Why The Word Of God Matters To You

Text: Luke 8:4-15

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

A farmer without seed is like a rowing boat without oars. 

A farmer without seed is like a pitcher without a baseball.

A farmer without seed is like a photographer without a camera.

A farmer without seed is like St. Paul’s Lutheran Church without the Word of God.

Dear friends, in the church the Word of God (also known as the Bible) must be of first importance, for without the Word you and I are nothing.

As we heard in our Gospel reading from Luke, just as the soil without a seed cannot grow anything, without the Word, you and I cannot have faith.  Just as a farmer without seed cannot plant anything, without the Word of God, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church is useless.  In fact, it has been said before that a group of people who are untested by the Word of God and only exist with the basic need to huddle in groups… is demonic at best. 

Now, I think it is fairly easy to hear that the Word of God matters for you, me, and this church. For without the Word, your life and this church would be hell, the realm of Satan. 

Consider the following comments from a Presbyterian pastor named Donald Barnhouse.  Fifty years ago, he shared a question on CBS radio saying,

“What would a city [and church] look like if taken over by Satan?”

He answered the question, saying,

“All of the bars would be closed, pornography would be banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tiddy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, ‘Yes Sir,’ and ‘No Maam,’ and the church would be full every Sunday... where Christ is not preached [in the Word].”[1]

As you can see, the Word of God matters.  Even if everything else is fine and dandy, if you do not have the Word, you have nothing.  Indeed, where you find the Word, you find forgiveness, life, and salvation.  And where the Word is diminished or gone, you find the devil dancing for joy. 

But why does the Word matter so much?  Because through the Word, Christ is put into your ears and hearts. You see, the Word of God is not on the same level as other words. God’s Word is different from tabloids, self-help books, and motivational speeches because God’s Word is inspired. It is like this; the Holy Spirit gives strength, power, and ability through the Word. Literally, the God of the universe speaks to you in the Word. And that is why the Word is so important. That is why the devil seeks to remove the Word of God from you and the church.
Unfortunately, the Word is diminished, undercut, and eliminated from Christians like you and me every single week in America. 

For example, there is a temptation for us Christians to try to make the Word less offensive to sensitive modern ears.  We either are worried about what our neighbors will think, or we want to make sure that we don’t stir up conflict, so instead of speaking the Word of God, we substitute other language for it.  Instead of the Bible speaking, the talk of psychology, the speech of sociology, economics, or good old American consumerism and politics come out as if they are the Word of God.[2]  That is to say; Biblical words and the Biblical message are exchanged for non-Biblical words and non-Biblical messages.  In the attempt to reach out to non-Christians or out of fear of what other people might think of us, we do not merely translate the Word but exchange it for something completely different, and thus lose the Word altogether.

Second, there is a temptation for us Christians to become wrapped up in our thoughts, opinions, and foolishness. When presented the Word of God, you and I can easily and stubbornly cling to our own views, resulting in us despising the Word of God.  It looks like this: we are confronted by the Word and instead of repenting, we convince ourselves that God is speaking something different to our inner heart.  And so, instead of listening to the Word, we listen to our feelings, emotions, and desires pretending that they are a message from God Himself.  What results is that we become like a child playing cat-and-mouse; we loudly affirm our so-called inner feelings as if they are from God, while simultaneously avoiding God’s written Word and those who speak it.

Third, there is a tragic epidemic in America where doctrine is ridiculed.  The cry sounds like this:

“Do not talk to me about dead and dusty doctrine. You must get your head out of that dogma and doctrine and focus on living the Christian life. Yes, do not get bogged down with all that studying of the Bible but get busy living that genuine Christian life.”

Dear friends, this is exactly like saying to the farmer,

“Why do you fuss and worry so much about good seed?  You shouldn’t worry about seed as a farmer, just worry about the crop.” 

What foolishness this is! You cannot have a crop without good seed, just as you cannot have faithful Christians without the pure Word of God![3] 

Dear Baptized Saints, the Word of God matters because you do not learn in your heart and feelings about the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.  You do not learn about the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ from things that are not the Word.  And you do not learn and receive Christ’s forgiveness of sins by your actions or doings. Without the Word, the church is throwing air to the wind.  Without the Gospel seed, soil – mankind – can produce nothing.  Without the Word, we uphold the tyranny of Satan and despise the Lord God. 
This is why the Word matters for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  This is why the Word matters for you.  As Baptized-blood-bought-Christians, you need the Word.  Yes, you, as Christians, are captive to the Word of God, for you know that the Word is in a class all by itself.  The Holy Spirit through the Word of the Gospel has called each and every one of you out of death.  The Holy Spirit through the Word of the Gospel has enlightened you by giving you faith – faith that receives and clings to Jesus and His gifts. Indeed, the Word is not dead to you Christians but alive.  Through the Word and the Word alone, the Holy Spirit reveals to you your sin and grants you repentance.  Through the Word and the Word alone, the Holy Spirit distributes, presents, offers, and gives you that forgiveness that Jesus won on the cross. 

There is more too; only the Word can grant you sure confidence.  What an incredible gift that you have in the Word of God.  Without the Word you are left digging around inside your emotions and thoughts and ego for something to hold on to, but not with the Word.  With the Word, you have Jesus.  And with Jesus, you have truth and assurance. 

And as a church?  Without the Word, St. Paul’s Lutheran is susceptible to the crazy ideas of the world that ‘go’ as fast as they ‘come.’  But with the Word, St. Paul’s Lutheran is set upon a rock – the true, abiding rock on which the church can rest on with certainty. 

In closing, we hear from Martin Luther on this subject in 1522 when he said,

“In short, I will preach [the Word], teach [the Word], write [the Word], but I will constrain no one by force, for faith must come freely without compulsion. Take myself as an example. I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise, I did nothing. And while I slept [cf. Mark 4:26-29], or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.”[4]

Indeed, the Word does everything for you.  It is living and powerful to conceive new life in you, who hear it. 

Christ Jesus came for you, died for you, and rose for you to be your justification.  In Him you have forgiveness, life, and salvation – now and forevermore.  Amen. 

[1] Michal Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008), 15.
[2] William H. Willomon, Shaped by the Bible (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1990), 79.
[3] C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, tr. W.H.T. Dau (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1928), 21.
[4] Luther, M., 2012. Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings. Third Ed. Eds. T.F. Lull and W.R. Russell, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, pp. 94.

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