the weblog of Alan Knox

Having the words but not the Word

Posted by on Nov 2, 2008 in discipleship, scripture | 4 comments

James, at “Idle musings of a bookseller“, in his post “A few on church“, reminded me of a very interesting statement that Jesus makes:

And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 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 5:37-40 ESV)

I read this passage today during our church meeting. I think there are still many who search the Scriptures – even study them diligently – even in the original languages – and yet they miss the one that the Scriptures point to. There are many who try to keep each nuance of the rules and regulations of Scripture, but they have yet to understand that God desires mercy and not sacrifice (Matt 12:7). There are many who can quote and parse and diagram… they know the words, but they do not know the author.

Knowing the words is very important. But, we need to make sure that we don’t miss the Word in the words.


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  1. 11-3-2008

    I had a discussion with someone last year on Sola Scriptura – that ultimately although a nice ideal it is an unrealistic ideal. We can say that the words of Scripture are a perfect and complete revelation of the Word, but we in our fallen state are blind and broken images of this Word and trying to see the Word in the words of scripture ends up being like trying to discern the landscape outside our car when looking through a shattered windshield. Only as we are clothed with Christ and the image healed can we start to see the Truth contained among the truths and start to see the unity and integrity of the whole which can only be discerned on a spiritual level.

    One of the things that keeps us from finding the Truth is all the preconceptions and prejudices we come to scripture with. I think that this is why it is good to see how others have understood scripture, not just in the modern times but in the past also.

  2. 11-3-2008


    Losing site of the One is too common. We get lost in the text, and forget what the early church knew only too well: The Word of God is Jesus, not the Bible!

    Someday, if I can find the time, I would like to do a series of posts doing a word study on LOGOS. I think it might blow a few people’s paradigms.


  3. 11-3-2008


    This post, and the comments, caused me to remember a time when I spoke to congregation about bibliolatry, even of the Bible. I believe those from whom the Solas originated had in mind similar thought to A.W. Tozer in his “Divine Conquest”. Most were those who had EXPERIENCED God, and those to whom He wasn’t just a misty figure systematized into a theology or formula. Tozer wrote,
    “Some who desire to be teachers of the Word, but who understand neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm, insist upon “naked” faith as the only way to know spiritual things. By this they mean a conviction of the trustworthiness of the Word of God (a conviction, it may be noted, which the devils share with them). But the man who has been taught even slightly by the Spirit of Truth will rebel at this perversion. His language will be,’I have heard Him and observed Him. What have I to do any more with idols?’. For he cannot love a God who is no more than a deduction from a text. He will crave to know God with a vital awareness that goes beyond words, and to live in the intimacy of personal communion.
    “To seek our divinity merely in books and writings is to seek the living among the dead; we do but in vain seek God in these, where His truth too often is not so much enshrined as entombed.”

  4. 11-3-2008

    Good comments, everyone. I’m glad that there are others that are concerned that many are studying Scripture without seeking God.