The Word of God: Provision for Prosperity

We have often heard it said that man is the shaper of his own destiny—that he is left to his own devices and, in the final analysis, is answerable to himself alone. It has also been said that an infinite God (if there is such a being) would certainly not be so condescending as to reveal Himself to finite man, much less demonstrate any compassion or concern for him. This attitude, which has prevailed throughout the centuries, has lulled countless multitudes into the false notion of unaccountability—and that to their eternal despair.

 

But God Almighty has spoken! He is a reality and has manifested in His creation much concerning Himself. Man, in turn, is accountable for his response to the revelation of God.

The Creator of the universe has spoken in nature. But man has failed to give heed. His glory, His handiwork—even His eternal power and Godhead—are clearly seen by all. But man’s response to this light has always been the worship of the creature rather than the Creator (Psa. 19:1-6; Rom. 1:20-25). Fallen humanity, therefore, is without excuse. He stands guilty before his Maker with no additional evidence needed. His conviction is justly sealed on the basis of his failure to measure up to the light of God as revealed in the creation. No one—no, not even the most backward heathen in the far reaches of the earth—will be able to shake his fist in the face of God at the great white throne judgment and claim innocence (Rev. 20:11-15). God has spoken! Man is accountable!

Yet, God in His marvelous grace has chosen to reveal Himself to man in His Word as well as in His creation. Second Peter 1:19 states, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed.” This Word, in its part and in its whole, is the perfect revelation of God. The apostle further declares in verse 21 that “the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The Bible is not man’s revelation but God’s! Not only is the guilty standing of man revealed, but God’s provision for reconciliation is also found in His written Word.

The skeptic may scorn. The liberal “free thinker” may question. The humanist may scoff. Yet God’s Word stands supreme, forever settled in heaven. Rejection of the truth does not negate the truth. Refusal to believe that God has given us His Word does not relieve anyone of personal responsibility. But keep in mind, unbelievers are not the only ones who will be judged for their response to God’s divine revelation. Believers will also be held accountable for how they lived according to God’s revealed will (1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-10). The triune God has, indeed, spoken. We do well to take heed!

In this regard, the 19th psalm is a veritable storehouse of inspirational truth concerning God’s revelation to man. It speaks of the two ways in which God has revealed Himself. The first six verses contain the revelation of God as seen in His creation. Then verses seven through eleven detail various truths concerning the written Word, each one being invaluable to the believer. We will consider each of these truths in their order.

Regeneration and Growth (v. 7)

God’s Word provides the way of regeneration: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (v. 7a). The “law” or doctrine contained in the Holy Scripture details God’s way of salvation. It is perfect—nothing is missing. The gospel is the incorruptible seed and is absolutely necessary in order for conversion to occur (1 Pet. 1:3, 23). Today, some teach that the use of Scripture must be diminished in order to win the lost to Christ, but we must remember that the only means to salvation has not changed: Faith alone saves, and “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17; Jn. 5:24; Eph. 2:8-9). In order to be saved, one must submit to the biblical fact that he is utterly lost and must believe what the Scripture says concerning God’s way of salvation through faith in the crucified and risen Savior. Without the Bible, we would know nothing of God’s redemption.

The Word is fundamental not only to the believer’s regeneration but also to his spiritual growth—“The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (v. 7b). As newborn babies, we are to “desire the sincere milk of the Word” if we are to grow up (1 Pet. 2:2). No better source, and actually no other source, of essential truth exists than that which is found in the Bible. While young Christians must feed on it if they are to mature, we must remember that every believer needs to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord” (2 Pet. 3:18); the Holy Spirit’s ministry through the believer’s Bible study brings this to pass. Growth is predicated upon knowledge of spiritual truth, which can only be found in the sure Testimony of the Lord our God.

Joy and Discernment (v. 8)

The joy to which our text refers (v. 8a) is not dependent upon favorable circumstances or a merry disposition. It is the product of the Word of God at work in the heart. The spiritual riches found in the Scriptures will cause the believer to rejoice with “joy unspeakable and full of glory” as he contemplates the blessings that are presently his as well as the glory which is to follow (1 Pet. 1:6-9). Jeremiah knew of this joy: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” (Jer. 15:16). In John 15:11 Christ states, “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” How are we to experience this fullness of joy? By studying God’s Word, which draws us close to Christ and to His unfailing peace and joy. One cannot possibly neglect diligent Bible study and have this fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual discernment (v. 8b) is another benefit that results from knowing God’s Word. Satan often tries to deceive the child of God into believing something is “all right” when, in reality, it is “all wrong.” The light of Scripture dispels that deception and gives the believer eyes that are “enlightened.” We are able to perceive things according to the clear commandments and principles of His Holy Word. Discernment—the responsibility of every Christian to rightly judge between truth and error—is only possible when the Scriptures shape the believer’s thinking. Hebrews 5:11-14 rebukes believers who fail to judge righteous judgment. Do we see things as God sees them? We can have “enlightened” eyes by applying biblical truth.

Holiness and Truth (v. 9)

The fear of the Lord “is clean” (v. 9a); it produces holiness. This fear is not a cowering terror but rather a heartfelt reverence in response to a proper view of God’s nature and character. We can only learn who God is from the Book He has written. The Word also gives an accurate reflection of our true state before the Lord, for it is a mirror in which our sin cannot be covered or disguised (Jas. 1:23). As we apply the Word of God to every area of our life, we see sin as God sees it. Then, and only then, are we able to claim the blessed promise of 1 John 1:9 and be cleansed from all defilement. A Christian who submits to the Bible in this manner will manifest holiness in his walk. As we are in step with the Word of God, we will not be led into paths of corrupt thoughts, emotions, words and deeds. Holiness in the life is the product of the Holy Spirit making the divine precepts a reality by way of His ministry within (1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:2-4).

God’s Word is absolute truth (v. 9b). Science “falsely so called” (1 Tim. 6:20) will never discredit the Bible’s validity or historicity. Not only is the Bible incapable of error, it is also the last word in all matters of which it speaks. God Almighty never makes a mistake, and His Word is a reflection of this divine attribute of unqualified truth. Every word is inspired, as both Psalm 19 and 2 Timothy 3:16 proclaim. We can count on God’s perfect revelation to provide all the truth and instruction we need, from the spiritual cradle when we were newborn babes in Christ to the time when we will stand complete in Christ at His glorious appearing! The all-sufficiency of Scripture to meet every need in the believer’s life and ministry is a tremendous truth that believers must understand and embrace (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Satisfaction (v. 10)

God’s Word provides genuine satisfaction (v. 10). As we consider the wonderful qualities and truths previously stated, we must agree that the Bible is of infinite value. But while we may agree that it is of tremendous worth, we must evaluate whether or not we are truly feasting on its sweetness. Is the Bible a storehouse of gold but sitting neglected on the shelf? If this is the case, then the wealth contained in God’s Word is of no profit to us. Just as we need to daily ingest food in order to meet our body’s nutritional requirements, so we must also feast continually on the Word to gain spiritual sustenance and satisfaction. The child of God who makes the Bible his daily “meat and drink” will say with the psalmist, “How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (119:103). Nothing else will meet our needs and satisfy the longings of our soul: “Let Thy tender mercies come unto me … for Thy Law is my delight” (119:77).

All that the Lord intends for us is found in His Word, but these things will not become our delight until we search them out, understand their application to our lives and walk by faith in the light thus revealed. The Holy Spirit unlocks the storehouse of scriptural truth. He makes the things of God a reality to us. As we rightly divide the Word of Truth, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:13), the Spirit opens our eyes. “Now we have received … the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Cor. 2:12-13)—God wants us to discover these things and know the satisfaction that comes only from Him.

Warning (v. 11)

Being warned about danger and error is another important benefit that we derive from reading and understanding God’s Word—“Moreover by them is Thy servant warned” (v. 11a). Many ministers today boast that they are part of a “positive ministry,” that is, they never speak “negatively” but rather emphasize only the “positive” messages of God’s Word. However, even a superficial reading of the Scriptures reveals that much of the Bible must be abandoned in order to preach only “positive” messages. God has many negative things to say in His Word. He frequently deals with the matter of sin—and sin is extremely negative! A ministry that is faithful to the Word will proclaim the whole counsel of God, and this includes warning the sheep about the wolves who come in sheep’s clothing as well as faithfully feeding the flock and working to bring others into the fold (Acts 20:28-31).

As previously mentioned, the Scriptures must be the absolute standard by which we judge all things. The ultimate question we must ask regarding any man, organization or teaching is simply this: “Is it true to the Word of God?” Everything else is inconsequential. Isaiah 8:20 succinctly states this vital principle: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” When God’s Standard is applied and the presence of error is discerned, a warning must be sounded lest God’s children be found in complicity with the error. Biblical separation from that error is essential, even if it means separating from certain fellowships in ministry. When we heed God’s warnings, we will avoid Satan’s pitfalls in every matter that affects our service and daily living.

Great Reward (v. 11)

A sure reward (v. 11b) is awaiting all who are obedient to the commandments and precepts of God’s Word. It is comforting to know that the things which we do for the Lord now in response to His Word will be remembered in that great day when we see our blessed Savior face to face. We will be judged at the Bema of Christ according to our works—and our works are nothing more than faithful responses to the clear teaching of the Word of God. This is the true meaning of “walking by faith.” God has spoken. We accept what God has said, and we then purpose, by the enabling of the Spirit, to walk accordingly. This is faith at work.

Paul exemplified the life of obedience. He lived in expectation of those things that awaited him in glory. He stated, “I press toward the mark for the prize” (Phil. 3:14). At the same time, he was always mindful of the fact that a servant is “not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (Phil. 3:13-14 cf. 2 Tim. 2:5). The fact that a sure reward is awaiting God’s faithful servants should be of great encouragement: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). The Word will lead the way to reward if we diligently apply ourselves to reading and studying it and trusting the Holy Spirit of God to open our eyes to its truth and glory. Expect a blessing every day. Do not cease from reading God’s Word until the Spirit reveals a blessing as sweet as honeycomb to your soul. Remember, “great reward” awaits the obedient reader who strives to be obedient to the precepts of the Lord.

Essential Ingredients (vv. 12-14)

All the Bible reading and study imaginable is of absolutely no value unless it is linked with faith and obedience. First, the child of God must recognize that the Bible is the holy, inerrant, infallible Word of God and that it contains all the wisdom and knowledge the believer needs in order to become what the Lord wants him to be. A low or improper view of the foundation of our faith (2 Tim. 3:16-17) cannot produce a true servant of God. The believer must have a sincere reverence for God’s Word, which will produce the courage necessary to keep its commands.

Only sin will prevent the Word of God from having free course in our lives and making us truly “upright” (v. 13b). Sin desensitizes, hardens (Heb. 3:13) and robs the believer of the blessings of a Spirit-filled walk of faith (Eph. 5:17-20). The only way we can “understand” (v. 12) how desperately deceitful our old nature really is and how prone we are to fall into the devil’s mischief is by the Spirit-wrought application of the Word to our own hearts. We need deliverance from our “secret faults,” those of which we are not normally even aware as well as those faults that we know all too well but keep hidden (vv. 12-13 cf. 119:9-11).

The “great transgression” mentioned in our text refers to the continuance of sin to the point that God must take His wayward child home due to his refusal to repent and get right with the Lord (1 Cor. 5:3-5; 1 Jn. 5:16-17). How can we be saved from the rotten fruit of our own sinful self? Prayer! When we communicate with our Lord, we allow His Word to work in our lives as we confess our sins to God and receive His cleansing. Only then can we yield to His will, rest in His sustaining grace and stand firm upon His inerrant and all-sufficient revelation (v. 14).
We will never be disappointed if God’s Word is our guide. “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).  — Dennis Costella