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Logos is Word

September 7, 2007

Words usually mean more than first appears. Consider the word read for a moment. The readers of this blog certainly understand this word on more than a theoretical level. To them, reading represents a practical and useful activity. Years have passed since the skill of reading was mastered, so that the processes are nearly forgotten. Yet, the word read means more than a mere process by which letters convey meaning through words and sentences and paragraphs. To read is to participate in communication, where thoughts are communicated from author to reader through the medium of written words and phrases and clauses. Yet, more is being communicated when I read. Often, I read more than the words on the page. I read the tone and demeanor of the writer, I read into his words searching for his intentions, gazing into his soul as much as he permits. I read meaning into what was said and how it was said. We find then that the word read is rich with meaning, as are all words.

Word may be God’s greatest gift to man. Certainly, the Lord God did not share this gift with any other creature besides man, though other creatures can communicate. But this communication depends on a vocabulary of guttural sounds and grunts and pitches. It remains to be seen whether a dictionary could be written to catalogue the dolphin’s whistle, the dog’s bark and whine and growl, or the chimp’s howl. The vibrations that come from these creatures mean something, but no baboon will be writing about it. Man has yet to discover a dolphin library. Words belong to man alone.

Only man can think about the meaning of a word, understand it, use that word in a sentence of his own, and enrich his vocabulary with it. Only man can use that word to reason, to explain, to communicate.

Think of the miracle of Word. In fashioning this article (or post, if you will), I thought about what I would like to write. I worked to organize my thoughts into a coherent presentation. Then somehow, magically I think, I touched my fingers to my keyboard, and my thoughts appeared on my computer screen. When finished, I pasted those thoughts into the writing section of our esteemed blog, where they eventually appeared for your consumption. Now you read what I have written. And somehow, magically I think, my thoughts begin to take shape in your head. To the degree that I have skill at expressing my thoughts, to that degree you are able to think my thoughts after me.

This may illustrate the wonder of Word. Word is a glorious thing, a beautiful thing, a practical thing, a living thing. Word is our life. Logos is our life. We encounter this thought in John 1. Consider the Logos:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 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.

Remembering that the Word of John 1 comes from the Greek word logos, we consider the Logos as presented in this passage. We see that Logos is Word. What do we learn about the Word here?

THE WORD WRITTEN

First, we find that God has granted us a written word. Unlike the spoken word, the written word blesses us in many ways. Written words enable us to return to the same thought repeatedly, and each time in returning, we find new meaning, and gain new shades of understanding. The written word will outlast the spoken word. The written word can be grasped in ways that the spoken word cannot be.

As we consider this, we find that God has given us a written word.

It is written…

Even as we find that our word Word is full of meaning for us, so we find that The Word also gives us much that is meaningful. Among the many meanings, we find meaning in the fact that the Word is written. For us, this indicates the grace and mercy of God, who loves us and gives Himself to us. He has determined that we should know Him. He has designed that we should know Him. He has decreed that we would know Him through His Word.

The fact that the Word is written indicates that it is lasting. Most of the great stories began as oral traditions. They were written and recorded that they might not be lost, yet many stories have been lost. None can erase, none can alter the Word of God. We have His promise on this. Not even the destructive tendencies of man can turn one jot or tittle of God’s Word (Jeremiah 36). Long before it was written in earth, God’s Word was written in heaven, and it is forever settled there. We have God’s Word in our hands, and we have His assurance that it is for everlasting.

The fact that the Word is written indicates that it is cognizable. Christ tells us that we shall know the truth, and the truth shall make us free (John 8:32). And a few chapters later, we are told that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). 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… That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you. We can know the truth, can examine it, can assimilate it, can interpret it, can understand it. Having a written Word enables this.

Because it is written, we can know its author, and thus better understand His Word. Written words give insight into the mind of the author. And we are told that we have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16). Lest there should be any question, lest there should be any dispute, God gave us His thoughts, and put them in a permanent format. Through His written revelation, we can know Him (John 14:17; I John 2:3-4; 5:20).

Since the Word is written, we know that it is recognizable. We make an important distinction here. Cognition enables us to know, to perceive, to see, to understand, to apprehend. Recognition allows us to re-examine, to re-think, to re-view, to re-produce the truth in our own mind. Cognizance is knowing. Recognizance is acknowledging. Because the Word is written, we can repeatedly go back and view again and again the truth of God. When a man enters a friend’s parlor for the very first time, he sees the furniture and layout of the room, but upon leaving he soon forgets. Yet, with each subsequent visit, he begins to see the room in greater detail. Perhaps a better example would be that of a man learning to know his future wife, or perhaps his bride. With each fresh view, he sees something new that delights him, something that he did not recognize before. Similarly, every fresh visit to the written Word will bring out some feature, some idea that was there all the time, and yet was not noticed before. The written Word lets us mine out the hidden gems, lets us delight in the details of the passage, opens the Word to us in new and delightful ways.

A written Word is also timeless… though we could hardly say this universally of the written word. There is plenty of rubbish pawned off in books and periodicals that will never stand the test of the hour, let alone the test of time. Harry Potter comes to mind, as does much of the recent work of Tim LaHaye and the Purpose Driven Fluffiness (not to mention His Silliness, Jack Schaap, particularly in Marriage, Divine Intimacy). Heaven and earth shall pass away, but God’s Words will not. John 1:14 tells us that Jesus Christ is the living embodiment of the Word. As Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so we find that the Word of God will never lose its relevance, its meaning, or its power. Amen and Amen.

The written Word is God’s gift to man. But we find the Word in more than written form. Consider…

THE WORD SPOKEN

Rhetoricians have noted the distinction between written words and spoken words. That difference could be illustrated summarily in the difference between the way we read and the way we listen. What makes us listen when a person speaks? What keeps us listening? What motivates us to turn them off? Then, what compels us to read a particular piece of writing? What keeps us reading? What makes us want to read more?

The written word has an ethos of its own. As does the spoken word. The two are distinct in their power, in their usefulness, in their manners and methods for presenting truth. The Logos referenced in John 1 is now written for us. But not first. Before John took up his quill to record the Word, the Word was. God breathed it. We consider the spoken word.

We are told that the Word was in the beginning, was with God, and was God. So, in other words, Word is. Word has no beginning, but was with God in the beginning. And before time, there was Word. Not only does this reiterate the timeless nature of the Word, but it teaches something else as well. The Logos was God. Thus, the Word was God. We cannot separate God from His speech, for He has magnified His word above all His name (Psalm 13:2). This reminds us that the “thus saith the Lord’s” of Scripture do not merely represent words that came from God. Rather, God Himself is in those Words, and inseparable from them. The same could be said for every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Of all the great orators, none excel the Lord God. Contrary to our modern understanding, Rhetoric did not begin with Aristotle, nor is it some kind of imitative substitute for substantive discourse. Despite the many abuses Rhetoric suffers at the hands of moderns, Rhetoric’s beginnings were not so spurious as we might think. In the beginning, before God created time, before the world was without form and void, the Godhead met in counsel and, in a rhetorical sense, decreed all that should come to pass (Eph 1:11-12). Then, God proceeded to create a world, not with the craft of the engraver, nor with the skill of the manufacturer, but with the power of Word. Logos created the world. God used rhetoric in the beginning. God spoke and it was so.

We see then the power of the spoken Word. God spoke, and it was so. And as God had decreed before in eternity past, so God granted man the gift of speech, so that we, like our Creator, could also use speech creatively. And when God made Eve out of Man’s rib, Adam spoke of her rhetorically, saying, this is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh… We believers are no strangers to the power of the spoken word. How often, through the foolishness of preaching, does God stir us to decisions and to actions? Was it not through the preaching of the Logos that we came to faith in Jesus Christ? Did not our faith come by hearing? Do we not see, even in this, the Creative power of Logos? Was it not the Word that created faith in you?

We see the perpetuity of the spoken Word… for long before there was a written word, there was a spoken word. And long after the last word has been spoken here, the Word will be settled and spoken there. What God has said will never fail. His Word will never return void. His voice will not be silenced. Words, by design, are powerful this way. Which is why we must set a watch before our lips. How often (and often painfully) we have learned that our words are bigger than we think. In a fit of anger or in a careless instant, our tongue can spark a fire that will not be put out. This is a design feature of words. God designed it that words should last. Make sure that, like God’s Words, your words count.

We also see the beauty of the spoken word. How beautiful we find “thus saith the Lord” to be. Every word of God is pure. They are to us as golden apples engraved in silver images. Could we find a word more pleasant than the Logos? Could we find any language lovelier than the language of love spoken by our Lord? Could we find any speech more poetic, more tuneful than the poetry that proceedeth from the mouth of God? When we hear his words, they are as music in our ears. We find ourselves stammering with Moses, O my Lord, I am not eloquent… but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. As we handle the magnificent truths of the Logos, we find ourselves entirely inadequate to present them in any sort of meaningful way. O that God would loosen our tongues so that we might proclaim His glory in a worthy way.

Yet we are not without hope.

Who hath made man’s mouth? Or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? …Now therefore go, and Jehovah will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

There remain a few more considerations. The Logos is both written and spoken. But whenever there are words, there will be speakers and listeners, writers and readers. Thus, we have next…

THE WORD RECEIVED

Here, we see that the Logos is a Divine Communication. In the Word, God communicates Himself to us. In receiving the Word, we comprehend (John 1:5, 11-13). God makes Himself known to us, and we are informed. He announces Himself, we hear His announcement. He declares, we believe. He proclaims, we submit. In receiving the Word, we receive God, who is the Word.

This calls for a Submission to the Logos. When I was a boy, I learned a little “confession” of sorts, that my father taught me. Some might recognize where it came from. The Bible is the Word of God and the final authority in my life. I remember quoting that little saying every day for a certain amount of time. Only later did I grasp the truth of it, that I held the Bible, not in autonomy, but in humble submission.

Submission requires Faith. We do not submit to that which we do not believe. Only when the Word is received by faith will we truly submit to it. This brings up the inescapable quandary of those who believed of their own will, who neutrally examined the claims on both sides and chose for themselves which was right. In their mind, whether knowingly or ignorantly, they hold the truth of God’s Word on their own authority. Theirs is a presumptuous faith. Submission will be difficult when you determined your own destiny by “choosing the right path.”

Faith requires Light. In the Logos was life, and the life was the light of men. This light must shine in darkness. And, comprehension must be granted. We receive the Word as a dark room receives light. The light shines, chasing away the darkness.

Light requires Power (John 1:12). Light is Power. And the preaching of the Logos is the power of God unto salvation. We would not seek for some sort of generic “higher power.” For there is no power but of God. We would seek the power of the Logos. May His power find us.

Words, written or spoken, must be received. The Word, written and spoken, must be received. For the Word is not mere words floating in time and space. Logos is so much more than words. The Logos, and thus the Word, is a Person. Consider then…

THE WORD MADE FLESH

Jesus Christ embodies the Word of God. He is the essential Word. As we carry our Bibles, we carry God’s revelation to us. A fuller revelation we will not find, save in the person of Jesus Christ. And this means something to us. First, that the Word of God is not dead words. God’s Word is alive. As surely as our Lord Jesus Christ sits even now at the right hand of God the Father, even so we know that the very Words of God are alive. They are alive, they are life, and they are life-giving. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

And this Logos, this Word of God, which is living and is life, this Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us. And as the Tabernacle of the Old Testament was glorious, so this tabernacle is the fullness of glory, is more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey. For this Logos is full of grace and truth. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

What kind of people should we then be? Logos is Word. Should we not be people of the Word? And as such, should we not then be people of words?

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Categories: Mallinak, The Word
  1. September 7, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    Yes.

  2. September 7, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    I was just getting ready to say all those points over the course of this month, and here, Dave says it all at once.

    Ha, not really, but my next post is going to be about the spoken Word.

  3. September 9, 2007 at 8:01 am

    Profound

    I particulary enjoy how you draw the reader in to this post with the definition of read. The application will enrich my reading of Logos.
    Paragraph #3 under THE WORD RECEIVED – One word – THANKS.

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