New Apostolic Church USA

The Word of God

"The Word of God" from the 2020 Autumn Vision Newsletter

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1-2

In this passage, the psalmist is calling out for God in the midst of his own distress. Have you found yourself uttering similar words recently? Perhaps your prayer has sounded more like this, “God, when are we going to be able to go back to church and have a normal service?”

After all, it is only when the assembly of believers can be together in the divine service that we fully experience the presence of God in worship, true fellowship in Holy Communion, and the blessings given through Holy Baptism and Holy Sealing. If we cannot come to the divine service, the preached Word – God’s Word for His people, the bread of life – is available to us wherever we are. Whether we hear it at home, live online, or as a recording, God reaches us through His Word.

Since the beginning of Christianity, God has been touching the lives of people through the preaching of His Word. As the apostles spread out from Jerusalem and shared the message of the gospel, we can read that they were known for causing trouble, because the Word they preached was turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6). Undeterred, they pressed on to continue announcing the glory of God, carrying out their mission to teach about Jesus Christ. They travelled, preached, and built up congregations. They wrote letters to edify the new believers. Luke tells us in Acts 19:20 that the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect (NLT).

Does the preaching of God’s Word have the same effect on people today? Does it cause people to stop and reflect on what they have done and then open their eyes to see the wondrous things God has done? God’s people need His Word in order for faith to grow. It is when we know and live by His Word that He can be glorified in all we do.

When we take in the Word of God, we are engaged with the Holy Spirit because we believe that He has inspired Scripture. As we surrender to God’s will, the Holy Spirit, who is the creator of new life, has the power to influence and shape us. He meets with and speaks to souls who are open and seeking to grow in their knowledge of God. Through the power and work of the Holy Spirit, God’s people are transformed into new beings who see, speak, and act more like Jesus.

Why is it important to hear the Word of God? Paul wrote in Romans 10:17, So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. For both us and the original audience of the many letters in the New Testament, hearing the Word of God causes a reaction. Does hearing the Word of God today still cause a reaction within you? This is the power that God’s Word has – that no matter where we are, no matter who we are, when we hear the Word of God, a spark is ignited. The Spirit prompts us to listen. Even in the case of listening to a recorded service, the effect isn’t changed or diminished.

God has been, is, and will always be watching over and guiding all that happens. That includes determining when you hear His Word. Consider that: every time you sit down to hear the message of God through the preaching of ministers, it is according to His plan. It’s like a divine appointment. God knows when you are listening, and He is at work within you, transforming you through the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s not about when the Word is spoken, but about our readiness and willingness to listen. We have learned to prepare ourselves to receive His Word by pausing and recognizing who is speaking, humbling ourselves, and then approaching the message with an open and surrendered heart. We should never lose sight of the fact that the omniscient God is always at work. Jesus reminds us of this, as recorded in John 5:17, My Father is always working, and so am I (NLT). As we hear and engage with His Word, God speaks directly into our hearts. Teaching us. Sometimes rebuking us. But all the time loving us.

Do we feel this? Through God’s Word, the Holy Spirit is testifying to us about Jesus Christ and helping us to see Him more clearly. That’s why we should never cease to listen. Because God’s story revealed to us through His Word is our story. God, the Father sent the Son to redeem us from the power of sin and establish us in eternal fellowship with Him. When we hear the message of the gospel, we are reminded that we are all sinners, but through the work of Jesus on the cross, we have been made righteous. Hearing and believing in this message gives us reason to celebrate and praise God every day.

This is why we have placed such a focus on ministers preparing and sanctifying themselves to preach God’s Word. It is His Word for His people who need to hear from Him. No minister should take their calling lightly. They submit themselves to preparing, studying, and engaging the Holy Spirit, who will speak to those who are ready to hear.

Of course, being in the divine service, with other believers, is the experience we seek and need. No matter when we listen to God’s Word, He is aware of it. Whether we listen to His Word live, in person or via video, or through a recorded message, He speaks to us. We can take comfort in the knowledge that God knows us and wants to speak to us. And through His power, He can transform us because in these moments, His word is “live” to us. He has sent the Holy Spirit to be present with us to teach, guide, comfort, and build up.

During the uncertain months ahead, whether we are able to gather in church or not, be encouraged by the omnipotence and omniscience of God. Even as Psalm 42 begins with feelings of despair as referenced earlier, we find that the psalmist’s attitude turns around as He remembers the goodness of God: Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God (verse 11). Instead of perhaps focusing on what we think is lacking in our life or even in our experience of the divine service, we too can also remember the goodness of God and all that He provides.

What grace and what a blessing it is that God speaks to us today! Let’s humbly approach our heavenly Father and open our ears to hear His Word and allow the Holy Spirit to work on our soul. As Chief Apostle Schneider said about those who listen, “The preaching inspired by the Spirit strengthens their faith and nourishes their hope. By putting it into practice, the believer has the assurance of being blessed.” Never grow tired of listening to the Word of God. Value His Word above all others and experience how He will bless your life.

*For further teaching on this topic, you can also refer to the article published in the Spring 2019 Vision Newsletter, Changes to NAC USA Online: Finding Community in Church

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