Question: How is the word made effectual to salvation?
Answer: The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.
—The Westminster Shorter Catechism
When I first started blogging, I devoted a good deal of the space to the amazing ways that the Word worked to convert people. My favorite story is still that of Jonah's reluctant preaching in the city of Nineveh. It is likely that he didn't even carry out his whole preaching campaign, but quit early. Nevertheless, the Spirit caused the the word to spread throughout the whole city.
I have always loved the power of God working through His word. That's why I love this question and answer in the shorter catechism. I love how it captures the New Testament's emphasis on preaching too. Paul didn't just encourage Timothy to read the Scriptures, he charged him to "preach the Word." The Ethiopian in Acts 8 diligently read the Scriptures, but he didn't come to a full grasp of the truth of them until Philip began to expound the text.
In reading the New Testament you can't help but see that God places a special blessing upon the preaching of His Word. Unfortunately, in our day, acclaim is given more to an individual's personal and private reading of Scripture as the main means of increasing personal piety. This isn't the way it should be. While we should love personal and private reading of Scripture, we should put a higher priority on the public proclamation of the word by a gospel minister.
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