More on the importance of the external Word, again from Against the Heavenly Prophets. This is largely a treatise on the external Word, over against those who would base their doctrines on examples from Christ and the saints (see the last post) or on the 'inner voice of the Spirit,' setting them against God's external Word as revealed in the Scripture. Luther's insights are as applicable today as they were when Luther first penned them.
"When God sends forth His Holy Gospel He deals with us in a twofold manner, first outwardly, then inwardly. Outwardly He deals with us through the oral Word of the Gospel and through material signs, that is, Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. Inwardly He deals with us through the Holy Spirit, faith, and other gifts. But whatever their measure or order the outward factors should and must precede. The inward experience follows and is effected by the outward. God has determined to give the inward to no one except through the outward. For He wants to give no one the Spirit or faith outside of the outward Word and sign instituted by Him, for He says in Luke 16:29, 'Let them hear Moses and the prophets.'"
(Luther's Works, Vol. 40, pg. 146)