The Creative Word
The power of the word of God is best appreciated when we consider the work of creation. In Ps. xxxiii. 6-9 we read: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap; He layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”
From this it is plain to be seen that the entire material of the earth and all that is in it, sprung from the word of God. We cannot comprehend the power of Divinity, but we can see from what is plainly declared, that the word of the Lord is not empty air, but that it is real substance. It is as though the world existed in the word, before it became in the shape in which it now is. When God’s word was uttered, then there was the earth and the heavens.
When the word of God names a thing, then that thing named is formed. Whatever is described by the word, exists in that word. Thus it is impossible for God to lie, for His word makes the thing so. So we read in Rom. iv. 17 that God “calleth those things that be not as though they were.” That is something that can be done by God alone. It is true that men sometimes undertake it, but their word does not make the thing so. When a man speaks of a thing that is not as though it were, there is only one word that can be used to describe his action. It is a lie. But God cannot lie, yet He speaks of those things that be not as though they were. For instance, God speaks of a thing that has no existence. He calls it by name, as though it were well known. The instant that His word goes forth, that instant a thing exists.
Consider well the statement of the Psalmist. “He spake and it was.” Not that He spake, and after that it was performed, as a superficial reading of the texts might lead one to think. That idea would not be gained if the translators had not inserted the word “done,” in italics. It is true that it was done then, but it was the word of the Lord that did it. The idea would be better conveyed by rendering the passage literally, as we have, “He spake, and it was.” As soon as He spake, there everything stood. Whatever God’s word says, is, because His word conveys the thing.
This is why in prophecy things are often spoken of as already done. He speaks of those things that be not as though they were already done, not, as is sometimes said, because in His purpose they exist, but because they exist in His word. They are as freely in existence as they can ever be, although they do not yet appear to human sight.
It is for this reason that the word of the Lord is strength and comfort to those who believe in it; for the word which is written in the Bible is the word of God, the same as that which created the heavens and the earth. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” That is, it is, “God breathed.” Now remember that “by the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” The breath of God, which has creative energy in it, is that which gives us the precepts and promises of the Bible.
That creative word is the power of the Gospel. For the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth; and the power of God is revealed in the things that are made. See Rom. i. 16, 20. The power of redemption is the power of creation, for redemption is creation. Thus, the Psalmist prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Ps. li. 10. The apostle Paul says that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” 2 Cor. v. 17.
What is this new creation that is wrought in the Gospel? It is righteousness, for the same apostle exhorted us to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Eph. iv. 24. Righteousness means good works, and therefore the apostle says that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained (or prepared) that we should walk in them.” Eph. ii. 10.
The word of the Lord is right. He speaks righteousness. So just as He spoke to emptiness and there the earth was, so He speaks to the soul that is destitute of righteousness, and if that word is received, the righteousness of that word is upon that man. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are passed, through the forbearance of God.” Rom. iii. 23-25. To declare is to speak; and so when God declares His righteousness in Christ for the remission of sins, righteousness is spoken into and upon that man, to take the place of his sins, which are taken away. And it is not simply a passive righteousness that is thus declared upon the man, but a real, active righteousness, for the word of the Lord is alive, and God’s righteousness is real and active.
This, in brief, is what the story of creation means to those who believe it. Satan would fain have men think that it is only a poem (as though a poem could not be true), or only a fiction gotten up to amuse people. This is the means which he has taken in these days to undermine the Gospel. If man once looks lightly upon creation, the force of the Gospel is weakened for them. Satan is even content that men should call redemption a greater work than that of creation, for thereby they are not in the least exalting the work of redemption, but depreciating it. Redemption and creation are the same work, and redemption is exalted only as creation is greatly appreciated. It will occur to some that since this is the case, that which commemorates redemption must also commemorate creation. This is true, but of that we shall speak at another time.
— E.J. Waggoner, Present Truth UK, October 20, 1892