Friday, October 14, 2016

"The Word of His Power"

Hebrews 1.2b, 3b NASU

“His Son… upholds all things by the word of His power.”

The original purpose of the book of Hebrews was to demonstrate the supremacy of Christ in all things for 1st century Jewish converts to Christianity. The book is filled with quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures all of which point to the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who “upholds all things by the word of His power”.

I am intrigued by the phrase “the word of His power”. The ‘power of His word’ implies that God’s spoken or written word contains power in and of itself and that, while the source of the power is God, it achieves independence once it is so imbued.

“The word of His power” suggests God’s power is the central thing and the word’s sole purpose is to express the character of a God who is all powerful.

As incredible as it sounds, highly focused concentration on the written word (the Bible) and the spoken word (preaching) may actually lead one away from the author of the word (Jesus). I can imagine Christians who simply ‘put in their time’ reading the Bible but miss out on the power of God and the inspiration He yearns to impart from the Scriptures. At the other extreme, I have known believers who presume the word of God has power apart from God Himself thus reducing the Bible and its application to magic and something unholy.

It is quite possible for a believer to confuse the Bible with God. The sin of ‘bibolatry’ is deceptively sanctimonious and perhaps even more dangerous than other forms of idol worship insofar as the sinner deludes himself into believing the pursuit of mastery of the Scriptures equates to holiness. Self-righteousness is the obvious result. True Bible study should be an act of humility. The purpose for reading the Bible is to achieve transformation of the soul, not simply to gain information about God. We must not make a god of Bible knowledge. God Himself is the sole object of our praise and adoration. The first and second commandments make that truth abundantly clear:

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything
in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.”
Deuteronomy 5.7-8 NIV

The Greek text of Hebrews 1.3 should be translated “the word of His power” and is so recorded in a variety of Bible versions which lean more toward literal than readable renditions (NASB, NASU, NKJV, KVJ, ESV, ASV). In these translations, God retains the power and the word is nothing more or less than a window into that reality. The word then is a portal through which I may come into contact with the raw nature and unleashed power of God Almighty!

I long to encounter God when I read the Bible. Having heard “the word of His power”, I must push through the text to the heart of Jesus. May God move me beyond the threshold of His word and into the living space of His existence, beyond the safe shoreline of His written truth and into the limitless depths of His immeasurable power.

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