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THE WORD OF GOD: A FIRE
by Philip Owen

        No foe can withstand the force of God’s Word.  Recently we noted that the Word of God often acts like a hammer “that breaketh the rock in pieces” (Jer. 23:29).  The picture is that of the seemingly unassailable being crushed to powder by the pounding of a gigantic hammer.  The same verse offers another picture of the power of the Word of God, which is our subject today.  “Is not my word like as a fire?” (Jer. 23:29), the Lord asks rhetorically.  The image is strikingly dramatic, suggesting at least two very significant aspects of the Word.

 

        Fire feeds upon what is thrown upon it.  One of the most significant characteristics of fire is that something combustible thrown in its path with the intent of impeding its progress serves only to fuel the fury of the flame.  When we want a fire to die down, we do not throw more wood at its base.  Thus it is with the nature of the Word of God.  Opposition never weakens its effectiveness; just the opposite is true, in fact.  It has long been noted that “the death of martyrs is the seedbed of the church.”  Wicked men have never succeeded in stamping out God’s Word.  Where opposition has been strongest, the Word of God has been most effectual.  It can truly be observed that where there has been little opposition to the Word of God, the church has tended to become fat, weak, and complacent.  But when persecution arises, then believers take hold of the Word, cling to its promises, rest in its assurances, and stand strong for the Lord.  The greater the opposition, the stronger grows the Word (in the hearts of its people).  A Christian at ease may grow careless and indifferent toward the Word of God, reading it casually, if at all, ignoring its exhortations, shunning its rebukes.  But let a trial arise, and suddenly the believer runs to the Word.  It springs up as a great flame convicting the complacent one of his sin and devouring unrighteousness on every side.  And that brings us to the second characteristic of fire.

 

        Fire consumes what is thrown upon it.   The function of fire is to devour completely.  Anything combustible that meets a fire is finally reduced to a little pile of ashes.  The most imposing structure may be reduced by fire to a little heap in a matter of hours.  Even seemingly noncombustible material will melt under intense heat as the world witnessed when New York’s Twin Towers melted to the ground in 2001.  Unregenerate and rebellious men have yet to devise the system that can withstand the onslaughts of the fire of the Word of God.  The arguments that the greatest intellects throw up against the Word melt in the fiery heat of its truth.  Atheism, agnosticism, and hosts of false religions have risen, flourished for a moment, and sunk into oblivion.  Many, of course, remain today, but not one has nor will all of them together extinguish the flame of the Word of God.  God’s declaration to Jeremiah was that “I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them” (5:14).  Whatever the nature of the opposition, at the appropriate time, God will turn that opposition into kindling that will be consumed by the fiery truth of His Word.  As the Lord declared through another of His prophets, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:  it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).  When it pleases the Lord, His Word becomes a consuming fire devouring all in its path.  Whether we face the internal opposition of sin and rebellion in our own hearts or the external opposition of unbelieving enemies of the gospel, the Word of God will finally and completely consume all opposition without difficulty.  There is not a pitched battle going on; the outcome does not hang in the balance.  The Word of God is a fire, and all opposition is wood.  When God finally chooses to fan the flames, the end will be as swift as it is certain.  Trust and obey the Word of God, for it can and will accomplish all God intends it to accomplish.

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