“ ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’
(that is, the word of faith which we preach)”
Commenting on 2 Corinthians 11, verse two, Luther writes some penetrating words (see below). In the context, St. Paul writes, “I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted — you may well put up with it!” (2 Corinthians 2:3-4).
Paul indicates that there is only one genuine Jesus. All others are other Jesus’. In other words, only One Jesus is the Savior from sin. All other Jesus’ are counterfeits. So does Paul also indicate this where he distinguishes gospels, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-12).
According to God’s inspired Word through His servant Paul, one who seeks to please men cannot also at the same time be a “bondservant of Christ.” Those preachers who do seek to please men preach a different gospel and not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here we must say that just as there are preachers who seek to please men, there are also hearers who seek to please, not God, but themselves, for they do not seek out the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ, but another. They look for that which God has not promised. They seek to have their “itching ears” scratched. They do not seek to repent at the hearing of God’s Word, but they seek another Jesus.
Thus, when they hear things they don’t like to hear or how they like to hear it, they turn the power button off and refuse to further listen. Rather than test the preaching they hear with the Holy Scriptures, they test it according to what they would like to hear or how they would like the message to be delivered.
Essentially, however, doing these things only demonstrates the characteristic of so many who are Christians in name only—the refusal to listen to the Word and the despising of the very Office of preaching which God has established.
Here, the question arises, “How does God come to us?” “How does Christ give us the forgiveness we so desperately need?” Another way of asking the question is this, “by what means does God give His forgiveness of our sins that we know with certainty that it is ours?”
Some would, of course, answer the question with the word “faith.” But is it upon your faith that you have absolute certainty of God’s grace and favor? If the answer here were yes, then certainty is really upon you. And any certainty upon you is really nothing but uncertainty.
On the other hand, if the answer to the question of means is not on my/our/your faith, but on that which is sure and true, that which God does and gives, there can be no uncertainty in it at all, except that which we add to it of ourselves, if it were possible for us to do so.
Faith has been defined by some as “certainty.” Such a faith, though, does not have foundation in itself. We do not trust our faith to be certain because of or on account of our faith. Rather than trust in one’s own faith or in one’s own certainty, the Christian trusts in nothing less and nothing more than the Word of God that establishes that faith.
And where is that Word preached and heard? In the Lord’s house. And by whom? The pastor. And what is the pastor to be preaching in the Lord’s house? Only the Word—only Christ. Where the pastor is doing this, there you can be sure that God is forgiving sins. There, you can be sure that God is giving you salvation, because of the Word that is preached.
Also in the Lord’s house, God established the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. For what purpose? For the purpose of bringing to you that salvation won by Christ’s cross. Thanks be to God for such gifts! And instead of murmuring and grumbling about the way God brings these gifts (i.e. through human voice, water, and bread and wine), we rejoice all the more in them (see 1 Corinthians 1:27-31), trusting God’s Word and sure of His goodness, not because we “see,” but because of His blessed promises.
“Christ has instituted this (apostolic) office as if to say, ‘I send you that you should claim and fetch me my bride who was previously prepared or was washed from sins and became pure and holy.’ Now this happens daily in Christianity through the preaching office, in which one proclaims and preaches that Christ has given himself for you, as St. Paul says. This was done when he suffered and died on the cross and on the third day was raised again. For through that he has earned grace and the forgiveness of sins for us. But if that were left there, it would not yet help us. For even if he earned the treasure for us and has done all, we would not yet receive it. But how does this same salvation which he has bestowed finally come to us? For has he now gone up to heaven and left us behind? He says it must go to us through the Word and Baptism which he has mandated the apostles to bring to us, to bring us home. Namely, that through them they should bring us forgiveness of sins, in his name.” (Geo. Link, Luther’s Family Devotions, 648-649)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant that my faith not be founded on anything in me, but only upon You and Your Holy Word. Keep me from doubting the way You work and the means by which you give me life and salvation through Jesus Christ. Rather, lead me to give thanks and to rejoice all the more in Your blessed kindness and favor in coming to me in what is esteemed as humble and lowly in the eyes of the world, that Your Holy Name be exalted continually. Amen.
 “For I have betrothed you to a man so that I present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
Filed under: Bible-Holy Scripture, Christian Denominations & Fellowship, Church-Ecclesiology, Justification & Sanctification-The Christian Faith & Good Works, Law & Gospel-Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, Luther & The Reformation, Office of the Holy Ministry-Pastors, Salvation-Soteriology, Sermons, Son, Theology & Doctrine, Worship & Liturgy | Tagged: Christ, Gospel, Office of the Holy Ministry, pastor, preaching, Word, Worship |