by Peter Ditzel
There is currently a growing cancer among professing Christians that is founded upon one simple creed: Jesus Christ is the only Word of God. The Bible, according to the proponents of this creed, is merely a book written by men, and it is not the Word of God.
I call this tenet a cancer because cancers are cells with mutations in their genes that cause them to multiply and grow unchecked. It is this unchecked nature—the cancer cells’ primary characteristic to no longer respond to the body’s normal means to control cellular growth and cellular death—that is perhaps the most defining aspect of cancer. Since the ideology I am here warning against rejects the written Word of God, and since the written Word of God is the revelation God has given us to define and regulate Christian belief and Christian behavior, this ideology is an unregulated spiritual cancer. Thus, the claim that the Bible is not the Word of God is defection or apostasy from the faith at its most foundational level.
What I want to do is show you the fallacy of the declaration that the Bible is not the Word of God and explain how this claim is hostile to “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
The Bible’s Own Assertion
One reason that Christians consider the Bible to be the Word of God is that the Bible itself makes this assertion. In fact, Jesus Christ, the personal Word of God, makes this claim for the Bible. Speaking to the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus taught,
For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother;” and, “He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.” But you say, “If a man tells his father or his mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban, that is to say, given to God’”; then you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or his mother, making void the word of God by your tradition, which you have handed down. You do many things like this.
Jesus starts out quoting Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; and Exodus 21:17. He then says that by contradicting these Scriptures with their tradition, the Pharisees and scribes had made “void the word of God.” Jesus understood that these were things “Moses said,” but, although Moses said them, Jesus still called them “the word of God.” Let’s face it, if anyone knew what the Word of God was, Jesus did. And here we see Jesus calling the writings of Moses “the word of God.”
Of the devil tempting Jesus in the wilderness, we read, “The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ Jesus answered him, saying, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God”’” (Luke 4:3-4). Jesus’ response to the devil would make no sense if only Jesus could be called the Word of God. In saying “every word of God,” Jesus was plainly not speaking of Himself but was referring to the words of the Bible as the Word of God.
In explaining the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said, “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11b). In the verses that follow, He speaks of those who either hear the word or don’t hear it because the fowls devour it or they hear it for a time and then have it wither away or choked out, etc. in various situations. This would make no sense if Jesus were speaking of Himself personally. By “word of God,” Jesus meant words that could be heard. So, Jesus used the term “word of God” to mean words that could be heard. These words could also be written down and preserved for centuries in the Bible.
In Luke 8:21, Jesus again speaks of the Word of God as something that could be heard and done. In Luke 11:28, He speaks of the Word of God as something that could be heard and kept.
Jesus said to the Jews, “Isn’t it written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods?’ If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture can’t be broken), do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’” (John 10:34-36). Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6. He called this, “the word of God” and further said of this “word of God” that “Scripture can’t be broken.” How could He possibly have said this if the Old Testament Scriptures were merely the fallible and errant words of men?
There are many more passages I could quote where Jesus’ followers used the term “word of God” in the same way as Jesus did. I’ll refer to only a few. Acts 4:31 tells us of the believers: “And they having prayed, the place in which they were gathered was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God with boldness.” They didn’t speak the personal Jesus. They spoke words, and these words were called “the word of God.”
In Romans 10:17-18, Paul teaches, “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, didn’t they hear? Yes, most certainly, ‘Their sound went out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.’” Again, the Word of God is said to be words that would be spoken and heard.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul says, “For this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when you received from us the word of the message of God, you accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you who believe.” How much plainer can he be? Paul is writing of a message of God that he preached that was not the word of men, but was the Word of God.
The writer of Hebrews tells his readers to, “Remember your leaders, men who spoke to you the word of God, and considering the results of their conduct, imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).
If Jesus and His followers spoke of the Word of God as being words, including the written Old Testament Scriptures and of words spoken by New Testament teachers, and if Peter equated Paul’s letters with “the other Scriptures” thus equating them with what Jesus already called “the word of God,” then what basis can people have for claiming that the only Word of God is Jesus? They can have no basis. Their assertion is based on a fabrication.
We Must Hear the Word of God
Earlier, I quoted Paul’s teaching in Romans 10:17: “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” I also showed that this refers to words that can be spoken and heard. Faith (or belief), which is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8), comes by words, specifically the Word of God. Belief is essential to Christianity. What are we to believe?
We are to believe the personal Word of God, Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9). Yes, we are to believe Jesus Christ, but how can we today know anything of Jesus Christ and what to believe of Him without the written Word of God? Everything we know of the personal Word of God, including the Gospel, we get from the written Word of God. We may hear of Jesus through preaching, but the preacher’s source for his message is (or should be) the written Word of God. If we reject the objective, written Word of God, we will be left with everyone having his or her own subjective idea of the personal Word of God.
But don’t all believers have the Holy Spirit to guide us? Yes. But He guides us by using the written Word of God. Without the objective authority of the Bible, we would all fall into a morass of contradictory, subjective claims of truth.
But isn’t Jesus our authority? Yes, He is! He said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). And God said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). But here’s my question: If we reject the Bible as authoritative, infallible, and inerrant, why should we believe Matthew 28:18 and 17:5? They might be errors. They might be lies. Why should we believe the Gospel message? After all, it comes from the Bible. Maybe Jesus never existed at all. The truth is that we receive Jesus’ authoritative words through the Bible.
In part 2, we’ll see how the belief that the Bible is the written Word of God is the axiom of the Christian faith and why rejecting this belief endangers the faith once delivered to the saints.
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