Following the collision of Christianity and paganism, the true church of Jesus Christ had helped win their freedom only to exchange it for a different slavery. The public proclamation of the gospel of grace steadily changed. The organized church moved away from salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, through the Bible alone. Human works were added to the finished work of Jesus Christ – works like baptism as payment for sin, confession of sins to a human being for the forgiveness of personal sins, commending the purchase of pardons to get out of a strange holding place before one could get into heaven, and the mystic teaching that the communion bread and wine actually become the Lord’s body and blood. To all of this was added the worship of a human being – Mary, who can forgive sins and answer prayer on a par with her Son. The private study and public preaching of the Bible ceased. The word of God supposedly could only come via sermons through priests.
Spiritual darkness fell across the land. The apostle Paul would have been greatly grieved. Satan had apparently won the day, publicly. But behind the scenes, privately and faithfully, God was continuing to guide the light of the His Word to fertile minds. God’s Word cannot be chained (2 Tim. 2:9). How is this known? God’s Word never fails to achieve the purpose for which He sends it – not even once. His Word is like the rain and the snow coming down from heaven. They do not return until giving plants the strength to germinate and grow, giving more seed to plant and bread to eat. Like the water, His word is faithfully sent by Him, and it will always accomplish its purpose. His Word will never return to Him empty; it will always accomplish His pleasure, and it will thrive in the thing for which it was sent (Isa. 55:10).
God’s Word is predictable. God guides it like a laser beam. Paul said that “when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. Forbidden to preach the Word? God the Holy Spirit said No! God did not want His Word to go to Asia at that time. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. The Spirit again said, NO! Amazing! So, passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas, and a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately he sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called him to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:6-10). God guides His word.
The Word of God is also powerful. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Let’s break down that verse. For believers and unbelievers alike, the word of God is living: Living is the Greek word zoe. It is where we get the word “zoology.” The individual words are spiritually alive, having supernatural life within themselves. And powerful: this is the Greek word energes. It is where we get the English word “energy.” God’s Word is always moving; it is never still. It is always commending, convicting, or condemning the listeners. It is faithful to call some unbelievers to faith or condemn others for their failure to listen and believe. God’s Word cannot be chained (2 Timothy 2:9). It can never be stopped – never. And sharper than any two-edged sword: It cuts two ways – piercing (penetrating) even to the division of soul. It cuts and divides the inner earthy activity of the soul. It exposes the carnal fleshly action of lusts and passions within us. And spirit; It also isolates and identifies the inner spiritual activity from God. It is from this location that the voice of the Holy Spirit speaks. The Spirit can be grieved (when believers do that which He warns us not to do) or quenched (when believers fail to use His power to do that which His word tells us to do). And of joints: The joints hold the body together and are close to the surface; easily identified and accessible. Sometimes the secret thoughts of human beings are close to the surface and can be easily identified as carnal or heavenly. This may be our thoughts most of the time And the marrow: In contrast to joints, the bone marrow is located in the deepest parts of the body, deep within the center of the bones, and is not easily accessible. Some inner thoughts – both soulish and spiritual – lie very deep within our minds and are often very complicated, hard to distinguish. The older we get the more implacable (unchangeable) we become. Our minds grow hard and calloused. The Bible alone has the power to search out these thoughts, isolate them, properly identify them – and change them. And is a discerner of the thoughts: the Word of God in our mind becomes our critic, our thought analyzer. It alone can judge correctly and distinguish. Some thoughts may be truly spiritual and heavenly, others not. The Word of God alone can put these thoughts in their proper categories. And intents of the heart: Motives are the secret reasons we choose to do what we do. Some motives surface quickly and are easily judged and categorized by the believer, either earthly or heavenly. Other motives are deep and difficult to judge. Only the Word of God can search them out, expose them, and judge them.
The words of God are always actively doing the will of God in every generation of man. They make a divine impact upon every reader and every hearer – saved or lost. Again, God’s Word convicts some, converts some, and condemns some. It is never neutral. Some readers or hearers are given birth by the Word (John 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:23), others grow in their spiritual life by the Word (2 Pet. 2:2; Acts 20:32), some are sanctified (set apart to God) by the Word (John 17:17), some are cleansed by the Word (Eph. 5:26; John 15:3), and some are protected by the Word (Eph. 6:17). Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35). The word of God always does the will of God – even through ages of darkness.