Where would we be without the written word?
Think for a moment…we wouldn’t know about Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates. Our knowledge of history would be limited to a generation or two at best. Without the written word, we would not enjoy the legacy of documents like the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, or the Bill of Rights.
If it weren’t for the written word, we wouldn’t have the works of Josephus, Shakespeare, Shiller, Goethe, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, or any of the other great authors. And there’s so much more to consider. Without the written word, every field of study imaginable (science, medicine, astronomy, gastronomy, etc.) would be in its infancy with each new generation.
Without the written word there would be no Bible, no record of God’s dealings with mankind from ages past. We would have no record of past prophecies or their fulfillment. There would be no commentaries, no books on discipleship, marriage, or any other topic related to life or the Bible.
Without the written word there would be no contracts, no invoices, no accounting. Without the written word there would be no email, no texts, no computers, and no love letters, get-well cards, or cards of congratulations.
Without the written word, we would be a people most impoverished, most dull, and most unfortunate. The written word significantly impacts every facet of life, every relationship, every element and application of communication. I cannot imagine a world without the written word!
God clearly foresaw and directed the invention and spread of the written word. The Bible offers many examples of God’s spoken word, but the power of His written word through His prophets and apostles is indisputable. Numerous times, the Lord instructed His prophets to write specific things down for a testimony to the people and for future generations. (See Exodus 17:14; Numbers 5:23; Joshua 18:4; Ezra 5:10; Isaiah 8:1; Jeremiah 30:2; and the list goes on.)
We get a peek at the power of God’s Word in In Jeremiah 23:29 where we read, “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” And Hebrews 4:12 declares, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Merely by speaking the word, God brought the universe into being! The good news of Jesus Christ is called “the word of the Lord.” God’s message through His prophets was also called “the word of the Lord.” And the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preserved through the written word.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a writer. Consider some of the amazing power and influence we wield as crafters of the written word.
- We use the written word to instruct, imparting knowledge, skills, and information.
- We inspire and motivate others to improve their lives and situation.
- We influence people to change their views, their attitudes, and their way of thinking.
- We comfort and encourage the downhearted and distressed.
- We entertain and offer joy, laughter and passion.
- We appeal to the emotions of pity, mercy and generosity.
Through the written word our impact is expanded beyond what would otherwise be possible. Consider the tiny letter of Paul the Apostle to Philemon (consisting of just 500 words) and how many millions (if not billions) have read that letter over a period of 2,000 years! Think about the countless lives that have impacted by that letter!
By means of the written word we magnify the reach of our communication in both scope and duration. So too, when we write a blog, an article, or a book, it’s like sending out thousands of little emissaries with our message. This fact poses both a sobering reminder as well as a bold challenge.
The sobering reminder motivates us to write with integrity and care, in view of the potential scope and timeless reach our writing may enjoy and the lives it may impact. The bold challenge prompts us to keep writing. We’ve got a message to share. We must not squander it. We dare not keep it to ourselves. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” (Proverbs 3:27 NIV)
©2017 Rob Fischer