Greeting: God’s Word is our great heritage!
Text: Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Introduction: A Christian once exclaimed: “Ah, it is a great thing to have the Word of God and a piece of bread.” You might want to alter that sentence a bit to suit your individual taste. You might want to say:”Ah, it is a great thing to have the Word of God and – a piece of cheese cake, or a piece of Swiss chocolate, or an Omaha steak.” But, you know, we should be more than thrilled to shorten the sentence, leave out the food aspect, and let it say: “Ah, it is a great thing to have the Word of God.” It is a great thing to have the Word of God, even if we have nothing else. For the Word of God is God’s truly great gift to us. The Bible is the best thing we can have. The Scriptures are the supreme treasure we can possess. The Good Book is the greatest blessing we can receive.
God tells us that in a variety of ways. He says that His Word is a powerful gift. “Is not My word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29) God says that in a spiritually dark world, His Word is an enlightening gift. “The entrance of Your words give light. It gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130) He says that His Word is a saving gift. “The gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation.” (Romans 1:16) Our Lord says that His Word is a truthful and spiritually purifying gift: “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your Word is truth.” (John 17:17)
The God who gives us His Word also gives us His promise that He will bless us as we make proper use of that Word. We hear that promise in the words of Paul to the Elders of Ephesus in Acts 20: “Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” God promises that His Word will build us up and make us spiritually strong. He also promises that His Word will give us an inheritance, a glorious future. These blessings are ours to claim if we will but make good use of His Word.
Since many of us have always lived with the blessing of God’s Word, it is hard for us to imagine what things would be like without His Word. Martin Luther once ventured this opinion: “Among all gifts, the gift of the Word of God is the most valuable. For, if you take this away, it would be like taking the sun away from the earth. For is the Word were removed, what would this world be but the darkest hell and the realm of Satan. People would live in the world, but what can be accomplished without God’s Word? Only the Word gives us a joyful conscience, a gracious God, and all of true religion. It is out of God’s Word, as from a spring of water, that our entire faith flows. Indeed, the Word sustains the entire world. Without the Word and Christ, the world would not continue to exist. Though there are many great gifts of God in the world, given for the benefit of people, yet the one gift which includes and sustains all others in the Word, which proclaims that God is merciful and promises forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. But, I ask you, could this life still be considered life if we had to dispense with these blessings?” I think not.
God Word is a great blessing to us whenever we use it. Our hearing and handling of God’s Word is always good and useful. Even when the Word does not always strike home to our hearts, our hearts still remember what they have heard, and perhaps, later on, at a time when we need, we will begin to understand it and feel its power and comfort. It is like a fire. When the embers have lain under the ashes for a while, they starts to burn again and give fire when a person stirs them up and blows on them. We should not think that the Word is powerless or that we have heard or read it in vain. We should be patient and know that it will bear its fruit in the proper time.
One thing we have to guard against is growing tired of the Word and turning away from it. Our sinful nature never wants to hear what God says. It wants something new and something different than what God’s Word says. Our sinful self leads us to tire of the Word or to be disgusted with it and start to ignore it and set it aside. Satan also gets involved and would lead us to think that we have heard the Word of God enough and know it well enough, that we don’t have to work with it too hard, and can start doing with less of it or do without it altogether. If we buy into that satanic temptation, then we have lost and the devil wins. If we allow our hearts to tire of God’s Word, and no longer consider it our great treasure, then the door to our heart is opened and unguarded and the devil is free to come in and introduce all kinds of lies and wrong beliefs and destroy us.
A dislike of the Word of God is our potential downfall. The use of God’s Word is the way to deliverance and victory. The devil never stops seeking and tempting us. The sinful world never ceases to lure and draw us to itself away from God. In addition, our own sinful flesh is slow and sloppy and sleepy in serving God. These three great enemies give us no rest. Each one works to draw us to embrace its way of thinking and living so that we forget our God. To combat these enemies, we have nothing but God’s Word. With the Word we can defend and preserve our souls in the true faith. God assures us that we shall prosper and be successful if we diligently read, hear, speak, and keep His Word. With His Word, we will win.
How are we to properly use God’s Word? We must take it into our minds and hearts by hearing and reading it. But for the full benefit, we must also focus on it without distraction. If you want to enjoy the benefits of the sun, you have to get outside and away from the shade so you can be touched and warmed and energized by the rays of the sun. If you want to enjoy the benefits of God’s Word, you must take some time to think about it, to consider it carefully, and to hold it in your heart with full attention. Then its healing, renewing rays can sink better into your soul and refresh and strengthen you. It is good for us to go to a quiet place where we don’t have interruptions so that we can focus clearly on the message and meaning of God’s Word. Then we will discover more and more of its wonders.
In God’s promise from Acts, 20, Paul is speaking the last words he will be able to speak to the leaders of the church in Ephesus. Paul is going onto Jerusalem and he will not have the opportunity to speak to these people again. As Paul speaks at this important gathering, he points these believers to the great treasure that will support and sustain them. He commends them to God and to His Word. Paul explains that the Word of God will bring them blessing both now and forever.
Paul tells the Ephesian leaders that it is God’s Word that can and will build them up in their Christian faith. The Word will help them grow in understanding and conviction. The Word will help them resist temptations and unbelief. The Word will keep them contrite for sin and trusting in Christ for salvation. The Word will cause their love and their dedication to God to increase. As the leaders of Ephesus needed these blessings, so do we. None of us is as strong as we can be. None of us is immune from temptation and falling into sin. None of us in as complete in our love and devotion to God as we could be. God promises to bless us with strength and progress in all these things as we continue to make proper use of His Word. Let us do that. Our worship participation, our Bible class attendance, our use of a devotional aid such as Meditations, our reading of Bible stories with our children, our personal Bible reading and reflection – all these will help us get enough of God’s Word so we can be built up by the Holy Spirit to be strong and sure in our Christian faith.
God also promises that the World will help us for our future. Many people wonder and worry about their future. They may not be sure about things such as employment, retirement, and health in the later years of life. They may be pessimistic about what lies ahead of them. They may not be confident that the older years will be “golden years.”
God promises that our use of His Word will bring great future blessings. Paul says: “God’s Word of grace will give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” God’s Word has the power to give us more than spiritual blessings on earth. It also has the power to give us eternal blessings in heaven. His word builds up our trust in Jesus Christ and the great inheritance that He has prepared for us.
As we get older, we may weaken or falter in any number of ways. We may become ill more frequently. We may become more forgetful. Still, we will not weaken or falter in our faith. God’s Word can and does instill rock-solid convictions of the great, glorious future that God has in store for us. He makes us very sure that death has been defeated by Christ and so it has lost its terrifying power. Our risen Savior has converted it into a harmless doorway that leads to heaven, our true home. Through His Word, God makes us certain that our bodies will only rest in the grave until the time of resurrection, when He will make our bodies new and glorious and have them rejoin our heaven-kept souls. God convinces us that we will experience the best kind of life possible as we enter His presence and receive royal treatment as the blessed sons and daughters of the King of kings.
God puts tremendous blessings for us in His Word. His Word works. It works by the power of the Holy Spirit bringing its truth and blessing into our souls and lives. The Word works wonderful things for us and in us. It comes to us in our weakness and makes us strong. It comes to us in the dwindling days of our earthly lives and gives us glorious, endless tomorrows in the eternal future of heaven. May God help us treasure that Word and never tire of it. May He help us as we take the time to work with that Word and receive the blessings He has promised. Amen.