We Do Nothing; The Word Does Everything





Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 and Luke 5:1-11

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

The Apostle Paul once said to a Pastor, named Timothy,

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season.” 

In other words, stick to the preaching of God’s word whether you or your hearers feel like it or not!

But why the command to preach the Word in good times and in bad times?  The answer, the Word is the ‘power’ of God!  Yes, indeed, the Word is the power of God, as we heard in our Epistle reading from 1 Corinthians today. 

Problems arise though when we humans do not want to hear the Word of God.  Without a doubt, when we do not have the stomach for the solid teaching of God’s Word, we will often seek out other spiritual junk food, such as popular opinions, sexy slogans, innovative principles, and so forth.  We quickly turn our back on God’s powerful Word and chase after other things that tickle our ears and entertain our minds. 

And so, because of our hard hearts, deaf ears, and wandering thoughts, pastors and parishioners can begin to believe the myth that the church must do something ‘more’ or ‘better’ than simply preaching the Word of God!  The myth teaches us that God’s Word is good, but it is not good enough, especially for the twenty-first-century.  The myth tells us that we need to do something more than mere preaching of the Word to captivate people. 

The lies of the myth, typically begin with several subtle good intentions. 

The pews are becoming empty; therefore, we should ‘do something’ to get people to want to come to church. 

Hmm, what can we do? 

Well, people really like good coffee from Starbucks, so let’s put a coffee shop in the church.  And people like to have fun, so let’s put a rock climbing wall in the narthex.  And people like catchy music, so let’s make our music sound real, popular, and trendy.  Oh, and people like going to movie theaters so let's put in theater seating and movie screens.

Now, is there anything wrong with coffee, rock climbing walls, catchy music, theater seating, and movie screens in their proper context?  Absolutely not!  However, if you and I think that the Lord’s church needs these kinds of things - as if the Word of God needs some sort of assistance, well then… we are severely deceived!  In other words, if you think that Christ’s church needs these things to be ‘relevant’ and ‘culturally current’ you are foolish! Yes, foolish and na├»ve!   

Furthermore, hitting a little closer to home, if we think that the Lord’s church needs incense, chanting, and oak pews - as if the Word of God needs some sort of crutch, then we are severely deceived as well.  With that stated, are incense, chanting, and oak pews bad?  Absolutely not! 

You see, the point is that any kind of theatrics, scheming, plotting, and planning that we do to aid, assist, and supplement the Word of God, not only shows our Biblical ignorance but our lack of faith in God’s Word. 

God forgive you and me, for our lack of faith, and for the times where we have given into the temptation of believing God’s Word is not powerful enough. 

So, what does this all mean? 

It is quite simple.  We are people of the Word.  We preach the Word.  We teach the Word.  We hear the Word.  We speak the Word.  We sing the Word.  We pray the Word. And we contemplate the Word. 

Why? 

Because the Word is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 

But what if people do not listen?  What if the pews become less and less full?  What if other churches look like they are full and we are not? 

Well, if other churches are preaching God’s Word, God be praised.  We rejoice for open ears in other churches, where fellow Christians are receiving and hearing the Word. 

However, there is another side to this that we must keep in mind.  Just because there are full pews with busy parishioners does not automatically mean that God’s Word is present.  

For example, consider our reading from the Gospel of Luke.  From the shoreline, it would have appeared that the disciples were catching all sorts of fish, for they were casting and pulling in their nets all night long during prime fishing time.  They were busy – very busy – fishing all night!  And conversely, when Jesus was in the boat teaching during the day, with the nets being cast into the water, it would have appeared from a distance that no fish would be caught.  However, appearances can be deceiving! 

You see, when mankind tries to work spiritually speaking, we do all sorts of huffing and puffing.  We make all sorts of commotion and noise.  We devise all sorts of plans and strategies.  We often look busy with the work of the kingdom, but in reality, nothing is really happening, kind of like fishing all night with no catch of fish.  But when Christ is at work?  Well, it is quite different.  It is simple yet powerful.   

Think about it for a moment. Did Jesus toil all night to catch fish?  No, Jesus gave a short, simple word – put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch – and the fish tore the nets and began to sink the boats.  Jesus gave a simple Word!  He spoke, and things happened.    

Indeed, to try and obtain the forgiveness of sins and to attempt to build Christ’s church, mankind does all sorts of things to appease the guilt of sin and increase the kingdom without anything to show.  However, Christ does just one simple thing – He preaches through the mouth of His servants, pastors, “Your sins are forgiven!” 

It is literally, that simple because the Word is literally that powerful!  “Your sins are forgiven!”

In 1522, Martin Luther commented on the power of the Word.  He stated:

I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise, I did nothing. And while I slept or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything. Had I desired to foment trouble, I could have brought great bloodshed upon Germany; indeed, I could have started such a game that even the emperor would not have been safe. But what would it have been? Mere fool’s play. I did nothing; I let the Word do its work.

Indeed, Baptized Saints, the Word does everything.  And so, whether people like the Word or not, we preach Christ and Him Crucified for the forgiveness of our sins – your sins.  Whether the pews are full or empty, we preach Christ and Him Crucified for the forgiveness of sins – your sins. 

And get this – that is all that is needed for you!  You do not need spiritual junk food, but you need the Word of God.  You do not need catchy opinions of mankind, sexy slogans, and innovative principles for they are void of the Spirit.  They are not spirit and life!  They are not power unto forgiveness, life, and salvation.  All that extra stuff?  If it isn’t about the Word of Christ, it is futile – it is empty.  It is a clanging gong! 

And in case you doubt, consider this.  The Lord created the world by speaking.  Christ filled nets of fish through speaking.  Demons were cast out, the blind saw, the deaf heard, the lame walked, and the dead were raised by Christ’s speaking.  Which means, that when the water was splashed upon your head, and the Word was spoken upon you, you were transferred from darkness to light.  And today, when the words of absolution were spoken to you, they did not merely remind you of the forgiveness that Christ earned at the cross but actually deliver to you that very forgiveness.  And so, you are truly forgiven this day – right now and right here – by the power of the Word. 

And so, the Word is all that you need!  The power of God to save is not in spectacular signs.  It is not in human intelligence.  It is not in extra things.  But rather, the power of God to save you comes in the still, small voice of the preaching of Christ crucified – for you! 

You, who have ears, hear this:  you are forgiven in Christ.  You belong to Him.  You are the redeemed. 

In the name of Jesus: Amen.


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