Sunday, April 6, 2008

The word or the Word

Nicole recently posted a blog in which she asked if the Word is referring to a holy book we call the Bible or is it referring to God himself. She made some very good points in explaining that the Word is really God himself. Scriptures like John 1:1 clearly say that the Word was God so why all of the confusion?

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

This scripture has been used to emphasize reading our Bibles as well as scripture memorization. We're told we have to read and memorize scripture in order to get it into our hearts. That way it will be there when we need it. There are even groups that have developed programs to aid in scripture memorization.

I've never been particularly good at scripture memorization. I would try but it required more discipline than I could work up in the natural so I would always give up after a while. Over time, however, I noticed that I just seemed to know scripture. Often, when I needed it, the right scripture would just come to mind. I now understand that the reason that's true is because The Word himself is living in me in the person of the Holy Spirit and he has promised to bring to our remembrance everything Jesus has spoken. (John 14:26)

Psalm 119 was written for Old Testament believers who didn't have Jesus living in them. They had to depend on externals to help them live holy lives. Unfortunately, reading the Bible and memorizing it will never produce holiness on a consistent basis. They always fell short no matter how faithfully they studied the scriptures.

Today, we live under a better covenant. We don't have to hide the Word in our hearts because he's already there. Romans 10:8 says the Word is near us; it's in our mouth and in our hearts. He's already there! As we learn to live out of that reality, we'll experience more and more freedom from sin. Now, we don't read the Bible to keep from sinning. Instead, we read it to help our minds connect with the Word that's already in us and He keeps us from sinning.

Some people enjoy scripture memorization and that's good. For those who enjoy it, it can be an act of worship as long as they understand that the Bible is not the Word but it merely contains the words of Jesus. I absolutely hated doing it so, for me, it was a chore that I did out of obligation. It never helped me to grow as a believer. It just added another weight to my shoulders. Now, I can just relax when I read my Bible and enjoy it because Father has come with his grace and mercy and removed that weight from off of my shoulders.


Nicole said...

Amen Sister!

I was never good at memorizing scripture either. There are only a couple of times I remember trying and always coming to the same conclusion of feeling like I can't do it! It really never produced anything in my heart but grief! Although I can only speak for myself, scripture has only been a tool in my life and not my faith alone. Father is the one who has touched my life with the words he speaks directly to my heart, and those words didn't always come from the bible!

Great Post!

Love Ya!

Love In Freedom, Nicki!

Joel Brueseke said...

I think about the Christians in the early church, and really all Christians before the printing press. They didn't have Bibles. All they had was the Word, Jesus.

Well, they did have "word" of mouth, and they did have a limited amount of hand-scribed scriptures. But I don't think there was a whole lot of scripture memorization going on!

One time Jesus was speaking to certain Jews "who persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him." He said to them, "But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." (John 5:18, 38-40)

The "Word" (the scriptures) testified of THE Word (Jesus). Life isn't found in the scriptures, it's found in what the scriptures point to - Jesus.

Later, during Paul's ministry, he and Silas were sent to Berea, where they went into the synagogue of the Jews to teach 'the word.' Acts 17:11 says that these people "were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica" and they "searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were true."

The difference between the Jews who persecuted Jesus and those in Berea is that the second group was searching the Scriptures (the Old Testament) to find the JESUS that Paul and Silas were teaching them about.

I find that there are certain scriptures that I have spoken or written about quite often, and they obviously are more easily on the tip of my brain than other scriptures, but for the most part I think I remember concepts and ideas better (rather than actual exact wording of scriptures). The main thing is that we're getting to know Jesus Himself, and indeed I believe that the Holy Spirit will bring to mind that which we need at any given time.

Ronald said...

John was not saying that in the beginning was God, and that God was with God, and that God was God who was with God. What confusion!

John is definitely stating that the Logos (the Word) was not "God" whom the Logos was with, since he emphasizes twice that the Logos was with "God," but he was stating that in some sense the Logos was theos (god, mighty, divine). Being that the Logos was with the only true God in the beginning (John 17:1,3,5), the Logos was not the only true God whom he was with, thus theos as applied to the Logos takes on the more general Hebraic usage of "might", "mighty". The Logos was "mighty", but he was not the only true God whom he was with.

Additionally, this "mighty" position of the Logos is spoken of as in the past, the Logos "was" theos. Jesus did not have the mighty glory while he was a human being, thus that glory was a glory that he had in the past, before he came into the world of mankind. This can be seen from his statement in John 17:5.

Jesus is not the only true God who sent Jesus. -- John 17:1,3.

Christian love,

Aida said...

Nicole, I finally gave up trying. Like with you, it never produced what I was told it would. I've found that just by periodically reading the same scriptures, I've eventually memorized them without trying.

However Father chooses to speak is okay with me. I love that he's not locked into only one way of communicating. He's a God of variety and that variety keeps our relationship fresh and exciting.


Aida said...

Joel, I love what you had to say here. I find it amazing that believers like Abraham actually did much better without a Bible than we do with one. The book you recommended "The Legalist" said that Abraham lived before the law was given so his was a covenant of grace. Apparently, he didn't need a Bible so why do we? Perhaps Father knew we would get off track so he gave us the covenant in writing so that we would see how far off we are.

I remember when I was trying to memorize scripture, I was really legalistic about it. I felt that the wording had to be exact with no variation. Of course, that made no sense because of the different wording in the various translations but that's how locked into legalistic thinking I was.

I agree that understanding the concepts and ideas is more important that the actual wording. If we're not coming to know Jesus better, then memorizing scripture is really a vain effort.


Aida said...

Hi Ronald,

Thanks for your comments. It sounds like you've done a lot of studying on the subject so I appreciate your comments.

The point I was trying to make really concerned the freedom we have in this new covenant. We no longer have to depend on works to keep us free from sin. Today, we have a new convenant and Christ's life in us has set us free from the law of sin so we're now free to experience a new life.


lydia joy said...

I am wondering if the "Word" means God's word or God speaking to us now, and not always the bible. What is God saying to you and to me now, ya know. Anyway, this was an interesting discussion and I would love to get into it more, but oh man I am fried!

Grace to all!

Aida said...

Lydia, you made a good point. In the past, whenever I saw the word "word" in scripture, I automatically read it as "the word that God speaks." That just made it clearer to me that it wasn't about a book. These were the words that were actually spoken by God himself.

I'm glad you brought that up. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you're feeling better today.