God’s Word of Power
Posted by Joseph Torres
John Frame makes the following subpoints about the word of God in his larger discussion on the subject in Salvation Belongs to the Lord:
Let me make several subpoints, beginning from the more obvious, moving to the less obvious:
- The word reveals God. Obviously, when God speaks, he reveals his mind, his will, his heart. According to Deut. 4:5-8, the nations around Israel learn what kind of God Israel has when they hear his word. The righteousness of God’s statutes and rules reveals the righteousness of God himself, and indeed his nearness to Israel, verse 7.
- Word and Spirit work together. We saw in 1 Thess. 1:5, that the word comes to us in power and in the Spirit. When the word works in power, the Spirit is right there working with it. That means that when the word is among us, God also is among us.
- God performs all his actions by speaking. There are several classes of divine actions mentioned in the Bible. These include God’s eternal plan, creation, providence (including miracle), and his judgments and blessings on creatures. These actions line up parallel to the lordship attributes. The eternal plan shows his lordship attribute of authority, creation and providence his control, and his judgment and blessing his presence. But my point here is that every one of these acts God performs by speaking, by his word. His eternal counsel is a form of speech (Ps. 33:11, Acts 2:23, 4:28), as is creation (Gen. 1:3, Ps. 33:6, John 1:3), providence (Ps. 148:8), judgment (Gen. 3:17-19, Matt. 25:41-43, John 12:47-48) and grace (Matt. 25:34-36, Rom. 1:16). So, again, you never find God without his word.
- God is distinguished from other gods by the fact that he speaks. The word is so important that it is the means by which Scripture distinguishes between him and idols. The idols are “dumb.” God, however, is by his nature word. See this contrast in Hab. 2:18-20, 1 Kings 18:24, 26, 29, Ps. 115:4-8, 135:15-18, 1 Cor. 12:2. As speech distinguishes God from pretenders to deity, it thereby characterizes his nature at a deep level.
- The persons of the Trinity are distinguished by their role in the divine speech. We usually define the Trinity in terms of a family: the Father and the Son; but when we do that it is hard to bring the Spirit into that particular metaphor. But Scripture also speaks of the Trinity using a linguistic metaphor: the Father is the speaker (Ps. 110:1, 147:4, Isa. 40:26), the Son the word (John 1:1-14, Rev. 19:13), and the Spirit is the breath that carries the word to its destination (Ps. 33:6, 2 Tim. 2:16). The words for “Spirit” in Greek and Hebrew mean “breath” or “wind.” When I speak to you, my breath pushes my words out of my mouth and begins an air current that goes to your eardrums. In the same way, in God, the Father speaks the Word, and the Spirit carries that Word so that it accomplishes its purpose, as we saw in 1 Thess. 1:5. So the word is so important to God’s nature that it can be used to define the Trinity.
- The speech of God has divine attributes: it is righteous (Ps. 119:7), faithful (Ps. 119:86), wonderful (Ps. 119:129), holy (2 Tim. 3:15), eternal (Ps. 119:89, 160), omnipotent (Gen. 18:14 [This verse reads literally, “No word of God is void of power.”] Isa. 55:11), perfect (Ps. 19:7). Only God has these attributes in total perfection. So the word is God.
- The word of God is an object of worship. In Psm. 56:4, David says, “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” He repeats this praise for the word in verse 10 (cf. Ps. 119:120, 161-62, Isa. 66:5). This is remarkable, for only God is the object of religious praise. To worship something other than God is idolatrous. Since David worships the word here, we cannot escape the conclusion that the word is divine.
- The word is God, John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We usually use this passage to show the deity of Christ, and it is an excellent passage for this purpose, as we shall see in Chapter 10. But now I want you to see that this passage does not only identify Jesus with God. It also identifies God’s speech with God. The phrase “in the beginning” takes us back to Genesis 1. In that passage, the word was the creative word of God, the word that made the world. John 1:3 emphasizes the creative work of the word, “All things were made through him [that is, through the word], and without him was not any thing made that was made.” So the word that “was God” in verse 1 was, not only Jesus, as verse 14 clearly indicates (“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”), but also the speech of God commanding the light to come out of darkness in Gen. 1:3. Cf. 2 Cor. 1:20, Heb. 1:1-3, 1 John 1:1-3, Rev. 3:14, 19:13.
So the word is God, and God is the word. Where God is, the word is, and vice versa. God’s word is not only powerful and authoritative, it is the very presence of God in our midst. How can we understand this? We can think of God’s word, as John did in the first chapter of his gospel, as somehow identical with Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity. So when God speaks to us, Jesus is there.
-John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord
Posted on December 21, 2012, in John Frame, Scriptural Authority and tagged authority of Scripture, Holy Scripture, John Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.