Chapter 1

God and the Word

From the booklet From the Beginning

God has revealed to me a much deeper understanding of the Apostle John’s epistles. I believe the subject “from the beginning” is the very deepest in the Bible! Only people who are strongly dedicated to God can hope to have this understanding revealed to them!

John was an old man when he wrote i, ii and iii John. He was the only original apostle left alive. A violent persecution was raging against God’s Church. Many biblical scholars think John was writing these epistles from the isle of Patmos, where he was a prisoner. False leaders were getting control of some of God’s own churches. Diotrephes rebelled and took over one church area from John. The Apostle John saw these problems coming and gave God’s people the most profound and magnificent truth to combat this heresy. But most of them didn’t get it.

We must get John’s message, or we are certain to be deceived! I will show you that this is a message to all of God’s churches—especially to God’s Church in this end time.

Diotrephes Wanted Preeminence

John was preaching to many Gentiles. “Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles” (iii John 7). John had taken over Paul’s work to the Gentiles because Paul was beheaded about a.d. 67. The persecution continued to rage. These Gentiles were not even asked to support God’s work in Ephesus (located in Turkey today). John thought that asking for God’s commanded tithes could add a stumbling block at this stage.

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church” (iii John 9-10). “If I come” indicates John was still a prisoner on Patmos and that his release was uncertain. (However, John did return to Ephesus. Tradition says he died there.) There was a breakdown of Church government. That is what iii John is all about.

That same problem is happening on a massive scale to God’s Church in this end time. Government is usually the first area of Satan’s attack. It always gets back to government. In God’s Church, everything revolves around government.

The Philadelphia Church of God (pcg) started by rejecting a government of men. We are commanded to only follow men who follow God (i Cor. 11:1).

The history of God’s Church was blotted out from a.d. 70 to 170. God’s Church entered a.d. 70 as a commandment-keeping Church and surfaced in 170 as a very different church, according to historic records. A great false church destroyed the true records. The only place in the whole world where you will find an accurate record is in i, ii and iii John! That gives you some indication of how severe the persecution was.

Thankfully, there were a few loyal ministers. “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true” (v. 12). Demetrius had a good report of men, but more importantly of the truth itself. That means you can prove who the true and false ministers are.

“The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth” (v. 1). Rebellious Diotrephes was obviously talking about a phony love. But John was talking about God’s love—“whom I love in the truth.” John’s love was grounded in God’s law—His truth—or the Bible. There is a big difference between the love of God’s deceived people and the love of God’s very elect! You and I have the responsibility to prove which love is biblical. Those who don’t deeply search out the truth will be deceived.

In those treacherous times, how precious was this loyal minister—“wellbeloved Gaius”! We can’t appreciate the wonderful value of loyal ministers unless we have lived through such a Church crisis! New leaders were being exalted by John as many ministers rebelled.

John saw it all building and prepared the obedient people to endure by revealing to them some incredible truth. Before we see that truth—and it is the most incredibly inspiring truth in the Bible—let’s put this all in a proper context.

Church Eras

This same John also wrote the book of Revelation on the isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:9). John always gave a marvelous perspective in the first verse of his books. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Rev. 1:1). How men are confused about these prophecies. Most people think John revealed the book of Revelation. A tiny few think this revelation came from Christ. They are all wrong. The Father gave this revelation to Christ, who then gave it to John.

The book of Revelation puts prophecy into a time sequence, or a time frame. If you fail to understand this book, you will never know where we are in prophecy—even if you understand a specific prophecy!

So we see that the Father has the final word on when prophecy is fulfilled. Only the Father knows the day and the hour of Christ’s return (Matt. 24:30-36). Not even Christ knows.

The Apostle John was the only Church leader who received revelation from God at that time. God always reveals through one man at a time. Revealing to three or four groups simultaneously would be utter confusion. That is not the way of God’s government. But many rejected God’s government taught by John. And many of God’s people are making the same mistake today by rejecting the government taught by Mr. Armstrong.

When you reject God’s government, you also cut yourself off from all of God’s revelation!

Diotrephes failed to grasp John’s supremely inspiring message because of his government problem—his rebellion. God only reveals to babes, or those who have childlike attitudes (Matt. 11:25; 18:1-3).

That means the people of God’s own Church, if they rebel, cannot even understand the specific Bible prophecies about themselves! They can’t grasp their own Church prophecy, even as it is being fulfilled.

God says His own Laodicean Church fails to see their own Church prophecy (Rev. 3:14, 17). They are “blind” and have cut themselves off from all revelation! Only the Philadelphia Church receives God’s revelation today.

Notice in the first verse of Revelation 1, John takes us back to the beginning. That precious revelation didn’t come from a man—not even Jesus Christ. The Father gave it to Christ, who gave it to John. God’s family government is clearly established. In the very first verse, John begins to stretch our minds by picturing what happened from the beginningwhere the most important book on prophecy really originated! God was revealing these staggering prophecies only to John—and nobody else!

“Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne” (Rev. 1:2-4). John addresses the seven churches or Church eras that were to exist from the first coming of Christ until the Second Coming.

Only the book of Revelation indicates where each Church is in Bible prophecy! Without this critical information, we cannot know where we are in Bible prophecy. We cannot know what is happening in God’s Church now! But with this information, for example, we can know now that God’s Church has become Laodicean and where it is! This is essential understanding.

The seven churches had and have problems that afflict every era. But there is one dominant problem, or characteristic in each era. (Write for our reprint article, “Successive Church Eras.”)

Jesus Christ, whose face shines like the sun in full strength, is the Head of each era. “Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last” (vv. 11-17). When John saw this vision of Christ he fell over as if he were dead! A church would have to be very blind not to know when this great being has removed His lamp! But that was exactly what Diotrephes’ problem was. And that is precisely the problem of all of God’s Laodicean churches in this end time.

The very first era John addresses is the one in which he was living. “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Rev. 2:1-4). The Ephesus Church had lost its first love. Other eras would have this problem, but it was the dominant problem only in Ephesus.

The Laodiceans today talk endlessly about love. But it is a phony love. As we get into John’s epistles, he expands on that love. He discusses a law of love—or a law that is God’s love (i John 5:3). God’s government is a government of love. But Diotrephes was getting into a false love which allowed him to kick John and his followers out of the Church. Spiritually, Diotrephes was removing himself from God’s true Church. It was all done in the name of love! That is why John discusses this subject so much in his epistles. It is critical that we understand God’s true love.

If you have law, you must have government to administer that law. Even the National Basketball Association understands that. They have a law, or rules of the game, and referees, including a head referee, to enforce those rules. Without that government, the games would be utterly chaotic; and so it is with God’s government and law. A law is of no effect unless there is someone to administer it.

First and Last Century Parallels

Jesus Christ came in the first century. He is going to return in this last century. There was a first- and last-century John the Baptist (Isa. 40:1-9; Mal. 3:1-2). There was also a first and last century Elijah (Matt. 17:9-13). The true Church was taken to Pella, in a.d. 69, and protected. God is going to take His true Church to a place of safety in this end time (Rev. 12:14). The gospel was preached around the world only in the first and last centuries (Matt. 24:14). The preaching of the gospel in the first century was a type of the gospel being preached around the world by Herbert W. Armstrong in this end time. There was a first-century “son of perdition”—Judas. There is an end-time “son of perdition” (ii Thes. 2:1-11). There was a Laodicean Church then and there is one today (Col. 2:1-2; Rev. 3:14-20). There was an a.d. 70 holocaust, which is a type of the Great Tribulation in the latter days.

These parallels helped cause the apostles to think the end was coming in their time. That helped them to have a stronger message then and for us today. And perhaps that is a major reason why Christ didn’t reveal the whole truth to them.

These parallels make John’s epistles even more of a warning for God’s people today! The first-century Church preached the gospel to the world, and then went to sleep (Rev. 2:1-5). That also happened today. (Write for our free book Malachi’s Message.) For almost 1900 years, the Church slept. There was no gospel preached around the world.

There is an essential message in these failures. When we take our minds off God’s work, we fail! John clearly showed the first-century disciples how to avoid failing.

Peter was killed around a.d. 68-69. Paul was killed about a.d. 67. Persecution was raging! John had to serve many of the people Paul had served. John had to deal with God’s Church in Ephesus after Paul was killed. “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church” (Acts 20:17). The Ephesus church was pastored by Paul. That whole first-century Church became known as the Ephesus era (Rev. 2:1-5). Let’s look at some of the problems Paul faced shortly before he was put to death.

Paul’s Warnings

Paul was having a ministerial conference. He told them some bloodcurdling news. “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy [Spirit] hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:27-30). Paul warned of grievous wolves coming in from the outside to destroy God’s spiritual flock. But there was an even more chilling message. Some of those very ministers Paul spoke to—inside God’s Church then—would rebel and lead God’s people astray.

Paul also prophesied that a great rebellion would occur in this end time just before Christ returned (ii Thes. 2:1-11). And it has happened! It’s occurring before our eyes!

Paul had a solution. “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31). They would succeed if they could remember. The Apostle John powerfully expanded on this concept.

Paul warned those people night and day with tears! He loved them as God’s own family. Still, most of them didn’t get the message! “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (v. 32). Paul was about to die, so he commended them to God. The people were about to face their greatest crisis—an attack by Satan when Paul was no longer there.

Through death, God took Herbert W. Armstrong away from the true Church in this end time. The members were commended to God. And the church Mr. Armstrong founded has fallen into great turmoil. That church had a very dangerous flaw. They couldn’t be loyal to God without a strong leader in the church—someone they could physically see. For many, as in Paul’s time, it proved to be a fatal flaw. So many followed perverse teachings, but at least they could see their treacherous leaders!

“And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship” (vv. 36-38). Here we see the perilous flaw revealed. The people sorrowed “most of all” because they would no longer see Paul, whom they would be with for all eternity if they were loyal. They should have sorrowed most of all because “grievous wolves” and very evil false ministers inside the Church would destroy God’s flock. Many of God’s saints would lose their salvation! What a terrifying prophecy.

Paul gave the same prophecy for this end time. But most of God’s people didn’t get the message!

You and I are being tested to see if we remember what we were taught. I don’t believe there is a writer in the Bible who has taught more beautifully on how to avoid this disaster than John! Remember, this is the testing mind of God in action. And eternity is at stake for God’s flock!

Paul worried that even most of the ministers didn’t get the message. And that was after Paul had personally taught them for three years! That means this warning is terribly serious for God’s people in this end time! Paul delivered a powerful message to them. It was his last as a free man!

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (ii Tim. 1:12-13). This was Paul’s final book, written about a.d. 65. Paul was soon to die. Still, I believe this to be Paul’s most inspiring book. He said, “I know whom I have believed.” He wasn’t looking to a man. He remembered the “sound words” God taught him. Most people forgot the sound words that were taught in true “faith and love”—free of deception.

John had to come after him and try to pick up the pieces.

“This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (v. 15). In one area, all of the people left Paul! Does that sound like mainstream religion today? Obeying God is very serious business. Satan’s persecution comes in different ways today.

Already, most of God’s people have turned away in this end time. Paul warned us it would happen.

“The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain” (v. 16). Onesiphorus was a loyal minister, in good and bad times. How precious he was to God and Paul. He was not ashamed of God’s apostle who was on death row in prison. He knew this was God’s leader. Onesiphorus was “not ashamed” of Paul’s chains. That means he was not ashamed of God. God says, if we are ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of us.

The Ephesus era had a great beginning, but a sad ending. Christ, the Son of God, actually began that era. But how quickly men forget. The Philadelphia era had a great beginning in this end time. Sadly, it ended with a Laodicean rebellion! How we start is not the big issue—it’s how we end that really matters.

The Apostle John was also caught up in this persecution. He was imprisoned on the little Mediterranean island of Patmos. There he wrote the greatest book of prophecy in the Bible—Revelation. He apparently wrote his three epistles from there also.

Many of God’s people turned away. And so it is in this end time. Most of God’s people have become Laodicean. Fifty percent of them will lose their salvation. From all this rebellion, we must draw a sobering conclusion. The Kingdom of God is not for everybody! It should be. But it isn’t.

In the midst of all that turmoil, John revealed a gloriously beautiful vision. I believe it is a vision more profound than any message ever given by any of the apostles! Now let’s all make a very determined effort to get it!

The Vision

John begins his epistles with a vision that most people have never understood. And even after it is taught, many still don’t understand!

“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” (i John 1:1). Notice the expression from the beginning. Now notice how often John repeats that expression in these epistles.

“I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one…. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (i John 2:13-14, 24).

If the wonderful truth God has revealed to us remains in us, we “shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” This is an ironclad way we can avoid deception. There is no excuse for being deceived after we have received God’s revealed truth!

“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil…. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (i John 3:8, 11).

“And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it” (ii John 5-6).

Now let’s go back and look at this expression more closely. “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” (i John 1:1). Word is capitalized. It refers to the God who became Christ. To better understand who this Word was, we need to look elsewhere.

This same Apostle John wrote the gospel message which bears his name. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). If you want to start at the real beginning, you must start in John 1. This is a period of time before the angels were created, also before the universe and the Earth were created! This is the true beginning. Please keep that in mind. Word is from the Greek logos. It refers to the Spokesman for the God family. He is not the Head of the family, but He is the God who speaks for the family. The overall direction of the family is provided by the God who is today called the Father.

Thayer’s Lexicon defines Word this way: “The doctrine which he [the Father] commanded to be delivered” and the “thing spoken” (or the message from the God family).

The expression “was with God” is defined by Lange’s Commentary (emphasis mine): “The word denotes the most intimate and divine sort of relationship to another” and “closest intercommunion.” The Companion Bible has a similar definition.

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (v. 18). Thayer’s Lexicon explains the word bosom: “unto the bosom of the father (God) i.e. in the closest and most intimate relation to the Father.”

John discusses the Father and Son at length in i John! These two God beings have the closest, most intimate relationship ever known in the universe—by far. Think of the closest father-son relationship you ever saw, and it is not even close to the intimacy of this God family relationship.

This is at the heart of what John is trying to teach us about the God family and our potential to enter into it!

The Apostle John was the first of the disciples to believe Jesus rose from the dead (John 20:8). He was also the first disciple to recognize Christ on the Sea of Galilee. John had a strong grasp on God’s truth. But there is another ingredient we need to focus on even more.

John refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2). There was a special closeness between John and Christ. “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). This also refers to John and Christ. Jesus had a special love for John, partly because of John’s depth. But, more importantly, John was given special attention and preparation for the great work he was to do after all the other apostles were dead.

John was “leaning on Jesus’ bosom.” Christ was building in John that special love which He had for His Father—“in the bosom of the Father.” Christ is building this same intimate relationship in all of God’s family. This is the message the saints who are called now must teach the whole world. And we can’t teach it if we don’t learn it now!

Nobody can come to God unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). These called-out ones then follow Christ’s example “into the Father’s bosom”—the way it reads literally. Only the Father calls people to be in His family—this is never done by Christ. He is the Husband of the wife—those firstfruits called out before Christ returns. Nothing on the human level comes close to this glorious God family relationship. This is the very gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the good news of the coming Kingdom or family of God.

This understanding didn’t make John vain—it humbled him. His name is not mentioned once in his Gospel message. On the other hand, Diotrephes wanted preeminence among a small group of people then, instead of the almost unfathomable glory God is going to give us, when we rule the whole universe! (Heb. 2:8).

How many of God’s own ministers have turned away from God because they fail to grasp John’s vision?

John had a strong passion to exalt the Word. Diotrephes was exalting himself. We must capture John’s vision in order to get ourselves out of God’s way so He can prepare us for this incredible human potential! It is this oh, so glorious message that we must get to mankind! And we must not allow human vanity to block this most inspiring message ever delivered to mankind!

“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” (John 1:1-4). This vision is so mind-stretching that I strain—even as I write—trying to fully understand and get Christ’s message to you!

Was the universe created by Jesus Christ? The answer is yes and no. “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:9). God the Father created all things—by Jesus Christ. Here we see Christ is in total submission to His Father. And by implication we see how completely the Word submitted to God for all eternity! They have been in complete, loving unity and peace forever. When you look at the chaotic governments of this world, you see how utterly phenomenal that is! This could only be done through God’s law, administered by God’s government.

It is that government which is soon to rule this Earth (Rev. 2:26-27). God’s family teamwork is about to usher in an earthly paradise.

“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” (Heb. 1:1-2). Notice, the Father speaks to us today by His Son. Again, we see God created the universe through the Word. The Father is clearly the Head! Christ came to establish His Father’s authority. God is building in man this loving God family relationship.

The Word became flesh. “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” (John 1:14). He had a great purpose. He came to declare the Father (v. 18). Our passion must be to declare the Father and His Son, who leads us in that endeavor. Then there is no room for a vain Diotrephes to work his wicked will!

This is the same problem Lucifer had. He wanted to exalt himself, not God. We cannot declare ourselves, as Diotrephes did, if we are passionately declaring the Father. It’s against God’s law of love to declare ourselves.

That oneness is declared in John 1:1. The “Word was God.” That depicts a godly unity. We can enter God’s family only if we become so unified!

This great Word died for all of us. He could never have performed this greatest act of love in the spirit of Diotrephes! You and I would have no future if the Word thought like Lucifer or Diotrephes. Christ’s sacrifice was the greatest act of love man has ever known! Something new and wonderful is in the Earth! Do we grasp it? Do we get it?

Men didn’t get that message when Christ was on the Earth (John 1:5). “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe” (John 1:6-7). All men must get this message or they have no future. We must have the Spirit of Jesus Christ—not the spirit of Lucifer, Diotrephes, or the Laodiceans.

“He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” (v. 8). John the Baptist was a witness to that Light. It caused him to lose his head! It is not easy being a true disciple of God. We cannot deliver that Light if we don’t comprehend it. We must come out of the darkness to grasp such a majestic, royal calling.

God says there is only one lamp. Where is that lamp—that work—today? We must see that bright lamp in this very dark world. We only have a short time before the Great Tribulation to prove where that work is and become a part of it.

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (vv. 11-12). God has called us to be sons of God—sons of the Father—bride of Jesus Christ. This is the most exalted honor God can give!

Less than one percent of all humans who have ever lived will be given this glorious opportunity of being at the bride level in the God family!

But there was a great price that had to be paid. John is the only apostle to designate Christ as the Word. He does so only in four verses: John 1:1, 14; i John 1:1; Revelation 19:13. Let’s look at the last verse. “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13). This is the Word who created all things and was eternal before the angels or the universe were created. This great Being’s vesture was dipped in blood. He became a man and shed His blood for lowly men—for you! Remember the price that was paid for your sins.

This is what you need to remember “from the beginning.” Hard, rebellious human beings can’t comprehend this magnanimous love. Mankind has never even come close to comprehending such a sacrifice. God’s own minister, Diotrephes, did not comprehend this sacrifice. There is an opposite spirit in this world. That is why we are overwhelmed with problems.

Fifty percent of God’s own Laodicean Church will lose their eternal lives because they do not want to live by the giving spirit of the Word. They refuse to let His Spirit abide in them (i John 2:13-14, 24; Phil. 2:5). Again, the Kingdom of God is not for everybody! What a glorious calling. But it isn’t easy.

Christ didn’t come to speak of Himself, but of the Father (John 14:9-10). He obeyed and even “pleased” His Father (John 6:29; 8:29; 10:17-18; ii John 4; Luke 24:44). Christ believed in family government.

That understanding helps us to see what John was teaching in the epistles. “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” (i John 1:1). John is reminding himself who this Jesus Christ really was—who He was from the beginning. He was eternal before the angels and the universe were in existence. This is the Being the apostles had seen with their eyes and “looked upon” (gazed upon is a better translation), and their hands had handled. This was not just a man sent from God. This was one of the two great Gods who are eternal. John wanted to make certain he never forgot the whole wonderful story—from the beginning.

It obviously means to go back to the beginning, when Christ was on the Earth. But then you are pointed to the real beginning by John. So if you listened to John, he kept you grounded in God’s dazzling inspiration! If we grasp this message from the beginning, it takes your breath away!

Why is it so important that we have this view? Because it is God’s view! The created must get the Creator’s view—if they themselves are to become creators! If we are to be born into God’s family, we must have God’s view. Then the ambition of Diotrephes becomes spiritual madness! God is offering us a billion times more. However, it is not easy to use God’s Holy Spirit to search out the deep things (i Cor. 2:10). This subject is the very deepest understanding from God’s mind. What a mind-boggling reward God has for those who understand.

If people were listening to John, they would have thought he was about to mention Christ. But instead, he discussed the Word. “(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” (i John 1:2-3). John’s goal was to show to you eternal life. Eternal life manifested in the flesh! He lived eternally with God and now the people could fellowship with the Father and the Son. John was trying to make this mind-splitting message real! So many were losing this understanding. Otherwise, they would never have followed Diotrephes!

If John were here today, you would hear him discuss the Word, as well as Christ. That would give us this magnificent picture from the beginning. To have a great vision of the future, we must keep this great vision of the past! It is the eternal past vision that keeps us focused on the eternal future! The Word should conjure up in our minds this fabulous past. Then we can clearly see God’s plan for His family and our part in it—forever!

The Word was not just a man named Jesus. Or a man called Christ. He was the Word—from the beginning. It is that beginning John discussed in his epistles.

John did his best to make this message plain. Still, many of God’s people lost their salvation. Many saints are making the same mistakes today. It is the greatest possible tragedy on this Earth today! Not because of any punishment they receive, but because they are rejecting the highest calling and reward that God gives to any human beings ever!

Continue Reading: Chapter 2: The Two Trees