Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 26, 1951

The Power Of Language

C. D. Crouch, Trumann, Arkansas

"For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4:12) This is a quotation from the American Standard Version. It is no different from the affirmation made in the King James Version that God's word is "quick (alive) and powerful." There are so many passages in the living Oracles that affirm the same truth, and they are so familiar, that one hesitates for the moment to appeal to them. Be it understood once for all, that it is not necessary for any truth to be repeatedly stated, to be convincing; all that is needed is for God to say anything once, and the heart of faith accepts the statement as incontrovertible.

It is not essential that we try to determine here just why the old conceit, that the word of God is a dead letter, ever came to be accepted by any intelligent people. It is a truth, however, that many people, who are otherwise intelligent, have accepted it, and been greatly influenced by it. It ought to be apparent too, that that conceit is in direct contradiction of the statement in God's word, quoted above.

What is meant by "the word of God?" We sometimes say words are signs of ideas. By that we mean that the combination of symbols, that we call "letters," are signs of ideas. Language is both oral and written. Spoken language is the utterance of sounds, which are indicated by the symbols in written language. That which "God has spoken unto us," has been written for us. Hence the sum-total of that which God has spoken unto man is what we call the "Word of God."

Sir Isaac Newton is accredited with saying that "God gave to man reason and religion by giving him speech." It is true that we think in terms of our own experience. No one in ancient Greece or Rome ever thought in terms of steam engines, steamboats, trolley cars, or airplanes. They had no words in their languages for such ideas. Thus it is seen that such words are signs of ideas.

Alexander Campbell, in a lecture on the Origin and Destiny of the Anglo-Saxon Language, delivered in Cincinnati, more than a century ago, said: "We need not the fictions of the fabulist, nor the high-wrought eulogies of the poet; we need but the great fact that language has ever been the great minister of civilization and redemption. It was by the gift of tongues that nations were subdued to the obedience of faith. It was the spirit of wisdom and of eloquence that gave to HIM that spoke as mortal man never did, a power, intellectual, moral and spiritual, transcendent over the destinies of the world. Its power is not only felt on the thrones of kings and on the tribunals of justice, but on the throne of God itself. It electrifies the heavenly hosts, and opens the fountains of sympathetic feeling and of profound devotion, in the loftiest spirits that environ the celestial throne. It has awakened emotions in the human heart, and kindled raptures in the soul, that, rising to heaven, have caused the earth to tremble under the knees of adoring saints, and have brought angels down on missions of mercy to mankind. The piety of the saint, and the zeal of the martyr, have, under its hallowed influence, achieved the most splendid victories inscribed on the rolls of time, and have effected revolutions and deliverances on earth that have caused enraptured silence amongst the adoring legions of the skies."

This quotation, besides being a flight of eloquence, is also a statement of simple truth. What is eloquence, but language expressing simple truth? Language is an instrument employed by one spirit to reproduce in another the same thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions. And thus it is that God has given us His word, that He may reproduce in us His thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions.

For instance, "The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts, through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us." But some one may object just here that says that this is done through the Holy Spirit; and it doesn't say the "word" has a thing to do with it. Be it understood that the argument is being made that the love God has for us far exceeds anything that has entered into the hearts of men. No man has any greater love than that which would prompt him to give his life for friends; while the love God has for us prompted the Christ to give his life for his enemies. Read carefully the fifth chapter of Romans. Since the Holy Spirit is putting the thought in words, for our learning, and our profit, it ought to be clear that the "love" God has for man is to be reproduced in us, the children of God, through the use of words. From a negative point of view, suppose God had never told us of that great love He has manifested toward us through the death of His Son? What man could ever have conceived such an idea? Who could ever have had such an exalted emotion?