God Works Through His Word

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thitther, 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 55:8-11

IN PHILIPPIANS 2:12,13 the followers of Jesus are admonished to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, with the assuring explanation that “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” God works in the hearts of his people largely through the power of his Word or, to put it in other words, through the power of his Holy Spirit, for God’s Word has been made available to us through the Holy Spirit. Our part in this co-operative arrangement of working out our own salvation is a yielding to the influence of God’s Word. If we resist the power of the Word, it will not accomplish the work of grace in our hearts which our Heavenly Father has designed.

And what a potent influence the Word of God really is in the hearts of his people! The Apostle Paul wrote, “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. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”—Heb. 4:12,13

While the Word of God is powerful, yet we can resist its influence in our own hearts by willfully turning aside from its instructions and admonitions. The way of the cross as outlined in the Word of God is not an easy one. Indeed, it is a way of sacrifice and serving, a way of laying down and giving up. Our fallen flesh often rebels against the instructions of the Lord by which we are kept in this narrow way, and at times—and in almost imperceptible ways—we seek to justify our divinations from the narrow way of sacrifice by our fleshly influenced interpretation of the Scriptures. The way is made easy for this course by the many translations which have been provided of the Holy Scriptures. It is often possible to search through one translation after another until we find one that justifies our particular viewpoint.

The Best Translation?

All true Christians should insist on a “thus saith the Lord” for everything they believe. It is always well to realize that the original Word of God as given through the power of the Holy Spirit was not in the English language. Because of this, we depend to a great extent on the integrity of those who have translated the Scriptures for us from the original Hebrew and Greek languages. What this means is that the expression, “Thus saith the Lord,” is more or less relative for all who read the Scriptures in any other language except the original, and we have no actual originals of the Bible at all.

Among the many English translations of the Scriptures it would be difficult to determine which is the best. What is known as the King James Version, or Common Version, is the most widely used. Probably the Revised Standard Version would come next in this category, for it also is quite generally used by many. The King James Version has advantages, in that the accuracy of its translations can be checked against Hebrew and Greek concordances in which the meaning of Greek or Hebrew words used in the Bible is given, without relationship to the context in which they appear.

This does not mean that the King James Version is the most accurate of translations, because it is not. However, for many centuries it was essentially the only English translation available to the people of God, and we have no doubt at all but what many of these dedicated followers of the Master were truly the Lord’s people and followed diligently the instructions of his Word.

The Bible Only?

While the Bible should take first place in the minds and hearts of the Lord’s people so far as revealing the mind of the Lord is concerned, it would be unscriptural to say that we need only the Bible in order to work out our own salvation. The Bible itself makes it clear that in addition to its inspired message the Lord has provided pastors, and teachers, and evangelists for the edifying of the body of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-15) Since God himself has provided these additional helps or helpers, it would be unbecoming to us to say that we do not need them—that we rely only on the Bible.

However, we should always recognize the difference between making proper use of the helps which the Lord has supplied in order to understand the Bible more clearly, and the Bible itself. These helps, or helpers, do not speak with the authority of the Bible. Their only authority is the authority of the Word of God. Recognizing this, we can be richly blessed in our study and not be in danger of being misled by the “opinions of men.”

An Open Mind

One of the expressions often heard today with respect to the Christian’s proper attitude toward the Lord is, “An open mind.” Contrasting with this is the thought of a closed mind. Should the Christian endeavor to maintain an open mind at all times, or should he endeavor to keep his mind closed to make sure that what he has learned will not be lost? Actually, neither of these ideas, if put into practice, will keep the followers of the Master in the straight and narrow way and rejoicing in the light of his Word.

The Apostle Peter, commenting on the writings of the Apostle Paul, observed, “And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”—II Pet. 3:15-18

Here Peter admonishes us to steadfastness, lest we be led away by the error of the wicked and fall from our own steadfastness. This suggests firmness in the truth and a determination not to open our minds to all the things which come along, many of which are the errors of the wicked. At the same time Peter recognizes the need of growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thus we see, in the Christian’s walk in the narrow way, the need for both steadfastness and the privilege of growth in grace and in knowledge. Neither a closed mind nor an open mind will keep one in the grace of the Lord. Only a pure heart condition, a full devotion to the Lord, will do this.

An illustration of being led away by the error of the wicked is brought to our attention in Proverbs. We quote: “I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.”—Prov. 4:11-19

The path of the just during the present age in the divine plan is the narrow way, It is a difficult way—a way which, if we are faithful, leads to suffering. The Lord’s providences toward those who walk in this narrow way are often difficult to understand; but if we resolutely, and with a closed mind, resist all suggestions to walk in any other way, which would be the ways of the wicked, we will have peace in our pathway. The meaning of the experiences in our pathway will be brighter and we will rejoice more and more in the Lord and in his love, because in the true sense of the word we are growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord.

More Earnest Heed

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to he spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” (Heb. 2:1-3) Here we are admonished to hold fast the things which we have heard and learned—admonished not to let these things slip. Paul is not speaking of the opinions of men which we have heard, but the truths which have come to us through our Lord Jesus, the apostles and prophets; in other words, through the sacred Scriptures.

How sacred, indeed, are the truths of God’s Word! It is these truths which light up the narrow way—the path of the just. The Word of God is so extensive in its covering of every facet of the divine plan as it applies to us that a lifetime is not enough to become acquainted with all there is to learn from his precious Word. How true it is, as we study with a pure heart, that we see new beauties in the Word of God and are illuminated with increasing light. Every ray of light which really comes from the Word of God will enhance the beauty of what we have learned and will increase our appreciation of walking in the narrow way which leads to glory, honor, and immortality.

Equipped for Good Work

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Every inspired scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, or for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind.” (II Tim. 3:16,17 NEB) Thus we are informed by Paul of the real purpose of the inspired Word of God. It is for teaching the truth and refuting error. It is for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind. Here we see the Holy Scriptures properly used in accomplishing God’s intended purpose in the hearts and lives of his people.

The Scriptures are not given to us for the purpose of building a new system of theology, but for working in us to will and to do of God’s good pleasure. The Holy Scriptures are as an armor of truth. As we put on and keep on the various parts of this armor, we will be able to stand against all the wiles of the Devil. He may go about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, but his roars will not frighten the true people of God.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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