Guest Post by Dane Ortlund
Justin, thanks for letting us contribute to your wonderful blog this week. And we are all very glad you’ll be back at the helm tomorrow!
I sign off with some wise words from the irritable reformer. Timely wisdom for evangelicals today, surrounded as we are by so many uniquely gifted preachers, each accessible with a click of the mouse.
Would to God that we could gradually train our hearts to believe that the preacher’s words are God’s Word and that the man addressing us is a scholar and a king. . . .
If someone announced: “I know of a place in the world where God speaks and anyone can hear God there”; if I had gone there and seen and heard a poor pastor baptizing and preaching, and if I had been assured: “This is the place; here God is speaking through the voice of the preacher who brings God’s Word”–I would have said: “Well, I have been duped! I see only a pastor. . . .
In fact, we do not enjoy listening to any preacher unless he is gifted with a good and clear voice. If you look more at the pastor than at God; if you do not see God’s person but merely gape to see whether the pastor is learned and skilled . . . then you have already become half a Jacob. For a poor speaker may speak the Word of God just as well as he who is endowed with eloquence. A father speaks the Word of God as well as God does, and your neighbor speaks it as well as the angel Gabriel. There is no difference between the Word when uttered by a schoolboy and when uttered by the angel Gabriel; they vary only in rhetorical ability. It matters not that dishes are made of different material. . . . The same food may be prepared in silver as in dishes of tin. Venison, properly seasoned and prepared, tastes just as good in a wooden dish as in one of silver. . . .
People, however, do not recognize the person of God but only stare at the person of man. This is like a tired and hungry man who would refuse to eat unless the food is served on a silver platter. Such is the attitude that motivates many preachers today. Many, on the other hand, are forced to quit their office, are driven out and expelled.
That is done by those who do not know this gift, who assume that it is a mere man speaking to them, although, as a matter of fact, it is even more than an angel, namely, your dear God.
–Martin Luther, preaching on John 4:10, in Luther’s Works, 44:526-29