Theology 101 — Effectual

As noted last week regarding the inspiration of Holy Scripture, the breath of God is upon His word. This God-breathed Word has the truth of God within it. Furthermore, it has the purposes of God behind it. As a result, it is an effectual word from God.

Such was the message given by Paul to the Thessalonian believers: “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).

Spiritual birth

Being an effectual Word, the Bible shows the way to a spiritual birth for sinners who are spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). Being spiritually dead, sinners desperately need to experience a spiritual birth in order to come alive to the life God wants for them.

According to 1 Peter 1:23, this new birth is possible “through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”

Having embarked on this new life, forgiven sinners find that God’s word is effectual in reproving us when we come short of God’s standards for His children and then correcting us. To this end, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). God’s word is effectual to purify those who hear it and respond to it in obedience, according to 1 Peter 1:22: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth.”

Unhurried meditation

God’s word is effectual in instructing, guiding and illuminating believers who choose to read it, meditate on it and obey it.

One of the greatest omissions a Christian can make is spending regular time with that Word. In our fast-paced lives, some find they do well to make time for quickly reading the Bible, let alone quietly meditating on what they read.

Unhurried meditation on God’s word often leads to memorizing portions of it. When that takes place, we can say with the psalmist when we pray, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (119:11).

By meditating on what we read in God’s word, we can experience the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the Colossian believers: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16).

Editor’s Note – Jerry Batson is a retired Alabama Baptist pastor who also has served as associate dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and professor of several schools of religion during his career. 

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