Sermons Don’t “Do” It All

Jesus commissioned His Apostles to preach the Gospel (Luke 24:47).  The Apostle Paul told Pastor Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2).  And so our Lutheran churches have properly valued faithful preaching.

Jesus said to those whom He had sent to preach: “Whoever hears you, hears me.  Whoever rejects you, rejects me.  And whoever rejects me, rejects the One who sent me” (Luke 10:16).  That verse reminds us why Christ set up the preaching office.  Today, through His Church, Christ puts qualified men into this office to speak His Word to others.  That includes preaching Law and Gospel to bring others into repentance, but even more, to bring them into the forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47).

So, clearly, the Lutheran Church values preaching.  For have you ever attended a church service where there wasn’t preaching?  Probably not, for we would never think of having a Divine Service without a sermon.  And it should be that way.

But sermons don’t “do” it all.  For Jesus also instituted His Supper to strengthen us in the Faith, not just sermons.  So, it is a blessing that most Lutheran congregations are now moving toward weekly communion, as our Confessions say we do (as we are now doing at SOTHLC).

Our Confessions also say this about young people growing in the Faith: “Do not assume that they will learn and retain this teaching [the Christian Faith] from sermons alone” (Large Catechism, Preface 24).  And so our Confessions simply affirm, in passing, that we should expect more than just sermons if we want to grow in the Faith.

In Jesus’ own life, we see that besides preaching sermons, He also spent much time teaching His followers.  And so, by example, we see that our Lord wants His followers to be taught.  And so Bible class now becomes valuable, because what takes place there is valuable to Jesus.  That’s where the main teaching takes place within the life of a congregation.  Even more than that, how did Jesus command His Apostles to disciple others in the Faith?  In Matthew 28, Jesus commissioned to His Apostles to disciple others by baptizing AND teaching.

So, baptism isn’t optional in the Church–and neither is teaching.  As your pastor is called to baptize and preach, so also is he called to teach.  Teaching isn’t optional for pastors (not unless Jesus’ commission in Matthew 28 is optional!).

Martin Luther knew that, in the life of the Church, the sermon didn’t “do” it all.  We should recognize that, too.  Now, we shouldn’t say that Bible study and learning Scripture is better than the sermon.  For the sermon and Bible class aren’t in competition; they’re complementary.  Bible classes should be part of a congregation’s life, just like preaching and the Lord’s Supper are to be.

So, come to Sunday School.  Come to midweek Bible study.  Come, so understanding God’s Word in a deeper way may strengthen your faith and confidence in the Lord of your salvation, Jesus Christ.  Read, study scripture, and sit at the feet of your pastor in Christ.  Why?  So you may learn and grow in faith, doctrine, and your baptismal life.

This deepening of your faith is to go on until you no longer need such faith.  And that happens only in eternity, in the new heavens and the new earth, when you will see Jesus face-to-face in the eternal feast of victory.  Amen.




  1. Pastor Rich,
    Love the message in your sermon. One question is do not to many of our beloved Lutherans stop short at carry out the great commission and stop with the sermon the Bible study part. To many times as we use the old kids image of the hands as the church we see the steeple, open the doors and there’s all the people they aren’t moving in a outward direction, they just sit there and communicate with each other. If we would move out and express our love to others wouldn’t that be what Jesus did.
    As you rise each morning lift up your fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus the Christ to being the moving image of our Lord and go to help the Holy Spirit grow in the hearts of the one’s that are not hearing.through thought, word and deed. Take the path, walk in the footsteps of Jesus and the world will be a better place for the action each one of us takes as the light that shines for Jesus.
    God bless and may He give you His best,