Wednesday, April 24, 2013

VIVA VOX: The Word of God and the God of the Word

Why so much emphasis on the Bible?  We read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate upon it.  We gather to hear it preached to us and to have it taught to us because the the Bible is the Word of God.  In the Bible God speaks to us.   Francis Schaeffer captured this precious truth in the title of one of his books, He Is There and He Is Not Silent.  A. W. Tozer emphasized this aspect of the Bible by referring to it as the Voice of God.  Psalms 29 and 95 use precisely that terminology (Qol Yahweh):

The voice of the LORD is over the waters...The voice of the LORD is powerful, The voice of the LORD is full of majesty.  The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars...The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.  The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness...The voice of the LORD makes the [oaks to shake]and strips the forests bare....
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.  Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts...  (ESV).

The Bible is the Word of God.  He is both its source and its goal.  The Bible is not an end in itself.  We open its pages in anticipation of meeting with and hearing from God.  We are brought nearer to Him and given a better understanding of Him through the Bible.  A day is coming when the Bible will have served its purpose.  Our faith will be made sight when we are in His presence.  In the hands of the Holy Spirit, the written Word (the Bible) creates faith in the living Word (the Lord Jesus).

The Bible is the Word of God that reveals to us the God of the Word.  The Bible is revelation from God of God.  It reveals other things, too, of course (ourselves, our sin, our salvation, His creation, etc.), but even these other things are shown in their relationship to Him.  Nothing makes sense or is truly understood outside of its relationship to God.  That's why the Bible states plainly that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom (Prov 1.7; 9.10).

Because the Bible is the Word of God that reveals to us the God of the Word, it should come as no surprise that the Word of God is God-centered.  This characteristic of the Bible is seen in its origination, its culmination, its illumination, and its demonstration.

The God-centeredness of the Bible is displayed first in its origination with God the Father.  He is the ultimate source, origin, and author of the Bible.  This is the testimony of the Bible itself in 2 Timothy 3.16 where we are told that all Scripture is literally God-breathed.

The centrality of God to His Word is displayed secondly in its culmination in God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Again, the written Word points us to the living Word.  He is the fullest and final revelation of God to man since He is the perfect God-man.  Hebrews 1.1-2 describes this process of progressive revelation culminating in Christ:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son...  (ESV).

Thirdly, the illumination by God the Holy Spirit provides a God-centered focus to His Word.  We are dependent on the Holy Spirit to guide us in our understanding of the Bible and to empower us in our obedience to the Bible.  Without the Spirit's work of illumination, we are left with our own fallen opinions.  Jesus promised better for His disciples in John 16.13 and Paul repeats it in 1 Corinthians 2.12:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth....

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God  (ESV).

The God-centeredness of the Word is seen fourthly in its demonstration through the Church.  The filling of the Spirit and the word of Christ dwelling richly in His saints produce the same God-glorifying effects (cp. Eph 5.18ff with Col 3.16ff).

The Word of God is living and active, piercing and judging (Heb 4.12).  The nature of the Word of God is determined by the nature of the God of the Word.  Because He is the one before whom "all are naked and exposed," the Bible is equally searching (v. 13).

The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to conform the people of God to the image of the Son of God all to the glory of God!

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