“Thus saith the LORD”
A message to the Church
“Thus saith the LORD” is a phrase that appears over 400 times in the King James Version of the Bible, or to put the phrase in the vernacular “This is what the LORD says.” It is a declarative phrase that Yahweh uses Himself, and it is often used when God is speaking through his prophets in the Old Testament. Our understanding of this phrase is important with respect to how we view the revelation of God in scripture. Wherever we find this phrase, it is often followed by covenant reminders (Isaiah 49:8), comfort (Isaiah 44:2), judgments (Jeremiah 7:20), etc., but the underlying message is always truth--a truth that comes from God alone, though some often doubt this fact.
As with many things in life, there are extremes with how we speak of what God has revealed in scripture. Jon Doe endeavors to speak with authority on subjects where the Bible is silent. Thinking himself to be an arbiter of truth, and making the Christian circle so small that only he himself can stand in it with one foot. On the other hand, we have Joe Public who speaks as if the Bible is so unclear that we just can’t know much of anything definitively , and can hardly make any declarative statements. He tends to be the person who thinks of Christianity in a “least common denominator” kind of way where all you have to do is use the name, Jesus, in a few sentences to be identified as a Christian. Both of these people’s ideas have their dangers, but I will focus on the latter. Here is one of the dangers with that line of thinking:
“By reducing biblical doctrines to opinions...denies both Scripture's clarity and its authority. [Therefore] Because the Bible is unclear, the chorus of divergent interpretations are all granted equal validity. This means, then, that the authority of any one viewpoint (as that which is correct) vanishes, since all sides are equally reduced to nothing more than personal opinion.” --The Master’s Seminary Journal
There is a tension in scripture where, right now, we see through a glass darkly and only know certain things in part (paraphrasing I Corinthians 13:12), but at the same time, scripture tells us that God has revealed Himself and His ways with clarity, and in a way that we can understand Him (Deuteronomy 30:11-14, Psalm 19:7-9, 2 Peter 16:21). Where does that now leave us then? I submit to you that the problem is not found in God’s Word, but with us, and the following passage gives us a good reason why that is so:
God said to Adam “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it, you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
I think it is safe to say that there is nothing ambiguous or unclear about this passage with respect to what should and should not be eaten, and yet, Adam still ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now we find ourselves, as Albert Mohler would say, in a Genesis 3 world.
If it ended there, we would ultimately find ourselves in a state of hopelessness, but God is not in the business of hopelessness. There is a word in scripture that is used to help us to understand how we can see God’s Word with clarity, and that word is discernment. We are told in scripture that even in our fallenness, as God’s people, we can recognize what God is communicating to us, but we must be spiritually discerning, and that discerning comes down from our heavenly Father. Thanks be to God.
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5
Gracious heavenly Father, you have spoken to us clearly in your word, and yet we, like the serpent, say in our hearts “has God said?” We bring our experiences, our pride, and our creeds, and force them into your Word to make them more palpable to our own desires. Forgive us LORD for these sins. We give you thanks for your Word, its power, its fullness, and the comfort that it brings. In a world of confusion, it is refreshing to know that you have given us a standard of truth. We ask that, by your Holy Spirit, you would reveal your word to us, that we might use great plainness of speech as we engage with the world around us. Help us to grow our knowledge and understanding of Scripture so we can boldly make the declaration, “Thus saith the LORD”, acknowledging your word as true. In Christ Jesus we pray. Amen
written by Bobby Valcin