The Power Of The Word!
Reading Ephesians Ch.6v17b.
As I indicated last time, I want to take the thought with which we ended in our last message just that little bit further v17b.
"And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God"
So far each piece of armour that the Holy Spirit has mentioned was to be used in defence. Now, He names The Sword that should be used as a deterrent. In other words this part of the armour is something with which we attack and drive off the enemy by taking the offensive and not simply always being on the defensive.
Napoleon once said, "The best form of defence is attack."
And indeed there are times when it is absolutely correct for us to attack.
Last time we thought about holding the ground our Lord Jesus the Captain of our Salvation has already won and conquered and without doubt the call will be to hold the ground already taken but there will always be that time we will be called upon to attack. Now, the point is do we know how?
The best answer to secular humanism is the Word of God. The best answer to dialectical materialism (which is a form of materialism expounded by Karl Marx) is the Word of God. The best answer to behavioural psychology is the Word of God. The best answer to liberal theology is the Word of God. The best answer to the cults is the Word of God. The best answer to false religions is the Word of God.
Because the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit, it cuts through all Satan's deceptions and devices. Listen to me beloved, listen, the devil is no match for the Holy Spirit.
I am a Christian because God says so, and I did what he told me to do, and I stand on God's Word, and if the Book goes down, I'll go with it. - Billy Sunday, Leadership, Vol. 8, no. 1.
Dr. J. B. Gambrell relates a most interesting incident from General Stonewall Jackson's famous valley campaign. It was necessary for the General to get his troops over a certain river one night, so he gave orders to the engineers to make a way for the artillery and wagons and men to cross over. He also called his wagon master, who was a blacksmith, to headquarters and gave him instructions to get the wagon train across the river as fast as possible. The engineers gathered in a tent and went about their work in their usual expert manner to draw up plans for a bridge. The blacksmith, knowing only that something had to be done, and that right quickly and something practical had to be the outcome. He proceeded to gather a group of men and with logs and rocks and fence rails they build a crossing over that river. Just before dawn the blacksmith awakened the general to inform him that the wagons, artillery and men were across the river.
In astonishment the General asked, "Where are the engineers?" The blacksmith replied, they're over in their tent still drawing pictures and planning a bridge."
Dear friends, never have we had so many experts sitting around drawing pictures and making plans as today! What we need are a few good men and women who will get a vision of the need of the hour and get involved in the word even in the darkness of the day and get us across the river. And Paul is reminding us; here is the best solution we could find. Take the word of God and allow it to be the weapon of our warfare.
How wonderfully has the Lord provided for the continuance of the vegetable world. He causes the plant to scatter broadcast a multitude of seeds, and bids the winds convey them far and wide. The fowls of the air are commissioned to bear berries and fruits to their proper soils, and even to bury them in the earth, while scores of four-footed creatures, engaged in storing up food for themselves, become planters of trees and propagators of plants. Seeds bear a charmed life about them; they will germinate after being buried for centuries. They have been known to flourish when turned up from the borings of wells from the depth of hundreds of feet, and when ponds and lakes have been dried, the undrowned vegetable life has surprised the beholders by blossoming with unknown flowers. Can we imagine that God has been thus careful of the life of the mere grass of the field, which is the very emblem of decay, and yet is negligent of his Word that lives and abides forever? It is not to be dreamed of. Truth, the incorruptible seed, is ever scattering itself. Every wind is laden with it; every breath spreads it. It lies dormant in a thousand memories, it preserves its life in the abodes of death. The Lord has but to give the word, and a band of eloquent men shall publish the gospel, apostles and evangelists will rise in abundance, like the warriors who sprang from the fabled dragon's teeth. Converts will spring up like flowerets at the approach of spring; nations will be born in a day, and truth, and God the Lord of truth, shall reign forever. - Charles Haddon Spurgeon: The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
So, OK Preacher, you say part of God’s blue print or plan is the Word of God, so tell us, how should we use the Bible, the Word of God? Well I am glad you asked!
1. We Must Use The Word Apostolically!
Well, what do you mean by apostolically? That sounds a little out dated! What kind of preaching do we need today? Why, the same kind we have always needed! Nothing important has changed! Just because we have split the atom and sent men to the moon, does not mean we need a new kind of preaching, and certainly not Sermonites for Christianites!
Now of course we know there are no apostles today in the original sense! Ephesians Ch. 2vv19-22. “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit”.
The apostles are in the foundation and to remove them from the foundation would make the building unstable to say the least! Now although there are no apostles today in the original sense, we do know that an apostle was a sent one!
Now the preacher is to be a man sent from God!
Question! Do we really believe that?
Or is he only a man sent from God when he pleases me, when he visits me, when he does things for me, when he makes me feel good, when he does things the way I think they should be done, when he keeps friends with me and my family above and beyond anyone else! When his preaching suits us? You see dear people the preacher is to be a man sent from God no matter what we, on a personal basis may feel about him.
And he is to be Apostolic in his preaching, that means although he may have gone through all the educational process of life and then ended up in a Bible School, he is to be all the time thereafter learning at the school of Jesus Christ.
And listen, listen, those who listen to him are to accept the Word of God from him as they would if the Apostles were preaching it themselves.
Jesus said to those who would become his disciples “follow me,” but the next command given to those who became his disciples was, “learn of me!”
“Take my yoke upon you and learn of me” Matt.11v29.
2. We Must Use The Word Authoritatively!
My Lord taught as one having authority and not as the scribes. Now, that does not mean we become dictators. Because the servant of God is singled out as one who receives messages from God and is entrusted by God to deliver those messages truthfully and faithfully to his own dear people, of necessity, he speaks with authority. Now, Listen, Listen, Not his own authority, rather he should and must speak with the authority of God.
In driving piles, a machine is used by which a huge weight is lifted up and then made to fall upon the head of the pile. Of course the higher the weight is lifted the more powerful is the blow which it gives when it descends. Now, if we wish to impact our age and society with ponderous blows, we must see to it that we are uplifted as near to God as possible. All our power will depend upon the elevation of our spirits. Prayer, meditation, devotion, communion, are like a windlass to wind us up aloft. It is not lost time which we spend in such sacred exercises, for we are thus accumulating force, so that when we come down to our actual labour for God, we shall descend with an energy unknown to those to whom communion is unknown. Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
I know, today much of the professing church has gone in for theatrics, running a showboat instead of a lifeboat, staging a performance instead of living an experience, “A form of godliness without the power thereof.” We are playing to the grandstand of a pagan age. What a different “show” from the Apostles and the early Christians dying for Christ before howling throngs in the Coliseum! We are not sufferers in the arena; we are spectators in the grandstand. We have come a long way from the catacombs folks!
Please remember, the Lord Jesus met the devil, his avowed enemies with, “Have ye not read” “It is written” not in his own name nor in his own power, but with the power of the Scriptures. Titus Ch. 2v15: "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee".
3. We must Use The Word Believing It Absolutely!
Joseph Parker the congregational minister who ministered in London at the same time as C.H. Spurgeon said, “The only colours Mr. Spurgeon knew were black and white. In all things he was definite! You were either in or out, up or down, alive or dead. He believed in absolutes. And folks, we are dealing with absolutes!
The absolute authority of Scripture!
The absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ!
The absolute power of the Holy Spirit!
And if that sounds too dogmatic for some today it is because we have blown all the way from dogma to smogma! We live in a fog! Vance Havner!
Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” Matthew Ch. 12v30.
Observe please, there is no third class here, no inactive church members here!
When the Titanic sank in 1912, she was supposed to be the unsinkable sadly, the only thing she did, was sink. When that great ship took off from England, and ultimately from New York she had all kinds of passengers on board. Millionaires, Celebrities, people of moderate means, poor people. When later the news came of that awful disaster they posted two lists in Cunard office New York and England, it carried only two categories, lost and saved! All other distinctions were crossed out.
Listen dear folks; sin is absolute, hell is absolute, heaven is absolute, judgement is absolute, and our preaching must be absolute!
Preach it like it is! Believers are asleep, sinners are asleep, and it’s high time to awake out of sleep! Romans Ch. 13v11.
4. We Must Use The Word Affectionately!
Hey! Weather you speak to children, youth, older folks, on the mission field, to the congregation or wherever, your speech must be affectionate!
One who handles the Word of God must not only handle it in love but must also handle his people in love, no matter what they may think or say about him or her. We must not only be zealous but because of our love for the people to whom we minister we must be jealous.
“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” 2 Corinthians Ch.11v2.
You see folks, it’s not enough to love to preach or listen to preaching, we must love those to whom we preach, and those to whom we preach and teach are called upon to love those who minister to them. And when I as pastor love you as a people as I ought I will preach to you what God knows you need, not simply what you want, or what you would like.
Now I know there is a new variety of preacher abroad today who’s not interested in being called “a holy man of God” he wants to be called by his first name and be just one of the boys. He’s so anxious to be relevant that he’s forgotten to be “reverend”.
One of the greatest statements with respect to a servant of the Lord was made by the Shunammite woman concerning Elisha “And she said unto her husband, behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God, who passeth by us regularly.”
In Eph. 4v15 Paul puts it like this, “Speaking the truth in love”
Some preach truth and don’t have love!
Some preach love and don’t have truth!
We need to get the mixture right.
Truth will keep you from dissolving into mere sentimentality!
Love will keep you from hardening into severity.
Truth will keep you from turning to sugar!
Love will keep you from turning to vinegar! Get the mixture right
The Lord preserves his saints he does not pickle them!
The Lord drove out the moneychangers from the temple, but he also wept over Jerusalem with a broken heart. And do you know what folks, if we get the mixture right we will have a good end. I don’t want to finish my course for the Lord hard and bitter, I’ve seen too many examples of that, and it’s a snare of the devil and a bad advertisement for the gospel.
5. We Must Use The Word Apocalyptically!
Brothers and sisters, this is no time for tiptoeing through the tulips, preach it and teach as though you believe it! Live as though you really believe it!
A country school teacher applying for a job, was asked, “Do you teach that the earth is round or flat?” “Which way do you want it taught?” Came the reply, “I can teach it either way”.
Something like that is the attitude in many a pulpit today, and folks it ought not to be so, we are dealing with eternality realities, and we must know what we believe!
When Jesus comes apocalyptically! Listen! Listen! He’s not coming to hold a summit conference with His enemies. He is not coming to reconcile, He did that the first time, and he is coming then to destroy, to conquer and to subdue! The day of reconciliation will be over; the day of retribution will begin.
We must use the Word apostolically, authoritatively, absolutely, affectionately, and apocalyptically! That my dear people, is the way ahead, and can I say it with feeling, the only way ahead!
"And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God"
Let’s keep it sharp and use it well to the glory of God and the extension of Christ's Kingdom.
Throughout their history, the Gideons have received letters from people who found and read a Gideon-placed Bible. Here is one such letter from mid-century. The writer went on to become "First Mate Bob" on the long-time religious radio show "Haven of Rest": One winter morning in San Diego, after I had wandered many miles along the waterfront, in a daze, I turned my steps wearily toward my hotel room. I had been drinking heavily for weeks. My mind was tortured by the thoughts of the wife and four children whom I had deserted. Just yesterday, it seemed, I had been a radio executive, in charge of two radio stations in Los Angeles--KFVD and KFAC. The home in which we lived, Beverly Hills, the cars, the servants--the things money and social position can provide for a man and his family--were just a memory. I had dragged my family down with me until they were living in a little hovel, and then, I had deserted them. I had suffered a complete nervous breakdown and, worst of all; I had completely lost my voice. For a year and a half, I had not been able to speak one word aloud; each effort to talk was just a whisper. The future held no promise. I opened the door of my hotel room and flung myself into a chair in utter despair. My gaze fell upon a (Gideon) Bible on the floor. In a distracted sort of way, I picked it up and started to read. Old familiar words I had learned as a child, words of life, quick and powerful, leaped out of those pages and found their way into my heart. I fell to my knees, and spread the Bible upon the chair, and made a vow that I would not leave that hotel room, if I died of starvation, until there came into my soul a knowledge that my sins had been forgiven, until I knew that I passed from death unto life. With a surge of joy, I realized that God's promises were even for men like me. In that hotel room, I found Calvary's Cross; there I laid my burden down; there, the old man died, and a new one was born. From that place I walked in newness of life, a new creature in Christ Jesus, praise His Name! God straightened things out between my wife and me, and today she and I and our four children are back together again. The "peace that passeth all understanding" has loosed the taut nerves and muscles which had prevented normal speech, and God gave me back my voice. Small wonder that there is in my heart a feeling of undying gratitude to the Gideon’s who have felt the burden to place Bibles in hotel rooms. - Paul Myers, "Down and Out from Beverly Hills: One man's encounter with a Gideon Bible," in "The Golden Age of Hymns," Christian History, no. 31.
As we seek to serve the Master dear friends, lets do so full of the lord and full of His Word!