By JANA HENRY|CONTRIBUTOR
This week we learned that women’s ministry must be based on the sound truth of Scripture. There are too many competing voices in the evangelical world, not to mention the secular world, that are distorting God’s Word. Women’s ministry must aim to ground women in the full-orbed truth of Scripture so that we may grow up in every way in Christ, fulfilling our God given-design as strong “ezers” (helpers) and life-givers rather than hinderers and life-takers.
One of the passages of scripture we read Tuesday supporting our premise for God’s Word as the unequivocal foundation of women’s ministry is from Isaiah 55. I would like to share with you some insights derived from Kathleen Nielson on the importance of God’s Word.[i]
God’s Word is God Speaking
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (vv.10-11)
Isaiah, God’s mouthpiece, writes, “so shall my Word be.” God’s Word is God speaking. He likens His Word to rain and snow, which come down from heaven. God speaks to us from His throne. It is not a voice coming from within, but His very voice speaking to us from above through His written Word. It is not a life-less, academic word either. Paul tells us that all “scripture is inspired by God.”[ii] The word “inspired” literally translated reads God-breathed. God’s Word is God speaking personally to you and me. It is as up-close and personal as His very breath breathing on us.
God’s Word is Powerful
And God’s Word shall not return to Him empty, but it shall accomplish what He purposes and shall succeed in the thing for which He sent it. God’s Word is powerful. Think of all the times you and I have said something to someone and our words had the very opposite effect of what we had intended—or even no effect at all.
When God said, “Let there be light” —there was light![iii]
Paul goes on to say in II Timothy 3:16 that God’s breathed out Word is profitable for every good work, and not only that, the verse right before tells us that His Word is “able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” God’s Word calls us from death to life! Remember Lazarus? What did Jesus say? “Lazarus come out!”[iv] And what happened? Lazarus, dead for many days, came back to life and came out of that cave.
Do you want to grow closer to God? Do you want to serve Him? Do you want comfort, encouragement, wisdom, and strength to carry on? Let God breathe on you His powerful and sufficient Word!
God’s Word is For Everyone
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. (vv. 1-3)
We all thirst and we all get hungry. Who would turn down free food? Sadly, many of us do; we are a starving and thirsty nation. One of my favorite musicians says we are like “a lonely soul, with a heart of stone that rakes against your thirsty bones.”[v] We all desperately need the “sword” of God’s Word to pierce our hearts of stone all the way to the division of soul and spirit, and come out like a song.
So, why do we spend our time and our money on that which does nothing for us? We spend all our money and all our time and what do we get for it? We are still hungry and we are still thirsty. God is beckoning us today. He says “Listen to me. I will give you what your thirsty bones need to live.”
God’s Word is all about Jesus
“Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.” (vv. 4-5)
Who is this witness; this leader for all the peoples; this Holy One of Israel whom God has glorified?
He is none other than Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world: the spotless Lamb who suffered, who died and was buried, and who was raised for your justification. Jesus Christ—your salvation.
God’s Word is a Matter of Life and Death
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (vv. 6-9)
Today is the day that He may be heard and found!
None of us has any guarantee that we will draw another breath, much less live another day. It’s not just about being happy or being personally fulfilled to live out our dreams; our very souls are at stake. These verses make clear our desperate condition—the gap between God’s thoughts and His ways is insurmountable. And this brings us back to the power of God’s Word.
“For as the rain and snow come down from heaven … so shall my Word be”
God, in His infinite grace and mercy shows us our hopelessness and then shows us the solution. God’s Word is both sufficient and effective for our salvation and our sanctification. The verbs seek, call, forsake, and return are action verbs. God’s regenerating power in our hearts causes us to seek, to call, to forsake, and to return. It is a lifelong endeavor and it is accomplished by the taking in of the very breath of God, His Word. And it will have its effect and will be beautiful, as that which gives life always is.
God’s Word is Beautiful
“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (vv12-13)
Isaiah is one of my favorite books in the Old Testament, mostly because of the beautiful imagery used in the poetic form. But all of God’s word is beautiful! Whether it’s a grammatically complex sentence written by Paul, like a winding path with many branches of truth that all relate back to the richness of the gospel, or the imagery the psalmists and prophets used to capture these same truths; God’s Word is beautiful because God is the source of all that is beautiful. For what comes from His very breath—His Word—is the richest treasure, the most brilliant diamond, the softest fur, the most tantalizing food that you could ever see or taste!
Look at these verses again. The sprouting we saw in verse 10 bursts here into full bloom. These are results that we can see and experience here and now, and one day we will know and live them in all their fullness.
Oh sisters, don’t forsake God’s Word! Our very life depends on it. We need to read, study, and listen to God’s Word – on our own, and together. He is speaking to us—to you and to me. It is His very breath breathing on you and on me, and it is powerful!
Together, let us taste and see that the Lord is Good! His Word is Beautiful because He is beautiful! His Word is for us.
[i] Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church, Gloria Furman and Kathleen Nielson, editors, (Copyright 2015 by The Gospel Coalition, Crossway)
[ii] II Timothy 3:16, ESV
[iii] Genesis 1:3, ESV
[iv] John 11:43, ESV
[v] The Gray Havens, Ghost of a King (title song), copyright 2016