At the church I attend we are having a program called Antioch. It is where the elders and teachers of our church gather to discuss different topics. Yesterday they discussed The Bible.
As Christians we believe the Bible to be the word of God. We believe that the words are divinely inspired. We believe that the Bible principally teaches “what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man” (Westminster Shorter Catechism quetion #3).
Yes, we believe the Bible is the Word of God, but what does that mean?
It doesn’t mean that it was written down by God. What it does mean is that men wrote down what God said. You can clearly see this in Genesis and many other places throughout the Bible where God is quoted.
However, that’s not all that it means. It also means that the words surrounding God’s direct quotes are words inspired by God.
Before I dive into that I want to say on the outset that I blog because I want to learn. So what I am going to write about the Word of God will utterly fail in many regards, but I hope I can continue to clarify my thinking and writing in this.
Back to the topic. So it is fairly obvious that the words quoted as God having said means they are direct words from God. However, we also believe that all the surrounding words are also the Word of God. How so?
Well, we call this inspiration. We believe God inspired this text. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God, when men were writing down what they wrote down, God was carrying them along as they wrote.
No. God didn’t take over their thoughts and used them to write. If God did that then why even use men? He could have wrote it down himself. What it means that God carried them along is this: As the men wrote their ideas, thoughts, and the information they had down, God was with them, writing with them, using their ideas and thoughts, weaving His very spirit into what they were writing down.
This is why I’m not a “Red letter Christian.” I believe all the words of Jesus, as well as all the words surrounding Jesus’ words. Why? Because someone wrote down Jesus’ words, and that same person wrote down the words surrounding Jesus’ words. If I chose to believe the words of Jesus only and not the surrounding words then I’d be ignoring the fact that someone wrote both down. There are some Christians who like only the words of Jesus and not all the “other” words. I simply laugh. Who wrote down the words of Jesus? Was it a man or was it God? If it was God, then why did God allow all the other words to be added?
This is why our understanding of what the Word of God is is important. These aren’t words written down by God, but they are the very words of God, which He used men as they were with their thoughts and beliefs, and weaved His spirit into them, authenticating them and giving His stamp upon them.
This is vital to our understanding because we believe God does the same thing throughout life. God doesn’t force men to do what He wants, but God uses men as He pleases, orchestrating it all, in control of it all, using the wills of men to accomplish His Will.
So the Word of God is God’s Word, written down by men who were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)