In this reflection, Pastor Tan Kim Hock does a deep-dive into what it means to have “the Word made flesh” in our lives.
In my previous article, I suggested from John 1:1-2 that the Father’s “first business” or first priority was the Word of God, because “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” We observed that before Jesus embarked on His public ministry, He was living a “normal human life” for 30 years without much of a narrative in the Bible. We only have a glimpse of Jesus’ life in Luke 2:49 at the age of 12 in the temple. What was His focus? In His mind, what was the Father’s business? He was “sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46). At a young age, Jesus was actively engaging in the knowledge of God’s words, seeking understanding and growing in wisdom (Luke 2:52).
We also read that the early church, despite of all the challenges; prospered and grew as “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (the word of God) and fellowship… (Acts 2:42).” God is the Sower and the first thing He sowed was the Word (Mark 4:14). The Word is the starting point of all God’s creative and sustaining power. In fact, everything in the universe is still intact today because of the “word of His power” (Heb 1:3). That is why Jesus had urgency about communicating God’s word because His words “are spirit and life” (John 6:63) and the moment you know the truth of God’s word, “the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
So as followers of Christ, we must realize the supremacy of God’s Word and its tremendous effects in every area of our lives. Jesus is the Word, in Greek, logos, where we get the phrase “logic” or “meaning”. Therefore, the Word gives us the meaning of life, the reason of our existence. Without knowing the Word, there is no logic or purpose to life. John 1:4 tells us “in Him (the Word) was life, and the life was the light of men”. Every aspect of life (zóé) in all its fullness is found in the Word. If there is no Word, there is no life and vitality. And if there is no life, there is no light—no glory, no vision and no future.
Many people strive to “get a life” through their pleasures, possessions and powers (1 John 2:16). Though these pursuits of the world do give us a sense of significance, self-worth and security, the ongoing pandemic and state of the world indicate that all these are, in truth, unstable and temporal. The sense of uncertainty, fear and worry that many experience worldwide should point us to the pursuit of the One who is unchanging, almighty and eternal.
But how do we pursue a transcendent God who is beyond our reach, unless He first takes the initiative to reveal Himself? Thankfully the God of heaven and earth already did that when Jesus Christ, the Son of God came fully as a human being (Gal 4:4-5). Not only did Jesus come to reveal God, He came to save us and redeem us from all our problems. We call this “the Incarnation”—the mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16). The noun “incarnation” derives from the Latin verb “incarno”, meaning “to make into flesh”, or as John described in John 1:14 “… the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… ”.
God’s only solution for lost humanity with all its problems is for “the Word to become flesh”. There is no plan B; no other way of salvation (Acts 4:12) and no other mean to be reconciled with God (John 14:6). The birth of Jesus Christ—the God-incarnate, His life and ministry—His complete work on the Cross and His resurrection are the only way to eternal life and blessing! Praise God that all these are already accomplished by Christ!
One may ask, “If all that is true and the work is completed, why are we still seeing problems in the world? Why are there still wars, sicknesses, oppression, darkness and death today? Well, we can put it this way: God has done all of His part and now “the ball is in our court”. The God of love will never impose Himself on our free will and manipulate us to choose Him. Freedom of choice is the basis of love and all genuine relationship! Therefore the Sovereign God, the One who grants us the gift of free will, is also calling us into a voluntary, divine partnership (1 Cor 3:9) with Him.
How can we, as mere human beings, with all our limitations and weaknesses, overcome all our problems and even become part of God’s solution to others? May I suggest that we follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the Word to become flesh? In fact, let me be bold to suggest this: the starting point of all the solutions to our problems is to let the Word become flesh in us.
This is also the only way to fulfill the purpose of God, to see His Kingdom come and His will be done. God’s solution for the fall of mankind begins with “the Word becoming flesh”, which is completed in Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. However, that is only the beginning of God’s plan. God’s desire is “bringing many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10) and ultimately for these sons be like Christ (1 John 3:2). God is constantly working in us so that we can “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29) and reveal His glory as sons of God!
Just as Christ was the Word of God made flesh and manifested the glory of the Father, we as children of God must let His words become flesh in us so that we can demonstrate His glory! The knowledge of God’s Word cannot remain as mere theology in the human intellect; it must be translated into genuine spiritual experience and manifested in our environment. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the good seeds are the sons of God’s kingdom (Matt 13:38), that is, those who received God’s word into their hearts and bore fruits which glorified God (Matt 13:23).
Many of the setbacks and defeats that believers experience today are the result of not giving attention to God’s Word and not abiding in the promises of Christ. I am convinced all the solutions to our problems in life are already found in the Word of God. When Mary was tasked with an impossible mission from God, the angel simply replied in Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” The NIV version reads, “for no word from God will ever fail”, which is a more accurate translation: the word “nothing” is actually “no rhema (word)”. That means, the word that God has given already contains within itself all the necessary power to bring about the fulfilment of God’s purpose. So the problem is never the lack of power in God’s Word; the issue always lies in the condition of our hearts—are we receptive to the Word or are we rejecting the Word?
Therefore, the following progression must take place as the Word of God is made flesh in our lives:
Knowledge of the Word (Doctrine) => Healthy Spirituality (Experience) => Right Lifestyle/ Ethics (Practice)
I am reminded of the life story of the great preacher D L Moody (1837-1899). Many would consider Moody the greatest evangelist of his time, preaching to more than 100 million people before his death. Moody was born into abject poverty and not well-educated. He was neither theologically-trained nor ordained as a minister. After finding some success in the real estate business, he gave it up when God called him to win the lost and help the community. In the process, he built Bible schools, trained preachers and full-time ministers for the Gospel, wrote books and training materials and set up a publishing house. In retrospect, Moody was an average Christian businessman. However, he responded to the call of God and surrendered to His will. It was told that Moody would wake up daily at 4am to study the Bible and pray to God. He believe “the four things necessary in studying the Bible is: Admit, Submit, Commit and Transmit.” Moody simply believed in the Word of God and allowed the Word to take effect in his life and to be made flesh in his ministry. Such is the power of God’s Word when it takes root in a yielded heart.
To be honest, in my quiet moments with God during this challenging season, I have told the Lord that I am weak and have many flaws. I’m not like many great men of God—I’m a very average Christian. I wish to boast of my unwavering commitment to God in my personal devotion, but that would be a lie. I long to speak of my encounters with God in visions and dreams, but I have few. Many times I wonder, can I be that holy and Christ-like? I struggle to surrender my old self-centred lifestyle, and I fear that I will fail and disappoint my Lord again and again. But thank God for His love and faithfulness: though I am weak, He is always strong. I keep hearing this phrase in my heart and mind: “I know you can’t, but I can. Only believe”.
You see, my friends, for the Word to become flesh and manifest His glory, there is only one thing you need to do, and that is to believe. To believe in God and His Word is not an intellectual commitment, nor an emotional choice. It is a deliberate decision to trust in the absolute goodness of God and His unchanging promises, regardless of your present reality or insurmountable obstacles. When the people asked Jesus what they must do in order to work the works of God, Jesus’ answer was too simple; “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent (John 6:28-29).”
To believe is the first step to receiving the Word and letting it dwell inside and be made flesh. Do not worry about what the next step is, or what activities we must occupy ourselves with. Do not measure your human ability with the impossible mission from God. Be like Mary in Luke 1:38 and tell the Lord, “let it be according to your word.” Simply “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able (contains the power) to save (transform) your soul (James 1:21).”
I know that God is preparing all of us in City Harvest Church for a greater breakthrough and revival in the coming years. My prayer is that we can be a people given totally to the Word, and let the power of His Word manifest in us in greater glory. To quote Moody’s words, “the world has yet to see what God can do with a man (or a people) fully consecrated to Him.” I believe not only can our lives be blessed and our problems overcome, we can also be the channel of blessings to a dying world in need of Christ!
Let’s be about our Father’s business. Let’s get stronger in the Word of God!