A Bad Habit:

Some preachers and writers have the bad habit of using the concepts "Word of God" and "Bible" interchangeably. Following are some facts illustrating why this should not be done.

"Scripture" and the concept of "Word of God" were never used as synonyms by writers who lived before Christ—they are not interchangeable or equivalent in meaning. This may be verified by checking out those words in any Concordance. The Hebrew words for "Word of God" are DAVAR YHWH and the word for "Scripture" is HA SEPHER. These are two different concepts with separate meanings.

The Son, as recorded by Mark, Luke, Matthew and John, never used these two concepts as equivalents. In fact, he put a definite distinction between the two of them. "...You pour over the Scriptures for you imagine that you will find age lasting life in them...But you are not willing to come to me to have real life"(John 5:39-40). Speaking of the religious crowd, Christ said: "And ye have not his word abiding in you..." (v. 38). They had knowledge of the scriptures but did not have His word. The same is true today. Many religious people do not believe the word of God to be alive and active in their daily lives.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews did not say: "The word of God is a book you study and dissect every week." Instead, he wrote: "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb 4:12 ASV).

Can historic words of Yeshua (Jesus) contradict the in-coming Word of God? Of course not! Do the separate meanings of these two concepts reduce the importance of the Bible? Absolutely not! In fact, without practicing Yeshua's words as recorded in the Bible, we would not hear His living words. This is very important. If you do not practice His sayings and keep the ten Commandments, you do not hear His living and active Word very well. If we keep His Commandments, the holy spirit will guide us.

In summary, the present popular saying, "The Bible is the Word of God" is not recorded anywhere in the Bible. Neither the Son nor His apostles have ever said so. The Scriptures have a special valuable function. All Scriptures are inspired by God and given for teaching, reproof and for correction in righteousness so that the man of God is equipped for all good works. We cannot change this valuable function of the Holy Writings.

Why then is the phrase "The Bible is the Word of God" popular in religious circles? One possibility may be that many Jewish and Christian believers prefer it to the reality of God "interfering" with their lives—speaking to them directly or through another human being. The Scriptures are filled with examples of this nature—Joseph was warned in dreams, Zechariah heard from an angel, the holy spirit told Paul where to preach, Agabus received prophecies, etc.

Another reason may be that it is much easier to dissect a book than to learn to listen to God. We can read meanings into or out of verses we do not like—but God cannot be fooled.

A third possibility may be that religious people love catchy slogans. The English writer Malcolm Muggeridge says that the 20th century would go down in history as the "Age of Gullibility". A lie, a thousand times repeated, is becoming a truth in the minds of the multitudes.

Let us look at the Sabbath Day observance. There is nothing in the Scriptures about abolishing the Sabbath Day, yet millions of Christians believe the Sabbath has been done away with because of a continual repetition of the idea. Likewise, nowhere in the Scriptures can it be found that the Bible is the word of God, yet millions believe it because it is endlessly repeated in literature and from the pulpits. Few bother to check out the facts.

Yes, there are too many people who claim to have personally received a "Word of God" when they have not, but that should not cause brethren to ignore the commands to seek the true "Word of God" in our life. If we limit the "Word of God" to the Bible only, it allows every preacher to proclaim himself an instant expert in the "Word of God"—all he or she needs is a Bible in the hand and the gift of gab.

—John Purvins

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