We live in a world, in a time that is hostile to the faith. I don’t expect that to be a shocking statement to anyone. Any Christian can look at the world and firmly believe what your grandmother always told you: “It wasn’t this bad when I was your age.” That’s why we prayed “Almighty, everlasting God, make us to always have a devout will toward You and to serve Your Majesty with a pure heart.” There are countless things around us that are trying to pull us away from the faith. That prayer of David we sang in the Introit, “Give me not up to the will of my adversaries” is so important for us today. The opposition faced by Christians isn’t just a problem in Europe or the Middle East, a problem far removed from us. It’s here in America, in Dorr, in your own home. You need the Holy Spirit to keep you steadfast in the faith now more than ever, and that is precisely what God gives to you for the battle.
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.