The Sacraments in the Lutheran Church are highly regarded. We believe and teach that “the Sacraments were ordained by God not only as marks of profession among men, but even more, to be signs and testimonies of God’s will toward us” (Augsburg Confession, Article XIII). The Sacraments are not signs in the sense that they are merely metaphors, or symbolic of a spiritual reality, but they “were instituted to awaken and confirm faith in those who use them.”
The Sacraments include Holy Baptism, the Sacrament of the Altar, and the preaching of the Gospel (or, Absolution). Although the Sacraments all involve external acts (washing with water, eating bread and wine, speaking and hearing), the Lutheran Church also teaches that the Sacraments do not justify simply by doing the external act. The faith that is awakened and confirmed by the Sacraments rests not on the outward act, but the promise of the forgiveness of sins that God attaches to the outward act.
Our churches also teach that “no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call” (Augsburg Confession, Article XIV). A preacher does not create his own authority by which to preach and teach the Scriptures. The call of the Church through a local Christian congregation gives a preacher the authority to preach and distribute the Sacraments.