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The Nature of the Word

September 25, 2019
By Martin Luther

There Abram preached the name of the Lord.

GENESIS 13:4 (according to Luther's translation)

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The Nature of the Word

It is not the stones, the construction, and the gorgeous silver and gold that make a church beautiful and holy; it is the Word of God and sound preaching. For where the goodness of God is commended to men and hearts are encouraged to put their trust in Him and to call upon God in danger, there is truly a holy church. Whether it is a dark nook or a bare hill or a barren tree, it is truthfully and correctly called a house of God and a gate of heaven, even though it is without a roof, under the clouds and the open sky. Therefore one must pay primary attention to the character of the teaching and prayer, not to the character of the building. What God demands is that people be converted and He be glorified, but this is achieved solely through the Word and prayer. When Abraham spoke the Word here, he undoubtedly experienced the troubles that accompany it. For Satan, the adversary of Christ, was alive at that time too. Therefore he plagued Abraham with the countless evils that usually follow the Word—persecution, hatred, contempt, antipathy, and countless perils. These rewards of his godliness Abraham surely endured. Even though they are not recorded, we know that the nature of the Word is such that wherever it is taught, the prince of the world is infuriated. These are the two principal effects the Word brings about: it glorifies God, and it judges and condemns the prince of the world together with the flesh and sin.

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