“For this reason we also thank God
  without ceasing, because when you 
  received the word of God which you
  heard from us, you welcomed it not
  as the word of men, but as it is in truth,
  the word of God, which also effectively
  works in you who believe. “ – Paul (1 Thess 2:13()

Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica telling them that the words he preached were not the words of men. They are the words of God and they work effectively in those who believe. Today, as we visit the church and listen to a sermon. We need to ask and reflect within ourselves

  • “Are we receiving the words of God or the words of man?”
  • “Can we accept it fully just because the speaker is a renown theologian?”
  • “Are we accepting it because we know that it is indeed the words of God?

Indeed a speaker must resolve to preach the word of God in the pulpit. But the listeners have the duty to discern if the words are truly the words of God.  Only by actively listening and discernment can we allow the words of God to save us.

Besides that we need to understand how the word of God works within us. For the word of God is spirit and it is life, it works effectively in those who believe. Only by understanding how the word of God works, we can be encouraged and edified. Then the word of God will truly have an effect in our lives.

The bible uses many metaphors to describe the words of God. If we examine them closely, we will understand how the word of God works within us.

The Word Of God Is Like Fire

Is not My word like a fire?
  And like a hammer that breaks the rock
  in pieces?”-YHWH (Jer 23:29)

Here God describes his words like a fire. How does that work within us? On a cold day, a fire could bring us warmth and comfort. It can provide heat in the cold and help us feel warm and good. God’s word is like a fire and it is especially useful when we feel cold and disappointed in life. Whenever we encounter sadness and disappointment, God’s word can be a fire that gives us warmth and comfort.

That is why we read of many stories in the bible of kings, prophets and disciples who found comfort when they were feeling disappointed and fearful. For the word of God is like a fire, burning within them and helping them in their distress. It even burns within them and move them to continue to in their service. Let us read about a personal experience from Prophet Jeremiah

The Fire Within Prophet Jeremiah

“O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded;
  You are stronger than I, and have prevailed.
  I am in derision daily;
  Everyone mocks me.
  For when I spoke, I cried out;
  I shouted, “Violence and plunder!”
  Because the word of the Lord was made to me
  A reproach and a derision daily.
  Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him,
  Nor speak anymore in His name.”
  But His word was in my heart like a burning fire
  Shut up in my bones;
   I was weary of holding it back,
   And I could not.” – Jeremiah (Jer 20:7-9)

We often have the misconception that prophets of God are full of authority and are respected by everyone around. But that applies only to the Godly. In fact, the ungodly would attack, mock and even plot against the workers of God.

Their action saddens Jeremiah, for he did not sign up for such mockery. It was God who called him to be a prophet. But he said “the word of the Lord was made to me a reproach and a derision daily.”  He knows that if he resolve not to speak them, he will have peace and he would not be mocked.  That is why he said “I will not make mention of Him,   Nor speak anymore in His name.”

This came as a result of his disappointment. It is not that he had chosen to be disappointed, but the surrounding discourage him greatly. 

But yet he continued to speak, but do we understand his reason? He said “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back,  And I could not.”

Jeremiah felt the word of God within his heart, it is like a fire that he cannot hold back. It is the word of God within him that make him reconsider his decision to remain silent.  It is like a fire within him that gave him comfort and strength. It gave him a passion and allow him to continue to speak. This is the experience of Jeremiah.

Like Jeremiah, we may experience this same disappointment that silence us. It disappoints us to the extent that we will not speak, nor preach or testify the words of God anymore. But even in our disappointment , let us believe in the words of God. Let it be a fire within us.  Let us not quench it, for by quenching that fire we are quenching the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is possible to put out that fire, we only need to stop thinking of the word of God. But that would lead to a crisis in our faith. For the word of God is meant to give us strength and comfort. If we choose to stop thinking about it how can we receive the strength to continue in faith?

It is natural to encounter disappointment in life, but let us resolve not to let go of the words of God. For Gods word could preserve our faith and give us strength. Let us examine another experience.

The Fire Within King David

“I said, “I will guard my ways,
  Lest I sin with my tongue;
  I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle,
  While the wicked are before me.”
  I was mute with silence,
  I held my peace even from good;
  And my sorrow was stirred up.
  My heart was hot within me;
  While I was musing, the fire burned.
  Then I spoke with my tongue:” – David (Ps 39:1-3)

King David reminded himself to guard his ways, so that he will not sin with his mouth. He did not want to offend people, especially wicked people who do not fear God. For wicked people may do harm to those who offend them. 

We have similar experience of meeting someone who appears to be good.  But looks can be deceiving, when we entrust them with our secrets, only to realise that they have broadcast it all over. That is why we need to be careful, especially when we speak before others.

David went a step ahead, he chose to be quiet in verse 2 and he even chose not to speak good words. The best words were actually the words of God. But David chose not to speak it as well. While it is commendable to avoid gossips and idle talk, it is not good to stop sharing the words of God. 

But as David remains silent, the heart of David burns hot within him. That is why he spoke in the end. David must have his reasons for remaining silent. But as he thought of the words of God and how God will judge him if he remains silent, he felt the fire, he receives comfort and strength so he spoke the words of God with his mouth.

This fire continues to burn in the new testament, even among believers of God.

The Disciples On The Road to Emmaus

“And they said to one another,
   “Did not our heart burn within
     us while He talked with us on 
     the road, and while He opened
    the Scriptures to us?”
So they rose up that very hour and
  returned to Jerusalem, and found
  the eleven and those who were
  with them gathered together” – Luke (Lk 24:32-33)

In this passage there were two disciples who were disappointed and have left Jerusalem. They have heard of the resurrection of Jesus, but they could not recognise Jesus.  On the road to Emmaus, Jesus started talking to them asking  “Why are you sorrowful?”  They replied saying “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”

The disciples went on to talk about Christ being crucified and that there were some women who had seen him alive.  There were some among them who went to take a look at the tomb, they found it empty and they are unable to locate the body of Jesus.

Even though they knew this, they were still cold in faith. They wanted to leave this sad city of Jerusalem. For they find the news of his resurrection unbelievable and difficult  to accept. But Jesus explains the scriptures to them and broke bread together with them. It is at that time they recognised Jesus and the appearance of Jesus strengthened their faith.

But what clause their faith to be truly strengthened? 

Verse 32 tell us that their hearts were burning as Jesus explained, and open the scriptures before them. Jesus explained his plan of salvation and how Christ must die and be resurrected. That is when they understood and they allowed the word of God to work within them . The word of God ignited their hearts and their hearts burned within them.

That is why they stood up, changed their plans and return to the city of Jerusalem. For now they knew that it is true that Jesus had resurrected and it is their duty to preach the news to the world. Therefore, they found strength to return to Jerusalem. For they knew that this is their responsibility to preach the word, to save souls and allow others to have their sins forgiven.

Even though they have received the word of God, but there are others who had not heard them. Therefore, they continue sharing the gospel even if the world mocks them.  It is true that preaching the word of God can sometimes bring sorrow, harms and even hurt, but it is something that is worth our effort. For we know it is the words of God.

Word Of God Is Like A Hammer

Jeremiah 23:29 also describes the word of God like a hammer that break huge rocks into pieces. Why does God describe it so? For the heart of man can be as hard as a rock. There are men whose heart is so hard that you would need to smash the rock before you can reach out to them.

One of the greatest examples of this is seen on the day of Pentecost. On that day, the word of God is like a hammer breaking the heart of many Jews. About 50 days earlier, they had killed Jesus declaring with  a loud voice “May that sin be on us and our children”. Even though Pilate had declared Jesus innocent on three occasions, they were bent on their demand to crucify Jesus. Finally Pilate gave up and washed his hands, declaring “I am innocent of the blood of this man”.

The incident before the Roman governor testify of the hardheartedness of the Jews. We would often wonder how can we ever reach out to such people. But during the feast of the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended for the first time.  These people heard an unknown tongue, they were astonished and even afraid. They were wondering what happened,  and as they gathered to look at the disciples who were praying. They were questioning if Jesus was indeed their Messiah, for they had just crucified him.

Now they knew that Jesus had resurrected and have sent the Holy Spirit to his disciples and they have seen and hear it. But the news of the resurrection of Jesus and the speaking of tongues did not smash their hard-heartedness.  What really broke their heart?

Therefore let all the house of
   Israel know assuredly that God
   has made this Jesus, whom you
  crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

  Now when they heard this, they 
  were cut to the heart, and said to
  Peter and the rest of the apostles,
  “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”” Luke (Acts 2:36-37)

It was the words of Peter that cut them to the heart. His entire sermon was recorded in Acts 2:14-36. When they heard the conclusion of peter that Jesus, whom they have crucified is Lord and Christ. They were cut in their heart. That is when the word of God became a hammer that breaks the hardheartedness of the Jews

 Getting Rid Of Our Misconception

Let us not have the misconception that a hard hearted man cannot receive the gospel of salvation. For the word of God is like a hammer, we need to believe in it, then it would give us the courage to preach the words of God.  If we continue with the idea that everyone is hard-hearted. We will never be able to preach the words of God.

Whenever we share the gospel, we need to believe that we are indeed speaking the words of God. For if we speak without faith, we will sound like a newscaster or a researcher. Our words will only contain dead facts that have no life within.

That is why the Author of Hebrew reminds us

“Therefore, since a promise remains of
   entering His rest, let us fear lest any
   of you seem to have come short of it. 
   For indeed the gospel was preached
   to us as well as to them; but the word
  which they heard did not profit them,
not being mixed with faith in those
  who heard it.”- Author of Hebrews (Heb 4:1-2)

The author of Hebrews was comparing the Christians with the Israelites who were unable to enter the land of Canaan. He felt that the Israelites could not enter the promise land because they did not mixed faith with hearing.

In fact, the word of God will have no effect if it is not mixed with faith.

Those who were parents will have this experience. Whenever our child lies, he will lower his head and speak softly. That is because he is not convinced that his lies could fool his parents. But if the child is innocent, he would speak loudly saying that he is not guilty. For he knows he was telling the truth.

The same reaction will come if we have faith in the words of God. Whenever we speak of it, we would speak it with confidence and faith. If we believe in the words of God, our attitude towards it will be different. If we do not believe in those words, it would have no effect in our life.  For we will find it hard to believe and difficult to accept.

That is why we need to examine ourselves, to see if we truly believe in the word of God. If we indeed  believe in it , will we allow the word of God to be like a hammer in our hearts? But there is an aspect of this we must take note.

To Use The Hammer The Right Way

While the word of God is like a hammer, let us not use it to hammer everyone around us. For  sculptors will tell us that hitting the stones in the wrong will will damage the stone 

In a same way, if we use the hammer incorrectly, we will end up breaking and hurting everyone around us.

There was one personal experience that I would like to share.

There was once I bought durians from the night market in Brunei. While I have similar experience buying durians back at home in Singapore, the sellers would break the fruit before giving them to us. But in Brunei the durians are sold unopened. So my colleague and I tried to break open the fruit using a knife and hammer.

The process was very difficult and we end up hurting our hands and all we got is a small morsel of durian as our reward. We manage to break open 3 of the 5 fruit we purchase, and we threw away the last 2 as we are simply too exhausted trying to break the shell. It was later when the locals taught us that there is a weak point in the fruit where it could be penetrated easily with a knife.

Indeed the same principle applies whenever we use the word of God as a hammer. We cannot hammer the word of God into people without mercy. We need to find the right spot to use it effectively.  Jesus had left us a good example when it comes to sharing the word of God.

The Example Of Jesus Preaching To The Samaritan Woman

We remember the story Of Jesus preaching to the Samaritan woman in John 4. Let us keep in mind a few facts regarding the story. The Samaritan woman is not a morally upright character. She had five husbands and the one whom she is living with is not her husband. From here we know that she did not care about ethics or the word of God.

A typical self righteous Christian response to people like that is to use the word of God like a hammer. We would most speak in a self righteous manner “Read the seventh Commandment! You are an adulterer, and you have 5 husbands.”

But are we preaching the words of God or  are we unleashing our own wrath and frustration upon the victim? Perhaps some will say that they wanted to save her, but they cannot deny their urge to reprimand her.

Let us examine how Jesus approached the woman.

(Extracted from Jn 4:7-15)

Jesus : “Give Me a drink.”

Woman : “How is it that You, being a Jew,
                      ask a drink from me, a Samaritan 

Jesus : “If you knew the gift of God, and who
                it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’
                 you would have asked Him, and He 
                 would have given you living water.”

Woman : “Sir, You have nothing to draw with,
                      and the well is deep. Where then 
                      do You get that living water?
                      Are You greater than our father Jacob,
                      who gave us the well, and drank from
                       it himself, as well as his sons and his

Jesus : “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst 
                 again,  but whoever drinks of the water 
                 that I shall give him will never thirst. But
                 the water that I shall give him will become 
                 in him a fountain of water springing up into
                 everlasting life.”

Woman : “Sir, give me this water, that I may not
                      thirst, nor come here to draw.”

It appears as if Jesus is talking about something unrelated to the gospel. But we know that Jesus was in fact sitting by the well waiting for her. Everyone else was out buying food. Jesus was waiting for the opportunity to speak to her alone. For if they were to talk about private matters in public the woman will walk away.  Jesus waited here and he is demonstrating to us how to conduct personal evangelism.

When the woman came Jesus asked for water and it surprised the woman. For she asked “How is it that You, being a Jew,ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” Jesus went on to talk about the water from the well and the waters of life. When the woman is interested to receive the water, he proceeds to point out her sin.

(Extracted from Jn 4:16-18)

Jesus : “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

Woman : “I have no husband.”

Jesus : “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’
                 for you have had five husbands, and the
                one whom you now have is not your husband;
                in that you spoke truly.”

A conversation like this require skill. Istead of pointing out her sin directly, Jesus allows her to declare her own sin. When the woman said that she had no husband, Jesus told her the truth. If Jesus had pointed out her sin directly, she would have left on the spot. 

Personal evangelism is  sharing the word of God with our friends individually. That is why we need to learn this example from Jesus. How he moved from the waters of the well to the water of life. How he pointed out her sin and tell her that her sin could be forgiven.

If we continue reading that chapter we can see how Jesus moved from worshipping God in the temple to the importance of worshipping God in spirit and in truth.

The Result Of The Work Of Jesus

The result of the evangelistic work of Jesus can be seen clearly at the end of the chapter.

“The woman then left her waterpot,
  went her way into the city, and said
  to the men,  “Come, see a Man who 
  told me all things that I ever did.
  Could this be the Christ?”  
Then they went out of the city and
  came to Him.”- John(Jn  4:28-30)

The effort put in by Jesus resulted to many Samaritans believing in Jesus.  From here we can see that  the word of God is indeed like a hammer, but its effectiveness depends on whether we know how to use it correctly. Incorrect usage of the hammer will result to us breaking and hurting those around us.

That is why Peter reminds us

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, 
  and always be ready to give a defense to 
  everyone who asks you a reason for the
  hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; “ – Peter (1 Pet 3:15)

If someone were to ask us about our faith are we able to give our testimony immediately? But Peter tells us to be always ready to share our faith and defend it in a minute’s notice. If anyone were to ask us regarding the hope that is in us, we are expected to be able to reply with gentleness and meekness.

We need to understand our faith and we cannot afford to follow our religion blindly.

That is why Peter reminds us that the most important thing is to respect and sanctify  God. At the same time we need to be ready with a defence, so that if anyone were to question our hope in Christ. We could give our answer in all meekness and fear, by following this we could lead a person to God.

This would result to the word of God saving him.


So far we have studied two of the metaphors used in the bible to describe the words of God. We know that the word of God is like a fire. It can bring us warmth and strength when we are tired and weary. It can give us hope whenever we feel down.

At the same time the word of God is like a hammer. It can break the hardheartedness of man and make them repent before God.  But its effectiveness depends on how we use this hammer. If we speak with wisdom , humility and meekness, we can lead a person to God.

We need to remember that the word of God has the power to save us from sin and bring salvation to the hearers. Let us put in an effort to learn it.