“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”
(Psalm 119:11, NIV)
If you start reading the Bible in Genesis, it shouldn’t be too long before you realize the significance of God’s words. Consider the creation of the world in Genesis 1. Notice how many times “And God said…” or “God called..,” appears. God created everything ex nihilo by speaking words.
Consider how God established His people, Israel – by words (Genesis 12). Consider how He instructed His people in all manners of life – by words, the Law. (Exodus 20-40, Leviticus, Deuteronomy). Consider why God judged His people – for failing to obey His Word (The Prophets). Consider how highly the LORD esteems His word (Psalm 138:2). Consider Jesus Christ, the Logos (John 1:1-3, Luke 24:27). Consider how the church is formed – by proclaiming the gospel (Matthew 18:13-19; 28:19, 1 Cor. 1:18-25). Consider how the Word instructs and protects God’s people from error (Psalm 119:11, 2 Timothy 3:10-17; 4:1-5).
From this very small sampling of Scripture, it should seem obvious how important the Word of God is for His people. Why? Because the Word of God reflects and reveals God and shapes God’s people that we might be conformed to the image of Christ. God’s people were predestined to reflect His glory (Ephesians 3:10-11).
When the church fails to submit to God’s Word, corporately and individually, it becomes ripe for discipline. However, the greater offense is the marring of God’s image and reputation in the world. We ought to learn from OT Israel what defaming His name entailed.
Thabiti Anyabwile wrote a thoughtful article about the effects of neglecting the Word, particularly but not exclusively, in the African American church. May we take heed, lest we fall.
Grace & Peace,