Paul Harvey, used to have a daily minute on some fact or event and cleverly explained the rest of the story after his commercial. I’m no Paul Harvey but you may find this interesting reading. Great time last night. Good to see and hear all of you.
After the family Christmas call last night, I was thinking of the comment about the Christmas Story only being in Luke and Matthew. It’s true the other Gospels don’t have the birth narrative, Mark’s Gospel is short and purposeful other ways, but John actual begins right away with the even more amazing text. Read the first 14 verses ending with…
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The attached article written by a Wyoming pastor, I read this morning shines some more light on just how significant this all is.
The Word Became Flesh
Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
Joh 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Joh 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Joh 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Joh 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
Joh 1:7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
Joh 1:8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
Joh 1:9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Joh 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
Joh 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Joh 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Christmas & the I AM
In John 8, the religious leaders of Judaism play verbal tennis with Jesus. He mentions Abraham seeing his day. In v. 57, the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus then responds with what the most lofty, exalted, exclusive, and, if not true, blasphemous, statement any man could speak: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am’” (John 8:58).
“I am.” It’s an interesting name. And it take us back to Moses’ wilderness encounter with God in Exodus 3. Moses shrinks a bit at the call to be used in Israel’s redemption. He asks for a name, to which God responds: I AM (Exod. 3:14).
God is his title, but, “I AM,” is his name (something like, “Yahweh,” in Hebrew). This is not a new God, but a name by which eternal God choose to reveal himself.
The Hebrew term appears over 6000 times in the OT. Yahweh is the One who will severely punish Egypt with the miracles, culminating in the Passover. I AM is he who will part the sea and carry his people through the wilderness
What is in this name, I AM?
There is much we could say. But let’s consider the idea of existence and being. The universe is matter; it is stuff; things. It is not eternally existent. It is impossible for matter to be eternally existing because it’s just stuff; it’s confined to space; it needs a place. Matter is ever-changing, can be broken down, and depends on other matter, space, and time for existent. Thus, it’s not eternal or independent. There is nothing in the universe, including the universe, which can always say of itself, “I am eternal and self-existing.”
Dependence and temporariness is profoundly experiential for us. No human existed before they existed; we had a beginning. Every animal has a beginning; every tree; every flower; everything. Things have a beginning so, they can never say, “I am eternal.” We can only say, “We were not, then we were, and now we are changing. And through it all, we are dependent.”
Therefore, we have all been caused by something. Everything is caused by something; all things find their existence in something before it. We are not independent.
However, since things are not eternal and since things are dependent, there must be something, that is not a thing, which is not dependent and not temporal matter. There must be something that is not a thing; that has no beginning. So, since things cannot be eternal because they are things; that demands that there must be something that is eternal, from which all things derive their existence and being. More importantly, Scripture clarifies that this Something, which has no beginning, no cause, and is that from which all things derive, is the Triune God.
Prior to being converted to Christ, I was a raging Darwinian evolutionist. I believed that the universe began about 13 billion years ago at the big bang. Initially, I didn’t realize the catastrophic problems with that theory. I didn’t want to. In any case, explosions do not bring about more order, but less; more chaos, not organization. Blow something up and you’ll see (actually, don’t). We’d be hard pressed to assert logically that a more-order-to-less-order event like an explosion brought the beauty, order, design, and function of things in the universe like solar nuclear fusion, immune systems, and photosynthesis.
Second, the universe is matter. The theory says, roughly, that a very small particle existed, then exploded into the universe. However, what caused it to explode? The laws of physics say that something will stay in its state unless something else acts upon it. So, something had to act on that particle to make it explode into the universe. You can’t have nothing cause an explosion on the scale of that which brought this massive universe into existence. Nothing can’t cause something to become the universe. There must have been something, uncreated, self-existing, and pre-existing the universe for the universe to come about. But, many astrophysicists do not want to be that logical, or truthful.
So, to summarize, something had to exist before the universe since the universe exists. That something has to be independent because dependent things, which is all the universe, require dependence upon something independent. This uncreated being must be independent because there was nothing to depend upon but himself. This is the attribute of self-existence, or aseity.
Now, if there is this thing from which all things derive their existence, it must be eternal and self-existent. To have no beginning is to have the attribute of pre-existence; existing before all things. This is where the sidewalk ends. It is one of God’s attributes which theologians call the “incommunicable attributes.” It’s an attribute which humans cannot share. We can share God’s attributes of love and righteousness, but not pre-existence and independence. The incommunicable attributes like independence, aseity, eternality, and pre-existence are the most God-ness things about God; and the thing that humans are most not.
Back to Exodus 3. Interestingly, those incommunicable attributes are communicated in the name, I AM. The best phrase to communicate eternal pre-existence, aseity, and eternality is I AM. And that happens to be the name God gives himself. I AM communicates constantly being – He constantly is for all eternity. Go back as far as you want, and God is. I AM communicates aseity – I always is, and no one else makes him be; no one causes him to have being. Prior to anything; before things which derive their existence, God is I AM. It’s the name that best communicates these utterly divine, incommunicable attributes. Interestingly, none of the other false gods in history have this name, I AM, because none of them are the true God; the eternal, pre-existing, Being of aseity.
So, all of the essential God-ness of God is wrapped up in this name, Yahweh. We began, but God always was the I AM. Nations rise up and fall. Kings and men are born, boast for a few years, and turn back to the ground. And God has always been the I AM. We are needing someone besides ourselves for every breath; every movement of our trillions of cells; our heartbeat; we depend on another; God is the I AM. The existence of the most vile atheist, and the most pompous arrogant king, is derived from God.
This fact of eternality and pre-existence is the first thing that the Bible teaches about God: “In the beginning, God…” (Gen. 1:1). He is the I AM.
But what about Jesus? He was born! Doesn’t that mean he had a beginning? His humanness had a beginning (John 1:14). In fact, his humanness having a beginning is absolutely essential to truly being human. Jesus is truly man. Therefore, there was a birth, albeit a virgin birth, but a real birth, thus a real man.
So, then, how can Jesus claim, he is the I AM in John 8:58without deserving execution (Lev. 24:16)? Christmas marks, not the time when the Son of God could finally say, “I exist,” but that time when the One who always was I AM, became incarnate. The I AM lowered himself and humbled himself to join that which has a beginning (human nature) to that which has no beginning (divine nature); human flesh joined to the I AM, eternally existing God (John 1:14, Phil. 2:6-7).
Some of the heretical cultists say, “Well, yeah, Jesus is the Son of God, and, sure, he existed before Abraham, but he is not eternally existing God with no beginning.” But, if Jesus wanted to communicate that, he would have said, “Before Abraham was, I was.” However, Jesus unhesitatingly declares himself the eternal God when He takes the name I AM to himself in John 8:58. It’s the most exalted, exclusive, and clear way to claim deity. This is the most severe; the most exclusive; the most holy and weighty claim Jesus ever makes.
Though the Son of David, he is the Son of God.
Though born of the virgin, he is the uncaused God with no beginning.
Though flesh and blood, he is eternal spirit, infinite and immortal.
Though man, he is the I AM, God.
Though eternal, he took a body to die on the cross in our place for our sins. Worship him. Fall before him. Trust in him.
And if you don’t worship the Jesus of the Bible, then you don’t worship God.
This is Christmas. God’s gift is himself as a substitute for sinners who bow the knee in faith.
Merry Christmas from all of us at the Cripplegate. What a year it’s been. Blessed be God for holding us firm. Let us bow and thank God for the gift of Jesus Christ this Christmas.
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