Over the last weeks we have been looking at two fundamental approaches to understanding God’s word. One is spawned from an environment where everything is outward performance and this naturally results in approaching God’s word in the same way—as a giant list of do’s and don’ts for us to outwardly perform. The other is the inner faith approach which takes the word of God and simply believes it, without any add-ons or qualifiers. Important to this approach is the realization that God Himself—the How-Great-Thou-Art Almighty God who created the universe and all that is in it—IS the Word of God and He lives in us. It is the word of God that contains the power to call into being that which does not exist.
God uses His own life, as the Living Word, to accomplish faith in us. We can trust that every verse in God’s word is tested; we can take refuge in it as a protective shield. (Proverbs 30:5). It will revive us (Psalm 119:25), strengthen us (Psalm 119:28), comfort us (Psalm 119:49-50), and sustain us. (Psalm 119:116). It will establish our footsteps in the ways of God’s leading. (Psalm 119:133). It produces our surrender. (Philippians 2:13). We have faith that the Lord is executing His word on the earth quickly and thoroughly, and we who believe in Him will not be disappointed. (Romans 9:28, 33). We rejoice that the word is always near us, even in our mouths and in our hearts. (Romans 10:8). It is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), and it is Truth. (Psalm 119:160). In it we find loving-kindness, salvation, delight, love; a place where we can seek after the Lord and His speaking, where we can meditate and lift Him up, where we can walk at liberty. (Psalm 119:41-48).
One approach assumes that the word of God is an inanimate object with no more power in it than the telephone book, while the other accepts the word of God as the living, active, piercing, discerning, speaking of God Himself—that all of scripture is “God breathed.” (2 Timothy 3:16, Interlinear Greek-English New Testament). One approach may argue that only one version of the Bible is the “true” word of God, while the other believes God is big enough to speak to the hearts of his children through any Bible version because He alone is the true word of God. He is the life-giving Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17), that writes the word of God on the tablets of our hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3). This latter approach believes that the Word of Christ richly dwells within every believer. (Colossians 3:16).
In our next installment, we will take some specific verses as examples, and explore the differences in how they are interpreted.