One of the greatest struggles we face as Christians is that between faith and unbelief. On one hand, we have faith—the belief in Christ as our Savior, the confidence that God has our eternal best interest in mind, and the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is with us always to speak to our hearts and minds the very Words of Jesus. But unbelief is never far away. It lives in our rational, fallen mind. It tells us that God plays no role in our lives. This unbelief thrives on pessimism and optimism, on failure and success. When things go wrong, we question if God cares, if He is really watching, and, at worst, if He really even exists. When things go well, we pat ourselves on the back, proud of all the work we accomplished all by ourselves. “Pessimism and optimism are human emotions. Where they rule, faith is falsified. For faith has nothing to do with emotions. [Rather, faith] is the unshakable trust in the unbreakable promises of God” (Sasse, Lonely Way 1, 72, emphasis added).
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.