why it is so important that Christian pastors and teachers teach clearly the power/efficacy of god’s word—the same way god himself speaks of his efficacious and life-giving word

In his Smalcald Articles, Luther noted how, before the Reformation, Christ’s gift of Absolution was not fully explained to the people. The people were then robbed of the assurance of the Gospel. Luther writes: “Here, too, there was neither faith nor Christ, and the power of the Absolution was not explained to them.” This “power” of the Gospel comes from the efficacious Word of the Gospel (Romans 1:16–17).


The Lutheran confessors who followed Luther, and put the first Lutheran confessions of faith in writing, raise this red flag: As a result of a lack of clarity in teaching fundamental doctrines of the Bible, faith is undermined. These first Lutheran confessors further warned: “In fact, this doubt can produce nothing but the most bitter hatred against those who ought to heal consciences but who refuse to offer the slightest explanation.” A bit later, they continue: “But it is likely that there are many people in many places who are in doubt about these weighty matters and yet do not hear teachers who are capable of healing their consciences” (Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Article XII. 128–130).


In emphasizing the need to have spiritual leaders who clearly explain God’s Word, Luther and the Reformers were following in the steps of the Old Testament prophets, as shown in Nehemiah: “And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel. Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people remained in their place. And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.” (Nehemiah 8:1–8).


Click here to return to the main part of the essay.