When I was a child I was admonished not to throw my Bible
around or step on it. "This is God’s Word" I was sternly
reminded. The Bible, this book of ink and opaque paper, is to our
religion the way the flag is to our…well..religion. (At least we don’t have
to burn it if it touches the ground). Today there are enough
near-disposable variations of the scriptures to make your head spin. A Bible is as likely to resemble a paperback than the traditional gold foiled,
leather bound book our grandparents carried on Sundays. Those who would
consider bible tossing as irreverent would probably deem a comic book New
Testament blasphemous as well. Personally, I like the fact that the bible
is accessible in different translations and form factors. A trip to the
local Christian bookstore leads you to believe that we are in a Bible saturated
society. Of course, that’s different from being a society saturated in
This is due to fact that we have identified the Word of God
as an object instead of a person. We’ve reduced the God of Love to a love
letter! Instead of placing God in a box, we’ve placed him in a
book! Our view of God needs to be elevated above our view of the Bible. Ironically, if we hold the Bible in high regard, then we would
actually consider what the Bible reveals about the Word and what it reveals
about itself. If we did, then perhaps a true perspective could be
What the Bible reveals about the Word
The words of John 1 would seem familiar to most Christians,
yet its revealed truth is mired in a glaze of over-familiarity.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been
made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
First, the Bible reveals that the Word has always been (can’t be said for the Bible itself). Secondly, the Word was and is God. The Word,
according to scriptures, is not what’s written down about God. God is the
Word! It’s by the Word (Christ) that all things are created. It’s by
the Word (Christ) that life not only originated, but is sustained!
We see the Word of God in action in the following Genesis
recordings: "Let there Be light", "God said that it was
Good", "It’s not good for the man to be alone", "do not eat
of the tree" to name a few. As John 1 expounds, the Word of God
brings forth creation and breathes life! There is no book, the Bible
included, that has that power in of itself! Modern Christians have taken
a sort of pantheistic approach to the scriptures. When this subconscious
designation takes place, not only is God reduced to an idol, but even the
bible is rendered unreliable in that the very truths it conveys about the Word(Christ) and itself(scriptures) are ignored!
What the Bible says about itself
Many Christians have this verse memorized. 2 Timothy 3:16
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may
be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV).
The key word in this verse is "useful". The Bible describes itself as useful. The Bible itself is not
relational. It is useful, however, in developing relationships. It
is not a teacher, but it is useful for apprenticeship to the master teacher. The Bible is a revelation of a God who is relational and righteous!
The Bible is not "the Word", but a "revelation of" the
Word. (John 1:14)"the Word
became flesh and dwelt among us")
Eugene Peterson describes Jesus the Word in "Eat this
Book" with the following statement: "He both was the language and
spoke the language that reveals God not from the outside but from the inside,
God’s heart, God’s comprehensive way of being personally and relationally with
us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
The Bible in the right perspective
Understanding the role of the Bible as God-breathed revelation does not mean we should diminish it’s importance. Rightly considered, the bible
fulfills its promise of usefulness in our lives, and restores mystery and awe
of The Word (Christ) to our rebellious minds! Furthermore, the Bible informs us that we are transformed by the renewal of our minds and the scriptures obviously play a vital part in that process.
As A.W. Tozer said "what
comes to our minds when we think of God is the most important thing about
us." What he means is that Christians no longer think rightly about God. We
have attempted to place Him on our mind’s shelf to gather the dust of faulty images and perceptions! The problem is, God can not be "put away" like a
book. We reduce Him in this way because we are idolaters by nature!
If God does not transcend our limited imaginations, then we can put Him out of sight, out of
mind, and out of reach of our everyday, ordinary existence! The Israelites of the Exodus made the same fatal error in their construction of a golden calf. The calf was not another god they were worshiping, it was a degrading representation of the true God. They were not thinking rightly or clearly about the God they claimed to worship! Interestingly enough, they tried to reconstruct God from the materials of their treasure.
Treasured or Worshiped?
The Bible is to be treasured not worshiped! God is to be
worshiped, not treasured! Treasure is usually characterized by
compartmentalization. We do this because we are limited and finite in a
vacuum of time and place. Meanwhile, God is limitless and infinite beyond
time and space! Treasure has it’s limits. We can keep treasure in a box in the attic to be accessed periodically for the purpose of reminiscing, or it can be accumulated for future enjoyment. God is Eternal. He knows no limits. He can not be our good luck charm, He can only be worshiped as the Word who was, and is, and is to come!