Christ’s Words In Us
Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Another condition is stated in John 15:7, although it is really involved first: “and My words abide in you.” If we are to receive from God all we ask from Him, Christ’s words must abide in us. We must study His words and let them sink into our thoughts and hearts. We must keep them in our memories, obey them constantly in our lives, and let them shape and mold our daily lives and all our actions.
This is really the method of abiding in Christ. It is through His words that Jesus imparts Himself to us. The words He speaks are spirit and life (John 6:63). It is vain to expect power in prayer unless we meditate on the words of Christ and let them sink deeply and find a permanent abode in our hearts. Many wonder why they are so powerless in prayer. The very simple explanation of it all is found in their neglect of the words of Christ. They have not hidden His words in their hearts(Psalm 119:11); His words do not abide in them. It is not by moments of mystical meditation and rapturous experiences that we learn to abide in Christ. It is by feeding on His Word, His written word in the Bible, and looking to the Spirit to implant these words into our heart to make them a living thing in our hearts. If we thus let the words of Christ abide in us, they will stir us up in prayer. They will be the mold in which our prayers are shaped. And our prayers will necessarily be consistent with God’s will and will prevail with Him. Prevailing prayer is almost an impossibility where there is neglect of the study of God’s Word.
Mere intellectual study of the Word of God is not enough; there must be meditation on it. The Word of God must be revolved over and over in the mind with a constant looking to God and His Spirit to make that Word a living thing in the heart. The prayer that is born of meditation on the Word of God is the prayer that soars upward to God’s listening ear.
George Muller, one of the mightiest men of prayer, would begin praying by reading and meditating on God’s Word until a prayer began to form itself in his heart. Thus, God Himself was the real Author of the prayer, and God answered the prayer that He Himself had inspired.
The Word of God is the instrument through which the Holy Spirit works. It is the “sword of the Spirit”(Ephesians 6:17) in more senses than one. The person who wants to know the work of the Holy Spirit in any direction must feed on the Word. The person who desires to pray in the Spirit must meditate on the Word so that the Holy Spirit may have something through which He can work. The Holy Spirit works His prayers in us though the Word. Neglect of the Word makes praying in the Holy Spirit an impossibility. If we seek to feed the fire of our prayers with the fuel of God’s Word, all our difficulties in prayer will disappear.
The connection between abiding in the Word and abiding in the Spirit is visible in the life of Christ. In the opening verses of the Gospel of John we read:
“In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ( Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. And the Word (Christ) became flesh, and lived among us; and we [actually] saw His glory, glory as belongs to the [One and] only begotten Son of the Father, [the Son who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, who is] full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception).” (John 1:1,14)
As we read the little bit that we are given about Christ’s childhood we find the story of Him sitting in the temple with the scholars discussing the scriptures.
“Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover Feast. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning [to Nazareth], after spending the required number of days [at the Feast], the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem. Now His parents did not know this, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and traveled a day’s journey; and [then] they began searching [anxiously] for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for Him [everywhere]. Three days later they found Him in the [court of the] temple, sitting among the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. All who heard Him were amazed by His intelligence and His understanding and His answers. When they saw Him, they were overwhelmed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us like this? Listen, Your father and I have been [greatly distressed and] anxiously looking for You.” And He answered, “Why did you have to look for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Do we see how important the Word was with Christ who was the Living Word in the flesh?
We next read that the Word was powerful in Him in the temptation in the wilderness as He faces Satan. Notice that He didn’t just know bits and pieces of the Word for when Satan quoted the Word our of context, Christ immediately responded with a refute of that twisted quote.
“And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him into the holy city [Jerusalem] and placed Him on the pinnacle (highest point) of the temple. And he said [mockingly] to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘ He will command His angels concerning You [to serve, care for, protect and watch over You]’; and ‘ They will lift you up on their hands, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone .’” Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written and forever remains written, ‘You shall not test the Lord your God.’” Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory [splendor, magnificence, and excellence] of them; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written and forever remains written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” Then the devil left Him; and angels came and ministered to Him [bringing Him food and serving Him].” (Matthew 4:3-11)
Often we attribute Christ’s success to the fact that He was the Son of God. However, Philippians says that He emptied Himself and became a bond servant in the form of a human. As the Son of man, He taught us by example to rely on the Word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit and obedience to the Father.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan [River], to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him [vigorously protesting], saying, “It is I who need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus replied to him, “Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John permitted [it and baptized] Him. After Jesus was baptized, He came up immediately out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he (John) saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him (Jesus), and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased and delighted!” (Matthew 3:13-17)
These verses precede the fourth chapter of Matthew that describes Christ in the wilderness, tempted by Satan after fasting forty days. Here’s what we see. Jesus came to Jordan to be baptized- not that He needed to be, but that we need to be as
a testimony of our surrender to God. Further, the Holy Spirit descends upon Him and then the Spirit begins to lead Him. First, the Spirit leads Him into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan and then the Spirit guides Him and empowers Him for the work of God.
“Then Jesus went back to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and the news about Him spread through the entire region. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised and glorified and honored by all. So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah), Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy), to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the favor of God abound greatly].” Then He rolled up the scroll [having stopped in the middle of the verse], gave it back to the attendant and sat down [to teach]; and the eyes of all those in the synagogue were [attentively] fixed on Him. He began speaking to them: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing and in your presence.” (Luke 4:14-21)
And so throughout the life and ministry of Christ on earth we find an obedient vessel, filled with the Word of God and working through the authority of that same Word; filled with the Holy Spirit and working by the power of that same Spirit and accomplishing the purposes of God. No wonder His prayers had such effect that the disciples sought that He might teach them to pray in such a way.
“It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. ‘Give us each day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us [who has offended or wronged us]. And lead us not into temptation [ but rescue us from evil].’” (Luke 11:1-4)
This was not to be something that we memorize and quote repetitiously without thought or meditation, but a model of prayer in which we ought to spend time meditating on until God moves us to prayer.
While it may seem difficult, it is simple. To have an effective prayer life we must also have a Word life. Neither can be just an exercise that we schedule for a few minutes daily as though it is some task we check off our list. Meditation on the Word is not just memorizing it or being able to quote it. Meditation is to think about, to sift through, to reflect on, to digest, to make the Word part of our very being. When I think about the phrase that John uses, “and the Word became flesh” I think about how in a natural sense the food we eat becomes part of us. We even say, “You are what you eat.” We don’t just smell or taste the food, we eat it, consume it and in the amazing creation way that God designed us, that food is processed, it’s nutrients are absorbed by our bodies and we are healthy because it keeps our cells alive. In the same way as we read the Word and meditate on the Word until it becomes part of our soul and spirit, as it is acted on by the Holy Spirit whom we have invited to fill us, it in turn produces the Christ-life in us and we become strong Christians in our faith and works. Just as we feed our bodies a variety of food, and we know junk food provides little or no nutrition and can actually be harmful, so also we must be aware of what we feed our minds and spirits. If we consume a steady diet of the garbage of the world, our spirits will become diseased and wither away. We will become powerless to resist sin in the same way the body of flesh can be weakened with poor nutrition and lose its ability to resist disease. We know to have healthy bodies, we must eat the right foods and exercise so that those foods grow muscle and strength. In the same way we must feed our minds and spirits from the healthy food of the Word of God, exercise through prayer and meditation so that we may grow our faith and works in the kingdom of God.
Dr. John Thompson