The difference between Lutherans and generic Protestants can be seen clearly when the sacraments, called the Visible Word, are discussed. What could be hidden more easily concerning the Word cannot be kept under wraps when non-Lutherans deny Baptism and Holy Communion, allowing only that they are ordinances to be obeyed rather than sacraments conferring forgiveness of sin.
If we do not trust the efficacy of the Word preached and taught, then we will also doubt the work of the Holy Spirit in the visible Word of Baptism and Holy Communion. Sadly, many Lutherans have had their faith in the sacraments undermined by those who have sought to replace the effective Word with their clever methods. The purpose of this chapter is to show how the concept of the visible Word can be seen throughout the Scriptures as a great comfort to all believers.
"To you, I must thank especially. You made me realize that there is so much in the Bible that is yet to be discovered. You definitely made confirmation fun and sweet! I have learned so much from you and I hope that I never forget it. I want you to know that without your teaching, I would not know the Means of Grace. Thank you so much, again."
Kate Schmidt, (newly confirmed), Church of the Lutheran Confession. Letter to Gregory L. Jackson, 5-29-96.
"For we can definitely assert that where the Lord's Supper, Baptism, and the Word are found, Christ, the remission of sins, and life eternal are found. On the other hand, where these signs of grace are not found, or where they are despised by men, not only grace is lacking but also foul errors will follow. Then men will set up other forms of worship and other signs for themselves."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 914. Genesis 4:3.
"When the efficacy of Word and Sacraments encounters man's unbelief and persistent resistance, their efficacy is not destroyed; but it is transformed from an efficacy of grace to one of judgment (2 Corinthians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 11:29)."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 320.