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THE POWER OF THE WORD

by R. H. Boll

100 Years Ago

Reprint from the November, 1919 W&W: Words in Season

“The word of God is quick and powerful.” It is “like a fire and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces.” Of what sort is its “power?” It lies in the intelligence conveyed by the Word, no doubt. The Word has a wondrous illuminating power. It enlightens the heart and guides our feet into the path of life. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation: “for therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith.” (Rom. 1:16, 17). It has power to move and turn the hearts of men. At its appeal some of the most vicious of men have turned away from their evil doings. No other word can compare with the word of God in persuasive power. It has inspiring power. It inspires to the noblest life, the highest action, the loftiest sacrifice (which is also the humblest). It makes men forget home and friends and self in the service of Christ and their fellowmen.

The word of God has power in yet another sense—not independent of its import and meaning, but by virtue of the fact that in all its meaning it is backed by the One who uttered it. It has a power beyond its mere mental effect. “Where the word of a king is, there is power,” says the writer of Ecclesiastes. The Centurion’s surpassing faith was manifest in this that he recognized the omnipotent authority which stood back of Jesus’ word. (Matt 8:8-10).

God exerted His creative power through His word. “By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made ; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” “He spake and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast.” (Ps. 33:6, 9). He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Through His word He exerted His redemptive, restoring power. The Son of God says to the beseeching leper, ‘I will—be thou made clean,” and straightway the leprosy departed from him. Any mere man might have used the same identical -words, conveying precisely the same intelligence—but there would have been no effect. The power of the Word is due to Him who speaks it: because it is His word it is effective to accomplish the thing whereof it speaks. To the man at Bethesda, for 38 years a hopeless invalid, the word came, “Arise, take up thy bed, and walk.” (John 5). No one will contend that this was either the enlightening power, or the persuasive power, or the inspiring power— or any power that stood merely in the mental effect of the meaning conveyed by the utterance.

Or, to choose another case—“Lazarus, come forth.” You and I might stand at a loved one’s tomb and vainly cry, “Come forth” all day long; but when Jesus speaks the same word the dead comes forth, though he had lain in the tomb four days already—or four years, or four thousand, for that matter.

-R. H. Boll (1875-1956) was Editor of Word and Work from  1916-1956




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33