Romans 1:16 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.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
In our texts this week, Paul tells us that the Word is more than simply a source of information - it is also powerful! It doesn't just tell us how things may be changed by God, it is the instrument that He uses to make the change! It is not that there is something special about the paper on which it is printed, or the ink that is used to form the words. We are not operated on powerfully by God as we physically hold a Bible in our hands. In certain movies, people ward off evil forces by holding up Bibles or other religious symbols, as though the power of God somehow dwelt in the physical item itself. This is not the case. What is true, though, is that the Holy Spirit can take the message contained in the words God has caused to be written down and can use them to change people inwardly. He can convict them of their sins, He can soften their hearts, show them the beauty of Christ, cause them to long to be like Him, and so on.
Perhaps we do not realize this, but the power of God's Word is such that it is impossible to read it or to hear it preached without a change taking place in our spiritual condition, wrought by God's Spirit. If we are unbelievers, we will either be hardened in our hearts and made more culpable for having heard the truth and rejected it again, or we will be moved one step closer to the New Birth. If we are believers, the inevitable effect of the Word of God is to make us more holy. By it, we are shown the utter sinfulness of our sin and the desirability of being made like Jesus. It is perhaps the primary means the Holy Spirit uses to transform us from one degree of glory to the next.
Many of us love the fantasy stories in which great power is locked up in objects like rings or books. Let's not fail to understand, though, that we possess in God's Word something more remarkable and more powerful than anything conceived in any of the fantasy stories of human authors! We see the actors in those movies open-mouthed as they look at the venerable objects they have discovered. Shouldn't we be open-mouthed too, if we rightly understand the power of the Word of God as we take it up to read it, or as we sit to hear it preached?
In the next few weeks, we are going to explore different ways in which the Bible tells us that it is powerful but this week let's reflect on the simple fact that it is the power of God to achieve remarkable transformations in men and women, boys and girls, and may that knowledge encourage each of us to read it eagerly!