THE WORD OF GOD
Jesus Christ is the living and abiding Word of God. He came from heaven to bring us a message from God which is The Word of God.
It is both Jesus Himself and His teaching which is The Word that God desires us to hear and obey. To the early church “The Word” did not mean a book, but either Jesus Himself or His message. In the years which the New Testament describes, the New Testament had not yet been written, and so Satan could not deceive them into thinking that the New Covenant was also a “covenant of the letter” and not of the Spirit. When some of the Jewish believers began to think along these lines, Paul corrected them in his epistles. (2 Cor.3:6)
We must also remember that when the New Testament books were first written, each gospel, each epistle and then the book of Revelation, was read and understood as a complete entity in itself. When a letter was received from Paul, it was read out loud to all the believers, the church, in that place. It was read like any letter, from start to finish. There were no chapters or verses, and very few people could read, and so they did not compare New Testament scripture with New Testament scripture to understand the contents of the letter.
The 20th century mind-set of evangelical and Pentecostal bible believing Christians (of whom I am one) makes it hard to face this reality. Nevertheless in the early church, systematic theology and demands to be biblical did not exist, and their concept of sound doctrine was far removed from ours.
Apostles taught the early church to do what Jesus Christ had taught them. Paul states:-
“If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…” (1 Tim. 6: 3-4)
What Christ had said to them was the Word of God in the minds of all the disciples. His message, the gospel of the Kingdom of God was The Word carried everywhere by His disciples.
When, therefore, a church received an epistle and read anything concerning “the Word of God” they immediately thought of Jesus and His Words, His teachings, NOT A BOOK. When James wrote “be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only” he was not exhorting us to “do everything the bible teaches”.
When his epistle was read aloud the hearers understood that he was exhorting them to be “doers of the Words of Christ”, and not just hearers who then did not do what He had said.
To His apostles, Jesus entrusted His message from God the Father to mankind, which is the Word of God. It took Satan many centuries to gradually draw our attention away from this simple truth, and subtly focus our attention on the Bible as “The Word”. By doing so he blinded our minds, so that our thoughts are programmed to replace the living Word, Jesus Christ the King, and His message, His teachings, His commands, with the Bible. The result of this subtle deception is that while we are fighting to defend the scriptures as the Word of God, we are unable to consider rationally anything that even remotely contradicts our mind-set.
Some who read this book will immediately assume that what I am explaining is an attack on the authority and inspiration of the Holy Bible, which it is not. We should all understand and believe that:-
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching and forming God’s children, and preparing them for every good work”. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17)
The bible is totally reliable and we must depend on it in perfect confidence that God inspired its record for our benefit. However every word written in the bible was not spoken by God. He also wants us to be taught by its record of the failings, sin and ignorance of men, which it records, so that we should not fall into the same errors. When Job’s comforters gave him advice, they spoke out of their human wisdom, and were not speaking the Word of God. God was in fact angry at the ungodly advice that was being given, and said to Eliphaz the Teminite:
“My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7)
The book of Ecclesiastes contains many contradictions against what God has actually said. It includes statements that are true, others that are partially true and others that are totally false. (See Eccl. 3:18-20,6:6, 7:16,8:15,9:5, 10:19) Nevertheless God inspired it to be written and included in the Bible to show us how utterly futile it is for men to live only by humanistic understandings. Solomon, the writer, was once the wisest man who ever lived, yet as he aged he drifted away from God falling prey to the seductions of the world. He indulged his fleshly desires with hundreds of wives and concubines, acquired great wealth and had virtually unlimited power to enforce his will upon others. He wrote Ecclesiastes late in life and his conclusions that life is futile and not worth living are the result of his living “under the sun”, away from God and no longer being led by the Holy Spirit. Despite this, the Lord uses him to show us that his foolish conclusions are the tragic result of not living under the government of God, and that we should not be similarly deceived by human intellect. .
The record of David’s sin with Bathsheba is not the Word of God, but was recorded for our instruction, that we might understand how the lust of the eyes and flesh can entice and destroy us. God was very angry at David’s terrible sin so we know that we should not behave like that. It also helps us to understand the forgiveness of God when we truly repent. This is what Paul meant, when he wrote that all scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for us to learn from, in order that we might be trained in righteousness and equipped for every good work.
The bible is of incalculable value to us. Nevertheless it is unwise to call it the Word of God, for it contains history, the thoughts of men and the lies of the devil, as well as true words of God. Although God inspired its writings, we need to discern the difference between its recording of what God has said, and that which God has not said, but has been written for our example and instruction. Our God has given us minds, and we have a responsibility to use them.
For example, it is unwise of us, and insulting to God, to call the sayings of Satan “the Word of God” simply because those lies are recorded in scripture. Jesus himself stated that whenever the devil speaks he lies, for he is the father of lies.
When the High Priest accused Jesus of blasphemy (Matt. 26:65) he was not speaking the Word of God. This simply records a religious cleric angrily stating what his carnal, highly learned human mind honestly believed to be true, while trying to defend his misunderstandings of the Old Testament Scriptures.
The New Covenant was not designed by God to be a covenant of “the letter” but a covenant of the Spirit. Our Father desires us to come into a personal relationship with Him, in and by the Holy Spirit. He gave us the Bible as a tool or map to help us toward this end. The sons of God are led by the Spirit of God from within themselves, not by laws and regulations, backed by somebody’s interpretation of bible verses, which may or may not be correct.
We have no apostles today who lived with Jesus and heard Him teach, so we must rely on the Bible and the Holy Spirit to re-discover the doctrine of Christ. I say “re-discover” because I recall with amazement and no little horror, the book entitled “The Doctrine of Christ” which I was given when studying theology years ago. The book contained not a word of what Jesus had taught, but simply described the historical Jesus, who He was and what He did.
Some professional ministers, evangelical, Pentecostal or from the oldest denominations, look at me quizzically and enquire what I mean when I state that we must return to the doctrine of Christ as foundational teaching. Their incredulous question is, “What do you mean by the doctrine of Christ brother?”
The doctrine of Christ is the teaching of Jesus to his disciples both by word and example.
Since it is nearly impossible to find Christian leaders today who teach new believers to do all the things that Christ commanded, we who desire to give Him the first place, and live in His Kingdom totally, must re-educate ourselves.
We can begin with a red-letter edition of the New Testament and learn all His recorded sayings, and major on doing what He said.
The parables are all given to show His true disciples the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, and how it functions upon the earth. The Holy Spirit reveals their meaning to those who follow Jesus and obey His Word. Jesus promised that if we obey His Words, and thereby prove that we love Him, then both He and the Father would come and make their abode within us.
God gave us the scriptures that we might use them to guide us into the realm of the Spirit. The bible is not an end in itself but a means to an end. It does not teach us that those who know the Scriptures well are the sons of God, but it states clearly that it is those who are led by the Holy Spirit who are the sons of God.
Our minds must be renewed until we all have the mind of Christ, and our relationship with God is no longer in the natural, but in the Spirit. This is how it was with the first apostles, as Paul states in First Corinthians. We can paraphrase what he was saying about having the mind of Christ as follows:-
“We apostles discuss God’s wisdom with those who are spiritually mature. Things which the eye has not seen or the ear heard, (You cannot read them in a book or be told by another Christian) but things of God’s Spirit which are revealed to us apostles by the Spirit. And so we apostles discuss spiritual things in spiritual words which you Corinthians can’t understand because you are still spiritual babes, HAVING DIVISIONS AMONG YOU…
…We apostles have the mind of Christ, BUT YOU DO NOT BECAUSE YOU STILL HAVE JEALOUSY AND STRIFE AMONG YOU, FOLLOWING INDIVIDUAL LEADERS OF YOUR OWN PREFERENCE, showing yourselves to be still in the flesh and NOT SPIRIT MEN.” (1 Cor. 2:6-3:4)
What would Paul say to us today if he were to see the way we follow denominations and individual groups of leaders of our own preference?
Things of the Spirit can only be understood in the Spirit and are foreign to the natural mind. We must take heed of Paul’s warning to the Ephesian church, so that we do not approach the things of God intellectually, only in our natural or unrenewed mind.
“This I say, therefore and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer as the Gentiles who walk in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart, and they having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way IF INDEED YOU HAVE HEARD HIM AND BEEN TAUGHT IN HIM, JUST AS TRUTH IS IN JESUS, that in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and THAT YOU BE RENEWED IN THE SPIRIT OF YOUR MIND and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Eph. 4:17-24)
The Gentiles or heathen are excluded from the life of God, and we must grasp the incredible fact that to belong to Christ means that we are chosen to share in the very life of God. We are IN Christ, He is IN us, and He is in eternal fellowship with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. We can continue to stumble along, living by the guidance of our souls until we die and go to heaven, or we can put on the new self and live out of our spirits, in continuous fellowship with the Lord.
Disciples of King Jesus and His Kingdom are “not to walk in the futility of our natural minds”. We are to have our minds renewed by learning and obeying the teachings of our Lord Jesus.
General Bible knowledge, while having value, will never conform us into the image of Christ, which is our Father’s objective. Unless Christ is being formed in us we can have perfect intellectual knowledge of the whole Bible, but fail to grow spiritually at all.
Our difficulty today is that it is hard to find other Christians who have heard Christ and been taught in Him. If you approach any ordained clergyman or devout church member for instruction, you will be taught all that they believe, according to the doctrines and traditions of their particular denomination, group or sect. They might claim that all their teachings are based on “the clear teaching of the Word of God”, by which they mean the Bible, and not Jesus Christ. The deception is that there are hundreds of different groups who do not agree on their understanding of “the clear teachings of the Bible”.
Without being aware of it, nearly the whole of Christendom is in rebellion against the King and His Kingdom, for we have failed to obey His basic instructions on what we are commanded to do and to teach.