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Words of Life: Scripture As the Living and Active Word of God

By Timothy Ward
October 2009 | Review by Geoffrey Grogan


Throughout Christian history, the overwhelmingly predominant view of the Bible has been that it is itself the living and active word of God. Timothy Ward explains and defends what we are really saying when we trust and proclaim, as we must, that the Bible is God's word. In particular, he describes the nature of the relationship between the living God and Scripture. He examines why, in order to worship God faithfully, we need to pay close attention to the Bible; why, in order to be faithful disciples of Jesus –– the Word-made-flesh –– we need to base our lives on the words of the Bible; and why, in order to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, we need to trust and obey what the Bible says. Ward offers an understanding of the nature of Scripture under three main headings. A biblical outline shows that the words of the Bible form a significant part of God's action in the world. A theological outline focuses on the relationship of Scripture with each of the persons of the Trinity. A doctrinal outline examines the 'attributes' of Scripture. A final chapter explores some significant areas in which the doctrine of Scripture should be applied. Grounded in the relevant scholarship, this excellent, lucid exposition of the nature and function of Scripture stands firmly in line with the best of the theological traditions and is expressed in a form appropriate for the twenty-first century.

  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • ISBN: 978-1844742073
  • Pages: 192
  • Price: £9.99
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Book Review

This book deserves the strong commendations it has received from reviewers like Paul Helm and Jim Packer. Every page shows evidence of prolonged study of Scripture and the application of an incisive mind. It deserves to be read and pondered carefully.

Timothy Ward says, ‘I want to articulate, explain and defend what we are really saying when we proclaim, as we must, that the Bible is God’s Word. In particular I am attempting to describe the relationship between God and Scripture.’ This shows the distinctive nature of this book, which gives it its strongly spiritual character.

We are shown how intimately God and his words are related. Stress is laid on God’s personal and verbal covenant with his people, which took its ultimate form in the new covenant in Christ. The author then explores the implications of God’s trinitarian nature for our view of Scripture, showing how intimate is the relationship of each Person to what the Bible says and teaches.

The necessity, sufficiency, clarity and authority of Scripture are explored with both positive teaching and the addressing of misunderstandings. Finally, he deals with the Bible and the Christian life asking what sola scriptura implies and clarifying the Bible’s relationship to the Christian community, preaching, and the individual Christian.

The book has a number of highly desirable qualities. It is thoroughly in line with classic evangelicalism without being merely traditional. The author has thought things through carefully. Some of his arguments are new, at least to me, and he makes good use of the speech-act view of language.

There is a freshness about the exposition and a reverent approach to the Word, and the God of the Word, that ministers to the heart as well as to the mind. Some paragraphs summarise a great deal of scholarship, judiciously weighed and simply and clearly presented.

I hope that his many references to Herman Bavinck’s theological volumes will encourage readers to get acquainted with the work of this outstanding and eminently readable Reformed theologian.

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