Rev. Kurt Hering has made an audio recording of a Luther sermon and written a fine admonishment to Lutheran pastors about law/gospel preaching. We encourage our BJS pastors to take it to heart and our BJS laity to encourage their pastors with these words. This post can also be found on the LCMSsermons site, here.
Throughout the LCMS it seems the teeth have been taken out of our preaching. For at least a couple of generations now many pastors have been taught, shamed really, by the practical, seeker sensitive teachers and leaders among us to become a bunch of Cheshire Cats in the pulpit–to soft soap the Law and soft sell the Gospel lest they offend anyone and thus consign a seeker to the abyss of hell.
(click PLAY below and listen while reading Pastor Hering’s article, or wait and listen to the sermon at the bottom of this posting)
That simply can’t and won’t happen. God will lose nary a one of those whose names are written in His book of Life. Furthermore, it is precisely the bold preaching of Law that sears the sinful flesh and Gospel that salves the contrite soul that works salvation. It is not a preacher’s business to flatter, amuse, or market people into heaven. It is their call to proclaim the Word for what it is and let the Holy Spirit condemn or console according to God’s perfect discernment and heart for what the sinner truly needs.
Pastors are not called and sent to be salesmen of salvation, public relations consultants for Christ, or corporate builders of His Church. Christ does not need or want thatâ€”thank you very much. Salvation is not for sale. Christ’s image doesn’t need sprucing or spicing up. The Holy Spirit is a capable builder of Christ’s Church.
Furthermore, we seem to be suffering from a sort of Lutheran reductionism that manifests itself in a rejection of anything that smells slightly Catholic and a desire to embrace virtually anything and everything for the sake of “growing the church.” The truth is that Lutherans and their Confessions not only reject and condemn the papism and works righteousness of the Roman Catholic Church, but they also reject and condemn the pietism and works righteousness of the Protestants. The problem with Roman Catholicism is not that they name someone Pope. It is the power that they vest in him, and only him and his authorized agents. A papacy exists wherever the discipline of the office of the keys and calling of pastors is taken out of the hands of the congregations and controlled by a hierarchyâ€”whether it be of popes and bishops in Rome, or presidents and executives in other Districts. Neither is Roman Catholicism the only place where you will find monks. Monks are created wherever the people of God are shamed, cajoled, or persuaded into believing that it is not enough for the Baptized Christian to simply live his life and exercise his vocation in faith as the child of God He is, according to the Ten Commandments, and instead must do something special in order to glorify God and win souls for Christ.
If we would only study and listen to Luther, and actually put his teaching into practice instead of listening to and practicing the teaching of Warren and Hybels, we might have a chance of being Lutheran once again. Let the numbers come or not based upon our faithful preaching, hearing, and living of the Word of God for the forgiveness of sins.
With these things in mind, I invite you to listen to my recording of Martin Luther’s treatment of Matthew 6:33-34 from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
I am convinced that the preaching, hearing, and living of this one sermon of Martin Luther–or at least more sermons like it in every pulpit and at every convention–would do more to right our Synod and Church than the passage of any resolution or election of any political leader. Politics is necessary and even good when practiced among righteous men within its proper realm. But how do we get righteous men? It is by the bold, no-holds-barred preaching of God’s Word in all its truth and purityâ€”teaching everything He has commanded, leaving out not one jot or tittle.
To hear the Word of our Lord as preached through His humble servant, the Rev. Dr. Martinus Luther, please either click the play buttons, or save or play the MP3 file using the link.
The text of this sermon can be found in Luther’s Works, CPH American Edition, Volume 21.