Monday, November 11, 2019

A Word About Words – and The Word

Lacking any mechanical mastery whatsoever, I occasionally employ the services of people who have it. Folks skilled at using tools like hammers, saws, wrenches, screwdrivers, and such. I admire them, even though I’ve never had any disposition toward learning how to use such devices. If hard-pressed, I can turn a screw or hammer a nail, but those aren’t things I particularly enjoy doing.

My tools are of the verbal variety – words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, punctuation. I suppose I’m better at using them than most, because for more than five decades they’ve helped me build a satisfying career. Words have always fascinated me, much as a carpenter is intrigued by a seemingly haphazard pile of wood, screws and nails, along with plans and the equipment needed to assemble them together.

If wanting to let others know what we are thinking, we use words to communicate it. What are we feeling? We use words to express that, too. When we want someone to do something, we use words to tell them. You don’t have to be an articulate speaker or proficient writer to get your point across – as long as you use the right words in the right ways.

Alistair Begg is among the small minority of individuals who are equally adept at conveying ideas as a pastor, public speaker and author. Recently a statement he made resonated strongly with me: “Words work – and God’s words work best.” Because I’m convinced that no matter how skilled a speaker or writer may be, nothing’s as effective or powerful as the Word of God.

I might have any number of views and values, but in the end they belong in the books of 1 or 2 Opinions. However, precepts supported by the Scriptures carry weight that surpasses all of human reasoning. From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals Himself in incomparable ways – through narrative, history, poetry, prophecy, theology, principles, promises and parables.

Bible scholars tell us approximately 40 different persons wrote individual books that comprise the Scriptures, and these writings took place over the span of an estimated 1,500 years. And yet, in many respects the Bible can be considered God’s autobiography, a sprawling account of His dealings with His people since the beginning of time.

How can we call it an “autobiography” since it was scripted by so many different people? Because, as we’re informed in 2 Peter 1:20-21, Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Lord used an array of writers, allowing latitude for their personalities and perspectives. However, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 makes the declaration, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

We find similar assertions in other parts of the Bible. In 2 Samuel  23:2, King David, author of much of the Psalms, stated, "The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.”  The book of Ezekiel opens by saying, the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel the priest…. There the hand of the Lord was on him” (Ezekiel 1:3). Another prophetic book begins, “This is the word of the Lord that came to Micah…what he saw regarding Samaria and Jerusalem” (Micah 1:1).

Getting back to Pastor Begg’s view that “God’s words work best,” I heartily agree – not only for the quality of writing and depth of content, but also for their unsurpassed impact on those who believe them and put them into practice. As the apostle Paul told his disciple, Timothy, the Scriptures truly are “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” And for those of us who desire to serve the Lord and His people effectively, we can use His words to become “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Cynics and skeptics may disagree, but I can attest that after reading, studying and seeking to apply biblical truths over nearly four decades, God has transformed me – and continues to do so – through His Word. I could also point you to thousands of people I’ve met over the years who have had the same experience. 

That’s one reason I’ve devoted much of my writing – using the tools of my trade – to addressing how to integrate our faith into every area of our lives. “My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer” (Psalm 45:1). I’m what you might call a “satisfied customer.”

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