Many theologies in discussing bibliology include a section called Animation. By animation we mean that quality of the Bible as it is expressed in passages like Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Another passage that speaks of the animating, life-giving, life-changing power of the Scripture is Psalm 19:7-9:
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
In addition, there is probably no passage that stresses the animating power and value of the Scripture like Psalm 119 which describes numerous attributes of God’s Word as “faithful” (vs. 86), “exceedingly broad” (vs. 96), “right” (vs. 128), “wonderful” (vs. 129), “pure” (vs. 140), “truth,” “everlasting” (vs. 160), and “righteousness” (vs. 172) .
The doctrine of animation stresses the powerful and life-changing activity of the Scripture. Unlike any other book known to man, the Bible possesses a living quality that stems from its divine origin as the unique God-breathed book. This power is manifested in two primary ways.
First, the power of the Bible is seen in the way it reveals God and His glorious plan of salvation in the person and work of Jesus Christ; it is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). The stress here is on the power of the Bible on the unsaved. This truth is brought out for us in many ways, but the classic passage is 1 Peter 1:23, “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.” The Word of God combined with the ministry of the Holy Spirit work together to bring people to faith in Christ and into the new birth so they become the children of God (John 3:5; 2 Tim. 3:15; Tit. 3:5; 2 Pet. 1:1-4).
Second, the power of the Word is seen in the lives of the saved as God uses it along with the illuminating and empowering ministry of the Spirit to conform us into the image of the Lord Jesus. Our Lord had this in mind in His prayer in John 17:17 when He prayed, “Sanctify them through Your truth, Your Word is truth.” God’s Word is truly alive and powerful.
I recently read an interesting illustration that is pertinent here. A Bible translator working with the Agta people shared this interesting insight. “Depending upon the context, the Agta word madagat can mean “stinging, venomous, or potent.” A poisonous snake is madagat, but so are some medicines that can heal. The translation assistant explained his understanding of how the Word of God is potent: “It depends upon how we approach it. If we disregard it, it’s like the poisonous snake. But if we live by it, its potency is like medicine.”
Another illustration of the animating power of the Word may be seen in the many pictures God gives us in the Bible of what His Word can do. It is pictured as a sword (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17), as a critic or judge (Heb. 4:12), as a lamp or a light (Ps. 19:8b; 119:105, 130; Prov. 6:23), as a mirror (1 Cor. 3:18; Jam. 22-25), as rain, snow, or water (Isa. 55:10-11; Jer. 17:5-8; Eph. 5:26), as food or bread from heaven (Deut. 8:3; Job. 23:12; Ps. 19:10b), and as gold (Ps. 19:10; 119:72, 127; Pr. 8:10, 11; Isa. 55:1-3; 1 Pet. 2:18). And these are not all of the pictures. For more detail on these pictures, their significance, and the animating actions of the Word, see Lesson 6, “The Word Filled Life” in Book 2, of the ABCs for Christian Growth series on our web site.