Carnally-minded man can think of power only in the way it is seen
or felt through the senses. He forgets that all power is invisible,
and the most awesome power of all is word power. By a word armies
march; by a word men are exalted or debased; by a word the course
of a nation is changed. Words in the home result in emotional stress
that is felt in business, government and all of society, altering
the lives of millions. James did not overstate it when he said that
the tongue is a little member but boasteth great things.
If a man's words have such power, how much more the Word of Christ?
He was the Word that was "in the beginning with God. And all
things were made through Him....." (Jn. 1:1-3) God's power is
in His Word. "By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made, and
all the host of them by the breath of His mouth." (Ps. 33:6)
In creation words expressed the will of God and caused that will to
be realized. He spake and it was done. The Hebrew letter says that
Christ is "upholding all things by the word of His power."
By words from His lips Jesus wrought His great works. To the sea He
said, "Be still." To the palsied He said, "Arise."
To a man dead four days He said, "Lazarus, come forth."
And it was through His word that men heard that their sins were forgiven.
To the palsied man, "Son, thy sins are forgiven." To a woman
caught in adultery, He said, "Neither do I condemn thee, go and
sin no more." What possible experience could ever mean so much
as to know that the Lord had spoken words of forgiveness!
When the Holy Spirit came with power to the apostles, it was exercised
by the words from their lips, that the gospel and the means of remission
of sins might be made known. "Repent and be baptized every one
of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins."
The keys of the kingdom were these words, given by Christ to Peter,
to which three thousand responded that day and were "added"
to the church. When the apostle Paul came on the scene (he whose life
was full of experiences), he declared, "The gospel . . . is the
power of God unto salvation." (Rom. 1:16) He preached not himself
and his experiences but the Word of God with reference to Christ's
death and resurrection, and the power was felt throughout the world.
Power is not in our subjective experience. The power is in what God
has done through Jesus Christ, and this is effective for us when we
believe the Word of truth and appropriate it in faith. The power of
God is that power which He Himself has to cleanse us from sin through
Christ's death, and when He pronounces us clean, we are clean. That
pronouncement is made through Scripture, that which "God . .
. hath spoken unto us in His Son."
Our generation is characterized by doubts and fears, by a frantic
search for meaning to life. Churches are changing their creeds to
make them acceptable to unbelievers. The testimony is not, "God
says," but, "I think." Where Paul said, "I know,"
his modern counterpart says, "I feel."
Instead of looking to the record given by Christ, millions are lusting
after the excitement of a new experience. They want to find a richer
experience than faith in the gospel because they fail to see the glory
of the gospel, the fact that Christ has made us fit for Himself by
His death and resurrection. They are turning their eyes inward on
themselves, when the true object of our attention should be Christ
and His commandments. The sentiment prevails that those of us who
take refuge in the revealed Word are depending on the "letter"
of the law, where those who exult over experiences are living by the
"Spirit." They fail to understand that evidence of the operation
of the Holy Spirit is not signs and feelings but the fruit of truth.
The experience Jesus demands of us is the experience of obeying His
Once, after Jesus had performed a great miracle, a woman burst forth
and exclaimed, "Blessed is the womb that bare Thee and the paps
that gave Thee suck." Indeed, what an experience Mary had in
being the mother of Messiah. Could there be a greater experience?
Yes! Jesus said, "Yes, rather blessed are they that hear the
Word of God and keep it." (Luke 11:28)
The grace of God is not something that is generated within man or
produced by man's experiences but something which is wrought by
God through Jesus Christ, and that nearly 2,000 years ago on the
cross. It is known to us only through the Scriptures, specifically
in the doctrines concerning Christ's coming into the world as human
flesh, meeting the death penalty on the cross and rising from the
dead in order that believers might also be resurrected to live in
His presence forever. This grace is the same to all people, for
Granted that to realize the forgiveness of sins and the hope of
immortality is a glorious continuing experience and to live under
Christ's commands is to experience many dramatic changes, afflictions
and victories; still it is none of this that gives power to save.
The experience which saves us is that which Christ experienced when
He died on our behalf and then rose from death to be our Mediator
and Sovereign King. We can never experience anything even close
to this. But we can believe it. I can believe that He died in my
place. I can repent and be baptized and know that my sins are forgiven
and know that I have assurance of eternal life.
How do I know? Because He said so.
Thus joy is not dependent upon experiences—these may sometimes be
joyful and sometimes tearful—but it is the product of believing
in Christ, the "peace and joy in believing." (Rom. 15:13)
Nothing that comes in the way of experience can remove this joy
and peace. It is given in power through the Word of God.
. . has spoken unto us in His Son."
from The Witness, January, 1973 (Vol. XIII, No.1). Used by