“If the soul has the Word of God it is rich and lacks nothing since it is the Word of life, truth, light, peace, righteousness, salvation, joy, liberty, wisdom, power, grace, glory, and of every incalculable blessing” by Martin Luther

“One thing, and only one thing, is necessary for Christian life, righteousness, and freedom. That one thing is the most holy Word of God, the gospel of Christ, as Christ says, John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”; and John 8:36, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed”; and Matt. 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Let us then consider it certain and firmly established that the soul can do without anything except the Word of God and that where the Word of God is missing there is no help at all for the soul.

If it has the Word of God it is rich and lacks nothing since it is the Word of life, truth, light, peace, righteousness, salvation, joy, liberty, wisdom, power, grace, glory, and of every incalculable blessing. This is why the prophet in the entire Psalm 119 and in many other places yearns and sighs for the Word of God and uses so many names to describe it.

On the other hand, there is no more terrible disaster with which the wrath of God can afflict men than a famine of the hearing of his Word, as he says in Amos 8:11. Likewise there is no greater mercy than when he sends forth his Word, as we read in Psalm 107:20: “He sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction.”

Nor was Christ sent into the world for any other ministry except that of the Word. Moreover, the entire spiritual estate—all the apostles, bishops, and priests—has been called and instituted only for the ministry of the Word.

You may ask, “What then is the Word of God, and how shall it be used, since there are so many words of God?”

I answer: The Apostle explains this in Romans 1. The Word is the gospel of God concerning his Son, who was made flesh, suffered, rose from the dead, and was glorified through the Spirit who sanctifies.

To preach Christ means to feed the soul, make it righteous, set it free, and save it, provided it believes the preaching. Faith alone is the saving and efficacious use of the Word of God, according to Rom. 10:9: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Furthermore, “Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified” (Rom. 10:4). Again, in Rom. 1:17, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”

The Word of God cannot be received and cherished by any works whatever but only by faith. Therefore it is clear that, as the soul needs only the Word of God for its life and righteousness, so it is justified by faith alone and not any works; for if it could be justified by anything else, it would not need the Word, and consequently it would not need faith.”

–Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), in Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 345–346.

“Childlike faith” by J. Gresham Machen

“What mars the simplicity of the childlike faith which Jesus commends is not an admixture of knowledge, but an admixture of self-trust. To receive the kingdom as a little child is to receive it as a free gift without seeking in the slightest measure to earn it for one’s self.

There is a rebuke here for any attempt to earn salvation by one’s own character, by one’s own obedience to God’s commands, by one’s own establishment in one’s life of the principles of Jesus; but there is no rebuke whatever for an intelligent faith that is founded upon the facts.

The childlike simplicity of faith is marred sometimes by ignorance, but never by knowledge; it will never be marred—and never has been marred in the lives of the great theologians—by the blessed knowledge of God and of the Saviour Jesus Christ which is contained in the Word of God.

Without that knowledge we might be tempted to trust partly in ourselves; but with it we trust wholly to God. The more we know of God, the more unreservedly we trust Him; the greater be our progress in theology, the simpler and more childlike will be our faith.”

–J. Gresham Machen, What is Faith? (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1925/1991), 95.

“He never speaks in vain” by Charles Spurgeon

“‘And in His word do I hope.’ This is the source, strength, and sweetness of waiting. Those who do not hope cannot wait. But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. God’s word is a true word, but at times it tarries.

If ours is true faith it will wait the Lord’s time. A word from the Lord is as bread to the soul of the believer; and, refreshed thereby, it holds out through the night of sorrow expecting the dawn of deliverance and delight.

Waiting, we study the word, believe the word, hope in the word, and live on the word and all because it is His word—the word of Him who never speaks in vain. Jehovah’s word is a firm ground for a waiting soul to rest upon.”

–Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David: A Commentary on the Psalms, 3 Vol. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1988), 3:120.

“God’s gracious assault” by Michael Horton

“We do not find God; He finds us. Faith comes not by feeling, thinking, seeing, or striving, but by hearing. Proclamation does involve doctrinal and ethical instruction, of course. The law and the gospel not only kill and make alive; they direct our life and doctrine.

However, we must come to church expecting nothing less than God’s gracious assault on the citadels of our autonomy, our supposing that we could ascend to God by our theological acumen any more than by our actions.

This confrontation occurs not only in the sermon, but in the entire liturgy, including the singing, whose purpose is to ‘let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God’ (Col 3:16).

While carefully distinguishing the Spirit’s illumination of the preached Word from the Spirit’s inspiration of the canonical Word, we can affirm that the content– Christ and all His benefits– is exactly the same. This should create a sense of urgency and expectancy in our public assembly, as God addresses us here and now.”

–Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 763.

“The most powerful thing on earth” by Michael Horton

“The Word calls us out of ourselves to be judged and justified by a proclamation that is heard by fellow sinners to whom we are joined by the faith that the Spirit gives through that proclaimed word.

Because the Spirit works through creaturely means, rather than directly and immediately, a creaturely community arises. The church does not first of all exist and then create a canon; rather, it is spoken into existence by the same Word that rules it.

In the flight from time and space to a naked encounter with God face to face, the mystical soul strives to secure salvation by its striving ascent. However, this encounter is never saving but always dangerous, because God is a ‘consuming fire’ (Heb 12:29).

The only safe route is to stop striving to ascend and receive God as He has ascended in His Son, clothed in the gospel. Though seemingly powerless and ineffective, the creaturely mediation of His Word through faltering human lips is the most powerful thing on earth.”

–Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 761.

“The missionary event” by Michael Horton

“The Word that is preached, taught, sung, and prayed, along with baptism and the Eucharist, not only prepare us for mission; it is itself the missionary event, as visitors are able to hear and see the gospel that it communicates and the communion that it generates.”

–Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 902.

“Without this transcendent Word” by David F. Wells

“The issue of inerrancy basically focuses on the nature of the Bible. It is entirely possible for those who have sworn to defend the concept of biblical inerrancy to function as if they had no such Word in their hands.

Indeed, it happens all the time. And the sad fact is that while the nature of the Bible was being debated, the Bible itself was quietly falling into disuse in the church.

Without this transcendent Word in its life, the church has no rudder, no compass, no provisions. Without the Word, it has no capacity to stand outside its culture, to detect and wretch itself free from the seductions of modernity. Without the Word, the church has no meaning.

It may seek substitutes for meaning in committee work, relief work, and various other church activities, but such things cannot fill the role for very long. Cut off from the meaning that God has given, faith cannot offer anything more by way of light in our dark world than what is offered by philosophy, psychology, or sociology.

Cut off from God’s meaning, the church is cut off from God; it loses its identity as the people of God in belief, in practice, in hope. Cut off from God’s Word, the church is on its own, left to live for itself, by itself, upon itself.

It is never lifted beyond itself, above its culture. It is never stretched or tried. It grows more comfortable, but it is the comfort of anaesthesia, of a refusal to pay attention to the disturbing realities of God’s truth.”

–David F. Wells, God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 150.