At North Roanoke, we are committed to explaining what God has revealed to His people in the Bible because neither salvation nor sanctification is possible without hearing and understanding God's Word. Furthermore, faithfulness to God's Word is the primary way God protects His church from demonic doctrines that undermine the Lordship and sufficiency of Christ. When we remain faithful to God's Word, there are several key benefits for the church.
1. God's Word reveals. God's Word is operative in salvation because the Holy Spirit uses the written revelation of God's holiness as perfect Creator to expose our rebellion and reveal Jesus as our sure hope for receiving God's righteousness and resurrection to everlasting life as His gracious and unmerited gift through faith in Jesus Christ.
2. God's Word refines. Salvation is both instantaneous and lifelong. In a moment, we go from death to life, from bondage to freedom, and from condemned to pardoned. But, those in whom the Spirit truly dwells begin a lifelong process of becoming more like Jesus. As we hear God's Word rightly explained, the Holy Spirit applies the preached Word to our lives and refines us - making us more mature, smoothing our rough edges and completing us in Christ. Consistent preaching of the Word allows us to be consistently conformed more into the image of Christ until we die or Christ returns.
3. God's Word reinforces. While we are always growing in our knowledge of God by communing with Christ through His Word, the knowledge we gain never contradicts the fundamentals of the gospel -- Jesus in our place: crucified, dead, buried and raised on the third day (and subsequently ascended and soon to return) according to the Scriptures for His church. God's Word always reinforces the reality that we are nothing without God and the gospel.
4. God's Word reaches. There is nothing more practical in the world for someone who does not belong to Jesus than to hear and understand the Word of God. In the Book of Acts, whenever people come to saving faith in Jesus, we always find a man of God declaring the Word of God and the Spirit of God bringing new people into the Kingdom. We cannot fulfill the Great Commission without preaching and teaching the Bible, and we cannot expect people to be reached where God's Word is only casually employed in the sermon or disregarded all together. Churches that care about really reaching people will ignore faddish attempts to attract a crowd by compromising the sermon because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
5. God's Word rewards. For the new Christian or the seasoned saint, consistent exposure to God's truth brings the rewards of confidence in prayer, assurance of salvation, increased appreciation for Christ, and ever-increasing relational knowledge of our Creator and Redeemer. The Word also gives us God's perspective on life and its purpose and equips us for the challenges that surely come to those living in a fallen world as they anticipate the return of the Lord Christ.
6. God's Word restricts. The Word of God is often inconvenient to the modern mind. It strongly implies the practice of church membership by giving instructions for church discipline/restoration. It urges elders to command those who are rich in this present age to be ready to give and willing to share. It urges us to be holy because the God we serve is holy. The only way to maintain commitments like these in a world that wants to excuse sin, shirk responsibility, maintain autonomy, and elevate the self is to be consistently reminded that we have been bought with a price; we owe our lives to Jesus, and we must strive to help one another live for Him. When we feel restricted by the Word, we must remember we have been freed from sin to be slaves to Christ, and His restrictions are always for the good of His people - His bride and body, the church.
7. God's Word repels. This may be the most difficult truth to understand as beneficial to the church (especially when we do not want anyone to miss the joy of belonging to Jesus). However, a key way God prospers His church is by using His Word to repel those who want to harm the church. Some time ago, a guest and his wife began attending, but something did not seem right. They always asked a question seeking to undermine the credibility of God's Word in the last few minutes of class. The question was often entirely off topic. After taking the couple to lunch, I understood this man did not have good motives for his questions. I never asked him to leave, but after giving a consistent and well-reasoned defense of the authority and accuracy of God's Word for several weeks in a row, the couple left and never returned. I wanted them to get the gospel, but they just wanted to get the church. God's Word repels those who want to harm God's sheep. The Good Shepherd shepherds us with His perfect Word.