Systematic Theology: Lecture Notes Chapter 2: The Word of God

Systematic Theology: The Whole Counsel of God[1]

                                             Lecture Notes[2] Chapter 2: The Word of God

26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all,
27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God
 (Acts 20:26-27)

What are the different forms of the Word of God?

A. The Word of God as a Person: Jesus Christ

Sometimes the Bible refers to God’s Son as the Word of God.

Revelation 19:13 (ESV)
13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

John 1:1-5 (ESV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

(See also 1 John 1:1)
B. The Word of God as Speech by God

1. God’s Decrees

Sometimes God’s Words take the form of powerful decrees that cause events to happen or even cause things to come into being.

Genesis 1:3 (ESV)
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 1:24 (ESV)
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.
This is why the Psalmist would write:
Psalm 33:6 (ESV)
6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
These powerful creative words from God are often called God’s decrees.

Decree of God– Is a word of God that causes something to happen

These decrees of God include not only the events of the original creation but also the continuing existence of all things.

Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)
3 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. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

2. God’s Words of Personal Address

God sometimes communicates with people on earth by speaking directly to them.
Genesis 2:16-17 (ESV)
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

God spoke the Ten Commandments directly to Moses on Mount Sinai:
Exodus 20:1-3 (ESV)
1 And God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

God spoke directly to the people when Jesus was baptized and also on the Mount of Transfiguration to Peter and John (See Matthew 3:17_______________).

When God spoke, it is clear that His words were clear to His listeners.  They understood this speech as direct words from God.  These words were given in human language to His listeners.  Whenever God speaks there is a responsibility of the listener to believe and obey His words.  There is always an obligation for the hearer to obey what God says.  To disbelieve or disobey any of these words spoken by God was to disbelieve and disobey God.

3. God’s Words as Speech Through Human Lips

 

Sometimes God raises up a prophet through whom He speaks.
Deuteronomy 18:18-19 (ESV)
18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

(See also Jer. 1:9; Ex. 4:12; Num. 22:38)

God’s words spoken through human lips were considered to be just as authoritative and just as true as God’s words spoken from God directly to a human.  So, to disbelieve or disobey a prophet is to disbelieve and disobey God Himself.

4. God’s Words in Written Form (The Bible)

 

In addition to the other forms, we also have God’s Word in written form.

First, we have the example of God writing the very Ten Commandments on the stone tablets…

Exodus 31:18 (ESV)
18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
Next, Moses wrote God’s Word…
Deuteronomy 31:24-26 (ESV)
24 When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end,
25 Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD,
26 “Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.

Further additions were made to God’s Word…
Joshua 24:26 (ESV)
26 And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
Moving to the New Testament, we see Paul’s writings are the very commands of God…
1 Corinthians 14:37 (ESV)
37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.
Paul believed what he wrote is God’s Word.

What are some benefits of having God’s Word written down?

Accurate Preservation

Opportunity for repeat study

More accessible

One is blessed as he reads and meditates on God’s Word…

Psalm 1:1-2 (ESV)
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Joshua 1:8 (ESV)
8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Also, we should understand that it is God’s written Word  that is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness…2 Timothy 3:16.

Application Questions-

Do you think you would pay more attention if God spoke to you from heaven or through the voice of a living prophet than if he spoke to you from the written words of Scripture?

Would you believe or obey such words more readily than you do Scripture?

Do you think your present level of response to the written words of Scripture is an appropriate one?

What positive steps can you take to make your attitude toward Scripture more like the kind of attitude God wants you to have?[3]


[1] Based on Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, Zondervan

[2] All Scripture from ESV Bible, Crossway

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