A Magazine for all Christians · Nº 40 · July - August 2006


What is His name?

The Word

Harry Foster

In his Gospel, Epistle and book of Revelation, John calls Jesus 'The Word'. In some ways the description is attractively simple, and yet at the same time it suggests deep profundity. Who can adequately describe such a title?

God's Word is so much a part of Himself that we find no difficulty in agreeing that before the beginning of time they were together and were one (John 1:1). We readily admit that this natural universe is too complex and too wonderful for our minds to comprehend. We could never visualise the circumstances of its beginning. Scientists may do what they can to discover or trace its development, but no mortal can expect to understand the mystery of its genesis beyond the fact that "God said ..."

Christians have an advantage in that they know the ultimate destiny of the creation: it is to be filled with Christ (Ephesians 4:6). They also know that this cosmic destiny was planned and provided for in an era described as "before the foundation of the world". So that to the believer it was wisdom, as well as power and love, which began our exciting history.

The enlightened king, Solomon, described in beautiful as well as dogmatic language, that it was Wisdom which brought human life and environment into existence (Proverbs 8.22-31). There is a New Testament review of faith in action which asserts that it is fundamental to such faith to accept that the Word of God produced the visible world (Hebrews 11:3). Those who have no faith and no Saviour may speculate as they will, but those who rely on Jesus Christ for forgiveness and peace with God have no option about believing that He is the responsible explanation of the material universe (Colossians 1:14-16).

The Wisdom of God and the Word of God are therefore synonymous with the Son of God. We believe that Jesus is God's last utterance (Revelation 19:13). Our eternal destiny hangs on the finality of Christ. Equally we must believe that He is also God's first utterance, the Word of life (1 John 1:1), and our confidence is confirmed by His own claim to be the Alpha and Omega – the A to Z – of the divine alphabet (Revelation 22:14). It follows, then, that if this living Word brought the creation into being He, and He alone, can do a work of re-creation, which makes sense of the reminder by both James and Peter that Christians are born again by the Word of God (James 1:18 and 1 Peter 1:23).

The actual words of the gospel message, composed as they are of so many letters in the A to Z of whatever language we speak, can instruct or annoy but they can never regenerate. But when, through the sounds and ideas of his language, the Spirit of God speaks savingly to a man, then there is a spiritual parallel to Genesis 1 and 2, and God's Word brings a new world and a new life into being. So 'The Word' means the Creator, in all the plenitude of His loving power and wisdom.

The consummation of the creative work was the sabbath. The Word of God is very active to discern if the new creation man is missing out on this supreme blessing (Hebrews 4:12). The sensitive believer will know something of what is described in this verse. When Jesus was here on earth He saw through men, and looked right down into their hearts. It was a soul-searching experience to be confronted by the living Word. This is precisely what happens to any man of the new creation who exposes his inner being to the Word of God. It is living; it is penetrating; it gets right down to hidden thoughts and secret motives. So for us, too, the Word of God is not an inanimate thing but the Person "with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13).

Those who did not run away from Jesus found Him to possess words of healing and life. So, today, the living and active Word of God not only searches us but, if we permit Him, brings us into the sabbath rest of God. And when the 'today' of this life and warfare is over, and the Lamb gathers His blissful saints around Him at His marriage supper, this will be one of His titles of honour. "And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God" (Revelation 19:13).

Toward the Mark Vol. 2, No. 4, July - Aug. 1973.