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There was the word first?

What does the Bible mean by "the Word"?


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John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

There are three aspects to the word which need to be rightly divided.

1. Physical power

2. Moral character

3. Written record

1. Physical power

In the Old Testament.

Psalm 33:6 By the word of the LORD (Jehovah or Yahweh) were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Literally, God spoke and his word carried the physical power to make it happen.

This is exactly what is recorded in Genesis.

Genesis 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

The word of God not only carried the power to create but also embodied the wisdom to establish physical laws which would maintain the created earth and heavens in balance.

Jeremiah 10:12 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.

13 When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.

In the New Testament we have the testimony of the apostles that the record is true.

Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

2Peter 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

The same God who created the Heavens and the earth also created man and woman.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

This is confirmed by Christ.

Matthew 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

Man is the only creature endowed with moral understanding.

For man the word of God is not just concerned with the physical creation. It is also concerned with the moral character of God which he requires man to emulate.

2. Moral character

The moral character of God pervades all his works. He cannot sin or live with sin.

God created man in His own image with freewill.

Adam had access to the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil and also to the tree of Life. The key was whether Adam would aspire to God’s moral character by obedience.

He disobeyed and death passed upon all men.

God then put into action his plan to bring about the moral restoration of man.

Integral to the plan is the word of God which explains to man the moral character or righteousness which is required.

The flood was the result of the immoral way of life of Adam’s descendents. Only Noah and his family survived.

God chose Abram by speaking to him in Ur of the Chaldees. Abram believed and obeyed and God makes far-reaching promises to him concerning his seed.

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

Genesis 17:1 ¶And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

4 ¶ As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

Of Abraham’s seed came the ten tribes of Israel and through Moses God brought them out of Egypt and gave them the Law. By this act God made them his witnesses to all nations. The word of God records their national moral failure and punishment for our learning.

When Moses asked to see God’s glory it was not the physical Glory which God showed him but the proclamation of the Glory of his Name or character

Exodus 33:18 And he (Moses) said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.

19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

Exodus 34:5 ¶ And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.

6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

The word of God sustains man physically while he lives but if that was all, man would have no hope of life.

What is more valuable is that aspect of the word of God which is able to sustain man spiritually by showing him the moral character God requires and gives him hope of eternal life.

In the wilderness God fed Israel with manna.

Exodus 16:15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.

Christ confirms that God gave them the manna which represented JESUS.

John 6:32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

Not that they were going to literally eat Jesus but rather partake of his life.

John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

Eating his flesh, even symbolically in broken bread, serves no purpose unless the eater recognises that it represents the living of their life with the same moral values as Jesus lived his; conforming their lives to the will of God. They need to ‘examine themselves’ before eating.

The purpose of the manna was this:

Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

After the forty days in the wilderness Christ counters the temptation to turn stones into bread with the same scripture.

Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Luke 4:4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

It is clear here that he means by obedience to the word of God.

The law that God gave through Moses at Sinai was able to give eternal life if it was kept in every detail.

Leviticus 18:5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 20:11 And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.

Paul confirms this

Romans 10:5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

Galatians 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

But no man save Christ could keep all the commandments. Failure in one point meant death.

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

Romans 7:10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

The moral character or righteousness required by the word of God for man to attain to eternal life is not possible for men to achieve because none can live the life of total obedience which God requires.

This righteousness was manifested in Jesus Christ who, because God was his father, had the strength of character to overcome the weakness of his Adamic nature and so fulfil the Law given through Moses.

It was his obedience to the word of God that is able to save us.

Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

It was the aspect of moral character and not physical power that was made flesh in Jesus Christ.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Compare this with the Glory declared to Moses and see that it is moral character.

Exodus 34:6 The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

3. Written record

Since AD 100 (approx) Christians have had to rely on the written record known as the Bible. This written record God has given to make us wise unto salvation.

2Timothy 3:15And 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.

1 Thessalonians 2:13For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

The Gospel requires that we believe the word of God recorded in scripture, repent of our sinful way of life, be baptised and then strive to live a Christ-like life.

Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Only from the word of God preached by the apostles can we learn what the will of God is.

John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

The sheer number of Christian denominations forces the logical conclusion that they can’t all be right in the way they understand the Bible and underlines the seriousness of reading for ourselves what the written word actually says.

With doctrine there is no safety in either numbers or tradition. The Jews by their tradition made void the word of God.

Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The common view that ‘the word’ is another name for a person of the Godhead who pre-existed prior to, and was responsible for, the creation recorded in Genesis is not actually supported by the word of God.

I hope this helps.

Glenn Smith

 
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