There Is No “Yeah, But…” in the Gospel. Ever.

We are to have the highest regard for God’s Word, never doubting any part of it, but steadfastly believing that what God promises is most certainly true and cannot possibly fail. That’s why St. Paul had such high praise for Abraham, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was also to perform” (Romans 4:20-21). The king’s official (in John chapter four) is here praised because he simply depended on the word of Christ, without debate or wavering. And that’s why the Evangelist also presents him to us as an example, so that we too may learn to value the Word very highly, and confidently believe that God will bring to pass what He promised. After all, God cannot lie!

The same applies also to what God will say on the Last Day to us who lie in our graves: Arise all you dead! Immediately we will arise from the ground and come forth – no grave, worm, or rock can prevent it! Here stands the word of Christ (John 5:28-29): “the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; those that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.” This word neither lies nor will it fail.

Christ’s gospel and Christian teaching are powerful and capable of great wonders, for it is a power of God unto salvation for all who believe it (Romans 1:16). God’s Word is an entirely different word than man’s word. When a mortal man gives a command, a lot of things have to happen before that word becomes effective and accomplishes what is intended: walking and running, riding and journeying, toil and labor, expenses and living costs – all are necessary to activate a human word or command. The Word of God, on the other hand, executes everything posthaste. It brings you forgiveness of sin, offers eternal life, and costs you nothing more than that you hear and believe the Word. Believe it and you have it – without a lot of toil, cost, delay, or hardship.

It is thus that the gospel of Christ and Christian doctrine accomplish their purpose with a minimum of words. Because it is God’s Word, it has an almighty power, before which nothing is impossible – as we see here in the case of the royal officer’s son. Christ speaks to the father, Go, your son will live! and at the first spark of faith on the father’s part, his son was restored to health! There was neither cost, nor toil, nor hardship; one little word from Christ and it was done! Just so, God also rules his Christian church – yes, so rules the entire world without laborious effort. he accomplishes it all by one word.

How necessary, then, that we always have the highest regard for the Word, accepting it in simple faith. We have that same Word today in the gospel message, in baptism, in the Holy Sacrament, in absolution. Never should we think lightly of any of these but, instead, value and treasure them highly. By so trusting his Word, we shall always receive what the Word has promised, as was the case in the story of the king’s officer.

Martin Luther, House Postil for Trinity 21 (John 4:46-54)


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