On Word and Sacrament

We are saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ (cf. Eph. 2:8).  The question now arises, “How does God deliver His grace that we may be saved?”  The Holy Scriptures, God’s witness of Himself, gives us the answer: “Faith comes … through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17; cf. Eph. 6:17).  God delivers His grace (and mercy) through His Word.

But the “Word of God” is not simply the Bible.  The Word became flesh. The Word of God is Jesus.  The Bible is God’s witness concerning Himself, as Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39).  Jesus is the life of the world. He is the light that illumines the path. He is the way.  And the Scriptures bear witness to this.

The word of the Lord – a popular Old Testament saying – is Jesus, the Word made flesh.  And through and in Christ, God delivers His grace, as it is written, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).

So to receive God’s grace, you must hear His word.  You must hear Jesus.  You must be received by Jesus.  Thankfully, God’s mercy is so great that He forces Jesus upon you.  You need to hear Jesus, so God forces His word upon you.  He forces His word upon you through His Church as fathers and mothers teach children the ways of God, and as friends and neighbors teach others the ways of God.

And when one hears Jesus, the Word of God, speak faith is created.  For faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Ro. 10:17).  So when a son hears his father confess the creed, the son hears Jesus who confesses the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And upon hearing, faith is born (and re-born, and born again).  And this faith responds by seeking out Christ just as the blind, deaf, and lame sought Him out in the gospel accounts.  So where does one find Jesus, the Word of God?  We find Him where He says He will be.

The Lord has promised to be where His word is preached and His sacraments administered.  Thus does He say: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them all that I have commanded you, and behold, I will be with you always even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:16ff).  The Lord promises to be where He speaks.  And He speaks through His sacraments.

So, back to the question: “How does God deliver His grace by which we are saved?”  Answer: through His sacraments, which is Christ with us and Christ for us.  By His grace we are saved.

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