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THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD

Thu, Feb. 24, 2011 Posted: 06:38 AM


THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD

The bible is spoken of as the word of God. It is the objective source of God's revelation of himself to mankind. We often use the verb 'to be' with an object to identify its source. We do not mean the word of God is a book. That would make no sense at all.

The bible tells us what God's word is. The word of God is God's word as opposed to a human word..[i].We know, do we not, how human words affect us? Words not only name things, they explain them. They illuminate our understanding. They fill us with hope and love for the person who speaks them. The first words we learn, mamma, dada, convey to us a sense of belonging. Words are the mesh that bind people together or separate them. Words can hurt us deeply or they can relieve us of worry and misunderstanding. The power and force of a human word is considerable. What then of God's word? Jesus said, 'The words that I speak to you are spirit and life.'.[ii]. Paul compared the word of God to the sword of the Spirit,.[iii].an essential weapon in the armour of the follower of Christ. Indeed, he said, 'The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edge sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow, able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.'.[iv]

'By faith,' Paul said, 'we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from what is not seen.'.[v]. God's word is the beginning of matter, mind and spirit taking shape in the formation of worlds and souls like you and me.

SCHOLARSHIP

The bible is a record of God's word. That is a statement of faith that has been critically examined by philosophers and scientists. The verdict of these scholars is that the bible is not an historical record.

Of course, we all know that the bible is full of stories that are not literally historical. Jesus told many stories to illustrate the kingdom of heaven and spiritual truths. The gospel of Mathew contains numerous parables that are taken from everyday life like the parable of the sower or the lost coin. That comes as no surprise to anyone who has studied the bible. There are three accounts of creation in the first and second chapter of Genesis. There are different accounts of the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb. The gospel of John is so different from the other three gospels that scholars have said that it bares no likeness to the other three either in time, place or events. They have concluded that Jesus is not an historical person.

Let's be frank about this. We are no longer living in the age of 'if it's in black and white it must be true'. It must be admitted that there are many questions that are difficult to answer if we believe in the bible. Are we emerging then from the era of blind faith and naivety? Is the scholarship of the 21st century enlightening us?

Speaking for myself, my answer to that question is no. The scholarship of the past two hundred years has been a blind faith in reason and science. I have no argument against reason or science when applied to natural objects but the bible is neither a natural history per sae nor a natural account of God's existence.

From beginning to end the bible is a record of faith in God's words and deeds. It is a faith history. These are the true parameters of the bible.

THE PARAMETERS OF SCIENCE

The parameters of science, as they are defined today, are also a faith history. The scientist believes that nature is the sole object of our history and knowledge. There is nothing outside of it that would add to our knowledge. Thus the scientist recognises only what he calls a natural science. If there is a God he must have made the world and then let it operate according to the laws and variations he laid down in it. God is not therefore the object of science.

This summarises what scientists believe and rely upon for their discoveries and knowledge. In addition to scientists, theologians have taken a step back to reassess the bible's authenticity.

THE COSMOLOGY OF THE BIBLE

John A.T. Robinson, the bishop of Woolwich, in his book Honest to God, expressed thought-provoking reservations about the cosmology of the bible and its embarrassment. He says, 'For the New Testament writers the idea of a God 'up there' created no embarrassment – because it had not yet become a difficulty.'[vi]. The difficulty he enlarges upon is what he refers to as the crude notion of heaven and God up there, the earth beneath and the water under the earth, a picture that was literally believed in, he says, by the early Christians..[vii]

This is not quite correct. God was thought to dwell in many places, the temple; with Israel on their journeys through the wilderness; in cloud, storm and tempest and in many other places. The Ark of the Covenant symbolized his presence with them. .[viii]. Moreover the Hebrew vision of God was not geographical or bound by being 'up there' or anywhere in particular. 'If I ascend up into heaven,' said the psalmist, 'thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee..[ix].

Whether above or below, in darkness or in light these were prepositional points of reference only, for God's space was infinite and eternal..[x]. The Lord Jesus defined God as Spirit..[xi]. The psalmist declares, 'Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord:.[xii].

Clearly God is a God apart from time and place. They exist because of him and therefore he is before all created things. His presence is manifested everywhere. 'The Lord,' says the prophet, 'is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.'.[xiii].The bible does not separate nature or history from God.

THE PARAMETERS OF LANGUAGE

There is no equivalent geometrical correspondence between heaven, {the cosmos} and earth. The language of one is different from the other yet no less scientific. The geometrical language of everyday life on earth is formed by the earth's compass, north, south, east and west; the longitude and latitude of the globe; the earth's orbit around the sun from which time is measured; the complex relations between objects and persons and the science of names, properties, mass and space, directions, positions, movements and identities. The prepositional terms of direction, position and source on earth, are not terms that can be applied to space or the heavens. On earth the science of language corresponds with mass, shape, sizes, positions and movements that have no identical language in space. The astronaut is either moving from or going towards a mass, whether planet or comet. He has no compass, no north or south, no up or down. The language of space is intrinsically different from the language of earth.

The scientific language of everyday life is just the same now as it was in the time of Noah or Christ. The relations between objects and movements is identical. A man who falls down the stairs and breaks his leg cannot possibly fall 'in' the stairs. He must fall down. A child who falls into the water cannot possibly fall down the water but in. Prepositional phrases convey relations of mass and space. They do so accurately. We speak of Australia being down-under because it is below the UK or Europe on the map. We go down town not in town. We go up an escalator or down depending on which direction we want to go, up or down. The science of language takes into account intention, positions and relations between objects. We look up at the stars; we look down a well; we cross a street, go up the road; we look at a signpost which tells us to slow down. This is the scientific language of everyday life on earth. We don't consciously or unconsciously equate the scientific language of a space travel with life on earth, nor would it make sense to do so.

Every science has its own parameters and object. The science of physics deals with the laws of mass and motion; biology with the laws of living substances, plants and animals; sociology with the study of society; anthropology with the study of man; geology with the study of rocks; - all of which have their own distinct language that applies to the object of their study. To equate the language of one with the language of the other is confusing and disorienting.

When Jesus was taken from the disciples, angels stood there and questioned them. They said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'.[xiv] Does this way of speaking differ from how we speak today? No and nor should it be different. This is the language of everyday life and experience. It is the existential use of words to inform and explain time, space and motion. Does not a balloon rise up and a stone fall down? How else might we speak of relations between objects and space?

The English language does, in fact, have a great many prepositions. Less so other languages like Chinese Mandarin or Cantonese. In these languages there are many unspoken prepositions. Words belong to nouns and verbs are different than in English or French.

THE LANGUAGE OF THE BIBLE

The language of the bible is the language of everyday life. It is the spoken and written language of the Jews, God's chosen people. It came out of their history, their culture and their faith in God. There are two strands running through it, the strand of failure and wickedness, and the strand of God's judgement and love. It is the language of Shakespeare, Milton and Donne, of kings, princes and popes. Their history would be meaningless without it for it is the language of God's sovereignty over nations and God's word addressing the world to repent of sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, his Son. God's word is the power behind history. The world's destiny is foretold by God's word. The prophecies of Daniel explicitly write history, foretell it and depict it to be God's doing. When we read the bible we are reading history in the making. We can trust the word of God whether spoken by prophets, priests or kings. We can know God's word in our own experience of life because God is with us, not in some remote heaven but in every thread of our lives. His Spirit awakens our souls to abundant life,.[xv].to truth and love as Jesus taught it.

The bible is a living book. 'The Scriptures,' says Paul, 'are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.'.[xvi].

St. John correctly called Jesus the Word, because the Word was in the beginning with God and the Word was God.[xvii].He speaks God's word for he is the essence, the image and the Son of God. He makes everything clear and reveals the Scriptures to us as we seek his guidance and illumination.

.[i]. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

.[ii].John 6:63

.[iii]. Ephesians 6:17

.[iv]. Hebrews 4:12

.[v].Hebrews 11:3

.[vi]. Honest to God, John A>T. Robinson, SCM Press, 1967, {13th edition} page 12

.[vii].Ibid page 11

.[viii]. Deuteronomy 31:15

.[ix]. Psalm 139: 8 KJV

.[x]. Hebrews 9:14

.[xi]. John 4: 24

.[xii]. psalm 66:1-2

.[xiii]. Nahum 1:3

.[xiv]. Acts 1:11NRSV

.[xv]. John 10:10

.[xvi]. 2 Timothy 3:15

.[xvii]. God is essence and nature John 1:1

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selwyn perry