The Implanted Word is Able to Save your Soul
Today we conclude our examination of James’ exhortation: “Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). As we do, we must not overlook the power of God’s word. When we receive it and believe it and yield to it and rejoice in it God works through it to “save our souls.” Continue reading . . .
Today we conclude our examination of James’ exhortation: “Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). As we do, we must not overlook the power of God’s word. When we receive it and believe it and yield to it and rejoice in it God works through it to “save our souls.”
“There you go again, Sam, confusing us. James has already told us to ‘receive’ what we already received. That was hard enough to understand. But now you are saying that we who are already saved might still in some sense be ‘saved’ if we humbly receive God’s word. What’s up with this?”
The answer is actually quite simple. The Bible speaks of our salvation in three tenses: we have been saved in the past (justification); we are being saved in the present (sanctification); and we will shall be saved in the future (glorification). When James speaks of the implanted word “saving our souls” he is probably referring both to what is happening now, in the present, and what will happen in the future. God sustains us and preserves and protects us now in the present through that faith that is awakened and strengthened by the word of God. And God will fully and finally deliver us and glorify us in the future when Christ returns through that same faith that is nurtured by the power of God’s word.
Do you see the wonder and glory and absolute necessity of God’s word as it powerfully works in you each and every moment, upholding your soul and preserving you in faith and directing your hope to trust in all that God is and will be for you in Jesus? So receive it. Receive it with meekness. Give it room and place and authority to do its mighty and merciful work!
Sadly, most Christians think of the preaching and teaching of the Bible as primarily informational. Sunday morning is for many of you no more than an educational experience. You come because you want to grow in your knowledge. You think of what pastors do on a Sunday morning as the communication of information about God and Christ and the Spirit.
Of course there is an educational or intellectual dimension to what happens each Sunday. But if that is what you think is all that happens, you have greatly misunderstood the nature of God’s Word and the role of preaching and teaching.
Here at Bridgeway Church what I’m seeking to do each week isn’t merely to communicate truths about God but to communicate God himself to you. It isn’t merely information about him. It is God himself who draws near to you in and through his word.
The chief benefit conveyed by the preaching of the Word isn’t information; it’s Christ! To receive the implanted Word isn’t primarily concerned with hearing and thinking correct ideas about Christ. It is primarily concerned with receiving and rejoicing and taking delight in and knowing Christ himself!
When the Word is faithfully expounded and applied God is himself making himself known to you. It is God himself coming to you, drawing near to you, making his presence and power experientially real to you. Christ himself is present in and through his Word!
When you receive with meekness and humility the implanted Word, it is able to save and sanctify your souls because you are receiving Christ himself. The power to save your souls doesn’t come from information alone. It comes from Jesus Christ who is present in the preached Word!
So when someone asks you why you voluntarily and willingly sit attentively for 40 minutes and listen to a man communicating what the Bible says, your response should be: “Because when I hear the Word and humbly receive it I get more of Christ! I see more of Jesus. I experience more of his love and presence. I’m reassured again and again that he is the Lord of my life who alone has the power to save my soul. When I humbly hear and receive the Word I encounter God himself in a radically life-changing and transforming way!”