Speak Life – Part 1
Words are powerful. How much so? Well, God uttered creation into existence with the power of His Word – He spoke and it was! The power of words in our witness can’t be overstated, for out of our mouths proceed both blessing and cursing. And not only do we need to tame the tongue, we need our words to be seasoned with grace, with truth, and with love.
In short, we need to speak life to others. In our witness, words are powerful, for they can enhance or hinder our testimony. And I don’t know about you, but in my life, when I think I’ve tamed the tongue, I have to bite my lip. For I’m reminded that the issue of my speech is one of those issues in the Christian life that is a perpetual issue – it doesn’t go away. We achieve victory and may grow in this area, yet none of us ever arrives.
As we ponder our witness in light of our words, going back to the beginning provides essential context. For God’s Word, the foundation of our witness, has been under attack since Adam and Eve walked the Garden of Eden.
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2:15-17
This prohibition was a means of protection. And notice the great freedom God gave Adam – he could “freely eat” of every tree but one! For God wanted to protect the integrity of His relationship with Adam.
You know, there are many people who believe in God that have not put their trust in Christ because the believe God’s prohibitions are punitive, not protective. They suppose God a ‘Cosmic Killjoy’ – a being who is against their happiness and well-being.
Yet the truth is just the opposite, for Jesus came to give us life and give it “more abundantly” (John 10:10).
As we engage others in spiritual conversations, it’s beneficial to find out if they believe in God, and if so, what is their God like. Additionally, if they believe in God on any level, find out if their God speaks – asking how he speaks, what he speaks, and why he speaks. This will inform our witness and the words of our witness.
As we think about our words to others, at some point in our witness we must point to the Word of God – for He has declared life, truth, and the way of salvation! And how does God speak?
He speaks through creation – “all creation proclaims HIs glory” (Psalm 19:1). He has spoken through His Son, Jesus – “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God” (John 3:34). And God has spoken through His Word – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
While the Word of God is “living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12), the devil has sought from the very beginning to usurp and undermine it:
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:1-5
Notice the serpent, instead of speaking words of life, speaks words of death, for he speaks the polar opposite of what God told Adam earlier in Genesis 2:17. The serpent told Eve that by eating the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she would be like God. Conversely, God told Adam that the day ate of that tree he would surely die.
“Did God really say?”
The very first lie recorded in the bible is a doozy! The very words of the one true God who spoke creation into existence are called into question. For there is nothing new under the sun.
You see, “Did God really say?” is a critical question for today’s evangelistic endeavor. Because many in the world don’t believe God really did say. Some people don’t believe in the God of the bible. Others, while claiming belief in the God of the bible, don’t really believe He meant what He said!
You see, the authority of God’s Word has continually been under attack since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden. In fact, in today’s 21st Century, the Bible is arguably under the greatest degree of attack, marginalization, and demonization in its’ history. Ironically, many people who dismiss God’s Word have never read it!
As we think about sharing the Lord with people, at some point in the witnessing process, we must declare and point people to God’s Word, because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
But the challenge to our speaking words of life and pointing people to the Word of God is spiritual opposition – for the enemy desires to keep people from receiving and believing God’s Word. For example, in the parable of the soils, Jesus explains this dynamic:
“Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.” – Matthew 13:3-4, 18-19
Additionally, many people today either haven’t or won’t engage the Word of God because they’ve believed the lies of those who stand against it. Others distance themselves from God’s Word because they understand on some level its’ threat to their autonomy. As Mark Twain said, “I am not troubled by the things in the Bible which I do not understand, but I am troubled by those things which I do understand and which I find very difficult to measure up to.”
As we discuss spiritual matters with people, we need to undergird those conversations with prayer, asking the Lord to:
- bind and remove Satan’s work in a person’s life and to open their eyes to the truth of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
- help our audience to understand, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the gospel when it is presented to them, so that the devil can’t snatch it away (Matthew 13: 5, 19).
- take the Word of God planted in the heart to take root in that individual’s life and bring about salvation (Matthew 13:8, 23).
Next time we’ll begin discussing how we are to speak the truth in love. For now, may we put our trust in the God Who has spoken. And as we discuss spiritual issues with people, pray God would soften their hearts to interact with His Word, believe the gospel, and be saved.
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
– John 8:32