How does God speak to us?

24 10 2010

Some would suggest that God speaks to us through events and happenings. Some say he speaks to us through our feelings or thoughts. Some suggest that God reveals things to us directly by vision or dreams. Certainly God can do all these things. However, God directs us to his Word – this is where he promises to speak to us. So let’s keep listening to God by hearing his Word!


God Deals with Us through Word and Sacrament

6 10 2010


In these matters, which concern the external, spoken Word, we must hold firmly to the conviction that God gives no one his Spirit or grace except through or with the external Word which comes before. Thus we shall be protected from the enthusiasts — that is, from the spiritualists who boast that they possess the Spirit without and before the Word and who therefore judge, interpret, and twist the Scriptures or spoken Word according to their pleasure. Münzer did this, and many still do it in our day who wish to distinguish sharply between the letter and the spirit without knowing what they say or teach. 4 The papacy, too, is nothing but enthusiasm, for the pope boasts that “all laws are in the shrine of his heart,” and he claims that whatever he decides and commands in his churches is spirit and law, even when it is above and contrary to the Scriptures or spoken Word. 5 All this is the old devil and the old serpent who made enthusiasts of Adam and Eve. He led them from the external Word of God to spiritualizing and to their own imaginations, and he did this through other external words. 6 Even so, the enthusiasts of our day condemn the external Word, yet they do not remain silent but fill the world with their chattering and scribbling, as if the Spirit could not come through the Scriptures or the spoken word of the apostles but must come through their own writings and words. Why do they not stop preaching and writing until the Spirit himself comes to the people without and before their writings since they boast that the Spirit came upon them without the testimony of the Scriptures? There is no time to dispute further about these matters. After all, we have treated them sufficiently elsewhere.
7 Even those who have come to faith before they were baptized and those who came to faith in Baptism came to their faith through the external Word which preceded. Adults who have attained the age of reason must first have heard, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16), even if they did not at once believe and did not receive the Spirit and Baptism until ten years later. 8 Cornelius (Acts 10:1ff.) had long since heard from the Jews about the coming Messiah through whom he was justified before God, and his prayers and alms were acceptable to God in this faith (Luke calls him “devout” and “God-fearing”), but he could not have believed and been justified if the Word and his hearing of it had not preceded. However, St. Peter had to reveal to him that the Messiah, in whose coming he had previously believed, had already come, and his faith concerning the coming Messiah did not hold him captive with the hardened, unbelieving Jews, but he knew that he now had to be (tr-497) saved by the present Messiah and not deny or persecute him as the Jews did.
9 In short, enthusiasm clings to Adam and his descendants from the beginning to the end of the world. It is a poison implanted and inoculated in man by the old dragon, and it is the source, strength, and power of all heresy, including that of the papacy and Mohammedanism. 10 Accordingly, we should and must constantly maintain that God will not deal with us except through his external Word and sacrament. Whatever is attributed to the Spirit apart from such Word and sacrament is of the devil. 11 For even to Moses God wished to appear first through the burning bush and the spoken word, and no prophet, whether Elijah or Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments. 12 John the Baptist was not conceived without the preceding word of Gabriel, 13 nor did he leap in his mother’s womb until Mary spoke. St. Peter says that when the prophets spoke, they did not prophesy by the impulse of man but were moved by the Holy Spirit, yet as holy men of God. But without the external Word they were not holy, and the Holy Spirit would not have moved them to speak while they were still unholy. They were holy, St. Peter says, because the Holy Spirit spoke through them.

Theodore G. Tappert, The Book of Concord : The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 312 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 2000, c1959).
These are powerful words, written as Luther’s own personal confession.  These are words that those who would remain faithful to Scripture must abide by at all cost.  God promises he will deal with us through Word and Sacrament – there we will find him, there we will be strengthened, there our faith is nourished.  Word and Sacrament is where we find our comfort and strength.