…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17

The book of Ephesians describes the Word of God as a sword in the hands of believers to bring the power of Holy Spirit to bare against forces of darkness.

In ancient times those of sufficient rank to wield high quality swords knew that to use one with skill required much practice. A warrior trained in the ways of warfare knew his sword well. He knew how it felt in his hand. He had learned the weight of the sword, the balance of the blade, how it flew through the air, what angle it was best used at to defend and attack for his body shape. A mighty sword fighter would become so accustomed to the feel and balance of his sword that it was more or less an extension of his own body. It’s for this reason that you’ll always find me carrying a paper bible. When I go to church, when I go to work, where ever I go there is usually a paper bible with me somewhere. I want to come to know my bible as a swordsman would know his sword – how it feels in my hand, where certain passages are on the page, what the particular wording of my version says. I underline and highlight and memorise like a mad thing.

If I used a bible app on a phone or a tablet I couldn’t do this. I don’t remember where things are. I lose track of chapter and verse references. I start to rely on google to find what I’m looking for. All in all using an electronic version of the bible doesn’t help me become a son of God who wields the Word of God with wisdom. I wonder sometimes at the lack of Christians carrying paper bibles today. I know it’s more convenient to have everything on your phone but since when was the Christian life a calling of convenience?

The Bible also gives us directions as to how to become as familiar with the Word as we would with a real sword. To Ezekiel (3:1-3) God says, “Son of man, eat this scroll.” The bible has a number of references to God’s word as something that we are called to eat.

Jeremiah 15:16Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.

Revelation 10:9-10So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.”

Psalm 119:103How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Job 23:12I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.

Psalm 19:10The decrees of the Lord are firm…More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Matthew 4:4 – Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

My understanding of this is to take God’s word and consume it, make it a daily consumption, a minute by minute meditation, take a bible and read it so much the book falls apart and then get another bible and do the same thing all over again. In 20 years time I want a collection of paper bibles that have been so consumed that they’re losing pages and the text is hard to read because I’ve underlined and re-underlined so many times. It’s a stunning invitation: to digest the very words of God and have them become a part of us as food becomes a part of us. To have the Word of God build spiritual muscles even as physical food builds spiritual muscle. And thankfully in this country it is an invitation that every believer can take up with great ease.

J. Ratcliffe