Bibliology: What is the Word of God?
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD and in His law he meditates day and night.” – Psalm 1:1-2
We begin our discussion of Systematic Theology with the area of Bibliology. As we remember, Bibliology is the study of the doctrine of the Word of God. For us to fully gain an understanding of the Word of God and how it applies to our lives as Christians, we must first get a handle on what the Word of God is. When we study the Scriptures, we will find that the Word of God is described to us in three different forms. The phrase, “the Word of God” can actually have several different meanings attached to it. First we have Jesus Christ who is the Word of God, second we have the Word of God as spoken audibly by Him, and third we have the written Word of God. In these three categories we have to compete revelation of God’s Word.
I. The Word of God in the Person of Jesus Christ. Our first category that describes the Word of God is in the person of Jesus Christ. The passage that comes to mind is John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Later on in verse 14 John gives us confirmation that he is speaking about Christ by saying, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus Christ therefore is described in the Bible as the Word of God. We also see Jesus given this title in Revelation 19:13 which says, “…and His name is called the Word of God.” So how is it that the Word of God is manifested in the person of Jesus Christ?
Well, our understanding of how Christ can be the Word of God comes from a firm and fixed belief that Christ Himself was not only from God (as John describes Him) but also that Christ indeed was God in the flesh. Because Christ was God, He represents the Word of God to man. Every word that He would speak on this earth would in essence be the very Words of God. Therefore it is right and accurate to describe the Son of God as the Word of God because to put it plainly, the Son of God was God Himself!
II. The Word of God as Spoken by God. The Word of God is not only communicated to us through the person of Jesus Christ on this earth, but also through the audible and spoken words of God. The speech of God has come to mankind in various forms and has been communicated and recorded in different ways. The first revelation of the spoken Word of God is given to us through His decrees.
The decrees (or commands) of God are one of the ways in which we have the Words of God recorded for us. God’s decrees are His all-powerful commands that show His supremacy. His decrees are expressly manifest in the creation of this world as He merely speaks the entire universe into being. Decrees such as, “Let there be light”, “Let the earth sprout vegetation”, “Let us make man in Our image” (Gen. 1:3, 11, 26) display the power of the Word of God. As God speaks, so it happens. God’s decrees make things happen through the power of His Word (Heb. 1:3).
Another way in which the Words of God are recorded for us is through His audible personal speech to others. In the Scriptures there are many examples of God speaking and communicating to people in this world. Some examples included God’s spoken word to Adam (Gen. 1:29), Abraham (Gen. 18:17-33), Moses (Ex. 3), and the people of Israel (Matt. 3:17) to name a few. In these instances of speech, God was speaking in audibly, and using actually human language that His hearers would understand and comprehend. The words came directly from God and therefore carried complete authority and were totally trustworthy.
A third way that the words of the Lord come to us are through a mouthpiece such as a prophet who speaks on behalf of the Lord. In the Old Testament this is a very common way in which the Lord communicates to His people. The Lord describes the work of a prophet very clearly in Deuteronomy 18:18-19 saying, “I will raise of a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command Him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.” Clearly the Lord refers to the words that a prophets speaks on His behalf they are, “…My words…”When the Lord speaks through prophets, His word is just as truthful and authoritative as when He speaks Himself. Other examples of God speaking through prophets are found in Exodus 4:12; Jeremiah 1:7; 1 Samuel 15:18 to name a few.
III. The Word of God as written in the Scriptures. The final form in which we have the true words of God is the form of the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. The Word of God as recorded in Scripture is just as reliable as the very words of God spoken audibly from heaven. Within the Scriptures we have several instances and examples in which the Word of God was put down in written form. The two stone tablets that had the 10 commandments on them (Ex. 31:18), the book of the Law that was written by Moses (Deut. 31:9-13), the book of God’s Law written by Joshua (Josh. 24:26), and the book written by Isaiah and Jeremiah (Is. 30:8; Jer. 30:2). Moreover both the entire Old and New Testaments in their entirety are the very words of God (Jn. 14:26; 16:12-13).
The apostle Peter records for us in 2 Peter 1:19 the fact that the Scriptures are, “…the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place…” The books of the Bible as recorded and written in our Bibles today can be described in total as, “the Word of God”.
The Words of God do not change just because the instrument that God uses to preach His word changes. Whether it is the words of God spoken by Christ, the decrees of God, the audible voice of God, the words of God spoken through a prophet, or the Word of God as recorded in the Scriptures, God’s Word is always and completely truthful, completely authoritative, and they must be obeyed!