His Word Above His Name

Jeffrey Khoo

Text: Psalm 138:2 “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Ps 138:2).

What is His Name?

What is God’s name? Moses asked God this question in Exodus 3:13. “And God said unto Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM: … this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations’” (Exod 3:14–15).

What does God’s name tell us? God’s name tells us that He is the living and true God who is eternal, always existing, and forever living; all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful. God says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Who is this God? He is the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible.

In the Old Testament, we find the God of Israel having the following Hebrew names:

  1. YHWH Yireh: “The LORD who sees and provides” (Gen. 22:14)
  2. YHWH Ropheka: “I am the LORD that healeth thee” (Exod 15:26)
  3. YHWH Nissi: “The LORD my banner” (Exod 17:15)
  4. YHWH Meqaddishkem: “I am the LORD that doth sanctify you” (Exod 31:13)
  5. YHWH Shalom: “The LORD sends peace” (Judg 6:24)
  6. YHWH Sabbaoth: “The LORD of hosts” (1 Sam 1:3; 17:45)
  7. YHWH Ro’i: “The LORD is my shepherd.” (Ps 23:1)
  8. YHWH ’Osenu: “The LORD our maker” (Ps 95:6)
  9. YHWH Shammah: “The LORD is there.” (Ezek 48:35)
  10. YHWH Tsidqenu: “The LORD our Righteousness.” (Jer 23:6)
  11. El ’Elyon: “The Most High God” (Gen 14:19)
  12. El ’Olam: “The Everlasting God” (Gen 21:33)
  13. El Shaddai: “The Almighty God” (Gen 28:3)

All the above names of God give us great confidence in who God is and what He is. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” It comforts us to know that this living and true God who created heaven and earth is our God.

The names of God tell us not only who He is but also what He is. So, what is God? The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 4 has an excellent answer, “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” When we consider who God is and what He is, we can only cry out, “How Great Thou Art!” But there is more to His Name. The Old Testament prophesied the coming of the virgin born Son of God whose “name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). The Son of God who is the Lord Jesus Christ came as prophesied, and He was all that He was prophesied to be. Jesus Christ was none other than God Himself (John 1:1). As God the Son, he existed even before the world began, for He said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58 cf Exod 3:13–14). The Lord Jesus Christ was the “I AM THAT I AM” of the Old Testament. He revealed clearly what that Name meant through His great “I am” pronouncements:

  1. “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35)
  2. “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5)
  3. “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7, 9)
  4. “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14)
  5. “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)
  6. “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)
  7. “I am the true vine” (John 15:1, 5)

There are exactly seven “I am” statements, and the number seven is the number of God, the number of perfection. His Name is perfect. The above names of Christ are names that speak of Him as Saviour. The Lord Jesus Christ gives perfect salvation to all who would believe on Him. Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

How about His Word?

God’s Word is all that God’s Name is and more! If God is “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable,” and Jesus is “the same, yesterday, today, and forever,” so is His Word. As Christ the Living Word is 100% God and 100% Man in One Person, our perfect Saviour so is the Written Word, 100% inspired and 100% preserved in One Book, our perfect Scripture. Look at these wonderful verses which describe the Word of God:

  1. “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever” (Ps 12:6–7).
  2. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim 3:16–17).
  3. “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt 5:18).
  4. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matt 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33).
  5. “The scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

His Word is the evidence of all that His Name means and represents. If His Word be false and deceptive, fallible and errant, then His Name would mean nothing and would be worthless. For if the Word of God is not infallible and inerrant, perfect and altogether true, then how can the God of the Word be believed and trusted? He cannot! It is no wonder God finds it necessary to exalt His Word above His Name.

It might interest you to know that the Muslims have a very high regard for their Quran. Let me quote from a Malaysian newspaper—The Sunday Star—which on September 24, 2006 published an article about how Muslims view their Quran: “The way a Muslim approaches his faith is that he believes that every word of the Holy Quran is the Word of Allah and every word of Revelation to the Holy Prophet more than 1,400 years ago has been preserved without any change to the original text.”

Can this be said of every Christian? Does every Christian believe that “every word of the Holy Bible is the Word of God, and every word of Revelation by the Lord Jesus Christ more than 1,900 years ago has been preserved without any change to the original text”? The tragic and sad answer is no. Many today who profess Christianity deny the jot-and-tittle preservation of the Scriptures, and by so doing undermine the very foundation of their faith. There are those who claim to believe the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the “I AM THAT I AM,” and that Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby man must be saved (Acts 4:12), but cannot believe in the perfect preservation of the Holy Scriptures, that we have in our hands today a 100% perfect Bible without any mistake.

Does it make sense to promote God’s Name on the one hand, but demote His Word on the other; to declare that God’s Name is perfect, but His Word is imperfect or not so perfect; God’s Word is perfectly inspired, but not perfectly preserved; the Bible was only perfect in the past, but no longer perfect today? The crisis in Christendom today is the systemic destruction of the very foundations of the Christian faith by Christians themselves. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps 11:3). Absolutely nothing!

At True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church, we affirm without equivocation that the Name of our God is indeed perfect, and His Word is even more perfect. We declare in Article 4.2.1 of our Constitution:

  1. “(1) We believe in the divine, Verbal Plenary Inspiration (Autographs) and Verbal Plenary Preservation of the Scriptures (Apographs) in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility, and as the perfect Word of God, the Supreme and final authority in faith and life (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20–21; Ps 12:6–7; Matt 5:18, 24:35).
  2. “(2) We believe the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament underlying the Authorised (King James) Version to be the very Word of God, infallible and inerrant.
  3. “(3) We uphold the Authorised (King James) Version to be the Word of God—the best, most faithful, most accurate, most beautiful translation of the Bible in the English language, and do employ it alone as our primary scriptural text in the public reading, preaching, and teaching of the English Bible.”

We know what God is, but do we know what the Bible is? Dean John William Burgon—who defended the divinely preserved Traditional Text and the Authorised Version against the heretical and corrupted text of Westcott and Hort and their Revised Version— has an excellent definition of the Bible. “What is the Bible?” Here is Dean Burgon’s answer,

The Bible is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth upon the throne. Every book of it, every chapter of it, every verse of it, every word of it, every syllable of it, every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High. The Bible is none other than the Word of God, not some part of it more, some part of it less, but all alike the utterance of Him that sitteth upon the throne, faultless, unerring, supreme.

Is the above declaration of the perfection of the Bible to the last syllable and letter an overstatement? Yes it is! But can the Word of God be ever overstated? No it cannot! God Himself says that He has magnified His Word above all His Name. If God’s Name is perfect, then His Word is doubly perfect—past perfect and present perfect, even three times perfect— past perfect, present perfect, future perfect, ie, always and forever perfect. A Christian can never be too extreme in his view of God’s Word. Peter himself described God’s Word not only as a “sure Word,” but a “more sure Word” (2 Pet 1:19).

What is God? What is the Bible? I hope you are able to answer these basic questions about whom and what you have believed. Memorise the answer to Question 4 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and memorise the Dean Burgon Bible statement.

The appeal to Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) is not alogical but metalogical. God has magnified His Word above all His Name. As Bible-believing and Bible-defending Christians, we are not ashamed of our Lord and we are most certainly not ashamed of His Words. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone). Amen.

(Message delivered by Dr Jeffrey Khoo at True Life BPC’s 3rd Anniversary Thanksgiving Service, Oct 1, 06)