Your Word Has Given Me Life
The title is a quote from Psalm 119:50. It states the heart-embraced sentiment of so many of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior whose story is revealed to us in the Book that is rightfully called the Word of God.
Unbelievers and apostates have always mocked our reliance on God’s Word, and on the story it tells. That’s par for the course. But now someone new is joining their their chorus.
On Sunday, in an op-ed published on foxnews.com, Andy Stanley blamed a reliance on the Bible for our culture’s declining interest in church. Stanley writes about the importance of our faith focusing on Christ, saying, “When our faith stands on anything other than Christ, we put ourselves (and others) in position to fall.”
But from where do we learn about Christ? And how do we sort through all of the false theories and assertions about him?
Unless we turn to the Word of God?
So that no one misunderstands his point, Stanley points to the well-known children’s chorus, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” saying: “It’s a line that many who grow up in the church know by heart, and it reflects a problem in modern Christianity….”
And what is that problem?
It’s that “many of us believe that the Bible is the foundation of our religion.”
Stanley is not the first to turn away from the importance of God’s Word in defining and delimiting our faith. I remember some time ago that Robert Schuler (of Crystal Cathedral fame) wrote a book, entitled “The New Reformation.” In it, Schuler also wrote against relying too heavily on the Bible, saying that such reliance effectively created a fourth member of the Trinity (begging a similar question as before, “Without the Word of God, how do we even know for sure there is such a thing as the Trinity?).
On Sunday, I saw a poster in the church we attended, quoting from 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed.” God and his Word cannot be separated. And this same word is the foundation of our faith. We must never forget, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
The ESV renders the last part of Romans 10:17 “the word of Christ,” which still proves the point. Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus is asserted to be the great prophet foreseen by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-22. His ministry on earth was one of “speaking in the name of the Father.” In other words, the words he spoke, and which are now enshrined in Scripture, were not his own. And they were words of life.
It could be that one reason why people are leaving churches is just the opposite of what Stanley wrote. When preachers or people become disinterested in the Word of God, when it is no longer preached from the heart of one person to the hearts of those who listen, when it is only consumed as a form of entertainment, when it is no longer counted as a source of life, and of a worldview centered on Jesus, on who he is, and on his forgiveness and teaching, then, of course, everything else that happens on Sunday mornings (or in other “ministries” of the church will seem irrelevant to a society swimming through seas of secularism.
I totally disagree with anyone who turns away from the Word. And I love what the psalmist wrote in 119:50. It defines me, and I embrace its meaning with all my heart: O Lord, your word has given me life.