Bible - Inspiration & Authority

The Word of God Is 'Powerful' - What Does That Mean?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
The word "powerful" in Hebrews 4:12 speaks of the effectual, living, supernatural power of Scripture to save souls, sanctify the saved - and to condemn those who refuse to believe.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part 4 of a series. Read part 3.

The word "powerful" in Hebrews 4:12 speaks of the effectual, living, supernatural power of Scripture to save souls, sanctify the saved - and to condemn those who refuse to believe.

For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  (Hebrews 4:12-13)

In this series we are studying the Bible's declarations about the supernatural character of the Word of God. We are focusing on Hebrews 4:12-13 as our anchor passage. Let us briefly review what we have seen thus far.

First of all, we focused on the question, "What exactly is the Word of God?" We saw that it is God's revelation, given by inspiration. The inspiration of Scripture is not on a human, naturalistic plane. It is supernatural. The Bible is not the record of man's views, perspectives, or interpretation of events. Man did not decide what is true and what is not true. God has revealed what is true. What God has communicated in written form on Earth is His Word forever settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89).

Secondly, we focused on the question, "What does Hebrews 4:12 mean when it says that 'the Word of God is alive' "? The word in the original language that is translated "living" or "alive" in this verse has to do with the manifestation of Divine power in support of Divine authority. It speaks of the fact that Scripture is worthy of the name "the Word of God" for the very reason that it is alive. The word also signifies that this is the ever-continuing condition of the Word of God. It is never dead, never without authority, never anything less than the Word of God, and never anything less than supernatural in its power. It is ever worthy of the name, "the Word of God". It is never less than, or anything other than, the expression of God's actual thoughts.

The Definition of "Powerful"

Today we come to a third question: What does Hebrews 4:12 mean when it declares that the Word of God is "powerful"?

The word in the original language is the root word from which we derive our English words "energy" and "energetic". It speaks of the fact that the Word of God has active power. It speaks of the fact that the Word of God has effectual power - power that produces results, power that is capable of causing something to happen. It is Divine power, and therefore living power. The Word of God has that kind of power because it is the only supernatural Book.

The Word that endures forever, the powerful Word, is the Gospel that is preached to mankind. That is the theme of Scripture from beginning to end. It is by the power of the Word of God, by the work of the Holy Spirit, that souls are saved. It is by the power of the Word of God that minds and hearts are changed,

having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever, because "all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever." Now this is the Word which by the Gospel was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:23-25)

It is by the active, effectual power of the Word of God that the saved are sanctified. It is by this power of the Word of God that the external reality of our justification by faith - being clothed with the imputed righteousness of Christ even though we are undeserving sinners - is made an inward reality as we are, as 2 Timothy 3:17 tells us, "thoroughly equipped" [literally, thoroughly outfitted] for every good work."

What About You?

Dear reader, is the Word of God doing this work in your own life? Have you believed the truth of the Gospel through the power of the Word? If you have not bowed the knee to the declarations of God's living, effectual revelatory Word regarding your utterly hopeless state apart from Christ, and the salvation He has accomplished on behalf of sinners, you need to do so before it is eternally too late.

At the Last Judgment, God's Word will be one of two things for every human being. For the saved it will be the instrument of God's grace by which they will enter into eternal life in the New Heavens and New Earth. For the lost, it will be the instrument of God's holy Law pronouncing their condemnation to eternity in Hell.

Christian, now that you have been saved, are you being brought more and more into conformity to the image of Christ? Are you seeking the power of the Word to accomplish that great and vital task by reading and studying it daily? Nothing is more essential to your life and growth in Christ. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly [literally, be fully at home within you] in all wisdom" (Colossians 3:16),

that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. (Colossians 1:9-12)

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