Sunday, August 13, 2023

“In the Beginning Was the Word” [Matt's Messages]

“In the Beginning Was the Word”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
August 13, 2023 :: John 1:1-18 

I don’t know what is the most breathtaking, astonishing, mind-blowing thing that the Apostle John says here in this passage in front of us.

Every phrase is full of fireworks!

Every phrase of John 1:1-18 is pregnant with precious, powerful, glorious truth. The deepest truth in the whole world!

And no matter what I say today, I cannot do it justice. This is just too good to summarize. We could spend the rest of the summer and all fall just working through these eighteen verses and never hit the bottom and never reach the top. It’s just that rich and wonderful! And what a high and holy privilege it is to study it with you today. 

Last week, we started our new series at the end of the Gospel of John where he told us his purpose in writing it. John said, talking directly to us, he wrote these words, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (Jn. 20:31 NIVO).

Life in Jesus’ name.

That’s the whole point of the book, and it’s the whole point of our series. And it’s the whole point of our church. And it’s the whole point of this sermon.

And we learned last week that His name is more than just the thing that He’s called. His name is Who He is. His name is His person, His substance, His character, His authority, His identity. His name is Who He really is.

And as John picks up His pen to tell us Who Jesus really is, He uses a name for Jesus that was His name before He was ever called “Jesus.”

John calls Him, “The Word.”

In fact, John doesn’t introduce the name “Jesus” until verse 17! Instead, at the beginning of John’s Gospel he goes back to the beginning of the world, and he names His subject, “the Word.” 

“In the beginning was the Word.”

Now, when you hear “In the beginning...” what do you think? You think of Genesis 1:1, right? That’s on purpose. John 1:1 is written to connect in our minds with Genesis 1:1. What does Genesis 1:1 say? “In the beginning, GOD created the heavens and the earth.”

And John says, right there at the beginning of creation, before there was anything but God, there was Something (or Someone) called “The Word.” “In the beginning was the Word.”

The Greek word there for word is “logos.”  It means “word.” It means “communication.” It means “message.” It means “disclosure” or “explanation” or “expression.”

It comes from the Old Testament talking about the Word of God, the powerful creative revelatory message of God. The speech of God. God telling us about Himself.

The Greeks loved that word, “logos,” too. Plato and them used it to convey the philosophical idea of logic and reason, the principle of reason rationally holding the world together. We get our word “logic” from it. In fact, we get a lot of words from “logos” including all of the “ologies” like “theology.” 

And John uses this word, “Word” as a name for a Person. And John says that this Word was in existence at the beginning. And look at the next phrase:

“...and the Word was with God.”

Isn’t that amazing? In the beginning there was God, and there was this Thing, this Person named “The Word” who was with God. 

And that word “with” is full of fireworks! It means there is some kind of a distinction going on there and also some kind of a close relationship. The Word and God were with each other. Interpersonal. Intimate. Both existing before creation. Both eternal.


And both together. “With-ness.” They had “with-ness.” 

But, here’s something that is even more amazing. Family, it only gets more amazing. It only gets more mind-blowing. Last phrase of verse 1.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

So now we know that the Word was God. Everything that it means to be God (the Ultimate Being over the universe), this Word had and has. The Word is fully God. And at the same time is with God.

Anybody confused, yet? Are they same thing or are they different?

Answer: They are the same one thing and yet also in another way distinct.

They have a relationship that is unlike any other thing in the world.

And that’s to be expected because God is unlike anything else in the world! Sometimes we want an analogy to help us understand something, but there are no analogies that help us to understand this about God. We just accept it the mind-blowing truth of it as we read about it. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 2. “He was with God in the beginning.”

Now, why do you think that John emphasizes this name for this incredible Person? 

I think it’s because of this truth: God wants us to know Him.

God wants us to know Himself. And so He speaks. He tells us something about Himself. He gives us a message. And this message, this communication, is so Him that it is Him! When God reveals Himself, He does it through Himself. It’s a personal message, so it must come through a Person. God shares Himself through His Word.

Does that make sense? I know it’s a profound idea and hard to put into words, but John says it all in very small words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Fully God. The Word is the Creator. Look at verse 3. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." Notice that He Himself is un-made. He is God the Uncreated One, like we just sang. But everything that has been made, everything in creation was made through the Word. 

John says it again backwards so that we get the point, “...without him nothing was made that has been made.” The Earth, the sea, the sky, the planets, outer space. The molecule, the elements, the atom, the electron, the neutron, inner-space.

They were made through the Word. You and me! We were made through the Word. Say that to yourself, “I was made through the Word.”

This is Genesis 1 language, isn’t it? 

“And God said, ‘Let there be...light.’” Look at verse 4. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

Now there in verse 5, we learn about a cosmic conflict that has been going on for a long time. John is telling us a story. He’s telling The Story. And like all good stories, there is a conflict in the middle of it. This is the mega-conflict between light and darkness. Between good and evil. Between truth and lies. 

John says, in the Word was life–not just physical life but spiritual life, eternal life, abundant life (like we talked about last week) and that life was the light of men. The glorious light that all humankind so desperately needs.

And that light is shining in the Word!

BUT (here’s the conflict) the darkness (also personified here) has not “understood it.” 

Or your version might say, “overcome it.” The darkness has not comprehended the glorious light of the Word, and those embracing the darkness have rejected the light. 

But, in the end, they have not won. They have not overpowered it. The light ultimately wins. And what good news that is?!!


Now, in verse 6, John introduces a new character. He is telling us the story of the story he is going to tell us. 

Next week, we’ll see that John starts his story with John the Baptist. He’s like Mark in that and not like Matthew or Luke. They start with Mary and Joseph and the genealogies and so forth. But Mark and John, when they get going, start the story with John the Baptist. V.6

“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. [This is John the Baptist. Whenever John the Evangelist actually says the name “John,” he’s talking about the Baptist, not himself. John the baptist...v.7] ... came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe [There’s that word again!]. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:6-9, NIVO).

You get the picture?

The Word is coming into the world. God’s communication of Himself that is Himself a Person and is Himself WITH God and is Himself God [!] is “coming into the world.” He’s on the way. He’s arriving. And John the Baptist has been sent to tell people about Him.

John is a witness. He has expert testimony to offer.

V.8 is very clear that John was not the light himself. We don’t want any confusion on that point. John was great. He has great things to say and do, but He is not the point. His point is to point to the Light.

That’s a word for us today, isn’t it? Our job is not to point people to ourselves but to point people to Jesus. When we are good witnesses, we are not saying how great we are or even how far we’ve come or how smart we are to choose to be Christians, but how great Jesus is.

And what a wonderful privilege it is for us to point people to Him!

That’s the whole point of the Good News Cruise, isn’t it? We don’t want to people to think, “How great are those folks at Lanse.” We want them to think, “How great must their Savior be for them to want to give us this day?!” 

I kept saying that to Heather yesterday about this sermon. “If people walk away from my sermon and says, ‘What a great preacher, Matt is,” I will have failed.” Because want I want you to do is to walk away and say, “How wonderful Jesus is!”

How wonderful is The Word!


Notice what John says is the relationship between the Word and the world. In verse 9, he said that the Word was coming into the world. More on that in a second. But in verse 10, he says that when the Word arrived, the world didn’t like it. V.10

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. [Did not know Him. Didn’t want to know Him. V.11] He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”

The Word showed up, and the World rejected Him. He was their Messiah. He was the Christ. He was everything God had promised in the Old Testament, and Israel said, “No thanks.” He had made the whole world, and the world said, “We don’t want you.”

We’re going to see this conflict again and again and again as we read the Gospel of John. John is telling us the story of the story he’s going to tell us.

And it’s a sad one. They even go so far as to kill Him.

But the darkness does not ultimately win. The Word comes back to life, and then He gives life to those who WILL BELIEVE! Look at verse 12.

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.”

Isn’t that wonderful?! There are people who did not and do not continue to reject the Word but receive the Word instead. They “believe in His name.” They believe everything about Him that we are going to learn about Him in the next several months.

And what does belief lead to? What did say last week? Faith leads to...LIFE!

To those who embrace the Word, who listen to the Word, who welcome the Word into their hearts and lives, to those who believe in His name, He gave the new powerful status of child of God.

John can’t get over this truth. We who believe ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD! With all of the rights and privileges (and responsibilities!) that come with it. Say to yourself right now if you believe in this name, “I am a child of God.”

That’s life!!! That’s living. That means eternal life. Not just physical life. V.13 “...children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.”

Supernatural life. Not just sperm and egg, not just blood and DNA. But a new heart, a new birth, a new status, adopted into God’s own family.

Where we can say, “God is my Father.” And we can pray to God as our Father. And we can know that we’ll spend all eternity with Him because we are in His forever family. 

The Word “gave us the right to become children of God.”

And here’s how He did it:

(It only gets more astonishing. It only gets more mind-blowing.)


The Word was in the beginning. 
The Word was creating everything that has been made.
The Word was with God.
The Word was God.

And then...the Word did the unthinkable. Look at verse 14.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

That’s why we’re singing Christmas songs in August!

“Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.” 

“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity.
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.” - Charles Wesley

It takes poetry to even come close to capturing what this verse says God has done.

The Word is not only fully God, but He has become, in the incarnation, fully human!

John doesn’t give us Mary and Joseph or the shepherds or the wisemen, but he goes even further back to before the beginning and then gives us the whole point of Christmas in one verse. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

Everything that it means to be a human, He assumed. He took a human nature to Himself.

Theologians call that the “hypostatic union,” the Word was fully God and fully man in one Person.

The Word become flesh!

And lived among us. The Greek word for “made his dwelling among” derives from the word for “tent” or “tabernacle.” Just like God set up His home in the tabernacle tent at the middle of the people of Israel in the book of Exodus and Numbers, God has now made His home among us through this God-Man, the Word become flesh, coming to live here with us.

And John says that just like they saw God’s glory enter that tent, the apostles saw God’s glory in this Person.

“We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Greek word translated “One and Only” is the word “monogenays.” The old way of translating it was “Only Begotten.”

It’s the same word (monogenays) that shows up in John 3:16 to describe how unique the Son of God is.

You see we are children of God, but not like this One is. He is unique. He is unparalleled. He is One of a Kind. One of a “genus.” 

There is no one else like the Word. He comes from the Father in a unique way. He has an unique from-ness. Not just an unique with-ness, but an unique from-ness.  He is the One who can be eternally with God and eternally from God and eternally be God. And became one of us!!!!

He didn’t just seem like one of us. He became one of us. 100%

We’re going to see that again and again and again as we read this book. He was fully human. He became so much like us that He could die a human death. And die He did.

That’s Who John is going to point to later on in this chapter. V.15

“John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, ‘This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'”

We will get to that next week, Lord-willing. John the Baptist points at Jesus starting his public ministry after John but has always existed as the Word before John, so He surpasses John. And He surpasses Moses. V.16

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

And there he names Him. The name for the Word after He became flesh is “Jesus Christ.” It’s interesting, John never calls Him, the “Word” again in his gospel. From here on, it’s Jesus, and all of the other things we’re going to learn about Him. All of those things add up to what God was communicating in the Word.

Notice that Jesus is described as full of grace. “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” I love that. He’s like an endless fountain of grace. He’s like a bottomless ocean of grace. We’ll never get to the end of the blessings. “10,000 reasons and then forevermore.” So that if we know Him and belong to Him, we have received and are receiving grace upon grace. Life upon life. Blessing upon blessing. Blessing the supersedes blessing.

John says that the law was a blessing. It came through Moses. But something even greater than the law is here now. Grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ. Salvation in His name. Not because of anything we have done, but because of what He did for us on the Cross and at the Empty Tomb. Grace!

And our role is simply to believe. And then we can know God.

Every phrase is full of fireworks! I don’t know what is the most astonishing claim in these eighteen verses, but perhaps it is the notion that we can know God through Jesus Christ. Look where John ends up with his prologue. V.18. It gets even more amazing.

“No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.”

Nobody has ever seen God. So all of those times that God showed up in some way in the Old Testament. To Moses. To Isaiah. To Ezekiel. Those were just partial. Those were just shadows. They were just a glimpse of glory. Nobody has ever seen God except God.

John says, “But God the [monogenays] the One and Only, the Only Begotten, the Unique Son, who is at the Father’s side (with God!), has made Him known.”

Notice that two Persons are called God in that verse. God “the Monogenays” and God the Father who has never been seen. And there are not two Gods. Just one! These are the building blocks of our doctrine of the Trinity. One God in, here we have two, we’ll find out later that there are three, Persons.

And the One Person (the Word...the Son!) has taken on flesh and made God the Father known.

That’s why He’s called the Word. Because He is the Message of God come in the flesh so that we know God Himself! Isn’t that amazing?

Every phrase is filled with fireworks. And they are explosive and beautiful.

So what do we do with this? What is the application of John 1:1-18?

Let me briefly suggest three things as we close.


“To all who received him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (v.12).

If you don’t receive Him, you are not a child of God. You are part of the darkness. You aren’t recognizing Him. You are lost. But He invites you to receive Him, to believe on His name and to get the life that is truly life. Don’t let this hour go by without receiving Jesus Christ, the Word of God, as your own Savior and King. He has come to make God known. You can know God! In fact, you can know God as your own Father. You can be His child.


If Jesus is what and Who John says He is, then we need to tell people. This is everything! This is what we are trying to share and proclaim with the folks who are going to come on our campus on Saturday. We are not going to tell them how great we. Or how great our country is. Or how great our vehicles are.

Our message is that God has a message, and His message is Himself. His message has always been and has always been with Him and has always been Him. And His message, which was His one fabulously unique Son has become a human. God’s message has become a human and dwelled among us. And now His message has made Him known.

That’s what we have to share on Saturday and every other day.

And that’s why we need to worship with all of our hearts.


When the fireworks go off, say, “Wow! Look at that.” We marvel. We wonder. We are astonished. We shake our heads. 

We ponder it. We turn these things over and over again in our minds, asking if they could really be real. And when we see how wonderful they are, we rejoice.

We have received one blessing after another and another and another and another.

We have been created.
We have been redeemed.
We have been adopted.
We have been given new birth.
We have been given personal knowledge of God.
We have been given grace and truth.
We have been given light.
We have been given life!

All because “In the beginning was the Word...”

O Come, Let Us Adore Him!


Messages in this Series