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God’s Word at Work

October 28, 2016 No Comment
Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer

Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer

by Glenn E. Schaeffer

The genius of Martin Luther was his recognition that there was only one way the Spirit of the Lord would reform, renew, and revive a lifeless, stagnant church and that was to get Jesus’ followers to read, study, inwardly digest, and proclaim God’s Word! Luther was not interested in dismantling and reconstructing the Roman Catholic’s corporate and ecclesiastical structure—except where it deviated from God’s Word. His priority was not to develop a Christian nation state, although he trusted that the Word of God would reshape, renew, and revive people’s beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviors in accord with God’s Word. Instead, Luther was determined to reform the church using Scripture alone.

Martin Luther trusted in the creative power of God’s Word: the ability of God to use His Word to accomplish what He wants done. Luther writes, “When God speaks a word the thing expressed by the word immediately leaps into existence. God says to my mother: ‘Conceive!’ and she conceives. He says to me: ‘Be born!’ and I am born.”

Martin Luther’s trust in the power and efficacy of the Word meant that his energies as a reformer were directed at studying and making God’s Word accessible to people through preaching, teaching, and translation. Luther puts it this way: “In short, I will preach it, teach it, write it, but I will constrain no man 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 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.”

God’s powerful Word has a profound effect upon Jesus’ disciples. The Spirit of the Lord, through God’s Word, creates a living faith in the triune God in the hearts of people who were once dead in their sin. God’s creative Word also revives and renews Christians so that they share generously the Word of Lord with others, especially people who do not yet believe in Jesus as their Saviour. Consider Luther’s words once more: “Once a Christian begins to know Christ as his Lord and Saviour, through whom he is redeemed from death and brought into His dominion and inheritance, God completely permeates his heart. Now he is eager to help everyone acquire the same benefits. For his greatest delight is in this treasure, the knowledge of Christ. Therefore he steps forth boldly, teaches and admonishes others, praises and confesses his treasure before everybody, prays and yearns that they too, may obtain such mercy. There is a spirit of restlessness amid the greatest calm, that is, in God’s grace and peace. A Christian cannot be still or idle. He constantly strives and struggles with all his might, as one who has no other object in life than to disseminate God’s honor and glory among the people, that others may also receive such a spirit of grace….”

I think you would agree that many Christians and Christian congregations are lifeless and stagnant. There is need for reform, renewal, and revival. We would do well to imitate Luther’s genius and immerse ourselves in the study and proclamation of God’s Word. Will you please commit with me to read or listen to the Bible daily? Will you start attending a Bible study (if you aren’t currently attending one)? Will you commit to attending Sunday worship every week? Will you share God’s Word with people who do not believe in the triune God? I can’t think of a better way of honoring the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation than by being students and proclaimers of God’s Word!

We would do well to imitate Luther’s genius and immerse ourselves in the study and proclamation of God’s Word.

Please pray with me: Almighty God, grant to Your Church [to me and all believers in Christ] Your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes down from above that Your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached [spoken, read, studied, translated and prayed] to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people [beginning with me! and my family, and every follower of Jesus Christ] that in steadfast [and with a lively] faith we may serve You [and our neighbor] and, in the confession of Your name, abide to the end; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer is President of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church-Canada.