A group of men in my church are seeking to know God through His Word on Thursday mornings. We are beginning our study with the Doctrine of the Word of God. God’s Word appears to us in 4 Major Ways:
1. “The Word of God” as a Person: Jesus Christ.
a. These are the only times the Bible uses this phrase to speak of Jesus:
i. Revelation 19:13 And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God.
ii. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. We see this is Jesus in verse 14…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
iii. (possibly) 1 John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life–
b. Jesus does appear to have unique status in the Trinity of communicating the will of God and expressing the character of God for us.
2. “The Word of God” as Speech by God
a. God’s Decrees—a word of God that causes something to happen.
i. Genesis 1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
ii. Psalm 33:6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
iii. (not only creation, but God’s Word sustains us as well) Hebrews 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power…
b. God’s Word of Personal Address—God often speaks directly to people in the Bible
i. To Adam: Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (God also spoke to Adam after he and Eve had sinned…interesting that He addresses Adam, not Eve.)
ii. The giving of the 10 commandments: Exodus 20:1-3 Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
iii. At Jesus’ Baptism: Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
iv. Notes: Yes, these are God’s very words…spoken directly from God…however, they are also human words in that they are spoken in ordinary human language that is understandable. This does not limit their value or integrity in any way…they are still the Words of God. (i.e. just because the human language is imperfect does not mean that God’s communication through the human language is in error.)
3. “The Word of God” as Speech through the mouth of human beings.
i. This represents God speaking through prophets in the Bible. Remember, although these are still spoken by human lips, they are God’s Words, not corrupted by their human vessels…for example:
1. Deuteronomy 18:18-20 ‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 ‘And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. 20 ‘But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’
2. Jeremiah 1:7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak.
a. See also: Ex. 4:12, Num. 22:38, 1 Sam. 15:3, 18, 23, 1 Kings 20:36, 2 Chron. 20:20, Isa. 30:12-14…
3. Anyone who claimed to be speaking a message from the Lord and was not was severely punished…Ezek. 13:1-7…)
a. Thus God’s words spoken through human lips were considered to be just as authoritative and true as God’s words of personal address. To disobey the prophets of God was to disobey God himself.
4. “The Word of God” in written form (the Bible)
a. The first record of God’s Word coming in written form: Exodus 31:18 And when He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.
b. Deuteronomy 31:9-13…And Moses wrote this law…This writing of Moses was then deposited by the side of the ark of the covenant: (Deuteronomy 31:24-26)
c. Further additions were made to this book of God’s words:
i. Joshua 24:26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
ii. Isaiah 30:8 Now go, write it on a tablet before them And inscribe it on a scroll, That it may serve in the time to come As a witness forever. (cf. Jer. 30:2, 36:2-4, 27-31; 51:60)
iii. In the New Testament, we have God’s Words are still being added to by His people…1 Corinthians 14:37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. Peter 3:2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
d. Benefits from a written form of the Bible: We are blessed!
i. There is a much more accurate preservation of God’s Word than through oral tradition, word of mouth…
ii. There is an opportunity for repeated and prolonged study of these Words, without time restraints or limits…
iii. God’s Words are accessible to many more people than they are when preserved merely through memory and oral repetition.
iv. Have you taken for granted the gift of reading and comprehension? Do you rejoice when your children learn to read, so that they can read the Scriptures? We are so blessed!
e. Our basis for the study of Theology now comes through the Bible
i. We do not have Jesus around to imitate anymore, we must study his life in the Bible.
ii. God rarely speaks audibly in Scripture, and we would say even more so today. We are on shaky ground to seek God’s Word from this source. (Feelings are included here…opening your Bible blindly and pointing your finger…)
iii. God’s words spoken through human lips ceased to be given when the New Testament Canon was closed. (stay tuned for next week!) We do not believe God is unable to speak today, just that He will never do so in contradiction with His Word.
*It is most profitable for us to spend our time studying God’s words as written in the Bible. How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)
*It is the Word of God in the form of written Scripture that is “God-breathed” and “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16)
Questions for Application
1. Do you think you would pay more attention if God spoke to you from heaven or through the voice of a living prophet than if he spoke to you from the written words of Scripture? Would you believe or obey such words more readily than you do Scripture? Do you think your present level of response to God’s Word is appropriate? What positive steps can you take to improve your obedience to God’s Word?
2. When you think about the many ways in which God speaks and the frequency with which God communicates with his creatures through these means, what conclusions might you draw concerning the nature of God and the things that bring delight to him?