“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, 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. Isaiah 55:10-11 (NKJV)
God says His Word is like the rain and the snow that He sends to the earth. The rain and snow enable the earth to produce what is necessary for physical life. In a similar way, God’s Word goes out and produces what is necessary for eternal life.
Notice that it says, “My word…” This is the key to this promise. It’s not my words. It’s not your words. It’s not my opinions. It’s not your opinions. It’s not my ideas, and it’s not your ideas that gets the job done. It’s God’s Word and only God’s Word that is guaranteed to be effective in doing what God wants done. This is why it is so important to give Biblical answers to questions people have for us. This is especially true when we are trying to disciple or evangelize someone. Our opinions or politics won’t win the lost or mature a new believer. God’s Word however, it has the power to do both.
I love that God says His Word will not return void. The Amplified Bible adds to the word void by saying “without producing any effect, useless”. This is a powerful, and hope filled, and hope producing promise. God’s Word always works. God’s Word has a sort of natural power to it that guarantees that it always does something in the heart and life of the person who hears it or reads it. There are, I believe, two keys to understanding this.
First is what God, “…what I please…for which I sent it…” God’s Word accomplishes God’s will. God’s Word does what God wants it to do. This is an admonition for us as we seek to study and share God’s Word. We must be sure that what we want to see accomplished through God’s Word is the same thing He wants to see accomplished through it. It is His will that prevails, not mine and not yours.
The second that isn’t explicit, but implicit, in the passage and is seen throughout the rest of Scripture is that what it produces usually depends on how we respond. The reality is that everyone responds to God’s Word every time they hear it or read it. One of the great lies that people believe is what I’ve come to call the myth of neutrality. The myth of neutrality is the idea that I can be neutral about Jesus, His Word, the Gospel and even the appeal of the Gospel. Those who believe this lie wouldn’t consider themselves hostile toward Jesus, His Word or the Gospel. They would probably even say that they didn’t reject it. Instead, they have decided not to decide. They have chosen not to choose. In their minds, this is acceptable. This is a complete myth. There is no way to be neutral toward Jesus, His Word or the Gospel. There is no way to not respond. Everyone responds to the God’s Word every time they hear it, or read it. Every time.
The great Baptist Pastor Charles Spurgeon said, “The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins” I find this quote to be challenging and amazing. I also find it to be absolutely true. What Scripture does in us depends on whether we reject it or receive it.
One truth to keep in mind about rejecting and receiving is that it is built far more on what we do than on what we say. It is entirely possible to affirm all of Scripture as being the inspired Word of God but end up rejecting it because we don’t put it into practice. We reject anything we don’t implement. Chances are we want to push back against this, I know I do. However, when you look at Scripture you can’t help but notice how seriously God takes His Word.
“Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:8 (NKJV)
The “this” Paul is talking about is the instruction he’d just given them. To reject the instruction Paul had given them, wasn’t to reject Paul but God. Paul in this passage wasn’t addressing unbelievers but believers. For them not to do what God had inspired him to instruct them to do would be seen by God as a rejection of God. Anytime we reject God’s inspired instructions to us, we are rejecting the God who gave the instructions.
All of this applies to believers and unbelievers alike. God’s Word always accomplishes something in us, through us, and for us. What it accomplishes depends largely on how we respond, whether we reject it or receive it. This week I plan to blog about the various results of rejecting and receiving God’s Word.