What the Bible teaches us about

What the Bible teaches us about … The Word of God

What the Bible teaches us about  …  The Word of God

The Word of God is a phrase we often use but what exactly do we mean by it?

Why is it important to know what the Word of God is and what the phrase  means? Is it not enough to claim that as Christians we have the Holy Spirit and he will guide us and show us what we need to do? In an age where many think that everyone’s opinion is of equal value can we really claim to know absolute truth?

These are just a few of the issues that arise out of a study of The Word of God.

So what does the Bible teach us about the Word of God.

  1. 1.     The Word of God as a Person: Jesus Christ.

This is a fairly well known title for Jesus among Christians primarily from John’s gospel.

John 1:1 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (NIV)

It is quite clear from this passage that John is speaking about the Son of God because he says in John 1:14 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, [the glory of the only Son] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

If we are in any doubt that it is Jesus who is being referred to then the same John writes in Revelation, talking about the risen Lord Jesus in Heaven; Revelation 19:13 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.

Perhaps 1 John 1:1 refers to this as well – 1 John 1:1

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (NIV)

Jesus being referred to as the Word of God is not a common occurrence in the NT but is quite clear. It indicates that within the Trinity {Father, Son, Spirit} it is especially God the Son who in his person as well as his words communicates God’s character and God’s will to us.

As interesting aside is that the Muslim’s Qur’an also refers to Jesus [Isa] as the word of / from God]. This makes a very good discussion point with Muslim people.

  1. 2.     The Word of God as God’s ‘speaking’.

It is true that the pinnacle of God’s communication to the world is through God the Son, Jesus Christ. [Hebrews 1:1-2    1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.]

God didn’t only begin to communicate to his world when Jesus came. He did so before Christ came and after.

So what different forms does God’s ‘speaking’ take?

2.1.         God’s ‘speaking’ by decrees.

 

What do we mean by decrees?

When God’s words are powerful [in a sense all God’s words are powerful] and cause things to happen or even come into being.

Genesis 1:3 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (NIV)

God created the entire animal world in this way too Genesis 1:24 24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. (NIV)

And God said …. And it was so  – we read these words a number of times through Genesis 1.

The Psalmist declares this truth in praise to God in Psalm 33:6 6  By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

So these powerful. Creative words of God are called decrees. Therefore a decree of God is a word of God that causes something to happen.

This is not limited to the events of the original creation but also includes the ongoing maintenance of the created order. Hebrews 1:3 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. …. (NIV)

2.2.         God’s ‘speaking’ directly and personally.

 

Examples of this are found throughout the Bible.

In the Garden of Eden God speaks to Adam – Genesis 2:16-17 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (NIV)

Even after Adam and Eve sinned God still spoke to them. [Gen.3:16-19]

Another key example of God speaking directly is in the giving of the 10 commandments – Exodus 20:1-3 1 And God spoke all these words: 2  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3  “You shall have no other gods before me. ….(NIV)

Q> Can you think of a NT example of God speaking in this way?

At Jesus baptism – Matthew 3:17 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (NIV)

On the Mount of Transfiguration – Matthew 17:5            5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (NIV)

Paul on the Damascus road;

John on the Isle of Patmos.

These are occasions where God speaks to individuals / groups of people and God’s actual words are heard. They are hearing God’s voice which, of course, comes with absolute divine authority. To disbelieve or disobey would therefore be sin.

While God ‘speaking’ in this way is the actual words of God, these words are also human in that they are spoken in ordinary human language and are understandable to those who hear.

The fact that these words are human language does not for a second reduce their divine authority. Neither is the truthfulness of what is said limited in any way.

God’s ‘speaking always places an absolute obligation on the hearers to believe and to obey. To disbelieve and to disobey is to disbelieve and disobey God himself.

HOWEVER, you will probably say, “I have never heard God speak to me in an audible voice”.

So how else does God speak?

2.3.         God’s ‘speaking’ through human lips.

Frequently we are told in the Bible that God spoke through humans – usually prophets, but not always.

We have a very clear statement from God to Moses about how this works – Deuteronomy 18:18-20 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.” (NIV)

We have God saying a similar thing to Jeremiah – Jeremiah 1:9

9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. (NIV)

There are many passages that say similar things. {Jer.1v7; Ex.4v12;1 Sam.15v3; Isa.30v12-14}

There is also a very strong warning and threat of servere punishment for those who claim to speak for God when they have received no such message. {Ez.13v1-7; Deut.18v18-20}

Simply because these are humans using human language, ordinary words it in no way diminishes the authority and truthfulness of those words.

ILLUS.: When I was a child, when my father told me to do something, if I knew what was good for me, I did it. If, as sometimes happened, his instructions were delivered to me via my brother or sisters, that in no way lessen my responsibility to do as I was told. The consequences of disobedience were no less because the instructions had come indirectly.

 

A similar principle applies to God’s word to us. There is no diminishing of the authority of those words when spoken through human lips. To disbelieve and to disobey any of these words is to disbelieve and disobey God himself.

2.4.         God’s ‘speaking’ in written form (The Bible).

We also find instructions for God’s words to be put into written form.

The 10 commandments that God gave to Moses he wrote himself – Exodus 31:18

18 When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God. (NIV)

Exodus 34:1 1 The LORD said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. (NIV) [also Ex.32v16; 34v28]

The rest of the Law and narrative of the begins and history of Israel was written by Moses.

Deuteronomy 31:9-12

9 So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. 10 Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years……., you shall read this law before them in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people — ….. — so that they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law.

As time went by further additions were made to this Book of God’s Words.

Joshua – Joshua 24:26 26 And Joshua recorded [wrote] these things in the

Book of the Law of God. …..

Isaiah – God commanded him – Isaiah 30:8 8  Go now, write it on a tablet

for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an

everlasting witness. (NIV)

Jeremiah – Jeremiah 30:2 2 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel,

says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. (NIV)

36:2-4 2 “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations ….

4 So Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and while Jeremiah dictated all the words the LORD had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them on the scroll. (NIV)

There are many others similar references to other prophets / writers of the OT

What of the NT?

What did Jesus promise his disciples would happen after he was gone – concerning all that he had told them? John 14:26 26 But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (NIV)

John 16:12-13 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (NIV)

When Paul writes to the Church in Corinth he says that what he writes is a “command of the lord” [1 Cor.14v37; cf. 2 Peter 3v2]

What is important to note is that these written words are still considered to be God’s own words. This is so, despite the fact that they are written down almost entirely by human beings and always in human language.

What are the benefits to God’s Word being written down?

  • More accurate preservation – although oral tradition can be amazingly accurate, the written form is more so.
  • Makes possible the repeated and in depth inspection and study of the written form.
  • It is accessible to many more people in written form than would be the case if only preserved by oral tradition.

IMPLICATIONS.

Q> Bearing in mind the different forms of God’s ‘speaking’, do you think we would pay more attention if we heard an audible voice from heaven or heard from prophets like Moses, Isaiah or Paul?   Do you think we would believe and obey these forms of speaking more than we do scripture?

  • All forms of God’s ‘speaking’ are equally authoritative.
  • Our belief and obedience to the written word should be the same as if God spoke to us directly / personally.

Q> How does / or how should this view of the Bible affect our attitude to it?

  • To study more diligently.
  • To obey more readily.

Q> When we consider the ways God communicates with his creatures what does that tell us about him and about what pleases him?

  • God is not trying to hide from us or make it unnecessarily difficult for us to know him.
  • It brings him great please when we respond to his reaching out.

The Bible is the primary source of God’s Word to us. It tells us about Jesus, The Word of God. Thus it is the Word (written) about the Word (a person).

It is for our good that we are to study The Bible. In fact, God instructs us / commands us to study it.

OT – Psalm 1:1-2             1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (NIV)

Joshua 1:8 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (NIV)

NT – 2 Timothy 3:16 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (NIV)

 

What The Bible Teaches Us About …

 

THE WORD OF GOD…

                                         (The different forms it takes)

 

As a Person: Jesus Christ.

     John 1:1; Revelation 19:13; 1 John 1:1.

 

As God ‘speaking’ …

 

     By decrees.

           in creation – Genesis 1; Psalm 33:6

            in maintaining the universe – Hebrews 1:3

 

     Personally and directly.

            Old Testament

                  Adam & Eve – Genesis 2-3

                  Nation of Israel – Exodus 20:1-3…

                  Numerous prophets …..

 

            New Testament

                  At Jesus’ baptism – Matthew 3:17

                  On Mount Transfiguration      – Matthew 17:5

                  Paul on the Road to Damascus – Acts 9:3-6

                  John on the Isle of Patmos – Revelation 1

 

     Through human lips

Mainly the Prophets – Deuteronomy 18:18-20;Jeremiah 1:9; Exodus 4:12;1 Samuel 15:3; Isaiah 30:12-14; ….

      Sometimes through Angels.

            Hagar – Genesis 16.

            Abraham – Genesis 22.

            Jacob – Genesis 31.

            Birth of Jesus – Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2.

 

In written form (the Bible).

     By God himself – Exodus 31:18; 34:1.

      By humans –

            Old Testament

                  Moses – Deuteronomy 31:9-12.

                  Joshua – Joshua 24:26.

                  Isaiah – Isaiah 30:8

                  Jeremiah – Jeremiah 30;2 ……

            New Testament

                  Apostles mainly – John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 14:37 ……

 

****************************************************************

Q> Bearing in mind the different forms of God’s ‘speaking’, do you think we would pay more attention if we heard an audible voice from heaven or heard from prophets / apostles like Moses, Isaiah or Paul?   Do you think we would believe and obey these forms of speaking more than we do scripture?

 

Q> How does / or how should this view of the Bible (i.e. God ‘speaking’) affect our attitude to it?

 

Q> When we consider the ways God communicates with his creatures what does that tell us about him and about what pleases him?

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

Psalm 19:7-11

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.

The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring for ever.

The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;

        they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.

11 By them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

 

Hebrews 4:12

12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

 

John 20:31

 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Psalm 119:105

 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

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