There is a chasm between knowing the Bible academically or religiously and then coming to know the Bible as “The Word of God”; and yet to know Christ as “the Word” becoming flesh. As one progresses upward, the “word” changes from knowledge of the word, then to understanding the word, then to practical experience or having the word working in your life, transforming you from within. For example, one may know in an academic or religious manner the account of creation as given in Genesis, specifically of the two trees in the Garden: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life; and how God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil for in that day they would surely die. Of course they did eat of that tree and they did die, first spiritually then bodily. This is general knowledge.
A further understanding of this account as “the Word of God” insists that this is not a fable, allegory, or a parable but absolutely factual, because it is written, “God said…” and that is enough to cement it as truth…it is thus the Word of God. A further insight may come by understanding that all mankind, in all following generations, down to you and me, have sinned merely by the fact that we all were “in Adam”, that is, in His seed, when he sinned. This is known as original sin. So all mankind are sinners, not because we have sinned, but because we were born in sin, as sinners. Because of the sin of our parent Adam, it is in our human nature to sin, to continue to eat of that same spiritual tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil, determining for ourselves what is good and righteous and is evil and wicked.
The nature of man has been corrupted. The spiritual death has alienated him from God. And like in Adam, bodily death will soon follow all; it is the eventual consequence of sin.
There remains yet a higher understanding of the Bible, and that is of Christ as the “living Word.” Jesus said to the Jews, “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 may have life..” Jn. 5. 39-40 All of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, not only reveals Christ in history and prophecy, but in revelation as the Living Word. There was a second tree in the Garden, the Tree of Life. This tree was not like a mighty oak tree bearing magical fruit that if you were to eat it you would live forever. This tree was in spiritual actuality, a person, and that person is Christ. He is eternally present as the Word of Life. If sin and death was found “in Adam,” and all who are “in Adam by birth are inheritors of his sin and death, all who are “in Christ” and born (again) of His seed are inheritors of His righteousness and life eternal. This life is not mere existence, but a union with Christ, a relationship that brings forth fellowship. O’ the glory of this revelation!
We must, by all means, seek to know the Christ— of the Word, by the Word, and as the Word of God. As God first breathed the breath of life into Adam in the Garden and he became a living being, the Holy Spirit now breathes the breath of life in and through the Word, into us, that all, who are “…in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor. 5.17 Mankind seeks for miracles to deliver him from adversities, yet the greatest miracle he will ever know experience is becoming a part of a new creation in Christ.
Christ is the Son of God and the Son of Man. As the Son of man, he had the frailty and mortality of man. And, “though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.” 2 Cor. 13.4-6
The testing of metals is always crucial. To mistake pyrite (fools gold) for true gold can be a costly mistake. The nickname fool’s gold has long been user by gold merchants and prospectors who were amused by excited people who thought they had found true gold. These people did not know how to tell the difference between pyrite and gold, and their ignorance caused them to look and act foolish. In this scripture passage, Paul warns of a spiritual foolishness and exhorts the readers to test yourself. This self-examination is never unimportant or needless for all who name themselves a Christian less we deceive ourselves into thinking we are something that we are not.
A shallow intellectual and emotional religion is the pyrite of the Gospel. At stake is eternal salvation. All believers must examine, not deceive themselves, whether they be true Christians and of the faith that Jesus Christ is in you and that you are a part on this new creation, created in Christ Jesus. This is the foundation of our hope of eternal salvation. This faith in Jesus Christ is one of the distinguishing characteristics of a true Christian, and this testing is to ascertain the sincerity of our faith.
I remember in mineralogy class we would scratch the mineral across a piece of porcelain. If it were fool’s gold (pyrite), it would leave a black streak; if it were gold, it would leave a shiny yellow streak. It was a simple test to determine its true value. Try yourselves whether you are living and moving in that faith that you profess…that Jesus Christ is in you, or that you are simply practicing the rituals and doctrine of religion, or perhaps possessing no real faith at all. Subject your selves to the scrutiny of your own conscience.
THE WORD: Pt. 1. Text or Life
When we speak of the Bible, we often think of a collection of the Old Testament Law, psalms, and prophecies, and the New Testament Gospels and epistles (or letters). When I was in graduate school, I met a fellow graduate student from Israel, by the name of Jehuda Gradis. He carried a pocket size version of the Old Testament in his shirt pocket. I remember him proudly telling me, “This is the history of my people.”
I could understand why, to him, it was a historical account of Israel: recording generations from Adam through Abraham and succeeding generations; the supernatural workings of God as in the Passover and escape from Egypt, the record of their kings and prophets, and judges; of their destiny to become a nation; and of times of prosperity and times of being taken into captivity. From Genesis to Malachi approximately 430bc, their history is documented.
Today, I now know the O.T is much more than the historical account of Israel, as well as the N.T is so much more than the historical record of the Christian Church. If the Bible is reduced to memorializing history, it becomes a religious text or intellectual exercise and loses its power to transform its believer. If it is reduced to rote memorization of what many may consider a sacred text about God and His laws and His plan for man’s salvation, then it is yet reduced to even a more formal religion that is used to regulate behavior and forced obedience to its moral statutes. The Bible is not a religious book. Rather, it is a spiritual book to be read with spiritual eyes with spiritual understanding. So, the task before us is to learn to spiritually know the Bible.
Life and Relationships
More than all these things, the Bible is all about LIFE and RELATIONSHIPS. You may ask, “What do I mean by this? In this present life I relate to both my physical environment and my cultural or social environment. I interact with my surroundings, my senses are alive as I touch and observe things, emotions are moved as I experience interactions around me, and my intellect grows in understanding. Life is so much more than just metabolizing food and reproducing and growing up physically. A vegetable is life without such relationships.
The Bible is a call to a higher life, to a spiritual life in which relationships are found to exist in a new environment, an environment that is without time; it cannot be seen, or touched or physically sensed in any manner, and it is not limited by distances. Jesus replied (to Nicodemus), “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” The “kingdom of God” is this new environment to be perceived, not with our natural senses and understanding, but with spiritual senses; and to be born again of the spirit is most fundamental and critical.
Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Jn. 17.3 To “know” the only true God and Jesus Christ. Simply, to know God in this manner is not to just know about Him or to know about His ways, but to know Him and Christ is to have a relationship with them. Life is always relationship oriented. Following creation, the first thing God did was to visit Adam in order to have a relationship with one another.
Many people do not know me. Some may know some things about me. They may have an understanding of my life; my teachings, likes and dislikes, etc. But I am really known by my wife and family and by my church fellowship. Why? Because they stand in relationship with me; without which we are simply members of the same family or church. Membership does not imply relationship, but only that one belongs to an organization and is in general agreement with one another. A relationship however implies fellowship, interaction, a sharing in one another’s life; the highest of which is: “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 Jn. 1.3
The N. T. word ‘gospel,’ literally means “God’s good news.” It is good tidings. It means that something better than religion has come.
Even in casual observance we see there is something written about God in nature itself. In it God introduces Himself to all mankind and declares His existence:
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Rm. 1.20
God made Himself known in Old Testament wonders in signs and wonders as in parting the Red Sea, healing the sick, even restoring the dead to life. He has communicated to man in words of their languages by way of the prophets and psalmists and gave The Law to religiously and socially guide their lives. But then, in the fullness of time, He has given to us the greatest sign of Himself by sending His own Son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of human flesh and blood in order to testify of His Father God in word and in life. So, we see that, in Christ, the “word” of God is declared in both the words and actions of Christ.
The Word of God
Beginning in the first book of the Bible the phrase, “God said,” is repeated many times. He uttered words, He spoke creation into existence, and He spoke instructions to Adam. He spoke, saying “let there be light and there was light.” Although He probably could just think it, He said it. He literally spoke light into reality. This is in the nature of God. He directly and deliberately communicates. God went on to speak the heavens into existence, the waters, the land, plants and animals. He audibly spoke a command to Adam not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil for in the day he would eat of it, he would surely die. God spoke, He uttered words of understanding.
He spoke through the prophets, and He spoke into the hearts of others. In this He communicated, at least in some measure, His heart’s desire and purposes; and He revealed who He is—and, most important, His desire for a relationship…. with a people. His own special people.
In fact, the whole Bible, all of Scripture, even refers to itself as “The word of God.” or “The word of the LORD.” This word would come to individuals; prophets spoke the word of God as they are inspired to do so, and we, in the N.T., are encouraged to speak the word of God as revealed in the Gospel. So it must be understood how we treat the scriptures of the Bible for they are, in truth, the word of God; they are holy.
Therefore, because scripture is of no mere human writing, but is authored by God, it has a unique power to carry out the will of God, to perform miracles, and to transform the human heart…even that heart that initially spiritually died in Adam when he ate of the forbidden tree. The word of God is a word of life. It opens the doors of the Kingdom, and it reveals the Father and the Son.
The apostle Paul said this to the people, the church at Thessalonica in writing,
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” 1 Thes. 2.13
Oh how powerful and significant are these words. Paul did not just speak “words” of God as a parrot is taught to say words, but he spoke the “word” of God as in revealing a message, or expressing the thoughts of the Father, or of Christ. This is “the word” that effectively works in us who believe. That is, the word of God has the power to transform our hearts. This means we actually change, not because we are more determined to change, or suddenly have become more obedient, it is solely the matter of the power of the word of God.
I have learned over the years that in any and all true spiritual encounters with God, something changes in my inward man. I am never the same again. These become defining moments in our lives. Personally, some have come primarily through prophecy, some by revelation of the written Word, and some drawn out of a particular teaching.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Heb. 4.12
We must, we must, approach the Bible as the word of God with this in mind… that it is powerful to surgically alter our hearts and our lives. This must and should be a primary anticipation.
. It is by grace you have been saved;” and in 1 Peter 1.23, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” . A friend of mine recently underwent the replacement of a valve in his heart. His valve was diseased and could not function properly. He was slowly dying because the life of the blood was not being adequately pumped throughout his body. A damaged heart can cause death.
Man’s spiritual heart is defective enough through sin to cause a spiritual death towards God. Is it not written, in Eph. 2.1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” Were dead, let that sink in for a moment. We were alive in the natural but dead spiritually. Fallen mankind is the living dead. Thus, we have a greater glimpse into God’s purpose for sending His Son as a sacrifice for the sin of man. His sacrificial death not only brought forgiveness for sins but also a spiritual resurrection to newness of life. It is also written “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Eze. 36.26
And now, continuing in Ephesians 2.4-5, Fallen mankind is written, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our trespasses.
The spirit in man must first come alive to God, then, and only then, do the historical writings of the Bible truly become the inspired powerful word of God.
2 Cor. 3.18 reads, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Ahah!. “Are being transformed”… this brings the whole of it , all of the past from the beginning of time, and all of the future unto the coming again of Christ, all of this, into this present moment. It collapses all of time into the present. Before this moment, all is history, after this moment, all is future anticipation. It is here, in this brief passing of time, one finds the inner working of the word to transform us from dead people walking in darkness unto those who have come alive and are walking in His light. Even as the earthly bound caterpillar is transformed into the butterfly that rises above things of the earth, so too now redeemed man rises above the rudiments of this world as participants in the spiritual Kingdom of God.
The Word Was Made Flesh
It is written that God took of the soil of the earth and formed Adam, but even before that, in eternity past, the Son of God was formed of the word of God,…. the Son, born of the Father. Even before creation itself, The Son of God was the fullness of God, and was the exact expression of His thoughts and the intent of His heart. These words are difficult to understand, but they are spiritually discerned.
Read with me what is written about Jesus Christ in John. 1.1-4:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.” And, in verse 14:
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
This speaks of Jesus Christ as being the manifestation of the word of God in the flesh. Imagine that, the active, living, vital word of God that cannot only be heard, but now seen and touched as well. We read of this in 1 John 1.1-4:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have gazed upon and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life. And this is the life that was revealed; we have seen it and testified to it, and we with us. And this fellowship of ours is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship; write these things so that our joy may be complete.”
The word of God, that which the Bible so desperately over the ages attempted to bring to light through the prophets beginning with Moses unto John the Baptist, now finds its fullness in the manifestation of Jesus Christ. All preceding Christ are as the stars of heaven bringing the faintness of light; but now is revealed the Sun of Righteousness Malachi 4.2 “But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” When the sun rises, all darkness is consumed. And again in Hebrews 1.1-2:
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,”
My old friend from graduate school may boast that he has the history of his people Israel in the Old Testament, and another may say he has the Gospel of Christ in the New Testament, but who among us may say, “I have the Word of God,” “I have the Christ,” the Son of God, abiding in me; it is His power in me who will transform me.
In Hebrews 4.7 it has been written: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” With spiritual eyes we see, and with spiritual ears we hear. It was Jesus Himself who spoke this in Revelation 3.20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me.” This is the new beginning, the start of eternity in one’s life. One hears and opens his heart, and He “will come in...” and “dine with him.”
I am not a Greek scholar, but I do know how to study Greeks words, and this particular word for with (in, as in dining with him), is the preposition meta in the Greek. This word looks ahead to the results. It implies “a change afterward,” i.e., what results after the activity. (metá) looks towards the after-effect (change, result). I would find it near impossible, incomprehensible to be in such close fellowship with Christ and not be changed in some way.
What happens after Christ enters in and dines with us, what change occurs, what transformation happens. This is the living word of God working in me. It is, or He is, “the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
As I pen these words, I am reminded of a very simple song I would sing over and over again, nearly a half-century ago. It begins, “I will never be the same again. Since I found the Lord, I am not the same, and I’ll never be the same again.” Something happened within, a transformation, and it has not relented. It is not a warm or fuzzy feeling, or an excited emotion of some sort, or an intellectual clarity. It is simply an inward satisfying understanding of knowing Him—the Word of Life. I know that I know. I have found peace for my soul.
We will continue with this thought next time but will consider what happens when the Word of God is reduced to stories or even misinterpreted as myths, even popular myths as the pre-tribulation rapture.