The Power of the Word

One of the most interesting discoveries I made during my Greek studies at college was the word “logos”. The Greek word “logos” is most often translated as “word” in the New Testament; but this simple one-word translation doesn’t do the original language justice. The word “logos” carries with it far more weight than just printed or spoken word; it has the idea of “matter” as it’s used in the question: “what’s the matter?”

Words Represent Ideas

A word is something we use to represent an idea or a concept. Words are essential in communication because they are the primary conduit for ideas. In order for me to convey to you what I’m thinking or feeling, I need to convert those thoughts or feelings into words that you can adequately and appropriately perceive.

So when a word is given, it is often a representation of the giver’s thoughts, ideas and personality. Sometimes these representations are direct, sometimes they are indirect. If I say to you “I don’t like kidney beans”, that’s a fairly direct statement of my view on kidney beans. If you give a choice between corn on the cob and kidney beans and I say, “I’ll take the corn, thanks”, that’s another revelation of my personality, even though it’s a bit more direct.

Christ Is God’s Word

This is why John 1 addresses Christ as “The Word”, because He is an incarnate representation of God’s thoughts, ideas and personality. In essence, Christ was God “speaking our language”. Christ was sent to us as en example of what God looked like wrapped in human flesh.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Why Inspiration Matters

Now, I’m sure there are some objections to my previous assertion that words are a revelation of a person’s character. People lie. Their words are not always consistent with their thoughts, ideas and personality. I could tell you I love kidney beans, but that just wouldn’t be true. You can’t always trust what people say. Who believes that all people are completely trustworthy? If you do, I have a submarine with a screen door I’d like to sell you.

But what of God? Romans 3:4 answers that question emphatically: “Let God be true and every man a liar.” What gives us such strong hope is that the Word—the written testimony of God and His people—that has been passed on to us is inspired, or God-breathed. Paul makes this perfectly clear:

2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed,[a] which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

The Bible you hold in your hand has been given to us by God, and is our window into the mind of God. Now, keep in mind; the power is not in its pages. We do not practice bibliolatry, or Bible worship. The God that the Bible tells of is our strength. So we relish in the pages of Scripture because it tells us of our great Creator and our great Lover.

Perhaps most importantly, though, we relish in God’s Word because it reveals to us God’s plan for us. Jesus’ prayer reveals quite plainly that God’s Word is truth and that this truth is what provides us sanctification. It’s also interesting to note that Jesus prayed that this truth, this singular purpose of God revealed in His Word, would unify us. Sanctification and unity together in the same passage!

John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. 20 I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

There is great power in God’s plan, and that powerful plan has been revealed in his Word—carried out by the living Word (Christ), recorded in the written Word (the Bible).

God’s Word Speaks Of Things to Come

Prophecy in Scripture is usually only summoned for two reasons. Fulfilled prophecy is often cited as a proof for the validity of Scripture. Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled in Christ are a foundation for our faith and a staple for our teaching.

Another popular aspect of prophecy is eschatology, or a study of the end times. Apocalyptic thrillers are all the rage these days, with the Left Behind series selling over 63 million copies. (Roughly translated, that would mean that 1 in 5 Americans owns a Left Behind book.) I personally believe that God has some big plans for the end times, but also I think we as Christians are foolish to spend all our time trying to decipher signs and play fortune teller, especially when the task at hand is so great. Think of Christ’s admonition in Matthew 12 and Matthew 16 for those seeking signs. He didn’t say ”blessed are the sign seekers”; he said “blessed are the peacemakers.”

All that being said, there is a third aspect of prophecy that often gets overlooked because it’s such a common element of our faith—our eternal rest in Christ. Hebrews 4 concludes what Hebrews 3 begins: our salvation is analogous to the rest that the Israelites were promised to have when they reached the Promised Land.

Now, let’s not forget that Christ is our present rest:

Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

There is a real and apparent rest that Christ brings to all those who by faith “come to” Him. But that present rest is just a shadow of things to come, an advance payment on eternity as it were. What gives us “peace that passes all understanding” on this earth is the Great Promise of eternal rest that we embrace by faith.

When Words Fail

God revealed His plan for the Israelites through His Word; but there was a problem. Hebrews 3 chronicles the Israelites failure to embrace the promised rest as the journeyed through the wilderness:

Hebrews 3:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

After all of the astounding things God did for them during the Exodus—freeing them with the plagues, bringing them through the Red Sea, providing water in the wilderness, appearing at Mount Sinai—despite all of these things, they did not believe. The Word of God was unprofitable because it was not received by faith. All of the great promises that God has given, all of the unimaginable plans He has in store for us, all of these things amount to nothing for us if we do not accept them by faith.

God’s Promises + Our Faith

So we see that disbelief is the great disabler. God’s Word is full of great power and potential, but He has given us the choice. As was made painfully obvious by the Israelite’s example, sometimes people don’t believe and God’s judgment falls. But for those of us that believe, “there remains therefore a rest for the people of God.”