The Power of the Word

isa 55.11For 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.- Hebrews 4:12

This teaches us then the power of the Word of God. It is alive, active, powerful, and unable to be contained or constricted or stopped. Do you think about the Bible as being a living Book? It is living and powerful. It cuts right to the heart of the matter. It is a two-edged sword (Eph 6:17). It reveals the true intentions of the human heart and exposes our every thought.

The Word of God is a mirror that reflects to us the truth about who we are and what we need. It gives us the standard by which we must be measured to be pleasing to God. (James 1:23-25). It reflects to us the truth, unvarnished. And the way we respond says much about our faith and maturity in the Lord.

Along with revealing to us the standard of living for pleasing God, the Word of God is powerful. Consider these verses:

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” – Rom 1:16-17

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:10-11

The Word of God is the power of God to salvation. It is what gives life when applied by the Spirit. It is what God uses to impart faith. Salvation is accomplished by the application of the Word of God. And this power, this Word, never fails. Get that? Often we think it is not enough just to give people the Word of God. But the Word of God is the only thing we have to give people that brings guaranteed results.

The Word of God always accomplishes the purpose that God sends it forth to accomplish. The Word is never sent out to fail and return void with no results. Often we forget that the Word can bring several results because often we are seeking one primary result, the salvation of souls. And when people are not saved we think that either we have failed in the method we have used to witness or we believe that the Word of God failed and did not bring forth fruit.

But the Word of God not only brings salvation, it also brings healing, hardens, convicts, sanctifies, and breaks people. And the Word is never sent out, not once, that it does not accomplish the specific task that God wants to accomplish. This should give us great freedom and motivation in preaching the Word to those who need to hear it because the results do not depend upon us, but upon the Spirit and the Word. And the Word never fails.

Preaching the Word

The purpose then of preaching is to simply and boldly declare the Word of God to those who need to hear it – that would be everyone. The Scriptures are specific, we do not need a great snazzy program or world class marketing and promotions. We do not need to have raffles and give-a-ways. We do not need to bribe people or manipulate people. We just need to faithfully preach the Word.

Paul is clear, he did not minister with smooth or flattering words. He says he ministered by “by setting forth the truth plainly.” He says he did not come preaching with “excellence of speech” or “with persuasive words of human wisdom.” He simply and faithfully preached the Word of God.

Why do we think the Word is incapable and that we must add our own twist, our own presentation, our own talent, our own persuasion and excellence, as if we were competing with the television or radio or as if it were a performance to be appreciated and applauded? We are not in the business of marketing the gospel. We live to preach the truth of God’s Word to faithfully and consistently sow the seed and let God give the increase.

In fact, the preaching of the Word is seen by the world as foolishness. This is why many people abandon churches that preach the Word. They have itching ears, cannot bear up under sound doctrine, and want their fleshly needs and desires met. They come to hear preaching that helps them meet their needs and entertains them instead of to hear preaching that is faithful to the text and confronts us with sin and righteousness. Many today do not want preaching that is expositional or applicable – they want a quick fix to their problems so that they can tip God in the offering plate and then get on with their life.

But the preaching of the Word sets the tone for the church and in fact tells us everything we need to know about the ministry taking place. If a church fails at preaching then nothing else they do matters. Consider:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. – 1 Cor. 1:18-21

Be a fool for Christ and preach the message of the good news that Jesus Christ has come to seek and save that which was lost. Stick with the Word – then the results are guaranteed. And pray for those that you preach to.

(One note – we do not mean by “preach” that we should shout or harass people. The term simply means to proclaim or tell forth the Word of God. Tell people what the Word of God says about God, about themselves, and about what God has accomplished in your life through the Word.)

(tomorrow: Hearing the Word by Reading)