Word of God
The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), achieves something (Isaiah 55:11) and is unstoppable (2 Timothy 2:9).
Jesus Christ is the Living Word, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God grants us the gift of salvation (John 1:1-18).
The Proclaimed Word of God comes to us as both Law and Gospel, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
"After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!'" (Mark 1:14-15)
"As for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:14-15)
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)
The Bible is the Written Word of God and includes the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Inspired by God’s Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God’s revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God’s Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain faith and fellowship for service in the world (Hebrews 4:12-13).
Scripture is the authoritative norm for our proclamation, faith and life (2 Timothy 3:14-17). The only rule and guiding principle according to which all teachings and teachers are to be evaluated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments alone, as it is written, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Our consciences are bound not to ourselves or humanity or the culture or our sinful desires. Rather, as Martin Luther said, our conscience is bound to the Word of God. But we do not idolize or worship the Bible. Luther also observed that the Bible is like the manger which held the Christ child. We approach Scripture searching for Christ without “falling on my knees to worship wood and straw.”
Law and Gospel
We experience the Word of God as both law and gospel. As law, the Word shows us our sin and need to change direction. As Gospel, it speaks the promise of forgiveness and new life in Christ. The law accuses and judges while the gospel comforts and saves. The law exposes our guilt while the gospel grants us pardon. The law is warning while the gospel is promise. The law guides our life together while the gospel tells us of God’s faithfulness in Jesus Christ and creates faith. The law is that which God expects us to do for ourselves while the gospel is that which only God can do for us.