JavaScript is disabled in your web browser or browser is too old to support JavaScript. Today almost all web pages contain JavaScript, a scripting programming language that runs on visitor's web browser. It makes web pages functional for specific purposes and if disabled for some reason, the content or the functionality of the web page can be limited or unavailable.
Vieraskieliset / In-english

The significance of the read and preached word of God

Siionin Lähetyslehti
Vieraskieliset / In-english
24.11.2015 12.00

Juttua muokattu:

1.1. 23:21

The first Chris­ti­an Pen­te­cost mar­ked a tur­ning point in the his­to­ry of sal­va­ti­on. Je­sus ope­ned the minds of the dis­cip­les to un­ders­tand the Scrip­tu­res. The prop­he­cies of the Scrip­tu­res – the Law of Mo­ses, the books of the prop­hets, and the Psalms – and the pro­mi­se gi­ven by Je­sus to His dis­cip­les were ful­fil­led in the pou­ring out of the Holy Spi­rit. The dis­cip­les were gi­ven a task: “And that re­pen­tan­ce and re­mis­si­on of sins should be pre­ac­hed in his name among all na­ti­ons, be­gin­ning at Je­ru­sa­lem.” (Luk 24:47)

The ser­mon about Christ – the gos­pel about the re­sur­rec­ted Je­sus Christ – be­gan to have a po­wer­ful ef­fect. Pe­ter’s Pen­te­cost ser­mon, which was ba­sed on the prop­he­cies of the prop­hets, strong­ly touc­hed the he­arts of the he­a­rers of the word. The Spi­rit of God cau­sed the ser­vi­ce gu­ests to ask the apost­les: “Men and breth­ren, what shall we do?” (Act 2:37) Three thou­sand lis­te­ners “glad­ly” re­cei­ved Pe­ter’s words and per­so­nal­ly be­lie­ved the gos­pel. The sac­ra­ment of bap­tism rein­for­ced the con­tent of Pe­ter’s ser­mon and joi­ned them to the con­ti­nuo­us care of the cong­re­ga­ti­on. The first cong­re­ga­ti­on of the New Co­ve­nant was born in Je­ru­sa­lem (Act 2:14–41).

Mar­tin Lut­her has said: “The word of God can­not exist wit­hout the pe­op­le of God.” God con­ti­nuo­us­ly in­te­racts with His own through His word. The Scrip­tu­res – the writ­ten word of God – are a fruit of this in­te­rac­ti­on. The hid­den God has spo­ken to His ser­vants through His Spi­rit: “For the prop­he­cy came not in old time by the will of man: but the holy men of God spake as they were mo­ved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet 1:21)

The word of God is an un­pe­ris­hab­le tre­a­su­re

In the be­gin­ning of time God cre­a­ted eve­ryt­hing by His word. One day He will al­so end this earth­ly time by His word. Thus, our world is cons­tant­ly being car­ried by His word. This is why we can desc­ri­be the word of God as un­pe­ris­hab­le. This was al­so con­fir­med by Je­sus Christ in His te­ac­hings: “He­a­ven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Mat 24:35)

For us the word of God is an un­pe­ris­hab­le tre­a­su­re be­cau­se God has re­ve­a­led Him­self to us in it. We do not have a deaf or dumb God. He who is hid­den from our ey­es is a spe­a­king God. The wri­ter of the let­ter to the Heb­rews desc­ri­bes the speech of the triu­ne God: “God, who at sund­ry ti­mes and in di­vers man­ners spake in time past un­to the fat­hers by the prop­hets, hath in these last days spo­ken un­to us by his Son, whom he hath ap­poin­ted heir of all things, by whom al­so he made the worlds.” (Heb 1:1–2)

The New Tes­ta­ment’s Apost­le Pe­ter com­pa­res the word of prop­he­cy to a lamp shi­ning in the dark, which sheds light on the path and shows the way (2 Pet 1:19). The light of the word of God en­ligh­tens the mu­tu­al path of the pe­op­le of God, the faith and life of the cong­re­ga­ti­on, and each and eve­ry child of God’s own en­de­a­vor of faith. The Psalm wri­ter ad­mi­res this light, ha­ving ex­pe­rien­ced it him­self: “Thy word is a lamp un­to my feet, and a light un­to my path.” (Psa 119:105) Li­ke­wi­se he ad­mi­res the bles­sed por­ti­on of a righ­te­ous per­son, be­cau­se his “de­light is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he me­di­ta­te day and night.” (Psa 1:2)

Christ is the Lord and King of the Scrip­tu­res

The main thread in the Old Tes­ta­ment scrip­tu­res is the pro­mi­se of the Mes­si­ah, Christ. The New Tes­ta­ment spe­aks about the ful­fil­l­ment of God’s pro­mi­ses in Je­sus Christ. Ear­ly Chris­ti­an pre­ac­hing al­so fol­lo­wed this for­mat. This can be cle­ar­ly seen in the ser­mons and parts of ser­mons kept by the apost­les that have been re­cor­ded in the New Tes­ta­ment. The same had come true in the Lord’s own proc­la­ma­ti­on, be­gin­ning from the very first mo­ments of His pub­lic mi­nist­ry.

The Scrip­tu­res are me­ant to be a text­book for faith and life. John, the wri­ter of the fourth gos­pel, gi­ves his re­a­son for wri­ting at the end of his gos­pel book: “But these are writ­ten, that ye might be­lie­ve that Je­sus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that be­lie­ving ye might have life through his name.” (Joh 20:31)

In his let­ter the Apost­le Paul re­minds the Co­rint­hi­an Chris­ti­ans about how the gos­pel he pre­ac­hed ap­p­ro­ac­hed those in Co­rinth who re­cei­ved it and be­lie­ved it: “And I, breth­ren, when I came to you, came not with ex­cel­len­cy of speech or of wis­dom, dec­la­ring un­to you the tes­ti­mo­ny of God. For I de­ter­mi­ned not to know any thing among you, save Je­sus Christ, and him cru­ci­fied.” (1 Cor 2:1–2)

It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber, re­gar­ding the proc­la­ma­ti­on of the apost­les and the ear­ly cong­re­ga­ti­on, what is re­ve­a­led in St. Luke’s de­pic­ti­on of the end of Paul’s work in the Acts of the Apost­les: “Pre­ac­hing the king­dom of God, and te­ac­hing those things which con­cern the Lord Je­sus Christ, with all con­fi­den­ce, no man for­bid­ding him.” (Act 28:31)

The gos­pel gi­ves birth to faith

The ba­sic te­ac­hing con­tai­ned in the tenth chap­ter of Paul’s let­ter to the Ro­mans is of­ten ci­ted in the ser­mons of our Chris­ti­a­ni­ty: “So then faith co­meth by he­a­ring, and he­a­ring by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17) Ac­cor­ding to Mar­tin Lut­her’s trans­la­ti­on, “faith co­mes by the pre­ac­hed word.”

The pre­ac­hing of the word – the proc­la­ma­ti­on of the gos­pel – has uni­que sig­ni­fi­can­ce as a tool of the Holy Spi­rit. The gos­pel proc­lai­med from the king­dom of God gi­ves birth to faith whe­re­ver the Spi­rit of God has pre­pa­red a per­son’s he­art to re­cei­ve it by faith.

Pre­ac­hing is not a per­so­nal mat­ter; it is a mat­ter of God and His cong­re­ga­ti­on. A pre­ac­her is a work­ma­te of God and an am­bas­sa­dor of Christ. God’s cong­re­ga­ti­on cal­ls up and sends pe­op­le to car­ry out this task. When the Spi­rit of God through the cong­re­ga­ti­on cal­ls to car­ry out the task of a ser­vant of the word in God’s cong­re­ga­ti­on, it is good to be obe­dient to that call. May Apost­le Paul’s “ac­count” of his proc­la­ma­ti­on of the gos­pel inst­ruct us: “For though I pre­ach the gos­pel, I have not­hing to glory of: for ne­ces­si­ty is laid upon me; yea, woe is un­to me, if I pre­ach not the gos­pel!” (1 Cor 9:16)

In his let­ters Apost­le Paul spe­aks of the of­fi­ce of the New Tes­ta­ment and the of­fi­ce of ato­ne­ment. As mem­bers of the ro­yal priest­hood, all child­ren of God are par­ti­ci­pants of this of­fi­ce. Eve­ry be­lie­ver is a priest on the ba­sis of his or her faith. It is the cal­ling of eve­ry be­lie­ver to proc­laim “prai­ses of him who hath cal­led you out of dark­ness in­to his mar­ve­lous light” (1 Pet 2:9).

In the he­art and mouth of eve­ry be­lie­ver is the ser­mon of faith by which a slave of sin can be re­le­a­sed in­to the free­dom of God’s child­ren. Eve­ry be­lie­ver has been put to ad­mi­nis­ter this of­fi­ce. The dee­pest me­a­ning of the word proc­lai­med by the Holy Spi­rit – the gos­pel of the king­dom of God – is that it gi­ves birth to faith in a per­son’s he­art and joins the be­lie­ver to the fa­mi­ly of God, in­to the care of the cong­re­ga­ti­on mot­her.

In the school of the word

Be­fo­re the mir­ror of the word – both writ­ten and pre­ac­hed – a per­son can be­gin fee­ling his or her guilt be­fo­re God. Re­a­li­zing this does not re­le­a­se that per­son from the bur­den of guilt. This re­qui­res the po­wer of the keys that the Holy Spi­rit uses through God’s own. Je­sus gave this dec­ree when he said to His dis­cip­les: “Re­cei­ve ye the Holy Ghost: whose so­e­ver sins ye re­mit, they are re­mit­ted un­to them; and whose so­e­ver sins ye re­tain, they are re­tai­ned.” (Joh 20:23)

Ac­cor­ding to Mar­tin Lut­her’s exp­la­na­ti­on of the third ar­tic­le of the Creed in the Small Ca­tec­hism, a Chris­ti­an cons­tant­ly needs the work of the Holy Spi­rit to pre­ser­ve faith: the Holy Spi­rit sanc­ti­fies and pre­ser­ves both in­di­vi­du­al Chris­ti­ans and the whole cong­re­ga­ti­on of God in the true faith. To che­rish our faith – the most im­por­tant mat­ter in our life – we need the fel­lows­hip of God’s cong­re­ga­ti­on. St. Luke has left a touc­hing ima­ge of the ear­ly cong­re­ga­ti­on in Je­ru­sa­lem in the Acts of the Apost­les, which is the first church his­to­ry: “And they con­ti­nu­ed sted­fast­ly in the apost­les’ doct­ri­ne and fel­lows­hip, and in bre­a­king of bread, and in pra­yers.” (Act 2:42)

This ide­al ima­ge was en­dan­ge­red al­re­a­dy du­ring the time of the New Co­ve­nant. That is why the apost­le re­min­ded: “Not for­sa­king the as­semb­ling of our­sel­ves to­get­her, as the man­ner of some is; but ex­hor­ting one anot­her: and so much the more, as ye see the day ap­p­ro­ac­hing.” (Heb 10:25)

The fo­cus of the apost­le’s ex­hor­ta­ti­on is on en­cou­ra­ging one anot­her. We know from ex­pe­rien­ce how our soul is ref­res­hed when we hear the word of God. The food of the gos­pel nou­ris­hes our poor soul.

Text: Timo Rii­hi­mä­ki

Trans­la­ti­on: KK

Sour­ce: Kes­tää­kö per­he?, Ajan­koh­tais­ta 2009

Jul­kais­tu eng­lan­nin­kie­li­ses­sä kie­li­liit­tees­sä 24.11.2015.