One Language

by Tom Wacaster

Traveling among the various countries of the world one comes to appreciate the inspired record’s account of how the multitude of languages came to exist. That record is contained in Genesis 11:2-9:

“And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”

In India there are literally hundreds of dialects in addition to the various languages. The Republic of the Philippines, being situated where it is, likewise has numerous languages, as well as dozens of dialects. If asked if any of the citizens in these countries speak English, it is sometimes said that they speak a “broken English.” By this we mean that the sentence structure, or perhaps even the words themselves, are not as clearly distinguishable as we might want. Of course such is not peculiar to non-citizens of the USA. I have known country folks, and even some city folks, who butcher the King’s English. It is not that the citizens of India or Manila do not understand English; it is that their accent, and difference in usage of certain English words, often make it difficult to carry on a descent conversation. Of course, my Texas draw does not help the situation any. So, if you ever get tired of pushing “1” for English, or “2” for Spanish here in America, just be thankful that you don’t have to listen to dozens, if not hundreds of choices before you even get to speak to an operator. But I digress; so let me return to the account of where all of these languages originated.

One must keep in mind that the confusion of languages in Genesis 11 was not for the purpose of simply creating dozens and/or hundreds of cultures; though no doubt it contributed to that. God’s divine intervention was for the purpose of bringing man back into line with God’s will and purpose. When God destroyed the earth’s inhabitants with the flood He promised Noah that He would never bring that kind of punishment upon the human race. Don’t forget how wicked the world had become in Noah’s day: “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). It is hard for us to conceive of such evil. Every single word in God’s description of the world at that time staggers the mind. Not only were the “thoughts” evil, but so was the very “imagination” of their thoughts wicked. Nor was their wicked imagination something that occasionally entered their mind and/or heart. It is said that it was only evil, it was only evil continually. I am within bounds when I say that there was nothing good, nothing kind, nothing even worthy of serious consideration; not only did they deserve to die; they did not deserve to live!

Fast forward now to the passage in Genesis 11. Once again the human race has abandoned God. In their arrogance they thought they could built a physical edifice that would, somehow, by their own ingenuity and human wisdom, take them into the presence of God. But their desire was not to worship God; it was to overthrow God. Please note that the aim of that pre-Babel society: “Let us make us a name” (verse 4). The focus was on self: self gratification, self achievement, self glory.

The curious thing about the passage is God’s assessment of these people: “And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (verse 6). One assumes too much if he concludes that this race of men could somehow overthrow God. It is not that their possibilities were unlimited, but that the possibilities they sought were capable of being accomplished. One must ask, therefore, why would God confuse them, if in fact that which they desired to accomplish was good? Had not God instructed man to subdue the earth? The inevitable conclusion is that this generation of humanity wanted to accomplish something contrary to the will of God. We readily admit that much here will fall into the realm of conjecture; but it is what I would call more than simply an educated guess.

First, it is reasonable to assume that their purpose in building this tower was to become “like God.” They wanted to enter into “heaven.” For what purpose? Like Eve who was deceived into believing that if she ate of the fruit, she could become “like God,” so these pre-Babel socialites ate the same poison from the devil and drank from the same polluted waters. For some curious reason men have, over the centuries, sought to become like God; yea to become more powerful than God! The Mormon have concocted an entire theological system that promises, “As you are now, so God once was; as God is now, so you will become.” That same mindset is manifest in various “isms” of our generation: humanism, agnosticism, atheist, pluralism, et al.

Second, it is reasonable to assume that those people wanted to take others with them. Not satisfied with making the journey to “godhood” alone, they “communicated” that desire with others. Eve took Adam down with her; false teachers destroy the very ones who have escaped corruption, drawing disciples away after themselves (Acts 20:28-32). The world cannot understand why the child of God refuses to run in the same excess of riot; the faithful child of God cannot understand why the world won’t just leave them alone. By confusing the languages at Babel, God immediately stopped their desire to communicate their evil intentions to others.

Third, that pre-Babel world realized the key to success. They did not stop with their imaginations. Moses tells us, “this they begin to do” (verse 6). We would do well to take a lesson from the children of darkness. Our Lord made this observation: “And his lord commended the unrighteous steward because he had done wisely: for the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of the light” (Luke 16:8). Applying our Lord’s words to the record in Genesis we learn that imagination without action spells nothing! Hard work has always been an essential ingredient to success. Most of the world knows this, but a growing number are slow to admit it. This will explain why those who seek something for nothing seems to be growing in number with every passing day.

Fourth, “one language” is essential to accomplishing some worthwhile task. Right here I am not talking about “on language” of tongue. In fact, time and experience has proven that the Gospel can go forth even in the midst of multiple languages. I have, on occasions, had to go through no less than three interpreters in one setting in order to convey the truth to all those in the audience. The “one language” that is essential to actually doing what God desires, is the “one language” of unity. The prophet of old acknowledged this: “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). I have learned over the years, and over thousands of miles traveled to various parts of this world, that great good can be accomplished even if we don’t speak “one language.” But I have also learned that much evil can also be accomplished by those who “speak one language,” but whose language is that of Ashdod.

Creature Comforts

by Tom Wacaster

In all of my various travels I have had the opportunity to sit in a number of terminals waiting for the connecting flight to my next destination. This includes what we sometimes call “hub” airports. To be more specific, a “hub” airport is one of those large airports where flights from various parts of the country merge in order to pick up the longer flight overseas. Frankfurt, Germany has one of the largest “hub” airports, if not in fact the largest that I have encountered in my travels. If you happen to land and disembark your airplane at one end of the airport in Frankfurt, and your connecting flight is at the opposite end, you need to allow a good twenty to thirty minutes just to walk from one end of that airport to the next. On one occasion I had a connecting flight in Frankfurt on my journey from Chicago to New Deli, India. There was supposed to be a one hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany, thus allowing plenty of time to casually maneuver the concourses to the desired terminal. As it turned out, the flight out of Chicago was delayed because someone got sick just as we were about to take off. After returning to the terminal, unloading passenger and baggage, we were off again, but about 45 minutes behind scheduled departure. We landed in Frankfurt and were told as we left the plane that if we ran we should not have any trouble making the flight. So I, along with about a dozen other passengers wanting to catch the same flight, sprinted through the maze of people in a dead run only to arrive at the departure gate just in time to watch them pull the gate away from the airplane. What we went through for the next couple of hours is the subject for another article.

Other “hubs” include New York Kennedy airport, Atlanta International, London Heathrow, New Delhi, Bombay, and so forth. This trip that I am now on is my first time to fly into the Minneapolis Saint Paul International airport. While this airport is not as large as many of the international departure points, it appears to be quite adequate to handle the traffic. This was my first stop on my way to Manila. It was about a ten minute walk from my arrival gate to the departure gate where I now sit writing the first part of this week’s article. What struck me about this airport is the elaborate creature comforts in this airport that cater to the multitude of travelers on their way to various parts of the country and/or the world. The corridor from gate D6 to G4 is carpeted with a very comfortable, acoustic carpet that not only absorbs sound, but is actually quite comfortable to walk on. There are various shops that beckon the traveler to stop in and browse (with the aim of getting them to spend their money of course). These are not your Ben Franklin 5 and 10 stores, or cut rate department stores like Walmart or Target. These are high class, high price shops, selling upper line brand name clothes, none of which names I recognized (I guess I just don’t shop in those brand names stores that much). It’s sort of like, “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it” type shops. I stopped at one just to see how the prices compare with Goodwill (O.K, maybe how they compare with Sears or Penny’s). One shirt, brand name unknown and quickly forgotten, was priced at $98.00. Who in his right mind would pay $98 for a shirt? There was one shop where you could stop, get a quick back massage and rub down if your muscles happen to be knotted up. For a ten minute rub down you will fork out $45. No waiting line, and guaranteed to send you on your way relaxed and refreshed so you can climb aboard that twelve hour flight to Tokyo and experience cramped seats and crowded conditions so that when you arrive you can spend another 250 Yen to repeat the process. In fact, you could finish up that rub down in time to stop at a local ice cream shop and buy one dip of ice cream for $4.95, or eat lunch at 10:00 A.M. at the cuisine hamburger shop: Hamburger, fries and a coke for $14.95.

Some years back I passed a little shop in some airport (the place I have long since forgotten), and the sign out front of the shop offered a one year waranty on all their products. My immediate thought was, “Ok, if the item I purchase breaks, do I have to catch a plane, return to this “hub” airport, bring the item with me for exchange, just to take advantage of your waranty? Like I said, “Who in his right mind?”

I make it a habit to find my gate early so if there are any changes in my flight, I can take care of that before I find a place to stretch out and read or work on my laptop. When I got to my gate I was surprised to find that the waiting area was nothing like the waiting areas at DFW, or New York, or any other waiting area in the various international airports from which I have departed the United States. This waiting area had “booths” to sit in. At each booth you were provided an I-pad to use, at no charge, a table to set your laptop on, a plug-in to charge your depleted batteries, and free access to the internet. Wow! I have never seen anything like it in any airport. Creature comforts extraordinaire. I don’t know if all of these amenities in this particular airport are provided by the airport, the various airlines, the state or a combination of all three.

Now, I’ve said all this to make a point. I have learned that there is a marked contrast between the way we live in America and the way most folks in other parts of the world live. To be sure, there are “westernized” countries that seek to provide these “creature comforts,” but few measure up to what we have accomplished in our country (unless it be the Arabs in such places as Dubai International Airport). Our Lord told us that a “man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). There is great danger in the pursuit of material things. The apostle Paul warned, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:10). Airport amenities, shops, and upscale restaurants are only a sample of the extent to which men will go to enjoy the finer things of life. Tragically, the same effort that is put into providing the comforts for the body is missing when it comes to addressing the needs of the spiritual man. I have never seen a chapel in an international airport; I’m not saying there are none; I’m just saying I have never seen one. I have perused the shelves of the airport book stores and never—I repeat never—seen Bibles, commentaries, tracts, or audio books or DVD’s that address the inner man and matters concerning death and the hereafter from the Biblical standpoint. It may be that airport authorities and/or merchants don’t think it would be good to have material that deals with death and dying in an airport; for obvious reasons. I seldom am able to get the person sitting next to me to discuss spiritual matters, though I have tried on occasions when an English speaking passenger sits next to me on an airplane. I would like to think that more people are interested in their soul than my success rate of evangelism in airports might indicate. Or, it might be that the “many” of which our Lord spoke in Matthew 7:20-21 are less concerned about their soul than they are about their “creature comforts.” And that, beloved, is truly sad.

On The Road Again

by Tom Wacaster

Editor’s note: In a little less than five days I will be leaving for Manila, Philippines, and then on to India for my first mission trip of 2014. This will be my first to journey to the Philippines, and I look forward to experiencing the culture of that part of the world and preaching in that country. Following five days work in the Philippines I will head for Kakinada, India and then on to Bangalore for seven days work with the brethren there. I beseech your prayers for a safe journey and a profitable one for the Lord’s cause. I wrote the following article about ten years ago on one of those occasions when it was time for me to make one of my mission trips for that year. That will help you understand some of the references I make to dates and places.

~~~~~~~~~~

Some years ago famed country and western singer Willie Nelson produced a hit entitled, “On The Road Again.” A portion of that song contained the following words: “On the road again, Goin’ places that I’ve never been; Seein’ things that I may never see again. And I can’t wait to get on the road again.” Of course Willie Nelson had a certain country nasal twang that gave his song a unique sound as well as a unique message.

It has been a little over four years since I decided to go into mission work “full time.” Between May of 2004 and the present I have logged more than half a million air miles traveling to Russia, India, Ethiopia, Mexico, not counting trips stateside in raising funds for the work. I have added more than 150,000 miles to my automobiles, and stayed in so many motels and hotels here in America and abroad that I have thought about buying stock in the hotel business. Sometimes the road becomes weary, and each mile seems like a hundred. But in the back of my mind I know that every mile traveled not only brings me closer to my intended destination for that particular journey, but one step closer to my eternal home when this life is over. This coming Monday (August 11th) I will leave for India, followed by a trip to Ethiopia. But before I go, let me share with you why “I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

First, when I am on the road I am reminded of what it means to be a sojourner and pilgrim. Peter wrote, “Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). The “fleshly lusts” impede our progress toward our destination and “war against the soul.” I have learned over the years that I don’t need to “carry” so much “stuff” with me when I travel. I was checking in at DFW for my most recent trip to Russia. Just ahead of me was a couple who were on their way to England. Each of them had three bags to check in and two to carry on - and that did not include his briefcase and her purse - twelve pieces of luggage in all! Jesus warned us of the thorns that will choke out our effectiveness and encumber our journey. Brethren, don’t get bogged down with the mad rush for material abundance. Remember, our Lord warned us, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Lk. 12:15).

Second, when I am on the road my various travels remind me of what it means to be a good steward of the time God gives us each and every day of our life. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said that “Time is the stuff that life is made of.” I never cease to be amazed at how much time we American’s waste. With the advent of television, and now the “internet,” productivity and output in the workplace has suffered immensely. We have developed labor saving devices only to squander the extra time on worldly pleasures, week-end trips, and wasteful endeavors. Attendance at church has suffered, gospel meetings are poorly supported, and mid-week services typically show a great drop in numbers. Many of our brethren in India, Africa, and Ethiopia do not have the “extra” time we enjoy because of our labor saving devices. But my impression is that many of those who have less time utilize what time they do have in an expedient fashion that would put many of us to shame.

Third, because of my world travels I have come to appreciate the world wide nature of our Lord’s church. The church of Christ is not an American church. It is not an India church, or a Russian church. It is universal in its scope. The Jews had to learn the hard way that our God is no respecter of persons. Jew and Gentile alike were recipients of the gospel. Brethren, the church of Christ was not established for white, middle class Americans. When I travel abroad, as soon as I walk into a building with brothers and sisters in Christ there is an immediate bond that we have in common. It makes no difference the size of the building, or whether it be made of concrete, sticks with a thatch roof, or an elaborate building the likes of which are unheard of by many brethren in other parts of the world; it is the people who make up the church.

Fourth, when I am on the road I am aware of the distinct possibility that I am going places that I “may never see again.” Life is transient, like a “vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (Jas. 4:14). Tomorrow’s trip to India may be my last; opportunities to teach in Russia may be nothing more than a closed door and a past memory in an instant. With every trip I am cognizant that the flight that I am presently on could very well be my last.

Finally, when I am on the road I am reminded what it means to be separated from those whom I love. My wife does not travel with me on these trips, and when I am away from home my heart is always hundreds if not thousands of miles from where I might be laboring in the Lord’s kingdom. But in the back of my mind I am confident that I will be rejoined to my family, Lord willing, and once again look upon the faces of those who are the nearest and dearest to me in this life. There is coming a day when those “separations” will be of a longer duration, for when death comes to take one of our loved ones our lives will be empty and void of the smiles, hugs and handshakes we shared with those who have gone on before. But we know that this “separation” will only be for a while, and when the Lord comes again, those who died in the Lord and those presently living in the Lord will be called up to join the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with Him throughout eternity. That, my friends, will be the ultimate road trip with the destination final and permanent. Someone captured these very sentiments in one of the verses of the song, “God’s Family.”

And tho’ some go before us,
We’ll all meet again,
Just inside the city,
As we enter in;
There’ll be no more parting,
With Jesus we’ll be,
Together forever,
God’s family

That will be a wonderful day, for nevermore shall we roam, and we won’t have to be “on the road again.”

Lifting Up Holy Hands

 by Dalton Key

Fads come and fads go and not all of them are confined to the world of fashion. The church has certainly endured her share over the years. Among the more recent: congregants holding in the air, and often waving about, their “holy hands” as prayers are offered and selected songs are sung. Justification for the practice is said to be based in part upon the words of 1 Timothy 2:8: “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” It does seem strange, though, that we have not been encouraged to embrace a literal application of Paul’s words until recently, as a number of denominational groups (charismatic, as a rule) have begun hand-waving as part of their circus-like praise fests. It is true that the 1 Timothy passage calls upon those praying to life up “holy hands” in prayer.

Consider as well Ephesians 3:14, which speaks of bowing the knee in prayer. While assuming a kneeling posture in prayer was once in vogue among many brethren in years past, the practice has largely been forsaken. In most congregations, the fad has long since run its course. But there is more. The publican, whose prayer allowed him to go “to his house justified,” prayed while smiting his breast. (Luke 18:13,14) I have yet to hear of any “breast smiting” congregations.

And what of Stephen, who accompanied his final prayer both with kneeling down and looking up “steadfastly into heaven”? (Acts 7:55-60)

Should we bow the knee and smite the breast as we gaze toward heaven while lifting up our hands during prayer? But then I suppose we would need to hold one hand in the air while keeping the other one free for breast-smiting.

Actually, one’s posture in prayer is not the important thing, nor is the positioning of one’s hands. A cleansed and sincere heart is what matters. The phrase “lifting up holy hands” is but another way of saying what James taught: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16)

The “holy hands,” by means of the figure of speech known as metonymy, denote “a righteous man>” A similar usage may be found in James 4:8: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners.” The hands here are meant to represent the whole of one’s life as well.

We would no doubt be better served during prayer concerning ourselves more with our hearts than with our hands.

- From the December, 2013 issue of OLD PATHS

Climate For Church Growth

by Tom Wacaster

Were I to ask a business man if he had a successful year last year, likely he would gage success on “numbers.”   That is to be expected; for who in his right mind would even suggest that his business was a success had said company lost inventory, or even worse, dollars?  To a car dealer, successes is measured in the number of cars sold; to a financier, success is measured in interest earned, or stocks bought and sold.   But you cannot measure church growth in numbers.  Genuine church growth falls outside the realm of the tangible.  Admittedly there are tangible indications of church growth – but the tangible signs of growth can be misleading.  Jesus warned the church at Sardis, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou are dead” (Rev. 3:1).   What is it that gave Sardis a “name that thou livest”?   Was it the attendance figures for the year?  Perhaps it was the number of baptisms; or the many mission endeavors in which she was involved.    Perhaps the congregation had appeared in one of the brotherhood periodicals of the first century as being among the “fastest growing congregations in the brotherhood.”   But the numbers were deceiving, were they not?  Keep this in mind, beloved:  Our Lord does not measure true success by tangible numbers!  In all the letters to the seven churches of Asia, not a single one is commended for numbers, neither are any condemned for the lack thereof!   Do not misunderstand, beloved – we cannot avoid increase in numbers when the church is growing – but numbers for numbers sake are not an accurate barometer of true church growth.  

 If we focus on numbers we will not develop a climate conducive to the kind of growth God desires.    To illustrate, let us suppose an eldership has a desire to increase the attendance by 20% over the next twelve months.   Simple math would demand that a present attendance of 100 would need to be at 120 by year’s end.  So, the goal is set, and every effort is put into achieving that end.   Suppose that by year’s end there has been an increase of only 1-2%, or even worse, no increase at all.   The temptation would be to examine the methods being used to achieve the desired increase, and conclude, “We must be doing something wrong!”   Along with the temptation to re-evaluate the “method” would be the danger of minimizing those things that are truly important (and scriptural) and focus even more on the increase in numbers.    Why not, instead, focus our attention on those things that the Bible teaches us will provide for spiritual growth, and trust in God to give the increase?  Has our Lord not promised that if we will sow and water that He will give the increase?  “So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Cor. 3:7).  Paul was not minimizing the work of the evangelists, but was emphasizing the importance of focusing our attention on the source of genuine increase – increase, we might add, that can be measured in tangible figures.   Notice that it was the preaching of the gospel to which Paul focused our attention:  “I planted…Apollos watered” (vs. 6).  With these things in mind, we humbly suggest the following spiritual truths that will help us maintain and develop a climate for church growth. 

First, the leaders of a congregation must give attention to developing a positive atmosphere for church growth.   As the spiritual climate about us continues to deteriorate we find ourselves saying (if only among ourselves), “Nobody will listen to the gospel anymore.”  Or, “People are just not interested.”  A steady diet of such negative thinking will erode and rob any congregation of its zeal to seek and save the lost.  Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that Romans 1:16 (“the gospel…is the power”) and Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things in Christ”) are still in the Bible.  

Second, leaders must give attention to developing an attitude of trust among members.  Fault finding, constant criticism, and internal strife will ruin the growth of a congregation.   A good diet of spiritual milk combined with instruction in areas such as congregational cooperation, brotherly love, and trust in God will go a long way to a healthy climate for spiritual growth.

Third, leaders must give attention to old fashioned evangelism.   If a farmer wants a larger crop, he gives attention to planting more seed.  Neglect in this area will result in a small harvest and/or a discouraged and disappointed farmer.  While elders have a great responsibility to address the spiritual needs of the flock, undue attention to the “felt-needs” of the members will result in a small harvest of souls if for no other reason than the fact that it draws our attention away from that which can and will provide growth.  Let us not neglect the great commission (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15).

Fourth, leaders must strive for excellence among themselves and the congregation.  Mediocrity does not attract people – it repels them.   We seek for excellence in the products we buy, and the service we expect from those in the secular realm.   It is our duty to give the very best to God.  “And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether to … ministry, let us give ourselves to our ministry; or he that teacheth, to his teaching; or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting; he that giveth, let him do it with liberality” (Rom. 12:6-9).  Our desire for excellence should be apparent in our worship, our teaching, the building and grounds, etc.  Anything less falls short of the right climate for church growth.

Fifth, leaders must be flexible while remaining steadfast and unmovable.  There are some areas that must not change.  The word of God has been “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) and any attempt to deviate from the God-given standard will be disastrous (Gal. 1:8-9; Rev. 22:18-19).  Thus we encourage one another, “Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).  But when it comes to the method for growth, we must be flexible, willing to adapt to the changing times.   God has given us the amazing world-wide-web (better known as www.com), mobile phones, Ipods, Ipads and email to help us reach the billions of lost souls around us – we would be foolish to ignore these wonderful tools because we are locked in mind set that says, “Well, we never did it that way before.” 

Finally, leaders must lead the way in demonstrating a serving spirit while expecting the congregation to follow in their train.   Adapting the words of the late John F. Kennedy, “Don’t ask what the church can do for you; ask rather what you can do for the church.”  I feel sorry for those anxious souls who give no consideration to working with a small congregation that cannot provide this program or that program and choose instead to place membership with a large congregation that has activities that meets their selfish, and in many instances, their fleshly desires.   When a congregation focuses their attention on programs that appeal to whims and wishes of its members rather than the desires of God, they are well on the way to producing a climate contrary to church growth. 

These suggestions are not exhaustive.  But the wisdom that is from above attests to these important truths.  May God help us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord (2 Pet. 3:18) and do all within our power to develop and maintain a climate for growth where we labor and work in the Lord’s kingdom. 

The Word Was God

by Tom Moore

As we contemplate the Christ and try to grasp what our Lord really means to mankind, we need to seriously consider the words of the apostle John, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (Jn. 1:1). We know that John speaks of Jesus, for he goes on to say, "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" (Jn. 1:14).

As John introduced the epistle of 1 John, he wrote, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (1 Jn. 1:1-4).

In the book of Revelation, John sees a heavenly vision, and describes Jesus in this fashion, "And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God" (Rev. 19:13).

The name "WORD" expresses the wonderful nature of Jesus as much or more than any other. "Word" comes from the Greek word logos (logos), and basically means that by which we communicate our will and our thoughts to others. Thoughts can only be understood in terms of "words."

Paul says, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Cor. 2:11-13).

God's thoughts must be expressed in "words" for us to understand. Thus, we understand that "words" are the medium of communication with others - that which expresses one's inner thoughts to another.

Jesus is called the "Word" because He is the revelation and the expressed idea of deity. The Hebrew writer expresses this thought in this fashion, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. 1:1-3). Thus, Jesus is the Word - the revelation and expression of God. Jesus is the Word because He is the means by which the Father communicates His will and delivers His commands to His creation.

It is interesting to note that John in a vision sees Jesus having "in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength" (Rev. 1:16). The Hebrew writer proclaims, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). Again, we see the idea of Christ as the Word - the revelation and expression of God and His will.

We now understand more fully the words of Jesus, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (Jn. 12:48). Why will we be judged by the words of Christ? Because the Word, Jesus Christ, is the oracle of the will of Deity. We comprehend more precisely then Jesus' proclamation, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (Jn. 14:6). Jesus also said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Jn. 5:24). The Word, God's revelation to man, is the only means through which we can come to the Father.

Tom Moore
P. O. Box 107
Hamilton, Texas 76531
www.harrisandmoore.org
www.fromthepreacherspc.org
www.prarkheightscoc.com