Previous to today, over the last few days, I was thinking about how water in the Bible represents both life/salvation and death/judgment. The same element is associated with both eternal life (e.g. “the fruit producing “rivers of water” in Psalm 1:2-3; “the washing of water by the word” in Ephesians 5:26, etc.) and eternal judgment (the flood, the river Jordan, etc.). I was thinking about what connects the two and it was clear: it’s the word; the water is the word, and as the word has dual purposes so does the water. I am going through the book of John and reached:
John 12:47-50 “And if any man hear MY WORDS, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not MY WORDS, hath one that JUDGETH him: THE WORD THAT I HAVE SPOKEN, THE SAME SHALL JUDGE him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His commandment is LIFE everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak.”
The same words that quickeneth (giveth, restoreth, mainteneth spiritual life) will also judge and kill. We read in:
2 Corinthians 3:6 “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for THE LETTER KILLETH, but the Spirit giveth LIFE.”
How does the Spirit give life? Not through the plain letter but by the spiritual application of the words of our Lord. Again we read in:
John 6:63 “It is the SPIRIT THAT QUICKENETH [It is the Spirit giving/begetting/producing life]; the flesh profiteth nothing: THE WORDS that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.”
As the water, the word of God is life-producing when wielded by Him unto the good of His people. In contrast, and still just as the water, the word of God destroys those who hate the word and it destroys after the letter because the letter cannot beget/restore/maintain life — only the Spirit can when He applies the words of our Lord to our heart. This is why we read in:
Isaiah 55:11 “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.”
God’s word will accomplish the intended purpose; it will either be used to save (give life) or to judge (take life) — all in accordance with the eternal will and purpose of God. We, as Christians proclaiming the word of God, enter into this reality as we read in:
2 Corinthians 2:15-17 “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one [we are] the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who [is] sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not as many, which corrupt THE WORD OF GOD: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God SPEAK WE in Christ.”
As we speak forth the Truth, declaring the Gospel that reveals Him, God’s word does not return unto Him void. It will indeed be a savour of life unto life and a savour of death unto death. God, in His great knowledge, wisdom, and mercy, allows His people to partake in His eternal purpose and for that we ought to rejoice (though our hearts be troubled when our words are indeed the savour of death unto death to those we know and love; which is why we should pray mightily for the salvation of those to whom we witness).
When the word of God, the word of truth, is unto life — water is a common term… but when it is unto death, the sword is more commonly in view for, per
Hebrews 4:11-13 “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man FALL after the same example of UNBELIEF. 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. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in HIS sight: but all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of HIM with whom we have to do.”
This is why we read in Revelation 2:16, concerning Christ and judgment through His word, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the SWORD OF MY MOUTH.” See also Revelation 19:15,21 And out of HIS MOUTH goeth a SHARP SWORD, that with it He should SMITE the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God…. 21 and the remnant were slain with the SWORD of Him that sat upon the horse, which SWORD proceeded out of HIS MOUTH: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”
Finally, the sword, the word of God, has a defensive use as well. It is in light of…
Ephesians 6:11-13 —“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to STAND AGAINST THE WILES OF THE DEVIL. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that YE MAY BE ABLE TO WITHSTAND IN THE EVIL DAY, and having done all, to stand…”
….that we read in verse 17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the SWORD of the Spirit, which is THE WORD OF GOD .” The Word of God quickens and saves (when spiritually applied); the word of God judges and kills (after the letter); and the word of God enables us to stand against the wiles of the devil and to stand come Judgment Day (also, as applied by the Holy Spirit). God’s word is holy, just, and good. It is also, precious, life-sustaining, and thus more valuable than silver and gold. Thank God for His word; may He apply it to our hearts all the more, feeding us, renewing us, making us to grow thereby. May we indeed, more and more and more, be both Hearers of the word (with spiritual ears to hear) and Doers of the word.
To God be the glory!