Friends, It is common for many to refer to the Bible as “The Word of God”. However, this is not how the Master identifies it. In John 5:39- 40 Jesus confronts the religious scholars of His day, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you might have life.”
In the scriptures the designation “The Word of God” applies only to the Living Word, Jesus. This same Jesus declares that the purpose of the scriptures is to testify of Him and that it is entirely possible to study them and miss Him. If we make the Scriptures “The Word of God” rather than Jesus, we have created an idol. Your faith is not to primarily be in the scripture, your faith is to be in Jesus. That is why Jesus opened the understanding of the disciples so that they could see all that was written in “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” concerning Himself (Luke 24:44- 45). The primary purpose of the scriptures is to create a history and a context in which Jesus can be clearly seen. The scriptures are not the Word of God. The scriptures testify to the Word of God.
Actually the only words that scripture records God writing directly are the ten commandments. The testimony about the rest? ” All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16).
Now here it can get technical but “by inspiration of God” is a very different reality than “by the finger of God”. For example, under inspiration the gospel writers wrote four very different accounts of the life of Jesus. Those accounts highlight their different personalities, educational backgrounds, life experiences and writing styles. Yet we do not say one or the other was more inspired. The Word had become flesh in them and was expressed through them. God did not posses them. God did not control their pens. God inspired them. They testified to Jesus.
If we understand that the scriptures are primarily about bearing testimony to Jesus (even as we are to be primarily about bearing testimony to Jesus!) that changes how we read them. The scriptures were not intended to present a rational system about God but a relational story about Jesus. Rational systems are rationally determined which leaves the mind in control. That is why we can argue systems of theology forever- they are controlled by our minds. A reality controlled by my mind makes my mind god. Not a good story.
Relationships are morally determined, that is, they are determined by our choices to love and serve. The purpose of the scripture is to introduce us to Jesus so that we might know and love Him and in so doing love and serve one another. If we love Him, we obey Him. That is a good story. It leaves Jesus as God. There is no true knowledge of Jesus without relational obedience to Him.
If we talk about the scriptures as the Word of God there seems to be a tendency to take little bits and pieces, cut and paste them and declare that little bit to be “the Word of God”. That way lies deception. There are enough bits that you can make the scriptures say almost anything you want. Your favourite little bit is not “the Word of God” . It is a portion of the scriptures that testify of Jesus. It only has meaning in the whole of the scriptures and ultimately only has meaning in relation to the revelation of Jesus.
Sand is little bits that have broken off the mountain and washed to the sea. To build upon sand it to build upon bits of the scripture broken from their place in the Rock. If we wish to build upon the Rock and know that our house will stand, we must build upon the Rock who is Christ Jesus.
When Jesus opened the disciples minds to understand all in the law, prophets and psalms concerning Himself there was, of course, no New Testament. Once portions that would become the New Testament began to circulate around Paul spoke to Timothy about studying to show your self “approved unto God” by “rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). There can be discussion about what this means but it seems to me that the most important division is between Old Covenant and New, Law and Grace, the nation of Israel and the Body of Christ. Many of the present errors of doctrine and practice amongst believers come from taking Old Covenant practices and teachings and dragging them into the New where they replace grace and the life of Jesus. What do I mean?
Tithing taken out of its Old Covenant context and applied as “the Word of God” for today. Giving 10% in order to be blessed makes God a miserly book keeper rather than a generous Father. But how does tithing speak of Jesus and His kingdom? If you actually study the three tithes of the Old Covenant and the other financial laws around them, it becomes clear that the focus was not just on provision for the priest and temple but on social justice for the nation and the care of the poor. Jesus came to set the captives free not put a legalistic financial burden upon them and then tell the poor they are cursed if they do not tithe.
Worship in the Old Covenant had its 24/7 practice and its experience of God who came and went from the tabernacle or the temple. When we drag that practice into the New Covenant we have people shouting at the ceiling for hours and asking God to come down and touch them and send revival. That is totally destructive of New Testament reality which is “Christ in you the hope of Glory”. Such practice makes mockery of the words of Jesus who said that He had given us all authority and that we were to go and make disciples of the nations. Jesus cannot come down. He is already in your if you are HIs. Jesus will not send revival. He has sent you. Such 24/7 shouting and crying matches are manifest rebellion against the words of the Master. They are traditions that make his words of no effect.
What does Old Covenant worship teaching and practice show us about Jesus? It shows us a contrast. As was prophesied in the Old Covenant, God no longer dwells in temples made with hands but in His people. When God
dwells in His people, they never thirst again- they have nothing to cry out for. Their task is to take water to those who do not have it. When God dwells in His people, they have His indwelling presence to take to the world.
We could go on but, please, let us stop using the phrase “The Word of God” for the scriptures. Let us stop using bits and pieces of the scriptures as “The Word of God”. Those bits and pieces are sand. Let us know that the scriptures testify of Jesus and that testimony is divided into two Covenants. Let us divide the two correctly. Let us discern what is Old Covenant practice and terminology and let that speak to us of Jesus. It is there to reveal Jesus, not for us to practice. The One who is the fulfillment has come!
Let us understand clearly that their is no life in the scriptures but that they testify of Jesus who does give life.
He is the only Word of God.