by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
James 1:18, 21
God gives us the new birth — that is, we are born again into God’s family — through “the word of truth … the living and enduring word of God.” This “implanted word…is able to save your souls.” And that good seed of God’s Word is imperishable, it is living and enduring. So likewise is the salvation that the Lord’s Word brings into your life. You are “given birth” into God’s family (2 Corinthians 6:18) and are permanent, eternal members of that family as you continue to love and serve Him. No outside force can snatch you out of God’s hands (John 10:28-29).
Every bit of God’s Word, the holy Bible, is inspired and is appropriate reading for everyone (2 Timothy 3:16). The portions most focused on Jesus Christ and on salvation through Him are the four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The other 23 books of the New Testament also contain numerous helpful teachings on this Good News, which is what the word “gospel” means. And as new believers enter into more extensive bible study, they will see additional inspiring references to Christ’s great salvation in the Old Testament as well — for example, the remarkable prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 53, which some have descriptively called “The Fifth Gospel.”
The apostle Paul tells us here that it is the “word of truth,” the Gospel, that contains the great revelation of our salvation through Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection to take upon Himself our sins and the punishment due to them (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 for an excellent definition of “the gospel”). Almost 50 years ago, as I read the four Gospel accounts and other New Testament books, that central truth of salvation through Jesus Christ broke through my hardness of heart and pierced my soul with conviction of my sins and my need of a Savior. Thankfully, that same “Good News” told me that through repentance and faith in that same Savior, Jesus Christ, I could be instantly born again and delivered from Satan’s power and transferred into the Lord’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13). I did that and for almost a half century I’ve been eternally grateful to Jesus!
By now some may be asking, “But shouldn’t we be actively involved in sharing the Word with others?” Certainly! Along with those inspiring hours of Bible reading in 1969, I had been receiving active witness about the Lord from a young Christian lady whose ongoing testimony touched my heart (She became my wife of 38 years before going on to her heavenly reward). In fact, she was the one who encouraged me way back then to buy and begin to read the Bible. I highly encourage personal witnessing, widespread preaching of the Word from pulpits and anywhere else possible, the spreading of Christian literature, and more.
But my main point today, and an extremely important one, is that God’s Word all by itself has amazing power to touch souls and lead them to salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, I was moved by people’s testimonies and sharing about the Lord with me. But it was night after night back at the Air Force base that I devoured the written Word of God. Illuminated to my spirit by the Holy Spirit, those Scriptures were clearly the central spiritual tool that the Lord used to lead me to salvation in Him. Please read the next verse below to see further comments by Jesus on the innate power of the Word of God to grow the kingdom of God.
Jesus spoke in this parable of scattering seed on the ground. He was using natural symbols to explain spiritual truths about the growth of God’s kingdom from its onset to its fulfillment. People enter God’s kingdom by receiving the seed of the Word of God into their hearts in sincere faith (as we’ll see shortly in the Parable of the Sower just below). That seed has been “scattered” on the ground. That is the Great Commission to all believers, that is, that we bring the Lord’s saving Word to all nations.
You might be thinking that it’s a massive task and that the worldwide Great Commission seems almost overwhelming. But that’s OK. In the parable above Jesus said that all the sowers needed to do was to “scatter seed.” Our part is to get the Word out to people. God’s part is to make that Word-seed “sprout and grow,” even though the sowers “do not know how” all of that growth happens. God knows how! “All by itself” the soil with the sown seed in it will produce a crop. What do we do? We help people, in whatever way the Lord enables us, to get the Word into their hearts. As my then-future wife did, encourage someone to buy and read the Bible, or give them one. Or take them to church to hear Bible-based sermons. The methods are many and varied. The goal is to present to people opportunities to hear or read God’s word of truth. The seed will be sown in their hearts, and God will do the rest. Let’s read one more parable of Jesus in closing, to cement these thoughts in our hearts about the urgent and central importance of the Word of God in saving souls.
We can be the Lord’s farmers exposing others to the seed of God’s Word. On the one hand, we cannot guarantee that everyone who hears that seed-Word will get saved. They won’t. Jesus in the parable said that in some cases the devil will succeed in “taking away the word from their hearts … [lest they] believe and be saved.” Don’t be discouraged. Jesus Himself preached the Word to multitudes. Not all received it in faith; but many, many did. And that’s the same today.
Jesus said (vs. 15) that there will be those who do hear the Word, letting it take root in their “good and noble heart,” and who will hear God’s Word, retain it, and will persevere in it. They will be saved, they will grow in their walk with the Lord, and their lives will manifest crops of good fruit.
How? By receiving and embracing the Lord’s “word of truth” (the Gospel and the rest of the Scriptures) and putting it into practice in their lives.
Fellow believers, get the Word of God into the hands and hearts of those you are trying to introduce to the Lord. Even though you “do not know how” it will bear fruit, God Himself and His Holy Spirit will take that Word and make it real in the hearts of many. And God will use that implanted Word, as James wrote in our opening verse, to bring many to the life-changing new birth in Christ and to the saving of their souls for all eternity. You can participate in this wonderful spiritual endeavor. How? — by using whatever occasions the Lord presents to you to get the living and powerful Word of God into the hearts of those Jesus died for and is seeking to save. What a wonderful privilege that the Lord allows us to share in this great and noble work.
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©2018, James H. Feeney.