Stories of the Transforming Power of Scripture
- Explore how the Bible has transformed people's lives
- Believe that the Holy Spirit can transform our lives through the Bible
- Hear stories about the Bible from members of your faith community
As a pastor for forty years, I wrestled with God every Sunday morning. Even though I was (usually) well prepared and had studied the passage carefully and had tried to discern its meaning for me and my congregation, I always approached the pulpit with a helpless feeling. What difference would my words make in anyone's life? What transforming power would my sermon have?
The only answer to my anxiety was prayer. I pleaded with God that these words I had planned and prepared would reflect the truth and power of his Word. I realized in those anxious moments on Sunday mornings that it was God's Word that made the difference, and to the extent that my words reflected and made plain God's Word, something would happen in people's lives.
Week after week, I would hear that in people's remarks after the service, or just see it on their faces as a smile of comfort or a tear of repentance. Often it did not affect people in the ways I expected, but somehow, some way, God's Word spoke to the sinner or soothed the sufferer in ways that were beyond my ability to understand.
The author of Hebrews describes Scripture as a living thing. It's "alive and active." It has a life and a power of its own. And that lively power, the author says, is "sharper than any double-edged sword." It cuts, penetrates, goes deep---not only to the mysteries of the soul and spirit, but to the joints of the body. The idea of the Word of God as a sharp sword is not meant as a warning---as if the Word is a danger to us. We might better think of the surgeon's scalpel, exposing and excising diseased tissue.
The Word of God "judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." That is, the Word tells the truth about us. It cuts away the tissue of self-serving attitudes and self-defeating behavior, exposing it for what it is. Under the piercing light of God's Word, nothing can be hidden. It's like the bright light at the dentist's office, exposing every unflossed gum line and every speck of decay. But, again, it's all in the service of healing and restoration, and under the smile of God's redeeming grace.
When, for example, I read the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, the Spirit might expose my prejudicial glance at some struggling soul who seems beneath me in spiritual maturity. Or when I read Paul's description of the contented life in Philippians 4, the Spirit might expose the excessive time I spend in online shopping, or my constant hunger for a better car. That's the power of God's Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and applied to our hearts by the same Spirit.
Does the Word of God seem “alive and active” in your life?
In what ways have you been “cut” by the sword/scalpel of God’s Word recently?
What’s the difference between the Word of God read or studied and preached?
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