Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 27 2013 - Romans 10:14-11:12 – The word of Christ

Paul writes that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. That’s an intriguing phrase (sometimes lost in translation). Does Paul mean that people need to hear the message of the Gospel, the message concerning Christ – the word about him, or does he mean that they need to hear Christ himself speak into their lives – they need to hear Christ’s word? The ambiguity may be deliberate; Paul may intend us to understand what he writes in both senses.

The powerful Gospel message that brings people to faith is a message concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not a better religion or philosophy, not a better set of ideas, not even a better set of values, it is an encounter with a person through whom we came to know the Creator of the universe. All of our words concerning Jesus are ineffective unless those to whom we speak encounter the living Lord. It is when Christ speaks into the heart, calling people to trust him and to follow him, that lives are changed.

There is power in the word of Christ. By his word the storm on Lake Galilee was stilled; the wind and the waves obeyed him. By his word lepers were cleansed of their debilitating disease and returned to their families. At his word of command demons fled and troubled minds were made whole. At his word the dead were raised to life again; Lazarus came shuffling out of his tomb to be unwrapped from his grave clothes. By his word water was changed into wine and sadness into laughter. There is power in the word of Christ.

The crowds testified concerning Jesus that no one else ever taught like him. Sceptics concerning the supernatural may still admire his words in the Sermon on the Mount and speak of him as an extraordinary teacher. In doing so, of course, they miss the point, for his teaching exposes and condemns, it is his person that gives life. The disciples recognised the power of his words; Peter said of Jesus, “You only have the words of eternal life.”

In his letter to the Christians at Colossae, Paul says of Jesus that all things were “created through him and for him.” He is the word by which heaven and earth were called into being and filled with life. That word became incarnate in Jesus Christ the author of life. By his resurrection, he gives life to the dead as his Spirit breathes life into those who hear his word.

Paul writes these things to the Christians in Rome to remind them of the missionary purposes of God. God’s purpose is to create for himself a people from every nation on earth and to do so through the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s word in creation has travelled throughout all the earth. Now the word of Christ is touching every corner of the world through the ministry of Paul and others and through the testimony of the churches. The Christians at Rome, Jew and Gentle, are testimony to the power of the word and are called to bear testimony to Christ.

Living God, thank you that the word of Christ has come to us and given us life. By the power of your Spirit continue to breathe through your word and transform us into the likeness of the Lord Jesus. May the word that became flesh in him live in us; may our shared life display that we are the body of Christ. So may our life and words speak of him to others that they also may hear the word of Christ, have life in him and become part of the fellowship of your people.

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Peter Misselbrook