Tag Archives: word of life

How Do Our Hands Handle The Word of Life?

My last post was based on 1 John 1:1, and I think we’ll start there again. It’s really amazing that you can look at the same scripture with a slightly different mindset, and open up a whole new avenue of understanding.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life (1 John 1:1)

Brethren, how do my hands and your hands handle the Word of life? What is our relationship with this Word? How do we respond to it?

Responses To The Word

Last week we talked about the Jews in Acts 13:46-48 who chose to reject God’s word as it was offered to them through Paul and Barnabas. These verses say they rejected God’s word, casting it from them, just as they did with Jesus Christ, and in doing so they judged themselves “unworthy of everlasting life.”

Human beings have many ways of handling “the word of life,” and casting it aside and rejecting it is one of them. Another way people handle the word of life is to keep it at arm’s length. They believe in God, and may have 3 or 4 Bibles full of God’s written word in their homes, but they don’t read more than a few key verses, and they’re not comfortable with a personal relationship with God.

There’s also the atheist’s approach to handling the word of life. Some of them study the Bible with the intent of refuting its teachings and destroying the faith of those who do believe. You can also handle the word of life academically. Most colleges offer courses like “the Bible as literature” and just treat it as another textbook to be read to give one a “well-rounded education”.

Some study the word of life more seriously, but with a wrong attitude. Why did the Pharisees, Sadducee, lawyers and scribes that Jesus spoke with in the Gospel accounts study the scriptures? If you read through Matthew 23, it appears that there were a variety of motivations. These people used the word of life to control others and dominate their lives. Their studies of scripture made them appear righteous in the eyes of other men, and they used religion to gain status and wealth.

The Right Way to Handle the Word

There is another way our hands can handle the Word of life. We can embrace it fully, interact with its content, internalize its precepts, and allow the Word of life to transform our hearts, minds and spirits. This is the method of handling God’s word that David demonstrated in so many of his psalms.

Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts.

I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Ps. 119:97-105)

What David describes here is just a small taste of how he handled the Word of life. Acts 13:22 tells us that God described David as “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” We know from 1 Samuel 16:7 that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” This observation was made in the context of God choosing David as king, so you could say there was a connection between God’s and David’s hearts.

We also need this kind of “heart connection” with God. Jesus Christ Himself addressed this when He was speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well.

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

There is this intangible element to the relationship between us and God that is spirit-to-spirit, and heart-to-heart. Let’s turn to one more scripture to re-enforce this wholehearted approach to properly “handling the word of life”

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chron.16:9)

God’s eyes are searching whole earth looking for this heart-to-heart connection. The word “loyal” here is translated from the Hebrew shalem (H8003). It means complete, whole, perfect, peaceable, quiet and – this is the definition that really caught my eye – “especially friendly.”

That really is what God is looking for in the way that each of us handle the word of life. He wants us to be friends with Him and have a close, personal relationship with Him and with His Word.

The Word of Life

I’ve spent a great deal of time studying this word play between “the Word” as a title of Jesus Christ and “the word” that we can hold in our hands as our Bibles. The phrase “the word of life” can apply to both of them, brethren.

When discussing this topic, it’s most common to go to the gospel of John, but I’d like to start in another one of John’s writings.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us (1 John 1:1-2)

John and the Word

The apostle John seemed to have a special relationship with Jesus Christ, and a unique way of expressing it in writing. He describes Jesus as “the Word” here and in John 1:1, 14, and in the opening lines of this epistle he calls Him “the Word of life.” Jesus Himself said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). That’s sort of a nutshell statement that covers the purpose of the Word’s supreme sacrifice.

In Revelation 13:8, John writes about this “Word of life,” Who is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” and the very next words in verse 9 are these: “If anyone has an ear, let him hear.” So there is something more to understand about this phrase.

Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)

I don’t think it’s possible for us to even imagine the magnitude of God’s eternal love for His son, but it was there before Genesis 1:1, before the world was, before mankind was even created. And God the Father sent this beloved “Word of life” for us, and for all mankind because it was the most cherished thing He had ever known in all eternity. God so loved the world, that He gave “the Word of life,” and He made the commitment to do this at the very foundation of the world as we know it, at the same time They committed to “make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 126).

If we really want to understand the magnitude and value of Christ’s role as the sacrificial Lamb, we have to understand how highly the Father valued His Son, the Word of life.

Worthy of Life

Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:46-48)

Notice how important it is to seize every opportunity we’re offered to hear and embrace the word of life. In this example, the Jews were being shown favor by God. His word was offered to them free for the taking – they had “first dibbs,” so-to-speak – and they rejected it by judging themselves “unworthy of eternal life”.

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. (1 Cor. 11:31)

The word “judge” is translated from diakrino (G12532), which means “to separate thoroughly,” to distinguish ourselves by self correction in the light of God’s word and show that we’re worthy of life (we talked more about this in a previous post. Click to read). Diakrino is derived from the word krino (G2919), which means “to distinguish” or “to try,” and which is the word used in Acts 13:46 and translated “judged” in 1 Corinthians 11:31.

Fellowship With The Word

Let’s go back to 1 John again, and read a bit further.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:1-4)

What greater joy could we possibly have than fellowship with the Word of life? When we spend time in Bible study and prayer, we have an opportunity for unique, and joyous fellowship with the Father and His Son because Christ is the Word of life, who teaches us the words written in His Bible.

The Interactive Book: Judgment and Friendship

In last week’s post, we saw how “the twelve” were confronted with a choice in John 6:67 in the form of a question, “Do you also want to go away?”   Many other disciples had heard some hard to understand truths from the mouth of Jesus Christ, and “walked with Him no more” (vs.66).   Peter’s answer revealed a Spirit-led recognition of the One source of real spiritual truth.    Peter recognized that Christ was the One who had “the words of eternal life”.   In this post, we will see how our response to these “words of eternal life” establishes us as true followers of Jesus Christ by setting the standard by which we are judged.

In Acts, we find Paul and Barnabas preaching these words of life in Antioch. The Jews here were being shown favor by God. His word was offered to them, free for the taking, and they rejected it.

Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:46-48)

Notice how important it is to seize every opportunity to embrace the word of God, and take it in. Also, note how this is worded – the Jews judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. During this Feast of Unleavened Bread, I asked myself a question. How am I judging myself in the way I view and respond to God’s Holy Word – to His son, the One Sent, personified in print?

Judging Ourselves

I’m sure we all spent some time in 1 Corinthians 11 prior to the passover. Let’s look at verse 31 in light of what we just read about the Jews in Acts 13.

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. (1 Cor. 11.31)

The word “judge” here is diakrino (G1252). It means “to separate thoroughly,” to distinguish ourselves (by self correction in the light of God’s word) to give evidence in the way we respond to God’s words, His loving correction, and to His teachings that we are “worthy of life.”

He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” (John 12:48-50)

Christ told us here in John what the judgment of mankind is based on. In one sense, when we all come up before the throne, there isn’t really going to be anything for Him to do because we judge ourselves by the way we respond to His words. That can sound scary, but the thing to really keep in mind is that every word of God is given for our benefit.

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 Tim. 3:16-17)

God wants this for all of us. His words are freely given in the Bible to do us good, and also to equip us for doing good. The words Christ spoke are “are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). This is an incredible opportunity if we listen to Him, but there is also a great danger in ignoring His words.

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. …

Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:39-40, 47)

Here is what Moses wrote about Christ, as He recorded the Lord’s words about the coming Prophet: I “will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him” (Deut 18:18-19).

In the end, we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and be judged by the word of God as delivered to us through Jesus Christ. We are judged by His words, His character, His personality, His worldview, and nothing else. And that judgment is taking place right now, as we interact with the words of the Bible. In effect, we are bringing our own judgment upon us day by day … good or bad.

For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)

Brethren, there’s a whole world full of people out there who reject and despise this One who is called “the word of God,” but there are only a few that He calls “My own” and “My friends,” to whom He reveals a little bit of His true greatness and character.

Friends of God

Abraham, the “father of the faithful” was called “the friend of God” (James 2:23). Can we, the called out ones, be that as well? Are we called out of this world to have an “arm’s length” relationship with the Father and the “One Sent,” or will our response to the Word of life lead to a true friendship, just like Abraham had? His life wasn’t easy … we can’t expect to get through this thing trial free.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:1-4)

These words were spoken that we might have joy. And we can go on from this Feast of Unleavened Bread knowing that the door stands wide open for us to true fellowship with God the Father and the Word of Life. I can think of no better example of embracing the Word of Life than David.

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. … This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life. … Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. … Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it. … The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Princes persecute me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure. (Ps. 119:1, 50, 105, 140, 160-162)

Nowhere in the scriptures do you get a more personal view of God than in the psalms of David. What made David a man after God’s own heart?

Concerning the works of men, by the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer. Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip. … As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness. (Ps. 17:4-5, 15)

David was not living for this physical life, but for real life. We’ve always taught that what made David “a man after God’s own heart” was his readiness to repent of sin … but why was he so willing to repent of sin? Because he valued his relationship with the Godhead more than anything else!

We can see more parallels between David’s life and our relationship with God when we look at the battles David had to fight. In these physical wars, David said,

It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places. He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great. You enlarged my path under me, so my feet did not slip. (Ps. 18:32-36)

In much the same way, God arms us to fight battles, not against physical enemies, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Like David, when we find ourselves in a tight spot, we should be looking to God and saying, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Ps. 23:1; see also 1 Peter 2:25). This is why David was called a man after God’s own heart – because of thoughts like this toward God and His son.

The same door stands wide open for us right now today. Each of us can say “the Lord is my shepherd.” We have the words of the Word of God in greater fullness than David ever had, and with that a chance to learn about Christ as our shepherd from the Shepherd Himself. Reading John chapter 10, we see that Christ wants an intimate relationship with His sheep, and offers that chance to each one who hears His words.

“The Interactive Book” series:

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Key To Scripture

Part 3: Fellowship With The Word Of Life

Part 4: Judgment and Friendship

Part 5: A Personal Call

Part 6: Working Out Your Own Salvation