Summary: A message on the application and living of God’s Word.
“The Word of God Received”
Preached at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1/27/02
The Rev’d Quintin Morrow, Rector
Let us pray: “Blessed Lord, who has caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God
for ever and ever. AMEN.”
21Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed (James 1:21-25).
“I wonder,” said the vicar, Parson Jones
With a little troubled frown,
If there is any way to get
You folks seated farther down?
You see I have to talk across
So many empty pews,
Before my voice can reach the back,
I fear my point you lose.
And then I feel so lonesome,
Way up here—you clear back there,
Its hard to feel you’re with me
And that I’m preaching to thin air.
I wonder if you folks are scared
Of what I’m going to preach
That you hurry so to park your bums
In the furthest seat?
Or do you fear the church some day
Will suddenly catch afire?
Or do you want to slip out quick
If of my subject you do tire?
I wish you’d come up closer
So I wouldn’t have to shout—
If you don’t I’m going to have
Those back pews taken out!”
We are concluding our 3 part series of messages on the Word of God this morning. You will recall that in the first message we looked at the claims Holy Scripture makes for itself; namely, that it—the Bible—is God’s Word written. “All Scripture is God-breathed,” St. Paul says in II Tim. 3:16. In that message we also discovered that God’s Word is infallible—reliable and trustworthy in all that it teaches and proclaims. We discovered that Scripture is sufficient for salvation. “It is able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ,” Paul writes in II Tim. 3:15. And finally, we found that Holy Scripture is instructive—useful for doctrine, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
And last week, as you recall, we looked at God’s Word Proclaimed: The Primacy of Preaching. In that message we concluded that preaching is essential to the Christian faith. “How can they believe in the one of whom they have never heard?” Paul asks in Rom. 10:14. “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Faith comes by hearing, the Apostle continues, and hearing by the Word of God. We also discovered that true biblical preaching rests on 3 principles: The first is that God has spoken and continues to speak through His Word; the second is that God’s Word can change the human heart and alter eternal destinies; and third is that it is the preacher’s job to preach God’s Word and only God’s Word, not the fads of the day or his opinions. “Preach the Word!” Paul tells young Timothy in II Tim. 4:2.
Today we conclude with God’s Word Received: Being Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only. In truth, today’s message is a perfect end to our 3 part series of messages, because this morning we will apply what we’ve discovered about God’s Word over the last 2 weeks.
Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
What should our response be to God’s holy Word? James says in 1:21 that we are to humbly accept the Word. The NIV translates this as: humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. If we have truly been persuaded that God has spoken, and continues to speak today, through His Word; if we are convinced that this Word is trustworthy, that it can change our hearts and save souls; and if we believe that genuine biblical preaching is the proclamation of God’s Word, then our first response to what God Almighty has said is to humbly receive it. “Humbly accept the word,” the Apostle James admonishes us.
Receiving the Word of God means, first of all, accepting it. This involves being in it regularly, studying it, and regularly being in the place where it is read, taught and explained. Receiving the Word means valuing it enough to make it a part of your regular spiritual diet, acknowledging its truth and believing what it says.