Session 10 — Steve Lawson
Note: What follows is not intended to be a full or exact transcript of what was said.
The Invincible Power of the Inerrant Word
I want to speak to you this morning on, “The Invincible Power of the Inerrant Word.” We understand what the word inerrant means. It means that it is without any errors as it was recorded in its original autographs. This is a flawless book in all that it states.
Psalm 12:6 states, “The words of the LORD are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.” Refined to absolute perfection. It is a flawless book in all that it states.
Psalm 119:140: “Your word is very pure, therefore Your servant loves it.”
Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God is tested,” meaning: it has been put into the fire. There are no impurities that remain. It is the pure gold and silver of the truth of God.
Jesus prayed in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.” The word truth means reality, the way things really are. It does not mean that which the culture or population says that something is. It is not reality as is perceived by us. The word truth means reality: the way things really are. Sin is whatever God says sin is. Salvation is whatever God says salvation is. Heaven and hell are whatever God says heaven and hell are. “Let every man be found a liar. Let God be found true!”
In James 1:25, the Scripture is referred to as the perfect law.
In 1 Peter 2:2, the Bible represents itself as the pure milk of the Word. That is to say, it is unadulterated. It is unvarnished.
The Bible says in Hebrews 6:18, “It is impossible for God to lie.”
Titus 1:2 speaks of “God, who cannot lie.” There are some things that God cannot do. God can never contradict Himself. It is impossible for God to lie, because He is the Truth. And His Son is the Truth. And His Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. And thus the Word of God is the Truth.
Spurgeon said, “If I did not believe in the absolute infallibility of Scripture, I would never enter the pulpit again.” And so it is for all of us who gather here today. If we do not believe in the inerrancy of the Word of God we would never enter a pulpit again. Because the Word of God is inerrant, it is, by necessity, invincible. Because the Word of God is absolutely pure, it is therefore absolutely powerful. Because the Bible is what it claims to be, it is able to do what it claims to do. The word invincible means “incapable of being overcome or subdued,” “incapable of being conquered or debated.” Such is the supernatural power of the Word of God.
The Bible is so invincible that it requires many different symbols to communicate the whole of its power. The Bible is like a beautiful diamond that has many different facets. And when you hold it up to the light, its beauty refracts the light out of each facet, such that no one metaphor can communicate the perfection of the Bible. There are many metaphors.
I want to set before us seven symbols of Sacred Scripture—seven metaphors or analogies that Scripture employs to speak of itself. And I would encourage you to put this outline in the back of your Bible, to preach this outline, and to teach this as a lesson.
The Word of God is a Sword that Pierces (Heb 4:12–13)
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
The Word of God is not a Q-Tip that tickles. It is a sword that pierces. It is not a feather. It is a sword. And if the Word of God is not a sword in your hand, you are not preaching the Word of God.
What the Bible is
- It is the Divine Word
It is, “the word of God.” It is not the word of man, of society, of tradition, or of religion. It has come down to us from above. It has not originated with us or in this world; it has come down from the throne of God above.
- It is the Living Word
“The word of God is living.” It is alive. It speaks in this very hour. In Hebrews 3:7, note the verb tense: “Just as the Holy Spirit says.” And then he quotes from Psalm 95:7. Not “said,” past tense, but, “. . . what the Spirit says,” present tense. This book is alive.
That is the emphasis that is made in the original language. The order of the words is this: “Living, for the word of God is.” It’s put in the emphatic position. It’s as if the author of Hebrews has taken a yellow highlighter and underscored the word living. This isn’t just an ancient book. It’s alive.
Martin Luther said, “The Bible is alive; it speaks to me. It has feet; it runs after me. It has hands; it lays hold of me.” Surely this book has grabbed you by the lapels. Surely this book has laid hold of your heart.
Jesus said in John 6:63, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” Every other book in reality is a dead book, unless it contains the living Word of God. The Bible is more up to date than tomorrow’s newspaper. You want to have a contemporary ministry? Great. Preach the Bible. It’s the most contemporary relevant message that there is.
- It is Active
“Energēs,” from which we get the word energetic. The Bible is full of energy. This book is never flat. There have been many times that I’ve walked into a pulpit and I’ve been tired. But this book is never tired. And when I begin to preach, the energy of this book begins to surge through my soul.
This book is never tired, never listless. It is active. It never takes a day off. It is never on sabbatical. It never needs a rest. It is active. When you preach this book it continues to work. Even after you go home and go to sleep, the word of God continues to carry out its work in His people.
- It is Sharper than Any Two-Edged Sword
It is the sharpest weapon in any arsenal in the world. No surgeon’s scalpel can compare with its cutting power. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. There is not a dull side in the Bible. It cuts both ways. There is not a flat book, a dull chapter, or a blunt verse. Every verse in the entire Bible is razor sharp. It can cut and make a penetrating cut.
That’s what the Bible is. You should never go into the pulpit unarmed.
What the Bible Does
- It Pierces
Verse 12: “. . . piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow. . . .” This book is so razor sharp that it penetrates through the outward facades of men and women. It cuts through the excuses they would hold up. It plunges into the depth of the heart. It cuts to the core of the inner person and gets to the bottom of one’s life. Every other human message is superficial. It just lays on the surface. It massages the ego; it may stroke the temple. But this book plunges down into the depth of a person’s soul. It gets beneath the surface. It does not inflict a mere flesh wound, but it plunges into the vital organs, down into the heart.
- It Judges
“. . . and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” There is the sufficiency of Scripture. It is able. It is more than able. It is able to judge, kritikos; from which we get critique, critic. The Scripture is able to perfectly critique the human heart. It is able to judge the soul and render the divine verdict. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart.
And it is the ministry of this sharp, two-edged sword that is able to penetrate and judge what no one else can see—what you alone know about yourself, or perhaps even that which has not yet been made known to you by the Word. It gets so down deep into the crevices of your soul that is able to judge the thoughts—those secret thoughts and intentions—the inner desires, the personal ambitions, the driving motives, the deepest attitudes. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. That’s how razor sharp the word is.
Note verse 13: “And.” This means that what is found in verse 13 continues with the same flow of verse 12. There is no creature—no one in your congregation, ministry, house, no creature—hidden from His sight. “His,” refers to God, who is omniscient and knows all things and sees into the inner thought life.
There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open. And in this context, what this is saying is that God sees into the inner heart long before the piercing word cuts into the soul to peel back the layers of the man’s heart. And as the Word is ministered, we are enabled to see ourselves as God sees us. We are able to see something of what God sees when God looks into the depths of the heart.
All things—actions, attitudes, intentions—are out in the open because of the ministry of the Word of God. It exposes everything. This word for open is gymnos, from which we get the term gymnasium. In that day, when you would go to a gym to exercise you would strip down so there would be no restrictions—not even clothing—that would hold you back from truly working out. This verse says it is the Word of God that strips us down and makes us naked before a holy God. And we are allowed to see ourselves, for the very first time, as God sees us. This Word strips away all pretenses, excuses, cover-ups, fig leaves, and leaves the human soul naked before God.
And note the next words: “. . .and laid bare. . . .” We are stripped down and then laid bare under the piercing, two-edged sword. The word means, “to seize by the neck,” “to expose the throat or neck of a victim for killing.” They would take the sacrificial lamb and pull back the neck and the priest would slit the throat. That is what the Word of God does. It renders the death blow to pride, to self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, self-flattery.
“. . . laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Or better, “to whom we must give an account.” Literally, “to whom is our word,” or “to whom we must answer.” It is the Word of God that establishes our direct accountability to God, as it cuts down into the depths of a person’s soul.
No one will ever be saved apart from such heart-rending conviction and exposure of the soul before God, which leaves one in the sense of the conviction of sin and the desperate and dire need of a Savior, in His grace, to perform open heart surgery and give him a new heart.This is what happened on Pentecost. Peter unsheathed the sharp two-edged sword, and, Acts 2:37, they were pierced to the heart.
Men, I call upon us as we minister the Word of God, to take up the sharp two-edged sword. It is the invincible weapon of the minister. Never enter into the pulpit unarmed! Unsheathe the sword! Wield the sword of the Spirit! Put down all other plastic forks, all other butter knives, all human crafted utensils, and take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God!
- It is a Mirror that Reveals (James 1:23)
Once the heart is opened up, and the chest cavity is made bare before God by the plunging sword of the Spirit, now the mirror of the Word is held up. James 1:23: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror. . . .”
He is likening the Word of God to a mirror. What do you do with a mirror? A mirror gives you self-knowledge. A mirror enables you to see yourself as you truly are. A mirror tells it like it is. A mirror gives a true reflection and revelation of what’s on the inside.
There is a real sense in which I never truly knew myself until I began to read the Word of God. I grew up in a Norman Rockwell type of home. I was the firstborn child; my parents doted on me. My father loved me; my mother adored me. On top of that, my mother’s sister lived with us as I grew up, so I had two mothers. They catered to me, did everything for me, affirmed me, praised me. And then I played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track. I went to pep rallies, would stand in front of the student body, would be given trophies; the cheerleaders would cheer my name. I went off to college and played football; the sororities cheer your name. Then I began to read my Bible. And I wasn’t quite sure what everyone else was saying.
When I went to college, all I had was the Living Bible translation of the New Testament. And I took that book wherever I went. I would go to class, lean back against the wall, and read my Bible. No commentary, no study Bible, no Christian book under heaven; just a Bible and several colors of a felt pen. And I just read my New Testament every day, week after week. And as I read this book it was like someone was reading my heart, like someone was doing inventory of my soul. And this book was not cheering and applauding me, in the sense of flattering me. This book was giving me the accurate picture within my soul of who I truly am, and of my dire need for grace.
You and I need to be holding up the mirror as we preach. And you and I need to be standing behind that mirror, such that our people don’t see us, but are able to look into this mirror and see themselves.
There’s been many a time after I’ve preached when I can see, over in the corner, a shy man whose wife has made him come to church. And he’s waiting for everyone to leave so he can come up to me privately. He would say this: “Have you been talking to my wife?” Because it seems that I know more about him than what he knows about him. And I would say, “No, I haven’t spoken to your wife at all.” He says, “Yes you have.” I say, “No, I haven’t!” The Word of God is like a mirror that reveals yourself to yourself.
Listen: no one will ever be saved until they see themselves for who they are and what they are. And no one will ever be sanctified without looking to the prefect law of liberty and see where there needs to be improvements and corrections.
The Bible is a mirror that reveals. And every verse is a mirror that reveals. I was preaching not long ago in the church that I pastored, and I preached through one of the softest messages I ever preached. It was 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient.” I thought it was going to have no effect on anyone. It was like, “Go into all the world and smile.” But at the end I spoke about how Christ is the personification of this virtue of love, and how patient He has been toward us, and does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9). And as soon as I finished, a man bolted toward me. And he had that look, for God had a hold of him. He said, “I’ve come to church today by myself, because no one in my family will come with me because I am so impatient, so domineering and overbearing and over the top. You have spoken of God’s patience toward us in Christ, and the need that I have to be patient.” And there on the front pew of the church after everyone had left, that man was born again.
You can talk about the culture, and society, and give book reviews, and quote poems, and talk about TV shows and movies. And it is has the opposite effect. When you hold up the Word as a mirror, your people see themselves and they see their dire need for grace, and they come to Christ.
- It is a Seed that Germinates, and Regenerates, and Reproduces (1 Pet 1:23)
“For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”
Sovereign regeneration. Monergistic regeneration. God acting on the spiritually dead soul. The new birth is the life of God in the soul of a man. It is the spiritually dead soul now becoming the recipient of the life of God. A person becomes a new creature in Christ. The old has gone and the new has come. And you have received a new life in Christ, totally unlike anything you have ever experienced to this point. In fact, it is eternal life in the soul. Heaven comes to us before we ever go to heaven.
This is how you were born again: not of seed which is perishable. A perishable seed can only reproduce a life after its own kind. Apple seeds do not produce bowling alleys. Apple seeds produce apple trees, and apples. There’s a fundamental principle in life: like produces like. You were born again, not of seed which is perishable—eternal life is not by a perishable seed that only gives temporal life—but imperishable seed.
A seed is a remarkable thing. A seed contains an embryo of a plant within it, ready to be germinated for propagation. Within a seed there is the ability to reproduce. It is capable of germination. What is this seed? That is, through the living and enduring Word of God. A supernatural life comes only from a supernatural seed. Eternal life comes from a seed that is living and enduring. It would be easier to grow oak trees by planting marbles than for someone to get saved without the planting of this seed in the soil of their hearts. The seed is the Word of God (Lk 8:11).
It is “living and enduring.” It never perishes or dies, and so it produces a life that never perishes or dies. Jesus said in John 11 though you die you will live forever.
Here is what is true about your ministry: you reap what you sow. If you sow a worldly message you will sow a worldly church. If you sow secular humanism and pop psychology and philosophical thoughts and personal experiences and political commentary, you will reap an unconverted church. But if you sow the living and enduring Word of God under the auspices of the sovereignty of God who can cause that seed to germinate, you will have a regenerate church.
Spurgeon said, “I would rather preach five words out of this book than 50,000 words of the philosophers. If we want revivals, we must revive our reverence for the Word of God. And if we want conversion, we should put more of God’s Word in our sermons.” Less of you, more of God.
- It is Milk that Nourishes (1 Peter 2:2–3)
Once one has been sovereignly regenerated by the Holy Spirit, causing the seed of the Word to spring forth with life, in 1 Peter 2 he talks about the spiritual growth of the one who is born again. And he makes another analogy: “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”
There’s the inerrancy of Scripture. The pure milk.
And milk: the primary source of nutrition. Babies are able to digest milk before other foods. Milk contains antibodies that provide protection for disease. Milk has nutrients that cause growth. As we minister the Word of God, we must be feeding our people the milk of the Word. No one’s spiritual development will advance beyond their intake of the Word of God. None of us will be advance beyond the measure of the Word of God that is flowing into us like milk.
And he says why in verse 3: so that by it—the means of the Word of God—you may grow—develop, mature, advance, increase in godliness—in respect to salvation, which refers to sanctification. The Word is to be taken up and digested, and it produces spiritually strong bones and healthy hearts and a strong immune system that is able to fight off spiritual diseases.
“How shall a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to your word.” “Your word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against You.” It is the Word of God treasured in our heart that enables us to resist temptation. You remember Jesus in the wilderness? At the end of 40 days and 40 nights are the three climactic temptations, as the devil throws the artillery of hell against the sinless Son of God. Jesus said, “It is written.” With each advance, Jesus unsheathes the sword of the Spirit and repels the advances and temptations of Satan by the Word of God. This is how you and I will remain faithful in our pursuit of holiness: by the grace of God and by the Word of God.
- It is a Lamp that Shines (Ps 119:105)
“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”
We live in a very dark world. It is becoming darker by the moment. There are many dangers and perils and snares that threaten the safety of all who travel the narrow path that leads to life. Many travelers have suffered disaster on their way to glory. We live in a dark world. We need light to lead our way—to see the bends in the road, and the dangers that are lurking there for us.
The Word of God is a lamp giving necessary light for all the travelers. This is not an option for a few of us; it is a necessity for every one of us. The light shines brightest in the darkest hour of the night. And this lamp of God’s Word has never shone any brighter than in this very hour, as we live in a sinful and adulterous generation, in times that are unprecedented on many levels. It is the Word of God shining the light on our path. It is as we stand behind pulpits and ministering the Word of God that we hold forth the light.
Proverbs 6:23: “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light.” You’re to be a torch-bearer.
Psalm 19:8: “The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.”
2 Peter 1:19: “So we have the more sure prophetic word, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
Dr. MacArthur has shared with me that the number one thing they say to him after he preaches is, Oh, I see it now. The light is shining as we open the book and people see with a Christian worldview, through a Christian lens. And they see now, with light shining in a dark age.
It says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet.” Not head, ears, heart, but feet. It presupposes that it’s come into the head by the eyes or ears, and it presupposes that this light has shined into the heart. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s not real until it affects the feet. What we learn we must live. We must put it into practice.
Boice writes, “We don’t know how to live our lives, but the Bible shines on the path before us to expose the wrong dangerous ways we might take and light up the right way.” It is the inerrant Word that gives infallible guidance.
Spurgeon said, “Everything in the railway system depends on the accuracy of the symbols. … On the road to heaven we must have unerring signals, or the catastrophes will be far more terrible.” Only one source that gives infallible signals, inerrant guidance: the lamp of the word of God. your pulpit needs to be the brightest place in town, piercing the darkness.
- It is a Fire that Consumes (Jer 23:29)
“‘Is not My word like fire?’ declares the LORD.”
That’s a rhetorical question, the answer of which is so obvious that God won’t even answer it. You know the answer. It is a powerful form of communication. This is not a question; it’s a statement. There are many positive uses of fire: gives light, heat, energy, can cook with it. But this is intended in a very negative fashion in this sense: it is this fire that consumes and burns up all that with which it comes in contact that is resistant to the Word of God.
In this larger context in this chapter, the reference is to prophets who prophesies falsely and speak out of the deception of their own heart, who make God’s people forget God’s name, who relate their dream that have nothing to do with God’s Word. God is against these prophets. God will punish these prophets and all who follow their abominable message. God Himself is a consuming fire, and God’s Word is like a fire. God promises judgment and will consume all that is not built upon the solid rock that is His Word. Jeremiah 5:14: “Behold, I am making My words in your mouth fire And this people wood, and it will consume them.” He will consume all unbelief and bring a fire of judgment for all who do not turn to the Lord, repent of their sins, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. This too is part of our message. It will cause our people to be blessed or burned; either on fire or in the fire; on fire for God, or in the fire of God. And there is no mediating position in between.
And how we need, in this hour, men who will stand up and preach like Jonathan Edwards! “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”! Oh, we preach the grace and the mercy of God, but we need Romans 1 as much as we need Romans 3. Both/and.
This is a red-hot book. The Scriptures are sizzling. It is the hottest message this world has ever heard. And when you’re called to preach, you’re called to play with fire.
- It is a Hammer that Shatters (Jer 23:29)
“Is not My word like fire?’ declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”
This is another rhetorical question, the answer of which is, “Yes, Amen.” It is a statement that the Word of God is like a hammer that shatters a rock. It is like a sledgehammer. And little weak men stand in a pulpit, with a sledgehammer. And they bring the force of the Word of God to bear upon the heart that is resistant. And it shatters pride. And it crushes and smashes self-righteousness.
In this verse, the rock is the false prophets mentioned in the previous and following verses, along with those who are in allegiance with their message. They are hard-headed, hard-hearted, uncircumcised of heart; they have a heart of stone resistant to the truth of God. Their lives and hearts are unresponsive to the things of God. They’re spiritually dead like a rock. How will they ever be brought to humility before the throne of grace? By this invincible weapon: the Word of God, that breaks down all resistance in the day of God’s power. This hammer is harder than the hardest heart, thickest forehead, the stoniest soul, the most rock-like unbelief. It is this hammer that administers the death blow to self and smashes self-trust and brings a man or a woman to a place of humility before God, to call upon His name for the grace and mercy that he needs.
This is the invincible power of the inerrant Word. I call you this day to wield the word, to hold forth the mirror, to scatter the seed, to serve the milk, to hold up the lamp, to spread the flame, to swing the hammer. And stop with the secular wisdom in the pulpit! Cancel the entertainment in the church! Fire the drama team! Get rid of the shtick! Unplug the colored lights! Put the pulpit back in the center of the building! Stand up like a man, open the Bible, lift it up, let it out, and let it fly!
It is the invincible power of the inerrant Word.