Saturday, August 13, 2022

The Power of God's Word

Question 89: How is the word made effectual to salvation?
Answer: The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation. (WSC)
The Holy Scriptures are the word of God, and they “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). God has appointed that his word be read (both publicly and privately) and preached. The apostle told Timothy to devote himself to “the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Tim. 4:13) because if he kept a close watch on himself and on the teaching, he would save both himself and his hearers (1 Tim. 4:16).

The Spirit of God is the one who delivered the word of God to us, producing Scripture by working through its authors (2 Tim. 3:16, 1 Peter 1:10-12, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 1 Cor. 2:13). The Spirit of God is also the one who makes the word effectual to salvation. The natural person is not able to understand the word of God, but the spiritual person - the one who has received the Spirit of God - is able to understand it (1 Cor. 2:11-14). While men may “plant” and “water” by preaching, yet it is God who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-7).

The Spirit uses the reading and preaching of the word to convince and convert sinners. It is the instrument he uses to bring sinners from darkness to light, from death to life. The word of God, when the Spirit makes it effective, is like the voice by which Jesus called Lazarus to life, or the word by which God created light on the first day. It is through the word that the Spirit convicts the sinner of his sin, convinces him of his misery and danger, enlightens him in the knowledge of Christ, and persuades and enables him to embrace Christ. It is the ordinary means by which the Spirit produces faith and repentance in sinners (Rom. 10:17, Acts 26:18, 1 Peter 1:23-25).

The Spirit also uses the reading and preaching of the word to build up in holiness and comfort those who have been converted. Those who have been born again by the word ought to long for the word, as infants long for milk, that by it they may grow up into salvation (1 Peter 2:2). Christ gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers not only for the gathering of the elect, but also for the perfecting of the saints (Eph. 4:12, Col. 1:28, 2 Tim. 3:16). The word of God shows us the way of holiness and motivates us to walk in it. The word of God is also the means by which the Spirit - the Comforter - comforts and strengthens us, giving us hope and confidence (Rom. 15:4, John 14:26).

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