God is Found Through His Word Alone

Lent 5 Sunday

Psalm 130:1

“Out of the depth I cry to you, O Lord.”

We count this psalm among those which are especially excellent. For it deals with the chief doctrinal part of our salvation, namely, justification. Only if this part is kept pure will the church be preserved; for it is the knowledge of truth and life. Contrariwise, when this knowledge of justification is lost, Christ and life and church are lost as well. For there is no criterion left to judge doctrine or spirits, but darkness and blindness will occupy all. Therefore, in order to preserve this light for our posterity as much as we are able, we also want to undertake the exposition of this psalm. But initially, I must remind you of what you have often heard from me, namely, that the prophets, when they speak about God, speak about their God whose promises and worship services they had. Thus, do not think that our thoughts about God apart from his Word would grant us access to God, as the Muslims, Jews, and Papists entertain their own thoughts about God, either entirely without the Word or by perverting the Word and drawing it from its true meaning to their imagination or speculation they have come up with on their own. For the prophets knew that the true God, although he is infinite according to his nature, enclosed himself in the mercy seat, to which he had tied himself by his Word, Exodus 25:22. Although they called him the God of heaven and the Creator of all things, they had this as a more proximate and, thus, more certain sign of the true God: knowing that he dwelt in Zion. Therefore, when they wanted to pray to God and preach about God, they did this in the way in which God had revealed himself in the Word and in the promises. Therefore, although there is no mention in this psalm of the Tent of Meeting and the promises and he seems to speak to God directly, it is to be maintained that he only speaks to the God as he is in his Word and worship, just as we today must not think or speak of God differently than he is in our true mercy seat, Christ. For this is what Christ says to Philipp, John 14:9: “He who sees me sees the Father.” Likewise, John 14:6: “No one comes to the Father except by me.” When this realization is retained, then God the Creator of heaven and earth can be worshiped as well; he will certainly be grasped. For although he is incomprehensible and infinite in his nature and outside of this revelation, he is finite and comprehensible in his Word and promises in which he wraps himself. This is why the Jews who worshiped at the Ark of the Covenant worshiped the true God of heaven and earth. For God had indicated by his Word that would be there and there hear the prayers of his people. Now, if we look to Christ in this way and worship him, we worship the true God; for God has revealed himself in Christ. This is also why Christ says in John 16:23: “If you ask the Father for anything in my name, he will give it to you.” Thus, those who pray to God without directing their eyes and hearts to Christ are in error and do not reach God, but worship the thoughts of their hearts instead of the true God; they are idolaters. For God does not want to be sought and found by us, or hear us, except in our mercy seat, Christ. … In this way, it is to be maintained that the holy Jews also prayed to God who dwells in Zion. Those who did not care about this place, committed idolatry even though they performed the same acts of worship and used the same words of prayer – only because they acted against this prescription made by God when he commanded that he wanted to be worshiped in Jerusalem, Deuteronomy 12:5-6.


St. Louis ed., 5:2032-2034.

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