The Father created heaven and earth out of nothing through the Son, whom Moses called the Word.  Over these the Holy Spirit broods.  A hen sits on eggs in order to hatch chicks; she warms the eggs as though giving them life by her warmth.  So Scripture says that the Holy Spirit brooded, so to speak, over the waters in order to give life to substances which were to be animated and beautified; for it is the office of the Holy Spirit to give life.

(What Luther Says - para 4453 - p. 1383 ).

Christ has come and established His kingdom in the world for the sake of the resurrection and the life to come.  If then, the article that is the foundation, cause and end of all articles of faith is overthrown and taken away, all the rest must fall and go down with it.  Therefore it is certainly necessary diligently to stress and confirm this article...Thus we honorably carry the dead to the grave, follow the corpse, sing and pray as a testimony and indication of our faith that these very dead, and we together with them, will rise on Judgment Day and that the bodies will not be different bodies, although they will be constituted differently and transfigured.  (WLS - Vol III, p. 1215, para 3874).

Speaking of the Words of Institution Dr. Martin Luther wrote the following concerning the Sacrament of the Altar;

Everything depends on these words.  Every Christian should and must know them and hold them fast.  He must never let anyone take them away from him by any other kind of teaching, even though it were an angel from heaven (Gal 1:18).  They are words of life and of salvation, so that whoever believes in them has all his sins forgiven through that faith; he is a child of life and has overcome death and hell.  Language cannot express how great and mighty these words are, for they are the sum and substance of the whole gospel.  (LW 36:277)

In the Large Catechism V:14ff. Luther explains that as Christ's lips speak and say, so it is; he cannot lie or deceive.  Then he writes the following comforting paragraph conerning the Words Jesus speaks in giving us His body and blood .

Hence it is easy to answer all kinds of questions that now trouble people - for example, whether even a wicked priest can administer the sacrament, and similar questions.  Our conclusion is: Even though a scoundrel receives or administers the sacrament, it is the true sacrament (that is, Christ's body and blood), just as truly as when one uses it most worthily.  For it is not founded on human holiness but on the Word of God.  As no saint on earth, yes, no angel in heaven can make bread and wine into Christ's body and blood, so likewise can no one change or alter the sacrament, even through misuse.  For the Word by which it was constituted a sacrament is not rendered false because of an individual's unworthiness or unbelief.  Christ does not say, "If you believe or if you are worthy, you have my body and blood," but rather, "Take, eat and drink, this is my body and blood."  Likewise, when he says, "Do this" (namely, what I now do, what I institute, what I give you and bid you take), this is as much as to say "No matter whether you are worthy or unworthy, you have here his body and blood by the power of these words that are connected to the bread and wine."  Mark this and remember it well. 

Luther did not teach here or elsewhere that the Lord's Supper was magic through which we receive the forgiveness of sins whether we believe it or not.  Forgiveness of sins, life and salvation given in the Sacrament are received through faith.  But even unbelievers who partake receive the true body and true blood - not of course to their salvation but to their judgment and spiritual harm. 

Nothing but faith is needed to be saved, to give God the honor due Him and to accept Him as my God, confessing that He is just, true, and merciful.  Such faith sets us free from sin and all evil.  If I have thus given God his due, I live the rest of my life for the benefit of my neighbor, to serve and to help him.  The greatest work that follows from faith is that with my mouth I confess Christ, sealing that confession with my blood and, if it is so to be, laying down my life for it.  Not that God needs this work.  But I am to do it that my faith may thereby be proved and known, that others may likewise be brought to believe.  Then other works follow; they must all be directed toward serving my neighbor.   

(What Luther Says, para 3020, page 960 - pointing out from I Peter 1:15-16 that since Christians have acquired perfect peace themselves, they can now devote their time to bringing it to others.)

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a