By REV. LUNA L. DINGAYAN
“The Word of the Lord came to me…” — Jeremiah 1:4
First of three parts
We believe that the Word of God is not a book, but God giving us Himself. We believe that our faith is not in words, but in Christ. We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, because it bears witness to Christ; It tells how God has encountered men and women in their lives, and that through the Bible we can also encounter God in our own lives.
Christians don’t mean the same thing by the “Word of God” as Muslims do. For Mohammed the Word of God was a book and he was the prophet who brought the book. For Christians, however, the Word of God is, in the last instance, a person: Jesus, who was called the Christ. In Islam, the person points to the book. In Christianity, the book points to the person.
Many people think Islam is a much simpler religion than Christianity, and perhaps it is. But that doesn’t make it truer: we have to take Christianity for what it is. And one thing this contrast with Islam shows us is that the heart and center of the Christian message is not about a sacred book that a prophet brings down from heaven, but about a person in whom God comes to meet us and to whom the church in its writings and its life bears witness.
When we read in the Book of Jeremiah, “the Word of the Lord came unto me saying…” (1:4), don’t get the impression that Jeremiah was a secretary writing things down. Rather, we get the impression that he was a person brought face to face with God, being sent to go and do something, to go and be someone. Jeremiah was not like a telegraph boy touching his cap and taking a message for delivery. Rather, he is a person on fire about the injustice of the world and the sins of his people and the holiness of God, driven out to plead and to threaten and even to fight.
When Prophet Jeremiah says, “the Word of the Lord came to me…” is not talking about being given some words of wisdom to pass on, but about coming face to face with holiness and justice and majesty of God, about being shaken in his shoes by seeing the truth. He is talking about encountering God Himself.
When the Gospel of John calls Jesus Christ the Word of God (Jn. 1), it means that in Jesus Christ people are brought face to face with God. He did not come to hand over a message about God, not even a message from God. The Early Christians believed that something far more wonderful than that had happened. They believed that, in Jesus, God Himself had come to meet them.
We believe the Word of God is not a book, but God giving us Himself.
The Word of God means a lot more than words of God; it means God Himself comes face to face with us. This is true for the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, when the Word of God had come to him. It is true with Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate. It is even true with preaching, which we call the ministry of the Word, because in preaching it is expected that we will be brought face to face with the majesty of God and with His power.
The Word of God is always something personal. It is God facing us, making a covenant; not giving out a piece of information but coming Himself into the life of someone. When the Word of the Lord came to prophet Jeremiah, or to any of the prophets, it was not that God gave him some information about the future that he might pass on to others, but that God Himself came into this person’s life, to change it, making him a new person doing new things.
Putting it in another way, this is what we call revelation. What would happen in revelation? Does God reveal things about the future, about the furniture of heaven and the temperature of hell? Does God impart messages to people to be recorded and passed on? Well, all these things are secondary. Revelation is always something personal.
For instance, when Jeff gives Joya his word, he is not giving her a new piece of information she didn’t have before, he is simply giving himself. Similarly, when God’s Word comes to us, God is giving us Himself. What God reveals is not something but someone: Himself. That is why we talk about the Word of God rather than the words of God. God might tell us numberless things about the universe that we don’t know and can not find out, but these might all be words from God. But the Word of God is only one thing and it is always the same: and this is no other than God’s own nature and being and character made clear to us. When God gives us His Word, He gives us Himself.
This is why the Word of God is more than a book, more even than the most precious of all books. To read about somebody is important and useful, but it is not like knowing him. To have information about somebody is fine, but to have his friendship is so different as hardly to be comparable. So the revelation of God can never be merely something written in a book; it must be always a meeting with a person.
We call the Bible the Word of God, because it tells us about meetings with God, about how God has encountered men and women in their lives, and because through this book we can also encounter God. We call Jesus Christ the Word of God, because if God is really personal we can never know Him adequately in a book or in a doctrine, but only in a person who is flesh and blood.
The Bible is like a telescope: it is for looking through, not looking at. It is not itself revealed, it is the witness to revelation, the record of revelation. It is the testimony of the Church that God has revealed Himself to His people, to the prophets, to the apostles, but most of all in Jesus Christ. # www.nordis.net