Friday, April 2, 2010

Sit and Listen

If you can sit day and night in a tavern or somewhere else with good companions, gossiping, talking, singing, and bawling, and not grow tired or feel that it is work, then you can also sit in church for an hour and listen in the services of God and his will.

But now we have the damnable devil, who makes the people so blind and so surfeited and sated that we do not realize what a treasure we have in the dear Word and go on living so rudely that we become like wild beasts.

Let us take it to heart then and remember, whenever we preach, read, or hear God’s Word, whether it be in the churches or at home through father, mother, master, or mistress, and gladly believe that wherever we can obtain it we are in the right, high, holy service of God, which pleases him beyond all measure. Thus you will be warmed and stirred to love hearing it all the more and God will also grant that it bear fruit, more than anybody can tell.

For the Word never goes out without bringing forth much fruit whenever it is earnestly heard, without your being the better for it. Even though you do not see it now, in time it will appear. But it would take too long to tell all the fruits now, nor, indeed, can they all be numbered.

Let this suffice as a foreword to St. Paul’s message, to stir us to listen more diligently to God’s Word, as indeed it is necessary to be reminded of this every day and in every sermon. And it also is pertinent to this text we have taken from St. Paul, for in it he reproaches these same shameful spirits who take hold of God’s Word with their own wisdom and likewise soon allow themselves to think they know it well and that they no longer need to listen to it or learn from anybody else. They turn to unprofitable talk about whatever is new or strange and the mob likes to hear.

They presume to be masters of the Scripture and everyone’s master; they want to teach the whole world and still they do not know what they are saying or asserting. For this is precisely the plague that results; when the Word of God is not proclaimed with earnestness and diligence, the listeners become listless and the preachers become lazy; there the concern must soon collapse and the churches become desolate.

Then inevitably there appear these false spirits, who offer something new, attract the rabble to themselves, and boast that they are masters of the Scriptures, and yet are always the kind of people who themselves have neither known nor ever experienced what they are teaching. This is already gaining ground among us and God’s wrath and punishment for our weariness and ingratitude is coming down upon us.

(The American Edition of Luther's Works, vol. 51, pp. 264-265.)

[1 Cor. 1:17 ". . . to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect."

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