I just want to lay a foundation and read from the first chapter of the gospel by John, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
Verse 14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Then over to the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 1, “God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds.”
Now I feel that in these times of being together the Lord wants me to speak to you about what has come in with Jesus Christ and what we have come into by the coming of Jesus Christ. My own strong conviction is the greatest need of the Lord’s people in this time is to know Him in a fuller way. The Lord Jesus is so much greater than ever we have thought. And probably you know that there is a law in the Word of God and that law is that we shall only grow spiritually according to the measure of our knowledge of Christ.
The Holy Spirit, if He has His way in our lives, will take very great pains to bring us into the full knowledge of Christ. It is the business of the Holy Spirit to do that. All our experiences under the hand of the Holy Spirit are intended to bring us into some fuller knowledge of the Lord Jesus.
Now, perhaps I am going to disappoint some of you when I say that it is not going to get easier as we go on. When we first go to school we learn a, b, c; that’s quite simple. One, two, three... that’s not difficult. But when we come near to the time of graduating, our lessons are made much harder. It is much more difficult to know, it calls for all our strength and endurance to learn. In the spiritual life it’s like that. The farther we go with the Lord the deeper the lessons become so that as we go on with the Lord, we find that He makes things more difficult for us.
You perhaps think that if only you were grown up in the Lord, it would be much easier; the Christian life would be much more simple. Let me tell you that it is just the other way: Christian life becomes more and more difficult the further we go. The oldest saints often have the darkest times.
You must remember that after thirty three years the Lord Jesus came to the place where in His last words, He said “Why, Father? Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” His darkest hour was at the end. He was just coming through to the glory then. And, as we say, the darkest hour is before the dawn. Now perhaps you think I’m not much of a comforter! But the knowledge of the Lord is a wonderful thing, to know the Lord is a great compensation for all suffering. If you are having a dark time, just say to yourself “I am going to learn something more of the Lord through this” and that will be a great compensation for the suffering.
Well, that is the comforting beginning, now we’ll come back to our subject for this time: it is the knowledge of what has come in with Jesus Christ and what we have come into in Christ.
You know we have come into two contradictory things. I wonder if you have noticed this? Right through the New Testament there are two words constantly recurring. Those two words are: ‘not’ the other is, ‘but’.
And those two words stand over two great systems. A whole world of things is gathered into each of those words. And that is what came in with Jesus Christ when He came into this world. On the one side He said, “Not”. On the other side He said, “But”. That will make a very helpful study for you if you want to trace those two words. We shall only be able to touch it very simply but you will understand what I mean as we go on.
The first “not... but”, relates to the Person of the Lord Jesus. You notice the first name by which He is called, the name which He had before this world was, in that dateless time called the Beginning... who knows when that was? The worlds were made by Him who was the Word. So He existed before the world. And away back there His name was “The Word”. “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God.”
What is a word? According to the Bible this word means four things. Of course outside of the Bible some of these things are true, two of them are true outside of the Bible and two of them are not true outside of the Bible.
First of all, a word comes from a thought. That is, if you are mentally sound, you think before you speak and when you utter words you have already thought something. I say mentally sound people do that, but a lot of people speak before they think! They never thought what they were going to say; a lot of words come out and there’s no thought behind them! But if you are sound in mind, you think before you speak so that a word first of all is a thought.
And secondly, a word is a thought expressed. When you speak you express your thought. Those are two things which are universally true but three and four are not universally true but they are true when it is God speaking so that with God in the third place, a word is an act. With God, His Word is a fiat. He spake and it was done. He commanded and it stood fast. With God His Word is an act. By His Word the world was created. Well, you know the Bible has a lot to say about that, when God spoke something happened. It was not just a word that went out into the air. It was a word that had an effect. That is how it is when God speaks, “My word shall not return to me void, it shall accomplish the thing whereto I sent it.” You’ve got the three things? The Word is a thought. The Word is a thought expressed. The Word of God is an act of God.
What is number four? The Word becomes a Person. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. This is the name of Jesus Christ, the Word of God. He is God’s Thought, He is God’s Thought expressed. He is God’s Thought as an act. He is a work of God. He is God’s Thought in personal form. He has come into this world in all those four meanings.
Forgive me repeating this, I do want you to get it clearly. The presence of Jesus Christ in this world was first of all God’s eternal thought and then He was God’s thought expressed, and then He was the act of God. I ought, of course, to stay a long time with that.