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The Work of the Word Part 1


Written by: MacArthur Jr., John    Posted on: 04/10/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

GC 55-18  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; ";The Work of the Word";  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Part 1  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; 2 Timothy 3:15-16a  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; For this morning, let me draw your attention for the time we have in God's Word back to 2 Timothy chapter 3. Looking  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; again at the passage which has been our focus for a number of weeks. Obviously in studying through 2 Timothy we have  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; come across this passage, verses 15 to 17, in the context of the third chapter. The first week that we looked at it we  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; discussed primarily its intent with regard to Paul writing Timothy, that is the primary significance of it in its context. And then  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; feeling that one look at that text didn't really do justice to it, we took another week and examined the whole idea indicated in  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; verse 16 of all Scripture being inspired by God because that is a tremendously impactful statement that goes way beyond  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; any specific instruction Paul could give to Timothy. The fact that Scripture is inspired is of monumental consequence and so  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; we dug a little more deeply into the matter of inspiration.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; And as I was planning to kind of move on in 2 Timothy, I was rereading the epistle and I came back to this same section  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; and in reading it I realized that there was one further tremendously important issue here that had not been addressed that I  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; needed to deal with and that has to do with what I like to call the work of the Word...the work of the Word. We talked  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; about the fact that it was inspired but we must also focus on its work. And you will notice in verse 15 that it says that the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; sacred writings are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Initially the work  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; of the Word is salvation. Then in verse 16, it is useful, that is inspired Scripture is useful, for teaching, for reproof, for  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; correction and for training in righteousness with the idea that the end product may be a man of God adequate and equipped  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; for every good work.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Now a simple reading of those verses indicates to us five elements of the work of the Word...salvation, teaching, reproof,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; correction, training and righteousness. Those are the things which the Word does, which the Scripture produces. They're not  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; new to me, they're not new to most of you, they're new to perhaps some of you. And as I thought about it I thought, ";Well,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; it's pretty basic but it's also pretty important."; And let me say by way of general introduction that the distinguishing  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; characteristic, I hope, of my own ministry and of Grace Community Church, is a very very strong commitment to the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; authority of the Word of God. We are definitely a church committed to God's Word. We endeavor to teach God's Word,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; to preach God's Word, to implement God's Word, to live God's Word, to proclaim God's Word, to exalt God's Word. It is  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; the focal point of everything that we do. When God speaks, we listen.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; I think so many times of Revelation 2 and 3, if you have ears to hear then hear what the Spirit says to the churches. So we  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; have always been a church that listens to the Word of God, that is committed to the Word of God, that is submissive to the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Word of God. And the focal point of our ministry has been the Scripture. There are many things that a church can do. There  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; are many focuses. There are many sort of themes that a church can camp on. But for us for all these years it has been the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Word of God. Our church, our personal lives are dominated by the Word of God. Week in and week out we teach the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Bible. Here in the services we preach it expositorily, that is explaining its meaning. We go through scripture after scripture  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; after scripture. The reason for that is because of the work of the Word. Because we understand what it does, that's why we  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; give it the main attention.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Let me just remind you of a very important promise with regard to this. Isaiah 55:10 and 11, you don't need to look it up,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; just listen. ";For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there without watering the earth and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; making it bare and sprout and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My Word be which goes forth  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; from My mouth. It shall not return to Me empty or void, without accomplishing what I desire and without succeeding in the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; matter for which I send it.";  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; In other words, God says when I send My Word it always does its work...it always does its work. It never comes back  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; empty. Just like rain and snow produces what grows, My Word produces My will. The Bible is God's messenger. It  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; accomplishes His will. It accomplishes His purpose. The Word of God is depicted in Psalm 147 as a swift messenger. It  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; runs to do God's work. It runs to accomplish God's goals.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; You might look just at Psalm 147 for a moment. There are several verses there that really are very vivid. Verse 15, ";He  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; sends forth His command to the earth,"; that's verse 15, ";He sends forth His command to the earth, His Word runs very  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; swiftly. He gives snow like wool. He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments. Who can stand before  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; His cold? He sends forth His Word and melts them. He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow. He [INVALID]s His  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.";  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; And here is this sort of intertwined analogy as God sends the cold and frost and the sun and all the natural elements to  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; produce what He wants to produce, so He sends His Word. And the Word is analogous to that, it goes out to produce the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; ends that God has intended for it. That's a tremendous confidence that we have who teach the Word of God, who articulate  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; the Word of God, to know that it always accomplishes what God wants it to do, never comes back empty, always  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; produces, always produces, like rain and snow and all the other things that God sends with production in mind. The Word is  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; productive. It is prolific and it accomplishes its purpose. Every word out of God's mouth is bread, it says in Deuteronomy  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; 8:3. It feeds somebody. It nourishes somebody. It makes somebody grow. It accomplishes something.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; And so we want to ask the question then, if it does accomplish something, what does it accomplish? What is the work of the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Word? What is the purpose of the Word? And let's look at these five things, we'll look at two of them this morning, just  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; briefly giving you what may for most of you be review and then the other three next Lord's day.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; The first one is that the Word produces salvation. You'll notice that very familiar verse that we looked at in chapter 3 verse  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; 15. It says that the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation which comes, of course,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; through faith in Christ Jesus. The thing that he says there is the Word, the sacred writings[INVALID]referring to Scripture[INVALID], have  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; primarily in that particular verse reference to the Old Testament, but nonetheless Scripture produces salvation. Scripture  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; produces salvation. It makes you wise unto salvation. It is the instrument of salvation. The practical implications of this are  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; obvious.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Before we look at those though let's see if we can't reinforce that truth a little bit by looking namely at the testimony of Jesus  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Himself. Turn in your Bible to John's gospel. And in John's gospel we have the continual teaching of Jesus about the power  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; of His word and the Word of God. But in chapter 5 and verse 24 we read this, the words of Jesus, ";Truly truly I say to you,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; he who hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and does not come into judgment but has passed out  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; of death into life."; That is a tremendous verse. That is a verse that binds up the essence of the gospel. Believing in God, the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; God who sent Christ, and hearing the Word brings eternal life and delivers one from judgment, passing out of death into life.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; And note, please, the key to it all verse 24, ";He who hears My Word."; The Word is the agency. The Word is that which  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; begets new life. In John chapter 6, I draw your attention to a couple of verses toward the end of the chapter. And Jesus  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; again teaching in this familiar section where He speaks on the bread of life, but in verse 63 He says, ";It is the Spirit who  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; gives life, the flesh profits nothing."; Then this, ";The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life and if they haven't  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; effected that in you,"; verse 64 implies, ";that's because some of you don't believe."; So, the Word mixed with faith produces  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; life.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Chapter 12 of John, and there are other texts you could look at but these are highlights. Chapter 12 and verse 49, Jesus  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; says, ";I did not speak on My own initiative."; Even Jesus operated under delegated authority and operated by speaking only  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; that which was the Word of God. He said, ";My Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment what to say and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; what to speak and I know that His commandment is eternal life, therefore the things I speak I speak just as the Father has  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; told Me."; And again Jesus is articulating the reality that the Word is that which produces eternal life...the Word brings life.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; The sum of it all comes in that great watershed verse 31 of chapter 20 in John's gospel which really gives us the reason for  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; the whole book...the whole gospel. ";These have been written...these have been written,"; says John, ";that you may believe  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that believing you may have life in His name."; And again, eternal life comes by  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; believing the written Word, the revealed Word, the Word of God. Scripture then is the source of that truth which brings  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; salvation.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Look again further into the New Testament, the tenth chapter of Romans and we find that the Apostle Paul was committed  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; to the same truth. In Romans chapter 10, a familiar verse, 17 says, ";So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Christ."; Or some manuscripts the Word of God, I think, preferably the Word of Christ, the New American has it that way.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; But the point is, one way or the other it's the Word of God or the Word of Christ which are one and the same that produces  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; salvation. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. That's why you have to have preachers. That's why  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; you have to have those who will go out and speak the truth. It says in verse 13, ";Whoever will call on the name of the Lord  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; will be saved."; But how are they going to call on Him in whom they have not believed and how they going to believe in  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; whom they have not heard and how will they hear without a preacher and how will they preach unless they are sent? And  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; even when they are sent the implication is they must hear the Word of Christ. So it is again emphasized that the Scripture is  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; the source.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; In Ephesians chapter 5, that great section on marriage as compared to the church. Verse 25 says, ";Husbands, love your  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her having cleansed her by the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; washing of water with the Word."; Christ has cleansed His church, saved His church by the washing of water with the Word.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; The Word again the agency.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; And Paul writing to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 refers to the work...the Word of God which performs its  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; work in you who believe. The Word works. Now salvation occurs when you have a ready heart that is open to believe,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; mixed with the revelation of God. The Word of God in a ready heart, that's the issue.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; James refers to the same dynamic in James 1:18. He says, ";He brought us forth, He begot us, He redeemed us, He saved us  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; by the Word of truth...by the Word of truth.";  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; So, the Scripture, the Word of God, is the source of salvation. That's why Philippians 2:16 calls it the ";Word of life."; It is  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; characterized as that which gives life. Psalm 19:7, ";The law of the Lord is perfect,"; what's the rest of the verse? ";Converting  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; the soul."; It has the power to convert.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; And I think back to Nehemiah, a tremendous illustration of this. Look with me for a moment to the eighth chapter of  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Nehemiah, it's a few books to the left of Psalms. And in Nehemiah chapter 8 we have the introduction of a revival. In  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Nehemiah chapter 8 it begins...the beginning of a real revival. And I believe there were many people who were saved in the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; true sense of Old Testament salvation at this revival. All the people gathered as one man at the gate which was in front of the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; water gate, the square which is front of the water gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Three little words, ";Bring the book,"; really keyed the whole thing. And he brought the law before the assembly of men,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; women and all who could listen with understanding and the first day of the seventh month he read from it before the square  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; which was in front of the water gate from early morning until midday in the presence of men and women, those who could  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; understand, all the people were attentive to the book of the law.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; They stood there and listened to it being read hour after hour after hour. There was a wooden podium, verse 4, set up for  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; that purpose. And Ezra, verse 5, opened the book in the sight of all the people, standing up above the people, and he  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; opened it and all the people stood up. He blessed the Lord the great God and all the people answered, Amen, Amen. Lifting  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; up their hands they bowed low, worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Verse 8 says that as they read from the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; book, from the law of God, they translated to give the sense so that they would understand the reading...it had to go from  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Hebrew into Aramaic which was their commoner language and had to be explained to them. And so they were reading and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; explaining the Word. The people's response was amazing, it says at the end of verse 9, they were weeping when they heard  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; the words of the law. They were grieved over their sin. They were struck because of the dirth of the law of God in their  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; hearing.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; The end result of all of this was the people really drew their hearts back to God. This reading went on. At the end of verse  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; 18 it says they celebrated the feast for seven days and they read from the book of the law, the first part of the verse says  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; daily from the first day to the last day. Then the people began to praise God in chapter 9. They were praising and lifting up  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; adoration to the God who had revealed Himself in Scripture. They were getting their hearts right. Down in verse 28 of  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; chapter 10 after that long list of people who signed the document, it says that they were joining together, making a  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; commitment, taking a curse, verse 29, making an oath to walk in God's law, to keep and observe all the commandments of  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; God our Lord and His ordinance and His statutes.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; The net result was the people made a commitment to God. And I believe there was salvation that period of time, through  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; that seven-day feast, there was a great movement of God and many were saved. And it was a direct result of simply  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; standing and reading and translating, explaining the Scripture. It has the power to convert the soul, the power to save.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Look at another illustration, taken from the New Testament, namely the eighth chapter of Luke in which our Lord teaches a  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; familiar parable which makes the same major point. Jesus teaching here about the parable of the soils and the sower and the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; seed. Verse 5 says of Luke 8, ";The sower went out to sow his seed and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, was  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, as soon as it grew up it withered away  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; fell into good soil, grew up, produced a crop a hundred times as great."; And He said, ";You better listen to the things I'm  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; saying.";  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Then in verse 9 they asked Him what it was He was saying. He's explaining, starting in verse 10, ";To you it has been granted  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, to the rest it is in parables in order that they seeing may not see and hearing  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; they may not understand."; In other words, He says I'm going to explain it to you because obviously you belong to God. To  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; them it will remain a riddle.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; The explanation then comes in verse 11. ";In the parable the seed is the Word of God."; That which produces new life in  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; good soil is the Word of God. That's the point. If the soil isn't right, you're not going to get the product. If it's hard soil like  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; the soil on the road, it says those beside the road are those who have heard, the devil comes, takes away the Word from  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; their hearts so they may not believe and be saved. And those on the rocky soil are those who when they have received the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; Word, receive it with joy and they have no firm root. They believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. And the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard and as they go on their way they are choked with  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ; worries and riches and pleasures of this life and bring no fruit to maturity. The Word of God w

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