Part 6 in a 10 part series. View series intro and index.
The phrase “the word of the Lord” occurs 256 times in the English Standard Version. That clearly communicates that God’s word is a big deal.
By his word, God created the heavens and earth and all that fill them (Gen. 1:1-27). By his word, God proclaimed the protoevangelium (“first gospel”) to Adam and Even after the fall (Gen. 3:15). By his word, God promised to make Abraham a blessing and great nation (Gen. 12:1-3). By his word, God showed Moses his glory by proclaiming his name (Ex. 34:6-7).
By his word, God spoke to kings and priests through prophets in Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. By his word, God promised a Messiah, a new kingdom, a new covenant, and a new people through Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Isaiah. By his word, God declared disaster on Israel and Judah, and by his word he provided hope of mercy and renewal. By his word, God pledged to “send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes” (Mal. 4:6).
There is no doubt that God speaks to his people through his word.
The author of Hebrews recognized this, but he also recognized something that is pivotal for Christians and absolutely essential to gospel-centered Bible study:
Long ago, at many times and in may ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Heb. 1:1-3a).
What the author understood, and wanted to communicate, was that the ultimate expression of what God is like is found in the person of Jesus Christ.
Beginning his gospel account in similar fashion, John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (1:1-2, 14).
Jesus, God’s perfect word, was not simply content to be communicated throughout history. He became flesh and dwelt among us.
Because Jesus is the exact representation of God in his being, nature, and character, he is the best possible medium through which God can speak to his people. Paul writes that there is “one mediator” between God and man, Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). Another name for mediator is a “go-between communicator.” How do we primarily communicate? With words. God is no different. Jesus is God’s word in the flesh. You want to know what God says? Look at Jesus.
At this point, you may ask, “What does this have to do with me studying the Bible?” I admit, this does not appear immediately practical. In reality, this is a mindset and personal culture you have to build. It’s not a “sit-down-and-do-it-thing.” If you can shape your mind to think this way, you will be more engaged when you study the Bible study and it will be more fruitful and fulfilling. When you begin to see all the words of the Bible as pointing to Christ, you will no longer be lost in commands, laws, rituals, and ancient Jewish customs. It is important to know those aspects of the Bible, but the sum of Scripture is Christ. Even Jesus said that all the Scriptures (referring to the Old Testament) bear witness about him (see John 5:39).
In the next three posts we are really going to dig deeper into what it looks like to study the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) within a gospel-centered framework. Before you build the body of a vehicle, you really need to make sure the engine works. This post, and the previous four are the “engine” that drives this car.