"What think ye of Christ?" (Matt. 22:42) is an oft-quoted and penetrating Biblical question. We could make a second, similar inquiry: what think ye of the Bible? Pause for a moment to answer this question honestly in your heart before God.
Do you consider the Scriptures dry and tasteless? Or do you confess with the psalmist that they are "sweeter…than honey and the honeycomb" (Ps. 19:10)? Is it frequently the case with you that Bible reading is a chore? Or can you say with David that God's Word is "more to be desired…than gold, yea, than much fine gold" (Ps. 19:10)? Or with Jeremiah, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart" (Jer. 15:16)?
And what do you think of the Bible's power or lack of it? Is the Bible a tame book, as harmless as a damp squib or a child's toy? Or is it merely moderately powerful? Never! As if the Word of the omnipotent Triune God could be anything other than almighty! The psalmist knew well its mighty works: "converting the soul…making wise the simple…rejoicing the heart… [and] enlightening the eyes" (Ps. 19:7-8). And what similes or pictures does God use to convey the awesome power of His Word? What images come to your mind? The prophet Jeremiah would have answered immediately, "God's Word is like a fire and a hammer." For it is written, "Is not my word like as a fire? Saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jer. 23:29).
This fire is not the sort of fire that burns in a grate or a fireplace. It is a powerful conflagration like a raging forest fire or a refiner's fire in a massive furnace. Whoever dies in their sins will experience God's powerful word of destruction in the "everlasting burnings" (Is. 33:14). On the other hand, the fire of the Word works constructively and not destructively in the believer. Jesus said, "Sanctify them by thy truth; thy word is truth" (John 17:17). We are sanctified through believing study of the Bible. God's "fiery law" (Deut. 33:2) exposes our sins, and the gospel too comes to us as fire (cf. Luke 12:49). Thus we experience God's fiery cleansing of us as we read the Scriptures.
The Bible is not only a fire; it is also God's hammer. It is not the sort of hammer that drives in nails or tent pegs. It is like a blacksmith's forge hammer or a rock-breaking hammer. God's Word is a long-shafted, heavy sledgehammer. This hammer pulverizes the wicked forever in hell, whereas believers experience God's hammer as it smashes or stubbornness and hard-heartedness. It breaks our hearts and enables us to live for the new man.
A book by a human author may have many fine qualities. It may be interesting and exciting so that you turn its pages eagerly and cannot set it down. But the Bible, as well as being interesting and exciting, is also powerful, divinely powerful, for it is a mighty hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.
It is not only the Bible that is God's hammer but the preaching of the gospel is also God's hammer, as the context of Jeremiah 23:29 shows, and as we shall see later in this series (DV).
- Volume: 8
- Issue: 11
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851