Pure Life; Pure Being (John 1:4a)

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1–5, ESV

Have you ever considered the statement that “In Him was life”? It is a phenomenal claim to make. Within those four words, John is claiming that all of life have their origin within Jesus Christ the Word, and that He is the being of pure life and pure being. This has three huge implications.

1. God Is The Source of Continuous Life

Immediately following the claims that Jesus is eternally God and that everything has been created through Him, John continues with “In him was life,” attributing the preservation of everything to Jesus as well. Jesus didn’t just create the universe with a sudden burst of power that is slowly fading away; He is actively sustaining it. He is the first cause of everything and the continuous source of life for all of His creatures. 

God is the independent source of life who we are all dependent on. If God withdraws his vital energy and stops sustaining us, we will immediately begin to decay, die, and disappear. It is in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28); without Him, we are nothing. Day after day, He holds all of our lives in his hand, sustaining us, nourishing us, showering us with grace, every breath you take and every smile you make, all proceeding from the infinite throne of grace (Psalm 8:4; Job 12:10).

2. Ultimate Reality Is Personal

In the beginning, was God, and in God was life. Unlike what the world wants you to believe, physical matter did not give rise to life; life gave rise to physical matter. It’s the exact opposite of what Atheism teaches. For Atheists, everything begins with matter; For Christians, everything begins with life. What is eternal, from everlasting, the source of everything and everyone, is alive and personal. The universe isn’t the result of chance or some an incomprehensible nothingness. No. Ultimate reality is personal. God is the foundation upon which everything exists.

It is because reality is personal that it has meaning. In an Atheistic system, there is no such thing as meaning. It is all chance, everything a random chain of cause and effect, stars exploding and atoms colliding into each other for billions of years to eventually produce life. We’re just one big cosmic accident that will someday be wiped out by another cosmic accident—what a bleak worldview.

I thank God that He has saved me from that dead and depressing worldview and has opened my eyes to the truth. Before our great forefather Adam took His first breath, way back in eternity before God had spoken, there was life, eternal and unchanging life, composed of three coeternal and coequal persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, together, always expressing their perfect love and perfect joy in each other, the same life of love and joy that God wants His people to partake of.

3. God Is Absolute Being

Every creature is in a state of becoming because every creature is changing over time. You’re not the same person you were yesterday, and you’ll not be the same person tomorrow. Every moment, you’re becoming something new: thoughts are passing through your mind, moods change, memories are made and lost, food is digested and stored, cells are born and die, and so on. You are not static, but God is. God isn’t becoming anything new. God doesn’t have a physical body that is continually changing. No. He is life. He is being. As God tells Moses out of the bush in Exodus 3:14: “I am who I am.” He always is. Permanent, eternal, unchanging, he is perfect in every moment and will forever be perfect (James 1:17; Psalm 102:25–27). Perfection cannot change and become anymore perfect because that would mean it wasn’t perfect previously. This is what separates us from God: We are finite, changing creatures; God is the infinite, unchanging being, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).

The entire universe falls into this category of becoming because there was a point when the universe did not exist, and ever since it began to exist, it is continually changing. Only God has been from everlasting. He is the infinite source of pure life, never becoming anything else, only being, always and forever perfect. All of creation derive their existence and life from Him, while He is wholly independent. In short, God is the eternal rock on which all of reality is placed.

Eternal Life

However, the life that is in view here in verse 4 isn’t only regular physical life. Jesus isn’t only the source of physical life, but also spiritual and eternal life, which is a central theme of John’s gospel. When John uses the word life (Greek: zoe), he’s speaking about eternal life. At the end of the gospel, when John explains his reason for writing, he states that it was “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Since he wants his readers to receive life through the gospel, it must mean that some people don’t have enough life. And they don’t. They just have physical life. The only way to obtain eternal life is by knowing God and Jesus Christ, as Jesus says in John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

Outside of Christ, there may be biological life, but there is no ultimate life. Jesus came down from heaven to save and give eternal life to people who were “dead in [their] transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and nobody comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Therefore we must repent of our fallen ways and walk the narrow way that leads to life, keeping our eyes on the sole savior of the world, Jesus Christ, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Soli Deo Gloria

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