I attended a workshop at our regional convention on Friday and a quote I heard has had me thinking ever since. My thoughts have nothing to do with the workshop and the quote is out of context (since when has that ever stopped a blogger?).
The quote is, “Words do not create anything, they only describe things that already exist.” These words came from a judge, apparently. This may be true in the legal context in which he was speaking (that’s another debate altogether), but it is certainly not true regarding the Word of God.
God is verbal. At creation, God used words to create the universe out of nothing (Genesis 1, see also Hebrews 11:3). The first four words of the Bible, “In the beginning God …” tell us that God was eternally present before anything material that we know came to be. It was through the agency of His own words that everything was created.
The Apostle John specifies that the Word that created was Jesus Christ Himself (John 1:1-3). This does not lessen the mystery of God’s powerful Word, but amplifies the astonishing power of that Word and makes the remote, transcendent act of creation personal and imminent.
The Bible exists because God is verbal. Revelation is all about God condescending to communicate to His creatures – the particular creatures that are created in His image and are thus verbal as well. The Bible wouldn’t exist if God didn’t value words. God’s call, commands, blessings, curses and promises are all in the form of words. This may seem incredible obvious, but if we survey the contemporary evangelical landscape, can it be said that we still value words as we should as God’s people?
The ultimate expression of God’s Word in revelation, as in creation, is Jesus Christ:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 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. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… (Hebrews 1:1-3, ESV).
Christ is not yesterday’s Word, He is today’s Word and the Word forever. “He upholds all things by the word of his power” and “in him, all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17). Doesn’t this emphasis on the power of the Word of God in Christ just cry for further exploration? Shouldn’t we desire to know more of Christ’s person, work and teaching? The whole Bible is about Jesus. It is His Word, by Him (see the “Spirit of Christ” in 1 Peter 1:11, for example) and for His glory. Reflection on this fact ought to make biblical study urgent for Christians!
God has promised that His Word will produce results. Isaiah 55:10-11 and Romans 1:16-17 are classic passages in this regard, for good reason. Justification and Sanctification do not happen in a vacuum, they happen by the work of the Spirit applying the truth of God’s Word to supernatural effect.
There is so much more that could be said (I haven’t even mentioned Hebrews 4:12-13). I hope these few thoughts start a trajectory of deeper thinking regarding the incredible power of God’s Word for those whom the Holy Spirit has already begun a work of convicting and teaching.
Do words merely describe? Not for God! They create, regenerate dead sinners, solicit praise and service and, ultimately, give eternal life. We cannot separate the power of God’s Word from the personal work of the Holy Spirit, but neither can we separate the Holy Spirit’s work from the agency of the Word of God.
As I have thought about these things, I’ve been convicted about my light attitude towards the Bible lately. If you are in this boat, take the advice of Hosea 14:2: “Take words with you and return to the Lord.”