March 2012

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From the editor: Give an account (Luke 16.2)
J Grant

Occasional Letters: Making the most of Micah
D Newell

Torchbearers of the Truth: Henry Venn (1725-1797)
J Brown

Book Reviews

The Lord Jesus Christ – Creator, Custodian and Consumator of this World (1)
H Barnes

The First Epistle to Timothy: Praying, Dressing and Teaching (1 Tim 2)
J Gibson

Question Box

Worship (1): Defined
M Sweetnam

Meditate Therein
C Jones

Christ’s Meeting with Zacchaeus (Luke 19.1-10)
C Cann

Biblical Gardens (5): The Garden Cemetery (Jn 19.38-42)
I Affleck Lossiemouth

My Meditation of Him shall be Sweet (Ps 104.34)
R Dawes

Into all the world: Evangelism in Liverpool
S Baker

The Lord’s Work & Workers

With Christ

Forthcoming Meetings

Notices

The Lord Jesus Christ – Creator, Custodian and Consumator of this World (1)

H Barnes, Westhoughton

The Lord Jesus closely involves Himself in our world, from its original design to its ultimate destiny, as its original Source, its present Supervisor and its future supreme Head. He is so closely identified with it that when He came in incarnation we read that "He came unto his own" (Jn 1.11), the phrase "unto his own" being exactly the same expression, in the original Greek, as that used about the disciple John taking Mary the mother of Jesus "unto his own home" (Jn 19.27). So the world was the "own home" of the Word who had made it. He should have been at home in it, but His own people the Jews, as a nation, did not receive Him and the people of the world did not know Him.

The Scriptures speak about His personal activity in this earth’s creation, its continuity, and its consummation. The atheistic professors of this world, in areas such as biology and physics – exemplifying the study of the animate and the inanimate world - "Professing themselves to be wise" (Rom 1.22, cp. Rev 10.6), like their ancient predecessors, still do not "like to retain God in their knowledge" (Rom 1.28), and find no place for the Lord Jesus. They have no room for the special origin, divine supervision and planned end of this world. Of course we must not be surprised by this, since they have no faith. On the contrary, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God" (Heb 11.3), of which more later.

The divine activity to be seen in the universe, past, present and future, is summed up in one of Paul’s doxologies: "of him, and through him, and to him, are all things" (Rom 11.36). This simple but sublime statement concentrates great spiritual truths into a few words. Of these three prepositions Marvin Vincent in his New Testament Word Studies comments: "of, proceeding from as the source: through, by means of, as maintainer, preserver…to or unto, He is the point to which all tends". We will find that the truths of divine activity stated thus are especially fulfilled in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, since all is in particular from Him, through Him and to Him. Three primary passages develop these truths - John 1, Colossians 1 and Hebrews 1.

John 1

John’s Gospel was written in the later days of the apostolic era when the influence of Gnosticism was growing apace and its errors troubling the saints. John wrote his Gospel with this in mind and plainly stated great truths about the Lord Jesus. This is nowhere more clearly seen than here at the beginning of the first chapter of the Gospel. The separate personality, pre-existence, and divinity of the Word – who was to become flesh - come first. He was, and still is (Rev 19.13), the Word, "the personal revealer in Himself of the Godhead" (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown; Commentary on the Whole Bible), since words are the means of revealing the mind. He is at once the revealer and the revelation of God. The Word was in communion with the other persons in the Godhead - the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Verse two reinforces the thought of the Word in such communion, but prepares us for His distinctive and personal work relative to the universe. A number of paraphrases render v.1 as, "In the beginning, the Word already was", so we are thinking about the pre-existing One with a distinct personality and a divine nature.

When v.3 says that "All things were made by Him", the thought is not just that the universe in its totality, but the universe in all its detail (the microscopic view) was made by Him. Colossians 1 will emphasise all things in toto (the telescopic view), but the original wording here points to the fundamental aspects at all levels – so the emphasis is that He made all things in particular, not just all things in general. All things (literally) "came into being" at once, so that with reference to the material world, we are thinking of things from the subatomic to the super-galactic. Mass, length and time are the building blocks of the physical world in which we live, and the Word brought them all into existence; but more, He created the ready-formed heaven and earth (Gen 1.1). Of course, angelic spirit-beings must have been created previously, since they were rejoicing spectators at the laying of the foundations of the earth (Job 38.7).

Then again, creation was "through him (v.3, JND), that is through His agency as the divine representative of the Trinity. Paul speaks about "one God, the Father, of whom are all things…and one Lord Jesus Christ, by (through, RV) whom are all things" (1 Cor 8.6; see also Heb 2.10 and Eph 3.9). The "one God, the Father" is seen as the primary source ("of whom", as the origin). Hence, the hosts of heaven cry, "Thou art worthy, O our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy will they were, and they have been created" (Rev 4.11, JND). Further, God, Elohim - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - equally participated in the special creation of man: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen 1.26). However, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the actual, active agent of creation ("by whom", as the means): it is by His particular instrumentality that all things came into being, according to the divine will, enacted by Him as principal, in absolute co-operation with His Father, e.g. John 5.17 and Genesis 1.26 (see also John 17.5,24). William Kelly in his John’s Gospel, sums it up as: "The truth is, that whatever was made was made according to the Father’s sovereign will; but the Son, the Word of God, was the person who put forth the power, and never without the energy of the Holy Ghost, I may add, as the Bible carefully teaches us".

To finish off and emphasise the teaching, John reiterates that "without him was not any thing (literary, "not even one thing") made that was made" (v.3). He alone is the acting agent in creation; He did not share it with even the mightiest of angels.

With special reference to this earth and the human beings living on it, John later tells us that "He was in the world, and the world was made by him" (Jn 1.10), where "made" means "came into being". This gives special potency to the sad subsequent statement that "the world knew him not" (Jn 1.10), for men failed and refused to recognise their own Creator. He was, and still is the Word, "the personal revealer in Himself of the Godhead".

To be continued.

 

 

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