We Cannot Worship God Without the Gospel

Advent 2 Tuesday

Romans 15:5-6

“Yet may the God of patience and comfort give you that you may be of one mind among one another according to Jesus Christ, so that you may with one voice unanimously praise God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The only good we may do for God is laud and thank him. This is also the one true worship of God, as he says himself in Psalm 50:23: “The sacrifice of laud praises me, and it is the way by which I show him the salvation of God.” All the other goods we receive from him, so that we might give him such sacrifices of praise. And when you are presented with a different worship of God, know that it is error and deceit. E.g., now the world is crazy about dedicating for the worship of God houses, churches, and monasteries; golden and silken garments; silver vessels and pictures; bells and organs; candles and torches–all these expenditures should be used to help the neighbor, but people want to give this to God. Additionally, they murmur and howl by day and night in the church, while God’s praise and honor lie silent in the whole world, as they are not tied to places or persons…The worship of God consists in praising God freely at the table, in rooms, in basements, in attics, in the house, in the field, in all places, by all persons, at all times…Yet how is God’s laud and praise to be the true worship of God among us if we do not love him and do not receive his goods? Yet how are we to love him when we do not know him or his goods? Yet how are we to know his goods when they are not preached and the gospel is left hidden under the pew? For where the gospel is not, it is impossible to know God. Consequently, it is also impossible that God’s love and laud should be there. Consequently, it is also impossible that the worship of God should be there…Now, Paul says that this worship of God should be unanimous and happen with one voice. This happens when we are of one mind and realize that we all are equal and all have the same goods in Christ lest anyone disdain the other, so that no one can establish his own special thing. You ask how this happens? It happens like this: Everyone outside of Christ is condemned; one needs Christ as much as the next person. Yet when we are converted, everyone receives the same baptism, the same Supper, the same faith, the same Christ, the same Spirit, the same gospel–in short, the same God. The heavenly bread is here distributed equally like in the desert…It may well be that one Christian has a firmer grasp of Christ than the other; it may well be that one loves Christ more or believes in him more strongly. But he does not thereby have more than the other. Christ is the same Christ in all in the matters pertaining to salvation. This is also why he is Christ properly. Since, then, there is a common good for the weak and the healthy in the faith, for the strong and deficient in life, no one should think less of the other than of himself, but receive the other unanimously and carry out God’s laud unanimously, so that it may sound forth as if it proceeded from one heart and one mouth. Because everyone praises God for the same thing, having the same thing in his heart and mouth. For they all know and thank God for Christ and for what they have received from Christ, as was proclaimed previously, Psalm 72:15, “Prayer will be made continually before him.” But if someone praises God based on his own possessions, he divides heart and mouth and does not belong to the communion of saints, like the papists and sects where you do not hear Christ’s praise, but only the praise of their own works.

St. Louis ed., 12:39-42.

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