The motivation behind “The Power of the Spoken Words” (sic) is completely correct. In nations like Australia there is widespread neglect of Bible reading and scripture-based praying in the Church. We are in a famine of hearing the words of the Lord (Am 8:11). This is very serious, for not to love God’s Word is not to love Jesus. here’s why the bible will always be important to me.
Whilst at university I became extremely depressed and was so paranoid that I couldn’t even walk down a street. I presented to a dermatologist with repeated skin problems, and to a cardiologist with recurring chest pains, and they both said it was all stress related.
One day sitting in the library and feeling particularly bad a line of thought formed in my head: “If there is meaning in life there must be life after death, otherwise it doesn’t matter what happens in our lives – whether we are rich or poor, healthy or sick, if it all comes to nothing when we die it’s all meaningless. If there is life after death this will require a miracle and a miracle requires a God. You need to read the Bible as the Bible is meant to be about God.”
The next day when I returned home I discovered a box full of books sitting on our kitchen table sent down from a neighbour and amongst all the cheap novels I found a modern translation of the New Testament.
Eventually reading the whole Bible cover to cover several times placed me under great conviction of sin and judgement for neglecting the love of God and led to my conversion.
However, many Christians today want a short cut to a better life and find it simpler and easier just to listen to the pastor than to wrestle with the scriptures.
This has led to the loss of the creative power of the Word of God to produce holy disciples.
Only through the Spirit ministering the resurrection life of Jesus through scriptural truth can we expect to see signs of the new creation amongst the people of God.
Any genuine move of God in Australia will be characterised by a new level of submission to the Word.
A new love for God’s speaking to us through scripture will lead to a new longing to speak for him.
In commending a book dedicated to the Trinity it’s appropriate to recognise that the existence of the Word eternally predates the existence of the world.
The start of John’s Gospel is justly famous; vs.1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. vs.2 He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2 ESV).
This could be translated as “before the beginning began the Word already was”.
This Word, as John 1:14 ESV later makes clear, is Jesus. Communication is essential to the very being of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and since Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev 13:8 ESV) it becomes clear that the power of the Word is the Jesus’ submission to the Father.
Since “all things were made through him (Christ) and for him” (Col 1:16 ESV) creation itself was made to reveal the reality of the Word to creatures.
So we can never overestimate the importance of scripture.
When Hebrews testifies, “the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Heb 11:3 ESV), it teaches creation out of nothing.
This doesn’t mean that the Word of the Lord turned nothing into something as if noth-ing had some sort of potential in it.
Rather, all the order and life in time-space derives from the creative power of the Word.
The depth of the Word in the world, and the openness of creation’s very being to spoken miracles, is a sign that it was made to obey the Son. vs.1 “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,vs.2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Heb 1:1-2 ESV).
But sometimes God’s creatures have chosen not to submit to his Word.
God personally spoke to Adam the Word of warning, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”” (Gen 2:17 ESV).
This provided a great opportunity for a profound connection between divine and human speech.
But when Satan crept into the Garden and told Eve God was lying Adam stood by (“with her” Gen 3:6 ESV) and said nothing; immediately the connection between the Word of God and the word of man was broken.
This is the foundational truth underlying the subtitle of Joseph’s book, “When Silence Can Be Most Dangerous”. In undoing the silence of Adam husbands need to speak up for God in their marriages and families against the power of evil.
However hard this might be for men emotionally, they must never act like cowards at home.
Adam’s silence plunged the world into chaos but as the Lord brought order to the primal creation through the power of his Spirit and Word (Gen 1:2-3 ESV) he kept on speaking. “He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.” (Ps 107:20 ESV).
In the Old Testament this ministry of restoration and wholeness is clearest in the prophets, God put his word in their mouths commanded them and energised them to speak it out1)see Num 22:38 ESV; Num 23:5, 16 ESV; 2 Chron 36:21-22 ESV; Isa 51:16 ESV; Isa 59:21 ESV; Jer 1:9 ESV; Rom 10:8 ESV.
Hebrews helps us understand this mighty dynamic. God “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3 ESV) means the universe is carried along to its appointed goal by the Word.
This goal is the fulness of Jesus himself (Eph 1:10 ESV); the goal of the Word is sharing in the Word.
When “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14 ESV) the eternal Son took on a human nature that is fallen, broken, stripped of glory and “useless” to God’s purposes2)see John 6:63 ESV; Heb 2:14 ESV.
This means that whenever Jesus spoke a word to calm a storm, heal the sick, cast out a demon, feed the hungry and so on , his acts of power are no longer that of the eternal Word (Phil 2:7 ESV), but the work of the Holy Spirit3)see Matt 12:28 ESV; Luke 4:18 ESV operating through ordinary but sinless human words, but without sin (Heb 4:15 ESV).
This means that by faith and with the help of the Spirit we can share in the works which we see in the life of Jesus (John 14:12 ESV) through our lowly words.
Jesus was able to say, “scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35 ESV), was a faith statement that everything the Father had said about him was true.
The evidence that the Son of God perfectly believed the truth of the Word is his submission to death on the cross; “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him” (Matt 26:24 ESV).
The great crisis of the cross is that when Jesus cries out, ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34 ESV), he has no Word from the Spirit speaking to him of the love of the Father.
The cross was not the end, the slain Word is “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Rom 6:4 ESV).
The renewed Word has power from inside a broken-and-healed creation to make everything as new and beautiful in its time as himself4)see Eccl 3:11 ESV; Rev 21:5 ESV.
The Word which comes to us today is not alien to the struggles and limits of our humanity, it comes to us as friend, brother and Saviour from the heart of the Father5)see John 1:18 ESV; 15:15 ESV; Heb 2:12 ESV.
When the Israelites heard, “the word is very near you. It is in your mouth, and in your heart, so that you can do it.” (Deut 30:14 ESV), they could only think of themselves as repeating what God had said.
But when Paul applies these scriptures to new covenant believers (Rom 10:8 ESV) he understands that the living Word, Christ raised from the dead, vitally indwells the Christian so that we can speak what God speaks in communion with Jesus.
A friend once challenged a group of pastors, but this applies to all believers, “Do you fellas believe that the Word that is in your mouth is the Word that created the world?
To which I would add “became human, was crucified, rose from the dead and will return to Judge the world”.
This is an extraordinary truth.
Since “Christ dwells in our hearts by faith” (Eph 3:17 ESV) and “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:34 ESV) our words can express the very heart of God. Amazing!
As those called to be conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus (Rom 8:29 ESV) the union between the Word in his powerful love and our own words can become more and more intimate. On this pathway we begin to realise and live out why God created the world.
Why then is there so much muteness with respect to the Word in the Church? Sin is the answer.
Since “the entrance of your words brings light” (Ps 119:130 ESV), the penetrating light of Christ6)see John 1:4-5 ESV; Rom 8:12 ESV in the Word exposes darkness in our hearts7)see John 3:19-20 ESV; 1 John 1:5-10 ESV.
This can be a very painful experience, and it is why the most dangerous silence is silence about our sins.
James’ exhortation challenges us, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16 ESV).
Confessing sin is the most powerful sign of our submission to the Word and the most intimate expression of our sonship in Christ. And in a immature Church it explains why corporate confession, usually the first fruit of revival, is so rare today.
APPLICATION and CONCLUSION
The Bible is not some sort of oracle book we consult for guidance in need.
The devil can quote scripture (Matt 4:3, 6 ESV) but he cannot speak scripture in union with the Word of God; it can never be his very life.
When in the power of the Spirit the children of God use scripture, they are not like parrots or superstitious people (Matt 6:7 ESV) but are operating in oneness with the Word moving all creation to its appointed goal.
In this union with the Word our words share in the divine-human glory of Christ himself and become sources of life and light for the world (Eph 5:8 ESV).
What could be more wonderful?
Let me end with an ancient prayer: “Blessed Lord, who has caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them; that, by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.”8)Thomas Cranmer 1489-1556 see https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/martyrs/thomas-cranmer.html
MESSAGE DELIVERED: 28th November, 2018 (A teaching for a book launch on speaking out God’s Word.)
Author: Dr. John Yates
YouTube or PODCAST:
28th Nov, 2018
28th Nov, 2018
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||see Num 22:38 ESV; Num 23:5, 16 ESV; 2 Chron 36:21-22 ESV; Isa 51:16 ESV; Isa 59:21 ESV; Jer 1:9 ESV; Rom 10:8 ESV|
|2.||↑||see John 6:63 ESV; Heb 2:14 ESV|
|3.||↑||see Matt 12:28 ESV; Luke 4:18 ESV|
|4.||↑||see Eccl 3:11 ESV; Rev 21:5 ESV|
|5.||↑||see John 1:18 ESV; 15:15 ESV; Heb 2:12 ESV|
|6.||↑||see John 1:4-5 ESV; Rom 8:12 ESV|
|7.||↑||see John 3:19-20 ESV; 1 John 1:5-10 ESV|
|8.||↑||Thomas Cranmer 1489-1556 see https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/martyrs/thomas-cranmer.html|