|The Word of God – Part 1|
|T. A. McMahon |
The Word of God is the chief focus of this message.
This is also a survey regarding the way you and I think about the Word of God. It has to do with how seriously we take the Bible to be the actual Word of God.
I took the survey myself as I prepared this message, so I have a good idea of my own thoughts about the Word of God.
I did okay, although there’s room for improvement.
Now it’s your turn.
This isn’t a test. Again, it’s a survey between you and the Lord. I put the Lord in the mix so that I’d remember to be honest regarding my own thoughts in response to the survey. We can kid ourselves, but we can’t put anything over on Jesus.
This isn’t a judgmental procedure. It’s simply a self-evaluation of where we are as Christians. The objective is to get us to where God wants our thinking to be concerning His Word.
So, let’s start with this:
Do you believe the Word of God consists of God’s actual words that He communicated to men? If you’re not sure, what do you think Matthew 4:4 means: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”?
Are you thinking that those who wrote down the Scriptures made their own contributions to it? If so, then what of 2 Peter 1:19-21: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Although nearly one third of the Bible is prophecy that has to do with foretelling the future, prophecy also consists of all God’s words that He wants us to know and obey. We’re told that holy men of God, His prophets, received God’s words through the Holy Ghost.
Those verses seem to indicate that the prophets simply wrote down what they were given by the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul declares much the same in 1 Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
Paul told the Galatians the same: “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12).
Based upon those verses (and many more that are found throughout the Bible), do you believe that the Word of God is entirely and unquestionably from Him? In other words, that absolutely nothing has been added to God’s Word from man? If we come to that conclusion, then all we should need to believe is what the Scriptures declare unequivocally. Even so, we can also look to reason. Consider, for example, that God is infinite and humanity is finite. As finite beings, we are therefore incapable of knowing our infinite God without His input. The only way we can know God is by His communicating to us directly. Being finite, we are limited to our own ideas about an infinite God.
We can, nevertheless, surmise that God created us. There are only two options for how everything exists: by chance or by design. Chance would be a bad choice, since chance or randomness (aka evolution) in explaining the origin of life and its development explains nothing nor does it prove anything. Design is the only reasonable choice, given the extraordinary complexity of everything from an atom, to the nucleus of a cell, to our DNA, to the expanse of the universe.
There are nearly 40 trillion cells in the human body, each cell having its own function. A cell’s size is smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. The nucleus of a cell occupies about eight percent of the volume of the cell.
That’s impressive! Even Richard Dawkins, one of the world’s leading evolutionists, has written that the nucleus of a cell has a digitally coded database in information content equivalent to 30 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Yet he continues to believe that the building information in the nucleus came about randomly. That’s ignorance with a purpose.
To the contrary, what does the design we can observe as finite beings (which includes everyone) tell us about the designer? Whatever or whoever brought such complexities into existence must be very intelligent, very powerful, and unlimited in its or their presence. Even infinitely so.
The Word of God refers to those attributes of our Creator as being omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, and all humanity is held accountable for discerning the difference between our Creator and creation. Yet finite man, for the most part, has rejected a Designer and opted for worshiping mindless creation, i.e., evolution (Romans 1:18-20, 25).
Have you considered the belief that God used evolution as the method with which He went about creating all things? That’s referred to as theistic evolution, and it’s gaining followers throughout Christendom, even among leading evangelicals.
Many Christians who believe in theistic evolution do so because they think it supports the Bible and science. It does neither. Furthermore, it contradicts the clear teaching of the Word of God (allowing for death to take place before Adam sinned) and it’s at odds with the pseudo-science of evolution.
As noted, finite man is held accountable to recognize that the world was created by God: “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).
Although God’s creation attributes “are clearly seen” such as “His eternal power,” they do not answer a host of critical questions about God that finite man cannot discern without God revealing the answers.
Yes, we can conclude that God created us, but we can’t know why He created us without Him telling us. We can’t know about His personal characteristics such as His triune nature, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and His perfect and eternal nature.
Nor can we know His personal qualities, His love, His grace, His mercy, His compassion, His long-suffering or His wrath unless He gives us such information.
Scripture also communicates the history of God’s relationship with mankind, how man was created in perfection, which was followed by his rebellion and eternal separation from his Creator. Then God brought about man’s justification and reconciliation through the payment for our sin by the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
That can only be made known to God’s created beings through His direct revelation of Himself, that is, the Word of God.
Back to the survey.
How important is the Word of God to you? Is it just an additive to your Christianity? Something you get a taste of each Sunday? If that’s your situation you are heading for spiritual malnourishment, if you’re not there already.
If you don’t think that’s the case, here are three basic beliefs that a biblical Christian needs to adhere to in order to grow in and be strengthened and fruitful in the Word of God. These beliefs are the inerrancy, the authority, and the sufficiency of God’s Word.
Beginning with the inerrancy of Scripture, do you believe that what God communicated to mankind through His prophets was and is without error? If you think it may have some errors, then you have to conclude that God must have made some mistakes. What might those errors be?
If you entertain thoughts that God can make mistakes, what does that tell you about the character of God? How can you completely trust in a God who commits errors?
As for those who accuse God of errors and say that His Word is filled with contradictions, are they influencing your thoughts about God? What might those contradictions be?
What of those who say that many of the Bible’s teachings are at odds with science? No pushback on that one.
The question is, however, who is in error, the Creator or the creatures whom He created that are either trying to figure out how creation took place or imposing their own beliefs on how it all came about?
How about the Big Bang? That’s said to be where science and religion meet. Really?
Where did the stuff that “banged” come from? When has an explosion ever produced order or exhibited purposeful design?Remember, we have finite men trying their hardest to assess their infinite Creator. That impossibility notwithstanding, all the accusations can be readily dismissed as false by simply comparing what the unchanging Word of God says with the continual corrections found throughout the history of science.So, a believer’s belief in the inerrancy of Scripture and God himself is foundational to biblical Christianity. What then of the authority of God and His Word?
Authority is closely related to inerrancy in one sense. If someone has a record or reputation of being error free, he is usually considered to be an authority in a certain field or practice. We refer to such a person as an expert.
Our lives continually seek out experts for help in every area where we lack expertise. That would include a seemingly endless list involving our health needs, our financial investments, our education, the laws of our state, our safety, and so on and so forth.
When a serious medical condition arises, we often look to a doctor who has a reputation built on success, one who is considered to be an authority in dealing with the illness we or a loved one is facing. We may even seek out a second opinion from a second authority.
That makes sense regarding physical issues we face temporally. But what about the conditions of life that include not only temporal things but, more importantly, eternal things?To whom do you look as your spiritual authority? Your pastor? Your seminary or Bible college professor? Your favorite Christian author? A Christian psychologist, or even a Biblical counselor? Or to the Word of God itself?
If your authority is in anything other than God’s Word, then God and His Word are no longer your authority. You have turned from the inerrant Word and the perfect One who established it to a fallible and potentially Scripture-corrupting human resource.
The Word of God is its own authority. It is and must be self-authenticating. If not, then we will likely turn to an authority other than God’s Word.
There’s another sense of biblical authority that is rarely taken seriously today, and that’s related to our thoughts about God being in charge.
Is He or isn’t He in charge? Is He not God Almighty “who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein…” (Revelation 10:6)? “For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding” (Psalm 47:7)!As someone noted, God’s Word is not a book of suggestions. If you’re treating it that way, you may have drifted into a state of complacency verging on disobedience.
Jesus addressed that condition when He said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Those of us who have children have probably said to them that if they really loved us they would do what we say.
In John 14:23 we read, “If a man love me, he will keep my words,” and in John 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”
Again, is it God who is ruling in your life, or have you added your own set of rules?
The third point related to how you are living out the Word of God has to do with sufficiency. That is the tell-tale indicator of where you actually stand regarding the inerrancy and authority of the Bible.
First of all, does the Word of God claim to be sufficient? Consider these verses: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man [woman, child] of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Notice what is described as the realm in which the Word of God is sufficient: “all things that pertain to life and godliness,” “instruction in righteousness,” and being thoroughly equipped “unto all good works.”
What in a believer’s life would not involve godliness, righteousness, and good works? There are some things, however, that do not involve what is right or wrong morally. For example, auto mechanics or fashion design or medical procedures are amoral. They, in themselves, along with lots of other things, are not what the Bible claims to address. Yet such activities are addressed indirectly by God’s Word if their practice involves sin.
Of the three points that are critical for a biblical Christian to believe, it is the sufficiency of God’s Word that is the most professed yet the least heeded. That’s astonishing because it reveals a person’s actual belief or disbelief in inerrancy and authority.
If someone claims to believe in the inerrancy and authority of the Word of God but looks to other sources for help with his issues of sin, his ungodliness, unrighteousness, and self-serving activities, Scripture is no longer sufficient for him, it is no longer his authority.
That being the case, a belief in biblical inerrancy is pointless and worse. It’s like someone extolling a healthy diet while engaging in gluttony.
Part 2 of this series will focus on the ways and means the church has abandoned the sufficiency of the Word of God. Evangelical shepherds are turning their sheep over to supposed experts as authorities that are antichrist in their theories and therapies. Many are even encouraging their flocks to look to visual translations of the Word of God produced by cult members such as The Passion of the Christ and The Chosen. Obviously, they do not truly believe the words of our Lord and Savior: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).