INI + AMEN.
Today in our Epistle text, we hear about how the Bible is the greatest treasure on earth, and how the Scriptures are full of so many priceless blessings and gifts—the most important one being our very salvation. We know how to give the right answer about the Bible, but do we believe it? We could say that it’s a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We could say that it’s God’s Word and then sing that it’s our great heritage. We can give those answers, but do we act on them? But what does Paul say to us today? Paul’s point is this: the Scriptures “are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” That is,
THE SCRIPTURES DELIVER SALVATION.
((I. That’s why they were written.))
The fact that THE SCRIPTURES DELIVER SALVATION is exactly why they were written! It’s not just the Sacraments that deliver Jesus’ cross-won, empty-tomb salvation. They certainly do! Baptism united you Jesus’ death and resurrection. You died in the flesh and rose with Him in the Holy Spirit at the font. Absolution, in the divine service or privately, delivers the “It is Finished” and the “You shall be with Me in paradise” from Calvary. The Lord’s Supper delivers the crucified and raised body and blood of your Savior. Yes, these Gifts certainly do deliver Jesus’ salvation, the forgiveness of sins.
But we must not forget the Scriptures, the Bible! The “Godbreathed” Word, the Spirit driven Scriptures also deliver salvation because they also deliver Jesus. The Spirit creates and sustains faith in and through the Word. This doesn’t just happen during Sunday worship when we get what 5 minutes of reading along with maybe 10 minutes of singing the Word in the liturgy. Paul says that the Holy Scriptures “are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” They tell you of Him, create and sustain faith, give salvation. That’s what Paul means.
The Scriptures—the Bible is exactly given for this reason, and not just for this 45 minute to an hour window. Why? Because Paul continues, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. The Scriptures make you complete because they deliver Jesus, the Spirit, and the strengthening of your faith.
((II. They protect the salvation they deliver.))
Now, the SCRIPTURES DELIVER SALVATION, but they also help in preserving you in the faith. If you don’t have the Scriptures, you will fall into darkness. If you abandon the Scriptures, ignore them, let them collect dust on your shelf (if they’re even on your shelf!), you’ll wander off into myths and away from Jesus.
Paul talks about those who don’t want sound doctrine, right teaching, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will pile up teachers for themselves to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
“Well, Pastor that’s not us,” you might be thinking. “We think the Bible’s God’s Word. Our teaching is Sola Scriptura (from Scripture alone), and we want faithful pastors.” But we all struggle with it don’t we? Let’s be honest. We don’t really act like the Bible is God’s Word because if we thought that, wouldn’t we treat it like it was actually the most important book around? That we would actually want to study it? And not just study it, but read it for devotions? If we truly believed that they are really the Words of Eternal life, wouldn’t we want more of them? Make time for them? But I know how it goes: life’s busy, hectic, full of so many things—harvesting, band practices, homework, family responsibilities, and on and on. But that’s only stuff for THIS life. That stuff has nothing to do with eternal life. And even if you became the best sports player, the best farmer, or whatever, as Jesus says, “What’s it profit a person if they gain the whole world, and forfeit their soul?”
Sometimes I think we Lutherans fall into a problem. We’re very good about teaching the catechism, learning it, when were young. We memorize the “right answers,” and then we think were good. We graduate (“get confirmed”) and move on. Like moving on from High School to College. But right answers don’t save you. Just because you can answer “God’s Word,” when I ask what the Bible is, doesn’t really mean anything. “Faith without works is dead,” as James says. But even if being “correct” did save, would your answers be right 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, or 70+ years after you “graduated”?
We might think, “Well, that won’t be me!” But let me tell you about a poll that LifeWay publishing did recently. They did a poll and asked various questions about the Christian faith, and they asked people who said, “The Bible was the highest authority.” Sadly, a majority of those polled gave answers that weren’t just a little bit off. The majority gave answers that are actually heresies! Using Scripture alone, these heresies had been proven wrong almost 1700 years ago! But because of ignorance they’re being believed again.
Certainly, you’re not saved by what you know, but if you wander from Scripture, your faith wanders from Jesus. Without Scripture, reading it, studying it, we will fall into darkness. It truly is a Lamp to our feet and a light to our Path. It keeps us in Jesus who is the true Path—the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Bible is the only book full of the Spirit, the only book written down in Words that give you eternal life. The Bible does this because it tells us about Jesus, and that goes for the Old Testament as much as the New Testament. This is why we just prayed in our Sermon Hymn that our faith would be forever firmly grounded in the Word.
The Bible delivers Jesus. It tells us of Him. That He died and rose for you. That He died for our breaking the 3rd Commandment, our misusing God’s Word. The Bible brings us the Spirit who uses the Scriptures “to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The Scriptures are the Words of eternal life. What other Words are more important, more precious, more priceless than the one’s that God Himself breathes out to us? The Bible gives us faith, delivers salvation, and the Bible keeps us in the true faith unto everlasting life. Jesus preserves your faith, so does the Spirit, but this preserving happens through the Holy Scriptures, and they…they make you holy whenever and as often as your read and study them. What a gift!
INI + AMEN.