One of the features of a local assembly is that it is a gathering in the name of the Lord Jesus. “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together”, 1 Corinthians 5:4.
This means that all that He is gives character to the gathering.
It also means that His name is the authority we have for gathering as we do. We must constantly ask whether our practices conform to the dignity of His person. This will affect how we dress and behave as we come together. there is no room for that which is casual , wheter in clothing, speech, posture, or attitude, when we come together for the solemn purpoase of honouring the name of the Lord Jesus.
We should not make “gathering in His name” a slogan, as if we are a sect.
There were those who claimed to be super-spiritual at Corinth, and said “I of Christ”, 1 Corinthians 1:12.
His name is enough to get saved by, (John 1:12), so it must be enough to gather by.
All of the four gospels go back to a beginning of some sort in their narrative about Christ:
Mark- the beginning of (the preaching) of the gospel. God’s Faithful Servant.
Luke- the beginning of His earthly life. The Sympathetic Saviour. (Luke also gives Christ’s genealogy back to Adam).
Matthew- the beginning of the nation, (Abraham), and the Kingdom, (David). Christ as The Seed, (Galatians 3:16), and the Sovereign.
John- the beginning of creation. The Son of God.
THE DEITY OF CHRIST:
He is Son of God in a sense different to angels, Adam, or believers, who are all called sons of God. The sonship of believers is derived, His is eternal, and therefore underived.
In John 10:30-36, the expressions “I and My Father are one”, “makest Thyself God”, and “I am the Son of God”, mean the same thing, and signify His Deity. If this were not so, the Jews would not have attempted to stone Him for blasphemy.
To be the son of someone or something in Bible times meant to share their nature. “Son of thunder”, “sons of Belial (worthlessness), “son of perdition”, “son of man”. As Son of God, the Lord Jesus shares the nature of God. Believers are sons by adoption; He is un-originated and eternal.
If it were not so, He could not be the Only-begotten Son, for He would not be alone, and that title indicates He is.
THE DEITY OF CHRIST IS A CENTRAL DOCTRINE:
The apostle Paul described himself as “separated unto the gospel of God…concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord”, Romans 1:1,3.
“and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth from all sin”, 1 John 1:7.
“He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life”, 1 John 5:12.
“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God”, 1 John 4:15.
“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God…on this rock”, Matthew 16:16,18.
THE DEITY OF CHRIST IS A CONSISTENT DOCTRINE
In Genesis 1:1 a plural noun, “God”, is used with a singular verb, “created”. This can only be possible if the three persons of the Godhead are one.
In Malachi 3:1- “I will send My messenger, (John the Baptist), and he shall prepare the way before Me“. Yet in Mark 1:2 we read, “As is written in the prophets, ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee’“. So to prepare the way before Christ is to prepare the way before Jehovah. Again, in Mark 1:3, John the Baptist prepares “the way of the Lord”, meaning Jehovah, for this is a quotation from Isaiah 40:3. But John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ.
In Matthew 2:23 we discover that the child born is “God with us”.
In Revelation 22:12,13 the one who comes quickly declares, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last”. But these are Divine titles, as found in Revelation 1:8; Isaiah 41:4; 44:6.
So at the beginning and end of both the Old and the New Testaments, the Deity of Christ is set forth in some way. And this is true of all that lies between.
THE DEITY OF CHRIST IS A CONTESTED DOCTRINE
“He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son”, 1 John 2:22.
“And it (the little horn, a symbol of the Antichrist) cast down the truth to the ground”, Daniel 8:12.
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know it is the last time”, 1 John 2:18.
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds”, 2 John 9-11.
THE DEITY OF CHRIST IS A DOCTRINE TO BE CONTENDED FOR
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”, 2 Timothy 4:7.
“It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints”, Jude 3.
“If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins”, John 8:24.
NOTES ON JOHN 1:1,2
THE ETERNAL EXISTENCE OF THE WORD
1:1 In the beginning was the Word- when the first thing that had a beginning began, then the Word already was. This is a clear indication of His eternal existence. That the Lord Jesus is meant is evident from verses 14 and 17, but John deliberately refrains from giving Him any personal name here, however, so that we may concentrate on His attributes. A word is an expression of what is in the mind, so John is telling us that if God is going to be told out, it must be through Him who, because He is the Word, is able to perfectly express His mind. He is not a Word, one option among many, but the one and only discloser of the mind of God.
The use of the word “beginning” shows there is clearly a link with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God create”, but whereas Moses is starting at the beginning and going forward, John is starting at the beginning and going backwards into eternity, before time was. Thus John is telling us of One who is able to bring eternal realities within the reach of men.
THE DISTINCT PERSONALITY OF THE WORD
And the Word was with God- If the first phrase tells of the pre-existence of the Word before time began, and therefore indicates His eternal being, this phrase tells of His co-existence. To be with God tells us much more than that the Word was in the presence of God, although this is true. By using a preposition that indicates “motion towards”, John is informing us that the Word was actively towards God, concentrating, in eternal perfection, on Him. This gives us great confidence, for it indicates that there is perfect harmony between the Word and God. Their interests are the same, and nothing disturbs their communion. This being the case, believing in His name is a safe thing to do, for it forges a link with God that cannot be broken. The fact that weight is given to both “Word” and “God”, is indicative of the distinct personality of the Word.
THE SUBSTANTIAL GODHOOD OF THE WORD
And the Word was God- A clear statement as to the Deity of the Word. Note that although there are distinctions of Persons in the Godhead, for “the Word was with God”, yet there is identity of essence, for “the Word was God”. This expression assures us that the One who is pre-existent, and co-existent, is co-equal with God as well. This truth is emphasized not only in the teaching of the Lord Jesus, (see for instance John 5:17-29 and 10:30), but also in His miracles, which clearly demonstrated His Deity. For example, He who had made the vine on the third day, Genesis 1:12,13, now acts on another “third day”, John 2:1, as He accelerates the lengthy process by which rainwater is made into the best wine, and thus manifests His power as Creator, with the result that His disciples believed on Him, John 2:11.
1:2 The same was in the beginning with God- John makes it clear that the truths stated in verse one were all true together at the beginning- there was no development or progress. It was not that He was the Word, and then was with God, and then was God, but rather that He who was with God, and was God, was this eternally, for the nature of God cannot change. Deity does not develop, but is ever infinite. “I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed”, Malachi 3:6. This statement by the prophet would have been a great comfort to the remnant in Israel as they faced four hundred years of change until Christ came. Their preservation in those times is testimony to the unchangeableness of God. We who wait for the second coming of Christ may likewise take heart.
THE CREATORIAL MAJESTY OF THE WORD
1:3 All things were made by Him- Having stated fundamental truths as to the nature of the Word, John now indicates the way in which the Word showed Himself to be God, even by bringing all things into being, something only God can do. Literally rendered, the verse reads- “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being which has come into being”. John is writing about things coming to be that did not exist before- they are not revealed from their hiding-place. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”, Hebrews 11:3. All things came into being by, or through, the Word when “He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” Psalm 33:9. It follows logically, then, that He is not part of creation. There are those who appeal to this word “by” to say that the Word was only a high angelic intelligence, who was used by God to make all things as His subordinate. But in Romans 11:36 it is said of God that all things are through Him, (and the apostle uses the same word as “by” here), so on this theory of subordination, God Himself must be acting for another! This, of course, is impossible.
Perhaps as he penned these words the apostle John thought of the language of Isaiah 44:24, “I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself:”. Isaiah declared that the Lord, the God of heaven, had made all things by Himself, yet John, a sincere believer in the One True God, did not hesitate to say that the Word had made all things. Since John was inspired by the same Spirit as Isaiah was, then we are forced to the conclusion that the Word is God, not only by the plain statement of verse 1, but also by the fact that He is Creator.
And without Him was not anything made that was made- there is no secret store of matter that derives its origin from some other power-source. Note how John puts things positively and negatively, (“all things were made by Him…without Him was nothing made”), in order that the truth might be hedged about on every side. The first phrase “all things were made by Him”, might be thought by hostile minds to refer only to things, and not beings with life, leaving the way open to say that the Word was created first, and then brought things into existence. This second statement of the apostle instantly and conclusively disposes of such a blasphemous notion. Everything that has begun to be, has done so through the Word, therefore the Word did not come into being, but ever is.
So it is that John establishes at the very beginning of His account of the life, death and resurrection of Christ, that He is indeed verily God. As he brings his gospel to a close he assures us that “these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name”, John 20:31.