~~By James Fire
[And take the helmet of salvation,] and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
We will examine the Helmet of Salvation in the next segment of this article (Part 7); right now let’s examine here in Part 6: the SWORD of the SPIRIT which is the WORD of GOD –
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself.
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
~* The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, and this has a two-fold meaning; on the one hand you have the Word Incarnate, Eternally existing with the Father since before the foundation of the earth, Who then became flesh and dwelt among us (Jesus Christ; see 1 John 1:1-2; John 1:14; Rev. 19:13); on the other hand you have the Word inspired, which are the Holy Scriptures that have been ‘God-breathed’ into the various amanuenses (writers that received dictation [from the Spirit of God]; see 2 Peter 1: 21; 2 Tim. 3:16).
Both the Incarnate Word and the inspired Word are representations of and are themselves the Truth of God expressed; the former in the Person of Jesus Christ, the latter in the pages of Scripture.
I believe both are in view in this portrait of the warrior-saint.
This Sword, like the Shield of Faith, is a mobile part of our armor and not fixed upon us like the breastplate or the helmet; these are implements we must take hold of with a firm grip and held securely not by our own strength but by the “power of His might”. The Word of God is effective in our own personal lives, the lives of all the saints who love the Truth; it is likewise useful in tearing down the arguments and disputations of the lost souls who yet still have the mind-set of the depraved, seeing that they are still blinded by sin.
We utilize the Word of God as well against the attacks and temptations of the enemy, much as the LORD Jesus, the Word, the creator of heaven and earth, the One in Whom resides all the power of the God-head, utilized it in His duel with Satan (and if Almighty God found it appropriate to use the Word in His interactions with the devil, how much more so we, who are vessels of clay with the Spirit of God dwelling within us!).
This Sword of the Spirit is an effective offensive weapon, indeed the ultimate weapon! The quintessential ‘sacred (not ‘secret’) weapon’ of the church!
Understanding that Jesus is the Word Incarnate, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, and that He is indeed Almighty God in human flesh, its incredible to read His confrontation with Satan in the days of temptation in the desert after forty days of fasting (Matt. Ch. 4: 1-11; Luke Ch. 4: 1-13); He didn’t use His power as God made flesh to blast Satan into oblivion or across the universe, but rather He used the very Word of God, the Holy Scriptures and used His power to adhere and remain faithful to the Scriptures. As the Captain of the LORD’s Hosts, the LORD Jesus provided for us an example of how to conduct spiritual warfare, using the Sword of the Spirit and by the power of the Spirit (“the power of His might”) adhere and remain faithful to the Scriptures. We can do no better than using this weapon against our enemy, and we can do deplorably worse by using any other weapon of human manufacture and invention (Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology, Economics, Politics, etc)!
Any sword wielded by warriors and soldiers through out time and upon any battlefield will tell you that this weapon serves well as both a defensive and offensive device. Likewise when we are confronted by the enemy who would attack us and ruin us, the Word employed is an able defender on our behalf. The Word itself doesn’t require our defense, but we surely require its defense!
I really like Charles Spurgeon’s comment on the Word: “You need not defend the scriptures for they are like a lion in the cage. The lion itself needs no defense; you have only to let it out of its cage!”
This is not to say that apologetics isn’t a useful or necessary ministry, because we are most certainly supposed to “give a reason (apologia in the Greek) for the hope that is in us” (1 Pet. 3:15), but the Word of God is powerful when sown in the lives of people, even the most ardent and zealous skeptics and militant atheists. I have often encountered such people and all the while they protest my quotation of scripture, insisting that they “don’t believe any of that garbage”, the scriptures are able to penetrate into the very depths of the heart.
Don’t defend the Word of God (in apologetics) so much as use the Word of God!
Yet before you can use it, you need to read it, know it, and handle it properly (a wise admonition for a blade such as this, which is far sharper and deadlier than any other sword manufactured by mere man!).
2 Tim 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
1 Thess 2:13
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
2 Cor 10:4
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
(See also Prov. 30:5; Matt. 4: 1-11; Luke 5:1; Acts 4:31; 19: 8-9; 1 Peter 1: 2-3; 1 John 2:14)
Just as sword and shield are used by the warrior as the offensive and defensive aspects of any engagement in battle, likewise the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and the Shield of Faith are to be used in conjunction in order to be effective.
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
The Word given to the children of Israel on their way to Canaan land was not believed by the vast majority of them, thus of the original generation that left Egypt, only TWO survived their journey to lay claim to the promises God gave to that entire nation: Joshua and Caleb (not even Moses entered into the promised land! See Heb. 3:11 – 4:11).
By faith we must believe God’s Word or fall into the same kind of unbelief that prohibited the people of Israel from receiving the promises God made to them!
The ‘father of the faithful’ Abraham is our great example of believing faith that acquires the promises of God’s Word (see Romans 4:3; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23): think of how the faith of this “friend of God” has affected all the generations of the history of mankind! Who will be affected by our faith in God's Word of Truth in this world?
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
As saints and followers of Jesus Christ, may I encourage all of us to find and hold onto a new love, passion and zeal for reading, studying, believing and obeying the Word of God! In light of this admonition here is a video clip from Sermon Index (note: don’t let the appearance of this brother throw you with his long hair and dark sunglasses; I was initially taken aback by him too, but once you hear his testimony and his exhortation, I believe you will be as encouraged and blessed as I was! Perhaps you might want to set aside some time later to watch this as it is over an hour long):
A Revival of GOD's WORD by Jose Muniz
Now that we have watched Jose and heard his extolling of God’s Word, turn to Psalm 119 and read the Psalmists own veneration of the Word of God; how appropriate that the longest Psalm, the largest chapter in the Bible is all about the Word of God!
Note: Such words employed in this Psalm, such as “law, testimony, statutes, precepts, commandments, and judgments” have some technical differences, but essentially they are all related to the Word of God as recorded in Scripture.
BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
The LORD Jesus said,
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
We know by matter of course that when we look out the window every morning, the sky and earth will be there to greet us; it’s been that way all of our lives. None of us have spent a sleepless night filled with anxiety that they might be gone the following day.
Yet the LORD Jesus has stated that as dependable as these are, one day, they will vanish away, but not so His words! It endures to all generations, its established in the eternal halls of heaven, and will stand forever, no matter how severely the truth may come under enemy fire (or even supposedly ‘friendly fire’?).
In our engagement against the enemy, we will be challenged to disbelieve God’s Word for he will certainly attempt to inflict doubt and a decided lack of confidence in the Word of the LORD.
Yet our God is a ROCK – unchanging, unalterable, unassailable, unmoving! He is sovereign and supreme, and the authority of His Word is so paramount that God even exalts it about His Own Most Holy Name (Ps. 138:2)!
In days such as these we live in now, filled with uncertainties, fears, unknowns and unanticipated perils, it’s a temptation to succumb to these pressures as we view the storms all about us, yet we always have a choice: we either believe those things within the sphere of our viewing, or believe what God has told us.
I’ll never forget how the LORD used a John Wayne movie to speak to my heart; it was the film McClintock where the Duke starred with Maureen O’Hara and Yvonne DeCarlo.
An inebriated McClintock was ‘helping’ house keeper Mrs. Warren (DeCarlo) up the stairs, but ended up tumbling back down, with her landing on top of him. McClintock’s estranged wife (O’Hara) comes out of her room and glaring down the stairs sees this sight. Once McClintock comes to, and sees her in a rage, he says,
“Now Katherine, are ya gunna believe what you SEE or what I TELL ya?”
In this world of turmoil, deception and sin, God often has to ask us the same question re: His ability to provide, protect and help us to persevere in the midst of such a domain as this. For more about this subject, please view this article FROM the MIND of FIRE:
A Different Sermon on Another Mount
‘Bible’ means “book” and we call it ‘the Holy Book’, but in all actuality the Bible is a library consisting of sixty six books, written by more than forty authors, over a span of time covering thousands of years. Contained within these ‘tomes of truth’ are various covenants and dispensations throughout this revelation, and doctrines that must be understood within the context of the whole work. Thus as the above scripture from Paul admonishes us, we must indeed RIGHTLY divide the Word of Truth, and the only way this is possible is under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit and of Christ Jesus Himself, whether directly or indirectly through an able ‘workman of the Word’ be they pastor or lay teacher (See John 14:26; Eph. 4:21; 1 Tim 5:17).
Every false doctrine known to the church has come about either by a misunderstanding or misapplication of scripture, or a preoccupation and emphasis of some scripture while ignoring others. This is why we must study, learn and understand ALL the counsel of God which He has given to us in the Scriptures (Acts 20:26-28) – from Genesis to Revelation. For this reason I believe strongly in expositional studies over topical ones. This is not to say that topical teaching isn’t useful for specific purposes and on certain occasions, they certainly are! However, a steady diet of topical teaching can leave ‘gaps’ in one’s understanding of the Word.
Faithful, regular, repetitious, expositional teaching of God’s Most Holy Word will ably equip us with all that God intends for us, for if He didn’t intend for us to read Esther or Job, Micah or Obadiah (who reads Obadiah?!) He would not have wasted the time and effort, ink and parchment on behalf of the prophets and apostles who wrote such books.
From an article by Chuck Missler we have the following:
“As most of our regular readers know, the two great discoveries that are the underpinning of this ministry [Koinonia House – khouse.org - are, first, that the Bible is an integrated message. Even though it consists of 66 separate books which were penned by about 40 different authors-over thousands of years- we now discover that it is the product of detailed and skillful engineering: every detail, every place name, even the mathematical properties of the text are the result of deliberate and careful design.
“The rabbis have a quaint way of expressing this idea. They often say that they really won't be able to interpret the true meaning of the Scriptures until the Messiah comes. "But when He comes He will not only interpret the passages, He will interpret the very words, the very letters, He will even interpret the spaces between the letters!" I used to dismiss this as just a colorful exaggeration, until I re-read Matthew 5:17, 18:
"Think not that I am come to destroy the Torah, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one yot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
“Now a yot and a tittle are the Hebrew equivalents of our dotting an "i" or crossing a "t." I then realized that those rabbis were apparently closer to the truth than I had ever imagined!
“The realization that the Bible is a skillfully designed message system significantly altered my understanding of the whole and my respect for the details. But it also involved a second discovery: the Bible demonstrates that its origin is from outside our time domain.”
And further more from Chuck:
“Paul's use of the idiom ‘the Sword of the Spirit’ carries some other suggestive characteristics. Most of the ancient armies favored a long sword with a single edge. The Romans developed a short sword- the Machira -which, with its associated techniques, enabled them to conquer the world. It was only 24 inches long and was sharpened on both edges.
“But there was a secret to its effectiveness: training and practice. Its uniqueness was a liability unless it was used with the proper techniques, which required extensive practice. Is there a lesson here for us?
“Let's look at an example: What Bible study was given by seven different people, on twelve separate occasions (in just one book of the Bible), always yielded remarkable results, and yet is rarely given today? The Answer: Presenting Jesus Christ as the Messiah entirely from the Old Testament.
“In the Book of Acts, when they presented Jesus from the Scriptures, they were using only the "Old Testament." Could you present Jesus to your Jewish friends using only these references?
“The proper use of our "Sword" requires training, and practice, practice, and more practice, if we are to be effective for our Lord. There are (at least) four highly effective techniques to acquiring the essential skills:
“1. Serious study, with a core set of tools in your home library. If you're serious about your Bible, invest in it: acquire a resource base of your own. Pick up a good study Bible, an exhaustive concordance, Biblical helps, etc.
2. Discover the amazing results available through [CD’s, CD-ROMS, MP3 files and other recorded study materials]. You can be personally tutored by whomever you best relate to. Some have indicated that they have learned more about their Bible in six months with [these] than they have after twelve years of Christian schools plus seminary! This is one reason that our ministry has emphasized these remarkable resources (Romans 10:17).
3. Join a home Bible study. The dynamics within an intimate group is where the real action is!
4. The biggest secret of all: teach a home Bible study. The way to really learn a book is to teach it. It is not hard to collect some competent background materials and stay a week ahead of the group. Few things are as rewarding.”
The Sword of the Spirit
May I likewise say that when I am studying God’s Word in preparation for some study (whether on TTUF or its Sister sites or a Bible study in person, I tend not to use commentaries too often. I much prefer to utilize the Bible itself (I am fond of saying that when you sit down with your Bible, studying any particular book in it, you have available to you the best commentaries you can get, and you don’t even have to get up out of your chair for these supreme commentaries, that number sixty-five in total!
Of course I’m referring to the other books of the Bible! In other words, let the Bible make commentary on the Bible; for this reason I very much enjoy using the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, because it uses a numerical system that ‘links’ all the various subjects and themes of the Bible together in a chain (hence the name of this study Bible. NOTE: Be advised that cross references are the manufacture of biblical scholars and teachers and not in themselves inspired of God, so caution is always necessary in utilizing these, but only to a certain degree. I have found most of the Thom. Chain references to be useful and accurate).
The Thompson Chain Study Bible
I also like to use a Strong’s Exhaustive (NOT Concise!) Concordance; this is a most remarkable tool! Exhaustive means that every available reference in the scripture is recorded in this volume linking them to the list of words that are used in the Bible; concise means that only the majority and primary words are listed and this will leave out such words as deemed of lesser importance.
Just suppose you wanted to do a character study on the life of Abraham: you could scour the Bible on your own, thinking (and guessing) of every place where he is mentioned, or you could get your Strong’s Concordance and simply look up the name ‘Abraham’ (don’t forget to look up his previous name ‘Abram’ too) and you will find a list of every reference of the scriptures where Abram/Abraham is mentioned!
The same thing goes if you wanted to do a study regarding a biblical location, such as Jezreel, or Mount Sinai or Jerusalem or Bethlehem. Strong’s Concordance also has lexicons or dictionaries that explain Hebrew and Greek words (the primary languages in which the Bible was written) and their meanings, which can be very significant.
Take Bethlehem for example – if you look up the Hebrew word used for ‘Bethlehem’ you find that it is: beyth lechem or “house of bread”. How interesting that the very birth place of the One Who declared Himself to be “the Bread of Life” was born in this little town of Bethlehem!
Perhaps you wanted to do a word study on “joy” or “power” or “love” or “faith”, etc. The Strong’s Concordance is an excellent beginning point that ably leads you to all the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation that deal with any specific word you want to examine!
What about doing a study on ‘kingdoms’ such as the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven, etc.; just look up the word ‘kingdom’ and then examine all the columns of references where “kingdom” of heaven or “kingdom” of God are listed and you have yourself every scripture in the Bible where these are mentioned! Instantly you have a comprehensive Bible study right in hand!
Here’s the edition of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance that I use (It includes many of the primary and relevant words used in the Bible and their Hebrew and Greek meanings as found in Vine’s Expository Dictionary on Biblical Words, or you can get a Vine’s as a separate work):
The STRONG's EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE
Another valuable tool for Bible study is the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge; this useful tool is a veritable treasure trove of Biblical cross references! From Genesis to Revelation, every verse recorded in this work (containing the entire Bible) as a series of cross references from the entire Bible that are meaningful to that specific verse! Outstanding!
The TREASURY of SCRIPTURE KNOWLEDGE
Of course when I’ve finished studying the scriptures, I often pick up commentaries for comparison with what I’ve gleaned from my own study (this is a good method of safely verifying whether or not my own conclusions are sound or needs a bit of revision, but always the Word of God is the final authority). Commentators often have insights that I don’t, or a clearer understanding of passages that I am a bit ‘fuzzy’ on; they may even bring up a very good point or two that has escaped my notice. Yet any commentary is AFTER my own study, not before it.
These are all ‘hardware’ tools to study the Scriptures with; books that you might acquire. There are computer software programs that make study of Scripture even more accessible!
Here is one example of some free software:
Here is another:
The BLUE Letter BIBLE
For those who are able to purchase materials, there are resourceful products out there for your due consideration, such as LOGOS SOFTWARE and related resources like: LIBRONIX
It is my heartfelt prayer that these tools would be employed by our readers, and that I’ve been able to excite and encourage you to really become avid students of the scriptures! As lovers are overjoyed to read the letters sent to each other, so we are overjoyed to read the Word, our love letter from God Himself! Remember that the Bible is not a mere textbook for the gathering of biblical knowledge, it’s a book born of God’s love, care and concern for the welfare of mankind; a means by which God Who is Love is reaching out to a lost race, bound by sin and needs deliverance and freedom from its bondage!
It's also represents our daily provision of spiritual nourishment, encouragement, guidance and inspiration for us who are His beloved children; how our Abba must rejoice when He beholds us feasting on His Word, and for all the spiritual health and vitality it brings us!
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Rom 6:18, 22
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Here ends the second to the last segment on the armor of God; once we complete a survey of the armor, we will look at some application, and learn about spiritual warfare conducted in the Old and New Testament. Until then, REMEMBER THE ARMOR!!