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Hearing the Word of God

Jerome in his study

The highest aspiration of any creature made in the image of God is to know his Creator, and to know Him specifically as He has revealed Himself in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Reformed faith has always placed a great deal of emphasis on knowing the true and living God as He has revealed Himself in the Holy Scriptures. This is why we here at Christ Church regard the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures to be one of the indispensable elements of true worship.

The early church writer Jerome (347-420) was one of the very few in his day who proficient in both Hebrew and Greek, and who is best remembered today as the one who translated the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament into Latin, which we know today as the Vulgate. No sixteenth-century Reformer could have expressed it better than Jerome who wrote near the beginning of his commentary on Isaiah that “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” He viewed the hearing of the Scriptures as having a sacramental effect upon the people of God when he wrote: “We have read the Sacred Scriptures. I think the Gospel is the body of Christ; Holy Writ, His teaching. When he says: ‘He who does not eat my flesh and drink my blood,’ although the words may be understood in their mystical sense, nevertheless, I say the word of Scripture is truly the body of Christ and His blood; it is divine doctrine. If at any time we approach the Sacramentthe faithful understand what I meanand a tiny crumb should fall, we are appalled. Even so, if at any time we hear the word of God, through which the body and blood of Christ is being poured into our ears, and we yield carelessly to distraction, how responsible are we not for our failing?” Elsewhere he spoke of our sacramental participation in Christ, stating: “Moreover, forasmuch as the flesh of the Lord is true meat, and his blood is true drink anagogically, we have only this good in this life, if we eat his flesh and drink his blood not only in the mystery but also in the reading of the Scriptures.”

Thus, every time we come to the ministry of God’s word weekly, let us do so in the conviction that we are having direct dealings with the Lord Jesus Christ in the ministry of the word. Our hearing of the word of God is our participation corporately and personally in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we come with expectant hearts to feed upon our Lord Jesus Christ, whom to know is life eternal.

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