I’ve often told people that if they do not constantly and clearly hear the gospel preached in their church, something is terribly wrong. They need to 1) pray, 2) lovingly approach the elders/pastor(s), and if change doesn’t come over time, they need to 3) find a church that preaches the gospel constantly and clearly. By “gospel” I of course mean the proclamation of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension – his work to save sinners from misery and hell.
Here’s a great section from a sermon Martin Luther preached on Luke 22:7-20 (April 2, 1534). This is part of the reason for my statements above – why we need to hear the gospel constantly and clearly. If we do not, the result is faith-damaging.
“But someone might say, ‘Are we to proclaim nothing but that Christ died for us? Isn’t it enough to preach about this one time only? I have heard it [the gospel] so often and know it so well.’ Answer: the Jews were required to hold the deliverance from Egypt in remembrance not once only, but always, year after year. But should we Christians trouble ourselves continually to repeat the remembrance of the deliverance Christ wrought for us from sin, death, devil, and hell? Are you among those who say, ‘I have heard it all before; why must I hear it again?’ If so, your heart has become dull, satiated, and shameless, and this food does not taste good to you. This is the same thing that happened to the Jews in the wilderness when they grew tired of eating manna. But if you are a Christian, you will never grow weary, but will long to hear this message often and to speak about it forever.”
“Allow me a personal comment: I am a doctor of the Holy Scriptures; yet the more I consider the Children’s Creed [the Apostle’s Creed used to teach children], the Lord’s Prayer, baptism, and the sacrament, the better it all tastes to me. I also could easily say with the bored, satiated spirits, ‘I know the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the words of baptism and the sacrament, the Psalms, and so on;’ but daily I experience and must confess that, even though I have confessed my faith in the words of the Creed, spoken the Lord’s Prayer, reviewed the words of baptism and the Sacrament, yet, if tomorrow I do not review these things item by item, my heart will become cold and lazy. And if I don’t repeat it on the day following, I will become even colder and more indolent, ultimately arriving at the point of disdain.”
“For seven years [when Luther was a monk] I had no desire to partake of the sacrament, because I was then so very perfect. That is what I got out of the papacy. But when I became aware that it was the devil who was impeding me and leading me away from the sacrament, I said, ‘Devil, perfect or not, I am in the need of the sacrament and cannot do without its comfort; therefore, I shall attend and no longer offer excuses.’ And so I went, sometimes even without confessing my sins. Not that I had rejected confession, despised or neglected absolution; but that sometimes I went without confessing my sins only to spite the devil who wanted to keep me away….”
Read that again! The sermon is found in volume 6 of the Baker 7 volume series.