The Living and Abiding Word of God

The Word Endures Forever

If body language could tell the story, a cursory glance at the two men on the dusty Zimbabwean road revealed they were at an impasse. With his arms folded and brow furrowed, everything about the Zimbabwean man revealed his skepticism of the missionary who pleaded with him to receive Christ. He wasn’t about to accept his offer of a new life in Christ, much less a free copy of the New Testament, without resistance. 

He replied, “If you give me that New Testament, I will roll the pages and use them to make cigarettes.” Unfazed by the insult, the missionary replied, “I understand, but will you at least read the page before you smoke it?” To shut the missionary up and cut the encounter short, the man agreed, snatched the New Testament from his hand, and left. 

The Bible is the Living Word of God

Have you ever experienced an encounter like the one on the Zimbabwean road, where a conversation starts out friendly but turns hostile when you mention the Bible or Jesus? People aren’t offended when you offer them a copy of Shakespeare, Plato, or Dickens, but those books don’t claim to be the authoritative Word of God. The Bible is the most translated, purchased, and read book in the world and makes bold and unique claims about its power. It’s no wonder Satan opposes it.

Jeremiah 23:29 likens the living Word of God to a fire and a hammer, and Ephesians 6:17 compares it to a sword, but it’s also described as a seed, a less intimidating but equally powerful form. Peter tells us the Word of God is living—like a seed, but unlike every other seed, this one never perishes and lasts forever. 

“since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for 

‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’

And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

1 Peter 1:23-25

Encased in an unassuming shell, a seed is a product and a producer. It’s a small investment with a large potential value whose yield depends on its environment. We know this seed is a mortal threat to the enemy, and he does all he can to prevent it from sinking in. In the parable of the soils, Satan, like the birds, immediately devours some seed that falls on the path of the human heart (Mark 4:15). As we share the gospel with others, we might observe the swooping birds of distraction, disinterest, and ill-will, but despite Satan’s best efforts, sometimes the seed falls on good soil and takes root.  

The Imperishable Seed

A believer’s new life, which grows out of the imperishable Word of God, is empowered to love. Peter reminds his readers that as a result of our living hope and our new birth, we are to love one another earnestly. When we’re reborn of imperishable seed, our life takes on the same characteristics of the seed, and we, too, will live forever. Unlike grass, which only lasts for a season, and flowers, which fade away in all their beauty, the living Word of God and the plantings it produces endure forever. 

So, what does this mean for our evangelism? A farmer doesn’t cause seeds to grow but faithfully plants and waters them. Despite his careful tending, the seeds he sows sometimes lay dormant for a long time—which is Peter’s point. It’s not our cleverly devised arguments or our life’s example that brings about new life but the powerful life-producing work of God’s imperishable and never-fading Word. 

The Bible is the Living Word of God

After all, is there any other book that can do what the Bible does? What other book do you know that is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb 4:12)? How many books are on your shelf that are without error, can revive your soul, give profound insight into the nature of things, give you joy, and never lead you astray (Ps 19:7-11)? 

Can you name any other book that is characterized as life (Phil 2:16), truth (2 Cor 6:7, Col 1:5), the word of promise (Rom 9:9), and reconciliation (2 Cor 5:19)? What other book can be the authoritative message of truth (Eph. 1:13), the word of God’s power (Heb 1:3), and the very words of Christ (Rom 10:17, Col 3:16)? 

Perhaps some imposters may make such audacious claims—but none can deliver on their promises, nor will they remain forever. We can build our lives on his living Word and know that even if (and when) all of heaven and earth pass away—the living Word of God will never pass away (Matt. 5:18, 24:35). It endures forever and ever and ever.

Believing the Word he Once Smoked

As is the nature of seeds, we don’t know how much time must pass between sowing and reaping. Often, we don’t know if an imperishable seed has taken root underneath the surface of shaking fists or crossed arms or if Satan has successfully snatched it away. However, once in a while, the Lord allows us to see the growth of his imperishable seed, as was the case for the missionary in Zimbabwe.

Many years after his encounter on the road, the missionary was sitting among thousands of attendees at a conference when the speaker saw him from the stage and addressed him from the podium. It was the Zimbabwean man who had snatched the New Testament from his hand, and he said, “This man doesn’t remember me, but fifteen years ago, he gave me a copy of the New Testament. I smoked Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but when I got to John 3:16, I couldn’t smoke anymore. At that moment, my life changed.” He, who had once been hostile to the gospel, became a full-time evangelist sharing the living Word of God.

So, carry on, dear sojourner and farmer. Keep sowing seeds and entrusting God with the increase, for his living and abiding Word never returns to him empty—even when it seems at first to go up in smoke.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:10-11


P.S. How has God’s living and abiding Word worked in your life? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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6 Responses

  1. Mm. Mm. Mm. This is one of my favorite truths of all time! I never tire of the reminder that God’s Word is always alive and fruitful. I’ve experienced its power in every area of my life; it has become as vital to my existence as breath and blood. Excellent writing, Cara!

  2. Beautiful post!! That story is so moving and powerful! God’s Word has moved in my life by enabling me to die to myself and become more like Him. His Word truly is alive and active!

  3. Thank you Cara! His Word is a lamp upon my feet and a light unto my path. Sometimes I can get so wrapped up in the things of this world that I forget that His word gives me hope, peace and joy. ❤️

  4. What an encouraging story! It lifted my heart today.
    Indeed God’s word never returns to Him void, and will produce a huge harvest in His perfect time.

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