In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John1:1)
Today’s verse is often of great encouragement to me, especially in those times when life takes a crazy turn, when circumstances and situations rise up and press in, and when answers to prayer seem to take forever to manifest, even though I have His promise and assurance and He has blessed me with faith for the outcome. The problem inherent in our humanity, and in living in a world which seems set and determined to challenge and countermand every injunction of the Father, is that our minds bring us very quickly to a place of confusion – that place of a myriad questions where ‘why’ becomes loud and demanding and ‘I don’t understand’ tries to impose itself as a daily mantra and shout out the whisperings of faith. In these moments, I am constantly thankful that the Holy Spirit led me to this particular verse and engraved it unequivocally on my heart. I need only remember ‘in the beginning’ and I feel the fears and confusion begin to ebb. This is the place of the peace that passes all understanding – eternal and unchanging, a rock on which we can build, stand, and hold on in absolute faith.
In the beginning is the only place to start if we are to understand and live in the power of God’s Word.
We all have those moments that batter and blind us, in which our mind seeks to reestablish it’s often negative control and enemy sneaks in behind to erode the security of our faith. I’ve learned that the actual attack is usually not the circumstances – stuff happens in this crazy, mixed-up world of flesh and darkness – but the temptation that comes directly after it. That is the attack – to determine or influence how we will respond to essentially ‘nuetral’ situations. That is when we are vulnerable and at our weakest, easy prey for both the flesh and the devil. And that is the moment to pause, breathe, and focus on ‘in the beginning.’
I have found that this provides and immensely practical spiritual weapon, because it immediately lifts my eyes of where I am to where God is – ruling in the heavens but also right beside me and, finally, in me. Verse that speak of things like ‘greater is He that is in me’ release their power when I have them grounded in this unshakeable truth: the Word is eternal, and in Christ, the Word is not an ‘outside’ or absent thing. It is living in me. ‘In the beginning’ reminds me that He is there ‘in the end,’ too. It is eternal, unshakeable truth immutable.
The sheer power inherent in the creation of this universe is staggering. We’re accustomed to an ordered universe where, in general, the tides follow their natural timetable, the seasons cycle with dependable regularity, we sow, we plant, we harvest and reap. Things die off and regenerate, and the life inherent in each and every thing become predicatable. We don’t worry about how it all happens. We simply accept that it does. The caterpillar will become a butterfly, flowers will bloom at the right time, trees add another ring for each year of growth, and the sun will rise and set as it always has. We seldom pause to consider what this world was like in the beginning, when chaos ruled, the waters ran rampant over the land, and darkness surrounded it all. It’s an uncomfortable image, but it’s one which reveals so much we can hold onto when our ‘universe’ seems to be heading the same way.
The second phrase is key to everything – ‘the Word was God.’ We so often hear of the power of the Word, which is absolutely correct. It is powerful – immeasurably so. This is a truth we readily accept, though when the going gets touch, it’s as easy to ‘misplace’ it because we haven’t perhaps grasped the fundamental reason why it’s so powerful. Our verse today states it clearly. ‘The Word was God.’ It is God Himself, in the person of Christ, who actually indwells the Word and thus imbues it with power. God is the Alpha – in the beginning – and the Omega – in the end. This is the reason why the Word is eternal. It is because it is God in spoken form. When we speak the Word, we speak Jesus and so speak God Himself.
The third phrase highlights this beautifully – ‘the Word was with God.’ Somehow, it’s easy to slide into the understanding that God and His Word are somehow separate, that His power is something He wields from a distance as and when He wills it. This is entirely incorrect and robs us of nothing less than God Himself working in our lives. When the Word of God is read or spoken, He is there. When we read or speak the Word of God, we read and speak God Himself. He reveals Himself in His Word – His nature, His character, His power, His grace, His mercy, His love…all of these are there in the Word, powerful and transforming, because God is there in. He was in the beginning, He will be in the end, and nothing – not even our shaky faith or moments of unbelief – can alter that. In His Word, God brings eternity to our fallen world.
This verse has the power to strip away those things that hinder and undermine our faith. Yes, there are moments when we have to grit our teeth and speak the Word out of obedience rather than sincere faith. That is the nature of our very human Christian walk. We are weak creatures, and it is sometimes only that simply act of obedience – ‘God says’ – that brings restoration of spiritual strength to continue and releases our faith. The wonderful thing is that God knows this. He knows our places of weakness and our temptations into unbelief. He knows that we struggle. He knows that we are so battered and bruised that we cannot seem to endure until the promise is fulfilled. This is the place of ‘in the beginning.’
Our gracious God has given us a simple verse that takes us straight to the Rock of our Salvation. It strips away the world and the flesh, and provides an impenetrable bulwark against the machinations of the enemy. It reminds us that ‘in the beginning was the Word.’ God’s Word was the medium through which He effected His will by the Holy Spirit to create this perfectly ordered, magnificently detailed universe. God’s Word is God Himself, His revealed will manifest in the fulfillment of every promise in Christ. God and His will are inseperable.
The greatest tragedy of the church is that so many believers don’t live in the Word. Many do not spend time in it. They don’t discover its treasures for themselves but rely on the snippets they receive from others or from the pulpit. They absorb incorrect doctrine and teachings like dry sponges, and repeat these errors in their lives – and never see the answers to prayer or fulfillment of promises as a result. Many are selective about what they read or remember, choosing only those things that are comfortable and easily adapted into their lives. Yet God’s purpose for His Word is made very clear. ‘In the beginning’ reminds us that only the Word in its entirety, in its unadulterated truth, will release the power we all long to see moving in our lives.
The real truth is that we cannot hope to survive as a Christian without it. It is our food, our sustenance, our strength, and the root of our faith. The familiar concept of ’empty words have no meaning’ is a good illustration. Empty words are those spoken from the head, not the heart. They have no meaning and no relevance because they do not carry the weight of commitment. In those times when we feel – and every Christian does at some point – that God’s words are ’empty,’ is because we’ve forgotten the truth of ‘in the beginning.’ We’ve allowed His Word to become a tool rather than the very core of our existence.
God’s Word is eternal. It does not speak to the mind except to ‘take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. It does not speak to the emotions except to command them to ‘be still.’ It speaks to the piece of eternity God has placed in us – His very breath that gives us live, the spirit in each of us that reaches out and responds to the eternal God, drawing us closer to our place with Him in eternity. ‘In the beginning’ contains an awesome promise which He has already fulfilled in Christ. Jesus is God’s Word made manifest. He has already secured eternity for us, through a promise made in the beginning. Right from the very foundation of the universe, God agreed with His Living Word that He would give Himself to be the way. He gave Himself in the beginning so that we could be with Him in the end.
That is a revelation of the incredible power inherent in God’s Word. It’s creation power – can bring things into being. It’s resurrection power – can bring to life things that are dead. It’s restoration power, healing power, delivering power… None of us dispute these things, and it seems that everywhere we look, we see people crying out for the power of God. Churches chase after signs and wonders, ‘manifestations of the Spirit’ which are often not of God at all. This is because we’re hungry for the things of God. We long to see Him move as He did in the Bible, and feel the lack. The hunger is not wrong, nor is giving honour to the Spirit – we should have respect for God’s Spirit and give Him His rightful place. But the Spirit never works without the Word. If we desire the power of God, working through the Spirit in our lives, we need to put ourselves back ‘in the beginning.’ In the Word.
Nothing can or will ever happen outside of the Word. In the beginning, God cemented this eternal truth into the very fabric of this universe. We walk a dangerous road when we focus only on the Spirit – often in unconcious manipulation – to release power into our lives. God will release His power where His Word is, because that’s where He is. Where God is, His power will be too, and it will not fail to work because that’s what it’s there for. Our problems are often the result of taking what ‘sounds right’ and applying it, and then being disappointed when God does not meet our prescribed expectations. I find it both humbling and encouraging to consider how, in the beginning, God transformed chaos into the indescribable beauty and infinite detail that is our universe. That is power indeed – pure power flowing out of the very heart of God, unlimited by human dictates or preconceived notions as to what and how He will work.
Today’s verse contains the truth that brings transformation. The more of the Word we have in us, the more of God we have in us, and the more His power will work through us. If we can go back to the unshakeable promise contained in the beginning, if we can take hold of that and develop an unsatiable hunger for His Word, for Christ, we will know Him and know His will, and things will work according to His manifest power and His will. Self, with all its questions and confusion, cannot hold out against the Word, but we need to have it in us. What a comfort it is, when all seems dark and lost, to go back to this simple reminder: ‘In the beginning was the Word.’
Thank You, Lord, that we can turn to Your Word with unshakeable confidence. Help us, today, to put all else aside. Give us a hunger and a thirst for You, for Your Word and Your will, to immerse ourselves, saturate ourselves, and surrender ourselves to Your eternal truth, knowing that this is You, not some distant, abstract concept that requires us to earn or obtain it. Write Your Word on our hearts so that we may live in You and You in us.