From the Word
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
John 20:21–23, RSV
The first and highest work of love a Christian ought to do when he has become a believer is to bring others also to believe in the way he himself came to believe. Here you notice Christ begins and institutes the office of the ministry of the external Word in every Christian; for he himself came with this office and the external Word. Let us lay hold of this, for we must admit that it was spoken to us. In this way the Lord says: You have now received from me peace and joy and all you should have; you need nothing more for your person. Therefore labor now and follow my example, as I have done, so do ye. My Father sent me into the world only for your sake, that I might serve you, not for my own benefit, but that I might serve you. I have finished the work, have died for you, and have given you all that I am and have; remember that ye do likewise, and henceforth serve and help everybody. By faith ye have enough of everything. Hence I send you into the world as my Father hath sent me; namely, that every Christian should instruct and teach his neighbor, that he may also come to Christ. By this no power is delegated exclusively to popes and bishops, but all Christians are commanded to profess their faith publicly and also to lead others to believe.
By faith you will accomplish this. It will make you righteous before God and save you. But this faith you are to show in love; not that you are to seek to merit anything by your works; for all in heaven and earth is yours beforehand; but that you serve your neighbor thereby. So then I obey the civil government, for I know that Christ was obedient to it, and yet he had no need to be; he did it only for our sakes. Therefore I will also do it for Christ’s sake and in behalf of my neighbor, and for the reason alone that I may prove my faith by my love. If you do not show such proofs of faith, it is certain that your faith is not right. In this manner the apostles also exhort us in their writings to do good works.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 255–56.