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Theology 101: The Living Wordcomment (0)

January 9, 2014

By Jerry Batson

Theology 101: The Living Word

The Word of God is a common phrase used and heard by church-going people. Most of us probably recognize that the phrase is capable of twin meanings. Sometimes we refer to the Bible as the Word of God. When we do, we have in mind the written revelation that God inspired holy men of old to write. 

At other times we refer to Christ as the Word of God. When we do, we have in mind the living revelation that God gave through the person and work of Christ. “Word” suggests communicating, revealing or manifesting as opposed to silence, indifference or aloofness.

What is a word? If an idea or image comes to mind that we want to describe to someone, probably our best choice is to encode the idea or image into words. Of course, we have other less sophisticated ways of communicating — gestures, facial expressions, body language, drawings, etc. Most often, we choose words, either written or spoken. If our words are carefully and accurately chosen, they become the vehicles that can carry our thought or image to the listener or reader. 

When our encoded ideas are put into words and those words are heard or read, the receiver must then undergo the reverse process of decoding our words in order to extract from them the idea or image our words were intended to convey. So both the word of speaking and the word of hearing are important. Both must be accurate, else the communication is unclear or misunderstood.  

Our encoded mental images might be simple. Take, for example, the possibility that you want to tell your friend about the fresh shipment of delicious apples that you found at the local grocery store. In order to capture or encode your find, you might use words like red, fresh, shiny, round, large, juicy, price, etc. You would eliminate such word possibilities as blue, square, wormy, etc. Upon hearing your verbal description, your friend must decode your words into images that match the image you wanted to paint with your words. 

Might we not say that God, who loves us supremely and wants us to know and love Him in return, wanted to communicate this message to humans? What options did He have? He could have written us about His great love. In fact, He could have taken a whole book, employing numerous writers, to tell us about His multifaceted love. In fact, we have just such a book. We call it the Bible.

Back to the desire to describe a delicious apple to a friend. What would be better than a letter or phone call? Would it not be to take one of the apples to your friend? Not satisfied to give us a written word of His love, God chose to send us a perfect example of His love — His beloved Son. Jesus was God’s thought expressed in a way humans can understand.

So now we have two wonderful channels by which to know that God loves us with all-encompassing, sin-forgiving, life-bestowing love. We have both the written Word and the Living Word. The Living Word once declared, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). 

In Theology 101, we will rely on the written Word to encode for us an accurate understanding of Christ. Since “theology” is studying, learning and thinking about God, we want the very best understanding of God that has ever been encoded. Christian faith understands that the Living Word is that best means of knowing God. 

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