“And the Logos became Flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14, Diaglott)
The basis of our Christmas study, contained in John 1:1-18, is one of the most beautiful in the whole Bible. Genesis goes back to the beginning of earthly things; but this lesson goes back to the beginning of all beginnings, when God was alone. The very beginning of Divine operation was the Logos – “the beginning of the creation of God” – “the firstborn of every creature.” (Rev. 3:14; Col. 1:15)
Logos, translated “Word” in most English translations of the Bible, signifies mouthpiece, or special messenger. Logos was the name of Jesus before He became flesh and should properly be left untranslated, just as the names “Jesus” and “Christ” are left untranslated. Not only was the Logos the beginning of the Divine creation, or the Alpha – but He was also the last, the Omega, as He Himself informs us. (Rev. 1:11; 21:6) The first and only begotten Son of God was given an exclusive place, so that “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3) Thus the Father highly honored Him as His Agent in all the creative work.
The Greek text of John 1:1,2 is not fully represented in any of our common translations. Accurately translated it reads, “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with the God (τὸν θεόν) and the Logos was a god (θεὸς); the same was in the beginning with the God (τὸν θεόν).” Here the majesty of our Redeemer in His pre-human condition is fully set forth, and yet He is distinctly shown to be the Son and not the Father – to be a god and not the God.
The word god signifies “mighty one;” but there is only one God whose name is the Almighty. St. Paul affirms this great truth, saying, “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him.” (1 Cor. 8:6) Again, the Apostle writes, “The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3) This is the claim that Jesus made for Himself – not that He was the Father, the Almighty God, but that He was the Son of God, who came to do the will of His Father in Heaven.
The so-called doctrine of the Trinity, put into the Nicene Creed by a council of bishops convened by the Emperor Constantine in A.D. 325, has been the cause of much of our confusion when studying the Bible. The Bible contains neither the word trinity nor any suggestion of it, except in the one passage acknowledged by all scholars to be spurious, namely 1 John 5:7. This passage is not found in any Greek manuscript before the fourteenth century.
The Redeemer was not deceitful when He prayed to the Father with loud cries and tears, “My God! My God!” (Matt. 27:46) Neither was He deceitful when He declared to Mary after His resurrection, “I am not yet ascended to my Father…and your Father, and to my God and your God.” (John 20:17) He declared His oneness with the Father, and desired that a similar oneness should prevail among His followers – oneness of spirit, of purpose. Therefore He prayed for His Church, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:21-23)
“THE LOGOS BECAME FLESH”
St. Paul tells us of how He who was rich on the spirit plane for our sakes became poor, leaving the Heavenly comforts for the scenes of this world, darkened by sin and death. (2 Cor. 8:9) This our lesson tells us also: “And the Logos became Flesh, and dwelt among us, – and we beheld His glory, a glory as of an Only-begotten from a Father, – full of favor and truth.” (John 1:14, Diaglott) St. Paul also corroborates this, declaring that our Lord stooped from His high position, took the bondman’s form and was found in fashion as a man, of the seed of Abraham. (Phil. 2:7,8; Heb. 2:16) But lest we should get the wrong thought, that He had become a sinful man, we are guarded by the assurance that He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. 7:26) We are also assured that His body was especially prepared, separate and different from others of our race, all of whom were of Adamic stock and all tainted with sin and the seeds of death. (Heb. 10:5-9)
But, on the other hand, we are to guard ourselves against the thought that the Logos remained a spirit being and merely materialized, or appeared in human form. This unscriptural thought is the one held by many, and styled incarnation. The angels incarnated, or got into flesh, when they materialized from time to time, as described in the Old Testament Scriptures. Our Lord Himself incarnated, or appeared in the flesh, to Abraham in company with others; and He talked with Abraham, who knew not that he was entertaining Heavenly beings, mistaking them for human travelers.
Similarly, after His resurrection Jesus appeared in various forms of flesh. That is to say, He materialized, or incarnated, for the purpose of teaching certain lessons to His disciples, because after His resurrection He was a spirit being, as He was before He was made flesh. As a spirit being, He appeared and disappeared, the doors being shut. Thus He taught His disciples a double lesson:
(1) That He was no longer dead, but risen;
(2) That He was no longer a human, but a spirit being – “being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by [made alive in] the Spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18)
A RANSOM, OR CORRESPONDING-PRICE
As Bible students we are learning that more than ever we must strive earnestly to keep close to the Word of God. It was the perfect man Adam who sinned and was sentenced to death, and under the Divine Law he could be redeemed only by the sacrifice of a perfect man. The Law declares, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a man’s life for a man’s life.” Hence the blood of bulls and goats could never make atonement for Adam’s sin; for they did not correspond: it was not a bullock nor a goat that had sinned and was to be redeemed, but a perfect man. (Heb. 10:4)
All of the human family are children of Adam and sharers in his death sentence; therefore, “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” (Psalm 49:7) God so shut up the matter that Adam and his race could not have been redeemed except by the finding of a perfect man who would be willing voluntarily to die on their behalf. It was because there was no such man that God arranged with the Logos, His only begotten, that He should become a man and be the Redeemer of the human race – Adam and all his posterity.
But even this could not be demanded of the Logos. The Heavenly Father, therefore, as St. Paul points out, set before His Son, the Logos, a great proposition; namely, that if He would demonstrate His faith and loyalty to the extent of becoming man’s Redeemer, the Father would still more highly exalt Him and make Him partaker of the Divine nature, far above angels and every name that is named. (Heb. 12:2; Phil. 2:5-11) The Logos, full of faith and obedience, heartily entered into the proposition, was made flesh, consecrated His life, kept nothing back, finished the work at Calvary, and was raised from the dead by the Father to the Divine nature and glory and honor.
“THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD”
The Logos was made Jesus. The work of Jesus in the flesh, however, is not the completion of the Divine Plan, but merely the beginning of it. His death constitutes the basis of all future blessings to the Church and to the world. According to the Father’s Plan, an elect class was to be gathered out of Israel and out of every nation to be the Church of Christ, His Bride, associates with Him in His Throne, glory and work. (1 Pet. 2:9,10)
With the completion of the Elect, the Kingdom for which we pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” is to be established. Satan is to be bound; all evil is to be brought to an end; every good influence and enlightenment is to be shed; and He who died for the world is thus to become the Light of the world. He has not yet been the Light of the world, but merely a light to His people. As St. John declared, His light shined in darkness, and was not appreciated. (John 1:5) Similarly the light of Truth upheld by His consecrated Church will not be appreciated, so strong are the powers of the Prince of Darkness influencing the minds of the world, which, as yet, lies under the evil one. (1 John 5:19, Diaglott)
But the Prince of Life and His Kingdom will cause the light of the knowledge of the glory of God to fill the whole earth, as the waters cover the great deep (Hab. 2:14), so that none shall need to say to his brother, know the Lord, for all shall know Him, from the least to the greatest. (Jer. 31:34) Thus according to His promise, in the coming Kingdom Jesus will be “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9) The great mass of humanity, the civilized as well as the uncivilized, have as yet never seen nor even heard of this true Light.
The resurrection of the just will be necessary to bring the Church to glory and joint-heirship with her Lord. But the resurrection of the unjustified, which includes practically all humanity, will be for the very purpose of permitting them to see the true Light, which God has provided in His Son and which will be shed abroad during His Millennial Kingdom. Only those who refuse the light, preferring the darkness, will die the Second Death. (Rev. 21:8)
“POWER TO BECOME SONS”
John the Baptist was a messenger sent to call attention to the Light, but he was not the Light. He was not even one of the Church class, of whom Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14), for John the Baptist died before the time of the begetting of the Spirit, after our Lord’s sacrifice.
The world did not recognize the great One, the Logos, by whom it was made. His own nation did not recognize Him, but instead crucified Him. Yet some then and some since have received Him, and to such He has given the power, the right, the liberty, the privilege, to become children of God. No such privilege was given to the Jews, nor to any of the fallen race, until Pentecost, after Jesus had appeared in the presence of God to make atonement for our sins.
These sons are all begotten of the Holy Spirit. Theirs is not a fleshly sonship. Their birth of the Spirit will be the resurrection change, when they shall be made like their Master, see Him as He is and share His glory.
(Adapted from Reprint 5351, with some updating of language, etc.)
CHRISTMAS HOPES AND JOYS
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”(Luke 2:10,11)
Christmas (or Christ’s festival) is generally celebrated on December 25th; and since its commemoration is merely voluntary and not commanded in the Scriptures, we may well celebrate it on this date, although we believe evidence shows that our Lord was born about October 1st, and that December 25th, nine months previous, was probably around the date of the annunciation. (Luke 1:30,31)
Our confidence that Jesus was sent of God to be the Redeemer, the Messiah, the Deliverer of His people, rests not merely upon the testimony of the Apostles in the New Testament records. Wonderful and convincing as these testimonies are, they gain most of their weight and importance from the fact that they prove the fulfilment of Old Testament promises, types and prophecies given more or less explicitly throughout the preceding 4,000 years. He who does not discern something, at least, of the divine plan of the ages in connection with our Savior, His birth, His three and one-half years’ ministry, His sacrificial death, His resurrection, His ascension, etc., fails to get the real strength of the divine revelation, designed by God to be the firm foundation for His people’s confidence in Him and in all the glorious things which He has promised He would yet accomplish through this great Savior.
OLD TESTAMENT PROMISES
Recall the original veiled promise of a Savior, given in the Garden of Eden and directed at the Serpent (Satan), shortly after the sin of our first parents brought us under divine sentence: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed [Satan’s seed of evil] and her seed [the Messiah]; it shall bruise thy head, [a fatal blow, crushing out all evil in due time] and thou shalt bruise his heel [He will not be injured vitally].” (Gen. 3:15) The promise was that God had not forsaken man, but will ultimately recover him through a Redeemer born of a woman.
Recall also the promise made to Abraham (2,083 years after the promise in the Garden of Eden) that the Messiah would be of his posterity: “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Gen. 22:18) It was repeated to Jacob: “And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”(Gen. 28:14)
Now coming forward to Moses, 430 years after the Abrahamic Covenant, note the types and figures of the Mosaic arrangement. Moses himself was declared to be like unto the greater one to come after him. (Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22, 7:37)
Much later, after King David began his reign 536 years after the giving of the Law to Moses, God said to him, “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom…And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.” (2 Sam. 7:12-16)
The Messiah’s coming and His greatness were foretold through the Prophet Isaiah. (Isa. 9:6,7; 11:1-9) The Prophet Daniel also refers to the importance of His work of making an end of sin and bringing in everlasting righteousness, and thus sealing the visions and prophecies which the Lord had just given respecting the Messiah and the favor to come through Him. (Dan. 9:24)
We recall also how He was typified in Isaac, who was not only the heir of the promises made to Abraham, but who was also figuratively put to death and received again from the dead.
Had the hopes of Israel been merely concoctions to deceive the people, we may be sure that the deceiver would have carefully set out some remarkable line of parentage for the coming Messiah – free from blights, scandals, etc.; but this was not done. Instead, the weaknesses of the flesh among our Lord’s ancestors are fearlessly documented.
Judah, the son of Jacob, and head of the tribe from which our Lord sprang, was not above reproach and his general character was truthfully portrayed. His son, Phares (or Pharez), through whom our Lord’s lineage runs, was born of an unlawful union. Rahab, the harlot of Jericho, a foreigner who became an “Israelite indeed,” was among our Lord’s progenitors; so was Ruth, the Moabitess, another foreigner adopted as an Israelite. Even through David the line is compromised by coming through Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah, the Hittite.
NEW TESTAMENT IN AGREEMENT
The New Testament writers are similarly candid and make no hesitation in recording the genealogy. All of this is in full accord with the scriptural presentation of the matter; namely, that our Lord’s virtue, His sinlessness, His separateness from sinners, was not through the flesh, not through His mother, but through His Father, God.
There are those who say that the writers of the New Testament knew the promises, types and prophecies of the Old Testament and told their stories of Christ to fit these. If this be the case, there had to be a motive, an advantage to them. We can find no such motive or worldly advantage gained, but rather, just the reverse is true. They were vilified, ostracized, persecuted, and some even put to death, as had been their Master.
As the Apostle Paul explains, Jesus Christ “took on him the seed of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16), but as we have already seen, through various circumstances He was indirectly related also to the outside world. All of this is interesting to us, but nothing to be compared to our still greater interest in the fact that our Lord Jesus, although born a Jew under the Law, and redeeming those who were under the Law, did more than this, in that His death, as planned by the Father and accepted by Himself, was a propitiation “for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)
He died as the ransom price for Adam and his sin, and thus purchased from condemnation not only Adam, but his entire posterity; hence, as the Apostle points out, “He is able also to save [deliver] them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.” (Heb. 7:25)
Not only is this true, but our Lord’s circumstances of birth and early experiences in comparative poverty as a working man impress us with the thought that He is indeed able to sympathize with mankind in every station of life; having passed from the glory of the Father to the lowest condition of humanity and back again, He is surely able to appreciate and to sympathize with all conditions and classes.
THE GLORIOUS MESSAGE
When the angel came to the shepherds with the announcement of the Savior’s birth, the light of the Glory of the Lord shone about them and they were frightened. The message of our heavenly Father through the angel was this: “Fear not.” (Luke 2:9,10) The angel understood well that through sin and degradation a fearful apprehension comes over man when he finds himself in contact with spirit beings; he is apprehensive of certain further condemnation or punishment. His experiences with men of influence, authority and power lead him to dread the still greater authority and power of the Almighty, for fear it should be injurious to him.
Only the true Christian, having the eyes of his understanding opened to appreciate the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of God, can have that perfect love toward the heavenly Father which is built upon an intimate knowledge of His Word, and which casts out all fear. (Eph. 3:18-19; 1 John 4:18) We are reminded of the Prophet’s words, which are applicable to many professing Christians of today: “Their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.” (Isa. 29:13) The Lord would have His people free from this fear, though not free from a proper reverence toward Him.
The message of the angel continued, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” How slow the Lord’s people have been to believe this message and to accept the Savior at His full worth! How prone they seem to be to suppose first of all that He was to be a Savior merely for the Jews; or secondly, a Savior merely for a special elect class; or thirdly, a Savior only for those who under present darkness, ignorance, prejudice, superstition and devilish influences, manifest a special love for righteousness! But how broad is the statement – great joy – for all people!
Our faith that these good tidings will be to all people, that all families of the earth will be blessed, is based on the positive declaration of the Scriptures, which promise that our God has graciously arranged that every member of the human race will yet be blessed with a clear understanding of the great redemption price paid by the Savior. (Heb. 8:11) Every member of the human race will share in the glorious opportunities thus secured to return, if he will, back to full harmony with God and to full blessings and everlasting life. (Rev. 22:17)
Note however, that the angel did not declare that our Lord came to bring universal and everlasting salvation to all people; instead the angel declared that the good message of joy, of privilege, love, hope, shall extend to all people. The explanation of this is that a Savior had been born – a deliverer of the weak, the helpless, the dying, able to succor to the utmost all who would come to the Father through Him; able to open the blind eyes and to unstop the deaf ears that all may come to an appreciation of the goodness of God shining toward them in the face of the Lord Jesus.
In the Syriac language, which was likely spoken by Jesus and others living in the region at the time, the word Savior signifies literally “Life-giver.” What a wonderful thought is conveyed by that word! What is it that our poor, dying race needs? It needs deliverance from death and the sentence of death, and restoration to complete, abundant, and everlasting life.
Our Lord has already become our Deliverer in the sense that He has bought us with His precious blood, that He has settled our account with Justice. As a result of this work already done (since the Church which is the body of Christ has followed in the footsteps of our Lord and has about “fill[ed] up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” (Col. 1:24), very shortly now, under the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet, the mystery of God will be finished – completed – and atonement for the sins of the world shall be proclaimed with a full emancipation proclamation to all people. It will surely be good tidings of great joy! It will be full of gracious opportunities for enlightenment, restitution and obedience, and for a full return to all that was lost by father Adam, including life in perfect degree – lasting life!
A HALLELUJAH CHORUS
No wonder that after this message had been delivered, the Lord permitted an angel host to serenade the proclamation, prophesying the grand results yet to flow from the great work of redemption, only then beginning in the birth of the Redeemer: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13,14)
The anthem properly begins with praise to He who sits upon the throne, to He who devised the great and wonderful plan of redemption and who sent His Son, our willing Redeemer. Glory to Him in the highest – in the highest strain of heart and voice, with fullest appreciation of Him as a Savior! Next come the consequences on earth – namely, peace. This is not the kind of peace men might patch up between themselves and between nations and parties, and that under present conditions would be sure very soon to be scattered to the winds. Rather, it is peace with God, a peace which comes from the restoration of the divine good will to the human race.
Because divine justice could not spare the guilty, the sentence of death has borne down upon our race. Under that divine sentence the dying race has become impoverished, not only physically but mentally and morally, and selfishness has become the rule. In its wake have come all our selfish ambitions, pride, strife and love of money, causing so much of the trouble that mankind has experienced.
But now, glory to God in the highest, because peace has been established upon a firm foundation – the lifting of the curse of death through the payment of our penalty by the Lord’s own arrangement! As soon as the body of Christ has suffered with the Head, the great antitypical Day of Atonement will be complete. Peace between God and man will be established, will be renewed, and as a consequence the Redeemer shall take to Himself His great power and reign for the purpose of blessing and uplifting those whom He purchased with His own precious blood.
The great peace must be introduced by the breaking in pieces of present institutions with the iron rod of the new Kingdom. They will be crushed as the vessel of a potter because henceforth they will be useless. In their stead will come the grand and perfect institutions of the Lord’s Kingdom. He will wound to heal, to bless, to bring in peace on the basis of everlasting righteousness.
He will ultimately destroy all those who, after being brought to a knowledge of the truth, will still love unrighteousness and lean toward corruption. (Psa. 37:9-11; Acts 3:23; 2 Thes. 1:9) He will destroy them, not in anger but in justice, in love, that an everlasting peace in full accord with that which is in heaven may prevail upon earth.
Wherever the story of God’s redeeming love has gone, even though confused by various falsities, it has carried a measure of blessing with it. It has brought blessing even to hearers who are neglectful of the Word of God. It has brought still more blessing to others who hear partly and obey partly. Its greatest blessing, however, has been to the Little Flock, the Royal Priesthood who, entering into the spirit of the divine arrangement, have realized themselves justified through faith in the precious blood. In harmony with the invitation of the Lord, these have gone forward, presenting themselves living sacrifices that they might have fellowship with Christ in the sufferings of the Gospel Age, and the glories that shall follow in the Kingdom.
It is chiefly this class who have rejoiced in a still fuller opening up of the divine Word so long beclouded by the false doctrines coming down from the Dark Ages. It is this class that has chiefly rejoiced in the discernment of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine love and of the divine plan which has purchased the whole world and will eventually recover from present degradation all who under the favorable conditions of the Millennial Kingdom will develop the character which God demands of all who shall have eternal life – a love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity.
(Adapted from Reprint 3114, with some updating of language, etc.)
“IN THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW”
Marjorie Horn Williams
With much sadness it is our duty to report the death of our beloved Sister in the Truth, Marjorie Williams. She was born May 27, 1931 and entered into the “sleep in Jesus” on September 15, 2015. Her love of the Lord guided the steps of her life and she was instrumental in the work of the Bible House for many years, devoting countless hours to sharing the wonderful promises of God with others. We will miss her very much and pray God bless her memory.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (1 Thes. 4:13,14)
TO OUR BELOVED ONE
To our dear one we bid farewell.
We’ll miss you more than words can tell.
Weariness of mind and body at last
Behind you has been forever cast.
Though entered in that dreamless sleep,
The Lord will surely your remembrance keep.
He will wake you in that wonderful day,
Pain and tears all wiped away.
We pray that morn not tarry long
When you return with joyous song.
Though we say goodbye with so much sorrow,
We rejoice to know we’ll meet tomorrow.
By Delta Clinard
 See Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 2, page 54.
 See Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 5, Chapter 4.