Sunday Bible Study
March 12, 2017
Topic: God's Effective, Active, Working Word
Let us pray: Creator Father, by your grace You both justify and sanctify sinners, grant us both justification and sanctification through the means of the Holy Spirit, the means of Your Grace, which is Your Word and Sacrament. Especially this morning, as we study a little bit on the nature of Your Word, grant us to believe that what is written is not only true but that what is written is also an active Word that does what it says and gives what it promises; in the name of Jesus. Amen.
We spent the last few weeks studying God's gift of the Office of the Holy Ministry. We also spent some time acknoweldging that this is a controversial issue even within our own synod of congregations.
Today, I would like to move on to a slightly different topic. A topic that is a controversial issue in itself but is also a modern and foundational issue that underlies other problems within the church.
How can a controversial topic resolved within the church?
One method is to appoint some to make the final decision and settle the problem. The appointed person in one denomination is called the Pope, the papa, of the church. When the Pope speaks the issue is settled. But it is not settled, is it. There remains many denominations within Christianity.
Another method is to appoint someone a little closer to home to make the final decision and settle the controversy. Let the person be the pastor. He is educated in all this stuff. Let's do what he says and the issue is settled. But it is not settled, is it. There remain many divisions, little ones maybe, but not a complete agreement on the final decision. The Voters Assembly still needs to address issues and boards and committees continue to work toward resolutions.
Another method is do keep doing what we have always done. Our traditions become the final decision maker. If it fits within the common customs and practices of the denomination or congregation, let's keep doing that. The issue is settled. But it is not settle, is it.
Who makes the decision? The answer is unpopular and hard. The answer is found in the book of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Book. The Holy Bible.
The Holy Spirit's Book is completely true (inerrant). The Holy Spirit's Book is completely God's full counsel to us (inspired) even though is was put to paper by the prophets and apostles.
The topic for today, however, is that the Holy Spirit's Book is also a living and active Word.
There is no easy method to solve hard questions easily.
The final decision maker is the Holy Spirit and His living and active Word is also written for our understanding. Hebrews 4 speaks of the written Word as a double-edged sword. Soldiers use swords for protection and to kill their enemy. So also, God's Word may convert our hearts or it may harden our hearts. The living and active Word of God will confirm us unto salvation or unto damnation.
How is a controversial topic resolved with in the church? Patient and careful study of God's Word.
Either we will agree with what is written or we will disagree with what is written, but God is the Lord of His church and He will decide the outcome of our wrestling with His living and active Word. Lord, have mercy on us.
In this era of confusion and ambiguity, the Scriptures teach us that God’s Word alone creates and sustains faith. To make this especially clear, God shows us that the Word is efficacious, effective, energetic, always at work. Although the concept of efficacy is not confined to one word or word group in the Bible, the New Testament does have a word group that precisely expresses how God works through the Word. The following list should help students of the Word to see and study the passages associated with this word group.
1:19 the working of His mighty power,
3:7 by the effectual working of His power,
4:16 the effectual working in the
3:21 according to the working whereby
1:29 striving according to His working,
2:12 through the faith of the operation of
2:9 is after the working of Satan
2:11 shall send them strong delusion (working of error)
14:2 works do shew forth themselves in him
6:14 mighty works do shew forth themselves Romans
7:5 did work in our members
12:6 God which worketh all in all
12:11 all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit
1:6 which is effectual (literally, that worketh) in the enduring
4:12 So then death worketh in us,
2:8 For he that wrought effectually in
3:5 and worketh miracles among you,
5:6 faith which worketh by love,
1:11 of him who worketh all things
1:20 Which he wrought in Christ
2:2 the spirit that now worketh in
3:20 the power that worketh in us
2:13 God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good
1:29 which worketh in me mightily