In the previous session we discovered the following three effects of God’s Word:
- God’s Word produces faith, and faith, in turn, is directly related to God’s Word because faith is believing and acting upon what God has said in His Word.
- God’s Word, received as an incorruptible seed into a believer’s heart, produces the new birth – a new spiritual nature created within the believer and called in the Scriptures “the new man.”
- God’s Word is the divinely appointed spiritual nourishment with which the believer must regularly feed the new nature within him if he is to grow into a healthy, strong, mature Christian’s.
God’s Word is so varied and wonderful in its working that it provides not only spiritual health and strength for the soul but also physical health and strength for the body. Let us turn first to Psalms 107:17-20.
Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted.
Their soul abhorred all manner of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses.
He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
The psalmist gives us a picture of men so desperately sick that they have lost all appetite for food and are lying right at death’s door. In their extremity, they cry out to the Lord, and He sends them that which they cry for – healing and deliverance. By what means does He send these? By His Word.
For the psalmist says:
He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions (Ps. 107:20).
Side by side with this passage in Psalm 107 we may set the passage in Isaiah 55:11 where God says:
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
You are that word, you shall accomplish and prosper in the thing which He has sent you to do.
In Psalm 107:20 we read that God sent His Word to heal and deliver; in Isaiah 55:11 God says that His Word will accomplish the thing for which He sent it. Thus God guarantees that He will provide healing through His Word.
This truth of physical healing through God’s Word is even more fully stated in Proverbs 4:20-22, where God says:
My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes:
Keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh
What promise of physical healing could be more all-inclusive than that? “Health to all their flesh.” Every part of our physical frame is included in this phrase. Nothing is omitted. Furthermore, in the margin of the 1611 edition of the King James Version, the alternative reading for “health” is “medicine.” The same Hebrew word includes both shades of meaning. Thus God has committed Himself to provide complete physical healing and health.
Remember, what it says in 3 John 1:2,
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
He wants you to be in good health and prosper as your soul prospers.
Notice the introductory phrase at the beginning of verse 20: “My son.” This indicates that God is speaking to His believing children. When a Syro-Phoenician woman came to Jesus to plead for the healing of her daughter, Jesus replied to her request by saying:
It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs (Matt. 15:26).
By these words Jesus indicated that healing is the children’s bread; in other words, it is part of God’s appointed daily portion for all His children. It is not a luxury for which they have to make special pleas and which may or may not be granted them.
No, it is their “bread,” part of their daily provision from their heavenly Father. This agrees exactly with the passage we read in Proverbs 4, where God’s promise of perfect healing and health is addressed to every believing child of God. Both in Psalm 107 and Proverbs 4 how God provides healing is His Word. This is one further example of the vital truth which we stressed earlier in this series: that God Himself is in His Word and that it is through His Word that He comes into our lives.
As we consider the claim made in Proverbs 4:20-22 that God’s Word is medicine for all our flesh, we might call these three verses God’s great “medicine bottle.” They contain a medicine such as was never compounded on earth – one medicine guaranteed to cure all diseases.
However, when a doctor prescribes a medicine, he normally ensures that the directions for taking it are written clearly on the bottle. This implies that no cure can be expected unless the medicine is taken regularly, according to the directions. The same is true with God’s “medicine” in Proverbs. The directions are “on the bottle,” and no cure is guaranteed if the directions are not followed.
What are these directions? They are fourfold.
- “Give attention to my words.”
- “Incline your ear.”
- “Do not let them depart from your eyes.”
- “Keep them in the midst of your heart.”
The first direction is to “give attention to my words.” As we read God’s Word, we need to give it close and careful attention. We need to focus our understanding on it. We need to give it free, unhindered access to our whole inward being. So often we read God’s Word with divided attention. Half our mind is occupied with what we read; the other half is occupied with those things which Jesus called “the cares of this life.” We read some verses, or perhaps even a chapter or two, but in the end, we have no clear impression of what we have read. Why our attention has wandered.
Taken in this context, God’s Word will not produce the effects God intended. When reading the Bible, it is well to do what Jesus recommended when He spoke of prayer; that is, to enter our closet and shut the door. We must shut ourselves in with God and shut out the things of the world.
The second direction on God’s medicine bottle is “incline your ear.” The inclined ear indicates humility. It is the opposite of being proud and stiff-necked. We must be teachable. We must be willing to let God teach us. In Psalm 78:41 the psalmist speaks of Israel’s conduct as they wandered through the wilderness from Egypt to Canaan, and he brings this charge against them: They limited the Holy One of Israel.
By their stubbornness and unbelief, they set limits to what they would allow God to do for them. Many professing Christian’s do just the same today. They do not approach the Bible with an open mind or a teachable spirit. They are full of prejudices or preconceptions – very often instilled by the particular sect or denomination with which they are associated – and they are not willing to accept any revelation or teaching from the Scriptures which goes beyond, or contrary to, their own set thoughts. Jesus charged the religious leaders of His day with this fault.
Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition . . . And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men (Matt. 15:6,9).
The apostle Paul had been a prisoner of religious prejudices and traditions, but through the revelation of Jesus on the Damascus road he was set free from them. Thereafter we find him saying in Romans 3:4:
Let God be true but every man a liar.
If we wish to receive the full benefit of God’s Word, we must learn to take the same attitude.
The third direction on God’s medicine bottle is “do not let them depart from your eyes,” with the word them referring to God’s words and sayings. The late evangelist Smith Wigglesworth once said, “The trouble with many Christian’s is that they have a spiritual squint: with one eye they are looking at the promises of the Lord, and with the other eye they are looking in some other direction.”
In order to receive the benefits of physical healing promised in God’s Word, it is necessary to keep both eyes fixed unwaveringly on the Lord’s promises. One mistake many professing Christian’s make is to look away from God’s promises to the case of some other professing Christian’s who have failed to receive healing. As they do this, their faith wavers, and they, too, fail to receive healing.
Listen to James 1:6-8,
He who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways
A helpful verse to remember in such a situation is Deuteronomy 29:29:
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law…..
The reason why some professing Christian’s fail to receive healing remains a secret, known only to God and not revealed to man. We do not need to be concerned with such secrets as this. Rather we need to concern ourselves with those things which are revealed: the clear statements and promises of God given to us in His Word. The things thus revealed in God’s Word belong to us and our children forever; they are our heritage as believers; they are our inalienable right. And they belong to us “that we may do them”; that is, that we may act upon them in faith. When we do, we prove them true in our experience.
The first direction spoke of “attending”; the second spoke of the “inclined ear”; the third spoke of the “focused eyes.” The fourth direction on God’s medicine bottle concerns the heart, the inward center of the human personality, for it says “keep them in the midst of your heart.” Proverbs 4:23, emphasize the decisive influence of the heart in the human experience.
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
In other words, what is in our hearts controls the whole course of our lives and all that we experience.
If we receive God’s words with careful attention – if we admit them regularly through both the ear and the eye so that they occupy and control our hearts – then we find them to be exactly what God has promised: both life to our souls and health to our flesh.
The words of Psalm 107:20 are still being fulfilled today.
He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions.
Christian’s who testify today of the healing power of God’s Word can say, as Jesus Himself said to Nicodemus in John 3:11:
Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have
For those who need healing and deliverance:
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (Ps. 34:8).
Taste this medicine of God’s Word for yourself! See how it works! It is not like so many earthly medicines, bitter and unpalatable. Nor does it work, like so many modern drugs, bringing relief to one organ of the body but causing a reaction that impairs some other organ. No, God’s Word is altogether good, altogether beneficial. When received according to His direction, it brings life and health to our whole being.
In the area of the mind, also, the effect of God’s Word is unique.
The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple (Ps. 119:130).
The psalmist speaks of two effects produced in the mind by God’s Word: “light” and “understanding.”
In the world, today education is probably more highly prized and more universally sought after than at any previous period in man’s history. Nevertheless, secular education is not the same as “light” or “understanding.” Nor is it any substitute for them. Indeed, there is no substitute for light. Nothing in the whole universe can do what light does.
So it is with God’s Word in the human mind. Nothing else can do in the human mind what God’s Word does, and nothing else can take the place of God’s Word.
Secular education is a good thing, but it can be misused. A highly educated mind is a fine instrument – just like a sharp knife. But a knife can be misused. One man can take a sharp knife and use it to cut up food for his family. Another man may take a similar knife and use it to kill a fellow human being.
So it is with secular education. It is a wonderful thing, but it can be misused. Divorced from the illumination of God’s Word, it can become extremely dangerous. A nation or civilization which concentrates on secular education but gives no place to God’s Word is simply forging instruments for its destruction. The history of recent developments in the technique of nuclear fission is one among many historical examples of this fact.
On the other hand, God’s Word reveals to man those things which he can never discover by his intellect: the reality of God the Creator and Redeemer; the true purpose of existence; man’s inner nature; his origin and his destiny. In light of this revelation, life takes on an entirely new meaning. With a mind thus illuminated, a man sees himself as part of a single comprehensive plan that spans the universe. Finding his place in this divine plan, he achieves a sense of self-worth and personal fulfillment that satisfies his deepest longings.
It is appropriate to close this session by returning to Hebrews 4:12.
For the word of God is living and powerful [or energetic], and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
This confirms and sums up the conclusions we have reached concerning God’s Word. There is no area of the human personality that God’s Word does not penetrate. It reaches right down into the spirit and soul, the heart and the mind, and even into the innermost core of our physical body, the joints, and the marrow.
In perfect accord with this, we have seen in this and in the previous chapter that God’s Word, implanted as a seed in the heart, brings forth eternal life. Thereafter it provides spiritual nourishment for the new life thus brought forth. Received into our bodies it produces perfect health, and received into our minds it produces mental illumination and understanding.