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Jesus, the Word (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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March 4, 2024 3:00 am

Jesus, the Word (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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March 4, 2024 3:00 am

“The Word” is just one of many names the Bible ascribes to Jesus. What’s the significance of this title? And how does this unusual name help us understand Jesus’ role in the Trinity? Explore the answers along with Alistair Begg on Truth For Life.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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The Word is one of the many titles ascribed to Jesus in the Bible.

But what's the significance of this particular title? How does this unusual name help us better understand Jesus' role in the Trinity? We'll explore the answers today on Truth for Life. Alistair Begg is teaching from Luke chapter 22, but his focus today is on the description of Jesus found in the prologue of John's Gospel. Thirdly, the Word is eternal. The Word is Creator. The Word was and is God. That's what it says there in verse 1, isn't it? The Word was with God and the Word was God.

This is the baseline. This is the core of Christian faith. To say less than this is to deviate from Christian truth. I noted that in a small parish—I think it was north of Copenhagen—a Lutheran pastor was not defrocked but was granted a leave of absence. The bishop suggested that it was time for him to stop going into his pulpit. And now, what was the concern that gave rise to this? Well, he told his congregation over a period of time that there is no God, that there is no such thing as the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, that there is no reality known as eternity, and there certainly is no heaven to which men and women may go.

Pretty tragic stuff, isn't it? Except that at least he was honest. At least he told the truth. That is the only commendable feature I can find in that, as opposed to others who refuse to tell the truth to their congregations, who use the terminology, Christianese terminology, while in their hearts denying the very realities which the truths are intended to convey. Watch out for wolves in sheep's clothing. Listen carefully to every word I say. Pay attention, lest you would be led away by foolish men who would distort the truth and draw people away after them.

To say less than this, that the Word was God, is to move beyond the realm of historic orthodoxy. Growing up as a boy in Scotland, I can still remember singing a song that we've never managed to get off the ground here for a variety of reasons. Some of you may remember it from your past as well. Who is he in yonder stall, At whose feet the shepherds fall? It was usually Christmastime we sang it. And I can still remember the feeling of the resounding response of the congregation, particularly the voices of men affirming in the refrain, "'Tis the Lord, O wondrous story! "'Tis the Lord, the King of glory! And at his feet we humbly fall, And we crown him, crown him, Lord of all!" I'm saying to myself, God cries! God weeps!

Who is he who from the grave comes to succor, pomp and save? "'Tis the Lord, O wondrous story!" You see, this is something far vaster than a Jesus that we can kind of hook into and put in our hip pocket—a Jesus who exists to add to the sum of our total happiness. Small wonder that Phillips wrote the book, Your God is Too Small. And many of us have rejected a Christianity because we have been offered such a small God. It neither demands our intellectual persuasion and submission, nor does it demand the vastness of our thought, nor does it call for the crushing giving up of our pride.

It all seems so trivial, it all seems so irrelevant, it all seems so extraneous, and frankly, so much of it is. But when we go to the Bible and allow the Bible to be the source of our discovery, then our minds must bow before its immensity. You see, in saying this, as it's before us, that the Word was God, what John is doing is he is assigning to the Word the greatest divine title of the Old Testament. He is Elohim, the God whose name, in its plural form, expresses the most intense and exclusive deity. Says one commentator, he is the summation of Godhead, the one whose being makes that of all other gods not only superfluous but impossible. Let me say that to you again.

You may not get it this morning, but one day when you're driving down the street, it may hit you. Oh, that's what that means as we deal with Islam. That's what that means as we deal with Buddhism. That's what that means as we deal with Jehovah's Witnesses. That's what that means when we deal with the church of Jesus Christ, Latter-day Saints. He is the summation of Godhead, the one whose being makes that of all other gods with a small g, not only superfluous but impossible.

That has a very exclusive claim, isn't it? Go back to Jeremiah just for a moment. This is only one cross-reference I'll give you. So you only have to go one place, to Jeremiah chapter 10.

We've been here before, but I need to remind you of it. God by his Spirit speaks through the prophet Jeremiah to his people. And he says, Hear what the LORD says to you, O house of Israel. This is what the LORD says. Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them.

For the customs of the peoples are worthless. They cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold. They fasten it with hammer and nails, so that it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak. They must be carried, because they cannot walk. Do not fear them.

They can do no harm, nor can they do any good. What a word! What an encouragement to people surrounded by all these inferior gods with a small g. Yesterday morning, in the airport at LAX, I took the religious part of the Los Angeles Times, and I opened it up, and I got to the section that offered to me all the potential places of worship today in Los Angeles, as covered by the Times. And I was almost overwhelmed by it.

And I found myself taking refuge in this. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak. They must be carried, because they cannot walk. Don't be afraid of them. They can do no harm. And they can't do any good either. And listen, my friends, to the extent that your friends and neighbors and colleagues and children and family and aunts and uncles are tied up with all these gods with a small g, they can do them no ultimate good. And they can do the true believer no ultimate harm. But they must be come for as a source of genuine concern in a world that says, You're not allowed to proselytize. You can say that this is important to you, but you can't say that it is necessary for anyone else. Christianity says, No, I'm sorry.

If it is as important as you convey, then it is essential for everybody else. No one is like you, O LORD. You're great. Your name is mighty in power. Who would not revere you, O king of the nations?

This is your due. Now, who is this Elohim? Hear what the LORD says to you, O house of Israel. Who is this God? The eternal Word. So when we say that the Word is God, when the Bible says the Word is God, it ascribes to him the greatest divine title of the Old Testament.

It says that Jesus possesses all the attributes of God—don't stumble over that, what I just said to you, this immense statement—Jesus possesses all the attributes of God. He is eternal, omniscient, unchanging, omnipresent, omnipotent, holy in his mercy and in his righteousness and love. The Word performs all of the functions of deity. Creation, the preservation and sustaining of the universe and Colossians, and in him all things hold together.

Why is that? Because the eternal Word not only creates the universe but sustains and preserves it. He executes government over the affairs of the nations, and he will preside over the final judgment of men and women.

The Word enjoys every divine prerogative. The glory due to him is precisely the glory that is due to God. That's why Philippians says that every knee will bow and every tongue confess, every heart will worship and convey that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Now, I know that some of you are saying, Well, I'm not sure that this is really that significant. After all, surely the message can just be reduced to love, love, love, all you need is love. No, that was the Beatles, that wasn't the Bible. And in point of fact, if our forefathers had operated on such a silly basis as that, none of us would be here this morning to even have the discussion. And in the early three or four hundred years of the church, the theologians and the minds of the day battled over these very issues, and they battled over single vowels in words. And one of the great battles that took place over an iota. Over an eye. If you're taking notes, I'm going to give you three words.

You may not care right now, one day you might. The first word is the word homoousios. Homo as in homosexual. Homo, and then oousios.

O-U-S-I-O-S. The second word is heterousios, as in heterosexual. Heterousios. Same suffix.

And the third word is the same as the first word, only after the second o it has an i. So it is not homoousios, but it is homoiousios. Homo, heterousios, and homoiousios.

What's the big deal? Homoousios means of one substance. Heterousios means of a different substance.

And homoiousios means of a similar substance. The battle which gave rise to the credo statements was a battle between homo and homoi. And everybody who's done theology has had to write essays on this and work it out for themselves. Some of you have been there.

The battle was intense. And orthodoxy repudiated the idea—careful now, listen—reputed to the idea that Jesus was like God. I hear people say that all the time. Well, Jesus is kind of like God, you know. They repudiated the idea that Jesus was like God. They repudiated the idea that Jesus was different from God.

And they insisted that Jesus was God. That he lacked nothing that entered into the definition of God. What God was, the Word was. Now, you need to understand that this is more than simply saying that there was a generic relationship between the Word and the Father, as if somehow or another the Word and the Father belonged only to the same species.

What they were hammering out was this. As they read the Bible and as they took the information as it came to them, they said, if we understand this properly, what we're discovering here is that they are one and the same being. They're one and the same being. Which, of course, was an immense thought. Jesus had encapsulated it when he said to the people around him in John chapter 10, I and my Father are one. And of course, the people said, This cannot possibly be. Jesus said, I and the Father are one. What does that mean? It means this, that Jesus is not a second God.

He is not an addition to the original. He is Jehovah, the only God, the God who was and is and is to come. And this, you see, we need to understand so that we can speak to our Jewish friends.

Because many of my Jewish friends are hung up with the Shema. Deuteronomy 6, we say it all the time. Hear, O Israel, the LORD thy God the LORD is one.

And at that point, they get off the boat. You see, they say, But the LORD our God the LORD is one. And you're saying he's three. We're saying, No, we're saying he is one.

And in his oneness, there is the immensity of this threeness. Oh, you say, I'm gonna have to sit down and have a coffee. Well, I understand.

Let's both sit down and have a coffee. Because this, at best, what we have in the Trinity in the New Testament is not an explanation of the truth. It is an extrapolation of the truth. It doesn't explain it. It extrapolates it. It teases it out.

It works it out. It leads us to those conclusions. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that we recognize that Jesus does not derive his being from his Father. Jesus does not derive his being from his Father. Calvin said he was autotheos, self-God. He was God in his own right, coequal, coeternal, possessing the very deity of the Father, including the attribute of self-existence. If that were not so, then he could not be the Lord Jehovah.

He could not be the being one. Now, let me just tell you one last thing, because our time is gone. The last thing—the Word is eternal, the Word is creator, the Word is God, and finally, the Word was with God.

Notice that. The Word was with God. He was God with God. Now, you see, this is where our children, again, they help us out, don't they? Say, Wait a minute, Dad, before you have another bite of your lunch, could you just explain that to me?

Well, I can explain it to you. God with God. Christ is unreservedly God. But he is not the totality of God. The Father who is God and the Spirit who is God, along with the Son who is God, make up the totality of God. Each member is unreservedly God. No one member is the totality of God. Father, Son, and Spirit are not just different names for the same person. Father, Son, and Spirit are not just different faces of the same person. I could take you a lot deeper than this into all the theological terminology.

I'm trying to give it to you in sensible bites. But do you understand what I'm saying? People say, Well, there is one being, and one day he shows up as the Father, and the next day he shows up as the Son, and another day he shows up as the Spirit. I see, that's what that means. No, that's not what it means. This is not one being wearing three masks. This is not one being who simply has three different names. If it were, you could not have the Word being with God.

It would mean nothing. If it were, you could not have the Word sent from God. If it were, you could not have God forsaken by God. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? How can God forsake God?

You see? Well, in order to rectify that notion, the pendulum swings over the other side in order to prevent the idea that there is just simply one being wearing three masks. What happens is, in order to fix it, people end up saying, Well, there are actually three different beings. There are three distinct gods.

But no, that's wrong too. There are instead three eternal distinctions within the one God. Three eternal distinctions within the one God.

Distinctions that are of such an intensely personal kind that each loves the other, and together they constitute a triune life of which the very essence is love. Now, let me put it to you in one verse, the most famous verse probably in the whole of the New Testament, John chapter 3 verse 16. We haven't even touched the whole notion of the deity and the humanity in the person of Christ.

We need to do that to get to what's going on with his anguish in the garden. For God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, coequal and coeternal, so loved the world that he gave, the Father gave, his only Son, that whoever believes in the Son, who is one with the Father, should not perish but have everlasting life. If you're a Christian this morning, let me tell you what happened to you in this process. And if you're not a Christian, this will give you an idea of what needs to happen if you're to become a Christian. If you look back on volume 2 of your life, when in a moment, in a crisis, over a period of time, you came to trust unreservedly in Jesus, you discovered that God the Father planned your salvation. That he loved you before you loved him. You discovered that God the Son procured your salvation. He died in your place, bore your sins. And you discovered that God the Holy Spirit applied that salvation to your heart and to your life. Not three separate gods, but one God, homoousios, one substance, three distinct personalities, coequal, coeternal, with a whole universe to care for, came knocking at your door and saved you.

And we act proud, and we trivialize the gospel, and we let a secular world jam us in a corner as if we're nuts? Show me a worldview that answers these deep dilemmas. Show me a worldview that possesses even the smallest percentage of this profundity.

You're an intellect? There's enough here to keep you going for the rest of your life. You can't weasel out of faith on that basis. Search the Scriptures. You need to understand this.

If you can't explain it to your kids and your grandchildren, you don't know what it means. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg with the conclusion of a message he's titled, Jesus the Word.

Alistair returns shortly to close today's program with prayer. As we are better able to understand Jesus' role at the very beginning of creation, we're better able to appreciate the significance of his death and resurrection. And today we want to recommend to you a book that will deepen your understanding of Jesus' saving work. It's a devotional titled, Oh Sacred Head, Now Wounded. This book contains 48 days of readings to guide your time of reflection in the season between Easter and Pentecost. You can use the book for personal meditation.

It's also great to read together with the whole family. Each daily reading follows a liturgy format. Now, if you're not familiar with what a liturgy is, it's a pattern of worship that includes prayers, scripture reading, reflections, creeds, all in a sequence.

Liturgies generally provide a pattern for corporate worship. Your church may even follow a format like this. The book, Oh Sacred Head, Now Wounded can be used every year during the season following Easter.

You'll find it a rich collection of daily readings, many written by Puritan authors like Richard Baxter, Stephen Charnock, and Thomas Watson. These are prayers that you'll want to return to over and over again. Ask for your copy of Oh Sacred Head, Now Wounded when you donate today to support the ministry of Truth for Life.

You can give through our mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate, or you can call us at 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair with prayer. Oh God, our Father, grant that as we think and reflect upon your Word, and as we read it and follow up on it and search out its wisdom, that we may understand the immensity of your love and that we might be enabled to communicate it to others. Forgive us for regarding you as too small. We bow before your greatness. May grace and mercy and peace from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one of us today and forevermore. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is fully human and fully divine, but just how is that possible? Alistair explains tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-04 05:17:19 / 2024-03-04 05:25:43 / 8

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