A couple weeks ago I ran into a friend from once upon a time, a long, long time ago. She is a very good woman with a very good heart. Her children are grown and are having children of their own. She now spends her church time teaching the younger women with new babies about God. That is something I know is sorely needed these days.
As we talked, she shared how she teaches them. She said that she teaches these young mothers to use "exact Bible words," becuase that is the right way. I didn't take issue with her because I think that the success ofher program has much more to do with the love of Christ flowing through the relationship she is building with these young women than it does with using exact Bible words.
I wondered, what did mature women tell the younger women before we had the Bible? What did illiterate women tell the younger women back when only the elite could read? Did the word of God only appear when the Bible was produced in written form? How do we know that everything in the Bible is all there is?
Anyway, here are four areas I would like to share in pondering God's word:
1. God's word existed before the Bible.
John 1:1[ The Word Became Flesh ] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
In John 1:1, the Bible clearly refers to the word of God as Jesus and God, not the Bible. It also says that the word of God not only pre-existed the Bible, it pre-existed creation. There was word before there were any of us around to hear it.
Which brings up another interesting point: if the Word of God existed before people, then it existed before any human language. So, what language was the Word originally written/spoken/communicated in?
Furthermore, how is the "exact word" more important than the relative meaning? Exact words from one culture to another or even one person to another change in meaning. Sometimes ever so slightly and sometimes so much so that no meaning was even conveyed. If the word is anything it is meaning, not symbols (letters of language constructed as words).
So, if the word is a meaning more than a collection of letters and symbols, then it transcends language and can be universal.
2. God's Word is Sharp
Hebrews 4:12For 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.
Imagine if you had the power to look at someone and just tell them all of their sinful and loving attitudes, thoughts, emotions. What if you could just know the truth about everyone you met? I have to believe that the Bible does not have this power, but the word of God does. If the Bible had this power, all people would have to do is read it and they would be exposed. But that is not what happens. Ink on paper can communicate some of the word of God, but it is not the word of God. The Bible is a messenger of God's word, but it isn't God's word per se. Lots of atheists read the Bible and are not even touched one bit. You might say that it is the condition of their heart that made them this way. Perhaps. However, when someone comes into contact with the word of God, with the meaning, with the power of exposing them, they do not remain the same.
Pharoah came into contact with the word of God and could not stay the same without significant effort. He felt the sharpness of the word of God. He felt the living and active word of God. He felt the double edged sword of the Word of God. And get this, Pharoah didn't read the Bible to get this word. There was no Bible in Pharoah's time. He experiecned the word of God in real life.
3. The Word of God is Sown
Luke 8:11"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.
To continue on with the idea that the word of God is living, Jesus says that the word of God is seed swon into the herts of people. Well, what was her referring to? The New Testament? Nope, hadnt been written yet. The Old Terstament? Well, even if we say yes, then we have Jesus calling the Word of God something less than the Bible.
I believe the word of God that Jesus is referring to here is deep truth. Not truth on a factual level, which is the place where too many evangelicals like to keep it, but rather it is truth int he universal sense. Not propositional truth, but character truth. "Love your neighbor..." is truth. Saying it isn't truth. Knowing it isn't truth. Getting other people to believe it isn't truth. Believing it isn't truth. Living it is living truth.
The word of God is something like a seed that can be nurtured to growth and become something signficant inside someone. It's more like growing corn and less like fast food. But when we demote truth, demote the word of God to propositions and cognitive ejacualtions, then we are merely consuming fast food.
The word of God is dynamic. In a single person it is fragile an must be cared for, but in the universe it is unstoppable and relentless.
4. The word of God is Sunken In
1 John 2:14I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
I went to an apple orchard once. I have never seen trees so laden with fruit. Hundreds and hundreds of apples on a single tree. These trees were old and had been taken care of. Their roots were deep and sunken in. What made this orachard produce such a robust harvest year after year was not merely that the truth about apple trees existed, but that someone paid attention to these trees and nurtured them. They created surroundings that made it likely for the trees to produce - and then they did. More and more apples every year.
Knowledge alone does not make a great orchard. Living that knowledge does.
To say that the word of God is the Bible is like saying reading a biography of my wife is a marriage to her. Sorry, but I'll ditch the biography every time just for a chance to be with her. Bibles do not live, but the word of God does live. Certainly the Bible has recorded some of the word of God - some of the most important words of God, but to say that it is the sum of the word of God is an insult to God.
Go to Word of God Speak #2