The Word is Life-Giving and Discerning

The right and ability to impart life belongs to God alone. As it is written, "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me . . . I make alive . . . " (Deut 32:39). The generation of life is the peculiar prerogative of God. He alone can create it, and through Him life--any life--is sustained! "Life" is the ability to respond to your environment. That is called "reciprocity." When a fish responds to the environment of water, it is "alive." When a worm responds to the environment of soil, it is "alive." Of particular interest is our response to God--the "living God." When the individual can respond to God, he is spiritually alive. Only God can cause that to happen! That is why Jesus declared, "I am the Way, the Truth, and THE LIFE." No man cometh to the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

The Word of God is "living and powerful" (Heb 4:12). It is not subject to human laws, whether they be philosophical or procedural. It cannot be systematized, a snare into which men have traditionally fallen. The more you systematize the Word of God, the less powerful it becomes. This is confirmed by the obvious lack of moral and spiritual power that characterizes those seeking to stabilize human conduct by laws and regulations. Throughout church history, there have been major thrusts of activity that have sought to protect God's Word by classifying and organizing its teachings. Thus Calvin gave us his Institutes, and Campbell his Christian System. Both volumes contain excellent statements, and sound thought. However, they have caused as much difficulty as they have good. Those that have adopted their regimented approach are traditionally divided among themselves, unable to work productively together. The reason for this situation is their stilted approach to the living and vibrant Word of God.

You might as well attempt to systematize a young child as Scripture. Your efforts will run aground, because living things cannot be limited to humanly conceived boundaries. A system can rise no higher than the one that contrived it. It is limited by the perception of its creator. God's Word does not fall into that category. Those that feed upon it find their thoughts becoming more voluminous. Within them, the vistas of truth are in a state of expansion. The horizon of their awareness is becoming larger. New things are seen in the most common texts of Scripture. This is because the Word is "living and powerful."

Because of this condition, the Holy Spirit often says things in Scripture that conflict with human perceptions of the Word. It will mention people that could NOT believe because God blinded their eyes (John 12:39-40), or refer to being saved because of God's foreknowledge (2 Pet 1:2). It will speak of participating in the Divine nature (2 Pet 1:4), and being "one spirit" with the Lord Himself (1 Cor 6:17). The Holy Spirit may even say people are called AFTER they have been predestinated (Rom 8:29), or that we have been "chosen in Him before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4). It may trace an immoral situation the Divine cause (Judges 14:3-4; 2 Sam 21:1). Such sayings do not fit into preconceived notions of Scripture. There is no acceptable hermeneutic that will allow such texts to be received as they are. The Word of God is living, and thus not subject to human restrictions.

Directly related to spiritual life

The Word of God is directly related to life--spiritual life. "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb 4:12 NIV). God's Word has Divine qualities because it comes from Him. Note carefully, the Word does not lose those attributes after it has come to us. It is not, for example, living and powerful in the original, but lifeless in the English. Is there any one that would care to affirm Scripture has lost its power?--in any age, or to any people? When Jesus said, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63), He powerfully conveyed the consistent impact of His Word--even after it was written. That, of course, is why His words are recorded. They are not merely there for information, or intellectual data. The Holy Spirit is still associated with the Word of God and His Christ!

Produces and maintains life

Because God's Word is "living," it produces and maintains life in the believer--life toward God. When we are baptized into Christ, we become "dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom 6:11). Our primary sensitivity is no longer to sin, but to God Himself. He is in our conscience and our thoughts. We think about pleasing God, doing His will, and making our desires known to Him. There is no such thing as being alive spiritually and not possessing these qualities. A "living" Word produces a living people--a people God can direct, lead, and feed!

Sensitizes the soul

God's Word sensitizes the soul to God and His will. It alerts us to both danger and benefit, blessing and cursing. It "is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). No spiritually informed person doubts it. The walk of faith consistently confirms this to be the case! Without God's Word [or more precisely, without reliance upon God's Word], we stumble, falling into the snare of the devil. Those that doubt this, need to reexamine the history of our race before the Word was given. Even the best of men and women became involved in things that startle the sensitive conscience. Bloodshed, multiple wives, and reversions to idolatry, were common.

There were at least two reasons for the prevalence of these conditions. First, the Word of God was scarce. Second, the new birth had not yet been experienced. Men were not born again until the Word was personified in Jesus and written in Scripture. Human nature had not been impacted by the Divine nature, as it is now that Christ has been glorified (John 7:39).

Until Jesus, there was no truly good news to report. The only glad sound came when holy men prophesied of the coming Redeemer and the consequent blessing of God. Now that Jesus has "put away sin" (Heb 9:26), destroyed the devil (Heb 2:14), blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us (Eph 2:14), and spoiled principalities and powers (Eph 2:15), the Scripture has been given new significance. Moses and the Prophets are perceived as a preparation for salvation. The writings of the Apostles shed light on God, Christ, and everything they have said. Because of Jesus' accomplishments and intercession, believers are now being conformed to His image (Rom 8:29). The Word of God plays a key role in this conforming, which is nothing less than "eternal life."