Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This is one of the first verses I can remember memorizing. It was taught (and still is) as a key verse in the first of five steps of obedience to become a Christian. (Hear-Believe-Repent-Confess – Be Baptized – remember?)
I like the NIV translation of this verse: “ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (NIV) This verse is simple, but the implications are profound and compelling.
1) Faith cannot exist apart for hearing the message sent from God.
2) One does not hear the message of God through intuition, mystical experience, philosophy, or consensus, but in the words of Christ revealed by the Holy Spirit.
3) True faith and obedience are based upon a revealed and objective message
4) If we do not preach or teach this message, others will not have faith, and therefore be lost.
We will spend some time looking at the place and value of God’s words.
- Some charge Christians with placing too much emphasis on the Bible. They charge us with Bibliolotry – worshipping the Bible, rather than God.
- What we can recognize from the words of the Bible itself is that it is not possible to put too much emphasis on God’s words. It is impossible to worship Him without emphasizing His words.
Begin with a familiar passage that we studied recently in Bible Class. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.”All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. The term translated inspired literally means “God-breathed” (in fact the NIV says that). It indicated that scripture is the product of God alone.
- In some passages the term scripture is synonymous with the person of God Himself.
- Gal 3:8 “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, (saying,) In thee shall all the nations be blessed.” (ASV)
- Gal 3:22 “But the scriptures shut up all things under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” So in these verses Paul tells us that scripture was God’s own voice and action. In Rom. 9:17 Paul says that scripture spoke to Pharaoh, when we recognize that God himself was the one speaking.
The Word of God in Creation: Turn to Genesis 1 – From the beginning, God has spoken. The words of God have always produced results. The account of creation in Genesis 1 & 2 is one of the most powerful treatises on the power of God’s Word.
- A. The main character of this chapter is the Word of God… The words “God said” are used 10 times in this chapter. These words describe the force at work. There can be no ignoring God’s voice in creation. Everything exists because God has spoken.
- 1. The first 2 verses are a general statement of what God did – Gen 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (NIV) – God brought the heavens and earth into existence. At this point the heavens and earth were formless and empty – (waste & void – ASV).
- The rest of the chapter describes how God brought order and design to His Universe. What we see around us is the result of both initial creative power and intricate forming, so as to make this place suitable for man (the pinnacle of God’s creative work.)
- In the spiritual realm it is also God’s word that brings order and value to God’s creation. The physical creation is a parallel to the spiritual creation.
- 2. Genesis 1:3-5 – Then God said,”Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. On the first day of the first week God created light and divided the light from the darkness. The creation of light paved the way for all life. Without light, no life could exist.
- What did God do another first day of the week? He brought Jesus out of the grave. This is described as providing light to all the world. 2 Cor. 4:3-6 “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Paul uses the event of that first day to illustrate how God has brought “light” to the spiritual world as well.
- God called the light “good” and divided the light from the darkness. Again we recognize the power of God’s words. Not only does He create perfectly (good), but He also makes distinctions.
1) 7 times in Gen. 1 God says that His created physical world is “good” – not morally good or w/o sin – but the word means suited to its purpose. (like a “good” lawnmower) This physical world is not an end in itself. It exists to bring glory to God, and ultimate glory through the redemption of men through Christ.
- These distinctions in the physical creation are consistent throughout and cannot be abrogated. We set our watches by the decrees of God’s words. These are so set that we refer to them as “laws”.
1) Why is it that we recognize the objective, unalterable nature of God’s words in the working of nature, but easily set aside His words revealed in scripture? If there are consequences to violating one, there consequences to violating the other.
2) This reminds us of Heb. 4:12-13 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. God’s word can distinguish what may seem indistinguishable. (Watermelon & the rind).
- 1 John 1:5 “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” We must always be ready to accept the divisions that God’s word provides (evil & good; right & wrong) It is as impossible to dissolve the distinction between right and wrong as it is between light and darkness. Phil 1:9-10 – And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, How do you approve the things that are excellent? You must make distinctions. How? By the word of God.
Creation is the Unique Work of God’s Word: A study of the creation account causes us to pause at the use of the Hebrew word, “bara” – to create. This word is unique in that its only subject in scripture is God. Vines says… “bara.. is of profound theological significance, since it has only God as its subject. Only God can “create” in the sense implied by bara. The verb expresses creation out of nothing,.” We may call ourselves creative, but we cannot do what this word describes. Only God can create out of nothing.
- In Gen. 1 we find bara only 3 times. (that doesn’t indicate that the other Hebrew words do not signify the act of creation). But it does point out the absolute necessity of God’s intervention in all three places:
- Gen. 1:1- matter & energy
- Gen. 1:21 – Life (breath of life)
- Gen. 1:27 – Man in the image of God
- Evolutionary theory supposes spontaneous existence of matter & energy (which is scientifically impossible), but even if you have that present, it takes another divine intervention to get life, and then another intervention (out of nothing) to create morally responsible life in the image of God!
- Look at Heb 11:3 “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. By faith in what? (Faith comes by hearing the word of God) The Hebrew writes says that can only understand the unique work of God’s word in framing the worlds, by our faith (trust) in the revealed word of God scripture.
- Peter connects the creation to the power of God’s word in 2 Peter 3:5-9 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
- Peter says that those who live as though there is no judgment forget some important things.
- They forget that God is not limited by time. He is never late or early.
- They forget the purpose of God is to save (longsuffering) so the delay does not suggest He is not coming.
- They forget the power of God’s word. The heavens and earth that they see exist because God spoke. They are preserved by His word. When He speaks again, all these things will cease to exist.
- When God is finished with this world He will destroy it with the power of His word. (It is now being preserved by His word, and will one day end with His word. Those who refuse to obey God will be condemned by the word of the Lord. Heb 1:10-12 “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail”. (Like a paper plate, do you put it in the dishwasher?) What a pity we invest so much energy and time into this world.
- God’s New Creation – The physical creation is not God’s best work (hard to believe when you see what we recently gazed on in Alaska.) But this world will come to an end.
1. Christians are the new spiritual creation of God. 2 Cor 5:17 – 7 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Paul emphasized the creative aspect of God’s spiritual work in our behalf in the book of Ephesians:
- Eph 2:10 – 0 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
- Eph 2:15 – 5 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
- Eph 4:24 – 4 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
2. How are we created? By the power of God’s word. – James 1:17-18 – 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
- Romans 1:16 – 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
- Mark 16:15-16 – 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Conclusion: There is nothing more powerful than God’s word. How can you and I resist it? Heb 2:1-4 – Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?