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Logos is Life

September 14, 2007

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

At Creation, God set man apart from all the other creatures of earth. Breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, man became a living soul, distinct from the other creatures. This distinction takes shape on several levels. Man is a spiritual being. Man is a rational being. Man will continue forever, either enjoying God or banished from his presence. The breath of God imparted unique gifts to man.

Perhaps the one unique gift that distinguishes man from all others is the gift of speech — logos. Logos is the distinctive characteristic of mankind. Because God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, because man became a living soul, because of the gift of logos, man has the ability to speak, to express thought, to communicate, to fellowship.

Grasping this, our understanding of logos begins to take shape. Logos in its simplest form means “speech, word, saying.” Of the three hundred sixteen times we find logos in the New Testament, the King James Version translates it as “word” two hundred eighteen of those times. Another fifty times, logos is “saying,” and eight times it is “speech.” At its most basic level, logos refers to word.

But this meaning by no means expresses the full or complete significance of the logos. Logos represents not merely what is said, but also what is said about a thing or person. In other words, logos includes not only one’s words, but also one’s identity… what is said to a person, what is said about a person. Luke 5:15 translates logos as “fame”. So, logos includes a persons reputation, his name, his history, and everything that could be said about him (1).

We see then that logos includes what we say and what is said about us. Logos is identity. From the Word of God, we know that not only does logos mean identity, but Logos also has an identity.

In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. The same was in the beginning with God.

And we are told that in him was life; and the life was the light of men. In the Logos was life. And this Logos later tells us that He is the life (John 14:6). In hopes of further enrichment of our understanding of logos, we pursue this thought of “Logos as Life.”

We find our life connected to His, and made abundant in His. He is our life, and we present our bodies as living sacrifices to Him. Outside of Him, all is death and decay. But in Him is life. As we consider the Logos as life, we see the Logos as our identity, as our energy, and as the vitality of our life. We will begin first with the Logos as identity.

OUR IDENTITY IN LOGOS

What is said of us? A guest in our church recently asked a question (one you’ve probably heard before). If we were arrested and charged with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us? At salvation, we are given a new name, representing a new identity. That new name, which we bear for the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, is “Christian.” That is our identity. We take the name of Christ. Our identity is in Him. As many as received the Logos, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

Identity with the Logos means identity with the Word. As was said in an earlier post, we are people of the Word. We identify with it. But being people of the Word means more than simply identifying with it. The Word is our identity. We are marked by it, set apart by it, separated and distinguished from the world by it (John 17:17). For us, every question goes back to the Word. The Word forms the basis, the foundation, the ultimate standard for all our thinking. We strive to cast down every imagination that exalts itself against it. We are bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of it.

If logos means “speech,” if it includes “words,” then logos must also include “thoughts.” Words, as we know, do not come from the void. Thoughts cause words. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. As Christians, our thoughts must submit to the thoughts of Scripture, so that we learn to “think God’s thoughts after him.” Put another way, our logos must become His Logos. His Logos must dictate our thoughts. Our minds must always be reflecting the truth of God’s Word.

Identity with the Logos means identity with His righteousness.

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Identity with the Logos calls for holiness and sanctification. Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. The Logos is light. Darkness cannot share any identity with light. In him is no darkness at all.

Identity with the Logos means identity with His reproach. John chapter 1 takes great pains to emphasize that the world would not receive Christ (vv. 5, 10-11). He is despised and rejected of men. If men hated Christ (and they do), they will hate us. If men hate God’s Word, they will hate all who are identified with it. If men hate the Logos, they will hate the men of the Logos. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. Our identity is not truly with Christ until we bear His reproach (Romans 10:11). Until we count His reproach as Moses did, as greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, we cannot claim our identity with him.

Identity with the Logos means identity with His life. The Christ-life. The life he came to give, and give abundantly. Our life must be His life. Our life must be in Him. We present our bodies as living sacrifices. We live for Him. We abide in Him, and He in us. Our life is hid with Christ in God. We are crucified with Him, nevertheless we live. Yet not us, but Christ liveth in us. And the life that we now live in the flesh we live by the faith of the Son of God. This is our identity. Christ increasing; we ourselves decreasing.

Identity with the Logos means identity with His person. Paul spoke of the Greeks feeling after God, perhaps finding him, though he be not far from every one of us. I don’t know this to be the case, but perhaps Paul alluded to the fact that the Greek philosophers, in their blindness, came very close to stumbling into the One True and Living God. Greek philosophers understood that speech was impossible without the help of rational intelligence. In their gropings in the dark, they comprehended the fact that reason itself required some force, some power enabling man to think and know and organize his thoughts in sensible ways. Like John’s gospel, the Greeks spoke of logos as that force. The philosophers beginning with the Stoics believed that all powers proceed from the logos (2). Later philosophers connected logos with deity. The Greek god Hermes, considered the messenger of the gods, was considered to be logos, and as a special gift from Zeus, enabled fellowship between Zeus and mankind.

Lest the reader be tempted to think that maybe the Greeks really were worshipping God, we should be clear on a few points. First, Hermes, acting as interpreter for Zeus, made a joke of mixing messages and skewing interpretations. Hermes (from which we get our word hermeneutic), perverter of messages, twister of truth, actually represented Greek deity well. For Zeus at best was a cad and a scoundrel.

The point is not to pique our interest in the Greek gods, but rather to understand the word logos, and the way a Greek philosopher would have used it. While we find ourselves interested, perhaps mildly amused at the near miss of the philosophers, we also find in this a shade of the truth. Logos is more than a mere inanimate “force.” Logos is a person.

The Greeks had the wrong person. John’s Gospel set the record straight. The Logos is a person. They were right about that. In fact, Logos is a man. And God. Fully God, and fully man. The man Christ Jesus. God with us. The one man that God accepts on His own merits. The Word made flesh. The Logos.

And our identity is wrapped up in that person. We would be like Jesus. There is much that could be said on this point. We observe how he walked, for we would walk that way. Was he a servant of all? We would be too. Was he a friend to the poor and miserable? To sinners and publicans? We would be too. Did he love the little children? We do too. Did he spend his life being interrupted? We would too. We identify with the man Christ Jesus. We identify with His person as substitute, as intercessor, as Lord, as very God of very God.

Could we find any greater identity outside and apart from Christ? At the tower of Babel, man said, “Let us make us a name.” We would glorify His name. We would remain unnamed, only to name the name of Christ. We have no greater identity than in Jesus Christ, the Logos. He must increase, we must decrease.

OUR ENERGY IN LOGOS

All things were made by Logos. We find that this truth extends to our very spiritual lives. We who were dead in trespasses and sins have been quickened (John 11:25). And we are reminded that this quickening work cannot be a work of our flesh, for it is the spirit that quickeneth. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63). We recognize that the Logos gives us faith (Romans 10:17), otherwise faith is a work of man (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus Christ, the Logos, is also the author of our faith. Logos brings to life.

What constitutes life? What makes a thing to be alive? When we ask this question annually in our Logic class, the students inevitably cite the definition of “life” given in science class. In the interest of precision (and true logos), we point out that the five characteristics of life are really by-products of life. They do not make a thing to be living. They are so because a thing is living. Over the course of three class periods, we watch our student’s thought processes grow from a scientific understanding of life as it can be observed to a spiritual understanding of life as it is fundamentally. In the end, our young people come to the understanding that “life” is a thing that God possesses, and that when God created, He was giving Himself to the world. When God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, God breathed Himself into man. The Logos animates, energizes, enlivens man.

Logos keeps alive. The Logos invigorates, stimulates, arouses, inspires, activates. And, Logos enlightens, which further energizes the Christian (John 1:4, 9). Though it may begin as but a spark, Logos sets a light to the candle. Though it be ever so small and feeble a flame, the Logos fans it, encourages it, sees to it that the flickering flame is not put out. When the Logos lights a man, a flame is kindled that can never be put out. For that feeble flame is not fueled by any effort of man. The Logos fuels that flame until it glows forever. Nor can any work, when once begun by the Lord, fail or fall incomplete.

How often do we find our eyes enlightened, our ears opened by the wonders of the Word? How often do the Scriptures breath new life into our tired souls? How often are we refreshed and revived by the Logos? Do we not find that, as we take up the Logos, our inward man is renewed day by day? The abundant life comes by the Logos.

Not only is our energy in Logos, but we also find…

OUR VITALITY IN LOGOS

Logos is vital for life. For what would our life be without the Logos of God? Without the Logos, there can be no fellowship. There can be no reconciliation. There can be no justification. There can be no substitution. Intercession cannot happen. We have no mediator. We have no propitiation, no adoption, no redemption. Without Logos we have no life.

In John 1, the Apostle presents to our view the essential Logos. We cannot make sense of logos without The Logos. Without The Logos, logos is impossible. Light is impossible. Darkness prevails, even as it cannot. For who can make sense of such a thing as darkness when there is no light. Without The Logos, life means nothing. For that matter, life makes no sense. Reason? Who could speak of such a thing? How could we interpret reason apart from The Logos? If these things are mere chance and circumstance, then reason is subjective. If reason is subjective, then it is meaningless, for what my “rational” mind tells me would operate entirely separately and independently from what your “rational” mind tells you. Logos is vital for life and meaning.

The Logos is the vital life. Thus, we must eat Christ’s flesh and drink His blood (John 6:33-35, 48-56). We cannot survive without it. and if we believe this, if we come to him and drink, then our life will be vital to others (John 7:38). The Logos adds vitality to our life, and that is how Logos spreads to others. Scripture is clear on this. The Logos intends to spread Himself through the preaching of the Logos, by those filled with the Logos.

May we be a fountain of life through the Logos.

Footnotes:
(1) For a discussion of language and logos, particularly of logos as identity, see Crowley, Sharon. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. New York: Macmillan College Publishing Company, 1994.

(2) For a thorough discussion of the Greek idea of logos, see the Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) . Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI

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