In our study of this subject, let us turn first to the words of Jesus Himself. He is here speaking to the Jews and is justifying the claim which He has made, and which the Jews had contested, that He is the Son of God. In support of His claim, Jesus quotes from the Psalms in the Old Testament, which He designates by the phrase “your law.” Here is what He says:
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:34-36).
In this reply, Jesus makes use of the two titles which have ever since been used more than all others by His followers to designate the Bible. The first of these titles is “the Word of God”; the second is “the Scripture.” It will be profitable to consider what each of these two main titles has to tell us about the nature of the Bible.
When Jesus called the Bible “the Word of God,” He indicated that the truths revealed in it do not have their origin with men, but with God. Though many different men have been used in various ways to make the Bible available to the world, they are all merely instruments or channels. In no case did the message or the revelation of the Bible originate with men, but always and only with God Himself.
On the other hand, when Jesus used the second title, “the Scripture,” He indicated a divinely appointed limitation of the Bible. The phrase “the Scripture” means literally “that which is written.” The Bible does not contain the entire knowledge or purpose of almighty God in every aspect or detail. It does not even contain all the divinely inspired messages that God has ever given through human instruments. This is proved by the fact that the Bible itself refers in many places to the utterances of prophets whose words are not recorded in the Bible.
We see, therefore, that the Bible, though completely true and authoritative, is also highly selective. Its message is intended primarily for the human race. It is expressed in words that human beings can understand. Its central theme and purpose are the spiritual welfare of man. It reveals primarily the nature and consequences of sin and the way of deliverance from sin and its consequences through faith in Jesus.
Let us now take one more brief look at the words of Jesus in John 10:35. Not merely does He set His personal seal of approval upon the Bible’s two main titles – “the Word of God” and “the Scripture” – He also sets His seal of approval quite clearly upon the Bible’s claim to complete authority, for He says, “ . . . and the Scripture cannot be broken.”
This short phrase, “cannot be broken,” contains within it every claim for supreme and divine authority that can ever be made on behalf of the Bible. Volumes of controversy may be written either for or against the Bible, but in the last resort Jesus has said all that is necessary in five simple words: “the Scripture cannot be broken.”
When we give proper weight to the Bible’s claim that the men associated with it were in every case merely instruments or channels and that every message and revelation in it has its origin with God Himself, there remains no logical or reasonable ground for rejecting the Bible’s claim to complete authority. We are living in days when men can launch satellites into space and then, by means of invisible forces such as radio, radar, or electronics, control the course of these satellites at distances of thousands or millions of miles, can maintain communication with them and can receive communication from them.
If men can achieve such results as these, then only blind prejudice – and that of a most unscientific character – would deny the possibility that God could create human beings with mental and spiritual faculties such that He could control or direct them, maintain communication with them and receive communication from them. The Bible asserts that this is in fact what God has done and continues to do.
The discoveries and inventions of modern science, so far from discrediting the claims of the Bible, make it easier for honest and open-minded people to picture the kind of relationship between God and men which made the Bible possible.
The Bible indicates plainly that there is one supreme, invisible influence by which God did in fact control, direct and communicate with the spirits and minds of the men by whom the Bible was written. This invisible influence is the Holy Spirit – God’s own Spirit. For example, the apostle Paul says:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
The word here translated “by inspiration” means literally “inbreathed of God” and is directly connected with the word Spirit. In other words, the Spirit of God – the Holy Spirit – was the invisible, but the inerrant, influence which controlled and directed all those who wrote the various books of the Bible.
This is stated perhaps more plainly still by the apostle Peter.
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation (2 Pet. 1:20).
In other words, as we have already explained, in no case does the message or revelation of the Bible originate with man, but always with God.
Then Peter goes on to explain just how this took place.
For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21).
The Greek word translated “moved by” means more literally “borne along by,” or we might say, “directed in their course by.” In other words, just as men today control the course of their satellites in space by the interplay of radio and electronics, so God controlled the men who wrote the Bible by the interplay of His divine Spirit with the spiritual and mental faculties of man. In the face of contemporary scientific evidence, to deny the possibility of God’s doing this is merely to give expression to prejudice.
In the Old Testament, the same truth of divine inspiration is presented to us in another picture, taken from an activity that goes much further back into human history than the contemporary launching of satellites into space. The psalmist David says:
The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times
The picture is taken from the process of purifying silver in a furnace or oven built of clay. (Such clay ovens are still used for various purposes among the Arabs today.) The clay furnace represents the human element; the silver represents the divine message which is to be conveyed through the human channel; the fire which ensures the absolute purity of the silver, that is, the absolute accuracy of the message, represents the Holy Spirit. The phrase “seven times” indicates – as the number seven does in many passages of the Bible – the absolute perfection of the Holy Spirit’s work.
Thus, the whole picture assures us that the complete accuracy of the divine message in the Scriptures is due to the perfect operation of the Holy Spirit, over-ruling all the frailty of human clay and purging all the dross of human error from the flawless silver of God’s message to man.
Probably no character in the Old Testament had a clearer understanding than the psalmist David of the truth and authority of God’s Word. David writes:
Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven (Ps. 119:89).
Here David emphasizes that the Bible is not the product of time but of eternity. It contains the eternal mind and counsel of God, formed before the beginning of time or the foundation of the world. Out of eternity, it has been projected through human channels into this world of time, but when time and the world pass away, the mind and counsel of God revealed through Scripture will still stand unmoved and unchanged. The same thought is expressed by Jesus Himself.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away (Matt. 24:35).
Again, David says:
The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever (Ps. 119:160).
In the last century or two persistent criticism and attack have been directed against the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. However, by far the greatest part of this attack has always been focused on the book of Genesis and the next four books which follow it. These first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch or Torah, are attributed to the authorship of Moses.
It is rather remarkable, that nearly three thousand years before these attacks against the Pentateuch were conceived in the minds of men, David had already given the Holy Spirit’s testimony to the faith of God’s believing people throughout all ages.
The entirety of Your word is truth (Ps. 119:160).
In other words, the Bible is true from Genesis 1:1 right on through to the very last verse of Revelation.
Jesus and His apostles, like all believing Jews of their time, accepted the absolute truth and authority of all the Old Testament Scriptures, including the five books of the Pentateuch.
In the account of Jesus’s temptation by Satan in the wilderness, we read that Jesus answered each temptation of Satan by a direct quotation from the Old Testament Scriptures (see Matt. 4:1-10). Three times He commenced His answer with the phrase “It is written . . .” Each time He was quoting directly from the fifth book of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy. It is a remarkable fact that not only Jesus but also Satan accepted the absolute authority of this book.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-18:
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. [This phrase ‘the Law or the Prophets’ was generally used to designate the Old Testament Scriptures as a whole.] I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
The word jot is the English form of the name of the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, which roughly corresponding in size and shape to an inverted comma in modern English script. The word tittle indicates a little curl or horn, smaller in size than a comma, added at the corner of certain letters in the Hebrew alphabet to distinguish them from other letters very similar in shape.
What Jesus is saying is that the original text of the Hebrew Scriptures is so accurate and authoritative that not even one portion of the script smaller in size than a comma can be altered or removed. It is scarcely possible to conceive how Jesus could have used any form of speech that would have more thoroughly endorsed the absolute accuracy and authority of the Old Testament Scriptures.
Consistently throughout His earthly teaching ministry, He maintained the same attitude toward the Old Testament Scriptures. For instance, we read that when the Pharisees raised a question about marriage and divorce, Jesus answered by referring them to the opening chapters of Genesis (see Matt. 19:3-9). He introduced His answer by the question:
“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female?” (v. 4).
The phrase “at the beginning” constituted a direct reference to the book of Genesis since this is its Hebrew title.
Again, when the Sadducees raised a question about the resurrection from the dead, Jesus answered them by referring to the account of Moses at the burning bush in the book of Exodus (see Matt. 22:31-32). As with the Pharisees, He replied in the form of a question:
Have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” (Matt. 22:32).
Jesus here quotes from Exodus 3:6. But in quoting these words recorded by Moses nearly fifteen centuries earlier, Jesus said to the Sadducees of His day, “Have you not read what was spoken to you by God?” Note that phrase “spoken to you by God.” Jesus did not regard these writings of Moses as merely a historical document of the past, but rather as a living, up-to-date, authoritative message direct from God to the people of His day. The passage of fifteen centuries had not deprived the record of Moses of its vitality, its accuracy, or its authority.
Not merely did Jesu accept the absolute accuracy of the Old Testament Scriptures in all His teaching, He also acknowledged their absolute authority and control over the whole course of His own earthly life. From His birth to His death and resurrection there was one supreme, controlling principle which was expressed in the phrase “that it might be fulfilled.” That which was to be fulfilled was in every case some relevant Scripture passage of the Old Testament. For example, the Bible specifically records that each of the following incidents in the earthly life of Jesus took place in fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures:
His birth of a virgin; His birth at Bethlehem; His flight into Egypt; His dwelling at Nazareth; His anointing by the Holy Spirit; His ministry in Galilee; His healing of the sick; the rejection of His teaching and His miracles by the Jews; His use of parables; His betrayal by a friend; His being forsaken by His disciples; His being hated without a cause; His being condemned with criminals; His garments being parted and divided by lot; His being offered vinegar for His thirst; His body being pierced without His bones being broken; His burial in a rich man’s tomb; His rising from the dead on the third day.
The entire earthly life of Jesus was directed in every aspect by the absolute authority of the Old Testament Scriptures. When we set this fact side by side with His unquestioning acceptance of the Old Testament Scriptures in all His teaching, we are left with only one logical conclusion: If the Old Testament Scriptures are not an accurate and authoritative revelation from God, then Jesus Himself was either deceived or He was a deceiver.
Coherent, Complete, All-sufficient
Let us now consider the authority claimed for the New Testament. We must first observe the remarkable fact that, so far as we know, Jesus Himself never set down a single word in writing – except for one occasion when He wrote on the ground in the presence of a woman taken in adultery.
He explicitly commanded His disciples to transmit the record of His ministry and His teaching to all nations on earth.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you (Matt. 28:19-20).
Previously He had said:
Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes (Matt. 23:34).
The word scribes means “writers,” that is, those who set down religious teaching in written form. It is therefore clear that Jesus intended the record of His ministry and teaching to be set down by His disciples in permanent form. Jesus made all necessary provisions for the absolute accuracy of all that He intended His disciples to put down in writing, for He promised to send the Holy Spirit to them for this purpose.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you (John 14:26).
A similar promise is presented in John 16:13-15. Notice that in these words Jesus made provision both for past and for future; that is, both for the accurate recording of those things which the disciples had already seen and heard and also for the accurate imparting of the new truths which the Holy Spirit would thereafter reveal to them. The past is provided for in the phrase “He will . . . bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). The future is provided for in the phrase “He will teach you all things” (v. 26) and again, in John 16:13, “He will guide you into all truth.”
We see, therefore, that the accuracy and authority of the New Testament, like that of the Old Testament, depend not upon human observation, memory, or understanding, but upon the teaching, guidance, and control of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, the apostle Paul says, “All scripture [Old Testament and New Testament alike] is given by inspiration of God”
(2 Tim. 3:16).
We find that the apostles themselves clearly understood this and laid claim to this authority in their writings. For example, Peter writes:
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle . . . that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour (2 Pet. 3:1-2).
Here Peter sets the Scriptures of the Old Testament prophets and the written commandments of Jesus’s apostle’s side by side, as being of precisely equal authority. Peter also acknowledges the divine authority of the writings of Paul, for he says:
And consider that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation – as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures (2 Pet. 3:15-16).
The phrase “the rest of the Scriptures” indicates that even in the lifetime of Paul the other apostles acknowledged that his epistles possessed the full authority of Scripture. Yet Paul himself had never known Jesus in His earthly ministry. Therefore, the accuracy and authority of Paul’s teaching depended solely upon the supernatural inspiration and revelation of the Holy Spirit.
The same applies to Luke, who never received the title of apostle. Nevertheless, in the preamble to his Gospel, he states that he “had perfect understanding of all things from the very first” (Luke 1:3). The Greek word translated “from the very first” means literally “from above.”
In John 3:3, where Jesus speaks of being “born again,” it is the same Greek word which is translated “again” or “from above.” In each of these passages, the word indicates the direct, supernatural intervention and operation of the Holy Spirit.
On careful examination, that the claim to absolute accuracy and authority of both Old and New Testaments alike depends not on the variable and fallible faculties of human beings, but on the divine, supernatural guidance, revelation, and control of the Holy Spirit. Interpreted together in this way, the Old and New Testaments confirm and complement each other and constitute a coherent, complete, and all-sufficient revelation of God.
We have also seen that there is nothing in this total view of the Scriptures which is inconsistent with logic, science, or common sense. On the contrary, there is much in all three to confirm such a view and render it easy to believe.
We shall now examine the practical effects which the Bible claims to produce in those who receive it. In Hebrews 4:12 we are told that “the word of God is living and powerful.”
The Greek word translated “powerful” is the one from which we obtain the English word energetic. The picture conveyed to us is one of intense, vibrant energy and activity.
Jesus Himself says, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
Again, the apostle Paul tells the Christian’s in 1 Thess. 2:13 says;
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
Here we see that God’s Word cannot be reduced merely to sounds in the air or marks on a sheet of paper. On the contrary, God’s Word is life; it is Spirit; it is alive; it is active; it is energetic; it works effectively in those who believe it.
The Bible also makes it plain that the manner and the degree in which it works in any given instance are decided by the response of those who hear it. For this reason James 1:21 says:
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness [naughtiness], and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Before the Word of God can be received into the soul with a saving effect, certain things must be laid aside. The two things James specifies are “filthiness” and “wickedness,” or naughtiness. Filthiness denotes a perverse delight in that which is licentious and impure. This attitude closes the mind and heart against the saving influence of God’s Word.
On the other hand, naughtiness particularly suggests the bad behavior of a child. We call a child “naughty” when he refuses to accept instruction or correction from his senior but argues and answers back. This attitude is often found in the unregenerate soul toward God. Several passages of Scripture refer to this attitude.
But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? (Rom. 9:20).
Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it (Job 40:2).
This attitude, like that of filthiness, closes the heart and mind to the beneficial effects of God’s Word.
The opposite of filthiness and naughtiness is described by James as meekness. Meekness carries with it the ideas of quietness, humility, sincerity, patience, the openness of heart and mind. These characteristics are often associated with what the Bible calls “the fear of the Lord”; that is, an attitude of reverence and respect toward God. Thus we read the following description in Psalms of the man who can receive benefit and blessing from the instruction of God through His Word.
Listen to Psalms 25:8-9, 12-14
Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
The humble He guides injustice,
And the humble He teaches His way . . .
Who is the man that fears the Lord?
Him shall He teach in the way He chooses . . .
The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him,
And He will show them His covenant (Ps. 25:8-9,12,14).
We see here that meekness and the fear of the Lord are the two attitudes necessary in those who desire to receive instruction and blessing from God through His Word. These two attitudes are the opposites of those which James describes as “filthiness” and “naughtiness.”
Thus we find that God’s Word can produce quite different effects in different people and that these effects are decided by the reactions of those who hear it. For this reason, we read in Hebrews 4:12 not merely that God’s Word is “alive” and “active,” but also that it “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” In other words, God’s Word brings out into the open the inward nature and character of those who hear it and distinguishes sharply between the different types of hearers.
In like manner, Paul describes the dividing and revealing the character of the gospel.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).
There is no difference in the message preached; the message is the same for all men. The difference lies in the reaction of those who hear. For those who react in one way, the message appears to be mere foolishness; for those who react in the opposite way, the message becomes the saving power of God experienced in their lives.
This leads us to yet another fact about the Word of God which is stated in that key verse found in Hebrews 4:12. Not only is the Word of God alive and active; not only is it a discerner or revealer of the thoughts and intents of the heart; it is also “sharper than any two-edged sword.” That is, it divides the soul and spirit of those who hear into two classes – those who reject it and call it foolishness, and those who receive it and find in it the saving power of God.
It was in this sense that Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-35:
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to “set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law”.
The sword which Jesus came to send upon earth is that which John saw proceeding out of Jesus’s mouth – the sharp, two-edged sword of God’s Word (see Rev. 1:16). This sword, as it goes forth through the earth, divides even between members of the same household, severing the closest of earthly bonds, its effect determined by the response of each individual.
Turning now to those who receive God’s Word with meekness and sincerity, with the openness of heart and mind, so let us examine in order the various effects it produces.
The first of these effects is faith.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17).
There are three successive stages in the spiritual process here described:
1) God’s Word,
3) faith. God’s Word does not immediately produce faith but only hearing.
Hearing may be described as an attitude of aroused interest and attention, a sincere desire to receive and to understand the message presented. Then out of hearing there develops faith.
It is important to see that the hearing of God’s Word initiates a process in the soul out of which faith develops and that this process requires a minimum period of time. This explains why there is so little faith to be found among so many professing Christian’s today. They never devote enough time to the hearing of God’s Word to allow it to produce in them any substantial proportion of faith. If they ever devote any time at all to private meditation and the study of God’s Word, the whole thing is conducted in such a hurried and haphazard way that it is all over before faith has had time to develop.
As we study how faith is produced, we also come to understand much more clearly how scriptural faith should be defined. In general conversation, we use the word faith very freely. We speak of having faith in a doctor or faith in medicine or faith in a newspaper or faith in a politician or political party.
In scriptural terms, however, the word faith must be much more strictly defined. Since faith comes only from hearing God’s Word, faith is always directly related to God’s Word. Scriptural faith does not consist of believing anything that we may wish or please to have. Scriptural faith may be defined as believing that God means what He has said in His Word – that God will do what He has promised in His Word to do.
For example, David exercised this scriptural kind of faith when he said to the Lord:
And now, O Lord, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, let it be established forever and do as You have said (1 Chron. 17:23).
Scriptural faith is expressed in those five short words: “do as You have said.”
Likewise, the virgin Mary exercised the same kind of scriptural faith when the angel Gabriel brought her a message of promise from God, and she replied:
Let it be to me according to your word (Luke 1:38).
That is the secret of scriptural faith – according to Your word. Scriptural faith is produced within the soul by the hearing of God’s Word and is expressed by the active response of claiming the fulfillment of that which God has said.
We have emphasized that faith is the first effect produced in the soul by God’s Word because faith of this kind is basic to any positive transaction between God and any human soul.
But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).
We see that faith is the first and indispensable response of the human soul in its approach to God.
He who comes to God must believe (Heb. 11:6).
After faith, the next great effect produced by God’s Word within the soul is that spiritual experience which is called in Scripture “the new birth” or “being born again.” Thus James says concerning God:
Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures (James 1:18).
The born-again Christian’s possesses a new kind of spiritual life brought forth within him by the Word of God received by faith in his soul.
The apostle Peter describes Christian’s as being “born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Pet. 1:23).
It is a principle, both in nature and in Scripture, that the type of seed determines the type of life which is produced from the seed. A corn seed produces corn; a barley seed produces barley; an orange seed produces an orange.
So it is also in the new birth. The seed is the divine, incorruptible, eternal Word of God. The life which this produces, when received by faith into the heart of the believer, is like the seed – divine, incorruptible, eternal.
It is the very life of God Himself coming into a human soul through His Word. John writes:
Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9).
John directly relates the victorious life of the overcoming Christian’s to the nature of the seed which produced that life within him – that is, God’s seed – the incorruptible seed of God’s Word. Because the seed is incorruptible, the life it produces is also incorruptible; that is, absolutely pure and holy.
However, this Scripture does not assert that a born-again Christian’s can never sin. Within every born-again Christian’s, a completely new nature has come into being. Paul calls this new nature “the new man” and contrasts it with “the old man” – the old, corrupt, depraved, fallen nature which dominates every person who has never been born again (see Eph. 4:22-24).
There is a complete contrast between these two: The “new man” is righteous and holy; the “old man” is depraved and corrupt. The “new man,” being born of God, cannot sin; the “old man,” being the product of man’s rebellion and fall, cannot help committing sin.
The kind of life that any born-again Christian’s leads is the outcome of the interplay within him of these two natures. So long as the “old man” is kept in subjection and the “new man” exercises his proper control, there is unsullied righteousness, victory and peace. But whenever the “old man” is allowed to reassert himself and regain his control, the inevitable consequence is failure, defeat, and sin.
We may sum up the contrast in this way: The true Christian’s who has been born again of the incorruptible seed of God’s Word has within him the possibility of leading a life of complete victory over sin. The unregenerate man who has never been born again has no alternative but to sin. He is inevitably the slave of his own corrupt, fallen nature.
We have said that the new birth through God’s Word produces within the soul a completely new nature – a new kind of life. This leads us to consider the next main effect which God’s Word produces.
In every realm of life, there is one unchanging law: As soon as a new life is born, the first and greatest need of that new life is nourishment to sustain it. For example, when a human baby is born, that baby may be sound and healthy in every respect; but unless it quickly receives nourishment, it will pine away and die.
The same is true in the spiritual realm. When a person is born again, the new spiritual nature produced within that person immediately requires spiritual nourishment, both to maintain life and to promote growth. The spiritual nourishment which God has provided for all His born-again children is found in His own Word. God’s Word is so rich and varied that it contains nourishment adapted to every stage of spiritual development.
God’s provision for the first stages of spiritual growth is described in the first epistle of Peter. Immediately after Peter has spoken in chapter 1 about being born again of the incorruptible seed of God’s Word, he goes on to say in 1 Peter 2:1-2:
Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as new-born babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (1 Pet. 2:1-2).
For new-born spiritual babes in Jesus, God’s appointed nourishment is the pure milk of His own Word. This milk is a necessary condition for continued life and growth.
However, there is a warning attached. In the natural order, no matter how pure and fresh milk maybe, it easily becomes contaminated and spoiled if it is brought into contact with anything sour or rancid. The same is true spiritually. For new-born Christian’s to receive proper nourishment from the pure milk of God’s Word, their hearts must first be thoroughly cleansed from all that is sour or rancid.
For this reason, Peter warns us that we must lay aside all malice, all guile, all hypocrisy, all envy, and all evil speaking. These are the sour and rancid elements of the old life which, if not purged from our hearts, will frustrate the beneficial effects of God’s Word within us and hinder our spiritual health and growth.
Remember, it is not the will of God that Christian’s should continue in spiritual infancy too long. As they begin to grow up, God’s Word offers them more substantial food. When Jesus was tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread, He replied:
It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
Jesus here indicates that God’s Word is the spiritual counterpart of bread in man’s natural diet. In other words, it is the main item of diet and source of strength for the spirit man.
It is significant that Jesus said with emphasis, “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” In other words, Christian’s who wish to mature spiritually must learn to study the whole Bible, not just a few of the more familiar portions.
It is said that the Word of God is the seed that bears fruit when watered with faith.
Beyond milk and bread, God’s Word also provides solid food. The writer of Hebrews rebuked the Hebrew believers of his day because they had been familiar for many years with the Scriptures but had never learned to make any proper study or application of their teaching. Consequently, they were still spiritually immature and unable to help others who required spiritual teaching.
This is what the writer says Hebrews 5:12-14:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles [or elements] of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil
What a picture of a great mass of professing Christian’s and church members today! They have owned a Bible and attended church for many years. Yet how little they know of what the Bible teaches! How weak and immature they are in their own spiritual experience; how little able to counsel a sinner or instruct a new convert! After so many years they are still spiritual babes, unable to digest any kind of teaching that goes beyond milk!
]But it is not their fault, I blame the pastor who provides entertainment and continues to feed them milk while building their kingdom.
However, it is not necessary to remain in this condition. The writer of Hebrews tells us the remedy. It is to have our senses exercised because of use. The regular, systematic study of the whole of God’s Word will develop and mature our spiritual faculties.