Word of Mouth
St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
21 September 2017
Before the world descended into the decrepit and moribund state in which it presently languishes, the Word of God was preached to the patriarchs by God Himself, just as He had at the dawn of original sin (Gn 3:16), when Adam and Eve had to know that there would be a Rescuer. God preached to these titans of the primordium and their descendants simple and clear sermons of the gospel message that the woman would conceive and bear a Son, who would destroy the ancient enemy. He established the messianic line in Seth through which that Son would arise through a woman.
 
Those sermons were repeated, memorized, considered, prayed, sung, and meditated upon (Gn 12:8) as a patriarchal catechesis. The Word of God was the daily diet of the patriarchs. This was possible because of the long life spans granted to them by God their Father. Their prodigious mental aptitude gave them the power to set to memory the Word of God. They were fallen and therefore morally decayed and dying creatures, but their created abilities were not yet so fully fallen that they were incapable of having a clear Word of God set into their hearts and minds. As we can see immediately with Cain and Abel, that did not make them more morally exalted than us. But their created gifts were certainly greater than ours. God used those gifts for the continual transmission of His grace through the messianic line.
 
The patriarchs kept the Word of God pure among themselves by transmitting it with reverent care and by applying it in their families through holy absolution. Because of their mental perception, they were people who understood the depth of their loss, but to keep them from despair the great leaders, like Adam, preached the hope of ultimate redemption that was to come through their Descendant. This oral repetition sustained the Word of God in an unadulterated form among them, but it was susceptible to the ignorance that arose not from weakness but wickedness. Cain and his lot turned their back on this preaching of redemption in another Person and sought safety in legalistic pleadings with God (Gn 4:13-15), as though He could be treated like a federal judge willing to plea bargain. Despite this humiliating scene with Cain, God still preached the gospel by mouth, unwilling to abandon His creation to the talons of the law. We now take the "word of mouth" to be next thing to hearsay, but when the mouth is God's, there is nothing more certain. Speak, O Lord.


Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Chemnitz
 
"God has from the beginning of the world, both before and after the Fall, come forth from His dwelling place, which is an unapproachable light, and has revealed Himself and His will to the human race by giving His sure Word and adding manifest miracles. In order that this divinely revealed doctrine might be spread by the living voice and transmitted to posterity as from hand to hand, God appointed Adam, as it were, a bishop for his time. There is no doubt that God bestowed on him the divine testimony and authority, and also gave a very long life, in order that he, through his testimony, might safeguard the purity of the heavenly doctrine against corruptions and keep his people from patched-on foreign opinions.
 
"But not long after this revelation Cain and his assembly departed from the purity of the Word of God. After the death of Adam, however, not only the descendants of Cain and also the sons of God, who had accepted the traditions of the heavenly doctrine, corrupted their ways, among which corruptions the foremost was without doubt the adulteration of the Word of God. For God says: 'my Spirit shall not strive in man forever' (Gn 6:3), and he adds the reason: 'Because they are flesh, and the imagination of the human heart is evil' (Gn 6:5). Thus the heavenly doctrine of the first world is transmitted by the living voice, unwritten, as it were from hand to hand. But because the imagination of the human heart is evil, the purity of the Word was finally not preserved faithfully by traditions of the living voice but corrupted unadulterated, yes in the end wholly lost. For God says: 'My Spirit shall not strive in man forever, etc.'
 
"At that time God gave special revelations to Noah, accompanied by stupendous miracles in the Flood, and restored the fallen purity of the doctrine, preserved it, and added a fuller explanation of the same, both before and after the Flood. By these miracles he confirmed Noah as 'a herald of righteousness' (2Pt 2:5), that he should be a guardian of the purity of the doctrine and should transmit it to his descendants by means of the living voice." 

Martin Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, 1.49-50
Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him.
 
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (ESV)
Collect for St. Matthew
Almighty God, who by Your blessed Son called Matthew from tax collection to be an Apostle and Evangelist, grant us grace to forsake all covetous desires and inordinate love of riches, and to follow Your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

For Carl Harrison, that God would grant him healing in accordance with His good and gracious will
 
For newborn Sebastian Graf, his mother Ashley and his father Alex, that God would grant their family grace and every blessing
 
For John Hatteberg, that God would watch over him as he recovers from surgery
 
For Tom Blackwell, that he would continue to experience ever more of God's peace

Art: DAVID, Jacques-Louis  Christ on the Cross (1782)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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