September 19, 2007

Power of words

I’ve been thinking lately about the power of God’s word, not so much Scripture (His written word), but what happens when He speaks.

For instance, in the beginning, “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Genesis One records that each time He spoke, something marvelous happened. By His words the universe and all that is in it were created. Many think this is a myth, but I say their god is far too small. If God is God, then speaking something into existence is totally possible and believable.

God spoke later to Abraham and others in different ways, but always with results. Hebrews 1:1-2 tell about His words, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. . . .”

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 14 clarifies, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. . . .”

God spoke and His Word created, then that Word became a person identified as His Son, a full expression of God the Father in a visible form. Jesus is the Word of God personified. Those who saw Him said, “We beheld His glory” and “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard . . . the Word of life. . . .”

The spoken Word of God is powerful. Romans 10:17 says “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” I used to think this meant the message about Christ, but now I’m not so sure. Could it be more ‘alive’ than that? Could it be that God imparts faith by ‘speaking’ it into our hearts?

That seems to be what happened in Acts. Jesus was physically gone from the world, but as the Bible says, lived in the hearts of His disciples. Acts 14:1 says, “Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.”

They “so spoke” that people believed. How is that? I can say Scripture and repeat the gospel until I am blue in the face, but that is not necessarily going to have those results. Would it be that their speaking was Jesus, the Living Word, using them as His mouthpiece? Could it be that He spoke (through them) and the power of His words imparted faith?

It didn’t happen that way with everyone. Acts 14:2 continues, “But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds (lit. embittered their souls) against the brethren.”

Those who didn’t hear the Word and didn’t believe, hated Him. This is typical even today. Unfortunately, their hatred tends to silence those whom God has chosen to be His mouthpieces. Instead of speaking out, I know I tend to retreat when someone reacts this way to the good news about Jesus.

Not so these disciples in Acts. Verse three says, “Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

“Speaking boldly in the Lord” — or could it be rendered “The Lord spoke boldly through them”? Perhaps. What is clear is that He clarified that these men most certainly spoke the “word of His grace” (or His gracious words?) by giving them the ability to do amazing things as proof of His power with them.

Words can destroy too. They can hurt and separate and damage people’s lives and relationships. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue. . . .”

It is no wonder that God tells me to watch what I say, to speak words that heal and build up, to bless rather than curse. This thought staggers and humbles me, yet it is possible that when I open my mouth, He could use it to say a word to someone whose life He wants to change.

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