08 July 2008

Westminster Wednesday #89 Part 1

Let's continue with our study:

Q. 89. How is the word made effectual to salvation? A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners; and building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.

Q. 1. What mean you by the word? A. By the word is meant the word of God, consigned to writing in the books of the Old and New Testament; which though it be ministered by men, yet is no other than the very word of God, and as such to be received; 1 Thessalonians 2:13. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men; but (as it is in truth) the word of God, &c.
Q. 2. Whence is the efficacy of this word? A. It is wholly from the Spirit of God that it becomes effectual to any man’s salvation; 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7. I have planted, and Apollos watered, but God gave thc increase. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
Q. 3. Is the reading of the scripture an ordinance of God for men’s salvation ? A. Yes, it is; Deuteronomy 17:19. And it shall be with him, and he shall feed therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law, and these statutes to do them. And in reading of it, God sometimes comes in by his Spirit to men's conversion; Acts 8:27-29. And he arose and went, and behold a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot, read Isaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot, &c.
Q. 4. Is the hearing of the word a means of salvation? A. Yes, it is; Isaiah 55:3. Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live, &c. 1 Corinthians 1:21. It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe.
Q. 5. To what end is the word useful to men? A. The first end and use of the word is to convince men of their sin and misery out of Christ; 1 Corinthians 14:24-25. But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all. And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest, &c.
Q. 6. What is it useful for, besides conviction? A. It is useful for conversion, as well as conviction; Psalm 19:7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul, &c. Acts 26:18. To turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, &c.
Q. 7. Doth the word convince and convert all that hear it? A. No, but those only that are ordained to eternal life; Acts 13:48. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
- John Flavel

I've recently been reading Carl Trueman's The Wages of Spin (an informative and thoughtful read, by the way, more on that later). Under the title, The Undoing of the Reformation he explains the drift in society (indeed, the world) away from the the written word to the visual. It is now part of our psyche, if you will, to be so visual. The advent of television has much to do with that and thus Trueman carefully weaves the reader through the error of becoming so visual. Starting with the Reformation which coincides with the invention and distribution of the written word the Reformers placed a special emphasis on the word especially Scripture. Remember, the Mass was said in Latin and often in muffled tones leaving the congregation not ever knowing what was spoken and therefore not knowing the importance of worship. The Reformers worked diligently to change that, both in the reading of the Word and also the hearing of the Word in the listener's own language. We are now in a time in history once again where the word is losing to the visual. Hence, the importance of today's q&a. Part 2 next week.

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