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The Word of God is not “The Word of God”:

25 Jul


I recently read a missionary letter where the man was telling how they want to make the Scriptures available to the people of the region he plans to work with in their own language. He said, “1 Peter 1:23 states, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” And Romans 10:17 states, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” In modern English, If you do not have the Bible (the Word of God), you cannot see people saved. WE WANT TO SEE PEOPLE SAVED!”

I know this man personally and there is no doubt that he has a heart for people and is concerned about their eternal destiny. My question for this post concerns his view of Scripture – How accurate is he?

 

We must recognize that we have developed the habit of reading our own definition into the words of Scripture. We take our “Christian jargon” and then read it back into the text. For this post, the specific instance I am speaking of would be the word, “word”. Like in the quotation above from my missionary friend. He quotes 1 Peter 1:23 and Romans 10:17 and then concludes this as biblical proof that people cannot be saved without the Bible. But is this correct? For example, in Acts 10 we have the account recorded for us where Peter went to Cornelius’ house and told them the good news of Jesus Christ. Verse 44 says “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.” Check the context of that… go ahead, grab your Bibles, I’ll wait. Back? Okay, now start at the beginning of the chapter. Read through verse 43 and stop for just a second… Notice how Peter spoke to Cornelius and all that were there. Verse 36 says that God sent a word to the children of Israel, preaching the god news of peace through Jesus Christ. Verse 44 says that the Holy Spirit fell on those who heard the word. This word of good news was not the New Testament as it had not yet been penned, It was the word of truth – the good news of Jesus Christ that they heard.

Let’s go back to the text of I Peter that my well meaning friend used. Remember the New Testament had not yet completely been penned, nor had it been compiled to where all could have it in a single unit. Peter tells us in verse 25 exactly what this imperishable, abiding, living word is. The interesting thing is he doesn’t tell us it is the Scriptures. Nope. The imperishable, living, abiding word of God that we are born again as a result of is the the good news (aka gospel) that was proclaimed to them. See, we often times forget that there was no New Testament at Pentecost when 3,000 people believed, the gospels were written after people had already been saved and were continuing to tell and re-tell the truth of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Books such as Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, etc were written because there were already Christians who needed instruction. These people were saved without a Bible in hand or being passed around.

It is not the Bible that makes salvation possible. A believer could go into the darkest, most secluded place, where people are illiterate and tell them the historical truth of Jesus’ life and all His works. He could call them to believe on The LORD and The Holy Spirit could move on them, just like we see happen in Antioch among the Gentiles in the book of Acts. The Bible records the events that happened, but the power is not in ink and paper. It is the message conveyed. The story it tells us is true and it is that truth that changes hearts. Historically, people were saved before the first gospel was ever penned, they were living in it! They saw Jesus, talked with Him, watched Him die and saw Him resurrected. It is not the written word that somehow magically saves us, it is the truth of the Gospel.

So as we clearly see in Scripture, one does not need Scripture to see people saved. To say otherwise is to make an idol out of the Scriptures, for it attributes power to a book that only resides in Jesus Christ. Jesus did not say all authority has been given to the Bible, He says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ” In other words, In the word of God, “word of God” is not talking about the word of God, but the gospel. =)


 
6 Comments

Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Church History, Evangelism, Scripture

 

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6 responses to “The Word of God is not “The Word of God”:

  1. Twiddle

    July 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I just wanted you to know that I appreciate this blog post. I think it’s an important topic for Christians to hear, because we so often place salvation on the shoulders of objects and people that have no business being underneath such a word. Jesus is the only Salvation we have. Without Him, we are lost. People get so caught up in “dressing correctly, driving the correct car, and looking down their noses at others” instead of loving them, that we end up worshipping “laws” instead of Jesus. Anyway, loved this post. 🙂

     
  2. Craig Benno

    July 25, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    🙂 I can imagine a few people are sputtering and choking on their coffee reading this post Daniel.

    In many senses you are absolutely right. Jesus is THE WORD of God. While I disagree with your missionary friend’s take on the Bible – father, son and bible – I was involved for a number of years with the Gideon’s and saw many people impacted through having access to a Bible.

    I also know someone who was drug addict and Jesus visited her in a vision while she was high, she dropped to the floor crying out for his love and she was rescued from the addiction to drugs at that moment…

     
  3. futurefaith

    July 26, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Great post! The NIV (gasp!) actually translates the meaning well in Acts 10:44, “…the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the MESSAGE.” The ESV in Rom. 10:17 translates, “So faith come from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” In other words, hearing the “message” of Christ. Verse 13 tells us that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How often has that been made a reference to prayer? Actually, it says nothing about a “sinner’s prayer”. Rather, it has everything to do with verse 9 where Paul says, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart…” (NIV) (Lordship Salvation?). We have presumed upon the scripture understandings that often do not accurately express the original language. Thank you for this reminder. May we “preach” the “message” that Jesus is Lord for the repentance of sins. Sounds kind of like what Peter did in Acts 2.

     
  4. A. C. Baker

    July 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Very interesting, and of course I have already completely digested the whole truth…yeah, right. What I have gotten a better grip on is the fact that the Word of God is the Word, Jesus. The written Word is only powerful if the Word is proclaimed through it.

    For 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

    Now, in just looking at this in the English, for that is my native tongue, I can see that Paul was not ashamed of the “gospel.” The gospel was “of” Christ. The “good news” of Christ was the power of God unto salvation. But, we also know that Jesus is the Word, as said before. I guess what I am trying to say in a quick way (so I can sit down to pizza with my wife and watch NCIS) is that the omnipotent, omnipresent, sovereign power of the Triune Godhead is at work in this, for the gospel is the life-changing news of a power that is the news of the One who empowers the story with His Spirit for the glory of the Father who sent it. WOW! I’m glad I wrote that down, cause I could probably never think of it again.

    Thanks for the post.

     
  5. susanne430

    August 1, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Paul seems to indicate we can look at creation, at nature and see there is a creator. I think people can know God through however God chooses to reveal Himself. God is not limited to the Bible to bring people to Himself.

    Enjoyed this!

     
  6. tommy

    September 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I was once in China and saw a girl wearing a cross. I asked her if she was a believer. She said ‘yes’. I then asked her, ‘tell me what you believe about Jesus’? She went on to give me a VERY clear presentaion of the the gospel along with some attributes of God and Christ. In a city of 400k people she only knew of one other believer, her aunt who led her to Christ. I asked her if she had a bible. She had never heard that there was such a thing as a bible! I went on to explain what the Bible was and she was blown away. How many of the early Christians had a Bible?

     

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