The Power of the Word of God
by R. A. Torrey
(from How To Obtain Fullness Of Power by R.A. Torrey, ©1897, Fleming H. Revell Company)
"Power belongeth unto God." -Psalm 62:11
The great reservoir of the power
that belongs to God is His own Word- the Bible. If we wish to make it
ours, we must go to that Book. Yet people abound in the church who are
praying for power and neglecting the Bible. Men are longing to have
power for fruit-bearing in their own lives and yet forget that Jesus
"The seed is the Word of God." (Luke 8:11)
They are longing to have power to melt the cold heart and break the stubborn will, and yet forget that God has said:
"Is not my Word like as a fire? ...and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jer. 23:29)
If we are to obtain fullness of
power in life and service, we must feed upon the Word of God. There is
no other food so strengthening. If we will not take time to study the
Bible, we cannot have power, any more than we can have physical power
if we will not take time to eat nutritious food. Let us see what the
word of God has power to do.
1. First of all, the Word of God has power to convict of sin. In Acts 2:37 we read,
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said
unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall
If we look back and see what it was
they heard and that produced this deep conviction, we find that it was
simply the Word of God. If you will read Peter’s sermon, you will
find it one of the most biblical sermons ever preached. It was
Scripture from beginning to end. It was, then, the word of God, carried
home by the spirit of God, that pricked them to their heart. If you
wish to produce conviction, you must give men the Word of God. I heard
a man pray some time ago this prayer, "O God, convict us of sin," a
very good prayer, but unless you bring your soul in contact with that
instrument which God has appointed for the conviction of sin, you will
not have conviction of sin. If you wish to produce conviction in
others, you must use the word to do it.
Not long ago a fine looking young man came into our inquiry-room. I said to him,
"Are you a Christian?"
"I think Christianity is a first-rate thing, but I have not much feeling about this."
"But," I said, "do you not know that you are a sinner?"
He said: "Yes, sir, I suppose I am; but I am not very much of a sinner. I am a pretty good sort of a fellow."
I replied: "So, my friend, you have
not very much conviction of sin. I have something in my hand that is a
divinely-appointed instrument to produce conviction of sin." I opened
my Bible to Matthew 22:37, 38 and asked him to read it. He read, "Thou
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."
"What commandment is that?" I asked.
He replied: "The first and great commandment."
"In the light of that, what must be the first and great sin?"
He replied: "It must be to neglect to keep that commandment."
"Have you kept it?"
The Spirit of God took it home to
his heart then and there. It was not long before we were kneeling, and
he was asking God for mercy through Christ.
2. In the next place, the Word of God has power to regenerate. In 1 Peter 1:23 we read,
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by
the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever."
In James 1:18 we read,
"Of His own will He begat us with the Word of Truth, that we should be
a kind of first-fruits of His creatures."
If you wish to be born again, the
way is very simple. Take the Word of God concerning Christ crucified
and risen, and drop it into your heart by meditation upon it. Look to
God by His Holy Spirit to quicken it, believe it with the heart, and
the work is done. If you wish to see someone else born again, give him
the Word of God. The process of regeneration on our side is the
simplest thing in the world. On God’s side it is mysterious, but
with that we have nothing to do. The process is simply this: the human
heart is the soil; you and I are sowers; the word of God is the seed
which we drop into that soil. God quickens it by His Holy Spirit and
gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6). The heart closes around the Word by
faith, and the new life is the product. The new birth is simply the
impartation of a new nature, the impartation of God’s nature.
But how are we made partakers of God’s nature? Read 2 Peter 1:4 (R.V.) and the context: "That
through these (exceeding great and precious promises) ye may become
partakers of the divine nature." That is all there is to it. The word
of God is the seed out of which the divine nature springs up in the
3. Again, the word of God has power to produce faith. In Romans 10:17 we read,
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
You can never get faith by merely
praying; you can never get it by any effort of the will; you can never
get it by trying to pump it up in any way. Faith is the product of a
certain cause, and that cause is the Word of God. It is so, for
example, with saving faith. Suppose you want a man to have saving
faith. Simply give him something definite from God’s Word upon
which he can rest. The Philippian jailer asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30), and Paul answered, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31). But Paul did not stop there. Read verse 32, "And they spake unto him the Word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house." They
did not merely tell the Philippian jailer to believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and then leave him there floundering in the dark without giving
him something to believe, or something for his faith to rest upon. They
gave that which God has ordained to produce faith.
It is at this point that we often
make a mistake. We tell people, "Believe, believe, believe," but do not
show them how, do not give them anything definite to believe. The
biblical way and the intelligent way is, when you tell a man to
believe, to give him something to believe. Give him, for example,
Isaiah 53:6, and thus hold up Christ crucified; or, give him 1 Peter
2:24. Here he has something for his faith to rest upon. Faith must have
a foundation. Faith cannot float in thin air. It is pitiable to see men
told to believe, to believe, to believe- and then give nothing for
their faith to rest upon.
Not only saving faith comes from the Word of God, but prevailing faith in prayer does also. Suppose I read Mark 11:24, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." I
used to say, "The way to get anything I want is to believe I am going
to get it." I would kneel down and pray and try to believe, but I did
not get the things that I asked for. I had no real faith. Real faith
must have a warrant. Before I can truly believe I am to receive what I
ask, I must have a definite promise of God’s Word, or a definite
leading of the Holy Spirit, to rest my faith upon.
What, then, shall we do? We come
into God’s presence. There is something we desire. Now the
question is, Is there any promise in God’s Word regarding this
which we desire? We look into the Word of God and find the promise. All
we have to do is to spread that promise out before God. for example, we
say: "Heavenly Father, we desire the Holy Spirit. Thou hast said in thy
Word, ‘If ye then, being evil,
know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall
your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?’ And thou hast said again in Acts 2:39 that ‘the
promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar
off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.’ I am a
called man; I am a saved man. And here I have Your Word for it. You
have promised it. I ask Thee now to fulfill me with the Holy Spirit."
We then take 1 John 5:14, 15, and say, "Father, this is the confidence
I have in Thee, that, if I ask anything according to Thy will- and I
know that this is according to Thy will- Thou hearest me, and, if I
know that Thou hearest me, I know that I have the petition that I asked
of Thee." Then I rise up, standing upon this promise of God, and say,
"It is mine." And it will be mine. The only way to have a faith that
prevails in prayer is to study your Bible, and know the promises, and
lay them before God when you pray. George Mueller is one of the
mightiest men of prayer in this century. But he always prepares for
prayer by studying the Word (John 15:7).
It is just the same with the faith
that we desire instead of doubt. This also comes by the Word of God.
Suppose you have a skeptic to deal with, and you wish that man to have
faith. What will you do with him? Give him a book on Christian
evidences? I have nothing to say against books on Christian evidences.
But there is an inspired Book on Christian evidences, and it is worth
all the libraries ever written on this subject. Turn to John 20:31, "But
these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the
Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." The
Gospel of John is an inspired Book on Christian evidences. What, then,
shall we do with ourselves if we are skeptics? What shall we do with
others? First, find out whether their will is surrendered or not. "If any man willed to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself" (John 7:17 R.V.). After
the will is surrendered, just say, "Take this Book and read it
thoughtfully and honestly and come back and tell me the result." The
result is absolutely sure.
There is no man, agnostic, infidel,
or whatever you please, whose will is surrendered to the truth, who
will take this Book of God and ask Him to give him light, who will not
come out believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I have
tried this with I know not how many men and women, and there has never
been one exception to the rule laid down by Christ. It has always came
out the same way.
The faith that gets the victory
over the world, the flesh, and the devil; the faith that wins mighty
victories for God, is also through the Word. (1 John 5:4; Ephesians
6:16; Hebrews 11:33, 34).
Very early in my ministry a read a
sermon by Mr. Moody. In it there was something to the effect that a man
would not amount to anything if he had not faith. I said, "That sermon
is true. I must have faith." I went to work and tried to work up faith.
I did not succeed a bit. The more I tried to work up faith, the less I
had. But one day I ran across this text, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans
10:17), and I had learned the great secret of faith, one of the
greatest secrets I have ever learned. I commenced to feed my faith on
the Word of God; and as I have thus fed it, it has kept on growing from
that day to this. So in every aspect we see that faith cometh by
hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. If we are to have faith- and
if we are to have power for God, we must have faith- we must feed
steadily, largely, daily upon the Word of God.
4. In the next place, the Word of God has power to cleanse. In Ephesians 5:25, 26, we read,
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and
gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the
washing of water by the Word."
The Word of God has the power not
only to take impurity out of the heart, but to cleanse the outward life
as well. If you wish to clean outward life, you must wash often by
bringing your life in contact with the word of God. If one lives in a
city whose atmosphere is polluted with smoke, when he goes into the
street his hands will become black. He must wash frequently if he
wishes to keep clean. We all live in a world whose atmosphere is
polluted, a very dirty world. As we go out from day to day and come in
contact with this dirty world, there is absolutely only one way to keep
clean, and that is by taking frequent baths in the Word of God. You
must bathe every day, and take plenty of time to do it. A daily,
prolonged, thoughtful bath in the Word of God is the only thing that
will keep a life clean (Psalm 119:9).
5. In the next place, the Word of God has power to build up. In Acts 20:32 we read,
"I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up."
We hear a great deal in these days
about character-building. The Word of God is that by which we must
carry it on if it is to be done right. In 2 Peter 1:5-7 we have a
picture of a seven-story-and basement Christian. The great trouble
today is that we have so many one-story Christians, and the reason is
neglect of the Word.
In 1 Peter 2:2, we have a similar thought expressed under a different figure, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby."
If we are to grow, we must have wholesome, nutritious food and plenty
of it. The only spiritual food that contains all the elements necessary
for symmetrical Christian growth is the Word of God. A Christian can no
more grow as he ought without feeding frequently, regularly, and
largely upon the Word of God, than a baby can grow as he ought without
6. In the next place, the Word of God has power to make wise. Psalm 119:130 is worthy of the most careful attention,
"The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."
There is more wisdom in the Bible
than there is in all the other literature of the ages. The one who
studies the Bible, if he does not study any other book, will know more
of real wisdom- wisdom that counts for eternity as well as time, wisdom
that this perishing world needs to know, wisdom for which hungry hearts
are starving today- than the man who reads every other book and
neglects his Bible. The man who studies his Bible and neglects all
other books will be wiser than the man who studies all other books and
neglects his Bible. The man who studies his Bible will have more to say
that is worth saying, and that wise people wish to hear, than any man
who studies everything else and neglects the one Book.
This has been illustrated over and
over again in the history of the church. The men who have greatly
affected the spiritual history of this world, the men who have brought
about great reformations in morals and doctrine, the men whom others
have flocked to hear and upon whose words people have hung, have been
Bible men in every instance, and in many cases they knew little besides
the Bible. I have seen men and women without culture, who have had
almost no advantages in school, but who knew their Bibles; and I would
rather sit at their feet and learn the wisdom that falls from their
lips, than listen to the man who knows much about philosophy and
science and theology even, and does not know anything about the Word of
God. There is wonderful force in the words of Paul to Timothy, "All
scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly (the revised version says "completely") furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) Through what? Through the study of the Book.
7. The Word of God has power to give assurance of eternal life. In 1 John 5:13, R.V., we read,
"These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have
eternal life, even unto you that believe in the name of the Son of
That is, the assurance of eternal
life comes through what is "written". Suppose one has not assurance of
salvation, what shall we do? Tell him to pray until he gets it? Not at
all. Take him to such a passage as John 3:36: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." Hold
him right to that point until he takes God's Word for it, and then is
sure that he has everlasting life because he believes on the Son, and
because God says that "he that believeth on the Son HATH everlasting life."
8. The Word of God has power to bring peace into the heart. In Psalm 85:8 we read,
"I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints."
There are many people looking for
peace today, longing for peace, praying for peace. But deep peace of
heart comes from study of the Word of God. There is, for example, one
passage in the Bible which, if we feed upon it daily until it really
gets into out hearts and gets hold of us, will banish all anxiety
forever. It is Romans 8:28, "And we
know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to
them who are the called according to His purpose." Nothing can
come to us that is not one of the "all things." If we really believe
this passage, and it really takes hold upon us, whatever comes, it will
not disturb our peace.
9.The Word of God has power to produce joy. Jeremiah says in chapter 15, verse 16,
"Thy Words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart."
And Jesus said in John 15:11,
"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
Clearly, then, fullness of joy
comes through the Word of God. There is no joy on this earth from any
worldly source like the joy that kindles and glows in the heart of a
believer in Jesus Christ as he feeds upon the Word of God, and as the
Word of God is brought home to his heart by the power of the Holy
10. Patience, comfort, and hope also come through the Word of God. Romans 15:4,
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our
learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might
11. Finally, the Word of God has power to protect from error and sin. In
Acts 20:29-32, the apostle Paul warned the elders at Ephesus of the
errors that would creep in among them, and he commended them, in
closing, "to God and to the Word of His grace." In a similar way, Paul, writing to Timothy, the bishop of the same church, said:
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and
being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned
and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And
that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able
to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ
Jesus."- 2 Timothy 3:13-15.
The one who feeds constantly on the
Word of God is proof against the multiplying errors of the day. It is
simple neglect of the Word that has left so many a prey to the many
false doctrines that the devil, in his subtlety, is endeavoring to
insinuate into the church of Christ today. And the Word of God has not
only power to protect from error, but from sin as well. In Psalm 119:11
we read: "Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." The
man who feeds daily on the Word of God will be proof against the
temptations of the devil. Any day we neglect to feed on the Word of
God, we leave an open door through which satan is sure to enter into
our hearts and lives. Even the Son of God Himself met and overcame the
temptations of the adversary by the Scriptures. To each of satan's
temptations, He replied, "It is written" (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). Satan left
the field completely vanquished.
It is evident from what has been
said that the first step toward obtaining fullness of power in
Christian life and service is the study of the Word. There can be no
fullness of power in life and service if the Bible is neglected. In
much that is now written on power, also in much that is said in
conventions, this fact is overlooked. The work of the Holy Spirit is
magnified, but the instrument through which the Holy Spirit works is
largely forgotten. The result is transient enthusiasm and activity, but
no steady continuance and increase in power and usefulness.
We cannot obtain power, and we
cannot maintain power, in our own lives, and in our work for others,
unless there is deep and frequent meditation upon the Word of God. If
our leaf is not to wither and whatsoever we do is to prosper, our
delight must be in the law of the Lord and we must meditate therein day
and night (Psalm 1:2, 3). Of course, it is much easier, and therefore
much more agreeable to out spiritual laziness, to go to a convention or
revival meeting, and claim a "filling with the Holy Spirit," than it is
to peg along day after day, month after month, year after year, digging
into the Word of God. But a "filling with the Spirit" that is not
maintained by persistent study of the Word will soon vanish. It is well
to bear in mind that precisely the results which Paul in one place
ascribes to being "filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18-22), he in
another place ascribes to letting "the Word of Christ dwell in you
richly" (Col. 3:16-18). Evidently Paul knew of no filling of the Holy
Spirit divorced from deep and constant meditation upon the Word. To sum
all up, anyone who wishes to obtain and maintain fullness of power in
Christian life and service must feed constantly upon the Word of God.
R. A. Torrey Archive Home