How many times have you heard the gospel? How many people have “preached” sermons which you’ve heard? What has been the impact of those sermons?
The Word of God is to be mixed or combined with faith when it is heard. Whenever we do not receive God’s word, believe it and act upon it, we miss the purpose for which God sent it into our lives.
The writer of Hebrews was burdened for his readers that they would miss the “rest” promised by God. He writes in 4:1-2 “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.”
How many opportunities have we missed? How many times has the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation, which is the “good news” of what God has done for us in Christ, had little or no impact in our lives?
Years ago, as I visited a church in Japan, on a soul-stirring missionary trip, I learned a valuable lesson. As the sermon concluded, we prepared to sing a hymn and then I expected to hear the benediction. “Not quite,” said our missionary translator, “now the congregation will respond….” Throughout the auditorium several Christ-followers stood to their feet following the hymn and led in prayers of commitment to be obedient, to act upon the truth proclaimed, to ‘mix it’ with faith.
To this date, I’ve wondered where and how they learned to do this. Too many gatherings, where the Word of God has been preached, turn into a cacophony of sound about “where we’re going for lunch,” “who won last night’s hockey name,” “what family members are doing and where they are…..” rather than engaging with what has been heard. I understand we need to visit, to share with others what is happening in our lives, but how do we apply Hebrews 4:1,2? How many times has the Word of God failed to have any impact because we didn’t take any time to commit ourselves to obedience, to pray that the truth proclaimed that morning or evening would change our thinking, renew our minds, alter our wills and change the course of our lives.
Even the daily reading of God’s Word, which is in serious decline in Canada, must be accompanied by this biblically-shaped pattern of engagement. Let’s not miss the full impact of truth today!