Is the Bible the Word of God?


Is the Bible the inerrant, infallible Word of God? For years I used to believe that every verse in the Bible was the 'Word of God'. As I studied the Bible and grew spiritually I every once in a while came across 'problems' in the Bible. Things that I found difficult to believe was the will of God. The problems became more and bigger and it got to the point where I had to take a hard and brutally honest look at the Bible.

From childhood we are taught that the Bible is the Word of God in such a way that we never dare to question it. The idea that every verse in the Bible is the 'Word of God' caused Christians to use the Bible as some sort of weapon to oppress and judge others - to somehow be the moral authority of the world. You just need to take a look at the history of Christianity to see how badly that turned out.

Lets take a look at a couple of important points on the Bible:
  • Jesus did not believe every verse in the Bible is the Word of God (see example in the next section).
  • The Bible does not refer to itself as 'The Word of God' but refers to Jesus as the 'Word of God' (John 1).
  • The books in the Bible were chosen 300 years after Jesus lived on earth. This happened during a period when Constantine turned Christianity into a state religion (for political reasons) and many high level officials in the early 'church' converted to Christianity not because of what they believed but because they had no choice. It is possible that many of the leaders of the early church were not true believers. It was during this period that the books of the Bible were chosen and that it was also decided that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible 'Word of God'.
  • The Bible is not inerrant or infallible. There are many 'discrepancies' in the Bible, many contradictions. Even people in the Bible didn't always agree.
  • Having a written 'Word of God' is not biblical - there are prophesies in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 31:33-34) and things that Jesus said  (John 14:26, John 16:12-13) that shows us the time of written laws have passed and we are now lead, each one individually, by the Holy Spirit.
  • Nothing that Jesus said and nothing in the Old Testament should give us the idea that we should take letters that Paul wrote (and other New Testament books) and give every letter the status of 'Word of God'.

What is the Word of God?

Jesus is the Word of God (John 1) so we need to look at how He saw scripture.
Jesus said to them, “Is this not why you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures [that teach the resurrection] nor the power of God [who is able to raise the dead]? - Mark 12:24 (AMP)
Scripture (Old Testament Books) is very important. Jesus often referred to the Old Testament but he mostly referred to it as 'scripture' or 'Moses said'.

He only once referred to an Old Testament scripture as 'The Word of God': Matthew 15:6, Mark 7:13 (both verses is referring to the same incident). It is also important to note that the Old Testament scripture He was referring to (honour your parents) was one of the Ten Commandments.

In addition to this, the scripture Jesus was referring to as 'The Word of God' was Exodus 20:12. If you continue to the next chapter you will notice that there is no break between chapter 20 and 21 - the list of commandments just continue. In Exodus 21:24 we read the commandment 'an eye for an eye'. It is clearly a commandment in the Old Testament. Jesus however then goes in Matthew 5:38 and says that the verse in Exodus 21:24 is wrong and He replaces it with another rule!

Did God make a mistake? Did He change His mind? No! It was never His will or His 'Word' in the first place. It was the Old Testament law that Jesus came to replace with something better. With the true 'Word of God' see Jesus and the Old Testament Law.

There is even a more clear example where Jesus draws a line through the idea that every verse in the Bible is the 'Word of God'. In Deuteronomy 24:1-4 we read that a man can write a woman a 'bill of divorce' if the husband no longer finds favor in her. Jesus however says in Matthew 19:7-9 that it is not something God wanted (Matthew 19:7-9). Jesus is referring to Old Testament verses in the Bible and saying 'it is not something that God wanted'!

Not every single verse in the bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God.

When we look at the New Testament, Jesus often said we should follow His teachings and His commandments - not His and Paul that will come after Him. But then again, He said that the Holy Spirit will teach us more after He left (John 16:12-13). Paul might not have known Jesus personally but he knew others who did. These books are invaluable - but there is absolutely no reason we should believe that every word that came out of their mouths and every thing they did (Acts) was the will of God and the Word of God.

Conclusion

All scripture is important and should be studied, but it is only through the Holy Spirit that God's Word can be revealed to us (John 14:26). It is through personal revelation of the Holy Spirit that God 'opens' His Word to us.

We can't go around telling other people what to do as we don't have God's Word written down in a neat little book. Knowledge about God is also not limited to the Bible (think of John 16:12-13 and Romans 1:19-20).

There is no way our awesome God can be defined, described and explained in a single book (or the 66 books contained in the bible in one neat publication). It is not that simple.

When I first made this discovery it was very disconcerting. Suddenly nothing was sure anymore. I didn't know what to believe, what to read and what to ignore. However, once I broke loose of the traditional idea of what the Bible is, once I started to trust the Holy Spirit to guide me and teach me, my faith became so much more - so much better.
Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. - Gospel of Thomas, Saying 2
Not everything in the Bible is the 'Word of God' and the 'Word of God' is not limited to the Bible.

Also read: 'Knowledge of God beyond the Bible'

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