Actions speak louder than words.” This is a phrase and a concept we all know. Another person can speak a promise to you, but his action of keeping that promise says much more than the mere promise. A spouse can say, “I love you,” but unless those words are backed up by actions of love and commitment, then the words ring hollow. “Actions speak louder than words.” Even without the expression, we all know how true it is.
Audio of this sermon can be found here.
Faith motivates men to do strange things which seem contrary to common sense. “Strange” may be a description that some would use for the Feast of the Epiphany, as these wise men from the east leave everything behind and follow a star to see a baby whom men long dead say is the world’s Redeemer. But, “strange” is not something unique to the Epiphany of Our Lord. If you look all the way back to Genesis, this same pattern has been seen many times before.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.