I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.
The weapons we have to fight with seem at first glance entirely inadequate for the task – a mere word, a message, a canon of written material. The words of men have failed often. It would be ludicrous to send any army into the field against the enemy with nothing more than the written speeches of its political leaders. Even those leaders whose speeches and writings inspired the masses and whose ideology influenced the thinking of their countrymen, even they armed their soldiers with physical weapons.
But the Lord arms us with His word. How does the word of God defend us and protect us? How dos it become the sword of the Spirit for us?
There are some who attribute to it mystical powers, that to say the word of God out loud will undo the powers of darkness. It would be wrong to say that this has never happened, or seemed to have happened, for often in scripture the spoken word has incredible power, such as in Acts 8:24 and Simon Magnus of Samaria. But there appears also to be something else happening beneath the surface, where human eyes cannot see, for if this was an absolute then Christ would never have been crucified.
The word of God must be embraced with faith, and in a mystical way the Spirit Himself is involved in giving us this faith. I am not personally content with the words of any theologian explaining this phenomenon. We have a part to be played – we must believe – but none of us can believe by him self – we need the Spirit to help us. And where we draw the line between the Spirit and our own response I am not sure that any of us can clearly state.
There is a line. There is a place where we must choose for Christ, or else places where the apostles pleaded with people to believe would make no sense. Of Peter it was written, “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation’” (Acts 2:40). But that the Spirit is the main One who brings about this conviction and change is also very clear from Scripture, “By grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God that no man may be able to boast. For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:8-10).
The word of God becomes the sword of the Spirit as it is embraced with faith, lived in faith, proclaimed in faith, and, again, embraced in faith by the hearers. It is the word which makes us wise for salvation and fits us for every good and spiritual work (2 Tim. 3:15-17). It mends our souls, lights our way, restores our hope, assures us of grace, informs our minds, and inspires our love. And above all these things it introduces us to God. We do not so much find His will in its pages as we find His face and feel His touch!
The Spirit of Christ Himself is the Author of the Book, just as He is the Author and Finisher of our Salvation. Through the word of God we transcend this world and are introduced to the world to come and to the spiritual realities of true life in Christ. We are given knowledge which we can gain no other way and by believing in its message we are made to become what we could never become any other way – pleasing to God. Without faith it is impossible to please God and faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Heb. 11:6, Rom 10:17).
Have you had that moment when the words of Scripture spoke directly to the deep desires of your heart? When the life and encouragement of God touched your mind and your soul? This is the way God works through His word. When we open its pages, we not only meet a message. We also and especially meet the Messenger Himself.
There is in this an equality of the entire human race before God, that regardless of background or education the matter still comes down to the heart that is confronted by the love and holiness of God encoded in a message, a message that must be heard and believed.
As the sailor locates his position on the sea by `shooting’ the sun, so we may get our moral bearings by looking at God. We must begin with God. We are right when and only when we stand in a right position relative to God, and we are wrong so far and so long as we stand in any other position.
Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image. The flesh whimpers against the rigor of God’s inexorable sentence and begs like Agag for a little mercy, a little indulgence of its carnal ways. It is no use. We can get a right start only by accepting God as He is and learning to love Him for what He is. As we go on to know Him better we shall find it a source of unspeakable joy that God is just what He is. Some of the most rapturous moments we know will be those we spend in reverent admiration of the Godhead. In those holy moments the very thought of change in Him will be too painful to endure.
So let us begin with God. Back of all, above all, before all is God; first in sequential order, above in rank and station, exalted in dignity and honor. As the self-existent One He gave being to all things, and all things exist out of and for Him. `Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’ (Rev 4:11)
The need of our hearts is for this knowledge of God, for the specific clear and unalterable standard of who He is for all times. And then the call comes for us to turn and to believe and receive. There is the power of the word of God. The word that speaks to our hearts and souls and calls us to eternity. The word that introduces us to God Himself.