The Greatest Mission Tool
Thursday of Pentecost 16
28 September 2017
What is it for? The Word is to be used, not shut up in a dust-covered family Bible kept in a hallowed corner of our homes. The Word brings life to those who are in death. Our heavenly Father uses the Word to intervene in our sin-sodden lives. Why would we hide it? In the Jim Carey depiction of The Grinch, the Grinch churlishly plans to "cure hunger and tell no one." What good is a cure that no one knows about? So it is with the divine teaching of Holy Scripture. If we keep it under lock and key in a secure cabinet, it will never bring healing to those whose disease is killing them. We are being Scripture Grinches.
 
In the Old Testament the testimony of the law was kept in the ark of the covenant along with the rod of Aaron and the ephod of manna. But the law was not to be shut up in there and hidden away from the people. The law was read aloud to all the people: men, women, children (Dt 31:10-13). God's revelation in the Bible was for all persons, unlike the teaching of Mohammed in Islam from which women are prohibited (have you ever seen women in the mosques during prayers?).
 
The Word of God also has a missionary use. The Word of God is to be shared with all persons who desire to know of God's gracious plan to save the world in the person of the long-promised Messiah, and His completion of that plan in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Word is a scroll to be constantly unrolled in the presence of those who do not yet know of Christ's substitutionary death on the cross and his glorious triumph over death.
 
The New Testament church invented what we now know as a book. The ancient method for the transmission of texts was in the form of scrolls. But probably in the third century Christians began to bind texts into books called codices. A codex is not easier to read or to search. So why did the church bind the sacred texts in this manner? Simple: missionary utility. A codex was easier to carry on missionary journeys than a scroll. The early church wanted the world to know of the will of God to save sinners and it changed the whole method of transmitting texts to accommodate that mission desire. Our Bible codex is the greatest mission tool the world has ever seen.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Chemnitz

"God commanded that the tables of the Decalogue, written by God's own hand, should be deposited in the ark of the covenant, which was in the holy of holies in the tabernacle. And Moses commanded that his own writings, composed by divine inspiration, should be put to the side of the ark (Dt 31:25-26). The care and preservation of this deposit he entrusted to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. He also ordered that the king should have with him a copy of the law, written according to what was before the face of the priests and Levites, lest he depart from it to the right hand or to the left (Dt 17:18-20). He also commanded that the people should write these words on the posts, the doors, the lintel, and the gates of their houses (Dt 6:9 and 11:20).
 
"God also expressly shows the use of the law in Dt 31:10-13, where He commands that it be read before all Israel, men and women, children and strangers, that, hearing, they may learn, keep, and fulfill all the words of this law. Finally Moses says: 'Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you....For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you.' (Dt 31:26, 29).
 
"These testimonies of the Scripture show how, after the sacred books had been written, the church of the children of Israel was a pillar and ground of the truth, because to them had been committed the oracles of God (Rm 3:2). But this did not give them license either to establish anything arbitrarily or to impose upon the church from unwritten traditions as dogmas for faith things other and different from those which had been written. They were commanded to be the guardians of the Scripture, in which God by His divine inspiration had caused to be committed to writing a heavenly doctrine which had been committed to the patriarchs in the beginning of the world and which had been revealed to Moses. It was not His will that the sacred books should lie buried in a corner of the tabernacle but that they should show from this Scripture to seekers and to the ignorant what doctrine had been divinely revealed and handed down to the patriarchs and to Moses, namely the true, genuine, and pure voice of the heavenly doctrine. If they departed from the commandments of God, this Scripture was to be a testimony (Dt 31:26). Therefore, Moses commanded a copy of the law to be written, that it might be canon, norm, and rule from which they were not to depart (Dt 17:18-20). And God magnificently glorified and commended his custodianship of His Word by the building, carrying, and service connected with the splendid tabernacle."

Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent
Ephesians 6:10-24
 
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. 
 
So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts. 
 
Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. 
(ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, You have given us the Word of God, so that we are not dependent on human tradition. Help us to share Your Word unfolding Your grace to the world. Give us zeal to use daily this greatest of all mission tools, that many more persons would know of Your suffering, death, and resurrection for them. Amen.
 
For President Lawrence Rast and the faculty and staff of  Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, that they would be upheld in their calling to transmit faithfully the divine doctrine to future pastors and deaconesses
 
For Pr. J. Bart Day as he serves the LCMS at the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, that the Lord would grant him strength and every blessing
 
For those who are suffering inclement weather, that their heavenly Father would be with them granting them His rescue
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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