St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

God’s Word Is Effective

Sermon on Isaiah 55:10&11

Text: As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

When you use a product, you want to be sure that it does what you want it to do. If you are using a herbicide, you want to be sure that it will kill the weeds in your field or garden. If you are using soap, you want it to kill all of the germs on your hands. If you are playing a video game, you want to be sure that what you have will help you complete your mission. All of these things are great, but they don’t always do what you want them to do. There are still some weeds that seem to grow. You get sick, no matter how many times you wash your hands. They are good, but not always completely effective. This morning, we are reminded of something that is always effective. GOD’S WORD IS EFFECTIVE. 1. It Is Divine. 2. It Affects The Heart Like Rain And Snow. 3. It Always Accomplishes God’s Will.

As God describes his Word for us, the first thing that we want to take note of is the source. It is described in this way, “My word that goes out from my mouth.” (Verse 11) There have been millions of books written since the beginning of time. Each one has its purpose. Some have been written to educate, while others are written for the reader’s enjoyment. Over the years, there have been many books that have been written to help you with your life. If you go to any bookstore, you can find books on organizing your life. There are books on relationships. There are books that say that they can help you discover who you are and what you can get out of life. While many of these books may have some value to them, they all have one thing in common. They were written by human beings. As a result, they may contain errors. The directions that are suggested for you will change over time. For example, it wasn’t that long ago that every mother had to have the baby book written by Dr. Benjamin Spock. That was the go to resource for all things baby. However, as the years have gone by, some of the things that he advocated have been pushed aside by new child development experts. What was the truth for one generation has been replaced by a new truth for the next.

This is what makes God’s Word unique. Though it was written over the course of approximately 2,000 years and was completed some 2,000 years ago, it is still just as valid as when it was first written. The reason for this is the fact that it is divine. It comes from God’s own mouth. Yes, there were many human authors of the sixty-six books of the Bible. However, none of them wrote of their own accord. They were given the exact words that they were to use. Peter highlights this process for us in his second epistle, “Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) We find great comfort in this fact. Since it is God’s Word, we can be sure that there are no errors found in the Bible. Everything is absolutely true. Also, since it is God’s Word, and he does not lie, we know that we can count on every one of the promises that we find there. In addition, since it is God’s Word, we know that there is no need to change it to fit a particular generation or people. What God said all those years ago is still as valid and certain today as it was back then. God’s Word is effective because it comes from God himself.

We also know that God’s Word is effective because it affects our hearts. God uses a picture from nature to illustrate how his Word works. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth.” (Verses 10&11) The rain and the snow serve a dual purpose. First of all, they get the ground ready for the seed to be planted. Then, after the seed is planted, the rain and the snow give it the moisture that it needs to grow and produce a crop.

God’s Word acts in a similar way. First of all, God’s Word gets the heart ready for the seed of faith to be planted. It does so through the preaching of the law. God’s law breaks up the rock hard dirt of our hearts. When the law is preached, the person sees just how far short of God’s standard of perfection they have fallen. It can be tempting to look at God’s law and say that we have done it. When we go through the law as it is summarized in the Ten Commandments, we begin a checklist of how we have kept them. For example, we read the Fifth Commandment that says we should not kill. We say that we haven’t done that. We haven’t killed anyone. However, as we take a closer look at what is also involved in keeping the Fifth Commandment, we also see that this means that we are never to do anything that would hurt someone else. Have I ever done anything that hurt someone else, either physically or emotionally? It also means that we are never to hate someone. Are there people that I come into contact with in my life that I just can’t stand? Though we may try to minimize these things, God still calls them sins. His law also tells us that for even one unkind word or one hateful thought the consequence is an eternity of punishment in hell. The law as it is proclaimed in God’s Word is meant to break up the rock hard dirt of our hearts by showing us our complete inability to do what God wants. It shows us that we cannot save ourselves.

Once the heart has been prepared, then it is ready for the seed of faith to be planted. The Holy Spirit works through the gospel that is found in God’s Word to create that faith. The gospel highlights the work of salvation that Jesus did for us. While you and I were completely unable to keep the law of God, Jesus kept it perfectly. The gospel shows us that Jesus did not succumb to even one of the devil’s temptations. For example, we see him interacting with the people he came into contact with. Everything that he did was for their benefit. Then, the gospel shows us the ultimate act of kindness done for humanity when he went to the cross to suffer the torments of hell to pay for our sins. Our entire debt of sin has been taken care of. Jesus took our sins and has given us his righteousness. As a result, when God looks at us, he sees us as perfect. Jesus’ resurrection is the highlight of the gospel, because it shows us that everything necessary for our salvation was completed. Our hearts are affected by God’s Word as faith is created there.

However, that is not the end of God’s Word’s affect on our hearts. You don’t just water the seed once you plant it and expect that the seed will continue to grow. You know that the seed needs constant moisture. The same is true for the faith that is created in our hearts. Without constant exposure to God’s Word, even the strongest of faith will eventually shrivel up and die. We dare never take for granted our being in God’s Word, because through that life-sustaining message, our faith will continue to grow and become stronger. Our faith is the most valuable possession that we have, for through it we receive the forgiveness of sins that Jesus purchased for as, as well as salvation and eternal life.

In addition, you also need moisture if you are going to get a crop from the seed that has been planted. The gospel that is found in God’s Word also gives us the ability to produce a crop for him. What is that crop? It is the things that we do to thank God for all that he has done for us. We are motivated by the love that God has revealed to us in his Word to live for him. We want to show our thankfulness to God for rescuing us from hell. God’s Word affects my heart like the rain and the snow as it motivates and guides my entire life in grateful service to him.

God concludes our text by saying, “It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Verse 11) Since we have been brought to faith, we can definitely say that God’s will has been done. God’s Word was effective in my life. We praise our God for this. However, we might start to wonder if it is true that God’s will is always done through his Word. After all, we reason, look at all the people in the world who have heard God’s Word and still don’t believe it. We might even think of family and friends with whom we have shared what Jesus has done for them, yet they remain an unbeliever. Perhaps, God’s Word was ineffective with that person. We might further reason that maybe we should change the message just a little bit to make it more palatable. Maybe, we shouldn’t talk so much about sin. Maybe, we should focus on doing social work. The list begins to grow of ways that might make people more accepting of the message that we are sharing.

First of all, God’s Word is always effective. We know this because God has said so. It always achieves his purpose. The problem is never with the Word of God that we share. The fact is that human beings have the unbelievable ability to reject what God is telling them. In spite of all of the best efforts, they refuse to believe. We see that in Jesus’ dealing with so many of the religious leaders of his day. He continued to reach out to them and they wanted nothing to do with him. At times, God’s Word is preached to the judgment of those who refuse to believe.

Secondly, who’s to say that God’s Word is ineffective. Just because it doesn’t happen according to our time schedule, doesn’t mean that God’s Word isn’t working with that person. There have been so many instances where the person is brought to faith years after they hear the Word of God for the first time. That Word was planted in their ear and, when circumstances in that person’s life change, they are brought to faith. We need to remember that God simply asks us to share his Word with others. It is up to him to make his Word effective in that person’s life. God’s Word is always effective, because it always accomplishes his will.

There are so may things in life that we count on to work, but they fail us at the most inopportune time. In the middle of a thunderstorm, we lose electricity. We have no light. We reach for our trusty flashlight, but the batteries are dead. We are in a hurry to get somewhere, so we jump into our vehicle and turn the keys, but the engine doesn’t start. That can be so frustrating, to say the least. However, God gives us something that will work 100 percent of the time and that is his Word. We know that it will always work because the power behind it comes from him. We see its effect in our lives as we are brought to faith in Jesus as our Savior and in the lives of thanksgiving that follow. We have his assurance that God’s will is always done whenever his Word is proclaimed. We thank our God for his effective Word. Amen.