The Power and Work of God's Word
The Power and Work of God’s Word
2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12
What is the main thing that we are to do here on earth? What is our primary responsibility? What is it that when life is over, God is going to look at our life and see if we did this or not? The answer: glorify God. That brings up a second question. Where to we go to learn how to glorify God? Scripture.
We cannot overestimate the importance of God’s Word in our daily lives and church ministry. God’s Word is His chosen instrument to create, convict, convert and conform His people. God gives life and health and holiness to His people through the agency of scripture. From the reforms under Josiah, to the revival of God’s work under Nehemiah and Ezra, to the great vision of the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37, where God breaths life in His dead people through the preaching of His Word, God always sends His Word when He wants to renew life.
The NT is just as conspicuous in its witness of the primacy of God’s Word. God’s Word sustains us “In the beginning was the word…in Him was life.” The Word grows and fights (Acts 20:32). The Word builds us up and preserves us (Rom. 1:16). The Word gives us new birth and convicts (James 1:18). So reading the Word is important to the Christian individually. If we want new life, health, and holiness in our church then it will come through working according to His word. God’s Word is his supernatural power for accomplishing His supernatural work. That’s why our eloquence, innovations, and programs are so much less important than we think. Preaching the content and intent of God’s Word is what unleashes the power of God on the people of God, because God’s power for building His people is in His Word.
And this will only happen as you immerse yourself in His Word.
Thesis: Because the Bible is God's tool for your salvation, growth, and spiritual life, you must immerse your life in Scripture.
You must immerse yourself in Scripture:
I. Because of the Nature of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
A. Scripture is the source of saving truth (15)
Paul told Timothy that he was taught from a child the holy scriptures that were able to make him wise unto salvation. He clearly is referring to the OT. The aim of the content of the Bible is to relate God’s saving purpose in Christ. The Scriptures themselves do not provide salvation, but they do point to the Savior who can provide it. The phrase “through faith in Jesus Christ” shows how the Scriptures make individuals wise. They inform them to the necessity for faith in Jesus Christ.
From Genesis to Malachi the scriptures are full of references to the coming Jesus Christ. God said in Isaiah that “My word will not return unto me void.” The parable of the sower in the NT clearly shows that a person’s response to the word is directly tied to the condition of their heart. Therefore the heart and soul of effective evangelism consists of the faithful teaching, preaching and witnessing of the truth as it is revealed in scripture. Verse fifteen ends by saying that the scriptures themselves don’t provide salvation, but they provide the wisdom that leads to salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.
ILL: Two skeptics once sat on a railroad train, discussing the life of Christ. One of them said, “I think an interesting fiction could be written about him.” The other replied, “And you are just the man to write it. Tear down the prevailing sentiment about His divinity, and paint Him as a man—a man among men.” The suggestion was acted upon and the book written. The man who made the suggestion was Colonel Ingersoll, the noted atheist. The writer was General Lew Wallace, and the book was called Ben Hur. In the process of constructing the life of Christ, Gen. Wallace found himself facing the greatest life ever lived on earth. The more he studied, the more he was convinced Christ was more than man. Until one day, he was forced to cry “Truly, this was the Son of God!”
B. Scripture comes from God and is powerful (2 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 4:12)
Verse 16 says that all scripture is given by inspiration of God. The word “inspiration” does not mean what we commonly think of when we say, “That speech was inspiring.” The word is theopneustos and means literally “God breathed out.” Scripture is inspired by God not men. The Bible is not a collection of men’s thoughts. God used more than 40 different authors over a period of 1,500 years to reveal himself. These books were written by men as learned as Moses, Nehemiah and Paul by people as common as Amos the sheepherder, and Joel, and Micah that we know nothing about. All of them point to Jesus Christ and him crucified. It is God’s self-revelation to fallen men to provide for them knowledge of his character, his attributes and his plan for the world. From Genesis to revelation the Bible shows to man the way of redemption through Jesus Christ.
2. Life-giving (Heb 4:12)
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12 says that the word of God is “quick,” Today we would say, “living.” It comes from the word zoen which in this context implies “life giving.” Psalm 119:25 “My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me (give me life) according to thy word.” Deuteronomy 8:3 “…man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” That is why we liken God’s word to food. Food imparts life just like the word does. The more of the word ingest the more abundant the life in Christ. How does this happen? Well, I will say more about that later.
3. Effective (16, 4:12)
Verse 12 then says that the word of God is “powerful.” Energês – which means “effective.” Philemon 6 “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” So the first two adjectives tell us that the Bible is full of the vitality of God and energy. But what is the word of God effective for?
It is effective for discerning your heart… piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Soul and spirit is the division of physical and spiritual. Soul is the idea of physical life…man became a living soul. Spirit is the idea of the eternal. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of your heart. The scripture full of God’s vitality and energy is effective to show you if you are living for eternity or for this life. The word of God will reach into the deep recesses of the human heart and probes and will leave nothing hidden and will lay bare the motives of your heart.
Trans: So the nature of the word is that it is the source of living truth (salvation). It comes from God and is powerful. The part of the nature of Scripture is that:
C. Scripture is Profitable for… (2 Tim 3:16)
Verse 16 says that it is “profitable.” Õphelimos means “beneficial” or “useful.” What is it profitable for?
“Doctrine” is didaskalos which means teaching; not the process, but the content. It teaches you about God. Throughout history whenever knowledge of God is regained there is revival and blessing. Remember under good king Josiah when the word of God was found? A revival resulted, just as it did when Ezra read and preached the word with Nehemiah. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He used the Word of God. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word dwell in you richly.” We are to be immersed in God’s Word.
John MacArthur said, “The truths of God’s Word are spiritual wealth that we should continually be depositing into our minds and hearts. Like deposits of money in our bank account, those deposits of divine truth become spiritual assets that we can draw on readily when confronting temptation, when making moral choices and when seeking God’s specific will and guidance for our lives.”
Whether the reproof is personal or doctrinal, Scripture can show sinners their failures, clarify the point of the mistake, and lead them to a new sense of peace and wholeness. Every experienced Christian also knows that during times of disobedience he is strongly tempted to forsake Bible study and worship and finds that fellowship with faithful believers becomes less attractive and comfortable. Looked at from the opposite side, decreased desire to study God’s Word, to worship Him, and to be with His people is reliable evidence of unconfessed and unforsaken sin.
Every Christian who has been saved for any length of time has experienced times of being sharply and deeply convicted by reading a particular Bible passage or hearing it preached or taught. But what is the end result? The end result is joy and peace. Do you want peace and joy in your life? The place yourself under the reproving word of God.
“Correction” means to make upright. It is a positive term. When you buy a new car and something is wrong, the dealer “corrects” the problem. It makes the car right. Psalm 119:9-11 says much about the correcting action of scripture, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. 10With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” We are to be in the Word because of the correcting effect on our lives.
A final use of Scripture is to provide moral training that leads to righteous living. Here it describes a system of discipline in Scripture that leads to a holy life-style.
D. Scripture Equips us for Every Good Work
This is an incredible promise about scripture: “That the man of God may be perfect meaning “competent”, throughly furnished (artios) describes a man in excellent shape unto all good works.” He is thoroughly morally prepared for good works. Everything good that God expects us to do, the Scriptures equip us to do. That is an amazing claim. How does it work? How does the Bible equip us for “every good work.”
So once again remember what I said at the beginning” you must immerse your life in Scripture. Why? First because of the nature of scripture. Second,
II. Because of how Scripture Works
How does the Bible equip us for “every good work”? It's not by supplying specific lists that cover all possible situations. Thinking that way would be a mistake in two ways. It would be a mistake because there are hundreds of specific situations we are in that the Bible does not specifically address. There were no TVs, computers, cars, phones, birth control pills, Prozac, genetic engineering, respirators, bullets, bombs in Jesus' day. The Bible does not equip us for every good deed by telling us the specific choice to make for every new situation.
The other reason it would be a mistake to think that way is that it leads straight to legalism—doing things because of outward conformity to a demand in the hope that performance will win approval. That’s not Christian morality. Good works are done from a heart that treasures God and his help and from a heart that loves to display the glory of Christ, else the “good works” are not good, no matter how they conform to external expectations.
Here are two key verses to show this. Romans 14:23 “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” And Romans 7:4 “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ…that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” Bearing fruit in “every good work” means that it comes out on the branches of your life naturally from something that has changed inside. And what has changed is that you are dead to the law as a set of lists to constrain from the outside, and are now united to Jesus Christ in a relationship of joyful trust so that when he speaks obedience comes from within as the desire of your heart.
So here's my answer to how the Scripture equips us for “every good work.” The Scripture, day after day, reveals to us the greatness and the beauty and the power and the wisdom and the mercy of all that God is for us in Christ so that by the power of the Spirit we find our joy in him, and the ways of sin become distasteful—indeed ugly and repugnant. Yes the Bible gives us many specifics as pointers how to live. But most deeply the way the Bible equips us for every good work is by changing what we find satisfaction in so that our obedience comes from within freely, not by coercion from without. It does this when we read it and meditate on it and memorize it and meditate over it every day.
ILL: How many here like a good cup of tea? I grew up and spent my adult years drinking good Southern style sweet tea. But sometimes my Grandmother would fix hot tea. Consider for a moment the difference between a strong and a weak cup of tea. The same ingredients - water and tea – are used for both. The difference is that the strong cup of tea results from the tea leaves immersion in the water longer, allowing the water more time to get into the tea and the tea into the water. The longer the steeping process, the stronger the cup of tea. In the same way, the greater our immersion in God’s Word the more Christ-like we become.
III. How You Immerse Your Life in Scripture
A. Read it (using a readable translation)
B. Study the Scripture (use good books)
C. Listen to Scripture being preached
Let me say something about books and sermons:
Biblical sermons not self-help sermons.
We will be judged one day according to our motives.
10 keys to a good marriage vs. how to please Christ in your marriage.
Motive is important, that’s where many sermons and books fall short.
I do not entertain lust, because I love Jesus Christ, not because I love my wife.
D. Obey Scripture in its commands
E. Sing Scripture