Pastor's Pastor

The power of God's Word

Preaching the Word of God is life changing.

James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Preaching the Word of God is life changing. As I write this column, I have recently completed presenting a series of public evangelistic meetings on the great themes of Scripture. About two dozen individuals responded by requesting baptism which is a credit to the quality of the pastors and congregation with whom I worked and to the continuing power of God's word to impact the lives of those who hear.

Furthermore, I am personally refreshed anew by experiencing the impact of preaching the message upon my own life—my ears hear the good news even from my own tongue and my soul rejoices in God's graciousness.

Although the resulting numbers of new believers vary from situation to situation, invariably lives are changed when God's word is proclaimed. This clearly demonstrates the appropriateness of the church's 1998 theme, "Experiencing the power of God's Word."

I encourage you to renew your own experience and to witness the ongoing power of Scripture by actively proclaiming the following realities of the Word of God.

The Eternal Word. First, and foremost, the Word of God is a person, the individual Jesus Christ. When you preach the message of Scripture, your listeners encounter more than themes, theory, or theology. They encounter the One who was in the beginning, the Word that was with God, who remains eternal with God, created all things, and who is very God, Himself (John 1:1-3). No wonder the prophet declares that the Word of God stands forever (Isa. 40:8).

The Incarnate Word. Glorious reminder of the gospel message—God with us! When seeking to save the lost, God did not look down from above and pull us up to heaven's expectations, rather Jesus emptied himself and became human, taking upon himself our very nature and our experience in order to lift us up with Himself into heavenly places (Phil. 2:5-11). To accomplish our salvation, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).

The Revealed Word. Knowing that all people throughout history would not have personal access to the public ministry of Jesus when he was on earth, God also purposed to reveal His secrets to His servants, the prophets, in order to communicate His love, His purposes, and His grace to lost humanity (Amos 3:7), Using earthly humans to communicate heavenly concepts, God's Word reveals His saving intent. You extend that prophetic ministry today when you proclaim the good news of God's Word.

The Written Word. To perpetuate the faithful witness of His messages, God's Holy Spirit brought light and surety even in dark places by the prophetic word. These messages did not come about by human invention, nor by the will of man. Rather, godly individuals spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19-21). Thus the recorded Word of God, our Scriptures, truly is God's words for our own lives and the lives of those to whom we minister.

The Proclaimed Word. Power accompanies the preaching of God's Word. In fact, although it may seem foolish to depend upon personal proclamation in an age of multi-media communication options, the Scriptural promise remains true—faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). Something powerful occurs when any individual asks God's blessing upon our efforts to effectively communicate His message to the lost. Faith is awakened as the Word is opened.

The Saving Word. God's Word comes with the specific purpose to save the lost — "having been born again, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:23). By feeding upon Christ's body and His blood—the words which Christ spoke—we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Do you want to become more like Jesus? Spend more time feasting upon Him through His words.

The Teaching Word. The power of the Holy Scriptures still makes people wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. A four-fold purpose of Scripture is to teach us sound doctrine about Jesus, to reproof our rebellious wanderings away from Jesus, to correct our steps back to Jesus, to instruct us in the continuing walk with Jesus, and to completely equip us for loving service in Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15-17). Even the very stories of Scripture are told with the purpose of teaching us about how to live within God's plan for our lives (Rom. 15:4).

The Authoritative Word. When Jesus personally spoke, He came with an authority beyond human capability or reasoning (Mark 1:22). Today, His Words remain authoritative for all people of all time. God clearly warns against adding to or detracting from God's Word by including our own pet theories or excluding His own clear instructions (Rev. 22:18-19). In an age that resists authority, God's Word remains the rock upon which His people can securely fasten. "The reason many in this age of the world make no greater advancement in the divine life is because they interpret the will of God to be just what they will to do. While following their own desires, they flatter themselves that they are conforming to God's will." 1

The Transforming Word. Jesus will receive me, "just as I am." But through the transforming power of His Word, He will take me "just where He wants me to be." Our Lord prayed, "sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy Word is truth (John 17:17). The Word of God has power to sanctify our lives as it effectively works in the lives of believers (1 Thes. 2:13). The Scriptures have such power that we can be kept from sinning by feeding deeply upon the Word (Ps. 119:9,11).

"With the growing contempt for God's law, there is an increasing distaste for religion, an increase of pride, love of pleasure, disobedience to parents, and self-indulgence ... What can be done to correct these alarming evils? The answer is... 'Preach the Word.' In the Bible are found the only safe principles of action. It is a transcript of the will of God, an expression of divine wisdom. It opens to man's understanding the great problems of life; and to all who heed its precepts, it will prove an unerring guide, keeping them from wasting their lives in misdirected effort."2

The Living Word. Finally, God anticipates that His Word will take root in the lives of His followers so that they, too, will become living epistles of His saving grace. As the little children sing, "Don't you know, 0' Christian, you're a sermon in shoes." Our lives, known and observed by others may be the only sermon that some individuals will ever hear (2 Cor. 2:2-3). The influence of a godly life in an ungodly world has powerful impact for the saving of souls. Many who would never darken the door of a church to hear you or any other speaker preach the Scriptures, will have their hearts warmed by your living epistle that spreads the good news in the midst of your daily activities.

1. Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press® Pub. Assn., 1911), 565.

2. Ibid., 506.

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James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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