Luke 16:31 He said to him, If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"
Today, we have a 3 part sermon, that is we will attempt to answer 3 questions: Why should we hear the Word of God? What is the Word of God? And, What will hearing the Word of God move us to do? These are things everyone needs to hear, remember and practice.
For the Word of God, is Godís Word to us, given for our instruction, given for our comfort, given to teach us the way to heaven, by grace through faith in Christ; and to train us in holy living. Its not that we have to find the Word of God, for God gives it to us, places it in our hands, and provides parents, teachers, and pastors to guide us in its study. It is not given to be decorative, but it is given to be used. It is given so that we might come to learn it cover to cover. A story is told about a teacher who gave his class the textbook, and told them that they would be responsible for the contents, from cover to cover. He told them that they should read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest every page. On the final exam, in that calls, there were 3 questions on the test, who is the author of the text? Have your read the text? Have you put it into practice in your life? Year after year, people continued to fail that class. Many had never opened the text, few had completed reading it, and none had ever thought to put it into practice.
Does this sound like the way many people treat the Bible? It may be possible to dismiss it, if they are only the words of a Matthew, Mark, or Moses Ė but they are not mere human words, it is Godís Word to us; and it is given to be read. But the problem is that many people, reading it for the first time, keep hearing law that convicts them of sin, and makes the feel guilty. That is why many stop reading, in the hope that if they donít read it, they will stop feeling guilty. But it doesnít work. The guilt remains, and saying over and over, no oneís perfect; doesnít make anyone feel better. And it doesnít works to say, Godís got to be kidding, no one could live up to all this. Although such people are almost half right.
Godís law is law, and God is serious about giving it to us. And if on hearing it, we begin to wonder how anyone could do it all, we are on the right track, for when we read further, we find that it is not left up to our reason and strength to do all this, but it is rather an invitation to permit God into our lives, for God would work through us, using our hands, our feet, our lips and granting us His wisdom and strength, that by grace through faith in Christ, we might do Godís will in our lives.
You see hearing the Word of God is more than letting the words go in one ear and out the other, it is having them abide in us, and working a change on us, making us a new creation, changing us into the sons and daughters of God in Christ. God opens our ears to hear, and God grants us the grace to then also do, what we have heard. This is the point on which our parable turns, if the rich man had truly heard the Word of God, he would have known that he was not the owner of all, but merely a steward, caring for His Masterís goods. He would have seen that there was a master of all, he would have seen that the master of all was the owner of all good things, and he would have seen the beggar at his gate as an opportunity to use these things, to do His Masterís will.
If he had heard the word of God, if it had been active in his life, if it had guided his path, he would not have found himself, for all eternity, in the agony of hell. In the end, he did see the error of his ways. In the end, he did see the importance of the Word of God. In the end, he did try to reach out to others. But it was too late.
The Bible is Godís Word, and every word is inspired and useful that we might know the way of salvation, and trained for holy living. God wants us to hear him, and God will hold us accountable for what he has said. But God also wants us to know, not just the law, but also of His great love for us. Love that caused Him to send His Son to be our Savior. Love that suffered and died in our place, that suffered all that we by our sins have earned. Love that reaches out to us with the good news of forgiveness, and peace with God, and everlasting life. God wants us to know just as the beggar Lazarus was comforted, so God will also comfort us. God was us to know that his arms are outstretched to receive us, in love and to give us all we need.
The problem is that as long as we hang onto our sins, as long as we do not repent, as long as we do not earnestly desire to change our ways, our hands are so full of guilt that they cannot receive the mercy and grace that would be ours in Christ. And without this, we can never fulfil what we, through the Word, have been called to do.