If one stresses the inerrancy of God’s Word, at the expense of the efficacy of God’s Word, then God’s Word, or doctrines God teaches in the Scriptures, appears to most people to be primarily reliable information, information without error, including all facts of history, geography, etc. These “words,” doctrines, or teachings, when preached or taught, are then information which Christians, exercising their spiritual free will, respond to and carry out. In other words, once the Word of God is heard or read, the carrying out or exercising of God’s Word—and will—is then the total responsibility of the viewer/reader.


On the other hand, if one emphasizes that the “doctrine” or Word of God, or teaching of God in the Scriptures, is not merely information, but is also a living power, God’s Word and Spirit are then understood as that which carries out every Christian’s conversion and sanctification. Shocking as it may be to some, God’s Word prompts and carries out all our good works. “It is God Who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). “You have also performed, for us, all our works” (Isaiah 26:12). “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).


It is also extremely important to note that, in the Scriptures, God speaks of and defines His Word and His doctrines as being one and the same thing. Luther stresses that when the Word of God is not pure, it is not efficacious. God’s Word and God’s doctrine are not two sides of the same coin. They are both the essence of the coin. Therefore, it is quite shocking to see people demean, marginalize, or devalue the critical importance of pure doctrine for evangelistic and mission purposes. God’s Word not only gives the directive for missions, His Word carries out His mission. It is almost impossible to believe that anyone who has read 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus would even make even the most remote remark impugning the value of pure doctrine.


Psalm 119 is very helpful for understanding the efficacy of the Word. First, Psalm 119 is not only the longest Psalm, it is also the longest chapter in the entire Bible. Psalm 119:105 relates quite directly to the above discussion. In Psalm 119:105, the psalmist says: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Very prominent in Luther’s Small Catechism, Lutheran youth are drilled that the Scriptures contain godly information that will be very helpful to them, as a lamp and light, in their pilgrimage through life. But there is more to this. Read carefully the remaining 175 verses of Psalm 119. You will immediately begin to see the incredible number of times the efficacy of God’s Word is repeated. It is not the peculiar idea of this writer to stress the efficacious nature and character of God’s Word and that it needs to be clearly understood and thoroughly taught to young people; This is demonstrated by God Himself.


Click here to return to the main part of the essay.