Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Bible is the Word of God

There are some who actually teach that the Bible is not the Word of God.  One such man teaches, “The WORD OF GOD is JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, it is NOT A BOOK, it is not a physical Book, that is deception. The Book tells us about Jesus Christ, that which other people have experienced, their witness of God and Jesus Christ, but we must KNOW JESUS and HEAR FROM HIS SPIRIT…The Bible is not the WORD OF GOD, JESUS IS THE WORD OF GOD.”

Some of this is true and some is false.  It’s true that Jesus is the Word of God and that we must know Jesus and hear from His Spirit.  But it is false to say that the Bible is not the Word of God.  Let me show from Scripture why that is false.

Jesus is the Word of God
John records in his gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  (Joh 1:1)  Then he says, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Joh 1:14).  It is clear from the context of this passage that John is referring to Jesus Christ.  He taught that Jesus is the Word of God and that He is God.

Later in his account of the apocalypse, known as Revelation, John said of Jesus that “He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” (Rev 19:13).  This is a basic truth that Christians widely agree upon.

Jesus said the Scripture is the Word of God
But in addition, we need to understand that the Scripture is also the Word of God.  Jesus said so Himself!  Jesus told the Pharisees and scribes, "But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God," he is not to honor his father or his mother.' And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” (Mat 15:5-6)

The Pharisees and scribes taught people to follow traditions of men.  For example, they taught their disciples that when they devoted a gift to God, they were not under any obligation to share any of that money with their own parents.  So even if their parents had a need for financial help, they told their disciples that they could refuse to give help to their parents on the basis that the gift had been completely devoted to God, and could not be shared with anyone else. 

Jesus said that by doing this, they invalidated the Word of God.  They made the Word of God null and void.  They essentially taught their disciples not to be concerned with the fifth commandment to honor your mother and father.  They taught their disciples that this man-made tradition has a greater importance than the commandment of God – the Word of God.  In other words, it was like deleting a verse from the Scripture.

Many religious teachers do this today.  For example, they teach people to bow down to men and kiss the rings of men.  In doing so, they teach people that this man-made tradition is more important than God’s own Word in the second commandment, which says we must make no idols or bow down to them.  And they do many things like this today.  They teach men to call them by titles like “Father,” even though Jesus Himself warned us to call no man “father”.  He said, "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Mat 23:8-11). These examples are sufficient to prove that many today still invalidate the Word of God with their man-made traditions.

When Jesus told the Pharisees and scribes that they invalidated the Word of God with their traditions, he was speaking of the Law – the Scriptures.  He was not speaking of Himself as a person.  If that were so, then He would be teaching that it is possible to nullify Him or invalidate Him.  We know that cannot be done.  So it is clear from the context that Jesus referred to Scripture as the Word of God.

Another time when Jesus called the Scripture the Word of God was in the wilderness, when He was tempted by the devil.  Satan tempted Him to turn a stone into bread to satisfy His hunger, “But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" (Mat 4:4)  Jesus said must live on every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth.  In this case, He was not speaking about Himself personally when He used the expression “every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”.

On another occasion, Jesus used the expression “the Word of God.”  The Jews were preparing to stone Him for calling Almighty God His Father, thus making Himself out to be God’s Son.  “The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God." Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I SAID, YOU ARE GODS'? "If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?” (Joh 10:33-36)

Jesus responded by quoting the Psalm that quotes what the Lord says to the rulers when He judges them.  In that Psalm, the Lord says to the human rulers, “I said, ‘You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High. Nevertheless you will die like men And fall like any one of the princes.’" (Psa 82:6-7).  Jesus pointed out that the Word of God came to these human rulers.  If the Word of God came to them, then that proves they were mere men.  And Jesus showed that God calls the rulers “gods”. He even calls them “sons of the Most High” God. He used that to prove to his opponents that God even calls men gods and sons of God.  Therefore, Jesus proved that it should not be considered blasphemy for Him, the One whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, to be called the son of God.

Now in this passage, notice that Jesus said the Word of God came to these human rulers?  He was referring to the Scriptures, since the Jews He spoke to would all know that these rulers had received the Law, which they understood to be God’s Word.  So in these and other passages, Jesus taught that Scripture is the Word of God. Therefore, to say that the Bible is not the Word of God is to contradict what Jesus Himself said, as recorded in the Bible!

The Words of Jesus Recorded in the Bible are God’s Word
And we know that in the New Testament, particularly the gospels, much of what is recorded are the words of Jesus Himself.  Who could argue that this is not the Word of God? 

Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (Joh 6:63)  His Words are Spirit and Life.  Wherever the Bible records the Words of Jesus, these are the Word of God.  These words have the power to give eternal life and save your soul! So to say that the Bible is not the Word of God is to say that Jesus’ words recorded in the Bible are not the Word of God.  That is blasphemous.

The apostles certainly agreed with Jesus’ teaching about His own words, and they regarded His words with the highest reverence.  “Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.’” (Joh 6:68)

The disciples spoke the Word of God
And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (Act 4:31)

“So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.’” (Act 6:2)  The apostles were saying that they did not want to neglect the study and preaching of the Word of God.

As the apostles preached the Word of God, it spread.  “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.” (Act 6:7)

“When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper.” (Act 13:5)

“Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.’” (Act 13:46)

There are many other passages of Scripture that show us the Word of God is preached and spoken, and is synonymous with Scripture.

Pauls’ Teachings and Writings Are God’s Word
Paul, Silas, and Timothy wrote to the Thessalonians and said, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” (1Th 2:13).  The Thessalonians heard the Word of God from Paul and his companions.  And the Thessalonians accepted the message they heard as the very Word of God, which it really is!

Not only were the messages Paul preached the Word of God, but so were his writings.   Peter affirmed this when he wrote: “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2Pe 3:15-16)

Here Peter taught that Paul wrote in all his letters according to the wisdom given to him, and that some things Paul wrote are hard to understand.  Peter also said that ignorant and unstable men distorted the things Paul said in his writings, just as they do the rest of the Scriptures. 

If I say, “I am going to do to this person what I also do for the rest of the children,” then we know that the person I am writing about is a child.  If I say, “I am going to paint this one the same color I paint all the rest of the cars,” then we know this vehicle I speak of is a car.  And when Peter says these ignorant men distort Paul’s writings the way they do the rest of the Scriptures, we know that Paul’s writings are Scripture, according to Peter.   Paul’s writings make up half the New Testament.  So just as Jesus referred to the Old Testament as “Scripture” and the “Word of God,” Peter also referred to half the New Testament as "Scripture," which is the same as saying it is the Word of God.  This agrees with what Paul himself said to the Thessalonians that the word he proclaimed to them was the very Word of God.  Why should it surprise us that his letters that have become included in our New Testament Bible are also Scripture?

The Scripture Originated with God
The Scripture did not have its origin with man, but with God.  Peter wrote, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2Pe 1:20-21).  The Scripture originated with God and through the agency of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men, it was both spoken and written.

Paul also taught this.  He wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2Ti 3:16-17).  He taught that God inspires all Scripture.  The Greek word that we translate as "inspired" is "theopneustos," which means “God-breathed.” All Scripture is God-breathed and proceeds from God’s mouth, including the Old Testament and the writings of Paul found in the New Testament.

The Word has the power to save your soul
Anyone who says the Bible cannot save you is lying.  This is a play on words that has no intrinsic value except shock value.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2Ti 3:14-15).  He was saying that Timothy had known the sacred writings or Scriptures from childhood, and that the Scriptures gave Timothy wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Rom 1:16).  The gospel is the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ that we proclaim, and which is written in Scripture.  Paul said it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

Of course, the only way to be saved is through faith in Jesus Christ, not through Bible reading. In other words, no one will go to heaven because they simply read the Bible.  But if we do what the Bible says and put our faith in Jesus Christ, we will be saved.  Jesus also said that we must be not only hearers but doers of his commands.

James wrote, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” (Jam 1:21).  James taught that the word of God has the power to save your souls!  They point us to Christ, who alone can save us, and they teach us how to live righteous lives pleasing to God. Since the Scripture is the Word of God, and Paul’s writings are Scripture, then Paul’s writings have the power to save your soul, too.

Mixing the Word with Faith
It's absolutely essential to mix the Word of God with faith.  The writer of Hebrews said, "Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard." (Heb 4:1-2).

The Israelites whom God brought out of Egypt heard the good news just as we have.  It was preached to them.  But they failed to combine the Word of God they heard with faith inside their hearts.  As a result, they hardened their hearts and did not enter His rest.  The word did not profit them, and it will not profit you, if you don't combine it with faith.  True faith will do what the Word says, and not simply hear it.

Hearing from God
In my post, called Hearing the Lord's Voice, I point out the need to hear the Lord's voice.  Each one of us needs to hear from Jesus for ourselves. But when we do hear from the Lord, one way we can confirm that it really was the Word is that it will line up with the Word of God.  If it is contrary to the Word, then it is not the voice of the Lord.

Many people will say they heard from God, when in fact they did not.  This problem goes back thousands of years to the false prophets in the Old Testament, and it continues today with false prophets and false teachers of our generation.  There must be a standard by which we can judge a teaching or a prophecy.  Certainly the Holy Spirit within us can help us to discern whether a word is truly from God.  But if we have the Word of God in our hearts from studying the Scriptures, we will be able to test what we hear against what we know the Bible says.

There have been heretics and there will be until the end. Some false teachers came along in the past and taught a different gospel.  But Paul said to the Galatians that if anyone preaches another gospel besides the one they heard from him, that person would be eternally condemned.

The easiest way to know if someone's message is the true gospel is to compare it against Scripture.  This is what the Bereans did.  Luke wrote about the Berean disciples, "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." (Act 17:11)  It did not matter to the Bereans if it was Paul the apostle preaching, they wanted to check what he said against the Scriptures to see whether what he said was really so.  And this is how we should be as well.  Check what you hear by examining the Scriptures daily to see if what you hear aligns with God's Word.

Let me encourage you to study the Bible and know what it means, and apply it to your life.  "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." (2Ti 2:15).  It's important that you know how to handle the Word correctly.

One of the ways the Lord speaks to us in through His Word.  Hearing from the Lord is not exclusively from the Holy Spirit without the Word.  And it is not exclusively from the Word without the Spirit.   In order to hear from the Lord, we must rely on both the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. When you read the Bible, ask the Lord to speak to you through His Word and to show you the whole truth.  Ask Him for understanding and expect to receive it.

Putting it All Together
So it is clear from Scripture that Jesus is the Word of God, the words of Jesus recorded in the Bible are God’s Word.  He Himself said the Scripture is the Word of God.  He referred to the Old Testament, including the psalms, as the Law, the Scripture, and the Word of God. 

We also know that the disciples spoke the Word of God.  The apostle Paul did this and the Thessalonians received his message as the Word of God, which it really is.  He also wrote letters, which were considered by Peter to be Scripture.  Since Scripture is synonymous with the Word of God, then Paul’s letters are the Word of God.  From this we can infer that the writings of the other apostles are also Scripture. 

All Scripture is inspired, in other words God-breathed.  No Scripture originated with man’s will, but with God.  All Scripture was communicated to man through the agency of the Holy Spirit.  And the word of God has the power to save your souls. 

It's very dangerous to tell people otherwise.  If people no longer accept the Bible as the Word of God as it really is, then they will certainly not obey what it says.  They will eventually get too busy to read what it says as well.  And after a while, these people will be so ignorant of what the Word says that they will be easily deceived by false teachers, who distort the Scriptures.

Therefore, anyone who teaches people that the Bible is not the Word of God is untaught and unstable, and is misleading others.  If we examine the Scriptures daily like the Bereans, we will find that what they are saying is not true. We should beware of such men, and correct them, if they are willing to receive it. The Scriptures teach that the Bible is the Word of God.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page, such as All Scripture must be fulfilled, The Uniqueness of God's Word, and The Bible Never Fails. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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