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”The seed is the Word of God.”
᛭ INI ᛭
Sixty Days from Easter, we get Sola Scriptura Sunday, but it’s more than just Sola Scriptura Sunday. It’s Word of God Sunday. Sexagesima, Parable of the Sower Sunday, is the Sunday where we take up God’s Word and what that means for us as Christians, as “God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Cor 3) Part of that involves the Sola Scriptura principle, but it’s more than that because it encompasses the Word of God and what it does for you and in your daily life.
Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone, means that we know everything about our salvation by Scripture alone, that God’s speaks to us by Scripture alone. That doesn’t preclude preaching or teaching, making them unimportant, but rather they all preaching and teaching, and really every aspect of your life, is ultimately governed by Scripture, by the Bible. The Holy Bible is the only infallible, unerring rule for faith and for daily life.
*“The only rule and norm according to which all teachings, together with ‹all› teachers, should be evaluated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and New Testament alone.” (Epitome § 1)*
Now, the parable of the Sower isn’t giving the visual of plopping Bibles into everyone’s lap. (No Gideon’s here…) When Jesus says, “The Seed is the Word of God,” He’s telling a Parable about a very specific Word of God. He’s telling us about the Gospel! The message, the preaching about what Christ Himself does for you.
“The Sower went to sow His seed.” The Preacher went out to preach His Word. Wherever Christ went He was preaching the Gospel, salvation in Him alone. (Which is really the chief message of the entire Bible!) But He also preached His Word of Law; that’s the message that shows our sin, our need for Him to save us. That’s definitely in His Parable today! “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Beware of the devil! He wants to steal God’s Word from you. He doesn’t want you to believe the Word, listen to the Word. He doesn’t want you to be saved. He’ll make sure you don’t hear it. He doesn’t do it all at once. Little bit, by little bit, the seeds get gobbled up. A Word of Law here, a Word of Gospel there. Suddenly, you don’t have faith. (The dangers of college these days.)
Beware of the world! The world will pressure you to not believe, to not listen to the Word of God. It will persecute faith in Jesus, make being a true Christian undesirable. A true Christian is someone believes in Jesus, who listens to the Word of God, wherever it’s found, and believes it, too. Quick zeal for Jesus and the Gospel turns into burn out for Jesus. You end up believing for awhile, but when the world’s pressure’s on, when the world’s grinding you up, when persecution comes for your faith, your faith will dry up.
But it’s not just devil or world. You need to watch out for you! Your flesh and blood is at odds with God. “It doesn’t submit to God’s Law, indeed it cannot.” (Rom 8) It doesn’t believe the Gospel, indeed it cannot! Sinful “flesh and blood will not inherit the Kingdom of heaven.”
Most of us are arrogant enough, because of our flesh, to say, “I’ll always believe.” But who doesn’t have “cares of this life?” Who doesn’t want “the riches” of life? (Either to accumulate or hang on to.) Who doesn’t enjoy “the pleasures” (ἡδόναι) of life? (Old Adam’s a hedonist, a pleasure-seeker at heart.) “These,” Jesus warns, “are choked so that their fruit doesn’t mature.“ Your sins, of worry, of desire, of pleasure, which you do daily and much, do this.
None of those soils are any good at all. But this isn’t a Parable of Soils. Of how you need to change what soil you are. (As farmers you know that land can’t do that. Neither can you. Our flesh hates that…) It’s a Parable of the Sower who sows, the Preacher who preaches, the Jesus who scatters abroad God’s Word—His Law and His Gospel. Jesus is doing this because He knows, and we believe as Lutherans, that
GOD’S WORD WILL BRING FORTH FAITH UNTO YOUR SALVATION, SO THAT YOU’RE SAVED.
God’s Word will do that. God’s Word is “living and active,” as we heard in Hebrews. It’s not empty words, words with no power. (This goes for God’s Word of Law and His Gospel Word.) God’s Word is never without power. It always has the Almighty power of the Spirit in it. God’s Word delivered in the Bible is that way. God’s Word delivered in Sermons is that Way. God’s Word in the Sacraments are that way. In all these means, each in their own way, God’s Word is at work, because the Spirit is at work in it, and so is Jesus Himself. And so,
GOD’S WORD WILL BRING FORTH FAITH UNTO YOUR SALVATION, SO THAT YOU’RE SAVED.
This is how God’s Word is the only unerring rule for faith and for daily life. It brings forth faith by its two-fold work of Law and Promise. God commands and warns things to cut off those things that would harm you. If you’ve got thorns aplenty, what are you to do? Taking your ears somewhere else won’t help you. God saying, “Those things, those worries, those riches, those pleasures, those sins are going to kill your faith and send you to hell.” If you want your faith to have deeper roots into Jesus (only the most callous, those on the trajectory to no faith wouldn’t want that), well, taking your ears somewhere else won’t help! God promises in Jeremiah that His Word, His Law, is like fire, like a hammer that breaks rocks. (Jer 33)
But you don’t just need rules, regulations, warnings. Then you’ve just got a burned field. God delivers the good news, that His Word of Gospel produces faith. That’s why the devil wants to snatch it from you. It’s why the world wants to pressure and persecute you away from it. It’s why your flesh doesn’t want anything to do with it. God’s Gospel produces: some thirty, some sixty, some hundred fold!
Jesus died and rose for you. The Bible is all about that. Tells you all about that, all about Him. (About your need for Him, too.) Then there’s the physical Word, when God’s Word gets attached to created things. God’s Word gets attached to water so that you are baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection, not unto the “cares, riches, and pleasures of life,” but unto the “newness of life”—a life lived in the power of Jesus’ resurrection. God’s Word attached to bread and wine delivers Jesus’ life-giving body and blood for you to eat and to drink unto the forgiveness of all your sins! The “words along with the bodily eating and drinking are the main thing in the Sacrament.”
“The implanted Word saves your souls.” (James 1) This is why, by the way, that our traditional liturgy from beginning to end is exact passages of Scripture or echoes it. It’s why we sing it, too. (Even the Psalms were originally written to be sung.) All this further puts the Scriptures, God’s Word, into our heart, soul, mind, and strength. As Paul says, “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)
Sixty Days from Easter, we get Sola Scriptura Sunday, but it’s more than just Sola Scriptura Sunday. It’s Word of God Sunday. Sexagesima, Parable of the Sower Sunday, is the Sunday where we take up God’s Word and what that means for us as Christians, as “God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Cor 3) Part of that involves the Sola Scriptura principle, but it’s more than that because it encompasses the Word of God and what it does for you and in your daily life. What is that?
GOD’S WORD WILL BRING FORTH FAITH UNTO YOUR SALVATION, SO THAT YOU’RE SAVED..
The Bible certainly does that. It’s God’s Word. Where God tells you of Jesus, of your need for Him, too. Faithful sermons do the same. His Word in Baptism means you’re in the “newness of life,” that “you are Christ’s” and “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” His Word at Communion means His body and blood are eaten and drunk unto the forgiveness of your sins. All these are received by faith alone. (More on that next week, though.) But as it stands today, the Lord promises, “My Word shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”