“The Word of the Lord is eternal and true”

“The Word of the Lord is eternal and true”

What’s your first thought when you hear this phrase?

Likely, part of your response is a thought about the Bible, perhaps negative or positive, depending on your perspective.

The first day of our vacation I observed part of a beach church service at our resort in Hawaii. Yes, the term “beach church service” is fodder for a post itself - I think every Sunday the congregation is a whole new group of people as tourists come and go! But I digress. It was a fairly generic evangelical service with some praise songs (“Shine Jesus Shine”!!!), prayer and scripture reading. And then somewhat out of the blue, there were some comments about not capitulating to the culture when it comes to biblical interpretation. Yes, it was a bit of a rant, with a bit too much fear-mongering for my liking. But overall, the sentiment wasn’t unreasonable in a time when the Bible is often disregarded loosely. I just didn’t like the tone.

Following the rant, we were invited to speak this phrase together as a collective affirmation:

“The Word of the Lord is eternal and true”

I’ll admit, I had some discomfort repeating this phrase. Following the rant, the tone of the service seemed more about digging in our religious heals than worship. Something was missing.

As the group quieted following the corporate confession of “the Word,” one last statement was offered from someone at back of the group. A man in a wheelchair, not really fitting the tourist persona with his torn jeans, sunglasses and colorful tattoos, quipped loudly in the growing silence,

“Jesus is eternal and true”

Ah ha! that’s what was missing.

Jesus.

Up to that point, the whole service was using the Bible to point to...the Bible. Unawares, the Bible itself became the focus of our adoration. It took an unlikely source (actually, perhaps not so unlikely) to direct our attention to why Christians believe the Bible is still relevant.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (Jn 1:1;14)

The Word is a person. This person is Jesus.

And so responding to a Bible-skeptic culture, we shouldn’t present the Word by thumping our Bibles louder. No, we present the Word as the personification of love in the world that fulfills all that we know and understand about the Bible.

“Jesus is eternal and true.” Amen.


4 comments:

marktymm said...

Been saying this for a while.
"Colossians Remixed" by Walsh and Keesmaat is a good look at the role of scripture in the life of Christians.

Greg Harris said...

Hey Dave,

I usually "Word of God" conversations in very "either/or" terminology. Either the Bible is the Word of God or Jesus is the Word of God. I think there is a "both/and" here.

It's bad to make the Bible the object of worship. However, I don't think it's wrong to call both the Scripture the Word of God, and Jesus Christ the Word of God.

To drive a wedge between the two by calling one the Word of God and not the other is problematic. We only know about the Word (Jesus) because of the Word (Scriptures).

Both the Word, and the Word, are eternal and true.

Praise God!

David Warkentin said...

Hey Mark, yes I've heard good recommendations of that book.

David Warkentin said...

Hey Greg, thanks for the reminder to avoid either/or descriptions (which can be a danger on all sides of these discussions).

I definitely agree with the problem of the either/or tendency - and I hope my corrective displays a desire to avoid such dichotomizing. I have no problem with the phrase "Word of God" for Jesus and the Bible - my problem is when we don't articulate what we mean when we use the term or use it as a emotionally charged rally cry for a very specific Christian view of culture (which is what I experienced on vacation).

While definitely a both/and topic, I do think we still need to distinguish between the two when we throw around the term "the Word," especially in worship. As I experienced in the service I describe, there was an assumption we all agreed it was the Bible until the timely reminder of what the Bible reveals - namely, Jesus.

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