Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 December 4, 2022
“In the Beginning…”
As we think together in these days upon the beginning of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the starting points of each of the Gospels fascinate me. Mark begins latest. He starts from the outset of John the Baptist’s ministry. Luke begins earlier. He begins from the birth narrative of John the Baptist. Matthew begins from a more distant past—even from Abraham, the first patriarch in the human genealogy culminating in Jesus.
The Gospel of John is dissimilar from the Synoptic Gospels (i. e., Matthew, Mark, and Luke) in many respects, but today we note the different starting point. John starts his Gospel from eternity past. This fact is a crucial contribution to today’s sermon—the first in a four-part series from the prologue to John’s Gospel (1:1-18). John 1:1-18 is a passage most appropriate to this season, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior—but it is also a word in season every season. Let us hear it, and, in hearing it, let us hear the Word of the Lord.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Again, John opens his Spirit-led Gospel with these words: “In the beginning….” These words bring Genesis 1:1 once again to our ears, where Moses, led by the Spirit of God, wrote, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Note what is true of God in Genesis 1:1: He was (or, more properly, He is) existing infinitely prior to anything, and He created all things, even time itself, when it pleased Him. Our text today continues: “In the beginning was the Word,….” This Word, as we shall examine more closely on Christmas Day, God willing, became flesh and dwelt among us (14)—and is, of course, none other but the Lord Jesus Christ, for the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us is God. Moreover, the Word was with God in the beginning. There never was a time, though time recede into the infinite past, when He was not.
This Word not only existed from the eternal past, but also He was instrumental in creation. The author of Hebrews tells us that, “…but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He appointed the heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world” (Hebrews 1:2). Similarly, Paul declares to the Colossians of Jesus, “For by Him 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” (Colossians 1:16). In another place Paul asserts, “…yet for us there is one God, the Father from Whom are all things and for Whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things and through Whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6). We see, from today’s text and these supporting texts, that all things were made through the eternal Word—and, emphatically, apart from Him, nothing was made that has been made. Ponder this the next time the beauty of God’s creation takes your breath away.
In this eternal Word, extant from the beginning, instrumental in creation, was (and is) life. This life, John tells us, was the light of men. Jesus Himself declares, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). He Who is the Light of the world certainly illumines men and women, boys and girls. He also bestows life on those given to Him by the Father: a life that is both abundant (John 10:10) and everlasting (3:16). Who wouldn’t want life forever to the full? Come to Jesus to get it, for He will never cast out the one coming to Him (cf. John 6:37).
Moreover, the light—the true light, the eternal Word, incarnate in Jesus—shines in the darkness. Darkness (Greek skotia [skotia]) can be understood as absence of physical light, but here the sense is more figurative. Darkness, then, is the realm of sin and evil.1 The light shines, therefore, into the realm of sin and evil—and the darkness overcame (Greek katalambano [katalambanw]) it not. There exists a possible connotation of this Greek word that might render the translation understood it not, but I think the primary sense is overcame it not. When light comes, it dispels darkness. When the Light of men shines in the darkness, the realm of sin and evil goes down to defeat.
We have before us today, and for the next three weeks, God willing, a bold assertion of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Amazingly, 43% of professing evangelical Christians do not believe that Jesus is God.2 This flies in the face of what Jesus says concerning Himself: that He and the Father are one (John 10:30, 17:22). This also flies in the face of what Christians have rightly confessed in light of what Jesus says concerning Himself. An ancient creed confesses, of Jesus, among other things, that he is very God of very God. (Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, A. D. 381). Our subordinate EPC standard, The Westminster Confession of Faith, affirms, “The Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, is truly the eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father” (viii.2). Let not us who worship here at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (EPC) fall into the error that 43% of professing evangelical Christians make. The eternal Word, incarnate in Christ, is very God of very God.
Consequently, let us be instructed, or reminded, from God’s Word that the Second Person of the Trinity, incarnate in Jesus Christ, has existed from eternity past, exists today, and will exist into eternity future. He also was instrumental in creation. Furthermore, He is life, and bestows life—abundant and eternal. Even more than this, He shines in the darkness—in the realm of sin and evil—and the darkness neither understands Him nor overcomes Him. This is our God, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit within the Godhead. Only one question remains to complete this sermon: Will you receive Him by faith—or will you continue to receive Him by faith—today?
1Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testamaent: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989).
2This, and a host of other statistics that will unsettle many an orthodox Christian, rises from the 2022 Ligonier Ministries State of Theology Survey, conducted by LifeWay Press (thegospelcoalition.com/article/state-theology-2022/, accessed December 2, 2022).