By Femi Aribisala
Nowhere in the bible is it said or implied that the bible is the word of God. As a matter of fact, the bible is not even in the bible. Scriptures referring to the word of God never refer to the bible. For example, Moses says: “The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram.’” (Genesis 15:1). It was not the bible that spoke to Abram. The word of God came to him before any scriptures were written and before the bible was compiled. Therefore, neither the scriptures nor the bible can be the word of God.
John says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and with-out Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:1-3). This immediately disqualifies the bible as the word of God. Just think how incongruous it would be to substitute “the word” in John’s verses for “the bible.” It would read: “In the beginning was the bible, and the bible was with God, and the bible was God. The bible was in the beginning with God. All things were made through the bible, and without the bible nothing was made that was made.”
However, the bible was not with God in the beginning; and the bible is not God. The bible did not create the world. It was not even in existence at the creat-ion of the world. The first Christian bible was not published until 1516.
John says: “I saw heaven opened,and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True … He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” (Revelation 19:11-13). John did not see the bible: he saw Jesus.
Hebrews also proclaims: “The word of God is living and powerful.., and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). Certainly, this is not referring to the bible. The bible contains dead letters. It cannot discern the thoughts and intents of its readers. But that is Jesus’ speciality. Jesus says: “I am He who searches the minds and hearts.” (Revelation 2:23). It is Jesus, and not the bible, that is the word of God.
A definitive feature of the word of God is that it has and gives life. John says of the word: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4). But Jesus maintains there is no life in the scriptures. He says to the Jews: “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 5:39-40).
The Jews searched the scriptures in the mistaken assumption eternal life could be obtained by reading them. But alas, they could find no life in them because the life is in Jesus. God himself is eternal life and it is vain to seek the living among the dead. (Luke 24:5).
The scriptures are signposts identifying Jesus as “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). But in order to inherit eternal life, we have to come to Jesus himself, and not just read the bible.
Divorced from God, the letter in the bible kills, but the spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6). Jesus says: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63). It is the word that Jesus speaks, the word that comes directly from the mouth of God, which gives life. It is God’s spoken word and not the inspired written word that is the word of God. Jesus says: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4).
This explains why Jesus had no secretary, and why he asked no one to record his words in a book. Jesus did not promise that God would inspire the compilation of his words into a bible for future reference. Instead, he promises his disciples that: “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 things that I said to you.” (John 14:26).
This makes the Holy Spirit our living bible. He delivers the word of God to us directly at critical junctures in our lives as required. John confirms this: “You have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, in your hearts, so that you don’t need anyone to teach you what is right. For he teaches you all things, and he is the Truth, and no liar.” (I John 2:27).
Thus, if the word of God was with God in the beginning, where is it now? One thing is for sure, it cannot be in a bible. Even Moses, the law-giver, tells us where to find it. He says: “It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” (Deuteronomy 30:12-14).
Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, God has placed his word in our hearts and minds. Indeed, that is the promise of the New Testament. God says: “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).
Thus, the word of God is delivered to us direct-ly by the Holy Spirit and not through a bible. Jesus says of the Holy Spirit: “He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but what-ever He hears He will speak.” (John 16:13). This means the Holy Spirit will never cont-radict the words of Jesus in the bible.
The bible reveals the word of God came to some people in the past. Thereby, it encourages us to establish similar relationships with God today. John says: “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (I John 1:3-4).
Continued next week