Unlike us, St. Paul received the revelation of Jesus Christ directly from heaven. We receive the same revelation through the Word that is preached and taught. Paul received the Word when he was a persecutor and destroyer of the Church. We received it when we also were enemies of God, lost in sin and hostile to the Truth.
Now that we are set apart and called by grace, how shall we treat the Word of God? Since we are true children of our heavenly Father by adoption in the image of Christ, how should we listen to the Word?
God loves us, and His love is expressed chiefly in His Word. His Word is powerful and able to strengthen us against the assaults of the devil.
The God who speaks to us always knows what is best for us. He is working to give us grace every time He speaks in His Word. We should listen reverently to Him, not merely out of fear of punishment. We should listen out of love for Him, since He has first loved us. On the other hand, to reject His Word is to reject Him, just as to embrace the Word is to embrace Him.
Given that it is obvious that the Word of the Father is worth listening to, the real question is, do we treat the Word that is preached and taught as God's Word? Or do we only treat it as the word of a man?
When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he knew that many were turning away from the Word that he had preached. So he reminded them that the Gospel he preached was not something that a man made up. He did not receive it from any man, nor was he taught it. Rather, he received it by revelation of Jesus Christ. In other words, it was not Paul's word. It was God's Word.
Now, we do not usually receive revelations directly from God. Even if we did, we know that the Scriptures must come first. Any direct revelation must always remain uncertain, whereas the external Word of God is always certain and dependable.
So here is the Word, in preaching and teaching. Here is the Word, not just the opinions of a man, but the actual Word of God, where you can easily find it.
God has put this Word near you because you constantly need to return to it. It is your strength, your life, and your defense.
Yet too many people regard it as the words and opinions of a man. Too many people do not attend Worship and Bible Study, because they think something else is more important. We have an immense need for the Word, surrounded as we are by the devil, the sinful world, and our own flesh. But too many of us seem to be starving ourselves, even while food is being offered to us.
For those of you who have been very faithful in Bible study attendance, the root danger is still the same: In our fleshly nature, we do not value the Word as greatly as we should. Behind all excuses to avoid the Word is the sinful flesh, which is lazy, proud, and stubborn. Our nature does not want to be taught. Our nature thinks that it has already mastered all that it ever needs. But if our nature has its way, it will lead us farther and farther from the Word, and so farther from life and faith and forgiveness, and farther from our loving God, until we have nothing but corruption and death. May the Lord defend us from that end.
Therefore I tell you: Be enticed by the Word of God. It is a sweet and loving Word. It may painfully cut us with the Law, but it is always swift to heal and strengthen with the Gospel. The revelation of the Word is the revelation of Christ, the Son of God. In Him, we find grace and mercy, for His Blood was shed on our behalf. His death was accomplished for our iniquities. There is no Word of God without Christ who gives life and salvation. In the Word, we receive all these things.
It is not a dead word on a page. It is a living and active Word, just as it is the Word of the living God who does not sleep, but is always working on our behalf.
The Spirit drive you to never reject the Word as only the word of a man, as some of the Galatians did, and were led astray. The Spirit is putting to death the lazy old Man in you that thinks that the Word is only a lot of hard work, and the Spirit strengthens the New Man in you that remembers that this is the loving Word of your loving God. He speaks to you. As obedient and loving children, you eagerly listen to your Father.
In His Name, the one true God, with His Son and Spirit. Amen.
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