All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

Sigrid Fowler

​The gift of speech is something we humans take for granted, but it’s one of the things that sets us apart, no doubt an aspect of what it means to be made in the likeness and image of God (Gen 1: 26). As the first words of the Bible explain, God speaks creation into being: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen 1: 1-3 NKJV and below).

​We know that birds and animals communicate with each other though we have no lexicons for their songs, cries, brays, growls, neighs, barks, whistles, and roars. What they’re saying to each other is still a puzzle though the zoologists who study them will have a better idea than the rest of us. We know more about what humans say to each other, but the one-sided treaties and ambiguous promises, bizarre descriptions of obsolete scientific “discoveries,” and books of written nonsense people have come up with (remember the alchemists?), suggest that the coherence, veracity, and comprehensibility we ascribe to our communication is a maybe so, maybe not sort of thing. What is it we’re telling each other? That isn’t always clear, as consumers of today’s news stories can attest. In this season of “fake news,” we could all be talking chimpanzee. But God’s Word is read and discussed everywhere, the all-time best-selling book.

​One aspect of God’s relationship with humans, something the Bible is very clear about, is that he holds humanity accountable for what he’s said to us, whether in the words of the prophets or in the history of his ongoing relationship with the people of Israel—and by extension, ourselves. A psalmist describes God’s communications: “The words of the LORD are pure words; / Like silver tried in a furnace of earth /, Purified seven times” (Psa 12: 6). “It is written,” Jesus said, quoting Moses, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matt 4: 4; Deut 8: 3b). These texts are just a few of many examples describing God’s word and its authority over us. Psalm 119 is another, all 176 verses.

​The topic of God’s word is also presented figuratively, especially by John in his gospel and first letter: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1: 1-2). As John indicates, he is describing Jesus Christ: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14). See also John’s first letter: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we 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—” (I John 1: 1-2). A coming Prophet will “be like you,” God told Moses. Further, “whoever will not hear My words, which he speaks in My name, I will require it of him” (Deut 18: 18-19). Again, this is Jesus, the Living Word.

​It’s clear that our words are also to be fully considered, spoken with careful intentionality. James writes: “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” James continues his topic, offering a cautionary description: “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity,” something that “defiles the whole body” and “is set on fire by hell” (James 3: 2, 6). Yet our words can also be a means of salvation. Paul writes: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10: 9-10).