The Word of God

By John David Clark, Sr. - February, 1993

Excerpts from the book by John David Clark, Sr.

The Word of God is what God says, just as your word is what you say. The Bible is the divinely-inspired record of the history which occurred when the Word of God came to various individuals. "The word of God came" is a phrase used very many times in the Bible, and clearly, one should not understand that phrase to mean that "the Bible came", especially in the light of the fact that the Bible for the most part had not yet been written when the Word of God came to those men and women. The Word of God came "saying" to many prophets and other especially blessed people. Can any rational person believe that the Bible came talking to these men? Of course not. The Word is something that is heard. It was heard by Micaiah (1Kgs. 22:19), by Elisha (2Kgs.7:1, 16), by Hezekiah (2Kgs. 20:16), by Jesus (Lk. 5:1), and many others.

The Lord spoke the Word to Moses (Josh. 14:10), as He also spoke the Word to Nathan (2Sam. 7:25). In neither case was God quoting the Scriptures, for in both cases it was entirely new information being given from God to those men. Again, the Word was spoken concerning God's curse on Eli's house (1Kgs. 2:27). And again, this Word was not a repeat of formerly written material. It was new information out of the mouth of God. Joshua obeyed the word of God by doing what God told him to do, not by reading a Scripture and claiming that it applied to him (Josh. 8:2, 27). When the unnamed prophet of 1 Kings 13 spoke the Word of God to King Jeroboam, he too was repeating what God had told him, not what he had read. There was, in fact, nothing he could have read that would have given him this Word. It is the same case with every man of God. They spoke what they had heard from God, new information which was needed in the situation that existed.

Hearing the Word of God is worthless, however, if obedience to the Word doesn't follow (Heb. 4:2; Jas. 1:22-23). Even listening to the Word with excitement is condemned, if obedience does not follow (cp. Ezek. 33:30-33). Disobedient children of God may cause others outside of the kingdom to despise the Word of God (Tit. 2:5), and such children of God themselves then become worthy of death (Num. 15:31; 1Kgs. 14:26; 1Chron. 10:13; Prov. 13: 13; etc.). It is as tragic as it is true that some reject the word of God and turn down God's offer of eternal life (Mt. 1-23; Acts 11:1). The faith the Word can create in the heart is despised, and darkness and death is chosen instead. Israel did not believe God's Word and was condemned to wander in the 40 years (cp.Ps. 106:24). God rejected Saul as Israel's king because he rejected the Word of God which Samuel spoke to him (1Sam. 15: 23,26), and the demon which God sent upon him drove the pitiful king to insanity. Moses angered God with disbelief at His Word on one occasion (Num. 11:23), and suffered a heart-breaking loss. But those who, like Moses, truly love the Word of God are perfected in His chastening love, as Moses was (1Jn. 2:5). Afflictions, we are told, can teach us to obey the Word of God (Ps. 105:28; 119:67).

When we are told that those in Jerusalem who received Peter's word were baptized (Acts 2:41), does anyone really believe that what they received from Peter was the letters he wrote to the Churches in Asia Minor - churches that didn't even yet exist! John was in exile on the island of Patmos because of the Word of God (Rev. 1:9), and he hadn't even written the book of Revelation! John, like others to whom the Word of God came, bore witness to the Word of God that came to him by writing down what he had heard (Rev. 1:2). What he wrote was not the Word. What he heard from God was the Word. The Book is his testimony, his faithful account of the things Christ Jesus showed him (Rev. 1:19). The Word of God to a man may be written down (cp. Josh. 8:35; 2Thess. 3:14), but the message written is not the Word of God. It is testimony to the Word that comes, a testimony that may be believed or rejected, accurate or inaccurate. It is wise to receive the Word of God, regardless of how one learns of it, whether through vocal testimony or written testimony. When Philip took the Word of God to the Samaritans and they received it (Acts 8:14), it was a joyful event, but what sensible person could possibly believe that Philip was passing out Bibles in Samaria? Taken to its natural conclusion, the belief that the Bible is the Word of God must lead one to draw some very strange conclusions. For the sake of argument, let's say that the Bible is the Word of God and see, using the following Scriptures, how absurd that thought really is.

The Word of God being in Balaam's mouth (Num. 22:38) would indicate that Balaam's mouth was enormously wide. However, surgery was probably not required, as it was with King David. In his case, we are told that the Word was in David's tongue, of all things (2Sam. 23:2; Ps. 119:43). Who might have performed the surgery and wedged the Bible into his tongue, or how he was able to chew and speak afterwards is unclear. If the Word is the Bible, then apparently it used to be custom of the church to leave their Bibles lying in the walkways of their cities, because Peter said many stumbled at the Word (1Pet. 2:8). Further, if the Word of God is the Bible, the next time one is sick, he should place the Bible on his hurting parts, because the Word heals and delivers (Ps. 107:20). And anyone desiring spiritual cleanness should take the Bible apart and tape the pages over himself, for the Word also sanctifies (1Tim. 4:5). After all, if the Bible is the Word of God, it created and sustains this universe (Ps. 33:6; Heb. 11:3; 2Pet. 3;5,7), and if the Bible, (being very small at that time) destroyed the ancient world with the flood (2Pet. 3:6), it can surely heal and sanctify. Exactly how the earliest Church washed itself using the Bible is not clear (Eph.5:26), but if we bathe using the Bible, I firmly believe that we shall become as clean as they did by bathing with it.

If the Bible is the Word of God, every foolish statement made in that paragraph has to be true, if that notion is carried to its logical conclusion. Anyone can easily understand that the Word being in David's tongue meant simply that, being moved by the Spirit of God, he spoke the Word of God to Israel (cp. Ps. 119:172). Of the honor of speaking the Word of God to his fellow Israelites, David said, shortly before his death, "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue" (2Sam. 23:1). The Bible didn't create and doesn't sustain this universe. By the Word of his power, Jesus himself created and holds this universe together (Heb. 1:3). Holiness and truth are not contrary to common sense. But consider these outrageous conclusions, which must be real if the Bible is the Word of God:

In Samuel's day, the Word of the Lord was hard to find (1Sam. 3:1). Amos told of a time when men would travel in every direction, looking for the Word of God, unable to find it (Amos 8:12), as if the loss of the Word was a rare thing. But according to the Biblical evidence (if the Bible is the Word of God), there must have been a lack of Bibles many times, for we are told that the kings of both Israel and Judah often sent "inquiring" for the Word of God. Why they didn't have their own copies, we are not told. According to the Law, they were supposed to. It may be that they were unable to catch their copies of the Word, for Psalms 147:15 tells us that God's Word runs very swiftly. Nor are we told why they always sent to the prophets to find the Word. Apparently, the prophets were suspected of hoarding all the Bibles in the country. Or it may be that every time the king's Word started running, it ran to the prophets for some reason. There is no Scriptural basis for thinking that the prophets' Words were slower than the kings' copy, but that would explain why the prophets always seemed to be able to find the Word when they needed it. Or maybe one long-forgotten qualification for being a prophet was that one had to be fleet-footed, so as to be able to catch the Word when needed. At any rate, there was much envy against the prophets for always having the Word when no one else could keep up with theirs. As an added thought, the great running speed of the Word also explains why the phrase, "standing on the word" is not found in the Bible. Apparently there were very few who were able to catch the Word so that they could stand on it.

Now, concerning the scarcity of the Word which Amos mentioned, it may be that there were times when the Word was so scarce because the Word is not bound (2Tim. 2:9), and if the Word of God is a book not bound, it would be very difficult to keep it together! This could help explain Peter's remark that so many stumbled at the Word. If the Word was running swiftly and was falling apart at the same time because it was not bound, it could leave a paper trail that many would have to walk through! We are longing for the day when the Lord returns and sets up his printing press in Jerusalem and puts an end to this seemingly endless scarcity of the Word. We know he will do this because we are told that in the last days "the word will go out from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:4; Mic. 4:2). And we know he will employ many people in his printing company, for the Psalmist wrote, "The Lord gave the word. Great was the company of those that published it" (Ps. 68:11). We long to learn how to make copies of the Word, unbound, yet staying together! It is difficult to understand, but something about a Bible made like this makes it very tough. Jeremiah said (23:29) that the Word was like a hammer that smashes things. Perhaps this is why Ezekiel was commanded a couple of times to "drop his word" on various places (Ezek. 20:47; 21:2). The pages were probably scattered as a result of the unbound Word being dropped, but that is just a suggestion. I really don't know how the scarcity of the Word could have happened; I only know that it is necessary that the Word be dropped and scattered. This must be what Paul meant when he said the Word must be rightly divided (2Tim. 2:15). How the pages of the Word could be wrongly divided when being dropped isn't clear yet. It may have something to do with what it is dropped on. Actually, dropping the Word may be a mysterious part of the divine plan to increase the Word, as happened in the book of Acts (6:7). It may be then, when the Word is dropped, rightly divided, and gathered back together, that more pages are miraculously added. This happened often in the days of the earliest Church. So large did the Bible grow that we are told that the Word of God "multiplied" (Acts 12:24; 19:20). We should note that all this increase in the Word in the days of the early church occurred in spite of Moses' stern warning not to add anything to the Word he gave to Israel. How Peter, Paul, and the other writers of the Old and New Testaments will fare in the judgment for their transgression is a matter of some controversy. By the way, those who have poor eyesight will be relieved to learn that God has "magnified his word" (Ps. 138:2).

Now, my friends, can any of us any longer cling to the bizarre conviction that the Bible itself is the Word of God? What man of even small intelligence would believe that the Word of God is a book when all the evidence is evenly and sensibly weighed? Isn't it a strange thing that the book, which so many call "the word of God", itself tells us otherwise? The life-giving Word of God is the light, the guidance of God, which comes through the leading of the Spirit of God. For this reason the Spirit is called the Word of God (Eph. 6:17). Jesus condemned those in his day who trusted the Scriptures to give them life. If the Scriptures were the actual Word of God, they could give life. But they aren't, and so they can't. According to the Bible, in its entirety, the Word of God is the communication to men directly from God, and those same men are then expected to proclaim that Word "upon the roof tops".

To claim falsely to be speaking the Word of God is punishable by death (Dt. 18:20). Ministers not unordained by God are called "false prophets", for they falsely claim to have heard from God (e.g. 1Kgs. 13:18). But their message comes from ignorance of the living Word of God (Isa. 8:20), and they deny the Word when it is spoken, because the Word is not in them, despite what they claim (Jer. 5:13; Jn. 5:38). The word of false teachers will eat a person's soul like leprosy, slowly killing the feelings of the heart (2Tim. 2:17), and those who believe the word of false prophets will die with them (Jer. 5:14; Ezek. 14:1-14). In Jeremiah's day, the professional prophets "stood on the word", as it were, and denied that Judah would be destroyed, but if the Word of God had been in them the prophets of Jerusalem would have turned the people's heart to the Law and prayed that God would not destroy Judah (Jer. 23:22; 27:18). It was principally through the efforts of men who claimed to be speaking the Word of God (but were not) that Jeremiah and other faithful men failed in their efforts to save the nation for disaster. Thus we see that the Word of God can be hindered in its fruitfulness by the word of such vain talkers (Mk. 7:13; 1Thess. 3:1). Jeremiah lamented the effect of the preaching of men whom God had not sent with His Word, because by their word the Israelites were influenced not to listen to God's Word, which had come to Jeremiah. "Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets", wept Jeremiah, "All my bones shake. I am like a drunken man whom wine has overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness" (Jer. 23:9). Any man who has heard from God concerning the confused condition of the church must feel now those things Jeremiah felt, the frustration of seeing the influence of those who have not heard from God and the innocence of the children of God, and knowing the horrible miseries that lie ahead unless God's good will is at last instituted in the life of the church.

Men not ordained by God are condemned to preach nothing but what they have heard and read of men. That is the only gospel they have to offer. And that is why they must teach that the Bible is the Word of God. They may claim to have the Word of God if the Word is the Bible. All they have to do is go to the book store and buy a Bible and they have the Word of God (if one is to believe what they say). By pointing to the Bible as their authority for their preaching they hope to excuse their lack of a testimony of experiencing the Word being spoken to them. But a man has no Word of God to preach, unless God has spoken to him. "He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God" (Jn. 3:34). He whom God sends is not confined to the words which God spoke to other men. He has his own commission, fresh from God, and he has an authority that no man can have except he be sent from the Lord. The gospel of Jesus Christ is more than a "word only" gospel. It is not a dead repetition of past messages to past generations. Paul thought little of a gospel without spiritual power (1Thess. 1:5; 1Cor. 2:4-5). The kingdom of God is not in word, Paul said, but in power (1Cor. 4:20). When Jesus' spoke, his words were with power (Lk. 4:32,36), and God confirmed the fact that both Jesus and his disciples were speaking His Word by granting miracles and wonders to be performed by his hand (cp. Mk.16:20).

In Ephesians 6:17, the Holy Spirit is called the Word of God. In Revelation 19, Jesus' name is called "The Word of God" (cp. 1Jn. 5:7). The Spirit and Christ Jesus are called this because they communicate perfectly the will of God. They never act on their own or contrary to the divine will, and they never misunderstand or misrepresent anything. Jesus is the very expression of God's will. The Spirit is His very life. And every man that is truly sent of God will point men to the power and life of the Spirit that Jesus suffered and died for us to receive from God. Said Paul, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.... And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1Cor. 1,2,4,5). Amen.

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