The Word of God Is Not Bound

by Tom Wacaster
(originally written in December 2013)

Through the centuries skeptics have attempted to destroy or severely restrict the word of God. Jehoiakim took his penknife, cut the pages of God’s word, and cast them into the fire. When Antiochus Epiphanes became ruler in Syria in 175 B.C. he destroyed the temple, sold the people of Israel into slavery, and went about doing all within his power to do away with the sacred writings of the Jews. Emperor Diocletian decreed death for any person who owned a copy of the Bible. After two years he boasted that he had “completely exterminated the Christian writings from the face of the earth.” But when Constantine came to the throne and desired copies of the Bible be brought to him, within twenty-five hours fifty copies of God’s word were offered to the Emperor. Voltaire, the notorious French infidel, boasted that within one hundred years the Bible would be no more. It would not be long before the very press that printed the blasphemous prediction was used to print Bibles and the house in which he lived was later used by the Geneva Bible Society to store and distribute Bibles. Robert Ingersoll, famed American atheist of the 1800’s once held a Bible in his hand and boasted, “In fifteen years I will have this book in the morgue.” Within fifteen years Ingersoll was in the morgue, but the word of God lives on! Even today the atheist community is predicting that before this century comes to a close the Bible will be eradicated from the world.

Paul wrote these words to Timothy: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel: wherein I suffer hardship unto bonds, as a malefactor; but the word of God is not bound” (2 Tim. 2:8-9). Though men have for ages sought to bind the word of God, inspiration tells us that at the time of Paul the word was not bound, and history has attested to the eternal truth of those words. The simple fact is, men will never successfully bind the word of God. They may, from time to time succeed in keeping it out of the public’s sight and/or sound. But it cannot be silenced! I suggest to you the following reasons.

First, the word cannot be bound because you cannot rob it of its power. Paul declared in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” There is power in the word of God that cannot be eradicated, eliminated or expunged. The parable of the Sower is recorded in Matthew 13:1-9 and Luke 8:4-8. In making application the Lord said that the “seed is the word of God” (Lk. 8:11). A seed may sit on a shelf or in a package for centuries, but once it is planted, it will produce life. It has been three decades since the Associated Press reported that some archaeologist discovered some remnants of fruits and nuts in their exploration of a Han Dynasty tomb, which dates back to the first century A.D. Seeds discovered in some of the pottery was taken and planted and it produced tomatoes. Such is the power of a seed; and such is the power of the Gospel.

Second, the word cannot be bound because you cannot restrict its preaching. In 1992 I had the opportunity to travel to the former Soviet Union. There were four Americans and one Ukrainian brother who labored for thirteen days in Barnaul. After completing that work we traveled overnight by train to Omsk. Our Ukrainian brother shared the compartment next to myself with a Russian soldier traveling to the same destination. When it came time to turn out the lights and bed down for the night’s journey to Omsk, I could hear brother Kalashnikov preaching to that soldier; I knew he was preaching to him because I could recognize certain words that are similar in both English and Russian. The next morning I asked brother Kalashnikov if he was preaching to his room mate, and he said “yes.” “Did he listen?” I asked. To which brother Kalashnikov replied, “What choice did he have?” Men may make it illegal to preach publically or at some open air meeting; but they cannot control what goes on the privacy of one’s home or with an acquaintance with whom we might have casual conversation. The word of God went forth in the first century with great success in spite of every effort on the part of Rome to stop the preaching. So it was then; so it will be in every generation.

Finally, the word cannot be bound because you cannot retard its progress. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah our Father said long ago: “For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).

Some years ago, I came across a very interesting story. A lady of a congregation in Arkansas had sent a copy of a World Bible School lesson to a student in Africa. It was found in the roadway by another person, who then searched for the church of Christ in his village. He was baptized two days later. What makes the story amazing is the fact that the lesson was mailed seven years before it was found. Time did not retard the progress of the word, and it eventually found its way into the presence and then into heart of the precious soul who was desirous of learning the truth.

The same point was illustrated in the following true story which was related to me almost forty years ago. Someone was evidently handed a tract about the Lord’s church; but he or she, for some unknown reason, threw the tract into the waste basket and it eventually ended up on the curb waiting for the garbage man to carry it away. When the garbage man picked up the container (that was in the days when such was still done manually) the tract fell out on the ground. The garbage man picked up the tract, put it in his pocket, later read it, and eventually contacted a church of Christ, leading to his obedience to the gospel. The reason I know the story was true is that it was told me by the garbage collector himself. Happenstance? Coincidence? I prefer to attribute it to divine providence. Such is the power of the progress of the Gospel.

When Paul wrote those beautiful words to Timothy, he set forth an eternal truth that gives comfort and consolation to those seeking to carry the gospel to a lost and dying world. As you carry that word to others, rest assured that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

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