What is it?
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
First of all let me make it very clear. I am completely persuaded that the scriptures were written by men as they were moved by the Holy Spirit but without contamination from man. I am convinced they are profitable for doctrine, for rebuke, for correction. The scriptures are sufficient to show us all godliness, and are essential in the examination and determining of all spiritual truth and new revelations.
But they do not represent the entirety of Who and What God is. Nothing can, neither words nor thoughts can contain nor define Him. The scriptures sufficiently reveal Him and His gospel and His kingdom. But He, His gospel, and His kingdom can not be contained by scriptures and they will not contradict nor violate scriptures. There is no new truth or revelation that will alter what the scriptures already proclaim.
Why is it so important to settle this matter? The very core of Christianity seems to rest on Who and What is God and how His kingdom operates. If scripture is allowed to mean more or less than what it reveals about itself, then we are allowing it to skew its purpose and try to make it do what it is not meant to do, or to not do what it is meant to do. If it is said to do what only God can do, then we are deifying it.
To make any error or misstatement on that issue presents us with something other than Christianity. Get that part wrong and everything else is wrong. To hold any belief that would share His glory or His name or His life with something other than Him is more than serious.
The views one has on this matter cause some to believe that God no longer speaks personally to His sheep. While others believe that the repetition of scriptures can work miracles. Neither are true but exist because this issue has not been dealt with in a sufficient manner. Everyone just closes up camp around their opinions.
In approaching this study, I am going to examine two widely held beliefs about scripture and the bible. We will use the scriptures as our ultimate authority.
Those beliefs are:
- Do they have life in themselves?
- Is the bible the Word of God? Or is it the words of God?
My approach will use scripture to show how the bible defines scriptures and their purposes. We will find that those two beliefs do not come from scripture and both are doing great harm to Christianity and God’s kingdom. This is no small matter and both lies are but the strategy of the enemy to rob God of the glory due Him and the life and power His saints are to have. Improperly exalting scripture beyond what scripture says of itself gives the enemy the opening to weaken scripture and demean Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
I do not think that we should invent our own ideas about anything, especially scripture. Changing the intent or reality of the purpose of scriptures can only lead to error and a false Christianity. I believe that the scriptures prove that the scripture supports neither of the above beliefs. I will also attempt to demonstrate how both of those beliefs have brought harm to the body of Christ and reproach to the reality of God.
It is because men have looked to scriptures for answers thinking that the unassisted scriptures availed something, that the Holy Spirit has been neglected and His work has not gone forth. He alone is the Source of all Wisdom and understanding. 1Co 2:9-11
I will first address what the scriptures say of themselves, and that should provide some answers to both of the above questions.
What the scriptures are and are not
How did they come to be?
- How did scripture come into being?
- 2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
And when what was spoken was written down, it was the accurate account of what God said. This does not imply dictation, as if God dictated the words, but men spoke according to the burden brought on by the Holy Spirit (check the Greek meaning of “moved” (Strong’s #5342) Many times the exact words God did speak to man were recorded.
The men were moved (burdened) and spake and it was recorded. Therefore, not all of scripture was the recording of the words God spoke, but of events that existed. However, God would not “move” them to inaccurate reporting, so, even the scripture that was not originally spoken, is a valid report of information from God’s view. God could also have “moved” them to record history, events, visions, and revelations as they perceived them. Regardless of how He moved them, the recording was accurate and honest.
Scriptures are like the stones that stand as a testimony to the works and words of God that causes us to ask “what do they mean?”
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: Lu 1:70
That is God’s way of speaking to man – through the mouth of His people. When such words become recorded, they have meaning and power only because they were spoken and are being spoken, not because they are written. It seems that most of the time when God first spoke them to His prophet or messenger, their effect did not take place. It was only after the messenger spoke those exact words that they affected men.
The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. 2Sa 23:2
Other such scriptures can be quoted. There are two facts that are necessary to know regarding God’s spoken and recorded word. It required the presence of the Holy Spirit, and it required man’s tongue to respond to the Holy Spirit. This is extremely important in properly understaning what the “Word of God” means, scripturally.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. 2:11-14
Its original manuscripts were written “not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth” but are written down using the same words as man uses. Those words do not have meaning apart from that which the Holy Spirit teaches. While He most usually uses scripture to teach, that does not make scripture have any more life than the textbook that any secular teacher uses. The benefit comes from the teacher as the teacher interprets the words. The words given by the Spirit, as the verse says, is to be spiritually discerned.
What does Inspired mean?
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2Ti 3:16
Yes, the scriptures were written under divine inspiration and without original error. But it was the men who wrote them that were moved. They were moved to write what others or they themselves were inspired to speak. Or, they recorded what God had spoken to His messenger to relay to His people.
Was it those who wrote the scriptures that were inspired and then accurately wrote the words, or was it the words they wrote that became inspired? Or both? As of now, I can’t see where scripture gives answer to those questions, and it may not be pertient other than to dispel false options. The recorded words were exact with no deviation from what God spoke or moved upon them to write. They were the result of God speaking or moving and were left as a testimony by which the Spirit continually reveals Christ to seeking hearts.
What scripture was this verse referring to since the NT had not been officially declared scripture until much later?
What did the reformers think of bible inspiration?
According to Frederic Farrar, Martin Luther did not understand inspiration to mean that scripture was dictated in a purely mechanical manner. Instead, Luther “held that they were not dictated by the Holy Spirit, but that His illumination produced in the minds of their writers the knowledge of salvation, so that divine truth had been expressed in human form, and the knowledge of God had become a personal possession of man. The actual writing was a human not a supernatural act.” John Calvin also rejected the verbal dictation theory.
13Farrar, F. W. (1886). History of interpretation (p. 339). London: Macmillan and Co.
14 Farrar, F. W. (1886). History of interpretation (p. 345). London: Macmillan and Co.
How the bible defines scriptures and their purposes
Scriptures are meant to testify of Christ.
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. John 5:39
The Pharisees wrongly thought that the scriptures were able to give them life and yet denied the power of God. Very similar to many Christians and teachers today. The Pharisees were wrong about scripture having life and those who believe as they did will also miss the One who gives eternal Life. Could that be at least one of the reasons why Amercan churches are seeing so few converts? — because they preach the importance of the bible and scripture moreso than of the Holy Spirit and Christ? Scripture is presented as the Authority we need to look to, not the Holy Spirit or Christ.
Scripture is not God, they are not the life of God, they are the testimony of God which testify of Jesus the Christ. That is there primary and essential purpose.
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law [the written word, scripture] was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. Galatians 3:23-25
We must always keep in mind that whenever the OT or NT speaks of the law, it is referring to written scripture. The above verses tell us that the law/scriptures kept us shut up to faith. These verses also agree with John 5:39 (they are but the schoolmaster whose job it is to bring men to Christ). As believers, we are no longer under the direction of our schoolmaster, the scriptures, but are directly under the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit. It was not the Holy Spirit that shut us away from the faith to be revealed. God used the law and scriptures to do that and to show us the shortcomings of the law and scripture. The scriptures without the Holy Spirit can shut us off from true faith, with the Holy Spirt it can be used to guide us into all truth. God does indeed use any scripture to give us understanding, but we are to look to Him, not scripture, for everything. And we need to keep reading scripture and allow Him to reveal more and more of Jesus. Neglecting scripture will result in failing to know Jesus as fully as God means us to. The person who has no time for scripture, has little interest in knowing more of Jesus Christ.
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: John 15:26
It seems that the Holy Spirit is the One that Jesus sent to testify of Him. I do not think that the scriptures are irrelevant, but it seems that God’s final intention for the use of scripture by the Holy Spirit is now in place. The Holy Spirit has replaced the role of scripture under the New Covenant. Scripture was the only thing that those before Christ had. That is why the OT is so filled with honoring it. But we are now to honor the Holy Spirit and His work through scripture far more. I do not think we are to honor scripture less than those under the Old Covenant did, it is just that God is to be far exalted above any methods of communication He chooses to use. The Holy Spirit can now impart power into scriptures as He chooses. And He does.
There is a gift available to all of us-the gift of looking to God for direction. Here is an avenue of strength, comfort, and guidance. . . . “Look to God and live.” This is the wonderful promise given so often in the scriptures. . . . Our capacity to see and comprehend is increased only in proportion to our willingness to look. God becomes more approachable as we look to him. – Marvin J. Ashton
Scripture is meant to cause us to “Look to God and live“. The scriptures are not life itself, but only points us to Life. Scripture never tells us to “look to scripture and live”. In the NT when the role of scripture has been given to the Holy Spirit Who still uses scripture as His instrument.
Scriptures are meant to be and remain as examples and learning
1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples : and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
They are examples, for our instruction, and are admoniton against walking in the flesh. The Holy Spirit still uses them in this way but He will also move on our spirit and our conscience. Never in scripture is scripture said to have life. Examples are but the shadow of what is to become reality in our lives. Scripture is always a tool that points to something other than itself. Christianity should stop speaking of it as if it is an end in itself. This is a danger when we focus on bible memorization for the purpose of memorizing – filing away information instead of letting it be used by the Holy Spirit to do His work. Unfortunately, that is the focus of most youth ministries.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4
Scriptures give us mental understanding and to give us hope in the coming of our Blessed Hope.
Let us allow scripture to tell us what scripture is meant to do and not automatically equate the written word to God now speaking. Scripture will prove there is a difference. While the written word can be connected to the spoken word, not all spoken words were always written down (Joh 21:25) and certainly can never represent God in His fullness.
Scriptures are a part of God’s revelation of Himself to man
So, what can be said about the words in the bible? They represent part of God’s revelation to men. He also reveals Himself in His creation, therefore, scripture can not be said to be the full revelation of Him.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 ¶ Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. Rom 1:18-25
The persons Paul is speaking of, most likely, had no access to a bible, for their was no bible as it is currently, and only few had access to the scrolls of the OT.
- Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6
- Matthew 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
- Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
- Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
We see scripture saying that it is the Son who reveals the Father, that access to the Father is by the Spirit, and that it is Jesus’ prayers that brings men to salvation. Jesus does not reference scripture often. God has been pleased to use scripture and to enliven it to the mind and hearts of men. It is not the bible nor scripture that does accomplishes the things spoken of in the above verses, or in any of the NT. It is always the spoken words that have power.
It is a dangerous and almost a blasphemous thing we have done in elevating scripture and made it the cornerstone of Christianity. Jesus is the cornerstone, there is no other. Scriptures could rightly be said to be the cornerstone method of God’s historical revelations to man, and that is very important, necessary and significant, for it prevents vain imaginations and deceiving spirits from misrepresenting God, His Kingdom, or His ways. The scriptures stand as a stalwart testing ground on which all revelation and supernatural hearing is to be tested. We can’t do without it and be safe from error. Let scripture be what God meant it to be, but don’t make it more than He meant it to be.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Ps 119:105
Not the light of life, but a light leading us unto the path, which is Christ. Scripture is not the path, but it does reveal the path. The only purpose of scripture is to keep us on the path the Way. It is the Way (John 14:6) that is to be the focus. Too many have made scripture and its light to be the focus, which causes us to miss Jesus.
Ps 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Scriptures can also have the same effect as a book of sound ethics and morals as God meant them to be. But who is to say that the Holy Spirit does not use sound ethics and morals to speak to us, also?
O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Ps 43:3
Ths psalmist only want the light and truth so that he may arrive at “thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.” The light and the truth lead, and are not the objective of the psalmist. While the scripture are true, Truth is bigger and greater than the scriptures. The Spirit will often use scriptures to bring light and truth, and all that is light and truth will not violate scripture.
Do scriptures have life in themselves?
It is becoming popular to talk of the scriptures has having life. I do not think scripture supports that view. Some of the verses and statements above addressed much of that.
The word or scripture as Life?
In consideration of this topic, we must define what “life” means according to scripture. I present it only to show that the definition of Life, as defined in the bible, can not possibly mean that scripture is true life.
I bolded the definitions to separate them from the references for easier reading
G2222. ζωή zōē; gen. zōēs, fem. noun from zaō (G2198), to live. Life.
(I) Generally, physical life and existence as opposed to death and nonexistence – Particularly and generally of human life
(Luke 16:25; Acts 17:25; 1 Cor. 3:22; 15:19; Heb. 7:3; James 4:14; Rev. 11:11). In Rev. 16:3 (TR), psuchē zōsa (psuchē [G5590], soul, life; zōsa (G2198), living), living soul; in other MSS psuchē zōēs, soul of life, means every living soul (Sept.: Gen. 2:7; 25:7).
(A) Of life or existence after rising from the dead, only of Christ (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 4:10-12). Metaphorically of the Jewish people (Rom. 11:15).
(B) In the sense of existence, life, in an absolute sense and without end (Heb. 7:16).
(C) . Also water of life (hudōr [G5204], water; zōē) in Rev. 21:6; 22:1, 17. In Rev. 7:17, which literally is “upon fountains of water of life” (a.t. [TR], “upon living fountains of waters”]), the meaning is ever-flowing or fresh fountains of water. Metonymically, of God and Christ or the Logos (G3056), Word, zōē is used in an absolute sense for the source of all life (John 1:4; 5:26; 1 John 1:1, 2).
(II) Of life, i.e., manner of life, conduct, in a moral respect
(Rom. 6:4; Eph. 4:18, “the life of God” meaning that which God requires, a godly life; 2 Pet. 1:3).
(III) Life, i.e., blessed life, life that satisfies, being indwelt by God but not necessarily favored by circumstances.
- In 1 Tim. 6:19, hē ontōs zōē (UBS) (hē [G3588], the; ontōs [G3689], indeed, of a truth), the real life, while in TR zōē aiōnios (aiōnios [G166], eternal), eternal life. In an absolute sense, hē zōē, the life (Matt. 7:14; 18:8, 9; Acts 5:20), meaning the doctrine of eternal life. In Rom. 5:17, “they shall reign in life” (a.t. [cf. Rom. 5:18; 7:10; 8:2, 6, 10; Phil. 2:16; 2 Tim. 1:1; 1 John 3:14; 5:12, 13, 16.
It is very obvious that the scriptures or the bible carry the meanings of LIFE in sections I, II, or III
zwh zoe dzo-ay’ Strong’s 2222
from 2198; TDNT-2:832,290; n f
AV-life 133, lifetime 1; 134
1a) the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate
1b) every living soul
2a) of the absolute fulness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through him both to the hypostatic “logos” and to Christ in whom the “logos” put on human nature
2b) life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last for ever.
Since the scriptures does not have a soul or self existence, and is not physically animate, we must use definition #2 and stating that the fulness of life which belongs to only God,
In order to call the scriptures the living word, one must demean the meaning of Life or demean the Person of God. Redefining either word, misrepresents the intent of the words and presents the false as truth. This is serious error.
Right out of the gate, based on the definition of LIFE, the scriptures seem disqualified to be LIFE or to have LIFE. But, we will press on because further evidence will also verify that disqualification.
Book of Life?
Does scripture ever refer to a book as the Book of Life? Yes, but it does not refer to the bible. It refers to a book containing the names of all who have eternal life in Christ Jesus. Are there two books of life revealed in scripture? No! there are not.
Php 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. (see also Re 3:5 Re 13:8 Re 17:8 Re 20:12 Re 20:15 Re 21:27 Re 22:19
If the scriptures were to have life in themselves, then it would have to be a lesser or inferior type of life than the life of God. Because we continually receive new understanding as we read scripture and sometimes seem to not benefit, it means that there is some type of “switch” that is turned on and off. So, regardless of how one sees scripture, it demands the participation of the Holy Spirit. And if it demands the Holy Spirit, we should concentrate on Him and give Him credit and not concern ourselves with “how” He does it or the nature of the “materials” He uses. To give life to the word apart from the Holy Spirit is to demean Him and His role as Teacher Who leads us into all truth. Scripture is never said to lead us into all truth.
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. Joh 16:12
These verses clearly indicate that the Spirit speaks in addition to scripture, for the Spirit speaks as He hears and then teaches us what He hears. Most often He speaks through scripture (framing His words and opening up the scriptures just as Jesus did Lu 24:32 – If scriptures have life in themselves, why would they have to be “opened”? Is not life capable of doing that unassisted?). Truth will always be truth and truth is always needful,, but it seems that truth must always be opened or taught. As it is opened and taught, it becomes words of life, according to the intent of the Spirit.
If we believed that only the Holy Spirit teach us scripture and life, the arguments about literal interpretation or symbolic interpretation, whether scriptures have life or do not, would all be mute. There is a danger anytime that the Holy Spirit is not the sole interpreter of scripture and giving independent life or properties to scripture because it shuts the Holy Spirit out, or gives Him an assistant role. We have over 40,000 denominations which prove that truth does not come by reading the scriptures. The Holy Spirit does not have 40,000 versions of the truth.
Jesus proclaims He is the way,the truth, and the life:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Joh 14:6
And we are now told that something else also is? Unless the scriptures ARE Jesus or He IS the scriptures, both can not be true. Is it the scriptures or the Father that draw men to Jesus? Why are we so willing to give power and place to scripture that scripture does not give to itself? Why do we deprive God of the glory due only to Him? It should be obvious that we have allowed the bible and scripture to displace God, elevating scripture and reducing our need or reliance on God, while using His words to eclipse His glory.
If the scripture is so clear about the Spirit rather than the letter giving life, what ground is there to declare that the scriptures have life? Why do men want to claim otherwise? Does life produce death? Promoting the idea that the letter can produce life, is a lie, according to scripture. The doctrines regarding life in the scriptures are to be feared and spoken against, lest the church continue its transformation into a tool of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
All confusion and fighting about how and why and who is ended when we allow the Holy Spirit to interpret the bible. It ends all questions of what inspiration means and it is how scripture itself tells us how scripture and all things of God are to be made known to man. Why give the power or ability to bring life forth from scripture to any other thing other than Who scripture declares? To do so is to promote a lie which leads to error which leads to false worship of a false god. It is not only bad and dangerous theology, it is bad and careless reading.
I believe that such a belief is the fertile seedbed for doctrines of demons and blasphemy
We will now examine with the help of the Holy Spirit the truth about what scripture does say of itself and what it does not say.
A popular verse used to support the contention that the scripture has life is:
But the context says nothing about scripture. The previous verses refer to God speaking, not to any scrolls or scriptures. The context is listening to God speak and it is the word that is spoken that does not return void but accomplishes its purpose.
There are a number of self evident problems with the Word of God being the written word in the Hebrews 4 passage. Logically, neither the bible nor scripture can know anything about thoughts and intents of anyone’s heart. The bible does not have a mind, though it was written by those inspired by the Mind. Verse 13 “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight:” refers back to the Word of God in verse 12. The bible is not a “his”. The bible and scripture are its’. The bible has no eyes and can not see. Paper and ink can not divide soul and spirit, nor joints and marrow. The his refers to God, the word refers to what is spoken by God. The scriptures are being confused with God Himself by proponents of scripture as living words.
It is Jesus through the Holy Spirit that is personally making His word alive and effective in our warfare. It is He who causes us to discern the thoughts and intents of hearts. This verse and passage is not speaking of scripture, but of Jesus and/or the word He is giving life to or is speaking.
It is any wonder why the church is in the state it is in when we expect the letter to do what only the presently speaking God can do?
First, I will address an argument that some have used as proof that scripture is God’s word, though the passage never says that, and basically contradicts that notion, for the occasion has both satan and Jesus quoting scripture. We need to consider all the words of scripture in understanding scripture. We dare not omit the Matthew account. There is no argument that scriptures are the recording of God’s words. There is also no argument that they stand firm. But the incident in question does not address whether the bible is the Word of God or not, just that the words of God were recorded and remain. But the same incidents indicates that the validity of the scripture and its use and interpretation is dependent on the speaker and do not act independently.
- Luke 4:3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
- 4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
- Jesus was not expressing His own opinion, neither was He quoting scripture. He was merely repeating the words the Father was revealing to Him. The fact that the scripture used referenced how Jesus was responding (man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God). He was not pointing to scripture, but to the truth on which life depended. To reduce it to a battle of wits or to make it about scripture, minimizes what was going on.
- He was not dealing with satan based on His own authority, but authority based on what was established and recorded. Mentioning that “it is written” only shows that Jesus was not basing it on His authority, but on the authority of those who have gone before who spoke the words. Words that had proven themselves.
- It is also essential to note that the Matthew account adds a missing detail.
- Satan, in order to establish his lying authority, used the same method, “it is written”
- Matt 4:6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
- Saying, “it is written” did not give any authority to the words he spoke. “It is written”, proves nothing nor adds nothing to the fact that the words were indeed spoken by God to man previously. If it proves anything, it proves that the scriptures can be ineffective when used for the wrong motives and the Holy Spirit is not the One behind the speaking of them.
- 5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
- Another thing to note. Satan first alluded to scripture in v. 3. Jesus specifically quoted scripture in v. 4. So, in v. 6, satan also quotes and uses the authority of scripture but Jesus did not yield because scripture was quoted. He retorted with scripture to show that only the correct scripture for the correct time availed anything. Therefore, if this passage is making any comment on the authority of scripture, it is saying that there is something in addition to scripture that needs to accompany it to make it correct for a situation. Both satan and Jesus elevated scripture, but only when used in the mouth of Jesus was it authoritative and accurate.
- Another instance where Jesus reinforced the idea that He was not presenting His opinion. His decision was based on God’s directive. He was not relying on His authority, but the authority of God’s spoken word.
- Satan quoted the authoritative words of God, but to no avail (Jesus was not impressed). Evidently they did not have life or accomplish the intended purpose of the quoter.
- If scripture is the Word of God, what was it when satan quoted it? Saying the bible or scriptures are the words of God, is not affected by what went on in Jesus’ temptation. Saying it is the Word of God, is very affected.
- Some think that Jesus quoted scripture back to satan. But that cannot be the case. Jesus spoke to him using the words the Father gave Him as a response. Those words had power and authority because they were God’s words. When God quotes scripture, life comes back into them just as the dry bones of Ezekiel.
- When satan in Jesus’ temptation tried to quote scripture as authoritive, Christ responded and said that it was not the written word, but it was by the words proceeding from the mouth of God whereby men are to live. Satan wanted Jesus to obey the scriptures and have faith in the scriptures. Jesus knew that error. We should also.
There is nothing in either account that even hints that calling what is written, “the Word of God” might be valid. Scripture can stand immovable and true for eternity and calling it “the Word of God” does not add to that truth or its immovability. Because Jesus said “it is written” means nothing more than it was written and Jesus acknowledged that it was what God had spoken, and the origin of the words was not Himself.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? Mr 12:24
Jesus seems to differentiate between scriptures and power. They may work together, but no indication is given that they are one in the same. While God’s spoken Word always has power.
We confuse and mix the spoken word with the written word, to our peril. If the written word has life, there is no need for the Holy Spirit and scripture would always accomplish our intention and not return void. That is how God’s true word MUST act.
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63
It was the words He SPOKE that are Spirit and Life. Scriptures are meant to be and remain as examples. Where did we ever get the idea that speaking is the same as writing? It is not God’s idea. The enemy is always seeking to minimalize God’s speaking and break the personal lines of communication that God instituted and has followed in example after example in the OT and the NT.
Even when the spoken word is written, it is like the letter written to an intimate acquaintance. It is not the letters and words alone that bring the letter to life and meaning, it is the relationship one has with the writer that makes the words ring with meaning. As the relationship changes so does the impact and meaning of the words. There is no life in the words outside of the relationship one has with the writer. The same letter read by someone who does not know the author would merely be a curiosity, at best. Information is not the same as life, and no one is denying that the words of scripture can impart information. No one is denying that scripture, under the direction and influence of the Holy Spirit, can and does bring life and transformation.
That is a dangerous outcome of imputing more power and life to the scriptures than the scriptures say of themselves. It is only when God speaks them to the reader or through the mouth of His servant that the words are again the words of life. How much better is it for a new saint to know he hears the voice and instruction of God Himself as he reads scripture, than to merely think he is not beginning to “get it”? We are led to believe that our mind apprehends more as we read and we cheat everyone out of knowing the reality of God interacting with us through scripture. Scripture is one of the best ways to get to know His voice, for other voices are ever eager to counterfeit His voice. Those other voices are not shy about using scripture. But as one gets used to God speaking through scripture the discernment of the True Voice becomes clearer.
Our current primary method of evangelism and discipleship is to quote scripture. While Jesus and Paul did quote scriptures, it seems that mostly they did not do much quoting of scripture. Rather, it is apparent to me, that Jesus and the disciples and apostles lived by every word that kept coming from the mouth of God. They spoke as the mouth piece of God, not a repeater of scripture. Therein was their power. If the bible and scripture is sufficient, then why the need for God’s involvement in our lives? In the “better” churches one hears much scripture, so why is there so little life or so few new converts?
God’s Personal and direct involment
The fact that God wanted it written down, was in large part to show us that He, personally, was to guide and put life and power in written or spoken words. He did not create or delegate another mechanism that would impart life. Jesus and the Holy Spirit needed no help. God paid a great price to impart such life personally. How dare we allow men to steal it from Him by some strange and unscriptural doctrine regarding scripture and use God’s very words to “prove” it. That seems a perversion above all perversions.
I do believe that most often, the Spirit will bring to life in our mind a scripture that we have read and it will be just the right “sword” for the occasion. But will just any scripture do for any specific occasion? A scripture that is a word out of season is useless in that season. That is the lesson we are meant to learn through the account of Jesus’ conversation with satan in the wilderness.
It is also a view that can lead to serious heresy and a departure from God – that will be developed later.
Scripture can be trusted – Truth stands firm
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, 2 Tim 2:19
And because scripture is the accurate reporting of that foundation [it is not the foundation, but the accurate reporting of that foundation], it must also be sure, firm, established, reliable, and sufficient to bring sinners to Christ to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit brings life into those words and sets us on the foundations of God. The scriptures are firm only because God’s foundations are firm. Scripture does not make them more firm and are not the cause of the firmness of His foundations. In fact, there are those who use interpretations of scripture to weaken or destroy those foundations.
- The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Ps 33:11
- Forever, 0 Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Psalm 119:89
The truth presented by scripture will stand firm and unmovable by time or the whims of man. But that does not make scripture Life. Scriptures only stand firm because Truth stands firm. Truth is the basis of certainty and firmness. Scripture is neither Life nor Truth, but it is the accurate reporting of both and God has provided it to be an essential method of revealing truth and life.
Is it because the counsel of the Lord was written that it stands forever, or because God spoke it once and His word does not return void? I believe it to be the latter. If it stood firm from the time it was spoken, then why would scripture have to have life or how could scripturee give the original spoken word more life? Or how does scripture make the spoken word stand anymore firm than the speaking did? How does scripture relate to the original word? Did God’s spoken word have power and life before it was recorded? Does it replace it or simply record the spoken word that has life? I believe scripture makes the answer to those questions very clear.
While scripture supports that it is the recording of living words that were spoken, it makes no indication that they yet have life in themselves. In fact, it claims that the purpose of scripture is to reveal Jesus Christ and lead us to Him. He says that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. SAcripture is never spoken of in such absolute terms. The words of scripture without the Spirit do not have power to awaken from them from dormancy.
The “dark” side of scripture
Scripture does not speak about scripture leading us into all truth, but states that is the Holy Spirit that does that leading. However the words of scripture are the primary and most most certain and typical way that God uses to bring forth His life into the heart of man as the Holy Spirit fulfills His function – and ONLY as the Holy Spirt is involved. To neglect or minimize scripture is to cut ourselves off from further revelation and intimacy with Christ, even after receiving His life. But, to give it more of a place than it gives itself, only can lead to error.
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 2Co 3:6
That is exactly the path that today’s Christianity is promoting – “be a minister of the letter (of scripture)”. Evidently pastors and seminaries do not take this truth to heart. But it is the Spirit that gives life, not the letter. To say otherwise contradicts scripture. Scripture says that the letter kills. It was speaking of the letter of scripture, especially the very words that were first written, not by inspiration given of men, but by the very finger of God on tablets of stone at Mt. Sinai. Is it any wonder why Christianity is becoming something else when we are taught to be ministers of the letter and that being a minister of the letter will bring life? What would happen, if, instead of all the focus on scripture, the focus was on hearing God and getting His wisdom and discernment and learning to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God? Or to actually be taught to believe that “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” John 10:27. Personally, I have never heard of that truth promoted or spoken of in any church as having any real significance. Yet, is there anything more significant than that truth?
The testimony of prominent saints
Although the words of godly men are no proof in and of themselves, it is instructive to read what such men have said about the scriptures as related to the Spirit.
Aiden Wilson Tozer – Quoting Scripture leads you to the fountain, but only if you plunge in and come up wet will I know that you are a Christian.
Scripture is not the fountain. Life comes from that fountain not from the schoolmaster that leads you to the fountain.
John Calvin – The most accomplished in the Scripture are fools, unless they acknowledge that they have need of God for their schoolmaster all the days of their life.
Charles Stanley – I hear people all the time say, well I read through the Bible last year. Well, so what? I’m all for reading through the Bible. But how much of that got on the inside, or did they just cover three more chapters today? I would never discredit reading the Scriptures, but it is important to meditate on it.
Martin Luther – Christ is the Master; the Scriptures are only the servant.
William Tyndale – We do not wish to abolish teaching and to make every man his own master, but if the curates will not teach the gospel, the layman must have the Scripture, and read it for himself, taking God for his teacher.
We cannot attain to the understanding of Scripture either by study or by the intellect. Your first duty is to begin by prayer. Entreat the Lord to grant you, of His great mercy, the true understanding of His Word. There is no other interpreter of the Word of God than the Author of this Word, as He Himself has said, “They shall be all taught of God” (John 6:45). Hope for nothing from your own labors, from your own understanding: trust solely in God, and in the influence of His Spirit. Believe this on the word of a man who has experience. — Martin Luther
Charles Parham (Azuza Street) – The anointing of the Holy Spirit is given to illuminate His Word, to open the Scriptures, and to place the spiritual man in direct communication with the mind of God.
Saint Augustine – It is impossible that there should be inhabitants on the opposite side of the Earth, since no such race is recorded by Scripture among the descendants of Adam.
This depicts the foolishness of believing the bible contains all the truth there is. I don’t know whether Augustine was being facetious or not, but the point is made.
Turtullian – I revere the fullness of His Scripture, in which He manifests to me both the Creator and creation. In the gospel moreover, I discover a Minister and Witness of the Creator, even His Word.
Scripture is to manifest Him, not provide His life, but to point to it. Tertullian is also noting that scripture and His Word are not the same. Scripture is where he discovers His Word.
AW Pink – No verse of Scripture yields its meaning to lazy people.
AW Tozer – Holiness, as taught in the Scriptures, is not based upon knowledge on our part. Rather, it is based upon the resurrected Christ in-dwelling us and changing us into His likeness.
Scripture does not conform us to His image. Beholding Him does (2Co 3:18)
William P Young – In seminary he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerner’s access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia. Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book.
When God is confined by the few words that scripture speaks of and about Him, He can not fully be Who He needs to be to each of us.
The Scriptures obtain full authority among believers only when men regard them as having sprung from heaven, as if there the living words of God were heard. John Calvin
Ephrem the Syrian – Scripture brought me to the Gate of Paradise, and the mind stood in wonder as it entered.
What these men seem to agree about is that scripture alone is insufficient without the presence of the Teacher Who leads us into all truth.
Perhaps A. W. Tozer has summarized it best
The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts. A. W. Tozer
The more serious and blasphemous consequences of believing that the scriptures have life of their own.
If the written word has Life, then the questions to be asked are:
- if the scriptures have life in themselves, then why is it that the Holy Spirit is needed?
- Why is He needed to teach us all truth if the scriptures are living and impart truth?
- Why does God gift the church with teachers if the scriptures have life? Is that life inadequate to impart life and knowledge? If so, then it is an inferior life and not the life of God. God’s life begets life.
- Does life and power continue to exist in every word God ever spoke? What about those words that have fulfilled their function?
And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines. 2Sa 5:24
Since it is a fulfilled word, does it still have life? If so, what life does it have to give and for what purpose? Or is merely the testimony of the surety of God’s spoken word recorded for our faith and encouragement?
Believing that the scriptures have life tends to replace God Himself, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If scriptures have life and power, what need is there to go to God?
This false belief has also given rise to one of the most dangerous and popular heresies of this day – the Word of Faith doctrine which is mostly based on the belief that the written scriptures have power and life, they evidently even have power over God, according to WOF. Many think that this is an extreme outcome of attributing life to scripture, but I maintain it is the inevitable outcome of that belief.
Some may think to skirt or diminish the issue and say that God and the scriptures have a different type of life or a different level of life. But that solves nothing and is not supported by scripture. For if it does have a type of life, it is a lesser life that what God has. Why would He give us a lesser form of Jesus Who is our life? What can the life of scripture (if there would be such a thing) add to the life of Jesus? Is Jesus complete or lacking without the scripture? Even a casual observer should be able to see the conflict which must inevitably arise.
The most telling thing is that scripture never tells us it has life. It is always telling us that it is God Who has life. The confusion happens when we use verses like:
This verse, and others like it specifically state that it was the words Jesus spoke that had life, it says nothing about the written word having life. Certainly, if a word spoken by Jesus is yet having life and scripture records that word, then the spoken word yet has life and scripture is merely the recording of His yet living, spoken word. That is not the same as the scriptures having life in themselves. The same can be said of the word that went forth from the mouth of God that does not return void. It is because it was spoken that it has life, not because it was recorded. The life and power of His spoken word is never said to be passed off to a recording of that spoken word.
We tend to think that God’s word was only spoken to specific situation as identified by scripture. Why could it not be that when God spoke a specific word, He also had in mind the tens of thousands of people for whom it would also accomplish His purpose in all types of situations?
The disciples recognized that Jesus had life, not the scriptures.
What happens to the words you speak, regardless of their truth and passion, once they are written down? Do they carry the same import? Which person would be content with a letter from a loved one when they could have the loved one present with them. Would they cling to the letter instead of spending time with the loved one?
If the words that were spoken have life, why do the written words need to have life in themselves. I would not object if men truly thought, when referring to the words of scripture, as only identifying what words of life God had spoken.
We will find out that scripture does have a irreplaceable place in the life of a saint, but it is not because it imparts life. It points to Life and the Source of Life, and the Teacher of Life. It is a schoolmaster that reveals and testifies about Jesus.
So far, scripture has said nothing about the written words having life.
I will now examine scriptures that tell us that a purpose of scripture is to produce the opposite of life.
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 2Co 3:6
When did it change into a letter that gives life? Where does scripture even hint at such a notion? Scripture plainly tells us that the letter (scripture) kills, and it is the Spirit who gives life. Unless the Spirit gives life to the scripture, it brings only death. And that is the purpose of scripture. First it is used by the Holy Spirit to bring death to our self sufficiency and confidence in self. Then it is used to bring us to death in Christ Jesus. Then, the Holy Spirit imparts new life in Christ Jesus and we become new creations.
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. Ro 7:6
He specifically mentions the oldness of the letter and that the letter of the law held us in death and the deadness of our sins as children of Adam. If scriptures had the Spirit of life (and life can’t hold a person in death), it would never get old. Even if scripture ever had life, it is now old and to be replaced by the newness of the Spirit, not the newness of scripture. Only the Spirit can bring life out of death, and He does.
One of the dangers of considering the bible as having life in itself, is that the focus then comes on the letters and words on paper instead of the Holy Spirit Who leads us into all truth. We see that reality already at work in churches. The Holy Spirit is seldom consulted because we have the scriptures which have life (supposedly).
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 2Co 3:7
Here, scripture refers specifically to itself as the written words of God, even though God, Personally, wrote in stones, as the ministration of death, which means that scripture can also bring death. Also, take note that it was not the tablets that glowed with the life of God, but rather the face of Moses. Nevertheless, scripture is glorious because it has God’s touch on it. Touch is wonderous, but it is not Life.
Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. Ac 1:16
Why did it have to be fullfilled? Because it was written down as words, or because when God first spoke it, His word set in motion the event which could not be stopped?
Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
It seems that at the time when God first spoke, His spoken word was accomplished – it was inevitable. If so, then scripture neither adds to or takes away the inevitability of God’s spoken word doing its work. The words are recorded as a testimony to the power and surety of His spoken word, not as power or life themselves. They record what must and will happen and what has happened because He spoke. It is His speaking, alone, that is life and power. And what He spoke still has life, and accomplishes what they were meant to accomplish, and the fact that they are recorded adds not one whit to the life or power of the spoken words. Scripture exists, in part, to testify that the thing that is accomplished was first spoken by Him and that is the reason that it was accomplished.
When the events of Revelation come into being, it will not be because they were written down, they would come to pass even if they had never been written down, just as those things that He has spoken but are not written down will come to pass.
It is the fact and power of His speaking that is life and causes the event, not the fact that it is written down.
And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Ac 28:25
Throughout history, the testimony of scripture is that God prefers to speak through the mouth of men. The times when a scroll or piece of writing was presented to convey His message and words are infrequent compared to His speaking through the mouth of men.
That is another result of saying the scriptures have life in themselves. It deters man from realizing that God has called saints to be His mouthpieces, more so than words on paper. When we fail to do things God’s way or entrust things to do what God has not meant them to do, the kingdom and the souls of men suffer.
Heb 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith), To day if ye will hear his voice,
He was speaking of scripture, but did not even say if you believe the scripture, but hearing His voice was the necessary thing. Note that He said TODAY, so it is in this present day that He will speak. And does and will speak through the scriptures. But, evidently, some will not be willing to hear His voice.
Scripture testifies to the hearing the voice of God, not to the reading of scripture. We must not allow reverence for the scriptures to eclipse or compete with the glory of God.
It is the hearing of His voice that is scripture focuses on, not life in itself. That idea is completely missing from the testimony of scripture.
It is really exciting and encouraging to know that there is not life in scripture until it is brought to life by the Spirit. It puts God back in charge, directly. It makes us look to Him for all truth and life. He brings life directly through the deadness or dormancy of the letter, and He also brings life to the scripture and His words through the mouths of men. When men realize that it is their mouth that is being used by God to bring life, and not by just repeating scriptures, there is a joining of power, a new appreciation for the awesome privilege that God has given those who hear Him.
I think it was the Pentecostals who introduced the idea that the words of scripture contained power and life within themselves. Scripture itself makes no such claim. It clearly claims that it leads one to Christ who then gives the Holy Spirit which uses scripture to reveal more of Christ and Christ’s life in us. Only when the Holy Spirit joins us to scripture and instructs us in it, do the words come alive and hold power to transform. The idea that scripture has life is but a man inspired idea provoked by the one who wants to demean God in any and every way.
Jesus did not derive his morals or ethics, behavior or power from scriptures and never spoke about life in the scriptures, on the contrary He said if we look for life in the scriptures, we will not find it.
Most Christians are taught and believe that they will find life in the scriptures. The Pharisees are proof of what happens to those who believe that lie. The scriptures state that therer is life only in Jesus the Christ (and that is enhanced by the false belief that the bible is the WORD OF GOD, instead of the words of God).
In searching the scriptures we find the testimony concerning Christ. Search the scriptures as life and one is destined to miss Jesus, just as the Pharisees did. And that is what is being taught and believed in most of Christianity, though they would never admit that. They see no conflict in saying that the scriptures have life and Jesus has life, and the bible is the WORD OF GOD and Jesus is the WORD OF GOD. But it is the basis of most conflict. It corrupts truth at the foundational level.
From whence did Jesus derive his morals or ethics, behavior and power? From scriptures? No, scripture proves otherwise. He lived by every word that was proceeding presently from the mouth of God, that is the ONLY source of life. He stated that many times and in many ways. Either He was lying, or most of Christianity has it wrong. There were times when He showed where His actions were in concordance with scripture, but He never said or implied that scriptures, the law, or culture was His guide or His Source.
Do the scriptures lead us to life in themselves, or do they lead us to a life in Christ? Do we want the life of the bible or the life of the Living God? That is the unconscious choice being made. This is not an inconsequential or light doctrine. Life in Christ esteems scripture, but is FAR superior to scripture, and we must ever keep that chasm in mind and preseve it. Scripture is perfect for what God intended it to be. Christ is perfection, itself.
Does the life in scripture impart eternal life?, or does the Holy Spirit? The devil’s purpose in elevating scripture to the place scripture never gives itself, is to demean the personal connection with God. Take God out of the way, and the devil can use scripture as he pleases. He tried it with Jesus, and He continues to try it with His body.
If Scripture has life giving power, there is no need for the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, or to comfort us, or to be our constant guide. The Holy Spirit is superfluous if the scriptures have life of their own.
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2Ti 3:15
They are able to make us wise about salvation, but not able to bring salvation. We are born of the Spirit, not of the letter. Scriptures may be an incomplete part of God joining a sinner to Himself but Faith is still required. Scriptures are not able to do that without faith, and faith comes by hearing a word from God (Romans 10:17).
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God
It was in the beginning and still is. It takes the inspiration of God to bring it to life and to bring forth its profitability. It was the writers that were inspired who obediently wrote down the ACCURATE words. There is no mention that the words, once written, continued to inspire automatically inspired or contained the breath of God or His Life or His power. Let us examine again the entire verse
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine [for the basis of true teaching] , for reproof [as the basis for finding and pointing out faults], for correction [for correcting faults and wrong ideas], for instruction [teaching] in righteousness: 2Ti 3:16
Therefore, scripture, not the bible, the bible is only important because of the scriptures it contains. And scripture is for
- teaching truths
- reproving wrong
- correcting wrong
- teaching what is righteous
No mention of imparting life by themselves. Scripture is an aid. Consider the verse preceding verse 16.
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
The scriptures helps make one wise, but cannot save. Faith is what brings salvation along with the truth. And that faith is to be found in Christ.
Consider what Jesus had to say about scripture and false ideas of it.
John 5:39 [You] Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Could it be any clearer? If there is one scripture which settles the case of whether the scriptures have life, it is this one. The Pharisees totally believed in the inspiration of scripture and wrongly thought that they would bring life. Here Jesus is stating that they only testify of Him and that He is the true Word of Life – the ONLY One.
Is the bible the Word of God?
The very core of Christianity rests on Who and What is God?
We need to succinctly define what one means and doesn’t mean when they say the bible is God or the word of God is the bible. I don’t think that Christians have a consistent or uniform understanding of what they are saying in this regard, and suspect what they say are more shifting sands than truth set on a rock.
If we fail to define what we mean by our terms, we will end up combatting straw men that do not exist and drive a wedge between Christians and between God and man– and we know whose objective that is.
To make any error or misstatement on the issue presents us with something other than Christianity. Get that part wrong and everything else is wrong.
John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Has this Life now been transferred to ink and paper? Scripture SPECIFICALLY states that JESUS has the words of life. Where does it ever say that scripture brings life? It is already becoming clear why the collection of scriptures should not be titled or named, the Word of God. There is no scriptural reason to do it, scripture does not do it, but rather defines itself quite differently.
Jesus alone has the words of eternal life and always will. He did not nor will he transfer the giving of eternal life to the scriptures.
Does scripture ever refer to the compilation of scriptures as the Word of God?
- It is impossible. The bible was not a bible until hundreds of years after the last scripture contained in it was written. It has only become available to the masses in the past 600 years. So, what was the bible when it was not available to be read?
- Never! and it never mentions that there would someday be a compiled book comprised of the writings of different men as moved by the Spirit of God. It only said that there were men who had been moved by the Spirit to record the scriptures existing in that day.
- The definition of the word “bible” itself means a compilation, and accurately describes what the book of scriptures is. Why have we made it to mean more than that?
- Men have only labeled it the Holy Bible, and it is because it is unlike any other book because of the origin of its words. They have never labeled it the Living Bible (other than the name of one translation). While Martin Luther did refer to it as a living book, it was not in the same sense that it is meant today.
- Whenever the scriptures mention the word of God, they are referring to a specific passage or quote or book from the bible or words that were spoken from the mouths of His servants. The phrase or name or the title Word of God NEVER refers to scripture when it is used in scripture. The word of God is simply (but profoundly) what God has spoken or is speaking. It is proper when refering to the specific words God spoke in the bible as the Word of God (as in “turn to the word of God” and then give a specific scripture text or area).
- Man has given the name/title reserved for Jesus Christ to the bible, and no one gave them that right to do so. The bible is often referred to as the Word of God, when it is more truly, the words of God. Big difference. A difference that denigrates the Son of God and confers His title and name on something lesser, though good. Even if that lesser thing is a treasure from Him. How little we think of making less the Name given to Jesus Christ! I am told of a person who named their dog the same name as their mother. She was insulted even though the dog was a very good dog. Why is there such resistance to refering to the bible as the words of God, when it is the most accurate description of what they are and reinforces what a bible of any type is?
Is there any scripture which warrants the designation of His name to the whole compilation of scripture or even suggests it? If not, then why do it?
Is it not blasphemous to make God something less than what He is or to call or name Him something other than what He is or to name something else the same as the name He has reserved for Himself? And then give honor to that name? That is a big question for me, and I have answered it YES, on all accounts.
Others may play word games with the things of God, but why does any dare to? – other than those who do not fear Him? We will all stand before God and give answer for that before God. I will not be ashamed in that day. While I value the scriptures, I will not call the collection of them the Word of God. Scripture never does and neither will I. That men do, did not come from God. For me, there is only One Word of God and I find that verified by scripture. It is an Holy Name, meant to be a unique name, reserved only for Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Who alone is the Word of God. The bible contains the words of God and those words can be brought to life by the Holy Spirit, but they are not either the Word of God nor the Word of Life, but serve to reveal Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit reveals Him in those words.
To reduce God and confine Him to a book seems beyond blasphemy and self contradictory to the notion that He can be both confined to a book and the One who ever speaketh to His sheep as does a shepherd. The book is set in stone, not to be added to or subtracted from. He continues to speak to those who are His sheep, just as He says He does and they know His voice.
I don’t understand the resistance to calling the bible and scripture, the words of God. That is what they are, even those calling it the Word of God should not deny that fact. Calling it the words of God does not diminish its validity, accuracy or origin. Why is this such a divisive issue? Which being do we know of who would like to diminish God and replace Him with reverence to a book, or anything else? We all know that answer, but few will allow themselves to think it.
In a group meeting I participated in, one of the big problems focused on was that I preferred writing and another preferred speaking as a form of communication. Whether all admit it or not, they put their finger on the exact problem of scripture being the Word of God or having Life. Writing is an inferior method of communication to face to face communication and misses the personal involvement, the body language, the facial expressions the tone of voice, and more. Speaking is the primary way God has chosen to communicate to His people. Moving men to write is another. They could readily see that my written communication was lacking because of the personal dynamics of full communication. They do not see that the same thing applies to scripture. Writing without God’s presence infilling it, is just writing.
Writing, however, preserves the accuracy of what was said so that no dispute can be made about it. I like written form because the recorded word can not be said to be something that it is not. It does not depend on memories of men. It can be examined, without reliance on memory. That was also God’s purpose for putting His word in written form.
My entire problem in addressing others using scripture and through writing was that I assumed the scriptures DID have life in and of themselves. That is why all the scriptures I quoted did not accomplish what I had thought they should. Life enlivens, scripture only enlivens when the Holy Spirit enlivens it.
I take definitions very literally, first, and then explore the metaphorical considerations. Therefore, I tend to take any pronouncement that the bible is God or the the bible is the Word of God at face value and respond accordingly, and reject those statements.
A lot of ridiculous questions come up if the Bible is God.
- Which version?
- which language?
- which copy?
- in whose possession?
- is it God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the Bible? or is the Bible the trinity itself?
Those may seem like preposterous considerations, but they are the questions we are forced to answer if the bible is literally God, or the word of god.
I will start by providing you with my understanding of the matter, I will give you scriptures and definitions of the issues, so you have specifics to refute or agree with and so satan can not twist my words to be or mean something else.
- The bible is a book comprised of paper and ink
- It is not living
- Its words only become living as the Holy Spirit brings them to life, until then, they remain only words.
- the bible contains the words of God, unmingled with the words of man
- the bible is a compilation of “snippets” and fragments of history, men’s lives, God’s words and interactions with men
- Most all have to do with specific times, events, and people and situations
- The “snippets” and fragments recorded in the bible are nothing but truth, but not the whole truth, but rather part of the whole truth
- this is deliberate on His part so that the Holy Spirit and only the Holy Spirit can join them together in a meaningful way
- it is because man in his understanding and scholarship has tried to join them together in a sensible way that we have such confusion and division in the church.
- the bible is not meant to be a complete revelation of God
- He wants to personally and intimately convey additional revelation of Himself to each of us individually so we can share it so that it become collective information
- While the bible is not a complete revelation of God, it is a sufficient one
- It provides enough objective information to the Holy Spirit to bring forth new birth and understanding of God’s ways that are sufficient for a godly walk and life and to defend ourselves against the wiles of the devil
- Nothing is lacking so as to excuse us from being accountable to it.
- The bible seems to turn our accountability from the written word to the Living Word by the One who leads us into all truth.
- the bible is there to prove all things that are spoken by any voice, including the voice of the Spirit.
- We must not do away with the scriptures in the bible. We would do so at our own peril and our certain descending into error.
- The word of God/bible
- Is not Jesus
- is more accurately the wordS of God
- Even those believing it is the Word of God can not dispute that.
- The scriptures NEVER refer to themselves collectively as the word of God or even as a finished or complete work.
- the only scriptures referred to in scripture as scripture are those of the old testament, and they are only said to be words spoken by God, never to be God, Himself, or the Word of God.
- That would limit the bible to being the Old testament only. Is that what God is?
- The bible specifically says Who and What Jesus is, and never says He is scripture, much less the bible.
- Why is it OK for us to usurp the unique name God gave to Jesus as the Word of God and apply it to anything we please?
- I think it is essential to preserve the uniqueness of Jesus in all instances otherwise the name gets watered down and its truth is diminished.
- The title “Word of God” is never used of scripture. When “word of God” is used, it refers to a specific speaking that was recorded, never to the entire bible (which was not compiled until centuries after the writing of the words)
- Legitimate use of the word of God when referring to scripture
- when one is referring to any of the contents (scriptures, passages, books) of the book instead of the book
- I think most of those we honor and have honored throughout history as people of God used it primarily in that sense
- Blasphemous uses
- To state that the bible or even scripture is God, or that the book of scriptures (the bible) is the Word of God. To usurp the last title given to Jesus and give it or share it with scriptures is unwarranted.
- Rather, at most, it is a partial expression and revelation of a Being too Holy to be adequately expressed in words.
- To equate God with anything less than Who and What He is
- To associate God with what He has spoken and what He has recorded, is not only a good thing, but a required things. Equality is far different than is association
- Near blasphemous uses
- we should not be turning to the bible for answers. We must turn to the God of the bible for answers and expect Him to speak through His written words. The book has no answers if the Spirit does not unlock them
- as a result of sloppy use, there are many who tend to use the bible as a “good luck charm” or token of their belief, and keep a bible in the house though it is never read or consulted. Many who do not read it, are devoted to it and kiss it, and neglect the God of the bible. We have allowed the bible to displace God. It is time we went in the other direction and took back that ground. Fix the eyes of everyone on God and then tell them where God chooses to reveal Himself.
The result of all this error regarding the bible and what it is and isn’t has been the device used by the enemy to discredit the bible (even while supposedly exalting it) and God and destroy Christianity.
Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. But when they put God in a book, they put Him in a box. I think they like it to be that way.
If the above does not provide enough evidence, over a year ago, I took a different, but still scriptural, approach to the subject.
page last updated July 5, 2015
It can be read here.
It is suggested that you read them in this order because some thoughts and themes are based thoughts developed in previous articles.