In my family’s reading from and discussion of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994) in our after breakfast Bible reading time, we have now begun the first of its seven parts, “The Doctrine of the Word of God.” The first chapter in it (Chapter 2 of the book) is called “The Word of God.” It distinguishes various meanings that the phrase “the Word of God” has in the Bible.
Here are the meanings of “the Word of God” that we considered and the ESV of the Bible passages that we read in connection with them:
John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 – 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.
Revelation 19:13 – He [the rider on a white horse] is clothed on a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.
Direct Speech by God
Genesis 1:3 – And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 2:16-17 – 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 – 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 – and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Speech by God through Prophets
Deuteronomy 18:18-20 – I will raise up for them a prophet like you [Moses] from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he will speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to pseak 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.
Acts 13:5 – When they [Paul and Barnabas] arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues….
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.
2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
We also considered these benefits identified by Grudem of having God’s words written out instead of depending on memory and oral repetition.
1. They are preserved more accurately for future generations.
2. They can be repeatedly inspected, permitting careful study and discussion.
3. They are accessible to many more people.
As well I shared with the rest of the family something that struck me in an article that Grudem recommends in the chapter’s bibliography, H. D. McDonald’s “Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. McDonald ties the various meanings of “the word of God” together by suggesting that they lie within one another in three concentric circles: Jesus, the spoken message, and the written message.
We concluded out consideration of “the Word of God” by reading the hymn with which Grudem closes the chapter, “Break Thou the Bread of Life” by Mary A. Lathbury. Here it is from the Internet’s NetHymnal:
Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
As thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word!
Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord, to me, to me,
As thou didst bless the bread by Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease, all fetters fall;
And I shall find my peace, my all in all.
Thou art the bread of life, I Lord, to me,
Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me;
Give me to eat and live with Thee above;
Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love.
O send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes, and make me see:
Show me the truth concealed within Thy Word,
And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.