By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr
(Sabbath, 14th January, 2012)
The WORD, Secondary to None!
Is it possible, amid all the goodness shown you by God, to devalue or even miss His principal gift to you?
It looks and sounds strange on the surface. You are a churchgoer; you hear the Word of God, you even own and occasionally read a Bible. But it’s still possible to be estranged from the Word of God. Short of a personal, living relationship with the “God-breathed” Word, the sad truth is that the vital power of the Word has been missed.
The Word is foremost in God’s gifts to us. It’s by the Word that He has revealed His will to us as well as His nature and plans for us. Indeed, it’s by the Word that He does all things, including healing and delivering His people (Ps 107:20).
This was something the redeemed people of Israel needed not be told; they experienced it firsthand. At the Word of God, plagues broke out on Pharaoh and his people; at the Word of God the Red Sea parted and Israel walked on a dry river-bed, while Pharaoh and his army were drowned. At the Word of God, fresh water gushed forth from the Rock for Israel to drink; at the Word of God, the Israelites defeated Amalek and went on to crush a host of other enemy nations much more organized and stronger than they. At the Word of God, meat was supplied in great abundance for a 600 000 plus nation in the grip of an insatiable lust for meat in the wilderness!
The Word proved itself as "living and powerful" with dazzling supernatural acts of deliverance performed in the midst of Israel. Yet it took Moses to remind the people after they had been eye-witnesses to such a display of the power of the Word in their lives: Yah "humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live" (Deut. 8:3).
Have you reflected deeply on the scripture? Every word of God is a vital life force. Every single word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Eternal gives life and is life, be it a commandment, a precept, an exhortation or other divine information. Each one of them is life to man.
But why would God take pains to remind Israel of what was an obvious truth? Hadn’t they come face to face with the raw evidence of the Word’s ability to save, preserve and put a nation of former slaves on a march to the Promised Land?
The LORD, who knows and searches all hearts (Jer. 17:10; 2 Chron. 6:30; Rev. 2:23), knew the heart of the Israelites. They valued the product of the Word—bread/manna—more than the Word itself. For the sake of manna, many of the Israelites wilfully broke the Word of God forbidding them from going out on the Sabbath to gather manna:
"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.
"On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily."
"He said to them, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’
"So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it.
"Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field.
"Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none."
"On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none.
"And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?
"See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day."
"So the people rested on the seventh day" (Ex. 16:4-5, 23-30 ESV).
The life-giving Word that gave the manna was the same Word they broke—because manna was more important to them! Yet they were to live by “every word of God that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD”.
Thousands of years later, the descendants of the Israelites would make the same mistake. After Christ fed over five thousand of them with five loaves of bread and two small fish, they were so excited by the miracle that they wanted to make Him king, apparently so they could have free lunch as long as He remained their king (John 6:1-15). And so they embarked on an eager manhunt for Christ asking His whereabouts and crossing rivers (vv. 22-25), but Christ was unimpressed and lambasted them:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed" (vv. 26-27).
As a believer, it’s undeniable that you do enjoy the blessings of the Lord in varied ways, but do you value the blessing more than the source of the blessing?
The experience of this Church over the years has been that most of the sick folks and burdened people who come here for their healing and breakthrough never to commit themselves to the Word which saved them in the first place. They praise God and the church and acknowledge the Pastor as a man of God, but they wouldn’t accept the sound doctrine. The keeping of the commandments is not something they are ready to do.
As if that was not bad enough, there are still some here whose level of commitment is far from satisfactory. They attend the prayer meeting only if they have a pressing problem they want the Lord to solve for them or require an ‘urgent prayer’ from pastor. It’s not because the Word says "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17; Luke 21:36). They fast on as-needed-basis, for example to fight off spiritual attack, not because the bridegroom has been taken away and they wait His return (Mark 2:18-20; Luke 21:34). They read and study the scriptures in church because it’s a formality not because the Word commands it as in:
"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (Josh. 1:8).
"Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine" (1 Tim. 4:13).
By focusing on the temporal benefits we stand to derive from the Word instead of the worth or merits of the Word itself, we reduce the Word to a commodity to be used and discarded at will. The Word is not merely a means to an end; it’s an end in itself! The Word has a life of its own. The prophet Jeremiah said of the Word of God: “Your Words were found and I ate them; and Your Word was to me the joy and gladness of my heart. For I am called by Your name, O Jehovah, God of Hosts" (Jer. 15:16 LITV).
The Word of God in itself was "the joy and the delight" of his heart! This is the right attitude to adopt towards the Word of God but not to associate it in a subordinate way with anything we subconsciously consider to be more important. It might be healing or a sense of satisfaction or some good feeling, but we will have still downgraded the Word in our life. The LORD noticed this in the Jewish exiles in Babylon as they sat before Ezekiel, the prophet, to hear the Word:
"Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD.
"And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.
"And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not" (Ezek. 33:30-33).
Instead of doing the Word, the congregation saw Ezekiel’s preaching as good entertainment! They expressed awe at his insights into the Word, laughed at his witty sayings and gesticulations and applauded at his thought-provoking conclusions. But they never owned the Word; they were “hearers only” (Jam. 1:22). Ezekiel was an entertainer, and his message good entertainment!
However, the Word comes not to entertain us or bless just some aspects of our life; it comes to make us God-like with all that being God-like entails:
"Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?
"If he called them gods to whom the word of God came–and Scripture cannot be broken–
"do you say of Him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?" (John 10:34-36 ESV).
The Word has come to make us divine. At present this entails two things: it means sharing both God’s holy character (2 Pet. 1:4) and His divine power (Luke 10:19, 24:49, Acts 2:17-18). This is the mission of the Word in your life—to make you holy and powerful like God. All the others are peripheral.
It’s in this state of holiness that we truly become the people of God (2 Cor. 6:16-18; Heb. 12:14) and walk in the power of the indwelling Christ who strengthens us to do all things (Acts 5:32; Phil. 4:13).
Now, wouldn’t you want to make the Word your most prized possession in life? I recommend for you what Apostle Paul recommended centuries ago to the Church in Colosse: "Let the WORD of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Col. 3:16 NASU). That’s all you need to fulfill the command to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 3:18). Let the Word furnish your heart with all its riches, filling every bit of it with its graces, holiness, power and truth. Let the Word find a home in your heart; make it feel welcome, devote time and space to it. Steep yourself in the Word in all its forms—by studying it, teaching it, speaking it and singing it, and you will surely become a person transformed by Divine grace and knowledge.
In short, let the Word be second nature to you. "Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life" (Prov. 6:21-23).
Next week God willing, I will preach Part Two of this sermon series to help you come to a fuller understanding of the incalculable importance of the Word in your Christian life. Stay blessed and God give you understanding. Amen! Read the part two by clicking here