6 Functions of the Living Word of God

(Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog)

Have you ever thought of the Bible, the Word of God, as something that’s more than just black and white letters?

Hebrews 4:12 says:

“The word of God is living and operative.” 

The Bible, God’s word, is living. And because His word is living, it’s active and does many things, both for God and for us. In this post, we’ll look at some verses and notes in the New Testament Recovery Version to see six of the primary functions of the living Word of God.

1. It testifies concerning Christ—John 5:39

“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 the Word of God is that it testifies concerning Jesus Christ. We may think that the Scriptures mainly testify of many acts or things concerning God in a general way, or that they tell us how we should live. But here, the Lord Jesus said that the Scriptures testify concerning Him. The Scriptures reveal so many aspects of the wonderful person of Christ. 

But it’s possible for us to miss Christ if we “search the Scriptures” looking for something other than Him. Note 1 in the New Testament Recovery Version on search explains:

To “search the Scriptures” may be separated from “come to Me” (v. 40). The Jewish religionists searched the Scriptures but were not willing to come to the Lord. These two should go together; because the Scriptures testify concerning the Lord, they should not be separated from the Lord. We may contact the Scriptures, yet not contact the Lord. Only the Lord can give life.”

In John 5:40 (referenced in the note) Jesus said, “Yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” The religious people He was speaking to searched the God-given Scriptures, but they missed the Lord standing in front of them. They were unwilling to come to Him.

So we should never separate the Word of God from the Lord Himself, especially since the Scriptures testify concerning Him.  

What this means for us: Since the Scriptures testify concerning Christ, we should focus on Him when we come to the Bible. In our hearts, we shouldn’t separate the Lord from the Word of God. 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 more of who You are on every page.”

2. It makes us wise unto salvation—2 Timothy 3:15

“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.”

Without the Word of God, how could anyone know God’s way of salvation? The way of salvation isn’t according to our concepts or ideas. The Bible reveals salvation is by faith in Christ. So when we read the Bible, we’re made wise unto salvation.

What this means for us: This verse was written to Timothy, a young believer who knew the Scriptures from his earliest days. In this regard, Timothy is a good pattern for us to follow. Whether we’re a new Christian or a mature believer, reading the Bible in a regular way makes us wise. It helps us know how to be saved by believing in Jesus initially, and it continues to make us wise as we walk the path of God’s complete salvation in our Christian life.

3. It causes people to be regenerated—1 Peter 1:23

“Having been regenerated not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, through the living and abiding word of God.”

God’s word is the incorruptible seed of life. Note 2 on this verse says:

“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.”

When we share the gospel and people hear God’s word, that living word operates in them. God’s life is conveyed into their spirit so they can be regenerated, that is, born again. That’s what happens when someone gets saved

What this means for us: If we’ve already been regenerated, it’s important to realise God’s living word can generate life in others also. If our unbelieving friends are open, we can read the Bible with them—not to teach them, but to allow the living and abiding word of God to be conveyed into their spirit. We can pray for them and ask the Lord to cause them to be regenerated children of God.

4. It’s the believers’ spiritual milk—1 Peter 2:2-3

“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 babies are born, their immediate need is not to learn but to be nourished. They need milk to live and grow. 

In the same way, once we’re regenerated with the life of God, we need to grow. Note 4 on this verse explains:

“To grow is a matter of life and in life. We received the divine life through regeneration, and we need to grow in this life and with this life by being nourished with the milk conveyed in the word of God.”

Life grows by being nourished. When we receive spiritual nourishment from the Word of God, we grow in the life of God. 

This is why our most important need is to come to the Lord daily in His Word. We need to receive the spiritual milk. Then, just as a baby grows by eating, we’ll grow in God’s salvation. 

What this means for us: Like a newborn babe longs for milk, throughout our Christian lives we should hunger for the milk of God’s Word. We certainly should study the Bible, but it’s essential for us to spend time in the Word of God each day to receive our spiritual nourishment. This will cause us to grow in a normal, healthy way.

5. It’s the believers’ bread of life—Matthew 4:4

“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 God is not only spiritual milk to us; it’s also our spiritual bread of life. 

We shouldn’t live our lives simply existing on physical food. As believers, we also should live on the Word of God as our spiritual food. 

And we can never graduate from enjoying God’s Word each day as our food. Even the Lord Jesus, while He was living as a man on the earth, lived on God’s Word as His bread. 

So we need to learn to come to God’s Word as a feast. The words of Jeremiah 15:16 can become our experience: “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became to me the gladness and joy of my heart.”

What this means for us: No matter how long we’ve been saved, we need to “eat” God’s Word as our spiritual food daily in order to be healthy, normal Christians. Just as eating physical food is enjoyable, receiving the Word of God as food will feed us and be our enjoyment, even bringing us gladness and joy.

6. It makes the believers complete—2 Timothy 3:16-17

“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, equipping us for every good work. It does this by teaching, convicting, correcting, and instructing us.

The correction we need doesn’t come from mentally examining ourselves according to some outward standard. It comes to us when we contact the God-breathed Scripture with our spirit. Note 4 explains what correction in this verse means:

“Setting right what is wrong, turning someone to the right way, restoring to an upright state.”

How many times, even in the course of a single day, we need to be set right and turned back to the Lord and His way! Thank the Lord, the living Word of God spontaneously corrects us when we’re veering off course.

What this means for us: We need the Word of God to teach, convict, correct, and instruct us in order to complete and equip us. As we come to God’s Word, we can pray, “Lord, I want Your Word to be profitable to me today. Correct what needs to be corrected in me. Make me more complete today than I was yesterday.” 

The living Word of God is truly marvellous! It is crucial for us to spend time in it every day. We encourage you to order a free study New Testament that will open God’s Word to you even more.


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