The Living Word

by Jerry Laws

The foundation for coming into a personal fellowship (rather than a superficial relationship) with the Son of God is to grasp and accept the "Living Word" of God.

The written word of God has been specifically designed to lead us into the "Living Word." We need to know that this written Word is actually what it declares itself to be, a Revelation from God to us. "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for resetting the direction of a man's life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God, and fit him fully for all branches of His work" (2Tim 3:16-17, J.B. Phillips).

Holy Spirit Makes It Live

There is an important distinction that needs to be recognized here, and that is the written Word must be understood though the Holy Spirit in order for it to be the Living Word (John 16:13), otherwise it is just doctrine rather than Life. This understanding must be in the spoken and written Word, as well as in the hearing, and it is the primary function of God's Holy Spirit to give us Life. "It is the Spirit [that] gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the [anointed] words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and are Life" (Jn 6:63, NAS throughout). Jesus also amplified this distinction in John 7:16-18; "...My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If any man is willing to do His will he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory, but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true and there is no unrighteousness in Him."

Consider this: A person of superior intellect could memorize and recall the entire written Word—the Bible—and could teach these words, even if he was not a believer. But if these words are not "anointed" by the Holy Spirit, then they are just doctrine (teaching) and not Life. They may very well be valuable for the daily living of human beings but they are not Life giving, because Jesus Christ is Life, and the Holy Spirit is revealing Life to us through the anointing of the written Word.

This statement brings us to the point of focusing on a specific example. Many people seem to have a problem with seeing and accepting the Living Word on this point. It is the promised privilege of all Christians, we are told, to be "taught of God" (Jn 6:45, citing Isa 54:13) and it is the Spirit of God who teaches them. Then why is it so difficult for us to accept what He says to us in I John 2:27: " have no need for anyone to teach you, but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and not a lie..."

A key here is to accept and apply the statements, "Ask and you shall receive" (Mt 7:7-11, 21:22; Mk 11:24; Js 1:5). We can certainly ask for the anointing of the spirit to teach us.

I wondered about this situation and have concluded that part of the problem stems from the sheer quantity of technical information about the Bible which modern Christianity possesses today. With so many books written "about" the Bible by scholars and others, and with the easy accessibility of information available via computer Bible software, which now includes the "Internet", it makes it difficult to focus on simply spiritual matters such as I John 2:27. The believer today, who may have a desire for God, has such a vast maze of information to filter through, they may very well end up much like the Jews of Jesus' and Paul's day, "...having a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge" (Rom 10:2). The assumption (as demonstrated by daily practice) that a person cannot study the Bible effectively without a mass of technical theological equipment is false, and is a slap in the face of the Living Word, for it was the Spirit who taught all things to the apostles (Jn 14:26, 16:13; I Cor 2:10, 13) and is the same anointing that teaches all of Christ's people, according to 1 John 2:27.

Please do not misunderstand. I'm not belittling technical Biblical scholarship, as it does have its place. But, it is our God who has inspired and put together the Holy Bible, its authority and its messages for all His people for all time.

A friend of mine once gave me another reason why it is so difficult for fellow believers to trust the Holy Spirit to teach us and that is, "Most of us are prejudiced, lazy and unprepared for the exercise of the Spirit, and for the conscience that it involves." This is truly a painful statement when applied to the self, but it seems so easy to trust in others and even pay for this mass of information (Christianity is big business today!) than it is to trust in the Living Word.

Understanding the Adversary

On another related example; not only does the Bible reveal God to mankind, His purpose and plan for us, as well as the history of His dealing with His chosen people (whom we are), but it also reveals to us God's adversary—Satan. Most importantly, it reveals the fact that Christ "has already overcome the adversary!" Therefore we must know that our redemption is "In Christ Jesus," not as a doctrine, not as a philosophy, but as an actual redemption out of Satan's authority.

However, it is folly for Christians to think they are automatically immune from the spiritual realm of Satan, for as human beings we live in his domain—the earth. A believer need not dwell on the adversary, nor should we be ignorant of him, but should come to accept the reality of the adversary and also understand how he functions, according to the the Scriptures, rather than through myth or superstition. This is foundational to understanding and accepting our deliverance out of his authority.

The existence of Satan is taught in 7 Old Testament books and by every New Testament writer, therefore, a very brief discussion of Satan is in order at this point.

First of all, Satan's domain is the whole world and his mission is to deceive all who dwell upon it (Rev 12:9; 2Cor 4:4). He has declared war on the Saints, (Dan 7:21; Rev 13:7) and therefore, his primary goal is to deceive the very elect, and to accomplish this, he works primarily through human instruments within the religious world, including the church. (Mat 7:15-16, 13:38-39, 24:24; Acts 20:29-30) Satan is a master counterfeiter, and his messages appear to us as very appealing and good, even very Godly (2Cor 11:13-15). His methods are very subtle (2Cor 11:3). He controls the air waves, and broadcasts his spiritual signals continuously, searching for all who may have their receivers opened up to his signals. (Eph 2:2). These signals come to our minds as powerful spiritual thoughts (Eph 6:16) and as such, they continue to work on us until we may even accept them as our own thoughts and are therefore more agreeable to us. Some of the ways a person is deceived are included in the following Scriptures: 1Cor 3:18, 6:9, 15:33; Gal 6:7; Jms 1:22, 26.

With all this authority and power, is it any wonder that this world, and the religions in it, are in such a state of confusion and turmoil? How then is a believer, who lives out his human life on the earth, supposed to overcome all the schemes of the adversary? The goal is that "... they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will" (2Tim 2:26). The answer is "In Christ Jesus!" and the Living Word—this is the only way.

When Christ was on the earth, shortly after His baptism and before He began His public ministry, He confronted the Adversary, who had all spiritual authority on the earth. (Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-13) We are given only the briefest summary of this encounter, but two things should be observed here: First, this encounter with Satan had to take place early on because the Adversary had spiritual control on the earth, and therefore had the authority to offer all that he did to Jesus. Second, because Jesus knew the magnitude of this encounter, He did not try to take Satan on by Himself, but totally trusted, and therefore yielded Himself to the Holy Spirit to build Him up—for 40 days. The outcome was that Satan was defeated in this battle of the spiritual realm for control on the earth, and this was before Jesus' crucifixion. This is why those early disciples, who were given the temporary gifts of power (before Pentecost) had authority, "In Christ Jesus," over Satan's spiritual realm on earth (Lk 9 and 10). "...Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name" (Lk 10:17).

Redeemed in Christ

So what does this mean for the believer today?

"For all (each and every one of us) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). However, the Bible goes on to say in verse 24, "...being justified as a gift, by His grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." In Christ, we believers have all been redeemed out of the authority of Satan, and all believers are in Christ (whether they are aware of it or not) because that is where the Father has placed us: "By His [the Father's] doing you are in Christ Jesus...who became...[our] redemption" (1Cor 1:30).

This is past tense, we already have received redemption, "In Christ." "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph 1:7).

The Word says to us all in Galatians 1:4, "...who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father." We believers must come to know (acknowledging and also appropriating the truth into our daily lives) that our redemption is in Christ Jesus, not as a doctrine, not as a philosophy, but as an actual redemption out of Satan's authority.

The written Word of God says so, therefore it is true! Believe it! The Living Word will tell us the same thing:

"The Spirit of truth, [which] the world cannot receive, because it neither sees [it] nor knows [it]; but you know [it], for [it] dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:17). &

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