luther explains how god’s efficacious Word gives Jesus’ sacraments miraculous power

In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther asks the question regarding the efficacy, or the miraculous power, of Baptism to forgive, save, and justify. Luther asks the question: “How can water do such great things?” His answer: “It is not the water indeed that does them, but THE WORD OF GOD which is in and with the water, and faith which trusts such Word of God in the water. For without the Word of God the water is simple water and no Baptism. But with the Word of God, it is a Baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter third: [According to His mercy He saved us] by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”


Secondly, in describing how God’s living and efficacious Word causes Holy Communion to be a miracle of assuring each of us of total forgiveness and strength to struggle against the powers of evil every day, Luther states: “How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?” The Reformer then answers: “It is not the eating and drinking indeed that does them, but the words here written, ‘Given and shed for you for the remission of sins’; which words, besides the bodily eating and drinking, are the chief thing in the Sacrament; and he that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.”


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