and righteous law, by the merits of Christ’s obedience and death as our Substitute. The three Persons of the Holy Trinity bear record in heaven that Christ has accomplished redemption for God’s elect by his blood atonement. — “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”


God the Father bears record that redemption is accomplished by his acceptance of Christ as our Representative and Surety (Hebrews 1:1-9; 6:19-20; 10:11-14). When the Father raised Christ from the dead and received him back into heaven as our Mediator, he accepted all his elect in Christ and bare record that redemption’s work was done (Ephesians 1:6; John 17:1-5).


God the Son, the living, eternal Word, the second person of the blessed Trinity, bears record of his people’s right to eternal life by his perpetual advocacy and intercession at the Father’s right hand (Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2; Hebrews 6:20; 7:24-25). The record he bears, which secures the eternal salvation of God’s elect, by which we merit heaven and eternal life, is twofold: — His righteousness as our Representative and — His satisfaction as our Substitute.


Illustration: The Rent Veil


God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the holy Trinity, bears record of the accomplishment of redemption, by effectually applying the blood of Christ to the hearts of God’s elect in effectual calling (John 16:14; Hebrews 9:13-14). The Spirit of God takes the merit of Christ’s blood and righteousness and reveals our acceptance with God to us by the gospel. In effectual calling chosen, redeemed sinners hear the gospel. But they hear more than the bare word of the gospel. They hear the Spirit of God speak in their hearts! Each one hears God speak pardon to his own soul by the gospel of his salvation (Ephesians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 5:16). — This is the record of heaven. The Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit point to the blood and righteousness of Christ and say, “It is finished! Redemption is accomplished!”


And these three are one.” — The three Divine Persons are one God. But more, the record of the Father, the record of the Word, and the record of the Spirit are one. What is that record? — Redemption is accomplished by Christ alone! Every chosen sinner has the right to enter into heaven by the blood gate, by the merits of Christ. — “God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”


Look at this name and title John gives to the Lord Jesus againThe Word.” — “In the beginning was the Word.” That is a statement so full of meaning that I have no hope of expounding it.

·      Christ is called the Word because he is the Wisdom of God.

·      He is called the word because he is the Person spoken of in all the Old Testament prophecies and the sum of all the promises.

·      Our Redeemer is called the Word because he is the Speaker, the Revealer and the Interpreter of the Father’s will.

·      And he is called the Word because he is the Image of the invisible God, the Offspring of the Father’s mind, the Express Image of his Person, just as our words (if honestly spoken) are the express image of our minds.




John says, “In the beginning was the Word.” He does not say, “In the beginning came the Word, or began the word, but was the Word.” The word translated “was” literally means “was existing.” John is telling us that whenever the beginning was the Word already was. He is declaring that he who is God our Savior is the eternal One. He is that One who “was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).


In the beginning was the word.” — No created mind can plunge the depths of this vast ocean or traverse its shoreless breadth. When time and creatures came into being, the Word was. — “In the beginning was the word.” No words could have been chosen by God the Holy Spirit that could more perfectly or more emphatically declare that our Lord Jesus Christ is the absolute, uncreated, eternal God.


Now, look at the next line of our text…


And the Word was with God.


With those words John declares that Christ the Word is one with and co-eternal with God. John is declaring the eternal existence of the Word with the Father, his relation and nearness to him, his equality with him, and particularly the distinction of the Word from the Father. He was always with him, and is with him, and ever will be with him. From all eternity there was an intimate and ineffable union between the first and second Persons in the blessed Trinity, — between Christ the Word, and God the Father. Though John here speaks of the Father and the Son, as we saw in 1st John 5:7, the same is true of God the Holy Spirit.


John seems to be emphasizing, not just the eternality of the Word and the eternal union of the Father and the Son, but the eternal communion of the Divine Persons. The preposition “with,” is a preposition of direction and means “toward,” or “face to face with,” suggesting both equality and agreement. The phrase might be translated, “and the Word was toward God.” It expresses the idea of motion.


Again, I am reminded of Micah’s description of our Savior as him whose “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.In perfect union, communion and being with one another the Father and the Son, the Word and God went forth toward us in everlasting mercy and love in the beginning, from eternity!

·      Christ, the Word, was with the Father in the covenant of grace. He was with the Father in the creation of the universe, and is with him in the providential government of the world.

·      He was with him as the Word and Son of God in heaven, while he as man, was here on earth.

·      And he is now with him as our Advocate on High (1 John 1:1-2).

There is now, always has been, and always shall be a reciprocal, conscious communion, and the active going out of love between the three Persons of the Triune God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, regarding the Salvation of our souls! Imagine that! — As the three Persons of the eternal Godhead are equal in Divinity but distinct in personality, so all three of the Divine Persons are equal in grace but distinct in the operations of grace; and all three are and were and forever shall be moving toward us in grace!


God the Father is set before us as the Fountain of all grace (Ephesians 1:3-6). It was God the Father who, in the covenant of grace, proposed redemption, devised the plan and chose the people whom he would save by his almighty grace. He found a way whereby his banished ones could be brought back to him and never expelled from his presence. Then, “in the fulness of time,” he sent his Son to be the Medium or Mediator of grace to his chosen (Galatians 4:4-6).


God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the channel of all grace (Ephesians 1:7-12). All grace comes to sinners through Christ the Mediator. In the first chapter of Ephesians Paul tells us fourteen times that everything God requires of sinners, does for sinners, and gives to sinners is in Christ. Apart from Christ there is no grace! God will not deal with man, but by Christ. Man cannot deal with God, but by Christ. Christ is the Revelation of God, the incarnation of God and the only way to God.

·      Are we chosen of God? We are chosen in Christ.

·      Are we blessed of God? We are blessed in Christ.

·      Are we predestinated by God? We are predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ.

·      Are we adopted as the children of God? We are adopted in Christ.

·      Are we accepted of God? We are accepted in Christ.

·      Are we redeemed by God? We are redeemed in Christ.

·      Are we forgiven by God? We are forgiven in Christ.

·      Are we justified before God? We are justified in Christ.

·      Are we sanctified by God? We are sanctified in Christ.

·      Do we know God? We know him in Christ.

·      Do we have an inheritance from God? We have it in Christ.

·      Are we called of God? We are called in Christ.


Do you see this? All grace comes to chosen sinners through Christ, the Word who is from everlasting “with God.” There is no other way the grace of God can reach a sinner. It is the work of Christ upon the cross which has brought grace and justice together in the salvation of sinners. It is through his blood, only through the blood of the cross that “mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10). Blissfully lost in the contemplation of God’s matchless grace in Christ, John Bunyan penned the following rapturous words…


“O Thou Son of the Blessed! Grace stripped Thee of thy glory. Grace brought Thee down from heaven. Grace made Thee bear such burdens of sin, such burdens of curse as are unspeakable. Grace was in Thy heart. Grace came bubbling up from Thy bleeding side. Grace was in Thy tears. Grace was in Thy prayers. Grace streamed from Thy thorn-crowned brow! Grace came forth with the nails that pierced Thee, with the thorns that pricked Thee! Oh, here are unsearchable riches of grace! Grace to make sinners happy! Grace to make angels wonder! Grace to make devils astonished!”


The Fountain of all grace is God the Father. The medium of all grace is God the Son. And God the Holy Spirit is the Administrator of all grace (Ephesians 1:13-14). It is God the Holy Spirit who effectually applies the blood of Christ to chosen, redeemed sinners. He regenerates the dead by omnipotent power (John 6:63). He calls the redeemed with irresistible grace (Psalms 65:4; 110:3; John 16:8-11). He gives faith to the chosen by almighty operations of grace (Ephesians 2:1-9; Colossians 2:12). He seals God’s elect unto everlasting glory.


Redemption was effectually accomplished for God’s elect by Christ at Calvary; and it is effectually applied to all the redeemed by God the Holy Spirit in effectual calling (Hebrews 9:12-14). Without the sovereign, gracious operations of God the Holy Spirit in conversion no sinner would ever become the beneficiary of grace.

·      He takes the things of Christ and shows them to his people.

·      He quickens those the Father chose.

·      He reclaims those the Son redeemed.

·      And he leads to the Good Shepherd everyone of those lost sheep for whom the Good Shepherd laid down his life (John 10:11).


“He conquers the stoutest hearts and cleanses the foulest spiritual leper. He opens the sin-blinded eyes and unstops the sin-closed ears. The blessed Holy Spirit reveals the grace of the Father and applies the grace of the Son” (C.D. Cole)


All three Persons in the Godhead are equally gracious; and all three must be equally praised. In fact, whenever the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are presented together in the Scriptures, it is always in connection with redemption, grace and salvation. I have not found an exception.


“Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Praise Him all creatures here below!

Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts!

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”


Sometimes God the Father is presented alone, as when he stood upon Mt. Sinai, clothed with thunder and lightening, delivering the law to Moses. So terrible was his presence that the very mountain shook in the prospect of God’s awesome judgment (Exodus 20:18).


Sometimes God the Son appears alone, as when he appears in his glorious second advent. Then men and women who have despised and rejected him will cry for the mountains to fall upon them and pray in terror that they might be saved from “the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:14).


When God the Holy Spirit is represented alone, the consequences are the same. Those who blaspheme him, committing that sin which can never be forgiven, are reserved as reprobates unto everlasting judgment (Matthew 12:31-32). Whenever one Person in the Trinity is presented alone, the result is judgment.


However, when all three of the Divine Persons are set before us together, as in John 1:1, the consequence is always mercy, grace, redemption and salvation (Ephesians 1:3-14; Revelation 1:4-6). In other words, — The whole Being of God, in all his attributes, in all his glory, in the Trinity of his Persons is set for the everlasting salvation of his elect (Jeremiah 32:41; Romans 8:28-32).


(Jeremiah 32:41) “Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.”


(Romans 8:28-32) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”


Briefly look with me at the third statement made in our text.


And the Word was God.


It is impossible for anyone to read those words with honesty and misunderstand them. John here asserts that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, was, is and ever shall be in nature, essence and substance very God of very God, and that as the Father is God, so also the Son is God. Our Savior’s divinity could not be more positively stated. There is no inferiority in the Word to God the Father. The eternal and unchangeable Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one.


And the Word was God.” — He was not made God, as he is made flesh. He was not constituted or appointed God, or declared God by office and title. “The Word was God,” truly and properly God, in the highest sense of the word. Jesus Christ, our Savior, the Word, is Jehovah, our God, God with us, the mighty God, God over all, the great God, the living God, the true God and eternal life. All the perfections divinity are his. All the fulness of the Godhead dwells in him. The works of his hands are the works him who is God…

·      Creation and Providence

·      Redemption and Forgiveness

·      Life and Death

·      Judgment and Mercy


Heresy Abolished


(John 1:1) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”


With this one sentence John sweeps away and abolishes every heresy by which Satan has harassed the Church of God from its beginning.

·      Arianism, which asserts that Christ is a Being inferior to God.

·      Sabellianism, which denies the distinction of Persons in the Trinity, and says that God sometimes manifested himself as the Father, sometimes as the Son, and sometimes as the Spirit.

·      Socinianism, Unitarianism, which declares that Jesus Christ was not God at all, but mere man, a good and great man, but only a man.

·      Arminianism, which declares God to be changeable as one whose love, will, purpose and grace are all subject to the will of man!


(John 1:1) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”


Without question, there are deep mysteries here which no man can comprehend, and no language can explain. How can there can be a plurality in unity, and a unity in plurality, three persons in the Trinity and one God in essence? — How Christ can be at the same time in the Father and with the Father? — These are matters far beyond our feeble understanding. Blessed are they who are content simply to believe the revelation of God. As one old writer put it, “It is rashness to search too far into it. It is piety to believe it. It is life eternal to know it. And we can never have a full comprehension of it, till we come to enjoy it.”


The Blessedness of It


Now, let me show you something of the blessedness of that which is here asserted.


(John 1:1) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”


Christ the Word, who is our God is eternal life (1 John 1:1-3).


(1 John 1:1-3) “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (2) (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) (3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”


Christ, the Word of Life, Christ who is life essential, swallowed up death in victory, and “brought life and immortality to light by the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). — “Truly our fellowship with the Father and with his Son.” Union being the ground of communion, all that is theirs is ours. This made Moses cry out, “Happy art thou, O Israel” (Deuteronomy 33:29).


The life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us” (v. 2). Christ is Eternal Life! Look at 1st John 1:5. This is the message God sent me to declare to you. — “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” In this context, John is not simply telling us of God’s transcendent excellence and purity. He is telling us what the message is that we are sent to proclaim. He is talking about the revelation of God, whom no man has seen or can see, apart from Christ, the Word, who is both God himself and the Light of life in and by whom God is revealed. God the Holy Spirit has given us “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” by the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:6). Oh, may “the Spirit of the living God write these things, “not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of our heart,” for Christ’s sake, that we may know him who is Eternal Life and that we may forever walk together in sweet fellowship with one another and truly in fellowship “with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ,” that our joy may be full!


Nothing revealed in Holy Scripture more forcibly inspires unity among true believers than the revelation of the Trinity. This is not some abstract point of theological speculation, or some profitless point of doctrinal refinement. This is a subject so far above our comprehension that it should inspire our deepest reverence and humility, as well as the most circumspect consecration and unity.


In our baptism, you and I have publicly avowed our consecration to our God (Romans 6:4-6). Being baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we publicly declared our consecration and commitment to obey the will of the Father, live for the glory of the Son, and submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.


Let every thought about the holy Trinity stimulate in us a desire that we may be one even as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one (John 17:20-22).


(John 17:20-22) “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (22) And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.”


“Who can think of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as one — one in nature, one in love, one in purpose — and not hope for the day when the intercessory prayer of Christ will be answered in the union of all his followers?” (J.M. Pendleton)


All true believers should earnestly devote themselves, as the sons and daughters of the triune God, to unity. Oh, that God’s saints on earth might truly be one in purpose, seeking the glory of God, — one in labor, serving the cause of Christ, — and one in the love of Christ (Philippians 2:2-5). As the children of God in this world, for Christ’s sake (Ephesians 4:32-5:1), for his glory, let us learn by the grace of God to be patient with one another, — to highly esteem one another, — to forgive one another, — to be forbearing with one another, and — to give deference to one another. Soon, we shall be one in glory (John 17:22; Ephesians 4:1-6).






Don Fortner



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