Our "Word" Crisis

"The words of the LORD are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times" (Psalm 12:6).

Why did God choose to communicate in words? Couldn't He have just left some great shots? Awe-inspiring pictures would be a lot easier on us than a 2000-page book, right?

How about a live demo? What if God had parted the Red Sea and left it that way—two straight-up walls of water. Whenever we wanted to strengthen our faith, we could simply fly off to Egypt and look at this strange phenomenon or just watch it on TV. But what could we conclude from looking? Okay, so gravity's not working in this small corner of the globe, but does that mean God is acting? To us, yes; to skeptics, probably not!

Suppose Jesus multiplied fish, healed sick people and raised dead ones, but didn't say anything. What would we know about Him? Even if all sorts of miracles occurred in His presence, how would we know He had anything to do with it? When He ascended, how could we know where He was going? We'd certainly know nothing about any plan to come back.

Beloved, that's why God spoke; first through His prophets, then in these last days through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). But you know what? We're not listening, not as we should.

Our country is facing a word crisis: we don't like to read. Our post-Sesame Street generation has promoted action videos over words and our reading levels have correspondingly dropped.

This reading crisis is automatically a Word crisis. God spoke and we're not listening; we're not listening because we're not reading—reading intelligently, reading thoroughly, reading passionately. Other speakers have told me that many Christians are showing up at churches, conventions, conferences, and meetings without Bibles, and it makes sense in a post-Modern culture that prefers visual stimulation to truth.

Paul says, "…faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17). Faith not only can't grow without words; it can't even start. The Word of God alone starts and strengthens faith. God left us a book, His story, that includes truths, commandments, and histories—histories of people who sought and found Him and were saved from their perverse cultures (Acts 2:40).

Some complain that this book of truths and morals is confusing. They say it's filled with factual errors and contradictions (though they never seem to be able to point one out when asked). But this is not the witness of the Word of God to itself. The Bible teaches everywhere that God's words are clear: "The words of the LORD are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times" (Psalms 12:6).

To deny this is not to speculate but to "lie against the truth" (James 3:14). If God says His words are clear, they're clear. If they're not clear to some, it is not because there's something wrong with God, as if His sovereignty couldn't produce a single clear sentence. It's because these "some" wrestle the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). This is a moral problem. They don't want God's Word to be clear, because even if ignorance of the law is not an excuse, clear means more accountable. This agrees with Jesus' words: "‘He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day'" (John 12:48). Those who exalt themselves over the Word of God will be judged by it. They will find out they were under it all along—they should have let it judge them. Clarity enhances accountability.

It's not so difficult to believe that people prefer lies to truth, when they don't give the same time to the Word that they log with soap operas, sitcoms, and digitally-enhanced movies. If you think about it, these things remove us even farther from reality. Fantasy is our production; it's one time when we're sovereign. C. S. Lewis described hell in The Great Divorce as a place where people's minds are sovereign—they can conjure up anything they want just by thinking, a mansion for example. The only problem is that when the real rain comes, it passes through the fictitious roof. Reality always comes crashing in sooner or later.

There are so many who distract themselves with these fantasies that, ultimately, are lies. The distractions are preferred, even loved as such: thus John says, outside the kingdom is "everyone who loves [philon, like a brother] and practices lying" (Revelation 22:15). Loves lying; can you imagine? Jesus said, "‘men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil'" (John 3:19). Jude speaks of some who "by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority" (Jude 1:8). Notice here how fantasy (dreaming) and authority are in opposition, something the Lord taught through the prophet Jeremiah long before Jude:

"Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams…?" (Jeremiah 23:26, 27)

In stark contrast to fantasy, the Word of God stands as truth: "The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether" (Psalms 19:9). Jesus prayed to His Father, "‘Sanctify [i.e., separate, distinguish] them in the truth; Your word is truth'" (John 17:17). James describes the new birth: "He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures" (James 1:18). John identifies the Spirit with the truth: "the Spirit is the truth" (1 John 5:6).

Beloved, the passion of Precept Ministries is to help establish you in God's Word. We have a spectrum of studies that can deepen your knowledge of the Word, whether you're a new believer or spiritually mature. We want you to join us in longing to be so intimate with God that the words that we speak will be His words. We will know His words because we have discovered truth by studying inductively; then we've gone deeper and we've saturated ourselves in the Word of God; then we do the works of God as we disciple others. Contact Precept Ministries today, visit www.precept.org.

Kay Arthur
Host, Precepts for Life
Co-CEO, Precept Ministries International

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