Friday, December 30, 2016
The Power of the Word
Rev. 1:16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force.
John is exiled to the island of Patmos where he is suffering for his faith. While this is a most unpleasant circumstance, he continues with his usual practices and is communing with the Spirit on the Lord’s day. It is in this space that he receives a heavenly vision and a revelation of Christ, himself.
The vision of Jesus is both physical and symbolic, with the glory of his countenance, “the same that was manifested at the Transfiguration.” (People’s NT Commentary) The stars in his right hand symbolize the seven churches who find favor and protection in the hand of the Lord. The sharp, two-edged sword coming from his mouth represents the power of the word which will ring in justice as it is “continually pointed against his enemies as a sword.” (John Wesley) These understandings are already in our minds as we recall Eph. 6:17 “Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” and Heb. 4:12 “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” We are reminded here in Revelation by the living Word that there is great power in the written and spoken word of Jesus.
The more time I spend studying the Word of God, the more I realize how much I don’t know. The depth of knowledge, insight and understanding to be found in the word is infinite, and we are invited into this never-ending understanding of God. There is always something more to learn, a higher plane for which to reach, a spiritual climb to endeavor. We are never to be satisfied with where we are spiritually, or with the amount of knowledge or understanding of God which we may have gained.
We are to continually study to know more about God through the word for our own spiritual growth, but also to tap into God’s power through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Knowing the word of God empowers us for life, for we learn the ways in which God works. The written word of God is a revelation of the living Word, therefore, the more that we know the written word, the more that we become partakers of the living Word. When I participate with the Triune God, then I am empowered by God. This means that the written word comes alive through you and me. This is transformational power in which the word has, and continues to become flesh and the world sees the Word at work.
Jesus Christ is Truth and as such, truth is revealed through the written word. The written word of God doesn’t make everyone comfortable because our holy God sets up expectations for his children. They are to live lives of holy love and justice in this world and sometimes that doesn’t mesh with society. In this way Jesus’ presence in the word is a two-edged sword, which is pointed against evil and injustice. This also means that the preached word, when it genuinely comes from the Scriptures, is powerful and has a unique place in the life of the church. The preached word should have the power to convict and transform when preached from a heart in tune with the author of the word.
Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that study of the Bible is not important. To grow as a follower of Jesus Christ time must be spent in the word of God. This is not just to be an item that we tick off our to-do list for the day, but it is to be intentional time, asking the Lord to speak to us through the word, and learning something new every day.
I began this journey of more devoted time in the word about eight years ago, and what I wrote earlier is true — the more time I spend in the word, the more I realize I don’t know. My hunger for the word has grown, not diminished. I wish I had more time to study at even greater depths, but I am grateful that years ago I read the book, “The Divine Mentor” and my time in the Scriptures changed dramatically. Since that time I have been following a reading plan. This year I switched over to the Daily Office Lectionary. In the past I’ve used a plan of reading through the Bible in a year. The truth is that the type of plan doesn’t matter — but the important part is having a plan. Then, don’t just read to finish this as a task for the day, but slow down enough to imagine yourself in the scene, and ask the Lord to speak to you through the Scriptures.
I’m so grateful for this journey in the word and I look forward to all that I still have to learn. There is incredible power in the word. Sometimes it’s a bit of encouragement, chastisement, healing or wisdom. That’s the amazing thing — it’s different every single day. It’s a place to meet with Jesus and continue to develop a relationship which will continue to grow throughout eternity. Yes, there is incredible power in the word.
Lord, thank you for leading me on an incredible journey through your word. There is so much more I need to learn, and I want to know you more. Please help me to have eyes to see and ears to hear what you want me to know about you. Amen.