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the effect of the word



"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."  (Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV) 

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."  (Romans 1:16 ESV) 

Herman Bavinck writes, 

"Through that word, we are always led and guided, admonished and comforted, encouraged and ashamed, convinced of sin and pointed to Christ.  It is the very atmosphere in which we breathe from our birth; it is the food, the drink, the air, the sunshine, the rain for our spiritual life, and that all combined together at one time. 

"That word is always the power.  Without being able or wanting to determine when it is already exerting its influence on the conscience and heart of man, it always remains in itself the power of God unto salvation [Rom. 1:16].  Never is it an empty sound, a dead letter, a meaningless phrase.  It is always "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" [Heb. 4:12].  It is always a hammer that smashes the hard heart of the 
sinner, a sword of the Spirit that strikes a deadly blow to the proud and self-righteous, a testimony of God that shakes the conscience awake, the seed of regeneration, the power unto sanctification.  It is always "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be compete, equipped for every good work" [2 Tim. 3:16-17].  In a word, it is a means of grace, going before and standing high above the sacraments.  

"Even there, where it does not bestow a blessing, it still exerts its effect.  The demons believe and shudder [James 2:19].  For unbelievers, it is a fragrance of death to death [2 Cor. 2:16].  It is a rock of offense over which the godless stumble [Isa. 8:14; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:8].  If it does not soften it hardens. If it does not warm, it burns. A person never remains the same after coming in contact with it. That person becomes better or worse, but one can never hide behind the shield of neutrality." 

~ Herman Bavinck, The Sacrifice of Praise (1921) (Hendrickson Publishers, 2019) pp. 22-23.




Photo at top by michael podger on Unsplash


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