Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Systematic Theology--Chapter 2 Gleanings

The Word of God

What is meant by "The Word of God"?

A. "The Word of God" as a person: Jesus Christ

  • Revelation 19:13
He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

  • John 1:1, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
***This usage is not common, but it does indicate that among the members of the Trinity it is especially God the Son who in his person as well as in his words has the role of communicating the character of God to us and of expressing the will of God for us. p. 47

B. "The Word of God" as Speech by God

  1. God's Decrees - A decree of God is a word of God that causes something to happen.
  • Genesis 1:3, 24
And God said, "Let there be light, and there was light."
And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds-- livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.  And it was so.

  • Psalm 33:6
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

  • Hebrews 1:3a*
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. 

 *Since Christ is continually "upholding the universe by the word of his power", we learn from this that the decrees of God include not only the events of the original creation but also the continuing existence of all things. p. 48
   2.  God's Words of Personal Address

  • Genesis 2:16-17: God speaks to Adam
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

  • Exodus 20:1-3: God gives the Ten Commandments
And God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me."

  • Matthew 3:17: God speaks during Jesus' baptism
. . .and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.
   3.  God's Words as Speech Through Human Lips

  • Deuteronomy 18:18 - God speaks to Moses
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

  • Jeremiah 1:7, 9
But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.

  • Exodus 4:12
Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.

  • Numbers 22:38
Balaam said to Balak, "Behold, I have come to you! Have I now any power of my own to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak.

  • 1 Kings 20:36
Then he said to him, "Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall strike you down." And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion met him and struck him down.
Anyone who claimed to be speaking for the Lord but who had not received a message from him was severely punished.

  • Ezekiel 13:1-17 
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’ Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the Lord. They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the Lord,’ although I have not spoken?”
Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord God. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord God. Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out. And when the wall falls, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the coating with which you smeared it?’ Therefore thus says the Lord GodI will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath, and there shall be a deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to make a full end. And I will break down the wall that you have smeared with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the Lord. Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall and upon those who have smeared it with whitewash, and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who smeared it, the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord God.
“And you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own hearts. Prophesy against them
  • Deuteronomy 18:20-22
But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, "How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?" --when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
Thus  God's words spoken through human lips were considered to be just as authoritative and just as true as God's words of personal address. There was no diminishing of the authority of these words when they were spoken through human lips. To disbelieve or disobey any of them was to disbelieve or disobey God himself. p. 49

   4.  God's Words in Written Form (the Bible)

  • Exodus 31:18; 32:16; 34:1,28
And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
The Lord said to Moses, "Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.
So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

  • Deuteronomy 31:9-13, 24-26
Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, "At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess."
When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, "Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you."

  • Joshua 24:26a
And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God.  

  • Isaiah 30:8
And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever.

  • Jeremiah 30:2; 36:2-4; 51:60
Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you.
Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord that he had spoken to him.
Jeremiah wrote in a book all the disaster that should come upon Babylon, all these words that are written concerning Babylon.

  • John 14:26; 16:12-13
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
***This is why Paul can say that the very words he writes to the Corinthians are "a command of the Lord."

  • 1 Corinthians 14:37
If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.

  • 2 Peter 3:2
. . .that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. . .
Benefits of the Written Word

  • much more accurate preservation of God's words for subsequent generations 
  • the opportunity for repeated inspection of words that are written down permits careful study and discussion, which leads to better understanding and more complete obedience
  • God's words in writing are accessible to many more people than they are when preserved merely through memory and oral repetition
Of all the forms of the Word of God, the focus of our study in systematic theology is God's Word in written form, that is, the Bible. This is the form of God's Word that is available for study, for public inspection, for repeated examination, and as a basis for mutual discussion. It tells us about and points us to the Word of God as a person, namely Jesus Christ, whom we do not now have present in bodily form on earth. p. 50

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness
Psalm 1:1-2
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 

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