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God’s Word for You

Luke 16:30-31 even if someone rises from the dead

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, November 2, 2018

30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham! But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 Abraham replied to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, then they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

As Jesus’ account of the Rich Man and Poor Lazarus comes to its conclusion, we are left with a few more points to consider, but these are not so much about heaven and hell as they are about the Word of God itself.

  1. Scripture is sufficient for our salvation. Abraham says that the text of the Bible is the right tool for preaching and teaching; better even than the risen spirits of Peter or Paul or Abraham himself. We understand this more clearly if we only consider the skepticism a resurrected human would invite. Even when Jesus rose from the dead, one of his very own Apostles said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25). How much more wouldn’t the appearance of the departed saints or our own grandparents cause us to doubt or to wonder, and some people might even lose their faith altogether. When certain Christians of the past, like Mary Lincoln and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, lost children at a young age, they were not comforted by their pastors with Scripture, and so they tried to seek comfort in spiritists and mediums, and there is no comfort there at all—only more questions, more confusion, and more doubt and anguish. The Scriptures, however, are changeless. They are purely the gift of the Holy Spirit. To the text, therefore! To the gospel! The resurrection of the dead and everlasting life are the promises of our loving God for all who will trust in Jesus.
  2. Scripture alone saves. God commands: “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you” (Deuteronomy 4:1). God reserves his place to be our one Father, our only Rabbi, and our true and supreme Teacher (Matthew 23:8-10). True life, eternal life, comes through the Word of God, as Jesus responded to the devil: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
  3. Scripture alone is the only source and norm of Christian Doctrine for the Church today. Although the word of God was transmitted orally from the time of Adam’s grandson (Genesis 4:26) until the flight from Egypt, beginning with the books of Moses the word of God has been written down for mankind to read and be instructed. The terms “Holy Scripture” and “the Word of God” are identical and synonymous. There is no revelation, no word or message from God, apart from the 66 Books of the Holy Scriptures.
  4. The dead do not preach; God works through living preachers. While the writings of some who have died are useful, especially Luther and certain ancient Fathers of the Church, Christians need their own pastors and teachers to instruct them throughout every walk of life. Even Luther’s Small Catechism, which is based on nothing at all apart from the Holy Scriptures, is intended to be a tool, “as the family father ought to impart to his own family in the very simplest way.”
  5. There are no additional revelations made about salvation. Anyone who claims a revelation or the right to decide any doctrine apart from the Scriptures is guilty of running ahead of the Holy Spirit. John warns: “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God” (2 John 9). We must mark, avoid, and reject anyone who claims to have “all rights existing in the shrine of his heart” (in scrinio sui pectoris), or that whatever he decides and commands within his Church is right, “even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the spoken Word.” Likewise, we must mark, avoid, and reject all the Reformed preachers and teachers who maintain that the Holy Spirit works in their hearts apart from the means of grace, and also those modern theologians who reject the infallibility of Scripture.

It is in the Bible that we are shown the depth of our sin, the certain result of sin, and the grace of God that has released us from bonds of the devil, the grave, and our own sinful human nature. This is the sufficiency of the Word of God, given to us as a gift, along with eternal life through Jesus our Lord.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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