Freshman Class, First Day

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It was a warm and sunny September morning as the new freshmen  entered their first class at Bible College, BIB 102: New Testament Survey.  As they took their seats, the professor  entered the room. He was in his mid thirties, dressed in jeans and a polo shirt, quite unlike what they had expected of a Bible College professor. He glanced up at the clock, and seeing that it was now 8 o’clock, he called the class to order.

Grabbing a marker, the professor wrote a question on the board: “What is the Word of God?” and turning back to the students he said in a commanding voice, “What is the Word of God?” There was silence; the students weren’t quite sure what he was getting at. “Anyone?”

A bright faced freshman in the second row ventured, “The Word of God is the Bible!”

“Are you sure about that?” retorted the professor.

“Yes, the Bible is the Word of God.”

Picking up a Bible, the professor held it up for all to see. He opened it and turned to the publication page and read aloud, “‘All rights reserved. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 73-174297. Published by The Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids Michigan. Printed in the United States of America. ‘ You sir have told me that this is the Word of God, but I will tell you that this is a book.  What is the Word of God?”

Another student had the answer, “The Word of God is what’s in the book.”

“What is the written Word called?”

A long pause, and then from the back, “The written Word is called the Scriptures.”

“Excellent, and where do we find the complete record of the Scriptures?”

“In the Bible.”

Yes, in the Bible, very good. Now then, what is the Word of God?” No answers; lots of puzzled faces. ” Need a hint?” There was general agreement in the room that a hint would be helpful.  “Maybe the Scriptures can shed some light on this. Open your Bibles and turn to John chapter one. Someone read verses one through three.”

A voice from the third row: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

Smiling, the professor said, “now please read verse 14.”

‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Now the professor was smiling broadly. Looking around the class, making eye contact with each student he said, “The Word of God is not an ‘it’, the Word of God is a ‘He’. The Word of God is a Person, the Person of Jesus Christ. The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, dividing soul and spirit.  The Word is not merely words on a page, nor is the Word a mere academic discipline, a set of doctrines or a book full of teachings and rules, the Word of God is a Person, and we must approach the Word as such.  This is the most important lesson that you will learn in your four years here: The Word of God is a Person!  My job in this classroom is to bring each of you face to face with the Word of God.”

Sadly, by the end of the week, most of the students in the class had already forgotten about the first day’s lesson. It would be many years before most of them re-learned it, and some never did. Maybe it had gone over their heads, or maybe they learned from their other professors that this guy was something of a loose cannon. Whatever the reason, even though they all remembered that the Word is a Person for the purposes of their midterms and final, they never really got it.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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25 Responses to Freshman Class, First Day

  1. llamapacker says:

    Interesting. Yep, we often get lost in the details and forget it is about Jesus.

  2. Little Monk says:

    Oh my goodness! You’ve made my heart dance!

  3. Pam says:

    This is marvelous…presenting Jesus as the Word is what I hope to do to all who read my writings.

  4. Rebekah says:

    The Gospel of John is indeed a treasure. This is almost sad for me. With all our Sunday school and youth group and going to church every Sunday, when is this essential, basic, profound and most wonderful truth of the Word of God not taught sooner? And even in Bible College it is missed? It took many years of me being married to an LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) pastor for me to finally get this (grew up evangelical). He would constantly tell me “The Bible is not a rule book for your life” and it used to get me so frustrated. My childhood instilled in me a love for the Bible but I always cherished the Word of God because it was the Scriptures, not because it was Jesus. Now, I cherish it because it is Jesus. The entirety of Scripture points to Him, He who created and upholds the universe by the word of His power.

  5. Don, I am left with few words, which, as you know, is close to a miracle in and of itself. This is perhaps one of the saddest (as Rebekah point out) and most beautiful posts I’ve ever read. Simple in its Truth. Jesus is the Word. What’s not to “get”?
    Thank you so much for this.

  6. paulfg says:

    Neat. Elegant. Loving. And of course … Simple.

  7. Lee says:

    Sounds like some of my professors. I didn’t get it either until later in life. Praise the Lord, it finally sunk in!

  8. vwoods1212 says:

    Is that professor you by any chance? 🙂 vw

  9. Denine Taylor says:

    Is there a debt on this. I had read these passages and believed as you stated here, but I ask my pastor at the time if this was correct. He then printed me off a few pages showing different forms of words. I do not recall it all now, but he more or less told me I was wrong to think this???

    • Don Merritt says:

      Yes, there is a debate! In academic circles, there is a debate about everything. Pastors…? This idea goes against their training, for they are usually trained to see the Person of the Word in merely theoretical terms, never in practical terms. Every pastor I know has told me I’m wrong. I can understand, because this goes against my training too. But in researching the training we’ve all received I noticed an interesting thing: When the Word became an academic exercise, the effectiveness of the church began to decline, and it has been in decline ever since. Nobody wants to face that fact. In recent years, we’ve learned to compensate for that by using relational forms of teaching, a good step. Why do people remember what went on in their small groups so much longer than they remember the sermon? Something to think about…

      • Denine Taylor says:

        The reason I questioned it at the time was the Word is capitalized in some places like a name then not in others. I like something I read last night. Helped me a bit. … God’s word spoken through the prophets testified about Him who was to come in the Old Testament . Those words became flesh In the New Testament. Remembering God spoke everything into existence. Still, Knowing the Word was with God the Word was God. then became flesh. It seems to me everything circles. God’s Word did not return void. I like that.
        I don’t like facts and figures in teaching remembering what year this happened and who begotten who. I remember verse but never the book, chapter or verse. The only one I know is John 3:16. LoL I remember what the verses say then google bible hub to fill in the rest. Yes, relationship I like that much better. Knowing about God or knowing God big difference. Thanks, Don.

  10. That was awesome! I love the way he turned a mystery into a fact. (If not a book then what? Lol!) Great read!

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