The Creative Word

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We are accustomed to considering the ability to speak as one of the features that separates man from animals. But we have perhaps not often paused to consider that the ability to speak has a much higher significance. True, the words proceding from our mouths are sometimes very earthly.

Originally the use of words was a divine attribute. God spoke already before man was in existence. "By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible" (Heb. 11:3). The Second Person of the Trinity is called the Word. Through Him all things have been created. The existence of the entire universe depends on the fact that it is supported by God's Word. It is not only a creative force but also a sustaining power. The Word has this power in the realm of creation as well as in the realm of faith.

Spritually a person is by nature dead in his sins, without life. God created him in his own image, but because of the fall into sin he no longer has this image. In some respects he is not complete. In the spiritual sense he is non-existent, even though he does exist. He is active but his activity is misdirected. He is God's enemy. For a person to get a new beginning, to be renewed in God's image and therefore to full humanity, life must be recreated in him. The Bible calls this rebirth and compares it to God's works of creation (2 Cor. 4:6). When God creates faith in Jesus in a person through the Word and Baptism, this person becomes a new creation. The Word is also the means of this creation.

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead by calling out: "Lazarus, come forth!" (John 11:43). Through the power of the majestic Word life returned to Lazarus and he was able to heed Jesus command. In the same manner a person dead in his sins becomes spiritually alive when Jesus' substitutionary atonement is proclaimed to him and he is told: "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). In a certain respect, however, there is a difference between spiritual and physical creation. Lazarus could not resist Jesus' Word. He had to come forth. In the same way on the Last Day everyone will have to appear before the Judge whether he wants to or not. But now when God speaks through His Word and the Sacraments, people can resist Him, for although they have no spiritual life, they are nevertheless active against God.

"Every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you" (Ex. 20:24), says the Lord. According to this promise even the Sacraments have new creative power, because they are connected to God's Word.