Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Word of God and the Bible

Over the last week or so I have been engaged in numerous online debates [mostly on Facebook] about Jesus being the “Word of God” [as opposed to the Bible], and Jesus being greater than the Scriptures.

Most of those arguing against these ideas are assuming [wrongly] that I take a low view of scripture. But that’s not at all what I’m saying.
My single aim is this: To point people to Jesus. If anything gets in the way of people knowing Jesus and following Jesus, then I am going to do my best to point it out and help people turn their faces and their hearts back to Jesus. 

For some Christians – not all of them – their Bible actually does get in their way. It takes the place in their hearts that should belong to Christ alone. 

But, more and more I am encountering brothers and sisters in Christ who cannot separate the book from the person that book points to.

Some have even flat-out argued that Jesus and the Bible are the same. Others have asked if there is more of God to know outside of the Bible, as if He could be bound in a book.

In response I have tried to point out that the Father gave Jesus a name that is above every name, [see Phil. 2:1-11]. If so, then wouldn't that also mean His name is above the Bible?

Now, I realize that if I simply wrote about how awesome Jesus was, most Christians would have no problem with any of that. The problem comes only when I dare to suggest that Jesus' awesomeness eclipses the Bible.
And that’s the problem, isn’t it?
Because Jesus affirms that He is greater than Solomon, and that He is greater than the Temple, and Jonah, Moses, Elijah, Jacob and Abraham.
All of that is presumably ok. [At least no one has challenged me on those claims yet].
But once I suggest that Jesus is greater than the book which was written by those guys and that points to Jesus, that, apparently, is going too far?

“Does this mean we should just throw out our Bibles?”

[I hear this all the time]

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: I think I've said this a few dozen times, and I am more than happy to say it again now: I will not, would not, could not, and do not suggest throwing out the scriptures.

I love the scriptures. I read them. I teach from them. I study them. I memorize them. I turn to them for guidance.

I value the scriptures. 

If you tried to come over to my house and take away my Bibles you would have to cut off my arms to get them away from me. 

Nowhere - not in this post, or in any of my blog articles, or in my books - never do I suggest that the Bible is worthless, or irrelevant, or that we should not read it or study it. 

That is not what I am saying.

Maybe that is part of our ongoing misunderstanding? When I say that Jesus is greater than the book, or that the Word of God became flesh and not paper and ink, what some keep hearing me say is: “The Bible is useless”.

For the record: I love, love, love, LOVE the scriptures because they point me to Jesus.

But I love Jesus a bazillion times more!

My relationship is not with a book. Even an amazing book like the Bible. 

My relationship is with Jesus. 

Yes, I would not know about Jesus if it wasn't for what I have read in scripture about Him. For that I am sincerely grateful. Very, very grateful.

But now that I DO know Jesus, I have a relationship with Him that is greater than my relationship with the book. 

That does not mean I do not continue to read or study the book. Because I do. All the time.

What it does mean is that Jesus is more amazing and mysterious and astounding than any book - even the Bible - can ever fully describe. 

Jesus is not the Bible. The Bible is not Jesus. 

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. He came to dwell among us, and now He lives within us by His Spirit. 

I can hear His voice because He is the Good Shepherd and I am one of His sheep.

Does that mean I don't hear His voice through the Scriptures?

No, I do still hear His voice through the Scriptures.

But, I also hear His voice through the Holy Spirit.

I also hear His voice through other people, and sometimes through dreams, or through circumstances and events, and sometimes even music and art. 

Does any of that devalue the Bible?

No. I still value the Bible very much. [see above]

But none of that eclipses Christ Himself. He is not limited by any of those things but magnified.



Brett Ahern said...

It is amazing how many Christians are into "either/or" thinking. Life is black or white, not a rainbow. And if their pastor taught what you just said, it would be gospel truth. Yet they are so into defending a faith that they barely know and can't understand.

Mike Craig said...

Awesome, awesome, well said.

Karl Ingersoll said...

Truth … also Jesus. Good word Keith! Thanks.

the alternative1 said...

I am with you on this one for sure!

Mick Smith said...

Totally agree with you Keith. saying it from a slightly different angle, the other saying that has been referred to in the past is the belief in the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Scriptures!! Again the putting of the scriptures on a par with the Godhead. In this instance people prefer to trust the scriptures rather than the Holy Spirit. We now respond to the 'Living Word' who can speak through the scriptures or, as you say, through any other means. Blessings on you and yours!! x

One$Bill said...

It’s interesting that you brought this subject up because I have been thinking about this very thing for the last couple of weeks. I’d have to say that I am in agreement with you Keith. I believe the Bible is inspired but what most people fail to realize is that the inspiration is for the purpose of directing people’s attention to Christ.

After giving it some thought, I recently started polling (professing) Christians I know to see how they would answer the question, “What does the phrase ‘The Word of God’ mean?” As expected,“The Bible” is the usual answer. As you hinted at in your article, a relationship with a book - even the Bible - should not be our focus. Truly, our Bible can be precious to us but it should be seen as a treasure that is an inspired means of pointing us to Jesus our Savor . . . our Lord . . . and our friend.

Steve Simms said...

Jesus revealed Himself to the first Christians and several of them wrote down what He showed them, what He taught them and their experiences with Him. Those first Christ-followers (and Jesus, Himself) also saw Jesus in the Old Testament and called it the Scriptures (with a capitol S). Of course, Jesus is above the Scriptures, however, you seem to imply that Jesus will or may contradict the Scriptures. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So He won't contradict Himself. However, many people today are using your point of view to justify contradicting some of the teachings of the Bible. If we do that we walk away from Jesus' revelation and not toward it.