Years ago a man emailed me asking for help: he knew the Word of God but he didn't know Jesus. He knew all about Him from scripture, he just didn't know Him personally. He believed, but didn't know.
A woman emailed me saying the same thing. She had volumes of notes from some of the best Bible teachers in the world, journal entries, and notes in the margins of her Bible; She knew the Word but didn't know the Person.
Like the man and woman above, when we talk of knowing 'the Word of God' we are talking about chapter and verse. "I know the Word backwards and forwards" one might say. Or "I'm in the Word everyday." But the New Testament we call 'the Word of God' did not come about until the year 367, and made official at Councils in 393 and 397 - about 300 years after the authors of the New Testament had died.
That means the authors of the New Testament meant something altogether different when they spoke of 'the Word of God.' When they wrote of the Word of God they were talking about the person of Jesus. When we say the Word of God we mean ink on a page.
When we have a problem we look to a chapter and verse that applies to our situation that we may 'stand on the Word' because that what church culture and our pastors have told us to do for years. But for the first 300 years of the faith after Pentecost, if they had a problem they prayed to hear directly from the Person of the Word that they might stand on what He says to them. They didn't have the book of Ephesians or Romans to turn to chapter and verse. We think ink on the page is equal to a personal revelation of what He might say to us. It isn't.
This is the proper way to go about it
In Acts 13:46-47 Paul and Barnabas are opposed by unbelieving Jews, so Paul reveals something the person who is the Word of God, told him:
"It was necessary the word of God (Jesus) first be spoken to you, but since you have judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we turn to the Gentiles, for that is what the Lord has commanded us, saying: "I have set you as a light to the Gentiles* that you should bring salvation to the ends of the earth." *Isaiah 49:6
Paul is quoting the last half of Isaiah 49:6 which is about the Messiah, yet Paul said the Lord had spoken it to them as well. Paul did not flip through the written pages to find a verse to stand on. He did not go into a his notes to see what verse would apply to their situation. He said the Lord, the true Word of God, spoke to him and highlighted a verse in the written word from Isaiah. That is what he was 'standing on'; it was that personal word first and the verse the Lord told him second.
We've been taught wrong
Why then have we been taught to reverse that order? Why is it common to flip through the pages until we find a verse to 'stand on', without a clue whether the person of the Living Word actually agrees with that for our situation? The short answer is you have to actually know Him to get the answers first with a verse in the written Word as a confirmation. That so many Christians reverse the order, reciting or following a formula, rather than just asking Christ in them because they know Him, speaks volumes about the church experience.
Faith comes by revelation - the Word - Noah didn't just decide to build a boat, he received a Word, a revelation, a grace instructing him to do so. Abraham didn't just decide to take a walk to the Promised Land and neither did Moses just decide to confront Pharaoh. Joshua didn't just come up with the idea of circling Jericho and neither did Gideon come up with the idea of 300 men and torches in clay pots. They were each told to take their respective actions by revelation - faith was their response to the revelation they had received. Their response to revelation was faith. Faith is not something you just decide to do, faith is always a response to a grace/revelation/Word.
When a person just flips through the Word to find a verse to stand on without first having a personal revelation about what verse to stand on, they are in hope, not faith. Can the Lord highlight a verse for us? Absolutely. Faith would arise from that revelation, that grace. But to just say "I'm standing on this verse" without first having received revelation from the true person of the Word to do so, is hope, not faith.
The difference between Bible and church culture
We 'declare' and 'pronounce' without a thought as to what He wants. We 'stand' without first going to Him to see what verse He might highlight that pertains to our situation. We mistakenly think there is a singular power by quoting chapter and verse, but the power in the Word is in the Person who is the Word, not pen and ink. Many theologians have known chapter and verse of the Word are in hell because they didn't know the Word of God the Person. Remember, "It is the Spirit that gives life...the words that I speak to you are spirit and life*." The Christian life requires the Holy Spirit to give Life to the ink and paper we call the Word. *John 6:63
Before 'standing' or picking a verse, spend time with Him to let Him speak to your heart with a fresh word, a fresh revelation. Then act on that, that is faith. Most people who say they are 'standing in faith' are actually 'standing in hope'. Hope is identified in scripture as being of the soul*; faith is born by first having a personal revelation from God on a subject. *Hebrews 6:19
First go to Him for wisdom and let the true Word direct your steps toward healing, for example. It may be miraculous, it may be slowly, it may be a healing that involves repentance and changing eating habits. It may be to have that surgery, or it may even be 'your time to go home'. Too many hide behind their fears and call it faith, and that gets them nothing from the Lord because of they are lying to themselves. They are afraid but don't have the spiritual integrity to be honest before the Lord, and face perhaps a surgery or doctor's test they don't want because they fear what would be discovered in the tests. The point is whether for healing or direction like in the above case with Paul and Barnabas - be led by what the Word says, who may then direct you into the written Word.
The proper order to live by is this: The Person who is the Word of God the Father can 'highlight' by the Spirit a verse He intends for you, where it is quickened to your heart, or 'jumps out' at you when you read it as being for you. That is the Living Word causing the written Word to be 'personalized' for your situation, as He did for Paul and Barnabas. He can also just give you wisdom or a word not found in the Word, like a knowing 'it will be okay'.
We must shift our focus to seek and know the Living Word of God first and then chapter and verse Word of God as a compliment to our personal relationship with Him. Not the other way around. So do you know the Word, or the Word? More next week....until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org