The great reservoir of the power that belongs to God is His own Word – the Bible. If we wish to make it ours, we must go to that Book. Yet people abound in the church who are praying for power and neglecting the Bible. Men are longing to have power for bearing fruit in their own lives and yet forget that Jesus has said: “The seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11).
They are longing to have power to melt the cold heart and break the stubborn will of those to whom they witness, and yet forget that God has said: “Is not My Word like as a fire?…and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29).
If we are to obtain fullness of power in life and service, we must feed upon the Word of God. There is no other food so strengthening. If we will not take time to study the Bible, we cannot have power, any more than we can have physical power if we will not take time to eat nutritious food.
God’s Word Has Power to Convict of Sin
In Acts 2:37 we read, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” If we look back and see what it was they had heard that produced this deep conviction, we find that it was simply the Word of God. If you will read Peter’s sermon, you will find it one of the most biblical sermons ever preached. It was Scripture from beginning to end. It was, then, the Word of God, carried home by the Spirit of God, that pricked them to the heart.
If you wish to produce conviction, you must give men the Word of God.
God’s Word Has Power to Regenerate
In James 1:18 we read, “Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”
In First Peter 1:23 we read, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
The process of regeneration on our side is the simplest thing in the world. On God’s side it is mysterious, but with that we have nothing to do. The process is simply this: the human heart is the soil; you and I are sowers. The Word of God is the seed which we drop into the soil. God quickens it by His Holy Spirit and gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6). The heart closes around the Word by faith, and the new life is the product. The new birth is simply the impartation of a new nature, the impartation of God’s nature.
How are we made partakers of God’s nature? Read Second Peter 1:4 and the context: “That by these [exceeding great and precious promises] ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” The Word of God is the seed out of which the divine nature springs up in the human soul.
God’s Word Has Power to Produce Faith
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
You can never get faith by merely praying, nor can you ever get it by any effort of the will. You can never get it by trying to pump it up in any way. Faith is the product of a certain cause, and that cause is the Word of God.
It is so for example with saving faith. If you want a man to have saving faith, simply give him something definite from God’s Word upon which he can rest. The Philippian jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30), and Paul answered: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). But Paul did not stop there. Read verse 32: “And they spake unto him the Word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
They did not merely tell the Philippian jailer to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and then leave him floundering in the dark without giving him something to believe, or something for his faith to rest upon. They gave that which God has ordained to produce faith.
Here we often make a mistake. We tell people, “Believe, believe, believe,” but do not show them how, do not give them anything definite to believe. Give him Isaiah 53:6, and thus hold up Christ crucified, or give him First Peter 2:24. Here he has something for his faith to rest upon. Faith must have a foundation.
God’s Word Has Power to Produce Prevailing Faith
Not only saving faith comes through the Word of God, but prevailing faith in prayer does also. Suppose I read Mark 11:24: “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” I used to say, “The way to get anything I want is to believe I am going to get it.”
I would kneel down and pray and try to believe, but I did not get the things that I asked for. I had no real faith. Real faith must have a warrant. Before I can truly believe I am to receive what I ask, I must have a definite promise of God’s Word, or a definite leading of the Holy Spirit, to rest my faith upon.
For example, we say, “Heavenly Father, we desire the Holy Spirit. You have said in Your Word, ‘If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?’ (Luke 11:13). And You have said again in Acts 2:39 that ‘the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.’ I am a called man; I am a saved man. And here I have Your Word for it. You have promised it. I ask Thee now to fill me with the Holy Spirit.”
We then take First John 5:14-15, and say, “Father, this is the confidence I have in You that, if I ask anything according to Your will You hear me, and if I know that You hear me, I know that I have the petition that I have asked of You.” Then I rise up, standing upon this promise of God, and say, “It is mine.” And it will be mine.
The only way to have a faith that prevails in prayer is to study your Bible, and know the promises, and lay them before God when you pray. George Mueller was one of the mightiest men of prayer. But he always prepared for prayer by studying the Word of God (John 15:7).
Suppose you have a skeptic to deal with, and you wish that man to have faith. What will you do with him? Turn to John 20:31 – “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.”
Clearly then, this book of John was given that through what is “written” therein, men “might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing [they] might have life through His name.” “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself” (John 7:17).
The faith that gets the victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil; the faith that wins mighty victories for God, is also through the Word. (See First John 5:4; Eph. 6:16; Heb. 11:33-34.)
Very early in my ministry I read a sermon by Mr. Moody. In it there was something to the effect that a man would not amount to anything if he had not faith. I said, “That sermon is true. I must have faith.” I went to work and tried to work up faith. I did not succeed a bit. The more I tried to work up faith, the less I had. But one day I ran across this text: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17), and I learned the great secret of faith, one of the greatest secrets I have ever learned.
I commenced to feed my faith on the Word of God, and as I have thus fed it, it has kept on growing from that day to this. So in every aspect we see that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. If we are to have faith – and if we are to have power for God, we must have faith – we must feed steadily, largely, daily upon the Word of God.
God’s Word Has Power to Cleanse
The Word of God has power not only to take impurity out of the heart, but to cleanse the outward life as well. If you wish a clean outward life, you must wash often by bringing your life in contact with the Word of God. If one lives in a city whose atmosphere is polluted with smoke, when he goes into the streets, his hands will become dirty. He must wash frequently if he wishes to keep clean.
In Ephesians 5:25-26 we read, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.”
We all live in a world whose atmosphere is polluted, a very dirty world. As we go out from day to day and come in contact with this dirty world, there is absolutely only one way to keep clean, and that is by taking frequent baths in the Word of God. You must bathe every day, and take plenty of time to do it. A daily, prolonged, thoughtful bath in the Word of God is the only thing that will keep a life clean. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word” (Psa. 119:9).
God’s Word Has Power to Build Up
In Acts 20:32 we read: “I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up.”
We hear a great deal about character building. The Word of God is that by which we must carry it on if it is to be done right. In Second Peter 1:5-7 we have a picture of a seven-story-and-basement Christian. The great trouble today is we have so many one-story Christians, and the reason is neglect of the Word.
If we are to grow, we must have wholesome, nutritious food and plenty of it. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). A Christian can no more grow as he ought without feeding frequently, regularly, and largely upon the Word of God than a baby can grow as he ought without proper nutriment.
God’s Word Has Power to Make Us Wise
“The entrance of Thy Words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psa. 119:130).
There is more wisdom in the Bible than there is in all the other literature of the ages. The one who studies the Bible, if he does not study any other book, will know more of real wisdom. He will know more of the wisdom that counts for eternity as well as time, wisdom that this perishing world needs to know, wisdom for which hungry hearts are starving today. He will know more than the man who reads every other book and neglects his Bible. The man who studies the Bible will have more to say that is worth saying, and that wise people wish to hear, than any man who studies everything else and neglects the one Book.
Men who have greatly affected the spiritual history of this world, the men who have brought about great reformations in morals and doctrine, the men whom others have flocked to hear and upon whose words people have hung, have been Bible men in every instance. In many cases they knew little beside the Bible.
I have seen men and women without culture, who have had almost no advantages in school, but who knew their Bibles. I would rather sit at their feet and learn the wisdom that falls from their lips, than listen to the man who knows much about philosophy and science and theology even, and does not know anything about the Word of God.
There is wonderful force in the words of Paul to Timothy: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly [another version says ‘completely’] furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Through what? Through the study of the Bible.
God’s Word Has Power to Give Assurance of Eternal Life
“These things have I written unto you … that ye may know that ye have eternal life...” (1 John 5:13).
That is, the assurance of eternal life comes through what is “written.” Suppose one has not assurance of salvation, what shall we do? Tell him to pray until he gets it? Not at all. Take him to some such passage as John 3:36 – “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” Hold him right to that point until he takes God’s Word for it, and then is sure that he has everlasting life because he believes on the Son, and because God says that “he that believeth on the Son HATH everlasting life.”
God’s Word Has Power to Bring Peace into the Heart
In Psalm 85:8 we read: “I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints....”
Many people are looking for peace today, longing for peace, praying for peace. But deep peace of heart comes from the study of the Word of God. There is, for example, one passage in the Bible which, if we feed upon it daily until it really gets into our hearts and gets hold of us, will banish all anxiety forever. It is Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
Nothing can come to us that is not one of the “all things.” If we really believe this passage, and it really takes hold upon us, whatever comes, it will not disturb our peace.
God’s Word Has Power to Bring Fullness of Joy
In Jeremiah 15:16 we read: “Thy Words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart....”
And Jesus said in John 15:11, “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
Clearly, then, fullness of joy comes through the Word of God. There is no joy on this earth from any worldly source like the joy that kindles and glows in the heart of a believer in Jesus Christ as he feeds upon the Word of God, and as the Word of God is brought home to his heart by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God’s Word Has Power to Bring Patience, Comfort and Hope
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
God’s Word Has Power to Protect from Error and Sin
In Acts 20:29-32, the Apostle Paul warned the elders at Ephesus of the errors that would creep in among them, and he commended them, in closing, “to God and to the Word of His grace.” In a similar way, Paul writing to Timothy, the bishop of the same church, said:
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:13-15).
The one who feeds constantly on the Word of God is proof against the multiplying errors of the day. It is simple neglect of the Word that has left so many a prey to the many false doctrines that the devil, in his subtlety, is endeavoring to insinuate in the church of Christ today.
And the Word of God has not only power to protect from error, but from sin as well. In Psalm 119:11 we read: “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” The man who feeds daily on the Word of God will be proof against the temptations of the devil. Any day we neglect to feed on the Word of God, we leave an open door through which Satan is sure to enter into our hearts and lives. Even the Son of God Himself met and overcame the temptations of the adversary by the Scriptures. To each of Satan’s temptations, He replied, “It is written” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). Satan left the field completely vanquished.
There can be no fullness of power in life and service if the Bible is neglected. In much that is written on power, also in much that is said in conventions, this fact is overlooked. The work of the Holy Spirit is magnified, but the instrument through which the Holy Spirit works is largely forgotten. The result is transient enthusiasm and activity, but no steady continuance and increase in power and usefulness.
We cannot obtain power, and we cannot maintain power in our own lives, and in our work for others, unless there is deep and frequent meditation upon the Word of God. If our leaf is not to wither and whatsoever we do is to prosper, our delight must be in the law of the Lord and we must meditate therein day and night (Psa. 1:2-3).
Of course, it is much easier, and therefore much more agreeable to our spiritual laziness, to go to a convention or revival meeting, and claim a “filling with the Spirit” than it is to peg along day after day, month after month, year after year, digging into the Word of God. But a “filling with the Spirit” that is not maintained by persistent study of the Word will soon vanish.
It is well to bear in mind that precisely the results which Paul in one place ascribes to being “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), he in one other place ascribes to letting “the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16). Evidently Paul knew of no filling with the Holy Spirit divorced from deep and constant meditation upon the Word. To sum all up, anyone who wishes to obtain and maintain fullness of power in Christian life and service must feed constantly upon the Word of God.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon