“For the church is born out of the word of promise through faith, and it is fed and preserved by the same word, that is, it itself is founded through the promise of God, not the promise of God founded by the church. For the word of God is without parallel over the church, in which nothing has legal power to enact anything, to ordain anything, to do anything, rather the church is founded, ordered and made as a creature.” (Luther, WA 6, 560, 33-561, 2.)

For, prior to Lord’s Supper and Baptism the Gospel is the one most certain and preeminent mark of the church. For only through the Gospel is she conceived, formed, fed, born, raised, cradled, clothed, adorned, strengthened, equipped and protected. In brief the entire life and nature of the church consists of the word of God … When I speak of the Gospel, I understand in that the oral word, not the written word. … Only through the oral word (verbum vocale), through the oral, publically echoing voice of the Gospel (vocalis et publica vox Evangelii) does one experience where the church and the mysteries of the kingdom of God are.  . WA 721,12.15:” WA 7,720,32ff.:

Cranach did this painting of Luther in the pulpit and his preaching sets before them Christ the crucified.  Luther said, “Christ before his death commanded and ordained that his Gospel be preached in all the world.  Thereby he gave to all who would believe everything he had…….”

Pretty heady stuff that.  Through preaching we give everything Christ had – “his life by which he swallowed up death, his righteousness by which he blotted out sin, and his salvation by which he overcame everlasting damnation”.  That demands our best.  Preachers need to be reminded of the words engraved in some pulpits around the world – “sir, we would see Jesus”.