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A Brief Look: Written Word vs Living Word
Fundamental to our core system of beliefs is the acceptance by faith that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
That being said, however, we believe that in the Church today there is often times a distorted emphasis on the "letter" of the Scripture that hinders true spiritual understanding of the Bible.
While the Scriptures are undeniably the written words of God and divinely inspired, we must recognize that the Scriptures were given to man to reveal the living Word of God. John 1:1 tells us that, "In the beginning was the Word...". Verse 2 refers to the Word as He (not it), and John carries that thought even further to declare that nothing came into existence but by and through Him (John 1:3). Before anything existed the Word was - and He wasn't ink on paper! Verse 14 tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39-40 that while they were searching the Scriptures, they were missing the life that He came to give. The Scriptures, His written word, were never intended to be our source of life! From the beginning, the Lord intended that He Himself would be our source. Scripture was given to testify of Jesus, but Jesus admonished the Pharisees they refused to come to Him for the life they were seeking. We believe that the main reason for the general ineffectiveness of the Church today, and a cause of much of our disunity, is that we are substituting the pursuit of intellectual knowledge and information for an intimate and growing relationship with the living Jesus Christ.
Though we can only discover who He is through diligent study and Holy Spirit-inspired understanding of the Scriptures, we must never allow our knowledge, or the information we gather, to be the thing that sustains us. Knowledge is given by God to lead us into intimate relationship with Him. We must not forget that it was eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that initially separated man from God, and led him away from the tree of life (Genesis 2:16-17). This principle applies today as well. The pursuit of knowledge can (and frequently does) separate us from He who is the Tree of Life. Even the Old Testament Hebrew word referencing knowledge of or knowing God was one which described experiencial understanding, as opposed to information, knowledge or intellectual understanding.
Jesus made an astounding statement when He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6). In one bold declaration, He nullified knowledge and information as "truth" and personified it. Knowledge, information, understanding, logic, wisdom, doctrine, etc. were all relegated by Jesus to the realm of "facts". These things will never be truth unless they personify the living Jesus Christ. "You will know the truth," Jesus said to those who will abide in Him, "and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). Only four verses later, He said, "...if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed (Verse 36 italics added)". The Son is the Truth who actually sets us free
tree of life