I don’t know about you but I’ve been a long time around Christians and I’ve often found that the Word of God is used without distinction between the bible and Jesus Christ. “In the beginning was the Word” according to John’s Gospel which confounds the two even further.
So what exactly is the Word of God? Jesus Christ or the bible? Or some combination of both?
Why do biblical Christians emphasize the absolute authority of the Word of God? And why do most biblical Christian churches say the bible is inspired, inerrant and infallible in its original writing? It is only a book after all, or is it?
I was travelling down to one of our church’s connect groups last night. I’d been asked to lead/ facilitate it. And getting this clear in my mind was troubling me. So then the Lord showed me a illustration which I think everyone at the meeting found helpful and which I share here because it may bless you the reader of this blog also.
Every born again believer alive on this earth is an eternal spirit, a soul being saved and a body that will be saved, i.e. replaced by an eternal one (see my previous blog on the Spirit, Soul and Body).
The Holy Spirit does not yet have a body to inhabit for eternity though the Bride, the Church is being made ready for that purpose. So how does the Word of God (we are talking about a Triune God here) express Himself in this world? Well, there are a few answers to that but one of them is most certainly the Bible.
So what is the Bible? Like us it is a body. This body is made up of the printed text, the written words, the versions of written words, the translation, the paper and the binding. Each version of the bible represents a different type of body. But crucially, the Bible is, like our bodies, a vessel containing the Spirit of God.
How important is this body? Well without it there would be a lack in God’s ability to be the Word of God to us. There would be one type of vessel less to carry His Word to us. And there is an objectivity, inerrancy and authority that a book can bring that no human can on their own. With the Man Jesus now seated in heaven, what better way for Him to make his Spirit known than through a book?
But let’s not get too hung up over the vessel. Humans come in various types of vessels, male, female, African, Caucasian, Chinese, etc. But when you or I are talking to them, the vessel is secondary as long as we can understand what they are saying. What is important about every human is the spirit that inhabits them and how that has impacted their expression of themselves, their soul. Similarly when I am reading a version of the Bible what I am listening out for is the Spirit of God’s Word, Jesus Christ and how that has impacted the words I am reading. Sometimes I may know another language and that helps give another view but ultimately all I really want to know is the Word of God. And He is never wrong, nor does He ever let us down and everything He says is inspired.
So whether it is the King James Version, loved by so many, or The Message, I am not too hung up about that body that carries the Word of God. But I am passionate about hearing what He has to say.
Is not fighting over versions something like racism or sexism? Well it can be I think. Lets not get too hung up about words (2 Tim. 2:14).