What is the Word of God?

The word of God may be either spoken or written. On occasion it is even used as a title. Christ, for example, is sometimes called the Word of God (cf. Revelation 19:15). But usually when we speak of the word of God we think of the scriptures or the Bible. In the Bible the term "the scriptures" often refers particularly to the canonical religious writings of the Jews. After the New Testament writings were completed, however, the term generally came to denote the entire Bible, with its 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New. This collection of sacred writings was penned by at least 40 different writers over a period of about 1500 years.

The Inspiration of the Word

There are those today who would have us believe that the scriptures are simply men's ideas about God. But the Bible teaches that they originated with God. They are God's revelation to men. In Paul's words, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The Method of Revelation

God selected certain individuals through whom He revealed His words. The writer of the Hebrew letter, for example, says: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by the son." (Heb. 1:1,2). Peter adds: "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of 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" (2 Peter 1:20-21).

The Word Christ-Centered

Someone has said that something about Christ, either typical, prophetic or historical, can be found on virtually every page of the Bible. It is indeed true that Christ, as the Redeemer of man is the ultimate focus of all the scriptures. And it is this good news concerning Christ which God "had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures" (Romans 1:2). Christ himself says: "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39).

It was entirely appropriate, therefore, that when the Bereans heard the message of Christ, "they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). And it was equally fitting for Paul to remind Timothy "that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15).

The Truth of the Word

It is "impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18) for He is "a God of truth" (Deuteronomy 32:4). We can therefore be certain of the truth of His word. Christ in fact speaks of God's word as synonymous with truth. In praying to the Father for His disciples, He says: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17).

Belief of the word of truth as we have seen, is essential to salvation. And that involves believing in Christ. Regarding this saving faith in Christ, Paul says to the Ephesians: "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Constancy of the Word

The word of God, like God Himself is unchanging. Accordingly the Psalmist writes: "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89). The word of God, Isaiah declares, is fixed in perpetuity. He says: "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of God shall stand for ever" (Isaiah 40:8). Peter fully concurs: "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower there of falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth fore ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Peter 24-25). This same Divine unchangeableness, we should note, is also characteristic of Christ's word. For He insists: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35).

The Power of the Word

The power of God's word is expressed in various ways. The Psalmist, for instance, writes: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Psalm 33:6). Thus, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God." (Hebrews 11:3).

The power of the word, however, is not manifested only in visible or external things. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and morrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). With good reason, then, Paul can say, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).

The Invincibility of the Word

Jesus tells us that "the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:30). That being the case, it cannot fail to achieve its purposes. Accordingly the Lord declares: "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Man's Only True Guide

Jeremiah acknowledges: "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). Only God can direct man's steps. And this He does through His word. Hence the Psalmist says: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). He further writes: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping them there is great reward" (Psalm 19:7-8,11).

Summary Truths

It is hardly possible to place too great importance on the need for God's word in one's life. For Jesus says: "It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus, however, has in view not simply this present life but ultimately eternal life. Thus He further remarks: "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come unto condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). "Wherefore," says James, "lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:21-22).

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