Published Manuscript

Das in uns lebendige Wort (The Word Alive Within Us)

zu EA 14/5c

Additional Information
Author Eberhard Arnold
Date August 01, 1914
Document Id 20126059_29_S
Available Transcriptions English

The Word Alive Within Us

[Arnold, Eberhard and Emmy papers – P.M.S.]

[Draft Translation by Bruderhof Historical Archive]

zu EA 14/5c

Evangelische Allianzblatt, August 1914

The Word Alive Within Us

In our own being, we have no possibility of finding our way to true clarity, or even to God himself. Our heart is evil (Gen. 8:21). Through the body, our soul is tied to our blood, to our nerves, and to earthly things in general (Lev. 14:11; Deut. 12:23). Our conscience is indeed able to frighten and condemn us; however, while it remains within itself, it is tied to idols and can never lead us to God.

All “inner voices” deriving from the emotional abyss of our own heart are deceitful and dangerous and may be compared to the will-o’-the-wisps that, flickering up from swampy ground, are apt to mislead the wanderer. In our own selves, as we find ourselves again and again as heirs of the first Adam and with the nature of the old man, we can attain to nothing else but to unclarity of soul, self-accusations, and fear.

Above the swampy lowland of our natural inner being there must arise, eclipsing anything else, the sun, whose illumination incapacitates the deceitful gleams of the will-o’-the-wisps. Jesus, as the last Adam, reveals himself as the new man within us by illumining us by his Word as our inward light (John 1:1-18). He, the Lord, is the Word and we find him in Scripture, which in all its parts truly bears witness to him. The Word gains its life in our hearts by our grasping and experiencing it as Him who is life itself. It is only when Christ, through the written word, becomes the morning star and the sun of our hearts, that our inward life can be freed from the deceitful unclarity natural to us.

The Word of God turns towards men’s hearts so it can pervade their life to the very root and reshape it from within. No doubt it is already important for us that God’s Word finds our attention and that we listen to it (Acts 2:14) or seek to read it carefully, but it means more when our inner being responds to the more deeply gripping call of God with which he wakens his people: “Make sure you obey all these commands that I have given you today” (Deut. 32:46)! That is the one way to our inward recovery! Just like the visit of a good physician which can have a thorough going success only if the patient takes to heart all his words, without ignoring any part of his advice or a single one of his prescriptions, and also without trying to cure himself according to his own ideas. In the same way our heart can find inward healing only when it receives and accepts all the words of him who has said, “I am the Lord, your physician” (Ex. 15:26)! He himself urges us to “fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds,” (Deut. 11:18) and keep them there (Deut. 6:6). Only through the heart can there be a tasting of the goodness of God’s Word (Heb. 6:5).

All this activity of the heart does not yet allow the Word as the inner Word to be and remain alive within us. That the Word laid onto our hearts wakens and rouses us deeply is what represents the first stage in the growth of this inwardness. “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” (Rom. 10:14) that means with the inner ear of their heart! Now everything depends on true faith being given—a living faith in the Lord and his word. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). There is indeed an awakening, but as yet no life of faith, when we accept God’s Word into our heart and taste it; rather it amounts to life only if we inwardly receive it wholly through faith and hold to it so that it is and remains the inner word in our hearts. The spirit of God bears clear testimony to us: there is no faith-born righteousness without the Word alive within us. This is what the righteousness born of faith has to say: “the Word is very near you;” (Deut. 30:14) “it is in your mouth and in your heart (Rom. 10:8).”

So it is decisive for the life of faith that we not only hear and read the word of God, that we understand and ponder it, but that in the depth of our heart we receive it as completely as the roots of flowers suck up water and drive it from down below throughout all fibers. That is why Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14).”

The Word alive within us means that we have the words of the Lord in our hearts through his spirit as the true source of life.

Since the Lord himself, as the perfect redeemer, is alive in his Word, this inward eating and drinking of the Word is genuine and effective only where it means that we inwardly receive the Redeemer in his own person. “Truly I tell you: unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life within yourselves!” That we have life within ourselves by having Christ in our hearts is the effect of having fully and deeply received the Word now alive within us. “It penetrates to the very deepest ground of our souls, to the point where soul and spirit divide… it sifts the thoughts and purposes of the heart (Heb. 4:12). By bringing to us light about ourselves and by spreading the light of Him who is life, the Word brings to us the salvation of our souls as the saving Word, a Word not only received by us, but downright implanted within us (Jam. 1:21). The eyes on the One we have to reckon with (Heb 4:13) reveal to us not only the shallows of our corrupt being—no his gaze also shows us more emphatically the power of his love in his perfect redemption. Through receiving this salvation in the person of the Lord himself, the Word blossoms into indescribable joy in the Holy Spirit (Thess. 1:6; 2:13).

So the decisive mark of a true acceptance of the Word is when Jesus Christ, the Lord himself, is alive within us and is being glorified through the Word. Every genuine reception of the Word reveals itself as an acceptance of Christ’s person. He who is Truth encompasses personally within himself all scriptural truths. The more deeply we grasp Scripture, the more deeply do we also experience it as the all-sided testimony of the Lord himself. If, according to Scripture, faith appears indissolubly linked with a reception of the Word into our inner being (cf. Luke 8:13; Acts 2:41; 17:11), faith does consist in the Lord’s person.

Because the Word brings us life in Jesus, there is no other procreation of life than the one through His living and abiding word of truth (Jm. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23). If his Word is not within us, we stand in complete opposition to life and truth: in thrall to death and untruthfulness (1 Jn. 1:10). True life has its strength in the fact that we live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Mt. 4:4; Luke. 4:4). Our inner life will be a strong and conquering one to the same degree to which we let the Lord’s victorious Word become reality; namely that our life truly has its existence and strength in every word of the Lord.

If only we could all grasp more deeply and realize in a more living way the whole infinitely glorious truth that the Lord is truly alive in the whole Word! As long as we want to suppress, push aside, or simply disregard some of it, our inner life will have to bear a heavy loss because we are withholding it from the full undimmed light of the Lord himself. There are some words of God in which we cannot see any significance for life because they have not yet become of the same inward significance to us as other words. We ought to consider in what way the life that is ours has become our inward treasure, for what we have experienced, to our deep joy, as an inner word from Christ is something that the Lord wants to let us have to the full from the unfathomable depths of his glorious Word. If in any area we try to evade this divine activity, we let slip away something of inestimable value for our life.

Through the Holy Spirit every word of the Lord, the entire Scripture, wants to become our inward experience and property. Let us never forget what His mouth spoke in a serious hour: “man lives by every single word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Without any doubt our life will become all the stronger, holier and more effective, the closer we have come to this most glorious goal for our inward life, namely that the whole of Scripture becomes alive within us.

As regards the question of how far we have come on the way to this goal, the decisive thing is, above all, the extent to which God’s Word has abided within us, and how much we treasure it in our hearts. It’s of no use to receive the Word with joy and to believe it for a while, if at the time of temptation we fall away (Luke 8:13). Hours of temptation, worries, riches, and worldly amusements put us to the test unless the Word is deeply rooted and planted within us (Luke 8:13, 14). The seed falling on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering bring forth fruit (Luke 8:15; 2;19, 51). Those belonging to God are also those who guard and keep his Word (Jn. 17:6). Those keeping and guarding his Word are also those who love him, those in whom the Father and the Son make their dwelling place (Jn. 14:23).

That is why all powerful proofs of the inward life are tied to the condition that God’s Word must be alive within us. Only those in whom His words endure have the promise that everything that they ask for will be given to them (Jn. 15:4). The Word alive within them is the spirit guiding their prayers. The firm Word of God in their hearts is the rock bottom on which, with victorious certainty, they already have what they request. There is no prayer certain of being heeded without the Word alive within us, and in the same way there is no overcoming of evil without the Word alive within us. Just as the Lord overcame the tempter through the sword of the Word, so does scripture tell that the young men are strong and have overcome the evil one because the Word of God remains within them (1 Jn. 2:14). There is no victory over sin without the Word being guarded in the inmost heart, as the Psalmist says: “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11). Indeed, there is but one way in which it is possible to remain in the Father and the Son, and that is when the Word that we have heard from the very beginning remains within us (Rev. 3:8,10; 1 Jn. 2:24; 2:7).

For the written word, which unbelief wants to misrepresent as a dead letter, becomes so alive in the believing heart that, at every parting of ways and in every danger, it becomes our unerring guide. This inward leading through the Word itself cannot be replaced by any human imitation. There are people up in the mountains who want to save the expense of hiring a guide. They are the notorious Nachgeher (“those traipsing after or behind”) who always seek to climb up at a respectable distance behind those who have entrusted themselves to a proper guide. Whenever we hear of a serious climbing accident in the mountains, the first question will always be whether the victims committed the bad mistake of trying to climb in the tracks of others who were being guided safely. In the perilous terrain through which the narrow path leads us no one can manage without a guide of his own. Anyone who has dared enter the precipitous mountains of life without the clear inward leading of the Word is due for a calamitous tumble no matter how much he may have his eye on certain human role models involved in guidance.

There is a true inward guidance by the Lord where he gives us, for every situation, the right word from Scripture; indeed, for the sake of our right inward development, he will even cause whole sections of Scripture to be clarified for us as though by a radiant light. It may come to us like an inward revelation when the Word alive within us lights up our way through life. It is as though the sun suddenly breaks through in front of a wanderer who has gone astray in the fog revealing a splendid open road where before there seemed to be nothing but sinister spectral shadows.

The Word alive within us is intent upon leading, mastering, and ruling our entire life. True spiritual guidance is provided only by the Word of God written as it is into our hearts and minds (Heb. 8:10; 10:16); that alone is sanctification of life, when the will of God, as perfectly revealed as it is in the Word, goes forth from our heart as a basis, and brings our whole being under the obedience of faith. It is only from within that our life can be transformed. As soon as the Lord’s Word is alive within us, it will realize his will in deed and truth in our outward life too. Then it will become manifest before all people that we are a letter of Christ written by the spirit of the living God on the fleshly tablets of our heart (2 Cor. 3:2-3)

This article is part of a book soon to be published by P. Ott/Gotha entitled The Inward Life by Dr. E. Arnold.

Unchecked translation by Hugo Brinkman: SPV, 2010 (95 yrs old)