The scriptures make a powerful case for the importance of God’s word. The phrase, “Thus says the Lord,” for example, appears more than 400 times in the Old Testament. It is a signature phrase used by the prophets when introducing a message from God. It signifies the authority for the statement that follows and certifies that the statement is not of the prophet’s own devising, but is indeed from God Himself.
Time after time Moses reminded the people of Israel to keep the word of God in every aspect of their lives. They had to know God’s word and obey it in order to receive His blessings in the Promised Land. If they did not know and obey God’s word, they would suffer His wrath. Moses often punctuated these reminders by telling Israel not to stray from God’s word either to the right hand or to the left. One cannot read the Old Testament without seeing the necessity of knowing God’s word and obeying it.
However, some professed believers today act as though somehow God’s revealed word is not as important as it once was. They speak of “knowing Jesus” as if it is some mystical thing that envelopes them like a foggy night. They often look down upon those who stress the importance of reading and knowing scripture, as though reliance on the written word somehow separates one from the Savior. When pressed, they will attest that they believe in God’s word, but their attitudes toward it and their actions suggest that their feelings are far more important to them.
When we honestly read the New Testament, we discover that God has not changed His attitude about His word. He still requires that we know and obey His word in order to receive His blessings. One of the places where this truth is powerfully proclaimed in the New Testament is Jas. 1:21. Here James said, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
James’ choice of words in this verse is interesting and very meaningful. He said it is the “implanted” word that is able to save one’s soul. This means that the word of God must abide within one’s heart in order to bear the “fruit” of salvation. The most obvious illustration of this truth is a farmer and the seed from which he wishes to harvest a crop. So long as the seed sits in a bag in his barn, it cannot produce a crop, and he is foolish to expect it to do so. Only when the farmer has planted the seed in the ground and watered and nurtured it, will a crop grow and fruit be produced.
In the same way, as long as our Bibles sit on the shelf unopened and unread, the word of God will not produce salvation for us. Only when we open God’s word, plant it in our hearts, and nurture it there will we know God’s will and obey it. Only then will we receive the salvation for which God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross.
We cannot implant the word of God in our hearts unless we devote ourselves to it and to doing what it commands us. Systematic study is essential to knowing God’s will, but until we do what the scriptures command us to do, the word will not bear fruit in our lives. In Jas. 1:22 James said, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” This is the rest of the story. One who hears (or reads) God’s word and does it, has implanted the word in his heart. The implanted word will bear the fruit of salvation in that person’s life and that person will have a home in heaven at the end of time.