In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Last week we heard how God spoke all things into existence. (Genesis 1) Today we hear about a pattern with God. He speaks, both creating things and commanding them. And so we see that where God has not spoken and commanded, or instituted, something we dare not say otherwise. We dare not make laws about things that God Himself has not said. But where He has spoken. That is where His blessing is. By this I mean, so many people make up stuff that they think God wants them to do. And though they have no mandate for it in His clear word, they then bind their consciences to it, and sometimes the consciences of others, even judging on the basis of these self made laws, and they use God as an excuse for why they are doing something. In the past it was things like special fast days and pilgrimages not commanded by God that were taught as though they ought to be done, nowadays its having to sing Silent Night on Christmas Eve, have potlucks in just the right way, have a Sunday School, or choir to properly be a church, or any number of human traditions or personal ideas that get treated as though they are mandates from God . But if God has not commanded it and instituted it with a clear, unequivocal word through His prophets and apostles of old—i.e., in His revealed Word we call the Bible—then just be honest. It isn’t God leading you to do something. Or at least you can’t be certain of that. It is really you who wants to do it.
God works in clear ways. He has revealed Himself in His Word. The things He is doing He has spoken about by His prophets. (Amos 3:7) He institutes and gives a blessing to those things that He wants us to be sure He is doing.
Have you ever noticed in the Small Catechism when talking about the three means by which salvation comes to you—Holy Baptism, the Word of Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper—Martin Luther always asks the question “What is it?” Answers the question. Then asks, “Where does God say this?” And then gives you a clear verse where God commands it and promises His blessings through it. This is how God works. He institutes and commands His blessings in His Word. You can be sure of those three means of salvation because they have God’s own mandate and blessing.