Living by the Word John 1:1-3

This sermon was originally shared with Guangzhou International Christian Fellowship on March 10, 2024 as part of their yearly theme Sunday.

John 1:1-3 Sermon – Living by the Word

John 1:1-3 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

I. Understanding the Text

A. What is the Word?

The Greek term used for “Word” in this passage is “Logos.” John borrowed this word from the Greeks but at the same time infused it with Old Testament meaning.

The most basic meaning of logos is “word,” which is why it is translated that way. But in Greek philosophy it also can mean “divine reason,” or “mind,” or “wisdom,” or “thought,” or “principle,” or “message.” It has a broad range of uses. It is that flexibility which enables John to use it with such symbolism here.

New Testament writers used the term “logos” over three hundred times. In most of these, it is used according to its standard meaning, which is just “word.” In John 1:1, it has a more symbolic meaning attached to it.

B. Who is the Word?

If the first verses are confusing, it is helpful to jump ahead. John gives us the key to unlock all the mysteries of what he is saying.

John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Word is Jesus. These verses describe the incarnation. Incarnation is the theological term describing this even where Jesus takes on flesh and becomes a man.

C. Why does John use this term to describe Jesus?

1. Connecting to a Greek audience

There were many Greeks in John’s audience. By using a term they were familiar with, he helped them bridge the gap between their world and the gospel message. He started from what they knew and understood.

Paul did a similar thing when he went to Athens and preached to the Greeks. He went through their temples and saw an idol built to what they titled an “Unknown God.” He mentioned this in the introduction of his sermon, telling them that what they worshiped in ignorance, he would reveal to them. By starting from a common ground, he could better keep their attention while not overwhelming them with stuff they didn’t understand.

2. Emphasizing Jesus’ role as messenger

Words are an integral form of communication. They enable the passing of ideas from one being to another. By using the term “Word” for Jesus, John tells us that Jesus is the way that God communicates with us. Jesus in the flesh is God’s message to us. As a word goes in between you and another person to pass a message along, Jesus is the go-in-between us and God. He is the mediator.

John is, in essence, saying, “Pay attention. Jesus’ life is God’s way of communicating to us. If you want to know about God, read this gospel and study Jesus’ life.”

Jesus is God’s sermon to you.

Studying the book of John is not just about learning of the person of Jesus. It is a direct window into the mind, purposes, and plans of God.

John 14:7 – If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.

Do you see what Jesus is saying? Knowing Him is the SAME as knowing the Father. His life and character are the message.

• How should we respond to someone who wrongs us? Look at Jesus.
• What are the qualities of a good leader? Look at Jesus.

II. Understanding Jesus

A Christian is a “Follower of Christ.” Since we follow Christ, we should know who He is. Turn to your neighbor and ask, “Who is Jesus?” Answer within 2-3 sentences. Now switch.

In John’s prologue to the book, He answers the question. He first tells us who Jesus is and then in the rest of the book, he proves it. He even gives us his thesis directly.

John 20:31 – But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

So, who is Jesus? He is not just a good man, a prophet, or an influencer.

A. He is Eternal

The language in John 1:1 is written with a similar construction to Genesis 1:1.

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The scope is cosmological. The impact is universal. What John is going to write is relevant for every single man, woman, and child who lived or ever would live.

Here, John says that in the beginning was the Word (Jesus). Before time and space and the cosmos were created, Jesus was already there. While these things “were made,” Jesus simply “was.”

This highlights the fact that Jesus pre-existed the universe. He is eternally existent. There was never a time when He did not exist. He always was.

This is where many cults go astray. They attack the eternality of Jesus and claim that He was created. If you meet someone who does this, take them to John 1:1.

When Moses asked God’s name, God said, “I AM WHO I AM.”

Jesus made up a similar statement about Himself.

John 8:58-59 – Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him.

Jesus, as the second person of the Trinity, has always existed. To emphasize this, John does not include a genealogy of Jesus like Matthew and Luke did. They were showing His humanity and His fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. John is showing us Jesus’ eternality. He had no beginning and will have no end.

This concept is probably not new to you. If you are familiar with the Bible, you have heard it before. But have you ever taken a step back to really think about that?

When I was a kid, I used to think about this and try to understand it. How could God have no beginning? My little mind could not wrap itself around it. Now my mind is grown and my brain is much larger. So, let me tell you how it works; I still cannot comprehend it.

If you go back in time a million years, He is there. If you go back a trillion years, He is there. If you go back an infinite number of years, He is still there.

The secret things belong to the Lord and the revealed things belong to us.

There are some things we just can’t understand. We should diligently study those things He has revealed to us while humbly trusting Him in those things He hasn’t.

Like a good biographer, John is building up excitement and anticipation. He is not just writing about an influential person like Nelson Mandela or Gandhi. He is writing about the eternal, ageless, divine Creator of the universe who is now revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

B. He is God

The Word was with God and the Word was God.

This sentence would have been intriguing for Greeks. It was mind-blowing for Jews. In essence, John introduces to his readers a second member of the Trinity.

As I prepared for this message, I was very aware that my little words do not do justice to the amazing truths taught in these verses.

The fact that the Word was with God shows that He (Jesus) is distinct from God the Father. You would not say that Hugh is with himself. You are with somebody when you are in their company. You chat and fellowship together. In the vast expanse of time before this universe was brought into existence, Jesus and the Father both existed in perfect harmony and fellowship with one another.

So two distinct persons are mentioned here, Father and Son.

The second part of this phrase tells us that Jesus (The Word) was God. These two distinct persons are one. They have the same essence of deity.

Hebrews 1:3 – He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

Jesus is the exact imprint of his nature. All of the love, grace, mercy, justice, righteousness, holiness, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience that are attributes of the Father are all possessed in equal measure by the Son.

The Word was with God and the Word was God.

This is a bombshell we will unpack more in the coming weeks. The eternal God took on flesh and became a man.

John 1:1 is a major piece in the doctrine of the Trinity, which means three in one. While it only shows us two of the three members, it does show us that they are distinct persons and yet one in nature with perfect fellowship and harmony.

C. He is the Creator

John 1:3 – All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Colossians 1:16 – For by him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

In Genesis 1:1 it ascribes creation to God. These two verses ascribe it to Jesus.

Which one is right?

They both are. God created the world. Jesus created the world. They are one. The Father is involved in what the Son is doing and the Son is involved in what the Father is doing. Genesis 1:2 also mentions the Holy Spirit as being involved.

The Trinity created the world. We do not understand all the ins and outs of how they cooperated. However, we can see they acted in cooperation with one purpose and one intent.

If I say Larry Page founded Google, it is true. If I say Sergey Brin founded Google, that is also true. They founded it together.

What is the greatest thing you have ever made?

When I was a teen, I carved a block of wood into a derby car. I was quite proud of that car and it won an award for best design.

Our greatest achievements that we are proud of pale in comparison to what He has made. Even when we do create something we think is great, it is actually just rearranging what He first made.

He created ex nihilo, which means out of nothing. Without Him not anything was made that was made.

Think about that. Every electron, atom, molecule, and dust speck was created by Him. Every asteroid, moon, planet, star, galaxy, and galaxy cluster was made by Him. Not even one remote piece of dust or one planet or one star came into being apart from Him. He is the Uncaused Cause. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.

This video shows the amazing scale of the universe. Jesus created all of that!

Application – Do you acknowledge Jesus for who He is?

Matthew 16:15-16 – He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Oh, that we would reply with faith like Simon!

III. Understanding His Relationship To Us

A. God Communicates to us

One of the big takeaways for us in this passage is that God communicates with us. A word is the opposite of silence. Through His Word, God reveals Himself to us.

The Creator of the universe is infinite. He is so different than we are. Unless He had chosen to communicate with us, we would not be able to know Him.

Over the centuries, many philosophers have attempted to try to understand God. Sometimes, they have gathered in the Athenian Areopagus to debate Him as a group. Other times, a solitary philosopher will sit under a tree to meditate. However, their conclusions are far off base. A person cannot bridge the gap to God through his own reason.

We would be blinder than a bat if God did not choose to communicate to us. And that is a key lesson from the first chapter in John. God sent a message to us in the form of His Son.

Hebrews 1:1-3 Verse

Jesus reveals to us the mind, character, and plans of God the Father. We do not need to rely on self-proclaimed experts, blind guides leading the blind. Jesus is the light of the world. He opens our eyes and shows us the truth.

To make sure we got the message, Jesus took on flesh and became a man. As one of us, He could perfectly present God’s messages to us in a way that we could understand.

God communicates to us through the Word, His Son.

And God communicates to us through the Word, Scripture.

What a privilege it is to be able to know our Mighty God!

What is the application for us?

B. Living by the Word

a. Acknowledge your dependance on Him

We have seen in this passage that we are created by Him. It was His words that created the universe. Our existence is from Him. Without Him, we are literally nothing.

Colossians 1:17 – And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Every single person is alive because of Jesus. He not only created us, but He sustains us. “In Him all things hold together.” Though many people do not acknowledge this, there is not a single person who can survive without His sustaining power. The most ardent atheist owes every breath to Him.

Application – Acknowledge that we owe everything to Him. Your breath is from Him. Your health is from Him. Your family, friends, talents, and successes are all from Him. Most importantly, salvation is from Him.

Acknowledging that keeps us humble. It helps us depend on Him.

Our theme this year is LIVING BY THE WORD. First, that means depending on Jesus every day. One simple way to do this is every morning when we wake up, we can say, “I am alive because of you today.”

Second, it means that we should commit to following His Word (Scripture) as our guide in every decision we make.

b. Commit to Following the Word

Joshua 1:8 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Live by the Word. It is God’s law. We are to be thinking about it day and night.

How do you make decisions?

How do you make decisions?

Research says that the average adult makes 35,000 total decisions each day.

A lot of these decisions are made subconsciously. But many decisions require thinking and analyzing. Here are some things people rely on when making decisions.

• Emotion
• Past experiences
• The crowd
• Dr. Google
• Our intuition or knowledge
• Other people / “experts”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do