The first time I heard someone suggest that the Bible isn’t “The Word of God” I thought they were mad, stupid, a heretic or all three. I had been taught in a Baptist Sunday School and subsequently in the church that The Bible was God’s Word and that the Christian faith was based on this and nothing else. However, the people who said that it wasn’t were people I knew and respected so it wasn’t easy to dismiss the idea.
The first point to note is that this isn’t an historic way of describing and looking at the Bible; it only appears in the Protestant church at the time of the reformation. The Synod of Trent, an attempt by the Roman Catholic Church to counter the reformation, had declared that unwritten church traditions had an equal authority with the Bible and, in reaction to this, the reformers declared that the Bible was the only authority. It was probably this that led them to refer to the Bible as “the Word of God” even though the Bible makes no such claims for itself. .
The phrase does appear in the Bible; usually when referring to Spirit inspired prophetic utterances in the Old Testament calling God’s wayward people back to Him. These are specific words from the prophets to God’s people and not a reference to the Old Testament as a whole.
So if the Bible is not the Word of God what is? Take a look at John 1 v1:-
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Notice that “the Word was God.” – nothing more and nothing less.
The in v14 we have:
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only [Son], who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The Word of God is God Himself who became human and walked this planet as the man Jesus. As mind shattering as this is I believe it goes a stage further; if Jesus is the Word of God so is the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. I am not saying that everything a Christian says is God’s Word but there are times when the Holy Spirit works through us to speak God’s Word into a situation.
So is the Bible the Word of God? I don’t think so; I think that is to limit the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the world today.
I believe that God the Holy Spirit can speak to us through the Bible in ways we cannot understand or foretell, surprising us and pointing us to Jesus, God in human form, and guiding us to live our lives like His. In view of this I believe that reading and studying the Bible are an important part of the Christian life.