Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Power of God's Word

This past Sunday I was reminded once again of the power of God's word. We've been working our way through Mark's gospel since May. This week we were to begin chapter 4, where Jesus begins teaching in parables. After the first parable recorded (Parable of the Sower), the disciples asked Jesus why He began teaching with parables. To me, this was a logical place to begin the study of the parables; before we dove into them we needed to understand why Christ used them. To that point He hadn't used parables-why the change? And so we studied Mark 4:10-12.

Now that text may not ring a bell in your mind. It didn't in mine either. I've never preached from that text. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever heard a sermon preached from it either. Here's what it says: "And when He was alone, those around Him with the 12 asked Him about the parables. And He said to them, 'To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that 'they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.'" Not exactly one of those "wow" passage of scripture is it? No, "for God so loved the world", no "for by grace you have been saved", not even "while we were yet sinners". But that was the next portion of scripture so we dug in. We studied why Jesus taught using parables.

And here's the remarkable thing; it was an incredibly well-received sermon. Several people told me they had been blessed, one man told me it was the best sermon he had heard me preach. And I don't say that out of pride or anything like that; I say that because those words completely reaffirmed to me the power of God's word. There was nothing in that text that seemed to leap off the page. There didn't seem to be much there that was useful for teaching, reproof, correction or training in righteousness. But that's precisely what happened. People weren't blessed because of my masterful exegesis or my impressive homiletic skills. People were blessed because the word of God was presented.

There is immeasurable power in God's word. And so often where I fail as a teacher of the word is that I don't lean all my weight on the scriptures. I worry that maybe what I say won't be relevant, that what is said on Sunday won't matter much on Monday. And that's a wretched, wicked sin because it is a declaration of the insufficiency of scripture. God's word is sharper than any two-edged sword, every word of it is inspired and useful. And when I am faithful to present it, people will be blessed.

Fellow teachers/preachers of God's word, may we never stray from the text. My opinions don't matter, my viewpoints don't matter--they can't change hearts and work the work of repentance in the hearts of sinners. But there is supernatural power in God's word. When we are faithful to present it, God is faithful to bless it.

Father, thank You for the incredible blessing of scripture. May I never present what I think to the world; may I never present my opinions. May I only preach Your word; may I ever rest in the sufficiency of it; and my I trust You to give the increase. Amen.

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