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  • Writer's pictureMcYoung Y. Yang

The Power of His Word



This is Power

 

The Apostle Paul exhorts the church of Corinth with these amazing words, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power (1 Cor. 4:20; italics mine)." Least some would assume that the “power” Paul is referring to be consolidated toward merely signs and wonders, the context of 1 Corinthians doesn’t hermeneutically support that conclusion. Rather, Paul is speaking against words merely conjured for the sake of rhetorical composition—for the sake of argument. In his Greco-Roman context, this would be enough. However, Paul has a more high and lofty view of the Word, he has a view that generates power to give life, transform hearts/minds, and provide spiritual sensitivities. Or as the Apostle says himself, “my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom (in accords with the Greco-Roman rhetorical context), but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (conversion from death to life), so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5; italics mine; cf. Rom. 1:16; 15:19; 16:25). 

 

To this end, if this is Paul’s vision as it pertains to the Word, how might our view of Scripture change in order to mirror the Apostle’s view? Or said differently, is our understanding and, thus, our reliance upon the power of God’s Word too low? Have we been consumed by modern and postmodern ideals? 

 

The Mighty Sword of God

 

The aim of this blog article, then, will be to provide theological categories in grasping the powerful wonder of God’s mighty Word. In doing so, we will examine three categories: (1) God’s Word creates and recreates, (2) God’s Word has authority to govern, and (3) God’s Word as His presence.[1]

 

Creates/Recreates. The God of the bible is a God who speaks. By His trinitarian nature, He communicates interpersonally between Father, Son, and Spirit. As John M. Frame helpfully articulates, “God’s Word is God, and God is His Word.”[2]His Word is powerful and is never void of divine intent for self-glorification (cf. Isa. 55:11).[3]

 

In the beginning of creation, we see that the Creator God Himself creates all things by the power of His Word. His Word is neither stale nor stagnate. Rather, it is dynamic, purposeful, and prevailing.[4] The Word brings to fruition things that were not; that is, through God’s mighty power He creates ex nihilo. Psalm 33:6 and 9 contends, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. . . For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.” The Word of God is powerful in its nature and providentially guided in its aim. 

 

Furthermore, the Eternal Logos Christ Jesus Himself—who is the second person of the Godhead—is the incarnate Word (cf. John 1:1-3; 14).[5] He is the redemptive medium by which God recreates image bearers by grace through faith (cf. Rom. 3:25-26; 4:13, 16; 8:29; Eph. 2:8). Just as He brought to fruition the created order through nothing in the power of His Word, the incarnate Word brings forth life out of the darkness of fallen man (cf. Rom. 3:10-18; Eph. 2:1). To this end, the Apostle Paul exclaims, “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” (2 Cor. 4:6; italics mine). 

 

Authority to Govern. The Creator God Himself “upholds (Gk. pheró) the universe by the Word of His power” (Heb. 1:3; italics mine). Creation finds its sustenance and fuel through the Eternal Logos (cf. Col. 1:17; 2 Pet. 3:4-7).[6] Creation’s intended telos is dependent and, thus, revealed through His Word. This world, as espoused by atheistic tendencies, is not conjured aimlessly nor void of purpose. In addition, the upholding nature of God’s Word provides objective truth, morality, and order that guides the fabric of all creation. Without divine statues foolishness and folly reign (cf. Jer. 4:22; Pro. 10:8; Ps. 74:18). Without transcendent guidance irrationality and absurdity dominates.[7] As Frame goes on further to contend, 

 

The idea that God communicates with human beings in personal words pervades all of Scripture, and it is central to every doctrine of Scripture. If God has, in fact, not spoken to us personally, then we lose any basis for believing in salvation by grace, in judgement, in Christ’s atonement—indeed, for believing in the biblical God at all. Indeed, if God has not spoken to us personally, then everything important in Christianity is human speculation and fantasy.[8]

 

Presence of God. When discussing the Word, we must differentiate between the Eternal Logos and the inscripturated Logos. Though these two presentations of the Logos must not be severed, there is a clear conceptual distinction that must be made when discussing this matter. 

 

The Eternal Logos, first of all, speaks to the second Person of the Godhead and their union in the one divine essence of God. As the Hebrew author extols, “[Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3a; italics mine). Meaning, Jesus “represents the nature (Gk. ὑπόστασις) and character of the one true God. He reveals who God is, and thus He must share the divine identity.”[9]

 

Secondly, the Word is the inscripturated Logos; namely, the bible itself. The Word embodies the covenantal presence of God. Just as a photograph represents loved ones, friends, and companions, the inscripturated Word is the covenantal documents impersonating the covenant bond and union between God and His people.[10] Similar to the marital documents that solidify the legal union between a man and a woman, the Scriptures themselves signify the oracles of God given to His people in covenantal union (cf. Rom. 3:2; 9:4-5). All this to say, just as the presence of God resided with the nation of Israel through the tabernacle housing the ten commandments in the arc of the covenant, the presence of God resides with His new covenant people—the church—through abiding in His Word (cf. Jn. 14-16). Simply put, God’s presence dwells with His people through the emblematic mode of the inscripturated Word.[11]

 

Be Aware

 

The Word of God is not merely the materialistic contours of the codex, nor is it consolidated to a collection of papyri. Rather, the Word of God is the power of God that governs, guides, and informs the Christian life in salvation and divine purpose. These truths are not sheer propositional criterions to meditate upon, but rather transcendent realities to live by.[12] They must inform the life of the church and charge her very existence to submit her ways to His voice. 

 

In an age where content and intellect are at the tip of our fingers, the church must distinguish herself between the other worldly wisdom that is found in the Creator God Himself over and against the philosophical and ideological framings of this fallen world. That is to say, the inception and fruitfulness of the church is not reliant upon human ingenuity. Rather, the causation and faithfulness of the church is found upon this truth—that the church is a creature of the Word. Soli Deo Gloria!


 

Footnotes


[1] See Frame, John M. The Doctrine of the Word of God. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2010. I am indebted to Frame’s triperspectival taxonomy which formulates a cogent and rational ordering to contemplate and apply the outworking of the doctrine of the Word of God.  

 

[2] Ibid., 48.

 

[3] Ibid., 47-53. 

 

[4] Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen, The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story, 2nd Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014), 30.

 

[5] Andreas J. Köstenberger and Scott R. Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel, NSBT (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2008), 49-50. 

 

[6] Thomas R. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews: Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation (Nashville, TN; Holman Reference, 2015), 56-58.

 

[7] Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics, 2nd Ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2005), 25-27. 

 

[8] Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God, 6. 


[9] Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 57. 

 

[10] See Michael J. Kruger, “The Apostolic Origin of the Canon” in Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 160-194. See also Matthew Barrett, “The Book of the Covenant and Canon Consciousness” in Canon, Covenant and Christology: Rethinking Jesus and the Scriptures of Israel, NSBT (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2020), 41-96.

 

[11] See Michael S. Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 135-150.

 

[12] Ibid., 123-129.

 

McYoung Y. Yang (MDiv, SBTS; ThM, MBTS) is the husband to Debbie and a father to their four children. He is a Pastor of Preaching/Teaching at Covenant City Church in St. Paul, MN and the Executive Editor of Covenant City Church Content Team. Along with his ministerial duties, he is a homeschool dad. McYoung is continuing his doctoral studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO, and his ambition is to use his training as a means to serve the local church in living life through the Gospel lens.

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