Luther On the True Preaching Office

But this is our consolation, I can boast to them: if it pleases God, good enough; if it does not please him, let it fall.  I wouldn’t risk a hair of my head to uphold my office.  But if it pleases God, I’d like to see the fellow who could knock it down. …

Therefore we preach something better [than the fanatics who only preach the Law to try and make people better]: the Spirit and the New Testament, which is that Jesus has come for your sake and taken your sins upon himself.  There you hear, not what you should do, but what God is doing through Christ, which means, of course, that he works faith and bestows the Holy Spirit.  But nobody who wants to make people good through laws is practicing this preaching.  That’s Moses’ and the hangman’s business.  Otherwise all people would long since have been good; for I preach daily that you should be good and not steal, but the more you hear it the worse you become; you remain the same rascals you were before.  Therefore it remains merely letter… We have the confidence to say that we preach rightly, that we are sufficient [2 Cor. 3:5] and the fruit follows, that our doctrine is true, and that our ministry is pleasing to God.  If we have these three things, then I who preach and you who hear have enough.  If the vulgar crowd departs, what is that to me?  I might well be angry on account of ingratitude and the fanatics, but I must let it be, as Paul did.  If it does not please the world, it is enough that it pleases God.  If it does not produce fruit in all, it is enough that it produces fruit in some.  If the doctrine be true, let those who preach falsely go.  There I can defend myself against spite and vexation.  But that I should wish to stop their mouths and persuade the people not to despise me and to be grateful, this confidence we must not have.  God is my Lord, the world is my enemy.  The fruit will come and the third [that my ministry should please God] will come too.  So in the fourth chapter [of 2 Cor.] also, Paul comforts himself and his followers, admonishing them not to be offended when it appears that our doctrine is lost, if only it please the One who is above. [LW (AE) 51:224, 226-227]


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