Is the Word of God a What or a Who?
—Plus 8 Quotes from A More Christlike Word

“It is Christ himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to him.”
– C. S. Lewis

Give Thanks, Not Worship

I grew up on Sword Drills and Bible Bowls. I could quickly turn to any text called out, Old or New Testament, as quick as lightning. I knew Bible trivia to answer any question thrown into the ring for competition. I had notebook after notebook full of Bible verses I’d written from Sunday morning sermons.

The people in my denomination were known as “walking Bibles.” We were people of the book.  We thought we had figured out the Bible. At least I thought so. 

But did I know Jesus? Was I prioritizing loving God and loving others, the first and second great commandments according to Jesus’s words in the Bible (Matthew 22:36-40)? 

I’m thankful for the rigorous education I got on the Bible. It taught me the bones of the Bible, which continues to prove valuable to me.

I still read the Bible. I still study the Bible. I still memorize passages of the Bible.

I give thanks for the Bible.

But I don’t want to worship the Bible. I don’t want to be a bibliolater (one who makes an idol of the Bible, placing it as equal with God).

Is the Word of God a What or a Who?

Heart for the Living Word

Perhaps I did qualify as a practicing bibliolater in those days. I concentrated more on the written words than the Living Word. 

That was then. It was what I knew. 

But this is now. My heart belongs to the Living Word, not the written word.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” (Thanks, Maya Angelou). 

I still tremendously value the written words from God, don’t get me wrong. I learned and continue to learn about and from Jesus through the written words (and also through experiences with him, in conversations with you, in the testimonies of believers throughout the ages, etc.). I’ll finish up the 2-year Bible Reading Plan again on Friday (even though it took me longer than 2 years again).

But I don’t worship the messenger. My delight is in who the message is about.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
John 5:39-40

Even the Bible Says So

Perhaps it sounds as if I’m just nitpicking words. But I’m just trying to prioritize my values.

When I give you my word, I give you my truth, my promise, my reputation. When God gives us his word, he does the same but amplified: he gives us Jesus.

We read it in the Bible itself: Jesus is the Word.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
John 1:1-3

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14

I appreciate how Bradley Jersak says it,

“I’ve met the Word of God, and he’s far more than a book.”

Is the Word of God a what or a who? My answer is a who.

It’s Jesus.

8 Quotes from A More Christlike Word

For more explanations, research, and scriptures, I recommend a fantastic new book I just finished by Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike Word: Reading Scripture the Emmaus Way. He goes into detail on these issues (and dozens more).

A More Christlike Word Bradley Jersak

You might not agree with everything Jersak says. That’s okay. I offer my usual caveat for this book as I do others:

You don’t have to agree with everything to get value from some.

Here are 8 excerpts from Jersak’s book. See what you think.

1. A BEARD

“The Word of God is Jesus Christ. I believe that the Word of God is inspired, infallible, and inerrant. And when he was about eighteen years old, he grew a beard.”

2. THE LIVING VOICE

“Christ gets the final word, and the Scriptures testify to his authority. I relate to Christ as God’s Word and to the Bible as one (and not the only) venue where I can hear the living Voice.”

3. HEAR THE FATHER

“It’s possible to spend a lifetime studying the Bible without once hearing the Father or knowing the Word.”

4. ORIENT YOURSELF

“We might say the proper orientation for entering Scripture is love for God, humility before God, and openness to God.”

5. RIGHT HAND OF GOD

“We see this subversion [of bibliolatry] when the Bible is elevated to the right hand of the Father and honored with the title “Word of God”—the name that belongs to Jesus Christ alone.”

6. READ FOR GOSPEL

“Do we read our own biases into the text? YES. Should we? NO. But we should and must read the gospel into the text AND from the text, or we risk reducing our Bible to the same dead letter the Pharisees read so fruitlessly.”

7. STUDY HOW TO STUDY

“Studying the Scriptures includes studying how to study the Scriptures.”

8. OUR STORY IS . . . 

“[The cross of Christ] reveals the gracious heart of the Father who has always been, is now, and will always be perfectly revealed in Jesus. And that, my friends, is our Story.”


Do you have a complicated history with the Bible too? Share in the comments.

UPCOMING

Coming this fall we’ll join the Hide His Word memorizing community to take a 6-weeks online walk together through 1 John 1.

Touch the Light 1 John 1

You get to choose your preferred approach, including any or all of these:

  • Memorize the words
  • Read the ten verses in different translations
  • Meditate on the truths verse by verse
  • Do a deep-dive study of the chapter.

We’ll provide the resources, the community, and the encouragement. Our goal is to enhance our experience with the Word in deeper relationship.

We’ll officially begin after Labor Day, but we’ll prepare our hearts this month.

Get on the list now to receive the resources as they become available

My thanks to Speakeasy for the
review copy of A More Christlike Word

22 thoughts on “Is the Word of God a What or a Who?
—Plus 8 Quotes from A More Christlike Word

  1. blankJoanne Viola

    “It’s possible to spend a lifetime studying the Bible without once hearing the Father or knowing the Word.”
    Lisa, I said something similar recently. It’s a frightening thought to me. May we desire to read and know the Word because through His Word, we hear from the Father and come to know Him.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I totally agree with you, Joanne. Your post this morning prompted me to write more on my own on Instagram. I love how God gives us each other to prompt us to know him more!

  2. blankMartha Jane Orlando

    Jesus is the Living Word, Lisa, and I’m so thankful you’ve reminded us of that in this post today. It’s one thing to memorize scripture, and quite another to take up our cross and follow Him.
    Blessings!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      And I think memorizing is hard! lol. Taking up my cross is harder, yet I also know the joys to be found there–Jesus Himself–are what gives us strength and peace to continue following him. Thanks, Martha!

  3. blankMichele Morin

    I am SO excited about the 1 John project. I need a refresher!
    And I scribbled down your great disclaimer about receiving value from the true. I am sure I will be quoting you at some point!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I’m thrilled that you’ll be joining in on 1 John, Michele! I appreciate the wisdom you bring to our memory challenges. I still remember how valuable your videos were to me on our Hide His Word page on a previous challenge.

  4. blankLynn

    I attended Bradley Jersak’s seminar at a Christian Conference many years ago. I’ve always remembered how he taught how you may hear God’s voice. I may experience God from studying the scripture, but it is through the His words-not the words themselves-that lead to the experience I believe!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      That’s cool that you heard Bradley Jersak previously. I’ve had his books on my to-read list for awhile, but this is the first one I’ve finally gotten around to reading. I found it quite valuable and thought-provoking.

  5. blankPam Ecrement

    Amen! Amen, Lisa! It is He whom we worship and He whose heart longs for the relational connection with us that He died to give us. I think He seems to be speaking through a number of us on similar themes. That’s just like Him! When He doesn’t want us to miss something or Him, He sends the same message from all directions and voices and stories.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I love when God uses repetition to catch our attention. I’m glad to be tracking with you, Pam. 🙂 That relational connection is wonderful on both a one-on-one level with God and also in our collective relationships with each other through him.

  6. blankMaryleigh

    I really like how you point me to the God who gave the word. I’ve always wondered about the books not chosen by men to be included in what came to be called The Bible – They couldn’t include them all because it had to be a book reproduced for church leaders – and eventually by every man. Yes – the bible contains the Word of God – but there is so much more to God! Thanks for the focal readjustment!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate your thoughts, Maryleigh. It’s crazy how the Christian world (including me) can sometimes get so caught up in the book about the Savior that we forget the Savior himself. I’m so grateful for the written words we have that lead us to the Living Word; I’ve just got to keep them in the right order!

  7. blankLisa Blair

    This is a beautiful testimony, “I concentrated more on the written words than the Living Word. That was then. But this is now. My heart belongs to the Living Word, not the written word.”

  8. blankRichella J Parham

    I love this post, Lisa! It sounds as if you and I had a similar upbringing (and now I’m wondering which denomination your family belonged to–we were members of the churches of Christ). I’m grateful for a solid foundation of knowledge of the Bible, but the living Word is the Lord. Thanks for your faithfulness in pointing to Jesus!

    And thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      You nailed it, Richella. Yes, we did belong to the same denomination in our youth! You’re a perceptive reader. 🙂 Like you say, I’m grateful too for that amazing foundation I got there in becoming so familiar with the Bible. It has been valuable to me. I’m also grateful to have learned more about grace as I’ve gotten older…

      Thanks for featuring my post at Imparting Grace!

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