The Word of God
The Word of God details the salvation, liberty, joy and hope of a Christian. We live our lives from God’s Word and in the knowledge of His promises in which we are resting as Christians. The Bible is the written word of God and it is not to be added to nor is anything to be removed from it. This study looks at the importance of the Word of God in the scriptures to us as Christians and the effect it is to have on us.
The Word of God
It has always been God’s desire to communicate with Mankind. From the beginning we are told that Adam and Eve heard “the voice of Jehovah Elohim, walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). As a result of their disobedience, this voice for the first time filled them with fear, but it would appear that God would often have walked and talked with Man as He brought the animals to Him and made him a wife. God has spoken and is speaking to us. This sheet looks at what the word of God is and the importance of giving it it’s proper place in our lives.
The Lord Jesus as "the Word".
Before we begin thinking about God’s spoken word and the words written in our Bibles we should begin with the Lord Jesus who is described as “The Word”.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things received being through him, and without him not one thing received being which has received being. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light appears in darkness, and the darkness apprehended it not” (John 1:1-5).
It is clear that it is the Lord Jesus being described here for we are given this title again when He is seen going out in judgement in John vision: “and he is clothed with a garment dipped in blood; and his name is called The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13).
God has revealed Himself through the Lord Jesus. “God having spoken in many parts and in many ways formerly to the fathers in the prophets, at the end of these days has spoken to us in the person of the Son, whom he has established heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the effulgence of his glory and the expression of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, having made by himself the purification of sins, set himself down on the right hand of the greatness on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3). The Lord Jesus, as being God manifest in flesh (see 1 Timothy 3:16), one with the Father (see John 10:30), being with God and being God Himself (John 1:1) revealed perfectly in every word and deed, especially in giving Himself on the cross for our sins, God’s desires, feelings and purposes. If we want to see what God is like we need look no further than the Lord Jesus Himself. God is speaking to us in Jesus Christ.
He entered this world according to the will of God (Hebrews 10:7), He lived His life according to God’s will (John 5:30 6:38 and 8:29) and He gave up His life according to God’s will (Matthew 26:39 and Luke 22:42). Thus His life speaks to us so completely about God’s will for us and gives us a perfect example of what God delights to see in mankind and what a relationship we can enjoy in God’s presence.
The spoken word.
To get an impression of the power of God’s word we need only look at the creation.
“By faith we apprehend that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that that which is seen should not take its origin from things which appear” (Hebrews 11:3).
“For this is hidden from them through their own wilfulness, that heavens were of old, and an earth, having its subsistence out of water and in water, by the word of God, through which waters the then world, deluged with water, perished” (2 Peter 3:5-6).
In the beginning of Genesis God spoke the world and universe into existence. Nowhere is there a mention of God making things with His hands or fashioning things by coming into contact with materials except when the woman is formed from the rib of the man in Genesis 2. God spoke and the complexity, the beauty, the order and vastness of our universe came into being. By the authority of His spoken word everything came into being so that “all things received being through him, and without him not one thing received being which has received being” (John 1:3). Man became a living soul as a result of the breath of God. Sometimes, the Bible uses the term ‘breathed out’ in the same way as ‘spoke’ to show that with God, His words come from what He is and are in no way detached from Him in the way that our words often are.
God’s word has complete authority over everything. We see this same authority when the Lord Jesus commands the wind and the waves to be silent in Luke 8. The Lord’s word “Come” was sufficient to enable Peter to walk on water although he began to sink when he took his eyes of the Lord. His word was enough to draw fish into the nets of the disciples when He commanded them to cast their net on the other side of the ship. Being God “manifest in the flesh” Jesus’ word was the word of the creator (see Colossians 1:16).
Not only does God’s word have complete authority but it continues to speak. Through the creation we can see God’s “divinity and power”. The creation, formed by the word of God, still declares God’s glory and power, even in the smallest detail. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the expanse sheweth the work of his hands. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech and there are no words, yet their voice is heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3).
God’s word includes His promises. Every promise that God has given has either been fulfilled or is about to be fulfilled. The best example of this is in God’s promises to Abraham:
“After these things the word of Jehovah came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram; I am thy shield, thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1).
“And behold, the word of Jehovah came to him, saying , This shall not be thine heir, but he that will come forth out of thy body shall be thine heir” (Genesis 15:4).
Having waited until He was 100 and Sarah his wife being 90 years old you might have thought that having a child was impossible. Yet God promised Abraham that he would have a son from whom a great nation would come. Isaac was born, according to the promise of God for with God “all things are possible”.
Let’s look briefly at the character of God’s word. His word will always be completely consistent with who He is.
God’s word is pure:
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” (Proverbs 30:5). It is not tainted with deceit, deception, sin, or ulterior motives. Jesus could say that He was “Altogether that which I also say to you” (John 8:25). Everything He says is true because He is truth (see Jeremiah 10:10).
God’s word never fails:
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall do that which I please, and it shall accomplish that for which I send it” (Isaiah 55:11). Even if mankind fails to convey God’s word it will always achieve what God desires it to do.
God’s word is not bound or restricted:
“Remember Jesus Christ raised from among the dead, of the seed of David, according to my glad tidings, in which I suffer even unto bonds as an evil-doer: but the word of God is not bound.” (2 Timothy 2:8-9). It doesn’t matter where the enemies of God try to confine preachers, like Paul, or whether they try to kill Christians God’s word will not be restricted or confined. Much of the New Testament is a result of the word of God through Paul spreading beyond the prison walls.
God’s word is tried:
“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of Jehovah is tried: he is a shield to all that trust in him.” (Psalm 18:30). In other words, it has been tested and found to be secure. You need only look at the large number of promises and prophecies that have been given by the word of God and see how many have been fulfilled to know that God’s word has been utterly reliable. Likewise, God has always done exactly what He said He would do in the Bible. We see this in the Acts too: “But the word of God grew and spread itself” (Acts 12:24). God used the disciples to spread His word but nevertheless the word of God (in the power of the Holy Spirit, see Ephesians 6:17) was the power behind the growth of the Church.
God’s word is living:
“For the word of God is living and operative, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and penetrating to the division of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). It is not a dead word on a page, nor is it a past word spoken that no longer applies. His word maintains the full force of its meaning and power because God is living.
God’s word feeds the soul:
“But he answering said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which goes out through God's mouth” (Matthew 4:4). God’s word, when accepted and meditated upon is the food of a Christians souls and maintains them through everything.
God’s word is eternal:
“Having purified your souls by obedience to the truth to unfeigned brotherly love, love one another out of a pure heart fervently; being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the living and abiding word of God. Because all flesh is as grass, and all its glory as the flower of grass. The grass has withered and its flower has fallen; but the word of the Lord abides for eternity. But this is the word which in the glad tidings is preached to you” (1 Peter 1:22-25). “The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but my words shall in no wise pass away” (Matthew 24:35). The fashions and fads of our race continually change, but God’s word never fails. What God has said once always speaks and does not fade or die. They cannot pass away because God is the same (see Hebrews 1:12) and the Lord Jesus is declared as “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and to the ages to come” (Hebrews 13:8). ‘The Same’ is one of God’s titles used by the prophets in the Old Testament and thus we can see that the unchangeable nature of God is one of His key characteristics.
This is not an exhaustive list and it will make a good study to consider the characteristics of God’s word. The gospel itself is heard by sinners and when many respond to the gospel, it is as the result of an audible preaching or the written Word. The important thing is that a person receives the word of God into their heart as a result of the Spirit’s work. It convicts us and condemns all that we were as sinners completely, then it declares to us the fullness of God’s love towards us in His giving of His Son, then it declares to us the greatness of His promises towards us to build us up in our faith.
“So faith then is by a report, but the report by God's word. But I say, Have they not heard? Yea, surely, Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the extremities of the habitable world” (Romans 10:17-18).
“And the apostles who were in Jerusalem, having heard that Samaria had received the word of God, sent to them Peter and John” (Acts 8:14).
“And the apostles and the brethren who were in Judaea heard that the nations also had received the word of God” (Acts 11:1).
The report of what God has done and what He is offering mankind has gone out to the whole earth. It is wonderful when we hear that someone has received the word of God and not rejected it. As a result of God’s word a Christian can tell others of the gospel and thus a person receives faith from God. Having believed, God’s word continued to work in us and sanctifying and purifying us.
“And for this cause we also give thanks to God unceasingly that, having received the word of the report of God by us, ye accepted, not men's word, but, even as it is truly, God's word, which also works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
The written Word of God: the Bible
While there seems to be a distinction in our minds between words that are spoken and words that are written there is no such distinction with God’s word. The scriptures are the word of God. We are told “that the scope of no prophecy of scripture is had from its own particular interpretation, for prophecy was not ever uttered by the will of man, but holy men of God spake under the power of the Holy Spirit” (1 Peter 1:20-21). The scriptures that make up the Bible are a divinely inspired record and much was personally spoken by God. So often as we go through the Bible we find the words “Thus saith the Lord” or “The word of Jehovah came to …” demonstrating that God’s word was spoken and then written down. This means that the scriptures have the same power associated with them as the spoken word of God’s creation or of God’s promises. As a result, we are told that “Every scripture is divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The literal meaning of the words here translated as “divinely inspired” could also be given as “breathed out”. In fact, in several translations of the Bible it is translated as “All Scripture is breathed out by God and …”. Thus the scriptures written in our Bibles is the word of God that has been breathed out by Him. It has the same living power, even as it is linked with the same living Person.
Paul was spoken to directly by the Lord as He went to persecute Christians in Damascus. The Lord’s words, spoken with such power and wisdom, broke the resistance of this ultra-religious man and made Him the greatest exponent of God’s grace to the nations. He was given a particular task to do directly from the Lord. He was probably the man referred to in 1 Corinthians 12 who was taken to the third heaven. He was given the task of completing the word of God and making known the mystery of God’s will.
“Now, I rejoice in sufferings for you, and I fill up that which is behind of the tribulations of Christ in my flesh, for his body, which is the assembly; of which I became minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given me towards you to complete the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but has now been made manifest to his saints” (Colossians 1:24-26).
We find in Paul’s epistles a tremendous revelation of God’s promises and counsels concerning Christians and their future.
The scriptures, as the word of God written down, indited by the Holy Spirit, is the reliable word of God. Every prophecy given by God’s mouth or conveyed through the pen of one of the ‘writing prophets’ who were told to write what God said, has or will yet be fulfilled. The whole of the life of our Lord Jesus was the result of fulfilled prophecy written hundred of years before His incarnation.
Paul said “For I delivered to you, in the first place, what also I had received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he was raised the third day, according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). So often in the gospels we see those words “… that the scripture might be fulfilled”. Everything the prophets were told to write down in the scriptures about the Lord Jesus has come to pass and therefore the promises which are still to be fulfilled will be fulfilled also.
The Lord Jesus, when He had been raised from the dead spoke to two disciples on their way to Emmaus about the written scriptures and showed how the suffering of the Christ was written all the way through them which to us would be the Old Testament (the New Testament had not been written at this point). “And he said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all that is written concerning me in the law of Moses and prophets and psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their understanding to understand the scriptures, and said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved the Christ to suffer, and to rise from among the dead the third day” (Luke 24:44-46).
So as the word of God comes to us it will always be confirmed by what God has said in the scriptures. God’s word never changes because He doesn’t change. Thus, the Bereans, having heard the gospel preaching, went and searched the scriptures to see if what Paul had preached to them was true. “But the brethren immediately sent away, in the night, Paul and Silas to Berea; who, being arrived, went away into the synagogue of the Jews. And these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, receiving the word with all readiness of mind, daily searching the scriptures if these things were so” (Acts 17:10-11). They found that the word being presented to them by Paul was confirmed by the word of the scriptures and therefore must be God’s word. Likewise, we must test every word given to us by any Christian teacher by the word of God in the Bible. That way we will know whether what we have been told is from God or not. If it is contradicted by the scriptures then we must discard it, but if it is confirmed by the scriptures then it must be accepted.
The effect of God's Word
There are many people who would seek to challenge God’s word in the Bible. When this comes from other Christians it can be very difficult to take. We have seen already how God does not change and that His word continues in the same power ever since it was spoken, whether spoken or written down. Some people, even some Christians, seek to discard bits of the Bible as being old fashioned or not being relevant to us today. This is a very dangerous line to take as it appears to say that we have a right to judge God’s word and implies that we are now able to judge God. God’s word stands firm and as Paul says in Romans 3:4 “let God be true, and every man false”.
There are others who try and add things to the scriptures. Many traditions exist in Christendom today that are simply not found in the Bible or directly go against what the Bible teaches. This is not new for the Lord Jesus exposes one such teaching of the religious Pharisees when He says to them “And ye no longer suffer him to do anything for his father or his mother; making void the word of God by your traditional teaching which ye have delivered; and many such like things ye do” (Mark 7:12-13). They taught that if a man devoted all His wealth to God then He would not have to provide for His parents in their old age. It sounded good – to have given everything to God- and yet God had given wealth to enable such a person to provide for His parents. God’s law said that we should honour our parents and so this teaching of the Pharisees went against God’s law no matter how good it may have sounded.
The Lord Jesus says “For verily I say unto you, Until the heaven and the earth pass away, one iota or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all come to pass” (Matthew 5:18, see also Luke 16:17). Not one part of God’s word shall fail. Not one detail of God’s word can be dismissed. Even the lists of names are there for a reason. When we read God’s word we are to be exposed, corrected and built up by it. Our lives have to change when exposed to God’s unerring, never changing and authoritative word.
Let’s briefly look at some of the effects God’s word is to have on us:
God’s word builds us up:
“And now I commit you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and give to you an inheritance among all the sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
God’s word feeds us:
“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! more than honey to my mouth! From thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false path” (Psalm 119:103-104). “But he answering said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which goes out through God's mouth” (Matthew 4:4).
God’s word gives us power:
“For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us that are saved it is God's power.” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
God’s word is the sword of the Spirit and exposes us:
“Have also the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God's word” (Ephesians 6:17). It can be used effectively under the power of the Holy Spirit for “penetrating to the division of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
God’s word causes us to sing with joy:
“Let the word of the Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).
God’s word is to abide in us:
“I have written to you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:14).
God’s word is trusted and dependable:
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” (Proverbs 30:5). “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of Jehovah is tried: he is a shield to all that trust in him.” (Psalm 18:30).
God’s word teaches, it convicts us, it corrects us and instructs us:
“Every scripture is divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
God’s word must be read and meditated upon. The whole Bible is God’s word because God has spoken it for the benefit of every Christian. Our lives are to conform to God’s word for God’s word cannot conform to our lives or the whims of the societies in which we live.
The Lord tells the parable of the sower: “But the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. But those by the wayside are those who hear; then comes the devil and takes away the word from their heart that they may not believe and be saved. But those upon the rock, those who when they hear receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a time, and in time of trial fall away. But that that fell where the thorns were, these are they who having heard go away and are choked under cares and riches and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that in the good ground, these are they who in an honest and good heart, having heard the word keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:11-15).
There are many responses to the word of God but they all fall into the categories given in this parable. When we hear God’s word, whether it be the gospel, some teaching, etc., we should desire to be like the good ground. We hear God’s word, we accept it and allow it to change us and as a result we will bear fruit for the pleasure of God. There are dangers and many Christians have fallen into these dangers. Many have accepted the Lord as their saviour but have struggled with the change that this brings to some aspects of their lives. Perhaps, as the seed on the rock, they are not ready for persecution or the difficulties that come from being unpopular in the world as a result of being true to God’s word and so they give up or try to disregard the difficult passages of the Bible. They are not living in full faith and fall away from the way of God when things get difficult. Perhaps, as the seed amongst the thorns, they are choked by the pleasures or life or its worries and cares and so God’s word is unable to change our lives because we simply fill our lives with other things.
Being true to God’s word has wonderful benefits. Jesus said “My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21). We are brought into wonderful nearness to God by hearing and doing the word of God. He also said “Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28).
The word of God can bring great hardship because the world around us does not want to hear it, never mind accept it. God’s reward in Revelation 20 for those who a devoted to Him and His word even unto death during the Great Tribulation is wonderful. “And I saw thrones; and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them; and the souls of those beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus, and on account of the word of God; and those who had not done homage to the beast nor to his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and hand; and they lived and reigned with the Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4).
So God’s word is all-powerful, full of authority, never-changing and pure to give a few of its characteristics. Any person who attempts to say that part of the Bible is not relevant today is setting themselves above God in attempting to judge God’s word. God’s word does not change and every word of God given in this present day will always be confirmed by the scriptures. We must seek to find a church or meeting of Christians that upholds the whole of the Bible. The word of God is to change our lives to become more like Him. We must let it have this effect on us.