I have finally gotten some free time during this crazy weather. So, in step with what I wrote last week about Scripture, I want to this day put out something about God’s Word revealed. What it means to claim that Scripture is God’s Word.
In answering the question of how the Bible is God’s Word revealed, one must first state what the term revealed, or revelation, means. According to Merrill F. Unger, it is, “the fact that God has made known to men truths and realities that men could not discover for themselves” (The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary 1077). So, in stating that the Bible is God’s Word revealed it is saying that God through the Bible has made plain, things that people would not otherwise know.
How it is God’s word is the major underlying concern in the question. To answer this, one must see what is stated about God speaking throughout the Bible. Timothy Ward wrote, “there is an ontological relationship between God and his words…God cannot meaningfully establish his covenant with us, he cannot make his promise to us, without using words” (Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God 31). This means, as will be seen shortly, that God caused the Bible to come about through using human authors to establish His covenants and promises in His word. John Frame has written, “God’s covenants are with families, not only individuals. He does not renew the covenant, by a divine voice, individually…Rather, he appoints recipients of the covenant words to preserve those words and to pass them on to later generations” (Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief 563). The Bible is how these covenants, or God’s word, are preserved and passed along.
Now, how has God spoken so that this could happen? God spoke the world into existence according to Genesis 1-2. This is “God’s words and actions are intimately related…To say that God spoke, and to say of God that he did something, is often one and the same thing” (Ward 20). So, here at the beginning of the Bible God is shown speaking, and the world and the universe are made. God also made covenants with Noah (Gen. 9:8-17), and Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3) just to name a few. These were not to destroy the earth with floodwaters ever again (Noah) and that through one man the nations would be blessed (Abraham). Not only this but God spoke through prophets throughout the Old Testament. These prophets brought pronouncements “by the word of the Lord” (1 Kings 13). For these to be known they had to be written down, which is what the Bible is.
Then there is the New Testament where God spoke more visibly. This is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. This was the ultimate revealing of God speaking. As the gospel of John plainly states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (English Standard Version, John 1: 1,14). In this event, which is faithfully recorded in the Bible, God’s word is seen and known in the ultimate revealing of His Word. In this, it can be said that “God has so identified himself with his words that whatever someone does to God’s words…they do directly to God himself” (Ward 27).
Also, “God cannot meaningfully establish his covenant with us, he cannot make his promise to us, without using words” (Ward 31). This is exactly what the Bible is. It is God making and showing how one is to know that God has established these great promises. The Bible is “the divine record of revelation. Scripture is not simply a revelation from God, it is the only written revelation from God” (Robert Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review 12). God used human means to place His words and decrees in written form. From the Old Testament prophets through to the apostles, God used them to make His words known. Basically, “Our language can be made by God to speak truthfully of him because our language has its origin in him and in some way is like his own” (Ward 34-35). In this way, the Scriptures came about by the men who authored them. God used them to speak His Word out in a written form. He did not force them, but because our language came from God, and is in us because we are made in His image, these men were able to write what God wanted. They did not just sit down and do it alone. No, they had the Spirit of God to guide them along and help provoke them to write exactly what God desired them to write (2 Pet. 1:21).