Summary: What a treasure we have in the written Word of God!
Why the Written Word?
November 23, 2002
You hear Christian types talking a lot about the Word of God, and it can seem rather unusual in today’s society and environment to hear that. In our western world, where we’ve been steeped in the scientific methods in order to learn things, to imagine being able to have and to trust the Word of God is quite a tall order. It can seem presumptuous, sometimes, too, to some to hear others speaking of having God’s word on something, or to hear people expressing that they know God’s opinion on a matter. When someone does name dropping, and the name-dropped is ‘God’, it can be intimidating. To some people, it can seem to bring a conversation to an end, even. After all, what can you say if God’s Word is known? That really is the end of the matter, isn’t it?
In the pews are copies of the Bible; many of us have copies of the Bible with us- maybe have it out, today, in anticipation of looking up some verses that I might be referring to as I go along in this message. The Bible is considered to be the Word of God- the written Word of God. There’s a lot that we can say about the Word of God, today, but, in particular, I want us to understand something of how important having the written Word of God is to us, here in Cornwall, on Saturday, November 23, 2002.
First of all, let’s see how God’s Word has appeared in the Bible. We, first of all, find God’s Word as speech that God has made, and this speech took different forms.
Some of it took the form of powerful decrees. A decree is a word that causes something to happen. We read that there was a decree that went out from Caesar Augustus, for instance- and this is historically verifiable- that everyone in Palestine had to go to their ancestral home to be counted- a census. This decree got people moving, including Joseph and Mary, so Jesus was born in Bethlehem; we’ll celebrate this event very soon. Caesar’s decree made things happen- people had to travel. God made some powerful decrees. His Word took that form.
Gen. 1.3, 24- God’s decrees led to creation
Psa. 33.6- that’s some word, isn’t it? I can tell my dog to move, and she doesn’t always. But God said something- decreed something- and the heavens and the earth came into being.
Sometimes, the word of God took the form of speaking directly to people.
Gen. 3. 16-19
Exod. 20. 1-3
This must have been pretty exciting. To have God speak directly would give you some sense of certainty with regard to the authority of what you heard him say. If you knew it was God, then there was no question that this was something important to believe and/or to do!
Sometimes, God’s word was through human lips. This always gave people a bit more difficulty and it might still do this, if this were the way He was speaking today. We tend to assume the human gets in the way of what God might be saying. However, this is one way God did speak, and one way His word came to people, in days gone by.
Deut. 18. 18-20
Jer. 1.7, 9
2 Chron. 20. 20; 25. 15-16
What authority did these words carry? When they were recognized as being God’s words, they had every bit as much authority as those words that came directly to people. God guarded this in a particular way, too. He warned about someone saying they were speaking his words, if they really weren’t- Ezek. 13.1-9 Deut. 18.20-22. We don’t want to be in that situation. This one is still important. It’s important to be sure that what we might be speaking are really, really, really God’s words. We must be careful not to make up words or to presume to be speaking God’s words and to not be doing precisely that.
For a long time, God’s word came through his direct speaking to people or through prophets and other teachers. But, too, a long time ago, God began writing down His Word.
It’s interesting to understand that God’s Word in written form is not a new invention. It didn’t just begin with the invention of the printing press in 1450. But the written word pre-dates that by centuries and by many thousand years. In fact, the first written word of God goes all the way back to the giving of the Ten Commandments.
Do you remember how that went? This is a story that most of us know.
Deut. 31. 9-13
v. 24-26- this writing was given an important position.