The Pursuit of God

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Defining THE WORD OF GOD: Its Biblical & Modern Day Meanings

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The Word is one of those phrases that has become a jumbled mess in the minds of Christians.  Today we’ve got a ton of false prophets running around declaring, “I have a word!”  Then we’ve got Christians referring to their modern day Bibles as The Word.  The author of Hebrews says that the Word of God is living and active.  The apostle John refers to Jesus as The Word.  The apostle Paul instructs people to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  So what should we make of all this?  If the Bible is the Word, and Jesus is the Word, does that mean that Jesus is a book or that the book is a God?  No, it  means that we’ve all confused ourselves by attaching too many definitions to the same phrase.  The purpose of this post is to sort out the mess.

THE WORD = THE WORD OF YAHWEH

The longer a word remains in use, the more definitions it will acquire.  When it comes to sorting out the mess we’ve made of the term “The Word,” we need to start at the beginning and see how the term was first used.  When we start at the beginning and move forward, it will become much more clear to us how this term gained so many new definitions.

Now the first thing you need to understand is that we Christians stole the term “the Word” from the Jews who wrote the collection of documents which we call our modern day Bible.  This isn’t surprising, because a lot of what Christians do today is an attempt to imitate ancient Jews.

The second thing you need to understand is that when you say “the Word,” you’re really just using an abbreviated term for a longer thought.  Just as LOL is a quick way of saying laugh out loud, modern Christians use the term the word as a quick way of saying the word of God.  It’s the long phrase the word of God that we’re really stealing from the Jews, and it’s assumed that you understand this when you buy a Bible that is called The Word.  When Christians assign the title of The Word to their two testament Bibles, they don’t mean just any word, they specifically mean The Word of God.  When Christians refer to the Bible as the Living Word, what they are really saying is that the Bible is the Living Word of God.  So to understand this Word business, you need to start mentally adding the words “of God” to the end of it, because that’s what people mean.  When some guy jumps up in church and declares “I have a word!”, what he means is that he has a word from God.

So now that we understand that the phrase the word is really an abbreviated way to say the word of God, we come to a very important question: which God are we talking about?  Remember, Christians stole this phrase from the Jews who wrote the Bible.  It’s in the Old Testament that we find the phrase the word of God being used.  But this phrase isn’t used nearly as often as the phrase the word of the LORD, with the word LORD being in all caps.  So who is the LORD?  Yahweh.

Today many religious Jews and Christians act like it’s disrespectful to say the Name of Yahweh out loud.  Does Yahweh agree with this rule that we’ve invented?  Not at all.  After Yahweh introduced His special Name to Moses, He was constantly saying it and instructing others to do so as well.  The Name of Yahweh is used nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament documents—the actual Name, not substitutions.  You see, in the beginning, no one had a problem with saying Yahweh’s Name out loud.  It wasn’t until much later that we made up this ridiculous rule that it was disrespectful to pronounce Yahweh’s special Name.  Why are we suddenly acting like it’s a bad thing to do something which Yahweh has always encouraged His followers to do?  Because humans always find ways to oppose God and complicate things.  This is why you need to ask God what He thinks about the religious rituals you’re currently engaging in—don’t just assume something is good because Christian leaders say it is.  Over the centuries, Christian leaders have come up with a whole lot of guff (see Rethinking Your Christian Rituals).

Now today you’re taught that God is Triune or “three in one.”  The Trinity Doctrine was invented by Catholic bishops way back in the days of the Roman Empire.  The best face we can put on the Trinity Doctrine was that it defends the idea that Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all Divine Beings who are equal in power.  But it also teaches that Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are a single mysterious Entity.  The Trinity theory makes God out to be a single Being with a split personality—sometimes He goes into His Jesus act, other times He goes into His Holy Spirit act, and other times He’s God the Father.  If we applied the logic of the Trinity theory to your three brothers, then we would say that you really have only one brother with three personalities.  If you then said, “That’s ridiculous—I have three brothers, not just one,” then we would call you a satanic liar and warn all of our friends to stay away from you.  This is what happens in the Church today when Christians like us say that Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three separate Gods.  According to the religion of Christianity, it is a satanic lie to say that there are three Gods.  Instead, we’re supposed to lie and tell you that Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are really one mysterious Blob.  If we lie to you about how many Gods there are, and if we then go on to lie to you about what those Gods want from you, then we’ll be praised by other Christians.  But we’ll also be in big trouble with the real Gods, because the real Gods take a very dim view of Christian leaders spreading lies about Them.  Since the real Gods are the Ones with all of the power, while Christians are impotent specks, we have decided that we’re not going to disobey the real Gods just so we can be approved of by human dots.  This is why we teach you that the Trinity theory is a bunch of baloney: because it is. It’s manmade rubbish.  It’s utterly absurd, and none of the Jewish men who contributed to the book that you call your Bible today would have ever accepted such a ludicrous idea as a Triune God.

Yahweh is not the only true God.  For a very long time, Yahweh followers thought that He was the only true God, because that’s what He told them to think.  But then Yahweh shocked everyone by introducing Jesus.  Jesus claimed to be a second God.  Jesus did not just claim to be Yahweh in another form.  At the end of His ministry, Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit as a third God.  Before Jesus, the Jews used the term Holy Spirit as another title for Yahweh.  In the Old Testament, the title Holy Spirit is barely used, but the phrase the Spirit of Yahweh is used all the time. English bibles change this phrase to be the Spirit of the LORD, which confuses you, because thanks to the Trinity theory, you think of all three of your Gods whenever you see the term LORD or God in the Old Testament. And yet when Old Testament Jews talked about the one true God, they were only ever referring to Yahweh—not to Jesus, and never to the Holy Spirit who we know today.

Yahweh was the only true God the Jews knew about until the revelation of Christ in the New Testament.  Once you understand  this critical point, you will realize that every Jewish prophet who claims to be speaking for God in the Old Testament is only ever claiming to be speaking for Yahweh.  When you read about Old Testament prophets saying, “Hear the word of the LORD,” realize that in real life what those prophets said was “Hear the word of Yahweh.”

Now the Old Testament documents were written by Jewish men who claimed to be followers of Yahweh.  This is important to understand, because most Jews in Israel did not follow Yahweh—instead, they worshiped many false gods and totally blew off Yahweh’s claim to be the only real God.  So it’s not like the Jewish people hadn’t heard of other gods.  Just as Christians today know that the world is full of many different religions and gods, Old Testament Jews who worshiped Yahweh lived in a world where there were many different gods and religions.  Today if you read something that a religious Muslim writes, then when that Muslim man uses the term “God,” you should realize that the man is referring only to Allah—not to any of the Gods you worship.  In the Old Testament, you will find references to Philistine, Babylonian, and Assyrian gods.  To understand which god is being talked about, you have to understand who is doing the talking.  A guy like Isaiah claimed to be a follower of Yahweh.  So when Isaiah says: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isa. 40:8), which God is Isaiah referring to?  He’s referring to Yahweh.  Isaiah is saying that the word of Yahweh is what will endure forever—he is not talking about the words of Jesus or the words of the Holy Spirit.  Isaiah had never heard of Jesus, and he used the term Holy Spirit as a title for Yahweh.  He was a strict monotheist—meaning that he only worshiped one God.  So when Christians today quote Isaiah as saying the word of God endures forever, and then they tell you that Isaiah was referring to your modern day Bible, are they telling you the truth?  No, they’re telling you a ridiculous lie.  Isaiah had never heard of the Bible you read today—Isaiah died many centuries before most of the books in the Bible were even written.  So when Christian leaders twist Isaiah’s words and try to make you think that he’s saying that the modern Christian Bible will last forever, they are being utterly absurd.

In 1 Chronicles 7:13, we read: “But that night the word of God came to the prophet Nathan…”  What does this mean?  Should we be imagining the Christian Bible hopping into a man’s bedroom and tapping him on the shoulder?  No, this is ridiculous.  The Jewish man who wrote the book of Chronicles was a follower of Yahweh.  When such a man uses the phrase “the word of God,” he means “the word of Yahweh.”  So what 1 Chronicles 7:13 means is this: “That night, Yahweh spoke to the prophet Nathan.”

ACCORDING TO OLD TESTAMENT JEWS, THE WORD OF GOD = MESSAGES FROM YAHWEH

In the Old Testament, when Jews refer to the word of God or the word of Yahweh, they are specifically talking about things Yahweh said.  In 1 Chronicles 15:15 we read:

And the Levites carried the Ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the LORD.

How should you interpret this?  Well, you’re reading from the Old Testament, and that means that you need to mentally substitute the Name of Yahweh whenever you come across a capitalized God or an all caps LORD.  Once you do this, the meaning of 1 Chronicles 15:15 becomes a lot more clear:

And the Levites carried the Ark of Yahweh with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of Yahweh.

The Ark of Yahweh is also referred to as the Ark of the Covenant—it was a special gold box that Yahweh told the Jews to build when He was setting up the Old Covenant sacrificial system.  Because the Ark was supposed to make people think of Yahweh, it was supposed to be treated with respect.  No one was supposed to touch it.  Only certain priests were allowed to carry it, and they carried it using special poles which allowed them to keep their distance from the actual box.  When the Ark was being carried out in public, it had to be covered with a special cloth so that no one could look at it.  But wait—how did people come up with all these special rules for how to deal with Yahweh’s Ark?  Yahweh made up these rules Himself, and then He told them to Moses, who told them to everyone else.  So when the text says that Moses had commanded people to do certain things “in accordance with the word of Yahweh,” what it means is that Moses passed on instructions which Yahweh had given him.  Yahweh didn’t drop little notes down from the sky.  He didn’t write things in the dirt.  He spoke directly to Moses’ soul.  It is this kind of direct communication that Jewish prophets are referring to when they claim to have a word from Yahweh in the Old Testament.

So now what about Isaiah?  Isaiah said:

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isa. 40:8)

What does this mean?  Well, Isaiah was a Jewish prophet and he passed on a lot of predictions about the future that he received from Yahweh.  The problem was that Isaiah wasn’t the only prophet around.  Just as the Church today is full of false prophets who are a lot more well-known and popular than real prophets, in Isaiah’s day, there were many false prophets who were putting out predictions that contradicted the things Isaiah was saying.  Many false prophets were also claiming to be passing on words from Yahweh, just as false prophets today claim to be passing on messages that they received directly from Jesus.  When you know you’re a real prophet, and you’re surrounded by posers and liars, it can be frustrating to see how everyone is listening to the false guys more than to you.  This is something a real prophet has to learn to get over, because we don’t speak for God to gain popularity, we do it to obey God.  It doesn’t make any difference how many people listen to you and how many people ignore you—all that matters is that you’re doing what God is telling you to do.  But suppose you’re not a prophet.  Suppose you’re just a regular Jew living in the time of Isaiah.  You hear all of these prophets contradicting themselves while everyone is speaking in the Name of Yahweh.  Obviously someone’s lying—but who?  Only Yahweh Himself can tell you, so you need to ask Him for guidance.

Now when you want to convince people to believe a lie, just say it with confidence.  Confidence is very persuasive.  False prophets today work hard to win your trust just by sounding very sure of what they’re saying.  What makes things confusing is that God also talks with confidence when He is saying things.  When God commands His prophets to pass on a message from Him, He doesn’t want His prophets using doubtful, hesitant tones.  He wants them to speak boldly and authoritatively because they’re passing on a message from God, and God is a very authoritative Guy.  Listen to how bold Isaiah sounds here:

“And the glory of Yahweh will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.” (Isa. 40:5)

Here Isaiah is passing on a message from Yahweh in which Yahweh is saying: “I’m going to wow people with what I’m going to do, and you know that what I’m saying is going to happen because I’m the One predicting it, and I’m God Almighty.”

When Yahweh speaks, He naturally emphasizes the importance of His words simply because they are His words.  All three of our Gods have massive egos.  They know that They are fabulous, superior Beings, and They never tire of reminding us of how awesome They are.  When Yahweh gives long speeches in the Bible, you’ll find Him working in a lot of Self-exaltation.  Of course when Yahweh brags, it’s appropriate, because He’s God.  When humans brag, they’re just being arrogant and obnoxious.  The rules are different for Gods and humans.  Humans aren’t really as fabulous as they claim to be—this is why they get in trouble with God for boasting, because they are boasting about things which are not true.  But Yahweh really is as awesome as He claims to be, so when He points out His own supremacy, He’s not exaggerating and He’s not lying: He’s just saying it like it is.

When a God as awesome as Yahweh talks, that’s big news.  When humans make promises, it’s not impressive.  Humans are just temporary.  They’re here today, gone tomorrow.  From the eternal perspective, their lives are mere blips in time.  But the magnificent Yahweh lives beyond time.  He is an eternal Being.  When He speaks, it’s far more significant.  If Yahweh predicts something through a human, that prediction is still meaningful after that human is dead and gone.  This is what Isaiah means when he says:

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isa. 40:8)

This is figurative language.  Isaiah isn’t saying that the Christian Bible is always going to be around.  He’s saying that when Yahweh speaks, it’s big stuff.  It’s hugely important.  It’s powerful.  It’s long lasting.  He’s saying that communications from God are far more important than created things.  This statement is part of a paragraph.  Let’s now read the whole paragraph, and listen to how the difference between Yahweh and humans is being emphasized, with humans being downgraded as insignificant compared to the magnificent Yahweh:

“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of Yahweh blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isa. 40:6-8)

According to this passage, who should you be impressed with—humans or Yahweh?  You should only be impressed with Yahweh.  Yahweh is so superior to humans that He can destroy humans as easily as a man blows out a candle.  Humans are fragile, temporary, and mortal.  But Yahweh is powerful, eternal, and awesome.  Is this passage encouraging you to embrace soul attitudes that are pleasing to Yahweh?  Absolutely. It’s teaching you to exalt Yahweh in your mind as far superior over all created beings and things.  It’s teaching you to not waste your admiration on created things, but to instead be impressed by Yahweh, the magnificent Creator.  Stepping back and asking, “What kinds of soul attitudes is this message encouraging me to embrace?” is an important part of practicing discernment when you’re reading the Bible or listening to any Christian teacher.  Good teaching will encourage you to honor God.  Bad teaching will encourage you to embrace attitudes which He says He doesn’t like.

So now let’s summarize what we’ve learned so far.  We’ve learned that the phrase “the word of God” first shows up in the Old Testament, where Jews were specifically referring to the spoken words of Yahweh.  They weren’t talking about a book and they weren’t talking about Jesus.  In the Old Testament, to claim to have  a word of God meant that you were claiming to have received a message from Yahweh.

Now as we’ve already said, this term was abused by false prophets, who went around claiming to have words from Yahweh when they were really just making stuff up.  Yahweh has many nasty things to say about prophets who lie in His Name, and false prophets today are heaping up major discipline for themselves in the future as they go slapping God’s Name on things He never said.  But now let’s move past the Old Testament in which the word of God meant the spoken words of Yahweh, and let’s see what changes when we get to the New Testament.

ACCORDING TO NEW TESTAMENT JEWS, THE WORD OF GOD = THE ENTIRE OLD TESTAMENT PLUS ANYTHING ELSE THAT YAHWEH SAYS

Four hundred years passed between the Old and New Testaments, and during those 400 years, major changes happened in Israelite society.  One huge change that occurred was the idolization of the Old Testament.  In other words, New Testament Jews turned the Old Testament into a god.  Was this a good thing?  No, it was a terrible thing, but it’s what they did, because humans are so prone to idolatry.

To understand how this happened, you have to realize that the Bible didn’t just fall down from the sky one day as a completed work.  The Bible you know today was slowly assembled over hundreds of years.  To understand how this works, let’s use Alex the painter as an example.  Alex’s entire painting career lasts 20 years, during which time he creates 200 paintings.  Suppose we want to show off every painting that Alex has ever done in a single art gallery.  If this is our goal, we will have to wait until Alex stops painting before we open our gallery.  If we try to open it partway through Alex’s painting career, we’ll only be able to display a portion of his life’s work.

The Bible you use today is a collection of works that were created by many different Jewish men.  Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, so if we were to travel back in time and ask Moses to show us a Bible, he wouldn’t know what we’re talking about.  Moses didn’t have a Bible, nor was he trying to start one.  Moses was just recording events that he felt were important as well as messages from Yahweh.  Once people accepted the idea that some of the stuff Moses wrote was actually spoken by Yahweh, they decided that Moses’ writings should be treated differently than other writings.  After all, God is talking.  So Moses’ writings gained status among the Jews and they were carefully preserved.

As we move forward in time after Moses, we find many Jews creating many different kinds of documents. Some Jews wrote about history, some wrote about prophecy, and others wrote poetry.  Think about your own society: of all the books that people write, are they all equally popular?  No.  Many writings never become famous, while others become very well-known and highly circulated.  How can a writer get people to pay attention to his work?  Well, it helps if the writer himself has a quality about him that people admire.  When people admire someone, they’ll preserve what that person writes, even if that person writes something foolish.  The Song of Solomon (which is also known as the Song of Songs) is a love poem that was written by King Solomon.  It’s a really lame poem which does nothing more than celebrate carnal lusting.  In the Song of Solomon, a man and a woman talk on and on about how attracted they are to each other’s earthsuits.  They talk about physical looks, bodily aromas, skin color, hair color, eyes, and muscularity. Do you know what they don’t talk about?  Character.  Class.  Manners.  Spiritual priorities.  Read through that famous song and you’ll discover that it’s just one long, lusty pant about how two people can’t wait to jump in the sack and make out with each other.  It’s totally superficial and isn’t within a million miles of demonstrating what true love is really about.  Why on earth did anyone decide to keep such immature guff in the Bible?  The world gives us an endless supply of carnal lusting—we hardly need to be tripping over such shallow thinking in our Scriptures.  So what were the Jews thinking when they decided to keep Solomon’s hormone driven lust fest?  They were thinking about how impressed they were by Solomon’s great wealth and fame.  Solomon was a huge celebrity in his region of the world.  Solomon could have written a poem about how well his sandals fit on his feet, and the Jews would have kept it just because Solomon wrote it.  This is how silly people are.

So why is it important for you to realize that the Old Testament has some really lame entries in it?  Because this is reality, and you aren’t going to get very far by denying reality.  The book of Psalms is a collection of poems that were written by various Jewish men.  Many of the poems in that collection are serious bombs.  Many psalms are nothing more than a human throwing a tantrum in writing (see Psalm 109: Learning from David’s Hatefest).  The psalms are filled with irreverence, hate, false promises, ridiculous exaggerations, and complete lies about how things work in the spiritual realm (see Psalm 91: Life is Perfect & God Always Does What We Want).  The men who wrote the psalms often speak directly to Yahweh in their poems, and much of what they say to Yahweh is disrespectful and bossy (see Psalm 35: Bratty David Bosses Yahweh).  Are there good entries in the Psalms?  Yes, but there’s also a bunch of garbage.  This is real life: the Old Testament is a mixed bag and a lot of it could use to be thrown out.

Let’s go back to Alex the painter.  Suppose when we go to pick up Alex’s work to put on display in our gallery, we pick up a lot of other paintings as well.  As we load up our truck with every painting that we find in Alex’s house, we don’t bother to check for signatures—we just assume that they were all painted by Alex.  And yet the truth is that they weren’t.  Over the years, Alex bought other people’s paintings to decorate his home.  Because we’re being hasty and sloppy, we end up falsely labeling a bunch of other people’s paintings as works of Alex, when this really isn’t true at all.  In other words, we’re lying to the public when we open our gallery and declare that all the pictures inside were painted by the same man.  The truth is that many of the pictures in our gallery weren’t done by Alex at all, but since the public trusts us, we end up scamming everyone.  This kind of scam is what the New Testament Jews did to the Old Testament.  In real life, much of what you read in the Old Testament is not messages that were passed on directly from Yahweh.  Much of what you read in the Old Testament is just humans putting their own thoughts on paper—and often those humans aren’t showing any concern for what Yahweh thinks about what they’re writing.  But by the time of the New Testament, Jewish preachers who called themselves Pharisees were declaring that the entire Old Testament was God breathed.  In other words, they were saying that garbage like the Song of Solomon was a direct “word of Yahweh.”  They were saying that the Jewish psalm writers were being led by Yahweh’s Spirit when they wrote poems which often insulted Yahweh.  Is this really true? No, it’s a complete lie.  The entire Old Testament doesn’t come anywhere close to being “God breathed.”  In fact, we’re really insulting Yahweh to suggest that He said much of what we find in the Old Testament.  But this is what the Pharisees did: they insisted that the entire Old Testament was composed of messages from Yahweh.  This is why the apostle Paul says that “all Scripture is God-breathed” in 2 Timothy 3:16.  What Paul means by this is that everything in the Old Testament should be treated as a direct message from Yahweh Himself.  Yahweh is the only God who Paul credits for breathing “the Scriptures,” and the Old Testament is the only “Scripture” Paul is referring to.  So today when people quote Paul’s words at you and say that what Paul really meant was that both the Old and New Testaments are God breathed, they are lying to you.  This is not what Paul meant, because Paul had never heard of a New Testament.

Now Paul was a Pharisee, which is why he was all for this deifying of the Old Testament.  The Pharisees were very influential in Jewish society, with common Jews going along with whatever the Pharisees said.  The author of Hebrews was a Jewish man who had clearly accepted the Pharisee way of viewing the Old Testament.  And once you’re viewing the entire Old Testament as falling from the lips of Yahweh, well then you start treating the Old Testament like it is Yahweh.  Yahweh is a living, powerful, active Being.  Because the author of Hebrews is elevating paper and ink like God’s equivalent, we find him saying:

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from Yahweh’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Heb. 4:12-13)

How is the author of Hebrews using the term word of God?  He means the spoken words of Yahweh, and by his day, this included the entire Old Testament.  How do we know that the author of Hebrews is thinking of the Old Testament when he talks about the word of God?  Because before he makes this statement, he spends the first part of the chapter talking about various things that Yahweh said in the Old Testament.  The real giveaway comes in Verse 7, when the author of Hebrews quotes a line from a psalm that David wrote, and then he says that it was really Yahweh who spoke those words through David.

Yahweh again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This Yahweh did when a long time later He spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted, saying: “Today, if you hear His Voice, do not harden your hearts.” [Ps. 95:7-8] (Heb. 4:7)

In real life, David was not a prophet, and Yahweh is not doing any of the talking in the book of Psalms.  But Jewish psalm writers were very good at putting words in Yahweh’s mouth for Him—words that they wanted to imagine Him saying.  The point is that the Hebrews author was wrong to say that Yahweh spoke through David in Psalm 95.  The only reason he’s viewing the psalms as being words from Yahweh is because that’s what he’s been taught to believe by Pharisees like the apostle Paul.

Any dingdong can come along and put words in Yahweh’s mouth.  We could say, “The American president told us that he likes wearing red socks.”  Did the American president really say this to us?  No, we’ve never even met the man.  But if you didn’t know that, then you might just believe us.  Then you’ll go around saying that the American president said something that he never said.  This is what Christian leaders today are getting you to do with the Bible.  First they get you to view everything in the Bible as a message from God.  Then they get you to go around quoting God as saying stuff that He never said.  Pull up a list of “God’s promises in the Word” that some Christian has complied on the internet today, and you’ll find that most of the entries weren’t even spoken by God, but by humans who were not even trying to quote God.  If any of the entries are actual quotations from Yahweh or Jesus, look up the context and you’ll find that none of those statements are being directed at modern day Christians.  You’ll also discover that every real promise of God comes with conditions that are often intentionally stripped away by promise list makers because we all like the idea of getting something for nothing.

Let’s recap.  First we learned that in the Old Testament, Jews used the term word of God to mean messages from Yahweh.  Now we’ve learned that New Testament Jews still used the term word of God to mean messages from Yahweh, but they are also pretending that Yahweh said everything in the Old Testament.  So to a New Testament Jew, a word of God could mean something new that Yahweh just said, or it could mean any passage from the Old Testament.  Are you seeing how messy things are getting?  By New Testament times, the Jews were calling many things words of God that weren’t said by Yahweh at all.  And then, as if things weren’t confusing enough, the apostle John made things even worse by referring to Jesus as the Word.

ACCORDING TO JOHN, THE WORD OF GOD = JESUS

The apostle John was a Jew who lived in New Testament times.  What does this tell us about how John is used to using the term the word of God?  Well, we know that to John, a word of God is something that Yahweh said.  So who was Jesus to John?  Jesus was the fulfillment of many prophecies that Yahweh had given.  Jesus was the Messiah that Yahweh had been talking about for centuries.  In Jewish minds, the whole concept of Israel’s Messiah began as a word from Yahweh, so John decides to get creative by calling Jesus the Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

When John thinks of Jesus, he’s thinking of the Messiah who Yahweh spoke about in the Old Testament. John wrote the Gospel of John many years after Jesus’ resurrection, and John has had time to reflect on the fact that Jesus is a Divine Being.  If we wanted to reword John’s introduction to his Gospel book to better reflect what John means, we might say something like this:

In the beginning was the Messiah who Yahweh talked about in the Old Testament, and the Messiah who Yahweh talked about in the Old Testament was with Yahweh, and the Messiah who Yahweh talked about in the Old Testament was a Divine Being like Yahweh. The Messiah who Yahweh talked about in the Old Testament was with Yahweh in the beginning. Through the Messiah who Yahweh talked about in the Old Testament all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In the Messiah who Yahweh talked about in the Old Testament was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

This is one of the rare moments when a New Testament writer boldly declares that Jesus is a Divine Being.  The rest of the time, Jesus is being downgraded as either just a human, or as a non-human, non-God sort of being who functions as Yahweh’s Subordinate.  Correct teaching about Jesus is very hard to find in the New Testament, due to the fact that the Jews were so squeamish about admitting that there could be more than one true God.  It was so much easier to pretend that Christ was just a human who received special privileges from Yahweh for doing such a good job of serving Yahweh on earth (see How the NT Epistles Define Christ: Not God, Just Another Flawed Human).

Now after John makes the bold claim that Jesus was a Divine Being who played a critical part in creating all that exists, John now needs to explain how a God could show up on earth as a Jewish man.  So John says:

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. (John 1:14)

So according to John, the Messiah who Yahweh spoke about in the Old Testament was already existing as a Divine Being in Heaven.  After creating a bunch of stuff with Yahweh, the Word then took on human form and showed up in New Testament Israel.  As one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, John personally hung out with the Word, who he also calls the one and only Son.

John likes to give Jesus nicknames and titles.  In his writings, John refers to Jesus as the Word, the Son, the Light, and the Eternal Life.  If we turn to the epistle of 1 John, we find John writing another fancy introduction.

We proclaim to you the One who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands. He is the Word of Life. (1 John 1:1)

Here John refers to Jesus as the Word of Life.  Remember that by the Word, John means the Messiah who Yahweh spoke about in the Old Testament.  John now understand that Jesus is playing a critical role in getting humans onto the right side of eternity, so he thinks of  Jesus as the Messiah who is our Source of eternal life.  This is why John calls Jesus the Word of Life.  And now as he continues his introduction, he refers to Jesus by the titles of Life and Eternal Life:

This One who is Life was revealed to us, and we have seen Him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that He is the One who is Eternal Life. He was with the Father, and then He was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. (1 John 1:1-4)

So is it appropriate to refer to Jesus as Life and Eternal Life?  Well, if you’re thinking in terms of how the true Gods are the Creators and Sustainers of all life, then yes, it is. There wouldn’t be any life apart from Them.  Is it appropriate to refer to Jesus as the Word?  Well, when you’re a Jew who has spent your whole life wondering when Yahweh’s Messiah would show up, and suddenly you meet Him face to face, that’s a big deal.  It’s very significant to you that the Guy you’re having lunch with is the same Guy who Yahweh spoke about centuries ago in the Old Testament.  So for Jewish John—a fellow who grew up focusing on Yahweh as the only true God, it’s natural to emphasize the fact that Jesus fulfilled many words of Yahweh.

Today, you’re not a Jew living under Roman oppression who is yearning and hoping that Yahweh’s Messiah will finally show up.  As a Christian, you should already understand that Yahweh is not the only true God.  You should also understand that Jesus would still be God even if He wasn’t mentioned in any Bible.  Today you shouldn’t be worshiping Jesus because you think He is the Guy Isaiah talked about.  Since when is Isaiah credible?  How do you know that Isaiah was really talking for Yahweh?  Sure, Isaiah claimed to be speaking “the word of God,” but that claim has been so overused and abused that it’s become meaningless. Until the true Gods confirm to you that a human was accurately quoting One of Them, you can’t just believe it.  How do you know that Jesus is really God?  How do you know He’s even real?  How do you know that you’re not just being tricked by demons when you claim to have found the real Gods?  This world is full of religions, and every religion claims to be “right.”  As a human, you don’t know anything about anything until the real Gods help you out, and They’re not going to help you sort anything out until you are sincerely asking Them for help.

Today we don’t want to be anything like John, Paul, and the author of Hebrews—men who just parked their brains and accepted that every word of the Old Testament was God breathed just because that’s what their pastors were telling them.  The New Testament Jews are terrible role models in many areas.  In 1 John 4, the apostle John teaches his people how to tell truth from lies.  Do you know what he says?  He says that anyone who disagrees with him or his fellow apostles is a liar.  In other words, John says that if anyone wants to know the truth, they must blindly accept whatever John and his fellow apostles say (see Spiritual Discernment According to John).  John says:

We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 Jn. 4:6)

No, no, no, this is horrible teaching.  You should never be trusting in humans to guide you in spiritual matters, because no human has a perfect grasp of truth.  We are human beings.  We are not Gods, and if you try to give us the kind of trust and dependency that you should be giving to God after He’s told you how wrong this is, then He is going to come back at you with some nasty form of discipline.  Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are extremely jealous and possessive Beings.  This means that They aren’t going to settle for some of your trust—They want all of your trust.  They aren’t going to be content to have just some of your worship—They want it all.  When They see that you’re giving a bunch of your worship away to created beings, or when They see that you’re trusting in mere mortals to guide you in matters which mortals don’t begin to fully understand, They’re going to start convicting you to stop putting your trust in foolish humans.

Your Creators will always pull your attention back onto Them, because They are the only Ones who really know what truth is, and They are the only Ones who are capable of communicating that truth to you.  When leaders start talking like the apostle John by pressuring the flock to trust in humans instead of checking all things with God, those leaders end up in major trouble with God.  You must not confuse the created with the Creators.  Do not treat humans like Gods.  The apostle John was being totally obnoxious to promote himself the way he did, but what do your leaders tell you today about the stuff John says?  They tell you that everything John said was Divinely inspired, because today we have added yet another definition to the phrase the Word…

ACCORDING TO THE CHURCH TODAY: THE WORD = THE MODERN CHRISTIAN BIBLE

Today when Christians tell you that you need to read The Word, what do they mean?  They are referring to your modern, two testament Bible.  Not all Christian Bibles are the same—the Catholics have more books in their Bibles than the Baptists do.  Different Christian denominations take different positions on how many ancient documents they’re going to label as “God-breathed.” But remember how we explained that the Old Testament contains a lot of material that didn’t come from Yahweh Himself, but was just humans sharing their own thoughts?  Remember how we said that a lot of what humans wrote in the Old Testament is actually displeasing to God because it promotes bad soul attitudes and wrong priorities?  Well, the New Testament is even worse.  The New Testament contains a ton of terrible teaching.  So when you call both the Old and New Testament The Word of God, you’re really misleading yourself. You’re also insulting the true Gods by suggesting that They were the Ones who told the New Testament authors to write such disrespectful things about Yahweh and Jesus.  So you see, today we shouldn’t be calling the Bible the Living Word of God. The book is not alive—it’s just a book, and much of what’s in the book is nothing more than the foolish words of humans who were clinging to wrong soul attitudes.

So are we saying that there is no value in reading the Bible?  Not at all.  The Bible provides us with a great education, not only about Yahweh and Jesus, but also about what shady spiritual leaders sound like.  The apostles John, Paul and James put out a ton of bad advice and false claims in their letters.  Because you’re mislabeling their lies as “words from God,” you are putting your faith in those things.  When we put our faith in lies, we end up in a confused mess.  Happily, messes can be fixed, and the first step is always to ask God directly for wisdom.

ACCORDING TO PAUL: THE WORD OF GOD = A WEAPON YOU CAN USE AGAINST DEMONS

We can’t conclude a discussion about the Word of God without dealing with the apostle Paul’s absurd metaphor of spiritual armor.  As was very common among New Testament Jews, the apostle Paul grossly exaggerated the power of demons in his mind.  He viewed Satan as the ruler of the world, when in reality Satan is just a fleck of a demon who doesn’t rule over anything.  It is our three glorious Creators who rule this world which They are sustaining, but this isn’t what Paul teaches.  Like Christians today, Paul often portrayed Yahweh and Jesus as being very limited Beings who were caught in prolonged fights with other supernatural entities who They couldn’t seem to beat.  Paul was so into inventing fictitious foes for Yahweh and Jesus to battle with that he deified concepts like Sin and Death.  Paul was an idolatrous dingdong, and you really don’t want to listen to him on the subject of spiritual warfare.  But by the time the Church labels every idiotic thing Paul says as “Divinely inspired,” Paul’s useless advice about spiritual warfare is being promoted as brilliant, and today Christians are constantly exalting Paul’s famous metaphor of spiritual armor.

Because Paul wants to think that humans are far more powerful than they actually are, he encourages Christians to view themselves as spiritual warriors who can singlehandedly conquer scores of supernatural foes as long as they suit up with the armor of God.  Paul then invents a set of magical talismans for Christians to wield like wannabe sorcerers.  He turns concepts like salvation and righteousness into pieces of armor.  Then he instructs us to constantly bombard God with prayers and requests.  And while we’re busy being incessant nags who are always bossing God about, Paul tells us to be sure that we’re telling God what to do not just in our own lives, but in the lives of everyone else as well. You know, because being the all-wise God that He is, Yahweh loves it when human dots try to tell Him what to do.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Eph. 6:18)

Paul is such a terrible spiritual role model.  But now let’s see how he tries to turn the word of God into a sword that we can use to chop the devil down with.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:16-17)

To interpret Paul correctly, you need to realize that to him, the Holy Spirit is just another title for Yahweh.  Paul doesn’t accept Jesus as a true God—Paul only acknowledges Yahweh as a God (see The Great Offense of Paul: Rejecting the Divinity of Christ).  So what Paul means is this:

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of Yahweh, which is the word of Yahweh. (Eph. 6:17)

It’s nothing new to depict God’s words as a sword that’s chopping down His foes.  In Revelation, Jesus will show Himself as having a kind of sword sticking out of His mouth.  To ancient Jews who lived in a world plagued with hand-to-hand combat, swords were symbols of power.  Swords ended lives and maimed bodies. Swords were scary.

Being the awesome God that He is, Yahweh can speak whole universes in and out of existence with a single word.  Now of course the whole idea of Yahweh speaking with actual words is figurative.  Yahweh doesn’t really have a set of vocal cords like we do, but when we’re trying to relate to Him, our minds can only think of Him with human features.  So we imagine God giving powerful commands and having the whole universe obey Him.  If you want to depict the power of Yahweh’s words as an ancient Jew, what do you do?  You describe His words as being like a powerful sword that can chop down anyone who defies Him.

Now when Jesus portrays His own words as being like a sword, it works, because Jesus is God.  But when Paul tells Christians to “take up the sword of Yahweh,” it doesn’t work at all.  Yahweh is not some object that you can pick up and throw at the devil whenever it suits you.  Yahweh is God Almighty.  Yahweh doesn’t take orders from you.  He doesn’t speak just because you’re telling Him to.  So no, there isn’t some pile of commands that Yahweh has left in a basket somewhere which you can chuck at demons who bother you.  Words that Yahweh has said to other people in the past can’t be turned into spells which you can use to curse and bless other humans and demons today.  And yet this is exactly what Paul is urging Christians to do: to go flinging Yahweh’s words around like potent spells.

Today the Church exalts Paul’s instructions as brilliant and she urges you to put your heart into acting like some sorcerer wannabe.  But suppose Yahweh isn’t giving you any new words to fling at your enemies?  Where can you find some fresh supply of words from God which you can use as your spiritual sword?  Paul would have pointed you to the Old Testament.  Today Christian leaders point you to both Testaments.  Both Paul and modern day Christian leaders are promoting Scriptures as the believer’s personal book of incantations.  How do you think Yahweh feels about this kind of behavior?  Do you think He’s a fan of you trying to pretend that you can control the flow of God’s power just by repeating words that you think He’s said?  If you are serious about pleasing your Gods, you need to ask Them what They think about how Christians are handling the topic of spiritual warfare today (see Spiritual Warfare in the Church: Delusions vs. Truth).

CONCLUSION

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned.

Back in Old Testament times, Jews used the term word of God to mean messages from Yahweh.

By New Testament times, Jews were still using this definition, but they had also decided that everything in the Old Testament qualified as a word of God.

Individual Jews like John and Paul came up with their own spins on the term word of God. John referred to Jesus as the Word, and by that he meant that Jesus was the Messiah who Yahweh spoke of in the Old Testament.  The apostle Paul said that the word of God could be used as a weapon against demons, and by that he meant that believers could use things Yahweh had said in the past to battle Satan in their own lives.  The Jewish author of Hebrews described the word of God as living and active and judging people.  With this language, the author of Hebrews was deifying the Old Testament: viewing it not just as an inanimate collection of manuscripts, but seeing it as a living extension of Yahweh Himself, and of course this was a form of idolatry.  We should never be putting a material thing on the same level as God—not even physical records of things God has said.

Today Christian leaders refer to their modern Bibles as the Living Word or the Word of God, and by this they mean that every word in the Bible is a direct message from God.

Today Christians also use the term word of God to mean something God said.  Christian prophets are famous for claiming to have received a word from God, and most of the time, these claims are untrue.

After thousands of years of abuse, the phrase word of God has become as meaningless as the label Christian.  You simply can’t trust that any so-called word of God really was spoken by God until God Himself confirms it to you, and God isn’t going to give you any guidance until you are acknowledging that He is your only reliable Source of truth.  So the next time you hear someone refer to a word of God, don’t be so quick to be impressed.  Don’t even bother to listen unless you feel God is prompting you to, and don’t draw any conclusions about what you’ve heard until you receive God’s input.  This is one of the ways we honor God in life: by giving Him exclusive rights to our worship and trust.  We don’t depend on other humans and God to guide us in spiritual matters.  We only depend on God, and we count all human input as worthless until He says otherwise.

FURTHER READING:
It’s Biblical: God Talks to People Without Using the Bible
The Prophetic Books of the Bible: Who’s Talking?
Learning from Yahweh: What It Means To Be Holy
Jesus vs. the NT Jews: What it Means to Please God
Practicing Discernment: Bible Promises
How long is a biblical generation?

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