Every couple of years I need a refresher on language.
Most of the time this happens through our children. They will say something—use a word or a phrase—and I won’t understand it. I’ll ask for a clarification, a definition, and maybe even for another example in context. And I still won’t get it. Most of the time I still need the help of Urban Dictionary to understand what was said. But even then, I’m not really allowed to use these words.
The kids cringe when I do, and I get that.
I did the same thing.
The Words that Link Generations
And I assume my parents did the same thing when their vernacular was discovered and put in use by the previous generation. And so it goes, one generation after another, being linguistically left behind. And yet through every generation of human history, there is a link. The link is not a particular language, but instead four words translated into a multitude of dialects. It’s these four words that bind all the generations of humanity together:
“Has God indeed said.”
In the Beginning
Way back at the beginning–in the very first generation–everything was good. Very good, in fact. All creation existed in perfect harmony, and at the centerpiece of everything was the crown jewel of creation. The man and the woman lived in perfect fellowship with God, walking with Him without guilt, shame, or any other hindrance. And into this harmony slithered the cunning serpent armed with what must have seemed like a very innocent question and just a few short sentences that followed it:
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:1-4).
It was a simple question really. “Has God indeed said…?” Just four words. And yet into those four words are packed a far more cunning charge.
Those Words Still Haunt Us
The serpent was calling into question the Word of God, at least on the surface. And we would do well to pay attention to the fact that he was because he does the same thing in our ear today.
Those four words still haunt us. They haunt us because they have haunted every generation since then. That’s not only because of the devastating effects that came afterward in the garden, but because those same four words are at the core of every temptation, social evil, and moral compromise we still face. Indeed, they are at the heart of those things for every single generation since then:
- “Has God indeed said not to worry?”
- “Has God indeed said He would provide for you?”
- “Has God indeed said that judgment would come to all people?”
And we can take it further:
- “Has God indeed said that there is male and female?”
- “Has God indeed said all life is precious, even in the womb?”
- “Has God indeed said that Jesus is the only way to the Father?”
The follow-up questions might change with each generation, and yet the basic premise remains the same.
God Has Said
Every generation has had to reckon with those words and the subtle but terrible charge they bring against the Word–and therefore the character–of God. Those four words are much more than an innocent question; they strike at the core of our faith. This simple phrase, for all time since the garden, is an expression of whether God can be trusted. Is His Word true? And is His Word to us a loving Word?
Mercifully, God has not left us to wonder. He has not left us without a Word. He chose to communicate with us. And He even went further than giving us His book; He gave us Himself. As we dig into the written Word of God, we find ourselves coming alongside the Living Word of God. And that’s where true life resides. And that’s where the answer to those four words lies as well.
Yes. Yes indeed, God has said.