“Is the Word of God the same thing as what most of us call the holy bible?” or asked another way, “When the written text of the scriptures refers to the Word of God, is it referring to itself?”
The plain and surprising answer I am still discovering, that was nagging at the edge of my soul for a long time, is “No, it is not.”
Uh-oh, I hear the rumblings out there of “heretic”, “liberal”, and “false prophet”!
This is a very tricky knife-edge to dance upon I realize, like hiking along the dangerous “Knife Edge” trail of Maine’s Mt. Katahdin that I avoided many years ago. To assert that the bible is not the “Word of God” seems blasphemous until one takes a closer look at what the bible actually has written in it when the “Word of God” is mentioned.
Imagine, please try hard, that you have never heard a sermon, never read book about the bible and nobody has ever called the written scriptures, (the bible), as being the “Word of God”. If you can do this and then read the bible, (free from certain mental noise of your past), – you will never find in the text of the bible where it calls itself the “Word of God”!
When you see this truth, it is a shock, yes -- yet also a revelation of something wildly precious that many believers need. This deeper truth as to the real identity of the “Word of God” once fully grasped is a mighty and unshakeable reality.
Our minds are usually set on “auto-pilot” in that we rarely analyze what we are thinking about critically. When we read a written word or phrase, when we hear a word – our brains seek for a reference point to grasp meanings in order for us move forward in ascertaining a message or information being offered. What we fail to realize is that many times, when we read or hear text from the bible, we incorrectly attach definitions and meanings to the text that the writer never intended for the reader or hearer to think of as part of the message.
It is complicatedly true that we inevitably and unconsciously bring our own very individualized, customized mental filter “lexicon” or subconscious codex: “my-worldview” to every instance of our encounter with scripture. Mostly, this is very helpful, as it obviates the need for us to relearn every word’s meaning as we are thinking and processing language. Sometimes it is NOT helpful because we were taught or told incorrectly what a word or phrase meant or was connected with in everyday usage.
Equating the written text in the books of the bible as being the same as the “Word of God” is one tragically confusing case in point of our mental “auto-pilot” being NOT helpful.
Here’s a sample list of scriptures that mention the “word of God”:
1 Chronicles 17:3 (Darby Translation)
3And it came to pass that night that the word of God came to Nathan saying,
Mark 7:12-14 (Darby Translation)
12And ye no longer suffer him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13making void the word of God by your traditional teaching which ye have delivered; and many such like things ye do. 14And having called again the crowd, he said to them, Hear me, all [of you], and understand:
Luke 3:1-3 (Darby Translation)
1Now in the fifteenth year of the government of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Ituraea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, [the] word of God came upon John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 3And he came into all the district round the Jordan, preaching [the] baptism of repentance for [the] remission of sins,
Luke 8:10-12 (Darby Translation)
10And he said, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables, in order that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. 11But the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12But those by the wayside are those who hear; then comes the devil and takes away the word from their heart that they may not believe and be saved.
Acts 4:31 (Darby Translation)
31And when they had prayed, the place in which they were assembled shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the word of God with boldness.
Acts 6:7 (Darby Translation)
7And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem was very greatly multiplied, and a great crowd of the priests obeyed the faith.
Acts 12:24 (Darby Translation)
24But the word of God grew and spread itself.
Colossians 1:24-26 (Darby Translation)
24Now, I rejoice in sufferings for you, and I fill up that which is behind of the tribulations of Christ in my flesh, for his body, which is the assembly; 25of which *I* became minister, according to the dispensation of God which [is] given me towards you to complete the word of God, 26the mystery which [has been] hidden from ages and from generations, but has now been made manifest to his saints;
Hebrews 4:11-13 (Darby Translation)
11Let us therefore use diligence to enter into that rest, that no one may fall after the same example of not hearkening to the word. 12For the word of God [is] living and operative, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and penetrating to [the] division of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of [the] heart. 13And there is not a creature unapparent before him; but all things [are] naked and laid bare to his eyes, with whom we have to do.
Hebrews 11:3 (Darby Translation)
3By faith we apprehend that the worlds were framed by [the] word of God, so that that which is seen should not take its origin from things which appear.
1 Peter 1:22-23 (Darby Translation)
22Having purified your souls by obedience to the truth to unfeigned brotherly love, love one another out of a pure heart fervently; 23being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by [the] living and abiding word of God.
In not one of the above quoted scriptures is the “Word of God” referring to anything written down for us to read or have read to us. The book we have with us today called “the bible” did not even exist when the above quotes happened in their own “real-time”! This “Word of God” these texts and stories refer to are each about a LIVING and SPIRITUAL reality that can transform us, save us, teach us, guide us and bring a direct revelation of the LIVING GOD to mankind’s spirit.
This “Word of God” these writers speak of is no mere collection of books, gospels, letters, and an apocalyptic finale. The “Word of God” inspired the initial impetus and subsequent written creation of the biblical texts, yes indeed. But the text itself alone, be it read or spoken, is no magical talisman. It needs a catalyst.
Only when the LIVING and SPIRITUALLY ALIVE “Word of God” actively, sovereignly, and in real-time imparts HIS revelation and resurrection life to the moment does the text then come alive for the hearer. Man, in his own power, cannot make the bible text come alive as if it were the LIVING “Word of God”! It is only by the Spirit of God’s love for us in grace and truth that the written text of the bible can wield any saving and transformative power.
And now for the real eye-opening passage that follows . . .
Revelation 19:12-14 (Darby Translation)
12And his eyes are a flame of fire, and upon his head many diadems, having a name written which no one knows but himself; 13and [he is] clothed with a garment dipped in blood; and his name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies which [are] in the heaven followed him upon white horses, clad in white, pure, fine linen.
The above passage refers to the risen Jesus, the Son of God as the “Word of God” and it cannot be any clearer that no written book such as the bible is being spoken of here!
With all the above information offered, it might be wondered as to what is so important about realizing the distinction between the written text of the bible we have today versus the eternal and living “Word of God” that the bible discusses.
A written document about the “Word of God” can easily become an idol, held even more holy than the ACTUAL “Word of God” Himself. We must never let bible-book-worship eclipse our obedience to the living “Word of God” Who still speaks ACTIVELY and in real-time to us each day.
This is more important than I can possibly stress in this article!
Simply reading a bible to read it, studying it to know all the tales, carrying it as a charm, quoting it as a tool, and preaching from it to prove a point is NOT what the living “Word of God” desires. We must each COME TO HIM and ask HIM to make the text come alive as HE WANTS for the moment. When we humbly approach the text of the bible as a very useful historical record of the “Word of God’s” ways among mankind and a guidebook for the faithful, then and only then, are we utilizing the bible correctly.
Men can use and have used the written text of the bible to create spiritual bondage, mental confusion, deadened souls, wretched word weapons, false doctrines, and a myriad of religious evils.
The eternal “Word of God” never birthed any of these things.
Many so-called “holy” men ignore the voice of the living “Word of God” yet they love to quote the bible as truth. These deaf and blind ones lead the unsuspecting into darkness.
We must learn in these last days to hear and follow the living Logos or “Word of God” instead of kneeling at the foot of idols of tradition that we religiously carve our favorite bible quotes upon.
When we read the text in the English translation of the bible and see “word” written, it can be known to have either the original Greek language terms known as “logos” or “rhema” depending on the writer’s or speaker’s intended message.
When the biblical text has “word” used in conjunction with the terms God or truth as in the phrases “Word of God” or “word of truth” -- it is referring to the “Logos” or the living and ageless divine thought or eternal plan of God. When this “Logos” or “Word of God” became flesh and dwelt, (tented or tabernacle’d), among us we of the faith, then and now, call Him Jesus the Christ. John refers to Christ as the “Word” Who, already existed, in the timelessness before the beginning began, found there with the eternal God and was the same as God, wholly divine and equal. This “Logos” lived among us and communicated the mind of God to us. Jesus’ words and life among mankind was the ageless and immensely powerful “Logos” of God made flesh. This “Logos” or “Word of God” was God’s divine life itself for those who believed and received it.
Used less in the original languages, “rhema” as with “logos” has to do with “that which is spoken”; an utterance, a saying, and “a word that goes forth”. When the divine speaking or God-breathed “rhema” or word of the Spirit of God is given, then the faithful hearer of this rhema, is then given a supernatural wisdom for that moment. We usually call this direct revelation or something revealed in the Spirit. This rhema from God opens up the truths to be spoken, received or understood in preaching, reading or speaking the written text of the bible. Rhema or divine wisdom from God can also be revealed in a situation we may find ourselves in – herein we gain a “rhema” or “word of knowledge” from God.
Again, I have to remind the reader that these terms of logos and rhema, when connected to Jesus, God, the Spirit, salvation, and the gospel are related to an eternal, supernatural plan, concept or a body of truth that is revealed by the Spirit of God to us. This “Word of God” existed before languages of men were spoken, before we learned to write and will continue long after mankind’s way of communication has ceased.
My desire is not to tear down in any way the invaluable vehicle of thought that the written scriptures offer us. What I desire is a renewed desire among God’s people to daily experience God’s “rhema” as direct revelation, guiding them, teaching them, and wooing them to His fullness. The “Word of God” is alive, powerful, and He desires to commune with us, live daily in us, and communicate His eternal life in and through us to a lost and dying world. The Logos awaits our spiritual ear to be attentive. He will make the written text of the scriptures explode with life if we will but listen to Him.
We need not believe that the bible is so mysterious and somehow too magical. We need not think it cannot be fully understood unless someone else interprets and explains it all to us. We need not then have others always tells us how to live a Christian life. God has given all believers His Spirit to open up the bible and reveal His “Word of God” to us.
When we seek to hear only from God Himself via His Logos and His Rhema, then His people will have a real chance for unity. If we then seek to walk daily in the living Word of His Peace as mature sons of God, instead of squabbling about the hidden meanings of the written biblical texts, we then will hasten His coming Kingdom of Love and Righteousness.
John 17 (Darby Translation)
1These things Jesus spoke, and lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee; 2as thou hast given him authority over all flesh, that [as to] all that thou hast given to him, he should give them life eternal. 3And this is the eternal life, that they should know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. 4I have glorified *thee* on the earth, I have completed the work which thou gavest me that I should do it; 5and now glorify *me*, *thou* Father, along with thyself, with the glory which I had along with thee before the world was. 6I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world. They were thine, and thou gavest them me, and they have kept thy word. 7Now they have known that all things that thou hast given me are of thee; 8for the words which thou hast given me I have given them, and they have received [them], and have known truly that I came out from thee, and have believed that thou sentest me. 9I demand concerning them; I do not demand concerning the world, but concerning those whom thou hast given me, for they are thine, 10(and all that is mine is thine, and [all] that is thine mine,) and I am glorified in them. 11And I am no longer in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name which thou hast given me, that they may be one as we. 12When I was with them I kept them in thy name; those thou hast given me I have guarded, and not one of them has perished, but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13And now I come to thee. And these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in them. 14I have given them thy word, and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world. 15I do not demand that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them out of evil. 16They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them by the truth: thy word is truth. 18As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world; 19and I sanctify myself for them, that they also may be sanctified by truth. 20And I do not demand for these only, but also for those who believe on me through their word; 21that they may be all one, as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22And the glory which thou hast given me I have given them, that they may be one, as we are one; 23I in them and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one [and] that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and [that] thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me. 24Father, [as to] those whom thou hast given me, I desire that where I am they also may be with me, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me, for thou lovedst me before [the] foundation of [the] world. 25Righteous Father, -- and the world has not known thee, but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26And I have made known to them thy name, and will make [it] known; that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them.
May the “Word of God” call us all . . . into His truth and His life . . .
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Prophetic Ambient Awakenings
and have a listen and/or purchase a download there.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
It has been quite a while since I last wrote anything about the trials of my faith, the decisions looming on the horizon, and what the Lord is speaking to my spirit these past weeks. Frankly, there has been an intense “dry and silent time” and more of a heavy burden in my soul compared to prior weeks in my walk. So, in order to “push through” this “block” I am actually sitting here, typing as I sense what the Spirit wants me to say.
(minutes pass . . . I type . . .)
In my discussions with other believers, some that have seen the truth of overcoming and the Bride making herself ready and also with others that have no idea what overcoming means, I repeatedly come across some similar “ways” in both the aforementioned camps of my brothers and sisters. There are some of us in the Body of Christ that believe they need certain “baggage” to follow the Lord and then there are those that are ready to lay aside their bags completely and simply follow. I am by no means claiming I have no baggage and have arrived! What I am seeing more often than not, is that it is human nature to cling to things, favor ideas, idolize tradition, and even make doctrine more important than the Living Word of Christ. You think smugly, “Yeah, those other folks are in such bondage.” Friend, it is ALL of us in this thing together. Humble yourself and hear the Lord.
Let’s get personal here.
The “baggage” I alluded to above is anything that is in the way of or impedes our pursuing the Living God. These bags we hold onto are exactly like that favorite soft blanket, stuffed animal or childish fetish we each needed as a child. Those of us who have raised or are now raising our children know exactly what I am referring to, in that we see this happen constantly. What is amazing now to me, is even as adults, following in faith after faith, seeking truth and the will of God – we still have fetishes, idols, and security blankets that we refuse to lay aside as the Spirit points them out to us. It may be during bible study, in prayer, after a teaching or during discussion with another believer – that the Spirit of God will quietly ask you, “Lay this thing aside. It is not Me. It is not My will that you cherish and keep this. It may seem so precious and so very right but its time has passed. Lay this aside. It is now but an idol.”
I want to focus on what I see as two major issues facing every believer in these last days. More on those later . . .
I digress . . .
Not to come off as a heretic or nut-job, I have to re-affirm right now that I love the Lord Jesus. He saved me in March of 1974. He allowed me to see and discover the awesome truth of overcoming in the early ‘80’s and has kept me through many decades of trials.
Besides Jesus, I have nothing in this world.
Yes, I love my wife and children, and family -- but none of even these dear ones can save me like He has. None of the people I love can be my God. They have supported me, loved me, cared for me, prayed for me, forgiven me, fellowshipped with me and worshipped at my side in dark night and brightest day.
But only Jesus, only He alone can give me resurrection Life, resurrection Truth, and resurrection Hope. It must come from Him, through Him, and in Him.
Loved ones, friends, and the house of faith can only point the way. They can lift the arms that are weak, pray for healing, and nurse our wounds. Yes, they can minister as the hands of Jesus.
But only via Him alone, via His Spirit, as we COME TO HIM in faith, can we obtain grace and mercy in time of need.
In these last days we must learn how to COME TO HIM in faith.
What happens when your religion fails?
What happens when your loved ones fail you?
What happens when all you “thought” or trusted falls away as dust, as just one more crumbling idol?
As the head and hands of Dagon, the pagan idol, were broken off in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant(1), the Lord of Hosts does not tolerate our cherished idols in His presence. Because of His love for us, He makes a simple and cleared way for us to come to Him. Sometimes that which we errantly substitute for Him can no longer speak to us, counsel us, help us and console us with its former impact and presence. Why? Its head and its hands have been broken off. The Lord is asserting His love for you. Will you come to Him or will you do your best to fix or find a new Dagon or some other fetish?
Okay, that said, I hope you see I am not a heretic.
Here are the two issues I see plaguing Christianity today and hampering the faith journey of individual believers:
Traditional mainline Christian religion has failed. It is not just broken, needing a tweaking here and there. It is a failure because it has no validity in the eternal purpose of God. The way we Christians do “church” has no support from the scriptures. It is a thousands-of-years-old juggernaut with enough momentum to typically plow over and drown out most anything the prophetic Spirit of God tries to speak forth in simplicity and love among His people in these last days. The simple way the believers of the 1st-century “ekklesia” or the called-out ones aka “the church” -- was the intended way Christ would build His Church. Of course time and cultures would have altered it some, as the Spirit always brings His people into freedom and not religious bondage. But this simple way of faith was greatly distorted and polluted in the 3rd century. The roots of this problem sadly started even in the days of the Apostle John when he referred to the sin of the Nicolaitians in the book of Revelation. History clearly shows us what went so very wrong and remains tragically wrong to this day. I will not go into detail here and now as to what Christians should do to remedy this. I will leave those so moved to action by the Spirit to seek the answer in their own locale.
The second problem the Church, (not the traditional organized one), and individual believers face, has grown out the fact that “traditional mainline Christian religion has failed.”
What do I mean here?
When we moved away from the simplicity of brothers and sisters meeting together; studying, sharing and worshipping as one, without any clergy to run the show – we were less subject to one man’s ideas or later on with one seminary’s slant being taught as truth. In the early days, there was more sharing of the supernatural revelation by the Spirit among the “ekklesia” and the church grew in knowledge and truth related to the Lord’s will. The Body of Christ was alive and functioning as ordained of God’s design. The early church stayed on the cusp of revelations from the throne of God concerning His Kingdom.
Today’s churchianity is happy to be spoon-fed any religiosity-born drivel that trickles down from the pulpit, stage or circus tent. We as believers have become lazy in our seeking the mind of Christ. We are too busy, too in a hurry to experience that “Be still and know that I am God” epiphany.
Our clerical leaders, priests, pastors, leaders, elders, and whatever have become our “Voice of the Lord” and we largely accept and swallow their version of Christian reality. They may very accurately preach or teach: faith, purity, holiness, salvation, sanctification, Christian charity, brotherly love and all that. And what is so special about any believer doing this? ALL believers, are already called to be priests, (yeah, the bible teaches this), meaning each person has this same right to read the word, hear the Lord and proclaim this gospel to the world all by themselves. We need no paid person to be over us in authority doing this! Baptist-types may agree in concept to the “priesthood of the believer” but let me try and speak this word from any Baptist pulpit and see how far my priesthood will get me. “Here’s the door brother.”
Our religion has failed us in that we rely too much on what seminary courses crank out each semester, trusting that these fresh crops of degreed clergy to have the inside track to giving us God’s truth for the Church. We therefore rely on others to lead us and not on Christ as our Head with Jesus being our individual-specific and up-close-and-personal Leader/Teacher/Savior/Friend.
We have unfortunately become passive spectators, hearers only of the word, regardless of being urged otherwise, because our entire religious system is built upon someone leading us. We ask for leaders in our bible classes and even in how to worship and praise our magnificent God! What about the Spirit of truth leading us into worship? Jesus Himself told us that His Spirit would lead us and that we then would have need of no man to teach us. That is what scripture teaches but organized religion ignores this.
Ultimately, by relying on a failed system of worship, we become spiritually hamstrung. We lose the ability and even the desire to COME TO HIM on our own. We read the verses where the Lord says He “never KNEW us” and wonder about the meaning. We need to COME TO HIM and get the KNOW Him one on one and NOT vicariously/impersonally through another person, teaching or doctrine.
This leads me to addressing the final aspect in this second problem that believers each face. Because we have been taught to rely on the so-called spiritual wisdom of other men of history and today; these learned ones that seem so beyond us -- we’ll eventually swallow almost anything these self-assured teachers tell us. We seem to blindly trust them when they stand in pulpits of authority, in places of rank and clerical power. Some even say that submitting to a preacher or pope is submitting to Christ Himself. When we bow on command, sing on command and pray on command, we do not submit to Christ or worship God. We are fooled if we think so. We are merely going through the motions of following the god of religion. This god has failed us! This 20th-century Dagon has no head and no hands!
Most believers know very little of the deeper truths, eating not of meat of the scriptures nor do they hunger for them. They prefer fast food, regurgitated manna for fast and easy digestion. But this scripted sermonette of pulpit-delivered “food” is not empowering anyone the way REAL worship, REAL spiritual food can. I know this truth from experience and not from mere concept.
Christians I speak with and meet with are too dependent on others. They adore their preachers, teachers, writers and speakers in a way that is not healthy. What has widely been accepted, as normal Christian life, has become a dead thing full of empty echoes.
Religion has failed us.
When I try and reason in the scriptures with some more adept bible students about overcoming faith, true worship or some other aspect of the bible, sometimes I do not get to speak with Christ in them. Instead of the Spirit of the Lord speaking in them, in fellowship, I receive quotes from some recent popular book, some gifted teacher they follow or some convenient interpretational model is interposed that was worked up by some guy back in the 1840s! They can’t just reason from the word alone, on their own, as the Spirit has shown them. They have been taught to rely on someone outside themselves for “truth” and typically the “truth” they rest in is bogus.
One person will say, “Oh that passage could never refer to a Christian because so-and-so said in that particular dispensation this verse was for the nation of Israel and not for us today.” Another will say, Augustine wrote or Calvin showed.
I really don’t care what those guys thought. Neither should you!
Some will argue that the historical organized church fathers felt that – HEY, stop already! What is the Spirit saying to His people RIGHT NOW, TODAY, IN THIS SITUATION? That is all I care about. This dispensation, that dispensation, replacement theology, so-called Christian Zionism, fundamentalism, pluralism – why do we accept these things, these fetishes? When will EACH believer stop feeding on some other person’s olde and rotten manna?
It’s time we each burn the brass serpent and bow again afresh before the Lord of Mercy and leave the temples of Dagon.
May God help us . . .
(1) 1 Samuel 5: 1-5 (New International Version)
1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon's temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon's temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.