(Originally appeared in Songs in the Night, copyright Warren W. Wiersbe)
Never underestimate the power of a book. I am told that for every word in Hitler’s Mein Kampf, 125 people lost their lives in Word War II. In 1848, Marx and Engels published a little pamphlet called the Communist Manifesto; and today nearly half of the world is living under communist influence. Never underestimate the power of a book especially the power of God’s Book, the Bible. “For the word of God is living and powerful,” and the Word of God can change your life.
Nearly fifty years ago, the famous evangelist Gypsy Smith came to Chicago for a series of meetings. A man came to one of the meetings carrying a brick which he intended to throw at the evangelist, so he could start a riot and break up the meeting. When Gypsy Smith walked out to preach, for some reason he looked straight at the young man with the brick, and said: “Young man, Jesus loves you!” And then he began to preach the Word of God.
The next morning, the young man visited Gypsy Smith at the evangelist’s hotel room, and told him what he had intended to do. But instead of hitting the preacher with a brick, the young man had been hit by the Word of God. That day he gave his heart to Jesus Christ. Three years later, back in England, Gypsy Smith received a Christmas greeting signed by sixteen students who had just graduated from the Moody Bible Institute. The first name on the list was that of the young man who had carried the brick!
The Word of God has the power to change men’s lives. While traveling to a preaching engagement, John Wesley was stopped by a highwayman who took all of his money. As the man started to leave, Wesley said to him: “The time may come when you will regret the course of life in which you are engaged. Remember this: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.’” Years later, when Wesley was leaving a church, a man stopped him and asked him if he remembered being robbed at such a time, in such a place. Wesley said that he did. “I was the man who robbed you,” the stranger said. “That single verse was the means to a total change in my life and habits.”
Some missionaries to the interior of Brazil stopped to hold a meeting in a village. At the close of the meeting, a young man stepped up and said: “We believe we have a book like yours.” He hurried home and came back with a Bible. Ten years before, the man and some friends had been swimming in the river and saw the book caught in some driftwood. The man took it home, dried it out, and started to read it. As a result, twenty villagers became Christians.
“The word of God is living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12). Men may laugh at the Bible, criticize the Bible, and even reject the Bible; but it goes on working in divine power to accomplish God’s purposes on this earth. When you and I surrender to the Word of God, then God’s power goes to work in our lives and wonderful changes take place. The living Word of God makes us part of God’s eternal plan and releases in our lives God’s divine power.
What is the source of the power that is found in the Bible? Why has the Bible weathered all the storms of criticism and opposition that have swept across its pages? What is the secret of its greatness? The answer is really quite simple: the Bible is God’s Word. It was not written the way any other book was written, even though human authors were used to pen its pages. It was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” says II Timothy 3:16; and II Peter 1:21 states, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Inspiration is a miracle; so any human definition or explanation that we suggest will have its limitations. But this we know: the Holy Spirit of God used the heads and hearts and hands of holy men of God, and through them wrote the Word of God. Each writer’s distinctive personality is retained; yet what he wrote is the very Word of God. It is God’s Book, and because it is God’s Book, God’s power is in it.
Just think for a moment how powerful God’s Word really is. There was a time when there was no universe; then God spoke His Word, and Worlds came into being. This universe was created by the Word of God, and it is being controlled and held together by that same Word of God.
Or consider the miracles of Jesus Christ. He merely spoke the Word, and diseases vanished from men’s bodies; storms quieted down and went to sleep like little babies; men came back to life again! The Word of the Lord is powerful—and this Word is available to you and me today. God still speaks in and through His Word. His promises are just as powerful today as when they were spoken centuries ago. The same Holy Spirit who wrote the Word is with us today to make that Word powerful in our lives. “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” said Jesus, “but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31).
As you and I put our faith in the Word of God and obey what God says, we discover that God’s power goes to work in our lives. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to control our minds and hearts, to cleanse us, to create in us desires that glorify God. Living by faith in the Word of God is really the only sensible way to live.
I recall the first time I stepped into a public library, many years ago. Our first grade teacher had marched us all down the boulevard to get our library cards, and from that day on I have been a lover and reader of good books. I wish know I had kept a record of all the books I have read. But the Bible is radically different from any other book that you and I can read. I can read Shakespeare, or Mark Twain, or Charles Dickens, and enjoy their books without ever having met the authors. But not so with the Bible. The Bible will not really reach your heart unless you know the Author.
You see, the Bible is basically a love story. It tells how men love themselves and love sin, and so have turned away from God’s love. And it tells how God in His love has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to bring men back to God. “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). This wonderful love story begins in the Garden of Eden, when God shed the blood of an animal in order to clothe the first guilty sinners. It continues at Calvary, where Jesus Christ shed His blood for the sins of the world. And this love story is going to reach its grand conclusion when Jesus Christ returns from heaven to take His people home to live with Him forever.
The Bible has no power in the life of the person who does not personally know the Author. Unless you and I have confessed our need to God and claimed His salvation through faith in Christ, we can never experience the power of the Word of God. “But the natural man [the unsaved man] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).
Once you know the Author, the Bible becomes a thrilling new book. I have some books in my library that I thought were pretty dull. Then I met the authors, and I must confess that the books have taken on new interest and meaning. So with the Bible. When you know Jesus Christ personally, then His Word becomes His personal message to you…and this message releases God’s power in your life.
Spend time daily with the Word of God. Read it carefully. Pray over it. Meditate on it. Memorize it and think about it during the day. Claim the promises that God gives you, and be sure to obey the commandments as well. Then you will know what it means when the Bible says, “For the word of God is living and powerful.”
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).