6 Functions of the Living Word of God
Hebrews 4:12 says that “the word of God is living and operative.” The Bible is a living book, and as a living book, it is very active. It functions to do many things both for God and for us. In the following sections, we’ll look at some verses that show six of the primary functions of the living and operative word of God.
The Word of God testifies concerning Christ
John 5:39 says, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that testify concerning Me.”
The first function of this living book is to testify concerning Christ. From beginning to end, the Scriptures reveal the wonderful Person of Christ and His redemptive work.
It’s fairly easy to see that the New Testament certainly testifies concerning Christ. But what about the Old Testament? Is the Old Testament with its many stories, prophecies, poems, and genealogies really about Christ?
After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus told His disciples, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all the things written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and Psalms concerning Me must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). This means the things written in the entire Old Testament, which is composed of the law, the prophets, and the psalms, were written concerning Christ!
What this means for us: Since the Scriptures testify concerning Christ, for us to get the benefit the Word has for us, we should focus on Him when we come to the Bible. Before we read, we can pray, “Lord Jesus, I don’t want to miss You in Your Word. I come to You right now. Help me see You on every page.”
The Word of God makes men wise unto salvation
Second Timothy 3:15 says, “And that from a babe you have known the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
The Scriptures “make men wise unto salvation,” indicating that they reveal to us God’s way of salvation in Christ and the pathway to salvation through faith. Because of God’s Word, we can know how to be saved.
So the Bible testifies for the Lord concerning Christ, and it makes God’s way of salvation known to us.
What this means for us: It’s good for us to follow the pattern of the person this verse was written to. Young Timothy got to know the Scriptures from his earliest days. Whether we’re young or old, a new Christian or a believer of many years, or even not yet a Christian, it’s never too late or too early to begin reading the Bible in a regular way. The Scriptures make us wise unto salvation, both for the beginning of our Christian life and for its continuance.
The Word of God causes people to be regenerated
First Peter 1:23 says, “Having been regenerated not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, through the living and abiding word of God.”
God’s Word is a seed of life. When people hear God’s Word, it operates within them in order to regenerate them with His life. Note 2 on 1 Peter 1:23 in the Recovery Version says this:
“A seed is a container of life. The word of God, as the incorruptible seed, contains God’s life. Hence, it is living and abiding. Through this word we were regenerated. It is God’s living and abiding word of life that conveys God’s life into our spirit for our regeneration.”
To be regenerated is to be reborn with God’s life. This is what initially happened to us when we got saved.
What this means for us: If we’ve already been regenerated, or born again, it’s important to realize God’s living Word can generate life in others also. If they are open and willing, we can read the Bible with our unbelieving friends, not to teach them, but to let the living and abiding Word of God get into them. As we pray for them, we can ask the Lord for this seed of life in them to grow, causing them to become regenerated children of God!
The Word of God is the believers’ spiritual milk
First Peter 2:2-3 says, “As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation, if you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
After a baby is born, its most immediate need is not to study, but to take in nourishment; it needs milk to live and grow.
The Bible is the milk that can cause us to grow in our spiritual life. After we receive the Lord, we are like newborn babes; our most important need is to daily come to the Lord in His Word and drink the spiritual milk. Then, just as a baby grows up and is healthy from eating well, we’ll grow up in God’s salvation and be healthy Christians. Throughout our whole Christian lives, we should continue to hunger for and be nourished by the healthy milk of God’s Word.
What this means for us: It’s a healthy spiritual practice to spend some time in the Word each day simply to be nourished. At other times we certainly can and should study the Word, but it’s essential for us come to the Word to take it as our food. Each morning, we can have a good “breakfast” by tasting the Lord’s goodness in His Word. Then, we’ll be nourished and supplied for the whole day.
The Word of God is the believers’ bread of life
In Matthew 4:4 Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.’”
The word of the Scriptures is not only spiritual milk to us; it is also our spiritual bread of life.
We can never graduate from needing to eat the Lord’s word every day, just as we can never graduate from needing to eat our physical meals each day. Even the Lord Jesus, living as a man on this earth, took God’s Word as His bread. So, even when we have some growth as believers, we still need to receive daily nourishment from God’s Word to be healthy, normal Christians.
What this means for us: As we grow in the Lord, Satan may tempt us to think we’ve graduated from simple things like enjoying God’s Word each day. But if we know that our spiritual life depends on daily nourishment and that the Bible provides that nourishment, we’ll come to His Word to eat and drink. Regardless of what is going on in our lives, we can say to the Lord each day, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became to me the gladness and joy of my heart” (Jer. 15:16)!
The Word of God makes the believers complete
Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.”
God’s Word completes the believers, or makes them fully equipped men of God, ready for every good work.
When we read the Bible with our heart turned to the Lord, the Word will operate in us, showing us something more of Christ. Seeing more of Christ will automatically teach us, convict us, correct us, and instruct us in righteousness. As this happens, we become more and more complete as believers and more and more equipped for every good work.
What this means for us: Every day, we can continue in and profit from God’s Word. We can pray, “Lord, I don’t want to miss what You have for me in Your Word today. I want your Word to be profitable to me today. Please reveal more of Yourself to me as I read. Make me more complete today than I was yesterday.”
What functions of God’s Word have you enjoyed the most? Please leave a comment to share what you learned or enjoyed from this post.
This post is based on the topic, “The Word of God (the functions of the Word),” from the Topical Directory in Using the New Testament Recovery Version: An Illustrated Guide. Bibles for America gives away free copies of the New Testament Recovery Version. You can order one on our order page.