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They came over to say hello, which is how I met Matthew Charlton.As we talked, I was struck by Matthew’s inquisitive and thoughtful manner and his charm.

We were decades apart in age with far different professional interests, yet we clicked.By speaking the law, God silences and convicts us; by speaking the gospel, he justifies and renews us. Although private prayer and meditation on Scripture is crucial to the Christian life, God’s saving action is public and social from the outset—creating genuine community in Christ by the Spirit, rather than merely an aggregate of individuals who have decided to come together for excitement or convenience.While everything that God speaks is true, useful, and powerful, only the gospel of God’s mercy in Christ gives life (Rom. The Word heard in preaching and visibly signified and sealed in the sacraments creates and sustains the community, as those who are called out of themselves to God and one another.Conceived by hearing, the church never stops receiving its redemption and its identity from the living voice of God. God’s Word is never inactive or ineffectual; by the Spirit’s power, it always accomplishes what the Father has spoken in his Son (Isa. There is no opposition here between divine and human action.Within the appropriate covenantal context, the words of commissioned representatives—whose personality and characteristics are not overwhelmed in the process—actually bear God’s Word, accomplishing what it speaks.Roman Catholicism has traditionally affirmed Scripture’s inspiration and inerrancy; arguments with Protestants during the Reformation developed around the relationship between Scripture and tradition.

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