The Living and Abiding Word

John Sweat


The Word in Redemptive History

In the beginning, the LORD spoke and brought all of creation into existence. Life under the sun tells us that out of nothing comes nothing. But when the uncreated, self-sufficient Triune God speaks, things which are not become things which are (Heb 11:3). The voice of the LORD went out each day—“And God said.” and without delay “it was so.”

The power and surety of God’s Word is seen throughout the Old Testament, especially surrounding the establishment of covenants. The LORD confirmed the covenant with Abram giving his word in an oath, thereby swearing by no one greater than himself (Heb 6:13–18) that the promises of the covenant would come to pass. The word of the LORD came to Moses in the burning bush, in response to Israel’s sufferings (Exod 3:7–9) and in keeping his promise to Abraham (Gen 15:12–16; Exod 3:15). At Mt. Sinai the LORD descended upon the mountain to consecrate and create the nation of Israel via a national covenant. As the LORD spoke the words of the covenant, the people of Israel were terrified and pleaded with Moses that God will no longer talk directly to them but rather through Moses as a mediator (Exod 20:18–19). We see the Word of the LORD come to David (2 Sam 7), and then to the nation of Israel through the LORD’s mouthpieces, enforcing God’s covenant with the nation.

The Word Made Flesh

But in these last days, the Word of the LORD has come in flesh, the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth (John 1:14–18). While God spoke in various ways in the Old Testament, there is a finality and fullness of the Son speaking in the last days (Heb 1:1). Jesus is the full and greater prophet, speaking for God not merely as a mouth piece for God but God himself in flesh, speaking with full authority as the one who is from the Father and equal to the Father (John 5:17; 10:30, 38). Scripture moves to and from the promised Son who would accomplish redemption and bring many sons to glory (Heb 2:10). The Word of God is centered on the Word of God made flesh.

The Word and the Spirit

As the Word of the gospel goes forth, the Spirit takes that Word and brings sinners from death to life, a new creation! Paul references Genesis 1:3 in comparing the transforming work of the gospel in sinners to God’s original work of creation. God spoke creation into existence, and God spoke a new creation into existence by the Word of the gospel. Second Corinthians 4:6 says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” In the very next chapter Paul makes this comparison between the original creation and salvation as a new creation. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

The voice of the LORD comes by way of the Word of God through the Spirit. In other words, the Spirit works through the Word. The living and abiding Word comes to us through the Spirit, causing us to be born again on the basis of God’s mercy and the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:3; 2:23). This Word is living and imperishable, and when the Spirit takes this word and applies it to sinners, this Word is effectual. The Spirit calls us effectually through the Word and unites us to Christ, the incarnate Word, through the umbilical cord of faith. All graces and privileges earned by Christ are the believer’s through this union by the Spirit.

The Word and the Christian Life

God’s Word not only calls us to salvation, but God’s Word calls us to worship. God’s Word calls us to ascribe glory to the LORD and to worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness (Ps 29:1–2). He calls us to plunge the depths of His Word so that our worship might reach the heights of heaven. As we grow in our knowledge of Him by the Word, we will grow in our longing and love for him that will exude in our worship. The Word of the LORD is powerful, effectual, sure, and satisfying. It reveals to us who God is, exposes us for who we are, and conforms us to the image of the Son. The Word is vital for our growth in godliness and communion with God as much as milk is vital for the growth of a newborn baby (1 Pet 2:2–3).

Christian, do not be discouraged by what you do not understand or do not know concerning God’s Word. Satan would love to remind you of your inadequacies and convince you that reading the Word is futile or that you are too simple to understand. He would love to discourage you by highlighting your inadequacies. The Serpent does not come into your home binding you physically from reading the Word. No, he is crafty and subtle. He wounds your heart by bringing doubt, and he distracts your soul through entertainment, mindless talks, vanity, a host of worldly distractions, and even good things. The sinful flesh and Satan’s favorite reassuring line is, “There is always tomorrow.” All the while, our souls are malnourished and our hearts become increasingly infatuated with the world as we feed our souls with the food of Egypt rather than with the sweet honey of the Word.

Resist him, Christian. Feed your soul with the Word. Be encouraged! John Murray reminds us that we are not alone,

God has not left us to our own resources in the study of his Word. There is the never-failing promise and ever-present ministry of the Holy Spirit. He is the author of the Word and it is his peculiar prerogative to illuminate the Scripture [1 Cor 2:12–1] and to seal its truths upon our hearts.1John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray, 1: The Claims of Truth (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), 8. Pray to the Father for understanding of the Word by the Spirit. Furthermore, we have our local church full of brothers, sisters, and pastors who would love to dig into the Word with you and hear about what passages of Scripture you are wrestling with. I pray we will dig deep into the living and abiding Word, dwelling in it, meditating on it, and praying over it so that we might know God, worship Him, and share Him with others.

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1 John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray, 1: The Claims of Truth (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), 8.
Author Open-Bible-Church-Reformation

John Sweat

Pastor Covenant Community Church

John Sweat is a Marine Veteran and a bi-vocational pastor at Covenant Community Church in Lake Butler, FL. He is an individual member of the Reformed Baptist Network and holds two MA degrees from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. John is the co-host of Pilgrim Talk. John and his wife, Heather, have four girls. They are proud Florida natives but rabid Georgia Bulldog fans.