THE WORD OF GOD AND SPIRITUAL LIFE
Our relationship with the Lord is directly associated with the Word of God. When God has spoken, man's standing depends upon his unreserved acceptance, of and reliance upon, that Word. This principle is twice stated in Scripture--once by Moses, and once by Jesus. "He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD" (Deut 8:3). "It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt 4:4).
The wording of these verses is vital to our lesson. They refer to "every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." In the original remark, made by Moses, reference is made to "His commandments" (Deut 8:2). Those commandments were written by Moses, and were called "the BOOK of the Law" (Deut 29:21). The text of Deuteronomy was written well after the giving of the Law. Yet, that written Word is called "every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." The inscribed Word carries all of the power of a direct encounter with God Himself, where His voice is heard. That is a remarkable circumstance!
The text says man "lives" by "every Word" spoken by God. Among other things, that means God did not engage in meaningless talk. Furthermore, the phrase "every Word" presumes the preservation of that Word. God's Word cannot be the means of life if it is not available to us! It is axiomatic that life cannot be sustained by something unavailable.
Born Again By Means of the Word
The purity of the Word of God, as well as its effectiveness, is essential for the fulfillment of God's purpose. If the Word can be distorted in any point, it can be distorted in all of them. If this is not the case, then men must account for how Scripture can be partially, but not totally, corrupted. Does God allow corruption up to a point, then abort further attempts?
It may appear that I am laboring this point to the point of being ridiculous--but that is not the case. I am building a case for the trustworthiness of Scripture--"all Scripture" (2 Tim 3:16). One vital point is this: God's Word is the appointed means of effecting the new birth. "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God" (1 Pet 1:23, NIV). If Satan were able to corrupt God's Word, he could render the new birth impossible! If we allow ourselves to listen to the higher (really lower) critics, this is a frightening thought. But we must not listen to them, for they do not represent God! They were not sent by Him, and they do not speak for Him! Their supposed scholarship notwithstanding, they are barriers to faith. Their conclusions are not driven by faith. They have chosen to trust in the wisdom of men.
Notice the emphatic nature of Peter's description of God's Word: "imperishable . . . living . . . enduring." This requires impeccability and implicitness in God's Word throughout all generations. If this is not the case, Peter's affirmation falls to the ground, and men are hopelessly cast upon the sea of futility. It simply is not possible for this NOT to be the case!
Equips Us Thoroughly
"All Scripture is God-breathed (given by inspiration of God, KJV) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17, NIV). Most believers know this verse, or are at least acquainted with what it affirms. But there is more to spiritual life than simply knowing what Scripture says. The devil is also an expert at quoting Scripture (Matt 4:6).
The individual that believes the affirmation of this text will rely implicitly upon the Word of God. Only "Scripture" can equip the believer for the life of faith. It is at once instructive and corrective. It does not need to be mixed with the wisdom of men to become effective. As rudimentary as that may appear, there are vast segments of Christendom that attempt to strengthen God's Word by joining it with human wisdom. Psychiatry, business acumen, and language expertise are frequently used to buttress the Word of the living God. Statistics are sometimes employed to confirm the relevancy and accuracy of Scripture. All of this might appear quite innocent, but it is not! When God "breathed" Scripture, He did it with His will and man's need in mind. It was never intended to be an addendum to the wisdom of the world, or a partial expression to be completed by human understanding.
Without being overly critical, a significant amount of popular religious teaching is nothing more than the wisdom of the world. When the attempt is made to join these merely academic approaches to the Word of God, Scripture becomes word instead of WORD. The identity of Scripture with its Origin, which is God, what makes it relevant. Accentuate anything else, and its power is lost. Never forget, an approach to Scripture does not equate to Scripture itself!
The Law provided for a tabernacle--a place where designated individuals could serve God and meet with Him. There was a Holiest Place, a Holy Place, and an Outer Court. The Outer Court was an approach. It was never intended to be the place of Divine communication, only a place of preparation. Much of today's Biblical study is nothing more than an approach. It is Outer Court religion. The difficulty is that it has been unduly exalted by the masters of academia..
God's Word is a Divine communication. It belongs to the Holiest Place, not the Outer Court. When we approach it, God Himself is to be dominate in our thinking! It is thorough, not because of the amount of information it contains, but because of the One that gave it. Scripture enables us to be completely equipped because of its Origin, not because of its instruction. To be sure, there is instruction in Scripture--a lot of it! However, the prevailing thought is not instruction, but the Instructor! The Lord will not take a back seat to directives for human conduct. That is an elementary observation, but many have missed it. It does not eliminate the need for instruction, it opens the way for it to be productive. Those that so approach God's Word will find themselves becoming more proficient in the doing of God's will.
"I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me" (Psalm 119:16-19).