Reformation teaching affirms with the New Testament that the church is “the creation of the Word.” The Spirit gives us faith through the preaching of the Word—specifically, through hearing the gospel. That is why the growth of the church in the book of Acts is reported with the phrase, “And the word of God spread.” We live out our callings in the world not as if we were the gospel, but because of the gospel and in a way that brings those around us into the atmosphere of its blessings. It is certainly true that our hypocritical practice can repel people from hearing the gospel. If people do not hear the gospel proclaimed, however, they will not be saved. This is why the central mandate of the Great Commission is to “proclaim the gospel to everyone”: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Faith is expressed through love and good works, but it does not come from them. Peter says that we are “born again…through the living and abiding word of God….And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:23, 25).
About The Author
Rev. Bernhard Seter has been a Pastor in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod for over 42 years. He served on the Board of LCMS World Relief and Human Care for ten years and is now the Chairman of the Board of International Missions. He has been privileged to travel around the world and see the churches' mercy work in action. He is convinced it is not only what we are "compelled" to do because of Christ; it is what we have been baptized for. Christ's love compels us, constrains us, and sends us forth.