Monthly Archives: September 2014

Trinity 15 – Matthew 6:24-34

How would you answer the question that Jesus puts to His disciples on the night when He was betrayed? When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything? The disciples answered Him, Nothing. Would that be your answer? Chances are it would not be your answer. You might give the correct answer to keep on God’s good side and keep up appearances with your neighbor. However, in your heart of hearts, you know that you would more than likely answer with a long list of things you lack.

God cannot forget His many promises He gives to those who fear and trust Him. Psalm 34 says, The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. You have never lacked. Yet you think you lack so much. Even the most faithful of God’s children are tempted with many worries. Jesus says there is one thing that should concern us: seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Jesus does not say to seek first food and clothing and the kingdom of God will come along behind them. You can’t prove that in the hearts of mankind. Jesus says, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? We have our daily callings in life. Saint Paul reminds us in Romans chapter 12, having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.

Within those offices, those vocations, however, there are worries that don’t belong there. There are worries of greed and worshiping our excess of abundance. You wouldn’t be foolish to set up a kneeling bench to pray before your attic, your basement, your junk drawer, or your storage barn, or would you? You have more than you need, yet you are dissatisfied with it all. You wish you could do away with it all, but you know that you will miss your stuff when you give them away or sell them. You are like Aaron in the wilderness with the gold of the Israelites. Aaron received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

If mammon, the excess of abundance, possesses your heart, then all your desires are focused there. You have many idols instead of one God. You are a slave to possessions. That slavery leads to death. God has given you what you need in order that you do not worry about what you have. If that weren’t enough, He would give you more. So why worry? You worry because enough is never enough.

Jesus continues, And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? God has determined the span of your life. When it’s your time to die, it’s the perfect time because God set apart that time before you were a glimmer in your parents’ eyes. Then there are the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. If God takes care of them, and they don’t worry about it, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Those last five words say it all. You don’t believe the promises God gives you in His holy Word. You blaze your own trail. You have to find your own money and possessions. You have to have that backstop, that ol’ reliable something or other to fall back on when God takes a nap or stops listening to your prayers. You need your idols, but your idols don’t need you.

Repent. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Find your joy and your stability in the kingdom of God, a kingdom of gracious and forgiving love for a sinner like you. Jesus Christ, your only Mediator and Redeemer, instituted this kingdom by His blood. He established this kingdom in your heart by the Gospel, as He gives you His Holy Spirit Who works, strengthens, and sustains faith in Jesus Christ when and where He wills through the Word. We are partakers of His redemption from sin, death, and the devil through His Word. We are His members who remain with Him and grow into blessed perfection in eternal life. This growth happens in daily dying to sin and rising to new life in Jesus Christ.

Seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness does not mean an active campaign to try to find something that is hidden. His kingdom and righteousness finds you. God lets His Gospel be preached to you. He works faith and makes you His child in Holy Baptism. The gift of faith also means the gift of struggle and temptation. It is easy to let faith fall asleep by not having a care for sin and unbelief. There will be struggles as a Christian. The devil wants you. The struggles and temptations find relief in the Gifts of Jesus Christ. Here is Christ’s true Body and true Blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Your sins are forgiven in Holy Absolution. You are baptized into Christ. You are given to good works for your neighbor. You have a good conscience before your Father in heaven for Jesus’ sake.

The greatest concern in your life is not to strive after those things that bring slavery to death. Do not worry about tomorrow. Do not worry about having more than your neighbor has. Let these all be gone. Your enemies have won nothing. You have the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. You have the gift of believing in Jesus Christ as your only hope for eternal life. He promises to give you His kingdom and His righteousness. He also promises to give you all that you need to support your body and your life. He will do it. Believe it for Jesus’ sake.

Advertisements

Sherlock Holmes Does Not Belong in the Confessional!

We also retain confession, especially on account of the absolution, as being the word of God which, by divine authority, the power of the keys pronounces upon individuals. Therefore it would be wicked to remove private absolution from the Church. Neither do they understand what the remission of sins or the power of the keys is, if there are any who despise private absolution. But in reference to the enumeration of offenses in confession, we have said above that we hold that it is not necessary by divine right. For the objection, made by some, that a judge ought to investigate a case before he pronounces upon it, pertains in no way to this subject; because the ministry of absolution is favor or grace, it is not a legal process, or law. Therefore ministers in the Church have the command to remit sin; they have not the command to investigate secret sins. And indeed, they absolve from those that we do not remember; for which reason absolution, which is the voice of the Gospel remitting sins and consoling consciences, does not require judicial examination….

For when confession is made to God, it must be made with the heart, not alone with the voice, as is made on the stage by actors. Therefore, such confession is contrition, in which, feeling God’s wrath, we confess that God is justly angry, and that He cannot be appeased by our works, and, nevertheless, we seek for mercy because of God’s promise….

For although we approve of confession, and judge that some examination is of advantage, in order that men may be the better instructed, yet the matter must be so controlled that snares are not cast upon consciences, which never will be tranquil if they think that they cannot obtain the remission of sins, unless this precise enumeration be made. That which the adversaries have expressed in the Confutation is certainly most false, namely, that a full confession is necessary for salvation. For this is impossible. And what snares they here cast upon the conscience when they require a full confession! For when will conscience be sure that the confession is complete?

– Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIIB, portions of paragraphs 2-14

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist – Matthew 9:9-13

It takes one to know one. That might as well be the theme of the calling of Matthew to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Matthew, also known as Levi, was a tax collector. Tax collectors and sinners are the two lowest forms of life in Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Pharisees wanted nothing to do with either group. Tax collectors are notorious cheats. They overcharge taxes in order to skim a little something for themselves. If you owed, say, one hundred denarii, a tax collector might charge you two hundred denarii and pocket half. After all, a guy’s gotta live, you know.

Matthew fits in perfectly with Jesus’ disciples. Only sinners are welcome in that bunch, and Matthew fits the bill. Scripture never tells us if Matthew is an honest tax collector or a cheat. It doesn’t matter. The mere title “tax collector” makes him suspect. Not all sinners are tax collectors, but all tax collectors are sinners. Matthew is doubly cursed. Not long after Jesus calls Matthew to follow Him, there’s a meal where many other tax collectors and sinners are present. This scene confounds the Pharisees. If Jesus is Who He says He is, then why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?

Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners because tax collectors and sinners are at the top of Jesus’ clientele. That is why Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. He tells the Pharisees to go and learn what this means. What this means for the Pharisees, and for us, is that Jesus is not a bean counter. He does not walk around Galilee, Samaria, and Judea with an abacus. He is not keeping score of all the sinful deeds of man. He comes to suffer and die for them. He comes to rise from the dead to make all things new. He brings with Him the certain hope of a new creation, trampling down death in His wake.

The Pharisees hope Jesus comes to affirm their ministry. The Pharisaical ministry is to work yourself into the Kingdom of heaven. You’ve got to keep score of your sacrifices. You’ve got to wash your hands, cups, and pots a certain way. You must be zealous for the teachings of the elders. It doesn’t matter what those teachings point toward, just be zealous for them because they are your heritage. Your temporal and eternal future hangs on doing what has been handed down to you. No one else can do it for you, or so it seems to them.

Along comes Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. He is the monkey wrench thrown in the Pharisees’ gears, as well as your gears. Jesus doesn’t want your sacrifices, your good works, or your pious thoughts. Jesus doesn’t want your help in saving you from eternal death. He desires mercy, and not sacrifice.

The Pharisees’ mercy, your mercy from your sinful nature, is to elevate yourself and your self-righteousness above everyone else. Nobody rides the train that’s bound for glory except the righteous and the holy. So let’s see those good works! Let’s see how zealous you are for customs and traditions. Eat more kosher than the most hidebound Jew does. Consider your sins nothing and your neighbor’s sins everything. You don’t need Jesus’ mercy, but you’ll sure take His nod of approval that you’re doing it right or saying it right.

Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners. There’s that nasty monkey wrench thrown in the gears of self-righteousness. What a blessed nasty monkey wrench, though. Your gears of idolatry grind to a halt as Jesus gives you His mercy in His sacrifice. It takes one to know one. Jesus knows your sin. He knows you cannot save yourself. You cannot keep our heavenly Father’s commands. You are not able to love God or your neighbor as yourself. He comes to make the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. He comes to suffer and die for your sins. Everlasting mercy is in His death for you.

That’s what Saint Paul gets at in today’s Epistle when he says Christ’s servants are speaking the truth in love. Truth is Christ’s sacrifice for you. Christ’s Truth is love for you, love that flows from our heavenly Father. He no longer looks at your sin, but considers His Son’s redemption sufficient payment for your sin. You are not guilty. You are free because He is merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

Matthew, once called to take other people’s money, is called to follow Jesus. He follows Him not only in being an eyewitness of the resurrection, but also follows Him in a death like His. Matthew gave His life for the sake of the Gospel. He is a martyr, a witness, for divine mercy poured out on mankind because of Jesus’ innocent suffering and death. Though Matthew’s ultimate sacrifice of his life is not an atoning sacrifice, he sacrificed his entire well-being in order to receive and then give Christ’s mercy in preaching, in baptizing, in forgiving sins, and in bodying and blooding his flock in the Lord’s Supper.

Matthew may have been rich in his previous vocation as tax collector. Now he is rich beyond any bank account, for he rests in the mercy and sacrifice that he proclaimed. He rests in Jesus Christ, Whom he followed in life and in death. You, too, are rich in Christ’s mercy and sacrifice. You rest in His rich gifts for you. He comes to call sinners like you to receive His righteousness. He has made you glad by His work; at the works of His hands you sing for joy.

Holy Cross Day – 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Martin Luther teaches us to make the sign of the holy cross when we wake up, when we go to bed, before we eat a meal, and after we eat a meal. Then there are the many times the cross is signed over one being baptized. Count the number of times the cross is made by a pastor in the Divine Service. Count how many crosses are in church or in your home. Crosses, crosses everywhere.

Consider also that Luther says, “The cross alone is our theology.” Hearing today’s Epistle confirms Luther’s words. Saint Paul says, We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Step back for a moment and figure that out. Paul calls the preaching of the crucified Christ the foolishness of God. It’s a scandal, isn’t it? God dies on the cross for you to atone for the sin of the world. No wonder Jews and Greeks couldn’t get behind that proclamation. They were too busy demanding signs and wisdom. In Matthew chapter 12 some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you. He responds, An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. That sign is death and resurrection. Three days in the ground after a torturous death.

Looking for a sign from God? Here it is: the cross. The cross with Jesus laying on it. An empty cross, while more palatable for those who aren’t comfortable with blood and shame, just doesn’t cut it. We preach Christ crucified says Saint Paul. A bloody, dying Jesus is the power and wisdom of God. It’s the only way you are bought back from sin, hell, and death.

Some may object by saying, “An empty cross shows me that Jesus didn’t stay on the cross. He’s alive!” Better to have a picture of an empty tomb, maybe with Jesus standing outside of it with His wounds still fresh. That’s the resurrection scene. The crucifixion scene has Jesus on a cross, hanging there as a spectacle before the world. This is why our churches see fit to have crucifixes. The cross alone, with Jesus alone hanging on it, is our theology.

It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. What sounds forth from this pulpit, what you are baptized into, and what goes into your mouth under bread and wine is not folly. The fruit of the cross, the Tree of Life, goes in you in this place. The fruit of the cross, Jesus Christ, goes in your ears, sounding your salvation. You are all wet in the crucified Christ. Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? The Lord’s Supper is eating and drinking Jesus broken and shed for you. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The world laughs and mocks the cross. The God of the Bible would never do what He did to save someone like you. He did. That is why Paul says the word of the cross is the power of God compared to those who are perishing, who call the word of the cross folly. To the Jews it was a joke, a necessary way to silence the King of the Jews and His radical message of repentance and forgiveness of sins for the worst of society. To the Greeks, the Gentiles, the word of the cross does not make sense. Greek logic is a cold and callous thing. It needs evidence, proof, and facts. All of these things are before them, yet they will not believe it because it is folly. God must not die. Yet He does die. He dies for the Jew, the Greek, and for you.

As Doctor Luther says, “The Gospel is not Christ.” The Gospel is the proclamation of Christ. The proclamation of Christ is the proclamation of the cross, the proclamation of the cross for you. Thus the delivery of the cross and with it all that was there achieved for you that day long ago. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” No. You are not there. Nor need you attempt to get back there with some sort of getting contemporary with it.

Our Lord is not back at the cross today, but here, where He is having His words spoken, the words that deliver Him. Doctor Luther said if you want your sins forgiven, don’t go to Calvary. There forgiveness was won for you, but there it is not given out. You go to the Lord’s Supper. There forgiveness is not won for you, but there it is given out. The Lord’s Supper has always a specific place and time. For there to be a delivery to us, it cannot be otherwise. We go on only as we are located at a particular place and time. The Lord has appointed the place and time for the delivery of His gifts, means of grace, the external Word, located words, water, wine, and bread.

Today is Holy Cross Day. And so is tomorrow. And, as the Lord wills, every day. For every time the folly of the cross is brought to you in the external Word, there is Jesus for you, putting forgiveness in you, bringing what happened then into your now. The foolishness of God makes perfect sense in the word of the cross, for Jesus has spoken his τετέλεσται, his it is finished, from the cross for you.

Luther’s “Pipebomb” on Assurance of Perseverance

Dr. Luther drops the “pipebomb” and runs. Good stuff.
====================================
If someone could believe with a certain and constant faith, and could understand the magnitude of it all, that he is the son and heir of God, he could regard all the power and wealth of all the kingdoms of the world as filth and refuse in comparison with his heavenly inheritance. Whatever the world has that is sublime and glorious would make him sick. And the greater the pomp and glory of the world is, the more detestable it would be to him. In other words, whatever the world admires and exalts most, that is foul and worthless in his eyes. For what is the whole world with its power, wealth, and glory in comparison with God, whose heir and son he is? He also desires anxiously to depart with Paul and to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23). Nothing more delightful could happen to him than a premature death, which he would embrace as the most joyous peace; for he would know that it is the end of all his evils and that through it he comes into his inheritance. In fact, a man who believed this completely would not go on living very long but would soon be consumed by his overwhelming joy.

But the law in our members at war with the law of our mind (Rom. 7:23) does not permit faith to be perfect. This is why we need the aid and comfort of the Holy Spirit, who, in our anxiety, intercedes for us with a sigh too deep for words (Rom. 8:26), as was said earlier. Sin still clings to the flesh, continually disturbing the conscience and hindering faith, so that we cannot joyfully see and desire the eternal wealth granted to us by God through Christ. When he experiences this conflict of the flesh against the Spirit, Paul himself exclaims (Rom. 7:24): “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” He accuses his “body,” which he really should have loved, and gives it a very ugly name, calling it his “death,” as though he were saying: “My body afflicts and harasses me more than death itself.” Even in his case this interrupted the joy of the Spirit. He did not always have pleasant and happy thoughts about his future inheritance in heaven, but over and over he experienced sadness of the spirit and fear.

From this it is evident how difficult a thing faith is; it is not learned and grasped as easily and quickly as those sated and scornful spirits imagine who immediately exhaust everything contained in the Scriptures. The weakness and struggle of the flesh with the spirit in the saints is ample testimony how weak their faith still is. For a perfect faith would soon bring a perfect contempt and scorn for this present life. If we could grasp and believe for a certainty that God is our Father and that we are His sons and heirs, the world would immediately seem vile to us, with everything that it regards as precious, such as righteousness, wisdom, kingdoms, power, crowns, gold, glory, riches, pleasure, and the like. We would not be so concerned about food. We would not attach our hearts so firmly to physical things that their presence would give us confidence and their removal would produce dejection and even despair. But we would do everything with complete love, humility, and patience. Of course, the heretics boast of these things; but in fact there is nothing more cruel, proud, and impatient than they are. But now, as long as our flesh is powerful, our faith weak, and our spirit infirm, we act in the opposite way. Therefore Paul says correctly that in this life we have only the first fruits of the Spirit (Rom. 8:23) and that we shall have the tithes later.

Luther’s Works Volume 26, pages 392-394

Tagged , ,

Norman Nagel and The Specific Locatedness of the Means

As Doctor Luther says, “The Gospel is not Christ.” The Gospel is the proclamation of Christ. The proclamation of Christ is the proclamation of the cross, the proclamation of the cross for you. Thus the delivery of the cross and with it all that was there achieved for you that day long ago. We are not back there. Nor need we attempt to get back there with some sort of getting contemporary with it.

Our Lord is not back there today, but here, where He is having His words spoken, the words that deliver Him. Doctor Luther said if you want your sins forgiven, don’t go to Calvary. There forgiveness was won for you, but there it is not given out. You go to the Lord’s Supper. There forgiveness is not won for you, but there it is given out. The Lord’s Supper has always a specific place and time. For there to be a delivery to us, it cannot be otherwise. We go on only as we are located at a particular place and time. The Lord has appointed the place and time for the delivery of His gifts, means of grace, externum verbum. And so gifts, that is, from Him to you by way of located words, water, wine, and bread.

Sermon for Holy Cross Day, 1992

Trinity 12 – Mark 7:31-37

Psalm 146 says Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. God has loosened our tongue for His praise. Yet our thanks and praise is never enough. Thanking God comes from thinking about God. Perhaps that is the reason. We choose not to think about all that God has done for us through Jesus Christ. He gives us everything we need for our body and life, yet we take these for granted. If we truly believed the words of praise in Holy Scripture, then words of praise would flow from our lips without hesitation.

We learn in the explanation of the First Article of the Creed that God the Father is the Maker of heaven and earth. Yet even the blessings of creation belong to Christ, for He is true God with the Father and the Holy Spirit. We see this in today’s Gospel as Jesus touches, spits, and cries out to heaven saying, Ephphatha. At once, the man could hear and speak. When God speaks, things happen. God speaks at creation. Whatever He speaks happens. God speaks to the deaf-mute. What He says happens: Be opened.

God creates all things good. Even this man who could not hear or speak was created good. Consider the words of Psalm 139: For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Yet the man cannot hear and speak. Jesus takes this man in particular in order to show us the power of the devil and what we all would deserve for the sake of sin. It is because of God’s unmerited goodness and mercy that we have healthy limbs, good hearing, sight, and other working body parts.

We also praise God for His providential care. Saint Paul writes in Colossians chapter one that Jesus is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. God has preserved you thus far in His tender care. He will continue to do so until you die. He gives you good days, and even in evil times He protects and guides you. Holy Scripture says we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

Before us in today’s Gospel, we see a man deaf and mute. God cares for Him, even when he cannot see or speak. He cares for him through people who bring him to Jesus in order to be healed. The bad times of this man’s life are good, for they lead him to Jesus, in Whom this man is able to hear and speak. He has done all things well!

Not only does God care for your body, He also cares for your soul. Spiritual misery is far greater than any physical misery. The deaf-mute man is an image of our spiritual misery, for we are by nature deaf toward God’s Word. We are deaf toward the Law that reveals our sickness of sin. We are not able to hear the thunder of Mount Sinai, where God gives us His holy Law. We are also deaf toward the Gospel and likewise mute. We are willing to abuse God’s name by cursing, swearing, backbiting, and defending fools. Our throat is an open grave. We use our tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under our lips. Our mouths are full of curses and bitterness. All powers of mankind are corrupt. We are dead through sins and trespasses.

Far greater, however, is the salvation that Jesus performs for our soul. Here again we consider the deaf-mute man. Jesus takes him aside, looks up to heaven and sighs. The Lord today takes you aside from your daily tasks and laments your sin, for which He has come to suffer and die. Jesus then puts His finger in the man’s ear, speaks His Ephphatha, and heals him. The Lord does this for you again today through His Word of Gospel that forgives your sin and opens your ears, mouth, and heart. Today Jesus Christ tears the bonds and shackles of your sin through His divine Word.

Jesus Christ has spoken His Ephphatha over you in your Baptism, where He opens your ears to hear His holy Word of forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. He loosens your tongue to praise, pray, and thank Him for His wonderful works for you. This divine Ephphatha does not sound in vain. It will sound again soon over our graves, and they will open. It will sound again to the angels, and they will open the gates of heaven and lead in His elect.

The Lord has done all things well. Praise God that all shackles of sin and all bodily illnesses have an end in the resurrection. The Great Physician of body and soul has laid His hand on us and completes the cure. What was once hidden in darkness now shines brighter than the sun. You are healed. You are free. Be at peace. Praise the Lord, for He has done all things well.

More Luther on the Healing of the Deaf-Mute

[Jesus] addresses here particularly two organs of the body, the ear and the tongue; for you know the Kingdom of Christ is founded upon the Word, which cannot be apprehended or understood except by these two organs, the ear and the tongue, and he rules in the hearts of men alone by the Word and by faith. The ears apprehend the Word, the heart believes it; the tongue, however, speaks or confesses that which the heart believes. Hence, barring the tongue and ears, there is no perceptible difference between the Kingdom of Christ and that of the world.

For in regard to the outward life a Christian has duties like an unbeliever; he tills the ground, works his fields, and plows just like others, and he undertakes no peculiar work or deed, either in eating, drinking, working, sleeping, or anything else. But these two organs of the body make a difference between a Christian and an unbeliever; a Christian speaks and hears differently; he has a tongue which praises the grace of God and preaches Christ the Lord as being the only Savior, etc. This the world does not do; it speaks of avarice and other vices, preaches and praises its own glory.

In like manner the ears of both differ. A Christian’s ears have the same Word which the tongue preaches, and the heart believes; but the world prefers to hear one speak of her wisdom, understanding, honor and glory. The ears and tongues of Christians are thus different from the ears and tongues of the world, or of unbelievers, caring naught for silver or gold, but only for that which is said of Christ, and how to speak and preach Christ.

– From Luther’s House Postils

Twofer Luther on the Deaf-Mute at the Decapolis

God has shown us no other way by which we can come into heaven than through His precious Word, the Holy Gospel. Whoever gladly and diligently hears and receives it, and who loves and delights in it, will be helped. That is the one miracle that daily still takes place in Christendom, that our ears, which the devil stopped up through sin, are again opened by the Word, so that we receive it.
———————————————————
If we are to be loosed from the devil’s bonds, and possess ready tongues and good ears, this can happen only through the external Word and preaching, through external means. We must, first of all, hear the Word, not neglecting Baptism or the Sacrament either, and the Holy Spirit will then by present to free the ears and tongues. Therefore, we must be on guard against the fantastic spirits who despise the external Word and Sacrament, waiting till God speaks to them in the heart. No, says Christ, here is my finger, the external Word, which must sound in the ears; my spittle, which must moisten and bestir the tongue; in this way my work proceeds rightly and readily from place to place. We see this wherever the external Word has free course; there true Christians will be found. Wherever it does not have free course; there true Christians will be found. Wherever it does not have free course, there none will be found, for as goes the shepherd, so the sheep. Everyone should take care, therefore, to be found on this path and gladly hear God’s Word. Without the Word, God does not reveal Himself in your heart. To see and know Him can happen only through the external Word and Sacraments. The Holy Spirit works in no other way.

(Both quotes are from Luther’s House Postils)