The glorious Easter Gospel is to be preached throughout the world and applied to folks in the local congregation so they have faith in Christ. As the Lutheran Confessions state, “that we may obtain this faith, the office of teaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given, who works faith where and when it pleases God in those who hear the Gospel. That is, God, not because of our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into favor for Christ’s sake. (AC V). Faith comes by hearing Paul says and then asks the question, how can they hear unless someone preaches?
This is an interesting part of the church that many take for granted and yet others take hard. I will never forget the women who came to church one Sunday and was furious when I announced the forgiveness of sins. She felt that she did not need to be forgiven by me or anyone else. Jesus forgave her, that was all she needed. I said I was announcing Christ’s forgiveness and she didn’t like that either.
“It has always been dismaying to people that the comfort of the conscience comes down to a local “forgiveness person.” But there is the Holy Spirit using weak people with little words to accomplish what nothing else does: the end of trusting idols and the beginning of faith in Christ. Law and gospel is thus not a method of preaching or
interpretation, but the way that God authors you as unmistakable sinner in yourself; then outside yourself, in Christ, God authors you as pure saint. The preacher must learn the proper application of the pronoun: “you are the one” (as Nathan said to David) and “given for you for the forgiveness of sins” (as Jesus said to his betrayers).”1 Steven D. Paulsen, “Lutheran Assertions Regarding Scripture”, found in “Justification is for Preaching, Essays by Oswald Bayer, Gerhard O. Forde and Others copyright 2012 Virgil Thompson