Ablaze With God’s Word—The Fiery Effect of God’s Word in the Heart
Rick Renner

Rick Renner is a highly respected Bible teacher and leader in the international Christian community. Rick is the author of the bestsellers Dressed To Kill and Sparkling Gems From the Greek 1 and 2, which have sold more than 3 million copies combined. Rick’s broad understanding of the Greek language and biblical history opens up the Scriptures in a unique way that enables readers to gain wisdom and insight while learning something brand new from the Word of God.

Today Rick is the senior pastor of the Moscow Good News Church and the founder of Media Mir, the first Christian television network in the former USSR that today broadcasts the Gospel to countless Russian-speaking viewers around the world via multiple satellites and the Internet. He is also the founder and president of Rick Renner Ministries, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and host to his TV program that is seen around the world in multiple languages. Rick leads this amazing work with his wife and lifelong ministry partner, Denise, along with the help of their sons and committed leadership team.

Note: The following is an adapted excerpt from Rick Renner’s newest book A Life Ablaze—Ten Keys To Living on Fire for God. Please go to www.renner.org for more information on this book and the ministry of Rick Renner.

If you want to keep your spiritual life fiery hot for the rest of your life on earth, you need to maintain a consistent intake of the Word of God. It’s the first key to keeping your heart ablaze for Jesus because it is foundational to all the other types of fuel you need to add to the fire in your heart: prayer, the Holy Spirit, worship, a passion for souls, generosity, holiness, humility, regard for authority, and the fear of the Lord.

One of the clearest evidences that a believer is truly on fire for Jesus Christ is his or her undeniable and unquenchable appetite for the Bible. But even more than fuel for fire, the Bible itself is fire—infused with the fiery presence of the Holy Spirit who inspired men to write it. This is confirmed in Jeremiah 23:29, where God declared, “Is not My word like as a fire?….” When God’s Word blazes in the human heart, it drives out darkness, provides illumination, brings warmth and fervor into the places that have grown cold, burns away dross, and spreads its flames into the lives of those who are touched by its power.

Nothing can compare to the intense, burning effect of the Word of God in the heart of a believer. Jeremiah referred to this when he wrote, “His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones…” (Jeremiah 20:9).

Have you ever sensed God’s Word like a burning fire shut up in your bones? Have you ever felt its flames ignited within your spirit as you read the Bible? Have you ever sensed the Holy Spirit melting away hardened places in your soul that had grown calloused or indifferent as you put your whole heart into reading His Word?

The supernatural impact of God’s Word is seen in the reaction of two disciples who were visited by the resurrected Christ as they walked to the city of Emmaus. In Luke 24:15, the Bible tells us, “And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.” Verse 27 says, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he [Jesus] expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Just before Jesus disappeared from the two on that road, Luke 24:31,32 relates what happened next: “And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

Notice that their hearts “did burn” as Jesus spoke of the Scriptures to them. The word “burn” is translated from a Greek word that means to ignite, to be set on fire, to burn, or even to be consumed with fire. The verse actually carries the following ideas:

  • “Did not our hearts feel ignited within us as He talked with us…?”
  • “Did not our hearts feel set on fire within us as He talked with us…?”
  • “Did not our hearts burn within us as He talked with us…?”
  • “Did not our hearts feel consumed with a burning blaze within us as He talked with us…?”

While Jesus “opened the Scriptures” to the two disciples as they walked down the road together, the living Word entered their hearts and burned within them. This makes me think of the words of Martin Luther, who said, “The Bible is alive; it speaks to me. It has feet; it runs after me. It has hands; it lays hold of me.” [1] You see, there is nothing to compare to the effect of God’s Word as it reaches out to grip your spirit man with its convicting power and then to ignite you spiritually from the inside out.

The great American evangelist, D. L. Moody, wrote of how the Bible had the supernatural ability to literally speak to us. He said, “In our prayers, we talk to God; in our Bible study, God talks to us, and we had better let God do most of the talking.” [2]

These words of Moody powerfully remind us that if we’ll silence our minds and let the words of the Bible enter our spiritual ears and hearts, those words will come alive inside us in the same way the Scriptures were ignited and burned in the hearts of the disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:13-32).

Like a lighted match put to kindling, when the fire of God’s Word is lit in the heart, it sets the heart on fire. The power of His Word brightly burns within us when we throw the door open to that divinely energized flame and welcome its cleansing into our lives to bring change.

The role of the Bible cannot be underestimated in the life of a believer. In fact, the amount of spiritual fire one has burning at his core is directly related to how much of God’s Word he plants in his heart.

This is why J. C. Ryle, a prominent evangelical Anglican bishop during the 1800s, pleaded to his readers, “I call upon you not to forget the book of the soul. Do not let newspapers, novels, and romances be read, while the prophets and apostles be despised. Do not let the exciting and sensual swallow up your attention, while the edifying and the sanctifying can find no place in your mind.” [3]

R. A. Torrey—evangelist, pastor, educator, and writer—further stated, “Ninety-nine Christians in every hundred are merely playing at Bible study; and therefore ninety-nine Christians in every hundred are mere weaklings, when they might be giants.” [4] When Christians could be spiritual giants, they are often weaklings because they have ignored the source of fuel that could empower them to be mighty!

Friend, there is nothing to compare to the powerful effect of God’s Word when it is taken by faith into the heart and put into action. As Martin Luther famously wrote in his hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” a single word of the Bible is sufficient to trounce even the forces of hell:

…And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim —
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! His doom is sure —
One little word
[of God] shall fell him….

Jesus Was the Word Made Flesh

Jesus was the Word made flesh among us (see John 1:1,2,14). And when we love God’s Word and allow its fiery truth to burn within us, we are actually coming ablaze with Christ Himself. How a Christian honors or dishonors the Word of God; the kind of space he makes for the Word in his life; the amount of time he spends daily in the Word; how well he obeys what the Word says—all these are signs that reveal the type of relationship that believer has with Jesus.

In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” In other words, how much we love Him is evidenced by how we respond to His Word. It is impossible to separate the Word of God from Jesus, for He is the Word made flesh. How you treat the Bible is a reflection of your level of intimacy with Him. If you neglect the Bible because you don’t think you have time for it, in actuality you are unintentionally ignoring your relationship with Jesus.

As John Owen, an English church leader and theologian, stated, “In the divine Scriptures, there are shallows and there are deeps; shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim.” [5] The depth to which we plunge into the Scriptures depends entirely upon us. But if we are willing, Christ is calling us to go deeper and deeper into unfathomable depths of the Bible that will satisfy the hungry heart like nothing else can do.

Furthermore, God doesn’t just want us to take an occasional dip into these divine waters. He actually wants us to be like those early believers in Acts 2, persevering consistently and never letting up in our pursuit of the Scriptures. God wants every Christian—and that means you—to intensely focus on the Word of God and crave it with the intensity that an addict craves his next fix.

The biblical pattern in the book of Acts also reveals that if we will give the Word of God a preeminent position in our lives, we also put ourselves in a position for the miraculous to take place. Where God’s Word is honored, embraced, and declared, the Holy Spirit supernaturally works to confirm it with supernatural signs and wonders!

The Word Produces Wonders

In the last chapter, we saw that where the Gospel is preached, the power of God is ignited. We can also see in the Word that where the Bible is taught in authoritative power, this, too, triggers a release of God’s power in the Church.

A. B. Simpson, the Canadian preacher, theologian, author, and pioneer of global missions, said, “The religion of the Bible is wholly supernatural.” [6] If you want to experience the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in your life, you must make the authoritative teaching of the Bible a priority. Where the Word is declared in power, it sets the atmosphere for the miraculous to take place.

Jesus taught the Word with authority, which resulted in signs and wonders. The apostles preached the Word exactly as Jesus had preached, and it also resulted in a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit as He confirmed the Word with signs and wonders. Mark 16:20 says, “…They went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following.…”

Never forget that the book of Acts is not merely a history book; it is a pattern book. As you follow the pattern in the book of Acts, you will see that early believers continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching. They were addicted to that teaching. In fact, they continually craved more of it. And in the midst of this season of intense hunger for God’s Word, Acts 2:43 tells us what followed: “…Many wonders and signs were done.…” Signs and wonders occurred concurrently with the early believers’ intense focus on the anointed proclamation of biblical truth.

This was not just an atypical instance that occurred in the early days of the Church. The pattern revealed in Acts 4:31 shows us that when believers were gathered together for prayer and the Word was proclaimed, the supernatural once again took place. In fact, there was so much power manifested during that prayer meeting that “the place was shaken where they were assembled together….”

The word “shaken” literally means to shake, teeter, wobble, or reel. The physical building and all those inside it shook, teetered, wobbled, and reeled as the power of God manifested! I want to ask—have you ever been in a meeting where you saw people fall under the power of the Holy Spirit? You might answer yes, and that’s wonderful—but have you ever witnessed an entire building shaking because of the level of power that invaded it during a corporate prayer meeting?

In Acts 6, as the narrative continues, we read that a time came when deacons were chosen to oversee the daily distribution of food among the widows in the church at Jerusalem. After the apostles laid their hands on them and prayed, verse 7 says, “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”

Notice that it says, “the word of God increased.” Immediately following that verse is Acts 6:8, which says, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” Once again, we see that signs, wonders, miracles, and powerful manifestations occurred during a time when the anointed proclamation of the Word of God was on the increase!

Then in Acts 8, we find Philip ministering the Word to an Ethiopian official in a royal chariot. Acts 8:30-35 tells us that as Philip shared from the book of Isaiah with this noble Ethiopian, the miraculous again followed the anointed declaration of God’s Word. After the Ethiopian was saved and water-baptized, Philip was supernaturally translated to the coastal town of Azotus.

The biblical pattern lets us know that this was no accident. The supernatural event coincided with the anointed proclamation of the Word of God. The pattern in the book of Acts shows that God’s miraculous power is unleashed when His Word is declared by the anointing of His Spirit!

We see this over and over throughout the four gospels in the life of Jesus and throughout the book of Acts. Wherever the Word is taught or preached with authority, it is followed with divine supernatural activity. Of course, the greatest miracle of all is that moment when a person is born again. We can never minimize the miraculous nature of this event. But there is no question about it—when the Word of God is believed, embraced, and declared with authority and power, there is a response from Heaven, as witnessed in Scripture and throughout history. Signs, wonders, miracles, and healings are unleashed!

The Word of God is a mighty sword wielded by the Holy Spirit! He uses that divine “sword of the Spirit” to slice open lost men’s hearts, attack the works of Satan, and perform divine surgery on every category of people who are afflicted in any way. The Word of God—which is the sword of the Spirit—is the instrument the Holy Spirit uses to heal, restore, and make people whole.

Hebrews 4:12 (AMPC) makes this abundantly clear: 

For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Satan knows the life-transforming power that is locked inside the Bible. That’s why he fights so hard to get believers and churches to back away from it. He lures them to water it down, modify it, or even eliminate it. (Note: I discuss this demonic attack in-depth in my book How To Keep Your Head on Straight in a World Gone Crazy. I urge you to obtain that book and read it.)

Satan knows that if he can coax believers to back off the Bible and stop declaring it in authority and power, the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit will diminish. One always follows the other, because the anointed declaration of Scripture always go hand in hand with signs and wonders following.

Some suggest that the Bible is outdated and that its voice is no longer applicable to our times. But as English preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” [7] Likewise, I want to tell you that the times and culture may fluctuate and change, but the voice of Scripture never changes. And the deeper you delve into the Word, the more you will discover that it is impossible to outgrow it.

Renowned minister D. L. Moody challenged his listeners and readers, “If I utter a syllable that is not justified by the Scriptures, don’t believe me. The Bible is the only rule. Walk by it and it alone.” [8] American pastor and author A. W. Tozer wrote of the never-ending relevancy of the Bible when he said, “The Bible is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking.” [9]

The Bible is as relevant as ever; it is indeed a book that is now speaking. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, you will find the words of the Bible begin to burn inside you as you purpose to take it deeper into your spirit.

My Personal Word on This Subject

As a founding pastor of several significant churches and leader of a ministry with a global outreach to many parts of the world, I am able to speak to this with a level of authority. And I strongly affirm that a passion for the Word of God—the Bible—must first be alive in the hearts of spiritual leadership if it is to be ignited in those who follow them.

We who hold positions of spiritual leadership must demonstrate love and honor for the Scriptures and impart that same love and honor to the people we are charged to lead. We are called to herald the truth in such a way that it makes people hungry, stirring their appetite for more knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures and a deeper relationship with Jesus. We must read and study God’s Word with serious minds and with committed, steadfast hearts. A surface “skim” will not do. To unlock the power that resides in the words the Bible contains, we must delve deeply. It must be our lifelong aim to understand the Word more comprehensively and to perceive ever more clearly what God is saying to us in it.

This I how I view my life task. My God-appointed pursuit is to grow ever deeper in my understanding of God’s Word, to never depart from the eternal truths contained in it, and to convey to others its life-giving, transforming power through the work of the Holy Spirit. Any spiritual leader who deviates from this has departed from his principal task to be God’s voice to the Church and in the earth.

Billy Graham noted the importance of the Bible when he said, “If you are ignorant of God’s Word, you will always be ignorant of God’s will.” [10] But how many people struggle to find God’s will today? The wrestling would cease in most cases if they would align themselves with the voice of Scripture.

The majority of what Christians need to know—or at least the principles needed to answer their questions—are clearly provided in the Bible. Instead, Christians search for answers by reading book after book or by listening to one preacher after another, often never finding what they are seeking. Yet if they would just open the Bible and read it—and then actually believe what they read!—they would find the answers they endlessly seek. The answers belong to anyone who will open his or her Bible and dig into it.

Harry Ironside—Bible teacher, preacher, theologianpastor, and author—said this: “It is well to remember that reading books about the Bible is a very different thing to searching the Word for oneself.” [11] Famed missionary Jim Elliot said, “Why do you need a voice when you have a verse?” [12]

If we take God’s Word into our lives as our most important fuel, it will release its divine blazing fire inside us to internally change us. The Holy Spirit will then work to authenticate that fiery force with supernatural demonstrations of His power, just as the biblical pattern shows that He has done throughout history wherever the Word has been declared with the bold confidence of faith that what God says is altogether true.

Only the Word can bring the answers people seek to be internally changed or to see supernatural wonders released in their lives and the lives of those around them. D. L. Moody lamented the absence of power in the Church and the reason for it when he said, “The reason why we have so little success in our teaching is because we know so little of the Word of God.” [13] And A. W. Tozer emphatically stated, “Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.” [14]

This means if we want people to be made whole, we have to give them the Bible, for it is the divine instrument that will bring them to wholeness. If we really want to see the miraculous presence of God in our lives, we must do what the early Christians did. As we fearlessly preach the Word, the power in that Word will bring the supernatural presence of God into manifestation.

What Is Center Stage at Your Church?

Because I am privileged to travel all across the world to teach God’s Word in conferences, seminars, and churches, I’ve been able to acquire a global view of what is happening in the Church at large.

What I see in many churches is very disturbing. Although I encounter wonderful churches with a passion for the Word of God, I also see that many people in the Body of Christ are becoming biblically illiterate. Not only do these Christians not know elementary facts, such as the books of the Bible, primary biblical characters, and well-known Bible stories, but they are unschooled in basic Christian doctrines. The verse-by-verse teaching of the Bible has often been replaced by motivational and inspirational preaching. These types of preaching have merit. But if this is all people hear, it eventually results in people remaining ignorant about the most basic Bible truths. As Hosea 4:6 says, people are “…destroyed for lack of knowledge….”

Study the history of many of the many traditional, denominational churches, and you’ll discover that when those churches first began, they declared the Word of God with fire! The pulpit—the place from which the Word was taught—was the center of activity because nothing held a higher position than the authoritative voice of the Bible. In earlier days, the declaration of Scripture was strong and those denominations blazed with the power of the Spirit. But along the way, many denominations shifted their focus from the teaching of the Bible to religious rites, rituals, and liturgy.

Every time the anointed proclamation of the Bible takes a second seat to these other elements of man’s tradition and preference, history shows that the power of the Holy Spirit begins to diminish and the supernatural activity of the Holy Spirit begins to subside in the church. Many traditional churches even have pulpits that are shifted to the side of the stage rather than holding center stage, subliminally revealing that the Word of God is no longer central in that setting but has become secondary in importance.

So I want to ask you—what is center stage in your church? Is it the anointed declaration of the Word, as it was in Jesus’ ministry and as is shown in the pattern in the book of Acts, or has the Word been replaced by something else? If the focus has shifted from a bold stand on the infallible Word of God to something else, what has taken its place as the central focus? And if there has been a shift, a question of great importance is this: Do you still see the same supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit that were witnessed earlier when the emphasis was on a solid foundation of Bible truths?

There is nothing more important than believing, embracing, and declaring the Word of God, and only His Word is strong enough to build our lives upon. The Bible must always be the primary focus, not the secondary focus. The bold and anointed proclamation of the Word must be emphasized in teaching and preaching if our lives are going to be changed from the inside out and if we are going to experience a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

Never forget that the Word of God and the power of God go hand in hand. If you remove God’s Word, it will result eventually in the diminishing of God’s supernatural activity in the life of a church and in one’s personal life.

Remember those words of A. B. Simpson: “The religion of the Bible is wholly supernatural.” If you want the supernatural power of God to be a part of your life, the Bible must be central—for wherever the Word is authoritatively proclaimed, embraced, believed, and acted upon, the power of God is released!