Lutheran preaching since World War II – modern Lutheran preaching – is so formulaic; so predictable. It doesn’t matter what the text says. The text is really just a pretext to say what modern Lutheranism says: “You can’t do the Law. You are a sinner. You are forgiven because of Jesus.” And that’s it. As I have described recently in What is softantinomianism? and An example of soft antinomianism, this is what passes for “Lutheran” preaching today.
It is therefore helpful to listen to the way Luther speaks in sermons, because he speaks in ways that no Lutheran is “supposed” to speak. Luther speaks this way, because Scripture speaks this way. We need to reclaim this dynamic understanding of what the Gospel does and means for Christian life.
From Martin Luther’s Church Postil for Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, Mt 6:24-34.
But the Gospel is doctrine that is to be a living power and put into practice; it should strengthen and comfort the people and make us courageous and aggressive. Therefore they who only hear the Gospel thus, so that they know and can speak about it, are not to be classed among Christians; but those who believe and do as the Gospel teaches are righteous.
It requires an effort to hear the Gospel and to live according to it. God be praised, we have the Gospel; that no one can deny, but what do we do with it? We are concerned only about learning and knowing it, and nothing more; we think it is enough to know it, and do not care whether we ever live according to it.
Here you see how’ we are nevertheless to be anxious. Answer: Our life and a Christian character consist of two parts, of faith and of love. The first points us to God, the other to our neighbor. The first, namely faith, is not visible, God alone sees that; the other is visible, and is love, that we are to manifest to our neighbor. Now the anxiety that springs from love is commanded, but that which accompanies faith is forbidden. If I believe that I have a God, then I cannot be anxious about my welfare; for if I know that God cares for me as a father for his child, why should I fear? Why need I to be anxious, I simply say: Art thou my Father, then I know that no evil will befall me, as Psalm 16:8 says: “I have set Jehovah always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Thus he has all things in his hand; therefore I shall want nothing, he will care for me. If I rush ahead and try to care for myself, that is always contrary to faith; therefore God forbids this kind of anxiety. But it is his pleasure to maintain the anxious care of love, that we may help others, and share our possessions and gifts with them. Am I a ruler, I am to care for my subjects; am I a housefather, I must take care of the members of my family, and so forth, according as each one has received his gifts from God. God cares for all, and his is the care that pertains to faith. We are also to be interested in one another and this is the care of love, namely, when something is given to me, that I be diligent so that others may also receive it.