Category Archives: God’s Word

The Power Behind the Word

“Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.” Psalm 119:18 (NKJ)

How do you read the Bible? Do you read it intent on analyzing its meaning? I must admit, this is the lens I most frequently use. I invest in Bible commentaries and lexicons, with great intentionality and expense, to insure that I am “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Though all these efforts are important in accurately interpreting Scripture, the “power and wonder” of the Word is best understood when we realize its “supernatural origin and source”—God Himself. Viewed from this perspective, God’s Word will quickly become a greater influence and authority in our lives.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16). “Given by inspiration of God” in Greek is one word, theopneustos which means “God breathed” (theo=God and pneo=to breathe). What does that mean? God, through the Person of the Holy Spirit and the personality of the biblical writer, enabled every letter, word, and sentence that is included in each biblical text. Through His Word, God gives believers everything they need to live “profitable and righteous” lives. God’s Word is the authoritative source for truth, encouragement, and correction. It comes not only with meaning and purpose but also with God’s absolute power. This is witnessed in the power of His Word to “covert souls” (Ps. 19: 7) and “enlighten eyes” (Ep. 1:18).

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish …” (Isaiah 55:11). God’s Word is not simply a means of communication. It is “The Means” whereby God makes “things happen.” In Genesis, God spoke and it was accomplished. Darkness separated from light and the result He called night and day (Gen. 1:4-5). God said “let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven” and the sun and the moon came into existence (Gen. 1:15-16). Throughout the Old and New Testament God spoke and His Word was accomplished (Num. 23:19; Ep. 1:4-5). God has spoken to us in these last days through His Son Jesus Christ, the Living Word, who came to release us from the penalty and power of sin (Heb. 1:2). Jesus’ cry from the cross, “It is finished” witnessed the fact that God’s Living Word accomplished His divine purpose.

God’s Word is best appreciated and celebrated as we personally experience its transforming power. Upon hearing the Gospel of Salvation (Ep. 1:13), we are instantaneously confronted with the Power of God (Rom. 1:16-17). Rescued from the kingdom of darkness, we are transplanted into the kingdom of love (Col. 1:13). The penalty of sin is removed and our identity is immediately changed from a child of disobedience to joint heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17). As we grow in Christ through reading and meditating on His Word, we are moment by moment changed into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18), our mind renewed (Ro. 12:2) until we have the same mind as Christ (Phil. 2:5). As we read God’s Word, let us remember the power and authority behind it—God the Creator and Sustainer of heaven and earth.

“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” Hebrews 4: 12

Handle with Care

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)

Our text today comes from Paul’s letter to the young preacher, Timothy as he prepared for leadership in the church at Ephesus. In this letter Paul passes the mantel of ministry to Timothy and exhorts him to continue faithful in his duties, especially as it pertained to holding to sound doctrine (1:13-14), avoidance of error (2:15-18) and confidence in the Scripture (3:15-17). Paul knew the importance of knowing God’s word and its critical role in the survival of the early church. Paul’s message, the direct result of God’s inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16), is relevant to believers in the 21st century. Although we may not be clergy (1st and 2nd Timothy are ministerial letters), we are expected to “hold fast the pattern of sound words, which we have heard” (2 Tim. 1:13). Are we “holding fast”?

The Barna Research Group found that Biblical literacy is neither a current reality nor a goal in the U.S.

“Bible reading has become the religious equivalent of sound-bite journalism. When people read from the Bible they typically open it, read a brief passage without much regard for the context, and consider the primary thought or feeling that the passage provided. If they are comfortable with it, they accept it; otherwise, they deem it interesting but irrelevant to their life, and move on.”

Paul warned that in these “last days” leading to Christ’s Second Return, one of the things that would suffer would be knowledge of God’s Word.

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

We can no longer depend exclusively on our pastors and other ministries to explain and interpret God’s Word. In many churches, the full counsel of God’s Word (both Old and New Testament) is being neglected. Ministers are questioning, from their pulpits, biblical truths including the security of believers and the sinlessness of Christ. Such behavior is not new, for Jeremiah observed: “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jer. 5:30-31)

Biblical literacy in the 21st century is critical. Why? Because in reading the Bible one receives wisdom from God (1 Cor. 2:6-16). In addition, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3: 16-17, ESV). Personally, biblical literacy encourages spiritual maturity and empowers us to live victoriously in these tumultuous times. As we witness to unbelievers and seekers, it will become the tool for sharing the Gospel—the message of life over death. Therefore, “Handle with care!”

“Dats what God’s Word do!”

Baseball and the WordKansas City is alive with excitement as the Kansas City Royals approach a World Series that has eluded them for twenty-eight (28) years.   The team has been blessed with young and exciting players that have added personality and flair to Kansas City baseball.  One of its newer players is Gerrod Dyson, who is noted for his extraordinary speed.  When asked by sportscasters as to the secret of his ability to steal so many bases during a game, he humbly and laughably replied, “Dats what speed do!”  After reading Gerrod’s response, I felt humorously inspired to write this week’s teaching on the extraordinary power of God’s Word.

God’s creative WORD was evidenced throughout Genesis.  God would speak and it was done.  Darkness separated from light and the result He called night and day (Gen. 1:4-5).  God said “let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven” and the sun and the moon came into existence (Gen. 1:15-16).  Greater still was God’s Word of salvation in which He sent His only begotten Son to save us from sin’s death grip. “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me” (Heb. 10:5).

God’s transformative WORD can be found in both the New and Old Testament with the clearest benefits being outlined in Psalm 19.  Ps. 19:7-8 uses several descriptors to convey the power of God’s Word in the life of the believer.  “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.   The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”   God’s Word transforms by reviving the sorrowful soul, making wise the ignorant, and giving joy and light to its reader.

God’s prophetic WORD bears witness to His claim as the only all-wise Sovereign of both heaven and earth.  His spoken Word becomes reality (Num. 23:19).  Throughout the history of Israel, God’s WORD guaranteed deliverance, protection, and provision (Is. 7:7) resulting in confidence and trust in Him alone (Dan. 10:19).  “The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught” (Is. 50:4).

God’s effectual WORD is “living and active” (Heb. 4:12).  His Word, whether read or spoken, will “not return empty but will accomplish the desire and the purpose for which it was sent” (Is. 55:11).  God’s Word accurately hits its target—the broken heart, the wayward soul, or the spirit of disobedience.  Because of its effectiveness and accuracy, it can be trusted to bring the unredeemed to salvation (2 Tim. 3:16; 4:2).

God’s WORD is the source for all we need in navigating life on this side and in preparing for life on the other.  How can believers live victoriously in a world that is anti-Christ and dangerously fallen?  We can faithfully embrace what God has taught us in His Word (Col. 3:6-7).  We can maintain joy in the midst of life challenges (1 John 1:4).  We can experience peace rather than fear (Phil. 4:6-7).  Why?  Because “Dat’s what God’s Word do!”

Myths, Lies, and Misunderstandings, Part 3

We will close our last session on “Myths, Lies, and Misunderstandings” by discussing “some truths” that keep people from reading the Bible.
Truths-in accordance with experience, facts, or reality  
Truth #1 The Bible is written just for Christians
While anyone can read the Bible their understanding may not have the same impact as with a believer. The believer’s understanding or revelation of the Bible’s meaning is aided by the Holy Spirit, who comes to reside in the believer when they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Paul speaks of it as “Spiritual Wisdom or Discernment”
1 Corinthians 2:13-15 (NLT)   When we tell you this, we do not use words of human wisdom. We speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths.  But people who aren't Christians can't understand these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means.  We who have the Spirit understand these things, but others can't understand us at all.  
The Bible is the written record God has preserved for the express purpose of revealing Himself to His people.  It is through His Word that He build a relationship with us and shares His purpose for our life. As you read the Bible, you gain not only an understanding of God’s ways but also begin to change your thoughts and action.  Believers in reading His Word become transformed by the renewing of their mind (Romans 12:2) and conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:20).
Truth #2   I don’t have to read the Bible if I’m a Christian—there are other sources of truth and moral truth and instruction.
This is true statement, but the Bible is the “primary source of truth” God has provided for believers.  Here are some “truth statements” from the Bible which support my statement.
John 17:17   “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”   Word is interpreted   “logos” which is defined as the word spoken or written.  The Word is also a title for Christ emphasizing His own deity and communication of who God is and what He is like. 
Romans 12:2  “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” When we saturate ourselves with God’s Word, our thoughts will gradually begin to follow the pattern of God’s way, rather than the world’s. 
Luke 11:28   He (Jesus) replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."
Kay Arthur, renowned author and Bible teacher, stated it best this way:
“Understanding God’s Word is not enough.  It must be energized by the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart and life.”  
I love studying and teaching God’s Word for it is the source of life and freedom.  It gives me great joy and is a privilege to invite you to begin reading your Bible—it is there that you will hear from the Master Himself about Who He is and the wonderful plans He has for your life:
Jeremiah 29:11-13   For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

The Salvation Challenge

Salvation Challenge
Take the challenge. 
  1. Match the word list (A-L) with its closest definition (1-12)
  2. Create a picture/process diagram of how we achieve salvation using selected from the word list below
  3. On your diagram, identify “who” is performing the action associated with the specific act involved with salvation.  Your choices include: mankind, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit.  Example:  Faith is needed by mankind for salvation.
A. Condemnation
G. Consecration
B. Justification
H. Righteousness
C. Sanctification
I. Reconciliation
D. Restoration
J. Propitiation
E. Faith
K Regeneration
F. Imputation/Impute
L. Redemption
  1. Renewal of something to its former state
  2. God’s action declaring sinners are made righteous by Jesus Christ
  3. Born again/new birth
  4. Dedication to God’s service
  5. Righteousness-holy and upright living, in accordance with God’s standard/’straightness’
  6. To take something that belongs to someone and credit to another’s account/to transfer
  7. Appeasement/satisfaction
  8. To declare a person guilty and worthy of punishment
  9. Paying necessary ransom
  10. The process by which God and man are brought together again
  11. A belief in or confident attitude toward God, involving commitment to His will for one’s reliance on Christ
  12. The process of God’s grace by which the believer is separated from sin and becomes dedicated to God’s righteousness. How? By the WORD of GOD (John 17:7) and the HOLY SPIRIT (Rom. 8:3-4)

Word Transformation: The Rhema of God

God’s Word contains power to transform a person’s life. The secret to “Word transformation” is two-fold: first the reading of the Bible and secondly, in living out its specific instructions. In the New Testament, there are two words commonly found to reference “God’s Word.” One is logos, which in its broadest term includes the Bible and its Christian message. The Bible is rightly called the “logos of God” because it denotes the expression of God’s thought and revealed will. The other use of God’s Word is rhema (rhay’mah). Rhema focuses attention on a specific word, command, or utterance of God directed to an individual and their life circumstance.
The significance of rhema can be illustrated by its first occurrence in the Bible (Matt. 4:4). When a word or phrase appears for the first time in the Bible, it is deserving of special attention because it is the introduction of new truth to man about God. Every other occurrence of that truth in Scripture builds upon the example established by its initial appearance.
In this foundational scripture, Satan challenges Jesus to change stones to bread. He counters Satan’s temptation by responding that man is to live by “every rhema  that comes from the mouth of God.” Subsequent temptations are diffused with specific words or utterances from Scripture. (Matt. 4:5-11) The new truth revealed in Matthew 4:4 was that man was to live by God’s specific rhema (word) to them. Jesus’ retorts to Satan show how we are to respond to life’s circumstances–follow the rhema God reveals to us.  
The importance of rhema (versus logos) is seen in God’s directive to believers to “take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (rhema) of God.” Here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to individual scriptures which the Spirit brings to remembrance for use in time of need. The only requirement is that there has been regular storing of Scripture in the mind.  When you immerse yourself in God’s logos through reading and meditating, you are setting yourself up to receive the rhema of God.

Back to the B-A-S-I-C-S: Getting More From Your Bible Study

Last week I was guest on a local radio show, Back to the Basics.  From that preparation, came this Bible study aid, “Back to the B-A-S-I-C-S:  Getting More From Your Bible Study.”   Hope it helps.  Let me know how you like it.  SHARE YOUR “Bible Basics” with us.

B-Belief –“ But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit andbelief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13)

A-Ask the Holy Spirit for Guidance- “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” (John 16:13)

S-Spend time Studying God’s Word – “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

I-Be Intentional in your study-…that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  (2 Tim 3: 17)

C-Check out what God is saying to YOU-17  And take the helmet of salvation, andthe sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Eph. 6:17)

(LOOK FOR SPECS-sins,promises,examples,commands,strongholds)

S-Start living the word- “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”  (James 1:22)