Q. 89. How is the word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up, in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.
The word. –The whole of Divine revelation, contained in the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments.
An effectual means. –An instrument powerful enough to do what is intended by it.
Convincing sinners. –Removing all doubt or uncertainty from their minds, respecting the very great evil of sin, and its awful consequences after death, and making them to know and believe in the way of salvation through Christ.
Converting sinners. –Causing a change in their minds, turning them from their sinful ways, and making them live a holy life in the fear of God, by keeping his commandments.
Building them up. –Carrying on the work of sanctification in their souls, which, like a building not yet finished, is gradually advancing to perfection; settling firmly their religious principles, and causing believers to rest all their hopes of salvation on CHRIST, as on a sure foundation.
In this answer, there are five points of doctrine taught :
1. That the Spirit of God makes the READING of the word an effectual means of salvation. -1 Tim. iv. 13. Give attendance to reading.
2. That he renders the PREACHING of the word particularly, an effectual mean of salvation. –Rom. x. 11. How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
3. That the word read and preached, is, for this end, by the power of the Spirit, made a mean of convincing and converting sinners. –Psal. xix. 7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
4. That with the same view, he also makes it a mean of building them up in holiness and comfort. –Eph. iv. 11, 12. And He (the Spirit) gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
5. That it is only through faith, that the word thus becomes an effectual mean of salvation. –Rom. i. 16. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth.