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Let's Start Before the Beginning, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
December 15, 2020 7:05 am

Let's Start Before the Beginning, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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As mature adults, we've learned to measure time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years, even decades. But according to the Bible, there are some things that cannot be traced to a starting point, nor measured in increments of time. And today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll cites one of those mysterious beginnings. The first in a brand new mini-series designed to center our attention on the glory of Christmas, he titled today's message, Let's Start Before the Beginning. Chuck is teaching from John chapter 1, and we begin with prayer. Thank you for the profound story of your love for us in giving us your one and only son. Thank you for the plan that defies imagination, taking us to a time which we can hardly comprehend, and then sweeping us through time to that day when deep and deep is our hope.

The deity became humanity. And then as a baby grew, became a man, went to a cross and died for us. We're filled with gratitude on this day, Lord, as we begin this season together to be reminded of the story in its fullness. Give us hearts to take it in and a willingness to respond in love to your love as you have given us your one and only. Thank you for the privilege of giving to your work. May these gifts be used in strategic ways to reach the hearts of those who have never heard even the beginning of this story, to say nothing of its fulfillment. Be pleased, I pray, with our motive in giving and the act itself as we do so with great joy in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior. And everyone said, Amen.

You're listening to Insight for Living. To search the Scriptures with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insightworld.org slash studies. Today's message is titled, Let's Start Before the Beginning. In infinity past, in eternity past, there took place what theologians have come to call the Council of Divine Decrees. At this Council of Divine Decrees, a plan was arranged by the Trinity regarding life, not just life on this planet, but life as a whole.

And not just this galaxy, but all galaxies and every place where the Trinity determined there would be something, then that was in the plan, including on this earth, a plan of salvation. So you see, it did not all begin at Bethlehem. It didn't begin just when the angel said to Mary, You're the chosen one.

No, it goes all the way back into infinity, which is where John begins. All of your life, chances are good you thought it all began in Genesis 1. In the beginning, God created the heavens.

No, no, no, no. That's when God created. John 1 goes back before there was anything created. In a beginning was the Word. John's favorite name for Jesus is Logos. Logos is too complicated for me to get into, so we'll just stay with the term Word, which is the translation of the Greek Logos. In a beginning, which really never has a beginning, eternally existed Logos. The Father determined that the Son would be the one who would come.

Look at the way the map reads. The Word was with God. The Word was God. Lest we be confused, we will use the word deity.

Logos was deity. He existed in the beginning with God. In fact, God created everything through him.

Most people don't know that. We think of the Father as the creator, when in fact it was the second member of the Trinity who was given that responsibility in the Council of Divine Decrees. We read that he existed in the beginning and created everything. In fact, to make it clear, John goes on to say at the end of verse 3, nothing was created except through him. There was no alien creation.

There was no surprising event. All planned, all carried out through the limitless power of the second member of the Trinity. Logos gave life to everything.

Think of it. In creating these creatures and these living things, plants, animals, fish, whatever, there is the existence of life because he gave life to each. Apart from him, there is no life. And it adds, apart from him, there is no light.

See how it reads? His life brought light to everyone. Light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Think for a moment of absolute darkness. My first example of that was when my family and I visited Carlsbad Caverns. I was only an older teenager at the time.

I'd read of the place, but I'd never been there. And when I heard that we were going to be there, I thought, what a great thing to see those caverns and be in that cave. And we went down, down, down, deeper and deeper and deeper. And we got all the way to what seemed like the center of the earth. We were a long ways from that. But in my little mind, it seemed that and suddenly we turned all the lights off.

I mean, it was darker than a thousand midnights in the cypher swamp. Here we sat and our guide said to us with his loudspeaker, now for a moment, put your hand up near your nose. Your nose is on your face, in case you wonder. And as you bring your hand closer, you won't see your hand, but you'll feel the heat of your palm. And I did that like I'm doing right now. I look silly, but I'm doing it right now. And I felt the heat of the palm, but I couldn't see my hand until he struck a match and the entire cavern lit up from one tiny match.

In this case, we have absolute, complete, total darkness until Lagos gives it life and light. Amazing. I love settings like this. I'm trying to keep you awake, so I'm going to stay at it here. I remember sitting in a classroom of theology when I was in seminary, very near the front, often right on the front row. I could feel the spit from the professor at times. I had to be careful about my mouth falling open as I'm sitting there in amazement. And I remember going through one scene after another, looking around and smiling like, is this the greatest thing you've ever heard? And I looked three guys away and I saw, like I'm seeing right now. No, no, no, no.

I think you're all awake because you're in the vehicle and you've got your fuel line open. But listen to this. Listen to the way Philip Keller describes the scene. In order to fashion Earth as he did, with its incredible array of plants, animals, insects, birds, fish, reptiles, microorganisms, including humanity, demanded the attributes of deity. His insight into science staggers our imagination.

He's the greatest botanist, zoologist, and biologist of all times. And so we could go on to enumerate all the fields of knowledge in which he alone holds all prior knowledge and prime position. He knew it all. He fashioned it all in his mind.

It was clear to him before anything was created. When we built our home, we hired an architect who would help us with the plans. And there were times we didn't have some of the details worked out. I remember standing in the in the stage of the building where the two by fours were in place. You could make out where the walls would be, but a lot of the details were not yet figured out in our minds.

But we had our architect with us. And I said to Robbie Fuchs, architect, I said, Robbie, I can't imagine how we'll do the fireplace, which we'd like to have here in our living room. And he said, oh, you have a pad and pencil?

I go, oh, yeah. He said, OK, sit down over here. So we sat down on stool and pulled up a little table and he got the pencil and started drawing. So I'm watching this fireplace take place before my eyes. He draws it in 3D and he goes, when he finishes there, there's your fireplace.

And I go, that's unbelievable. I want to frame the pencil drawing. And he said, no, no, it's just a pencil drawing. It's a 3D drawing.

But it was fabulous. How could he do it? He's the architect. He sees it all. And if I hadn't wanted this, he would have done it like that.

And if we hadn't wanted that, he would have added this. Jesus, the original architect of it all. And you thought he just began as a baby in a manger. No, no, no. The baby in the manger held the universe in place. You'll never see a Christmas card that advertises or announces that.

How can you? True humanity, but undiminished deity, nevertheless. I'm getting ahead of myself because we need to get to verse 14, where we read, So Logos became human.

Never before in all of history, never before has such a transition taken place. The eternal Son of God, existing in eternity past, who has been in existence through all the eras of the Old Testament events, through all of history from the eternity past, to creation, to the passing of time, all the way to Nazareth and Mary, the young Jewess at work in the home, who hears the voice of the angels saying, You're the one. And in that moment, Logos became human.

Isn't that great? God, while remaining God, now becomes truly human. Two natures, one person, existing without commingling, the unique God-man. Theologians call him the theanthropic person, theosanthropos. And please observe, he made his home among us.

I've always liked the way Eugene Peterson, in the message paraphrased in the New Testament, writes, He says, The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. Isn't that good? Isn't that a comfortable way to put it? Sounds like something Mr. Rogers would say, huh?

He just moved into the neighborhood. But you know what? That's how they saw it. That's how they viewed it. You see, the baby did not have a halo. It didn't glow. It didn't have little wings on his back.

It didn't fly around the crib. He's a baby. And becoming a baby, he submitted himself not only to the pull of gravity, but to parental authority, neither of which he had known before. He created gravity.

And now he's subject to it. Had they dropped the baby, he would have hit hard. He wouldn't have floated down to an easy landing.

Why? Because he's truly human. That's why you see snapshots of both emerge in the life of Jesus. He's asleep on the boat in the storm. And then when they awaken him, because humanity sleeps, he steals the storm because only God can steal the storm. Because at the scene of Lazarus' death, he weeps because humanity sheds tears. God doesn't shed tears, but he raises the dead.

He's the God-man. He's touched with the feelings of our infirmities because he is human. But he heals our infirmities because he is God.

Learn that lesson. Understand that is why they worshiped him. Not because he was a pretty little Jewish baby, but because he is God in flesh. And they grasped enough of the Scriptures to know this is Messiah. This is the fulfillment of the prophet's words. A child will be born.

A son will be given. Here he is, God in flesh. Verse 14 says he was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. How true.

How magnificent. No wonder when he spoke, the centurion would say later no one ever spoke like him. The seasoned, scarred, battle-hardened centurion had been around lots of people, but he never hurt anybody like Jesus. But look, for example, at what Paul wrote. Not Philippians. Let's look first at Colossians. The letter beyond Philippians, you'll find words in Colossians chapter 1 you won't find anywhere else in the New Testament. So this is a passage of primary reference. A wonderful reminder of the Jesus of eternity past.

Look for yourself. Colossians 1.15. Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

How beautiful to write it like that. He's visible, we could see him, but in fact in him there is the nature of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. Well of course, the creator is supreme over the creation.

He is that. Paul goes on through him, God created everything, verifying what John wrote. In the heavenly realms and on earth he made the things we can see and the things we can't see.

Is that remarkable? The massive stars of the universe right down in the tiny butterfly wings under a microscope that hold the attention for hours. We tend to identify the origin of Christmas. On that morning the baby Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph.

But clearly John teaches us that Jesus was the first born over all creation. You're listening to Insight for Living and the Bible teaching of pastor and author Chuck Swindoll. Chuck titled today's message, Let's Start Before the Beginning. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Chuck is in the studio today with a prepared statement exclusively for our radio family, so please keep listening.

First though, I'll give you a sneak peek of what's ahead in the new year of 2021. Chuck has already mapped out his preaching schedule for the program. I'm pleased to tell you that in January we'll begin a brand new verse by verse study through the book of Matthew. Matthew of course is the first book in the New Testament. It's a masterful record that begins with our King's arrival in Bethlehem and ends with his ascension into heaven. In addition to Chuck's teaching series, we're pleased to offer his brand new commentary. It's called Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary for Matthew. And because of its enormity, this commentary comes in two hardbound volumes. Both are ready right now and we encourage you to purchase your copies in time to begin the study with us in January. To purchase Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary for Matthew, call us. If you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888 or go to insight.org slash store. In these more than 40 years of ministry that Insight for Living has been teaching the Bible, I've never witnessed a year quite like 2020.

Chances are you haven't either. This was a year defined by ginormous disruptors. The disruptors are personal disasters that derailed our plans and stole any modicum of peace we'd come to enjoy. The number one disruptor, of course, was the unnerving coronavirus. But make no mistake, the chaos cannot be isolated to a contagious flu bug alone. In addition, COVID seemed to ignite a powder keg of emotions that exploded like bombshells in our political and civil discourse.

And the end result? Our world is embroiled in a diabolical war against itself. These are serious days. And now you're probably thinking, come on, Chuck, lighten up a little.

I know, I know. It's not like me to paint such a dark and hopeless picture, but I would deny the obvious if I didn't acknowledge the minefield of troubling issues that litter our path today. So here's where I turn the corner. Lest we think we're trekking through uncharted territory, let's pause to remember Jesus has been down this road before. In fact, when you think back, his times were rife with crisis, just as ours are. In fact, when the baby Jesus broke onto the human stage in Bethlehem, the political climate in Rome was deep and treacherous.

Caesar Augustus was demanding a census, and Herod the Great was on a rampage of fury. And it was no accident that Jesus arrived when he did. Remember Paul's words? When the fullness of time came, God sent forth his son, Galatians 4. What he meant was Jesus arrived right on time. Ultimately, Jesus died on the cross right on time, and later walked out of the grave right on time. I believe that God has appointed Insight for Living Ministries to declare the truth about Jesus for such a time as this.

It is right on time. He is our only hope. Christ is still the one who is able to bring light when all around us is dark as night. God is still with us in this year of loss and violence, division, arguments, and pandemic. So now, as we turn the page and come to the end of this chapter called 2020, I'm asking you to join me in proclaiming the truth about Jesus with a world that's overcome with fear. Look, I'm keenly aware that many of our listening family have endured financial setbacks this year.

I realize that, and I stand with you. Some, however, are capable of giving on their behalf, above and beyond. In any case, I can assure you that your much-needed year-end gift will become a light to those who are walking in darkness. Any amount God places on your heart to give to Insight for Living Ministries will make all the difference you can imagine, and it will make a difference to those in need. Together, let's assure them of this.

You are not alone. God is still on the throne, and He's always right on time. Perhaps you are in a position to give on behalf of others who've come to rely on Insight for Living, just as someone once did for you. Your generosity right now will arrive at just the right time.

So here's how to connect. If you're listening in the United States, call 1-800-772-8888 or go online to Insight.org. Once again, you can give a year-end donation by calling us. If you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888 or give online at Insight.org. Tomorrow, Chuck Swindoll concludes his message titled, Let's Start Before the Beginning, right here on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Let's Start Before the Beginning, was copyrighted in 2019 and 2020, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2020 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-15 01:53:32 / 2024-01-15 02:02:01 / 8

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