This sermon is offered by the CRCNA as part of our Reading Sermons series.
Sermon Prepared by Rev. Sid Cooper, retired, Sarnia, Ontario
Brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ,
This message is entitled "The Other Word of God.” When we say: The Word of God, most of us think of the Bible. Fair enough. The Bible is the Word of God. All 66 books are inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is the written Word of God. We also refer to Christ as the Incarnate Word of God. The Word made flesh. So there is the BIBLE, the WRITTEN Word. And there is Christ the WORD Incarnate. That brings me to the first other Word of God. The text is:Gen.1:3. "And God said, Let there be light..."
It was all dark, black as night, and then there was light. The light of that first day and the light of every day is produced by the Word of God. It's divine light, holy light, God's light. And six times we read, “And God said: let there be land, let there be oceans, let there be sky, let there be plants and animals.” All of this created matter was spoken into existence by the Word of God. God's CREATIVE Word. And six times God said, “it was good.”
And then we come to this glorious verse: “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” After the incarnation, nothing in all the world can compare to the making of a man, the making of a woman. This is the beginning of the human race, and it began by the CREATIVE Word of God. God had to start somewhere, somehow. And so God made man; every part of man is created by the Word of God. God breathed into a handful of dust the breath of life and man became a living being. Just like the written Word of Scripture is inspired by the Spirit of God, so Adam was equally inspired by God to be no less holy, or divine than the Written Word.
All people are made in the image of God, after God’s likeness. A most profound statement. It means that when God looks at a person, God sees something of Himself. We are all like God. We reflect His righteousness, His knowledge, His holiness, His love. And when we look in the mirror, or look at one another, here or anywhere, we should see GOD in each other. Sin has defaced and blemished the image of God in man, but sin has not destroyed that image. Everyone is still born in and with the image of God. To image God is to be human. And to be human is to image God.
Then we come to the first negative in the Bible: God said: It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a suitable helpmeet for the man. And God spoke Eve into existence.” Adam and Eve are complementary and equally made to reflect the image of God. And then we come upon this glorious declaration: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and be united to his wife. And the two shall become one flesh.” And God said, “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” Adam and Eve could not have a baby without the WORD of God. Babies are also a product of the WORD of God.
God had to stop and scratch His Head, and wonder how am I going to do this? Good question. It won't happen by itself. Somebody has to be at the controls. That somebody is God. He makes it all happen; a man and a woman come together in love, and an egg from the woman and sperm from the man unite in some unfathomable way; in the secret places of the earth. The egg and sperm unite, and wiggle together and in several weeks, a wife has that astonishing sense of wonder fill her being as an embryo begins to grow. The WORD of God created that embryo. The birth of that baby far outshines the sun and moon and stars. After the birth of the Savior, nothing in the entire world can compare to the birth of a baby, any baby, every baby, your baby.
All people and all marriages and all children are products of the WORD of God. We should all take our shoes off. We walk on holy ground; we breathe holy air, God surrounds us with His creatures, products of His WORD .And so we come to the end of point one: The CREATIVE Word of God. And let all God's people say, AMEN.
And now the SECOND OTHER WORD of God. This other WORD of God we may call the governing or providential Word of God. Hebrews 1:3 says, “He holds everything together by the word of His power.” That’s a reference to Christ. He holds everything together. God's WORD keeps the entire creation on track. God's Word keeps it all together. His Word is bringing everything in the world to a perfect conclusion. We call it the consummation of all things. The Bible doesn’t create, and the Bible doesn’t govern, but the Bible tells us about these two other unwritten words, so powerful and necessary; the creative Word, and now the governing Word.
A couple examples of God's governing Word. Right now this earth, this globe is spinning on its axis. For 12 hours we face the sun and we are in the light; for the other 12 hours the earth where we are has its back to the sun and we are in the darkness. And while the earth rotates every 24 hours, it is also making a huge circle around the sun. It takes the earth one full year or 365 days to go around the sun. Now who is spinning the earth on its axis? And who keeps this earth on track as it travels every 365 days around the sun? Who upholds the earth in this magnificent way? Is it not the Divine Designer, who is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ, who holds everything together by the Word of His power?
Here is another illustration of the sustaining Word of God. Take the sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park in California. These trees grow tall and fat. There are about 50 of these groves and they are all located on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevadas in the state of California. The General Sherman tree is the oldest and largest living thing on earth. It was a seedling when David was king of Israel. It would take 15 men holding hands at its girth to make a complete circle around the base of that tree. It was nearly 1000 years old when Christ was born. It grows a half inch ever year. Its bark is over a foot thick and is fire resistant. That tree is now almost 3000 years old.
Some day that tree will die, but we who believe in Christ will live forever. We will outlive that tree! All of us here who believe in Jesus will live forever. Christ is among us now and He says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life; whoever believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whoever lives right now and believes in me shall never die.” Christians don’t die. They fall asleep in Jesus. Falling asleep is not a euphemism, a nice word to cover the ugly reality of death. A person who “falls asleep” is asleep as far as this world goes, but with regard to God and Christ and heaven, that person is very much alive and awake. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Right now God is the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob who are all very much alive.
Yes, the Word of God makes trees grow. Indeed, the day and the night, the seasons of the year, plants and planets, the stars in the heavens, all things are held together by the Word of Christ’s power. We already live in Paradise Being Regained. The Kingdom of God is today. Now is the dawn of the new and everlasting Day of God. The governing, sustaining Word of Christ is everywhere present. And let all God's people say: AMEN
Let us now stand to sing in affirmation of what was just preached: Turn to Psalter Hymnal #430:1-3, “We Sing the Mighty Power of God”.
These are the words of the hymn :
1) We sing the mighty power of God that made the mountains rise, that spread the flowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies; We sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day; the moon shines full at his command, and all the stars obey.
2) We sing the goodness of the Lord that filled the earth with food, he formed the creatures with his WORD and then pronounced them good. Lord, how your wonders are displayed where’re we turn our eyes, if we survey the ground we tread or gaze upon the skies.
3) There’s not a plant or flower below but makes your glories known; and clouds arise and tempests blow by order from your throne; while all that borrows life from you is ever in your care, and everywhere that we can be, you, God, are present there.
And now listen to the THIRD OTHER Word of God: “THE PREACHED WORD”
The usual way for people to be born again, to grow up in Christ, to live loving lives, all of this happens through the PREACHING of the Word of God. .Paul writes, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But how can they hear without a preacher?” How can anyone hear, how can anyone be saved, without a preacher? And how can one preach unless he is sent? How beautiful are the feet of the preacher because he is sent by God to bring Good News, to give the thirsty a drink of Living Water, to give the hungry a piece of Living Bread.
Nothing else in the whole world can be compared to the office of the preacher. Would you rather be an ambassador for our country or an ambassador for the King of kings and the Lord of lords? No comparison.
Now if the word preached was the word of man, then no spiritual change can ever take place. Spiritual changes come only from Holy Spirited words, from sermons based on the Bible. What is preached, and is faithful to the Bible, that sermon is also the WORD of God. It is holy, powerful and can bring all the changes that must take place in your heart, You go from sinner to saint under the preaching of the WORD of God. It happens by the Spirit who first wrote the Bible, and now that same Spirit spirits the preacher and the Spirited Word of the preacher inspires you. How? By sowing a seed in your heart. And you become aware of yourself as a sinner and your eyes begin to see the face of your Savior Jesus Christ, and you fall at His feet, and say, “My Lord and My God”.
Let me remind you of what Paul wrote to the little church in northern Greece. In 1 Thessalonians: 2:13 he says, “I thank my God for you that when you received the WORD, you received it not as the word of man, but as it actually is, the WORD of God.” Preposterous but true. The Preached Word is also the Word of God.
We know without looking that preachers have beautiful feet! “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news,” says the Bible. Paul writes that especially “those who labor in the WORD are worthy of double honor.” We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to all the dear ministers of the gospel, and we owe it to Christ Himself to honor the preachers of the WORD. They especially are to receive double honor. Those who bring you the Word of God are to be held in the highest respect, the Bible says. “Remember your leaders who preached to you the word of God.”
And now I challenge you boys and girls, and young people. First of all, love your mom and dad. Second, do well at school. Love your teachers. Third, say to Jesus, “You are my Lord. Help me to Serve you in all I do.” And remember this, young people, boys and girls; there is no greater calling in the entire world than to preach the gospel. Maybe God is calling you right now to the gospel ministry. May God stir many hearts to serve Him in this very special way.
Finally and briefly, the FOURTH OTHER Word of God. We call it the PERSONALIZED WORD of GOD. We become all that Christ wants us to become through the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 3:3, “And you show that you are a letter from Christ, written by the Spirit, to be read by all” Through the PREACHED Word of God, based upon the WRITTEN WORD of God and the INCARNATE WORD of God, you and I become PERSONALIZED LETTERS of Christ, to be COMMUNICATED to our neighbors. We become like LIVING Bibles, written by the SPIRIT. Preposterous. Almost unbelievable. The Spirit moves to inspire us, to change us and to make us more like Christ. Transformed by the WORD. You are already letters of Christ. But He continues to write on your hearts and then sends you on your way to your neighbor, rejoicing. You are maybe the only BIBLE your neighbor has to read. What an awesome privilege and responsibility.
This is your opportunity to say:” Lord Jesus, I love you. I belong to you. I rededicate my life to you, and to your Kingdom. Make me yours forever.” And be assured, brothers and sisters, young people, boys and girls, that the good work He has begun in you, He will bring to completion at the Day of His Coming.
“And now, unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before His Presence with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever more.”
And let all God’s people say: AMEN!
Order of Worship
Welcome and announcements
*Opening Hymn: "All Creatures of our God and King" PsH # 431:1,2,5
*We Pass the Peace of Christ
Confession of Sin: 1 John 1:8,10
Hymn of Penitence: "Remember Not, O God PsH # 254
Assurance of Pardon: 1 John 1: 9
Response of Gratitude: "There's No God as Great" PsH # 517
God's Will for our lives: 1 John 4:7-12
*Hymn of Dedication: "Love Divine, all Loves Excelling" PsH # 568
The Prayers of God's People
Offerings and Offertory
The WRITTEN Word: Gen.1:3: "And God said, Let there be light"
Heb.1:3: "...who holds everything together by the Word of his power".
I Thess.2:13'....when you received the word,...you accepted it, not as
the word of man, but as it actually is, the word of God"
II Cor.3:3:"...you are a letter of Christ,...written with the Spirit".
The PREACHED Word: "The OTHER WORDS of GOD" (Part 1)
Hymn of Response: "We sing the Mighty Power of God" PsH # 430:1,2,3
The PREACHED Word: "The OTHER WORDS of GOD" (Part 2)
*Closing Hymn: "Christian Hearts in Love United" PsH #513:1,2,3
*Doxology: "Father, We love You" PsH #634:1,2,3