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What’s the Word on the Word?

franklinbible.jpg“Thy word is truth.” John 17:17

When our Bible quiz coach asked me to say a few words to the quizzers at a tournament the other day, I immediately wondered what to say to kids who could out-quote and out-quiz me any day of the week. Their study habits have honed their knowledge and skills with the Bible to the degree that they often embarrass their pastor, the guy who is supposedly scripturally omniscient. I quickly consoled myself with the fact that my pastoral responsibilities squeeze out any extra time I might scrape together to memorize whole chapters of the Word. But, even if time permitted, that I would be equal to the daunting task at my age may stir some doubt.

Not being one who easily turns down a challenge, however, I started to reflect on the value of the Word of God. That, in itself, struck me as an understatement of epic proportions. The Word…valuable? Is a detailed set of prints valuable to the construction of a skyscraper? Is an understanding of aerodynamics valuable to piloting a plane? Does a brain surgeon place any value on his medical training? Is a constitution valuable to running a country? These concepts go without question. Yet, we stumble in assigning real value to God’s Word, both in assimilating it into our brains and applying it to our lives. In recent years, I am alarmed by a non-specific, lax and dismissive view of the Bible that has crept into our attitudes. This problem is becoming acute and this generation must address it. Apostolics, the people who base their beliefs upon a literal rendering and practicing of scripture, must not permit this to happen.

The Bible remains a timeless statement of God’s truth. But this position directly contradicts today’s increased sensitivity to human wants and desires. What if the Bible gets in the way of modern life? Not only do many people do what they want to do (as they always have), more of them are willing to cast off scriptural restraints in order to do it. The church also feels tremendous pressure to accept variant viewpoints in the interest of fairness and humility.

Quizzers, along with all the rest of us must never forget that the Word is unique. First, it lives. “For the word of God is living…” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). The life of God’s Word brings a singular dynamic to the world unmatched by any other literature. No Plato classic, no Clancy or Grisham thriller, no Catton history or even any Shakespearean drama, despite their considerable wit and brilliance, dispenses life to its readers. The Word does exactly that. It breathes, moves and inspires. It interacts with our thinking, both consciously and sub-consciously, and creates a new person within us. Its energy puts it on par with the very presence of Jesus, as we see in 1 John 1:1. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.”

Next, the Word is powerful, or active. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). Many speak, but none speaks words with innate creative power. When God speaks, his Word becomes a viable force, fully capable of performing its purpose. He does more than suggest, hint or muse. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11). The next time you read the Word of God or hear it preached or taught, be careful. The Word makes things happen.

Beyond being alive and powerful, the Word discriminates. Hebrews says it is “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.” The Word of God operates with a razor’s edge on the reader’s soul, cutting away fat and fraud and exposing the hidden things of the heart. This makes lots of people nervous, even angry. But remember, while one edge cuts clean going away, the other cuts just as clean coming back, judging both the audience and the speaker alike. Long before psychology, psychiatry or any of the mind arts ever existed, the incisive Word penetrated the heart of man.

Finally, the Word of God is truth. “Thy Word is truth.” (John 17:17). Vast, organized bodies of opinion float around out in academia, each one claiming or implying that it represents truth. It would totally exhaust our time, money and labor to fully investigate the plank and platform of their every claim. Forget it. Only one concept is worthy of our invested efforts: “Thy Word is truth.” All else is futile.

Those who excuse the more pungent or pithy scriptural commands as quaint, but out of touch aspects of the Word, tread on shaky ground. Simply put, we must read, believe and obey the Bible! Any departure from the verbal inspiration and the literal reading of the Bible undermines our insistence upon Apostolic doctrine. The Bible is living, powerful, discriminating and completely true. All of it. That’s the word on the Word.

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