BTC Phase 1: Lesson 2
The Written & Living Word, Definitions
This lesson will explain the difference between “The Written Word,” and “The Living Word,” and offer additional commentary with regard to how our relationship with “The Word” in both forms can support us in our spiritual walk.
Beloved in Christ;
The “Word” as Scriptures: When one hears the term, “The Word,” or “The Word of God,” the first thing most of us think about is “The Bible.” We also know that it is believed by both Jews and Christians, that God has communicated many important things through the pages of Scripture, such as His desire to have a relationship with us and how we might develop our relationship with Him.
“The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.” 2 Samuel 23:2 (KJV)
Yet all of what “The Word” actually “is” cannot be encompassed in the pages of any book, even a Holy Book as important as the Scriptures since the Bible or the term, “The Word” also references “something” that has been in existence long before alphabets or printing presses.
“But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever.” 1 Peter 1:25 (KJV)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 (KJV)
The “Bible” as Scriptures & “Jesus” as “The Word”: To begin to understand this, let us first look at one of the examples given by Jesus; He referred to the Bible as “Scriptures,” while He said the following about Himself…
“And ye have not His Word abiding in you: for whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not. Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” John 5:38-39 (KJV)
His reference to “they are they which testify of me” points back to prophecy; but we also learn by reading the following verse, that His Holy Spirit as the Living presence of God, can be found within us today, in ways that reach beyond language and writings.
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (KJV)
“Might have life” refers to our reconciliation with God through His Mercy and the “more abundantly” aspect refers to being able to experience the living Spirit of God operating from within us. Notice the use of the term “might” in this verse; this suggests that our experience of walking in Mercy and Grace may be based on criteria, such as our willingness to adhere to both (Mercy & Grace) while undergoing a “Nature Change” via the Living Word.
“For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)
So, how can we become those who do “adhere” to Mercy and Grace or who truly embrace The Word? “The Book” (The Bible) can speak “about” a goal of transformation for each soul; but the Living Spirit of God (Holy Spirit/New Man/Grace, etc.) at work within us, is what can actually produce a full “nature change,” from being motivated by the limitations of “human nature” to becoming a soul motivated by the Spirit of God. This is a critical distinction to make. Sure, reading and studying Scripture can definitely help us to become focused and edified. But the work of undergoing a “nature change” happens within us by submitting daily to the leading of the Living Spirit, with the “Fruit of the Spirit” becoming the evidence that the “Seed of the Spirit” has taken root and is growing.
Word of Knowledge and Word of Wisdom: Here is another example of the use of the term “The Word” or “a Word.” Have you ever heard the expression, “I got a Word from God,” spoken by a member of the Body? Could it be that God can touch hearts or speak to us through one another? Let’s look at this phenomenon of receiving a “Word” in 1 Corinthians 12:8 (KJV):
“For to one is given by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit”…Ahh yes, many people, yet One Spirit, always at work to lead and guide us.
So, according to this Scripture, a brother or sister in the Body of Christ can in a sense, “receive” information for another, as given by inspiration from God; this represents a form of guidance which can help to bring understanding, encouragement or wisdom. Then if the “word” given is indeed divinely inspired, it will be restorative in nature and not conflict with what is found in Scriptures, (something good to know when discerning the nature or source of a message given.)
Divine Encounters and Interventions: Here is another example of how we might receive a “just-in-time word” of inspiration from a “higher source.” I will speak from my own experience on this one. One afternoon at about 1:30 pm, a lady I was visiting suddenly stood up in the middle of our conversation and turned on the TV so she could watch her favorite inspirational Christian talk show. Within moments a guest speaker on the show felt led to give a message to “someone out there” and that message ministered directly to my situation at the time. Was this a coincidence? Well, later in the middle of the night, I suddenly woke up and since I could not sleep, I turned on the television and the channel that appeared was repeating the same exact show as I had seen earlier in the day at the same point where the message had been given earlier. I made the decision to “receive” this encouragement as given by God through the TV show.
On other occasions, I have been touched by the kindness and wisdom of unique persons who ministered “a word” to me, as if they could see right into my soul, understanding me perfectly, speaking words of wisdom so clearly and yet they may have been perfect strangers. Who were these people? Were they angels? Or were they just sensitive and caring humans that God was able to use to bless and comfort me and likely others as well?
How many such “divine encounters” have come and gone, maybe at times unrecognized throughout our life? Upon evaluating these experiences, it appears that the ways which God can use to bring a fresh “Word” to His people in a time of need may indeed be endless. His loving “interventions” bringing confirmation or comfort are ever creative. Perhaps we can learn to remain alert to all of the “gifts” that God in His mercy brings to us as we go through life.
Defining “The Word”: So, as you can see by these few examples, “The Word” cannot be contained within the written pages of Scriptures alone. Therefore, for clarity’s sake, when BTC refers to “The Living Word,” this will represent a direct reference to Jesus, either within us as His Spirit or as the man (The Word made flesh as He traveled about in his earthly ministry). Then, when referring to the Bible, we will use, “The Written Word” or the “Bible” or the term, “Scriptures.” If we are commenting on “a word” coming through someone from God to another person, we will clarify that as well.
Confirming a fresh “Word” with Scripture: There is a tradition and discipline practiced throughout most of the Body of Christ (or should be), that when ideas are shared with others or if a “word” is given, any of us should be able to confirm the information with Scripture. For instance, if someone in the Body says, “God told me to tell you something,” should we believe what they tell us? If we are tuned into the Spirit of God ourselves, we will likely be able to discern the “nature” of the message; but also, as previously mentioned, whatever information their “message” contains, it should be such that it can be confirmed by Scripture. If it cannot, it is a safe assumption that the information given is from a different source other than God or the Holy Spirit, since the Bible supports truth and spiritual wisdom.
So, in like manner, you will notice that the BTC Guided Study Experience content reflects this tradition and presents Scripture verses to confirm the material being offered, thereby doing the utmost to maintain this necessary discipline.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1 (KJV)
Also, if a life experience is shared or an opinion given, it will be stated as such and not represented as “The Word,” though it may be that others can still gain from the testimony.
Who Wrote the Bible?
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)
To say the least, the question of “who wrote the Bible” is a hot topic these days, with numerous conspiracy theories and rumors making their rounds throughout society by way of talk shows, so called “documentaries,” movies, and books. Discussions abound and much passion is aroused at the very mention of this subject; and apart from the issue of “who wrote the Bible,” there are even more theories available regarding what remains of the contents of the Bible. Some are concerned about Chapters which may have been removed from the Scriptures at one time, while others believe that certain of the “writings” never made it in to the Good Book to begin with and perhaps should have been included. For instance, it has been suggested by a portion of historians and theologians, that entire sections of the Bible have been left out or even kept hidden from the public due to political or sexist views held by leadership throughout certain periods of history. Others have wondered whether or not Jesus was ever married and if He was, the question then becomes, “Why are these details not mentioned in the Gospels?”
Thus, some believe that there is a huge conspiracy to keep information regarding the personal life of Jesus hidden, so as not to diminish the public’s perception of the Deity (or details have been removed from public view for some other motive which would be very difficult to verify).
The Holy Ghost as Author
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21 (KJV)
BTC recognizes that the Holy Ghost (guiding & empowering element of God) is the Author of the Scriptures, while the men who penned the words were of flesh and blood, having recorded passages at the leading of the same Holy Ghost, whether these “scribes” personally understood the nature and purpose of what they were writing or not.
BTC also recognizes that there are many metaphors used throughout the pages of Scripture which reflect cultural influences of the times when certain passages were written. (We will explore the meaning of some of those metaphors in upcoming Lessons).
Nonetheless, critical elements of what constitutes the vital Message of Mercy & Grace have somehow been preserved to this point. Therefore we can still glean from the pages of Scripture, that there is a purpose and a path for our souls to follow “unto” a point of soul healing and transformation as our souls are joined with our Creator via His Spirit. The Bible therefore, is simply a wonderful gift from God to us, so that we might be led back to the Father and have a helpful guidepost to aide us in our spiritual growth experience.
As to these current “conspiracy theories” and debates regarding “missing elements in Scripture” such as the possiblitiy that Jesus was engaged or married at some point, etc., it is interesting to consider that since marriage is sanctified by God in the Bible and since Jesus was “made flesh” and He was Jewish, it just might be that there were many traditions he followed under the Law of Moses that would have been in keeping with Jewish customs of his Tribe, whether these details are mentioned in the New Testament or not. Does any of that really matter or can obsession over such details just become a distraction to entering fully into our own process of soul transformation?
Minding our own spiritual business: In the last analysis, one could decide that these types of questions might not require from us, any more than a passing “so what,” since the critical opportunity for each soul remains, which is to get focused on the Spirit and “get on with” the process of growing up spiritually. So, the “real issue” as presented by Scriptures is “whether or not” we as individuals are fully committed to soul growth and “whether or not” we as individuals are “minding our own spiritual business” rather than getting caught up in flesh-motivated intrigue.
So, BTC Studies will refrain from engaging in discussions or debates about such theories for which we may never have substantial answers; and instead will focus on the process of healing and transformation. Without concerning ourselves about “what might be missing from Scripture,” this Study Experience will instead seek the great guidance which can be found in the Scriptures as they remain today. We give thanks for help that we find therein, which encourages us as we move through our spiritual journey. Let’s absorb the essential elements of the process of personal growth and transformation and not lose our focus. We trust that the Spirit in us can confirm to our souls, the meaning for each area of Scripture as our path unfolds and as each moment or phase of our growth is upon us.
It is wonderful having you as our special guest and I sincerely hope your time here will always be filled with wonder and peace as you explore the beautiful pages of “The Word” and as you deepen your connection with God.
Sincerely, your sister in Christ…
Chaplain Ann M. Wolf
“The Written & Living Word,” (Definitions) is by Ann M. Wolf © 2016, All rights reserved