The Bible, the inspired Word of God, is the foundation of the Christian faith. It is the medium of God’s addressing man and the means of man’s knowing of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since all intelligent faith in the supernatural rests ultimately upon the divine origin, plenary inspiration, and infallible authority of the Bible as the Book of God, it is only natural that this book becomes the very center of both the attack and the defense of the whole system of Christianity. Therefore, we must have an intelligent, rational, unshakable confidence in the Word of God as divine in origin, inspired of the Holy Spirit, a safe guide for belief and a sure pattern for practice. And rightly so. Listen to the writings of the beloved apostle John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1:1-4, 14).
These words constitute one of the most astounding truths on record anywhere. John was writing about the Word of God. But the great and glorious truth is that he personified the Word in the person of Jesus Christ. The use of the pronoun “Him,” along with the statement, “and the word was made flesh,” makes the personification undeniable. God’s Word is precious indeed; so precious that He has spared nothing in order to keep it available to man.
For you see, man is also precious in the eyes of God. He made man for His pleasure, and He gave man His Word. His Word is His will for man. It was a great pleasure for God and man to walk together in the Garden. But that was before man sinned. Sin broke the sweet fellowship. Man had turned God’s pleasure into sorrow. But God gave a Word of promise to man, even while the words were being addressed to man’s deceiver:
I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed (sinners) and her seed (Christ); it (her seed, Christ) shall bruise thy head (by the victorious resurrection), and thou shalt bruise his heel (by an infamous trial and sentence) (Genesis 3:15).
Matthew Henry said:
Here was the dawning of the Gospel Day . . . Here, in the head of the Book, as the Word is (Hebrews 10:7), in the beginning of the Bible, The Word of God, it is written of Christ, that He should do the will of God.
The Gospel, per se, is not our subject here, but we are never far from it anywhere in the Holy Bible. The Gospel is the good news of what God has done for man in Christ. And the Word, both written and in the person of Christ, is God’s infallible vehicle of the Gospel.
When God’s pleasure was interrupted by the fall of man, it was as though His rest had been disturbed, His Sabbath broken, if you will. As long as man had no rest because of sin, God could not rest. For He “so loved the world. . .”
So, let us say, for illustration, God wrote a book. Fallen men would be prone to forget an oral will. He would make His Word live in the deeds of men and then have them recorded as history. But this would be a history imbued with an illuminating, activating power. He would give it the permanence of heaven. He would preserve it by the insurance of His sovereignty. Since this book would be for men, He would use men as His mouthpieces and scribes. But He would safeguard His manuscript by the hovering vigil of His Holy Spirit.
True—as the events should transpire, men would be eyewitnesses and ear witnesses. They could relate God-ordained incidents to their children and grandchildren. But eventually, death would silence their verbal witness. Within a few generations, their testimony would be forgotten. The wisdom of God would not allow this to be so. So He willed that His Word be written.
Some four millenniums after God had promised a Redeemer outside the gates of Eden, a man named Peter summarized the “editorial process.” The Redeemer had already come and had finished His redemptive work. God and man had been reconciled. God’s pleasure was restored and once more He could rest. Men, too, could enter into His rest, if they would only believe. But this, too, must be written, for it was God’s last word to depraved men. It was the Gospel under a New Covenant of grace.
Now here is Peter‘s account:
I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but Holy Men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:15–21).
Paul, too, writes of the importance of divine inspiration to the authenticity of the Scriptures:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4).
There is a big world out there that needs the Word of God. Multiplied millions remain in ignorance of their hopeless estate without Christ, who is the theme of this Book. Its purpose, first of all, is to lift Him up as the Savior of the world, that men may be drawn unto Him. The Old Testament prefigures Him as our Redeemer on almost every page, in various ways. The New Testament furnished many infallible proofs that those former inspired writings were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. It declares that the kingdom of God was opened by Him to all who will believe. Without the authority of the Bible we would not dare present such hope to a lost and dying world. But we are reminded again that He is the Word made flesh. Therefore we can hold forth the Word of life with the same authority He showed during His ministry on earth.
For example, in Capernaum He taught the people, “And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power” (Luke 4:32). Then He cast “a spirit of an unclean devil” out of a man in the synagogue, and again, “. . . they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, what a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.”
But the Word of God is not to sinners only. It commissions the Church and expounds at large on its expected conduct and conversation. God has set the standard high, with love as the principle motivation for attainment. Paul states it uniquely:
Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the water by the Word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25–7).
Regardless of what you or I may think of God’s Word and will, we can count on one thing, it is truth (John 17:17). Not one jot or tittle shall fail. Perhaps He has said it best through the prophet Isaiah:
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, And it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (Isaiah 55:9-11).
Of what other force can such a promise be made? I know of none, do you? Then, since this is true, we must fill our minds and hearts with God’s Word. We must strive to do as did the psalmist who declared, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). He also said, “I trust thy word” (v. 42).
I wonder, do you trust God’s Word? Is your life centered around that divine, illuminating, guiding power and light? Do you read His Word and accept His teachings as the pattern for your life? That is the safe and happy way to live, you know. You may follow any number of philosophers in search of peace, truth, and happiness, but when all is said and done, the answer is found in God’s Word. For you see, there is truth. Jesus Himself said that God’s Word is truth and that He Himself is truth.
So, my friend, let me suggest that you look to the truth for the answer for the difficulties and problems in your life. Read the Bible and accept the person who is the theme of the Bible. Herein you find truth in the Word of the Living God.
This article was taken from Man on a Mission: Collected Sermons of Elwood Matthews, available from White Wing Publishing House here.