003 – The Power of the Word of God

dreamstime_Bible with Sword

Summary

The Word of God has the power to create, to predict, to enlighten, to guide, to bless and to sanctify. His Word is established in the heavens forever: it’s eternal and unchangeable. His Word never fails. You can learn to harness the power of this Word – that never returns void – to change your life and change yourself. God’s Word is the sword of the Spirit and guarantees the victory every time. It was Jesus’ weapon against Satan during His temptation in the desert. “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”. Learn to walk in the light of God’s Word.

Introduction

In our last episode we examined archaeological evidence that the Bible is indeed the Word of God.  We demonstrated that Satan’s strategy has not changed since he started his rebellion in heaven:  through lies and deceit he tries to trick you and me into disobeying God’s law.  Satan will do anything to keep you and me away from God’s Word, because he knows that the Holy Scriptures would enable us to discern his evil deception and withstand his wiles.  Jesus used God’s Word to resist Satan’s temptation in the desert, a victory that was every bit as key as the victory at Calvary.  Had Jesus not overcome Satan in the desert, there would have been no Calvary.  So if Jesus defeated Satan three times saying “It is written”, there is something in those scriptures that you and I also must have in order to win our own spiritual battles. This is why Satan will do everything in his power to prevent us from studying the Bible.

In today’s program we’ll see how, after centuries of darkness, the Bible finally became available to all men and women in their native languages, and why so many thousands of martyrs throughout history believed this Word was something worth dying for.  But the core of today’s study is to review the 7 characteristics of God’s Word that make it such a powerful weapon against the enemy of our souls.  This is one of my favorite Bible studies to teach, because I have had a very personal experience with God’s Word and I’ll share with you one of those real life experiences.  Everything we’ll talk about today is not theoretical but very real and practical, a solid foundation you can build your life on. We’ll end our study with very useful tips that you can start to apply immediately to put this great power to work in your life.

 Marla Discovers the Power of God’s Word

Let me share with you how I came to discover the power of God’s Word.  At the time it seemed quite fortuitous but we know that with God there is no such thing, but it was part of a plan that only later was revealed to me.

I spent 25 years of my life in France, went to school there and stayed to live and work there.  When my spiritual senses started to awaken, I became involved in the New Age, and progressively more and more involved until I was very deep into it.  This created a very serious situation for me, and when I left France to return to the US two years ago I was in deep distress over something I could not control.  Someday I’ll tell you the full story, but for today suffice it to say that I brought my problem with me to the US.  The problem was harassing demons, and they were intent on destroying my peace, my sanity and even my life.

Somewhere during that period I picked up a book called “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale.  We all know how influential that book has been.  What I didn’t realize at the time was that Norman Vincent Peale was a Christian pastor and that in his book he used many verses from scripture and many of his teachings are Bible teachings about faith.  In any event, that book gave me renewed hope that I’d be able to solve my problem.  I memorized some of these quotations in his book, which at the time I didn’t know came from the Bible.  At the time I had no Bible culture whatsoever, had never picked up a Bible or opened one.

For many months, in the depths of my despair, I would repeat these quotations from Norman Vincent Peale’s book in my mind or out loud, not realizing that they were scripture.  If I kept my sanity through those trying months and did not end up getting committed somewhere, it was only because of God’s grace and the power of His Word.  In particular I would repeat “Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee” (Isaiah 26:3) and “For God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).  I remember driving along the beautiful landscapes of Seattle and Issaquah in the state of Washington with my dog on the back seat seeking to calm my spirit with the peacefulness of nature.  I would just repeat those verses over and over again and it kept me together.  The effect was very different from using positive affirmations.  I had used positive affirmations in the past with very little result.  Only many months later would I understand that this was God’s Word I had been repeating. God’s Word has miraculous power; it never returns void and always accomplishes that for which it is sent forth.

This is one example among many of the many experiences I’ve had with scripture, which is evidence that this is a living Word, and that if it worked for me it will also work for you.  As we start out today I want you to feel hope and be encouraged that no matter what your problem is, no matter what dark corner you’ve worked yourself into, no matter if the issue is health-related or financial or legal or an important relationship, have faith that with prayer and scripture and getting closer to God it will work out, and a higher good will come out of it.

Now, before we start to examine in detail this power of God’s Word, I want us to have just a little bit of context about how precious this Word is, how it was concealed from the world for a long time, and how it was finally reinstated so that every believer could have direct access to the Bible.

 The Dark Ages

As we talk about the history of the Church, I want you to know that I’m not grinding any axes against any particular denomination.  As a child I was raised as a Catholic and still have a whole side of my family who are Catholic.  God has sheep in ever flock, we are all children of the Most High and He loves each and every one of His children the same, no matter what church they’re currently in.  There are simply certain things that need to be said about how and why the Church hierarchy progressively set itself up as a screen to keep people away from God’s written truth.

In the early days of the Christian apostolic church, the scriptures were studied and disseminated among believers (1st and 2nd centuries after Christ).  But in the 4th. through 6th. centuries after Christ a process of doctrinal compromise which had started in the church became officialized during the reign of Constantine the Roman Emperor through the Edict of Milan and the Council of Nicea.   As a result of the changes introduced by Constantine the papacy became firmly established and began to introduce new beliefs and practices into the Church that were not there in the times of the apostles and had no scriptural foundation.  Some of these practices and beliefs were the observance of Sunday as the day of divine worship, the belief in the immortality of the soul, the purchase of indulgences to buy forgiveness from sins, as well as worship of images, statues and relics, which is strictly prohibited in the Bible.

Many pagan holidays also entered into the Catholic religious calendar, as Constantine sought to keep his empire together by a subtle blending of the two main religions in the Roman Empire at that time:  paganism and Christianity.

In order to legitimize its doctrinal infallibility (which by the way is still a basic tenet of the Vatican today), the Church hierarchy prohibited the circulation of the Bible.  Only the papal power possessed copies of the scriptures, and the people were forbidden to read it or to have it in their homes.  The priests positioned themselves as intermediaries between men and God, and the papacy claimed “infallibility” in its edits and rulings.

Little by little the papacy instituted more changes that had no scriptural foundation, and rested solely on the Church’s authority.  The Bible therefore had become a dangerous book, as it would have allowed believers to question some of the positions taken by the Church against God’s commandments stated clearly in scripture.

So for many centuries darkness reigned over the Christian world, as the people were kept in the dark about God’s Word.  In the 12th. century in Southern France the Vaudois or Waldenses had Bible manuscripts and stood on God’s Word to rebel against the Roman power.  They suffered terrible persecution and several bloody massacres.  The 13th. century saw the beginning of the Inquisition, a massive persecution of anyone who disputed Rome’s ecclesiastical power base and infallibility.  But in the 14th. century John Wycliffe dared not only to oppose the Vatican’s doctrines but also stepped out bravely to produce the first translation of the Bible into the English vernacular.  The availability of the scriptures enabled the Great Reformation in the 16th. century which in turn led to the great schism in the church and the breaking off of what became known as the Protestant movement.

I’ve taken the time to do this quick review because in future studies we will be coming back to this concept of the Mother Church (the Catholic Church) and the daughter churches (the various Protestant denominations).  This concept takes on great relevance for our endtime generation and is addressed in the Book of Revelation regarding the events that will occur and are already occurring today.  But the main point I want to emphasize is the following:  across centuries, thousands of people died because they wanted to preserve and transmit something precious, something of such great value that it was worth dying for.  You and I have been handed down the scriptures by these brave men and women who stood on God’s Word.  You and I have much to thank these martyrs that today we can own and carry and study a Bible.  Being able to freely access God’s Word is one of the biggest blessings and privileges we have.

7 Characteristics of God’s Word

A lot of you may be like me, having had very little past exposure to the Word of God, maybe you’ve never leafed through a Bible, or maybe have picked one up and felt absolutely daunted at the prospect of reading such a large volume.  The reality is, most people in the world today and even in this country lack biblical culture and knowledge.  So my goal today is to take you on a tour of God’s Word, that you may start to discern the precious riches and wonders that are found there.  The Lord said “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).   I find it interesting that there is another scripture that says “He sent His Word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”  (Psalms 107:20)

That scripture gave me great hope as I continued to struggle with those tormenting demons that followed me from France all the way to Houston and were then joined by new ones.  The Lord in His great wisdom brought me to the Bible belt of the United States where I stood a greater chance of finding Him.  Take courage even if you are responsible for your own destruction – and ultimately we always are, sin is a program of self-destruction that we are all born with.  Nevertheless God sent His Word to heal you and deliver you of your own destructions.

Let’s examine now seven characteristics of God’s Word that make is so powerful.  I’ll give you a few examples for each, taken directly from the Bible.

1.  God’s Word is True and Eternal

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. (Isaiah 40:8)

“For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.  Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.”  (Psalms 119:89-90)  God’s promise to Abraham was that the Promised Land was for his descendants forever. God’s promise to David was that his kingdom would reign forever.

“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” Psalm 12:6-7

“Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” (Psalms 119:159-160)

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”    (Matthew 24:35)  These words of Jesus are recorded in Matthew 24, one of the most prophetic chapters of the Bible.

2.  God’s Word is Accurate and Detailed

In our last show we discussed at great length that the Bible is historically accurate, and we provided various pieces of archaeological evidence about this.  We won’t review this evidence today, but let me just mention in passing that many different civilizations and cultures have a flood story of how the earth was flooded with water as divine retribution for human misbehavior, and there are many different accounts of the creation story in different tongues and nations.  What this tells us is that, although other accounts vary significantly in the details of the story, the sheer number of accounts throughout the world testifies to the fact that there was a creation process (and not an evolutionary process) and there also was a flood that covered the earth and destroyed everything, to bring a rebirth for both the planet and mankind.

Now let’s talk about the precision, exactness and excruciating detail that we find in some Bible passages. Some of these are found in the Books of Exodus and Numbers when God instructs Moses on the precise building of the tabernacle. He gives extremely precise indications on how it should be built, which is based on a heavenly pattern that was to be replicated in the earthly tabernacle.   The Lord also gave Moses precise instructions for the various types of offerings that the children of Israel needed to bring to the tabernacle:  burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings, and peace offerings.  The specific offerings were also determined by the day, such as the Sabbath offerings, the monthly offerings, the offerings on Passover, etc.  I’m glad we don’t need to do that anymore as the sacrifice of Jesus did away with this entire sacrificial system. When Salomon was to build the first temple to the Lord he also received from God very detailed and specific instructions for the temple.  And another good example of detail is when there are precise genealogies described as in Matthew chapter 1 with the genealogy of Jesus.  Also in the Old Testament we find some longish passages on so and so who was son of so and so who lived 600 years and who begat so and so who begat so and so, and that can go on for a whole chapter.

What’s the point of all this detail? God wants us to know that He is not an “approximate” God, He is not a “good enough” God, He is not into “quick and dirty”.  He is a perfect God. He is an all-knowing God.  An approximate universe would have planets spinning out of control and running into the orbits of other planets.  An approximate earth might have flowers blooming in winter when the conditions are not appropriate.  God knows and looks after every detail.  Scripture tells us that God knows every hair on your head.  He sees your heart and you can hide nothing from Him.

3.  God’s Word Has Power, Never Returns Void

I have been able to experience this power in my own life.  Let me share with you a few scriptures that describe this unique power of God’s Word.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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.”  (Hebrews 4:12)

“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:  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 55:10-11)

This verse I really like in the Amplified Bible:  “Is not My word like fire [that consumes all that cannot endure the test]? says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks in pieces the rock [of most stubborn resistance]?”  (Jeremiah 23:29)

“Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.  For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.”  (Psalm 33:8-10)

“Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.”  Joshua 21:45

4.  God’s Word Creates Worlds

God spoke the earth into existence.  In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis we read:

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”  “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”  (Genesis 1:3,6)

Then He called into existence the firmament, and the waters, and the dry land.  And he continued to create, calling forth the seeds and grass and trees, the birds and fish and cattle and creeping things.  And all of this He did by speaking it into existence.  We read “And God said….”, “And God said ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens” and there were.  And so forth until He created man, and on the seventh day He rested.

God’s Words have this power to create. God gave us some of this power in that our own words also have creative power, and we’ll have a full study on that.  In Romans 4:17 we read how “God calleth those things which are not, as though they were.”  This is a distinctive characteristic of the God of Heaven, the only real and living God:  He is the Creator, and He has the power to speak things into existence.  “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”  (Hebrews 11:3)

5.  God’s Word is Prophetic and Determines the Course of History

History shows us that when God speaks something, it comes to pass.  This is a very deep subject and we won’t have time today to delve into it deeply.  But let me give you a few historical examples of how Bible prophecy is always fulfilled and how God’s Word determines the course of history.

Exhibit 1:  There are several hundred Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah.  Jesus fulfilled every single one.  I was impressed by the fact that Jesus constantly studied the scriptures, knew every prophecy about Him and made sure that He pointed out to His disciples when He was fulfilling those prophecies.  One of the most memorable examples was when He told the disciples to go take the donkey on which He had been foretold to enter Jerusalem.

Exhibit 2:  Egypt was a proud nation.  With her multiple deities and mystery schools where astrologers and sorcerers perfected their black arts, she constantly vexed the God of Heaven.  The pharaohs thought themselves to be sons of deities (son of the Nile, son of the Sun or the Moon…) and were often portrayed with the serpent, the eye and the ankh, referring back to Satan’s deception of Adam and Eve about eternal life.  In particular, God wanted to show Pharaoh a lesson for his continued arrogance against God and his chasing of God’s people into the Red Sea.  You may remember how early on in the interaction with Pharaoh the staffs of Pharaoh’s sorcerers also became snakes just like Moses’ stake did, except that Moses’ stake devoured those of the Pharaoh’s magicians to demonstrate that the God of Israel was above all other gods.  So in the Book of Ezekiel chapters 30 and 32, God puts a curse on Egypt.  He decrees that she would be slain by the sword of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who would take Egypt, that for the battle her men would be scattered abroad, and that Egypt would never rise again to her former glory.  This all happened exactly as foretold.

Exhibit 3:  There is great example of how God influenced the course of events in the story of the downfall of Babylon.  Babylon was the first world empire.  This city emerged from the original Tower of Babel.  In fact, God’s reproach against Babylon went back to those days, when sinful and rebellious men tried to build a high tower reaching up into heaven to protect themselves against any future floods that God might send to clean the earth again because of their sinfulness:  “Wherefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will do judgment upon her graven images: and through all her land the wounded shall groan.  Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from me shall spoilers come unto her, saith the Lord.”  (Jeremiah 51:52-53)

So God had a plan for Babylon, because in the same way that He rewards good He also rewards evil.  The story is fascinating and I promise we’ll study it in detail in a future lesson.  But today I’ll just give you the executive summary.  In a dream God warned Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon that his empire would be succeeded by the Medo-Persian empire. King Nebuchadnezzar rejects the warning, builds a gold statue of himself to be worshipped by all and to proclaim that his kingdom would be forever.  This is where God saves the three Hebrew young men from the fire because they refused to worship the statue.  God punishes Nebuchadnezzar for his rebellion, he loses his mind, thinks he’s a beast, and lives with the animals in the fields for 7 years until God restores his sanity and brings him to repentance.

His son who succeeded him on the throne was equally arrogant, and one night was hosting a lavish party for one thousand lords of his kingdom.  They desecrated holy golden vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from Salomon’s Temple in Jerusalem when he took over that city.  That night to please his guests Belshazzar offers them drink in those golden vessels to praise their gods.  God gives Belshazzar a warning and that very night he was slain and the impregnable city of Babylon fell without a skirmish. Cyrus King of Persia had diverted the Euphrates River that flowed into the city and ensured its prosperity.  By the building of 360 canals he drained the river and so he and his army were able to step onto a dry river bed and calmly enter the two gates of Babylon.  Cyrus was an instrument in God’s hands to do His will.  Cyrus also brought the captive Babylonian Jews back to Jerusalem, rebuilt that city and also the temple.  “That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.”  (Isaiah 44:28)

The amazing fact is that all of this had been prophesied in several Bible chapters, namely Jeremiah 51 and Isaiah 44 and 45.  In fact, Cyrus had even been mentioned by name over 150 years before he was born!

So God has a hand in world history and events, using whom He will use to perform His will.  Therefore we need to study carefully God’s prophecies for the endtime, for it shall surely come to pass.  Let us take to heart Jesus’ words in John 13:19: “Now I tell you before it come, (so) that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He.”  We will be devoting future shows to delving more deeply into Bible prophecy for the endtime.

6.  God’s Word Edifies, Instructs and Guides His Children   

The Bible is the main way that God instructs His children.  “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, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Of course when we start to walk with God and as our spiritual senses start to awaken He will start to speak to us in other ways as well.  But God’s Word is one very important way for us to know God’s will for our lives.

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us:  “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

The Bible provides us with a wonderful blueprint for a successful life, a roadmap to peace and joy and fulfillment.  If we abide by God’s Word and keep His commandments, His Word will set us free from all bondage and lead us into eternal life.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my Word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  (John 8:31-32)

7.  God’s Word is the Sword of the Spirit:

Nothing can stand against the Word of God. Satan and his demons may try, but they cannot prevail against God’s Word – “It is written”.  God’s Word gives us the power to overcome Satan – “Get thee behind me Satan.”   Remember, Jesus was also our teacher and role model.  If it worked for Him it will work for us.  God’s Word gives us power over our enemies.   The Bible is full of prophecies of how God’s children will be protected and delivered from their enemies, and how God will take vengeance on their enemies.

Psalm 110 says, “God will make our enemies our footstool”.  Matthew 18:18 says that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  In Luke 10:19 Jesus tells us “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  So we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  Through Him who loved us we are more than conquerors.  God will set a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  If we stand on His Word with faith, we cannot be defeated by any demon or devil for God’s Word never returns void.

A Roadmap for Victorious Living

Believe God’s Word, for He is faithful and His Word endures forever.  Believe God’s Word because His promises are eternal.  God told the prophet Ezekiel that none of His Words would be prolonged any more, but the Word which He has spoken shall be done.  He also told the prophet Jeremiah that He would make haste to perform His Word, and not tarry.

So God’s Word is something we can stand on, it’s a rock-solid foundation we can build our lives on.  It’s a blueprint for success in this life and a roadmap into eternity.  It gives us wisdom to make right choices and to anticipate the consequences of our actions.  We can use His Word to change our lives and to change ourselves.  God wants us to be holy because He is holy.  We can use His Word to gain victory over Satan and sin, and to stay on that straight and narrow path that leads straight into the Kingdom.  We are saved by faith and not by works, and the Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

There is no other book that can edify us and lead us into salvation like the Bible.  Let me repeat that:  no other text however ancient or “sacred” can lead us into salvation.  Not the Zohar, not A Course in Miracles, not the Vedas, not the Nag Hammadi texts, not the I Ching, nor any other Eastern or Western book.  Only the Bible is God’s revealed Word that can lead us down that straight and narrow path into God’s eternal kingdom.

Satan is doing everything in his power to confuse our generation, to distract us with a million doctrines and gadgets and pastimes and busyness – anything to keep us out of God’s Word.  He will do anything to make us stray outside of God’s hedge of protection.  Satan will do anything to deceive even the elect if that were possible.  His greatest deception is still to come, when he will try to impersonate Jesus through the persona of the anti-christ. God’s Word is our only weapon in this spiritual warfare, the only ground we can stand on in order to be victorious and to be certain.  Abide by God’s Word and let His Word abide in you.  Walk in the only victory that really matters, by letting the Lord of Heaven and Earth win the battle for your soul.

Prayer Points:

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  (Psalms 119:05)

“Your Word have I hidden in my heart, Oh Lord, that I might not sin against You”

Help us to be doers of your word and not just hearers of it

Feed us and strengthen us with Your Word

“For man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God“

“And they overcame him (the evil one) by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11)

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