CHURCH POSTIL.EASTER SUNDAY.
German text: Erlangen edition vol. II, 191; Walch edition vol. II, 822; St.
Louis edition vol. II, 602.
Mark 16:1-8. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, they come to the tomb when the sun was risen. And they were saying among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb? and looking up, they see that the stone is rolled back: for it was exceeding great. And entering into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, arrayed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he saith unto them, Be not amazed: ye seek Jesus, the Nazarene, who hath been crucified : he is risen: he is not here: behold, the place where they laid him! But go tell his disciples and Peter, He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they went out, and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them: and they said nothing to any one; for they were afraid.
THE BENEFIT AND USE OF THE SUFFERINGS AND THE DEATH OF CHRIST.
I. HOW AND WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO KNOW THIS BENEFIT AND USE
II. HOW CHRIST HIMSELF PREACHED THIS BENEFIT AND USE.
1. The nature of this sermon 2.
2. That this sermon is unmer-ited grace
3. That it is full of comfort 4-5.
4. How this sermon serves to explain many passages of holy Scripture 6.
5. How it is impossible to understand this sermon without the grace of the Holy Spirit
6. How and why one should exert himself, not only indifferently to hear this sermon, but also to experience it in his heart 8.
III. HOW CHRIST EXPLAINED THIS BENEFIT AND USE STILL MORE CLEARLY ON OTHER OCCASIONS
IV.THE HIGH CHARACTER AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS BENEFIT AND USE OF THE SACRAMENT
V. HOW PAUL CONDENSED THIS BENEFIT AND USE IN ASHORT PASSAGE
SUMMARY OF THIS GOSPEL:
1. Here we treat first of the fruit and benefits of Christ’s resurrection, namely, that Christ’s resurrection is our justification and satisfaction; as St.
Paul says in Romans 4:24-25 and 1 Corinthians 15:17.
2. In that we see how Christ is raised from the dead our faith is strengthened. For God says in Hosea 13:14: “O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction,” etc.
3. Human reason does not believe this; therefore the women go and buy spices to anoint the body of the Lord.
4. All that the women undertake to do, is done in a human way; and therefore the Lord strikes at their unbelief. How the Evangelists agree in the description of Christ’s resurrection you find elsewhere.
THE FRUIT AND POWER OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION.
1. As we heard while explaining the meaning of Christ’s passion, that it was not enough to know its mere narrative and history; so it is not enough to learn only how and when Christ our Lord arose from the dead; we must also preach and understand the benefit and use both of the sufferings and the resurrection of Christ, namely, what he thereby acquired for us. For if we preach only its history, it is an unprofitable sermon, which Satan and the godless know, read and understand as well as true Christians; but when we preach to what end it serves it becomes profitable, wholesome and comforting.
2. Christ himself pointed out the benefit of his sufferings and resurrection when he said to the women in Matthew 28:10: “Fear not: go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me.” These are the very first words they heard from Christ after his resurrection from the dead, by which he confirmed all the former utterances and loving deeds he showed them, namely, that his resurrection avails in our behalf who believe, so that he therefore anticipates and calls Christians his brethren, who believe it, and yet they do not, like the apostles, witness his resurrection.
3. The risen Christ waits not until we ask or call on him to become his brethren. Do we here speak of merit, by which we deserve anything? What did the apostles merit? Peter denied his Lord three times; the other disciples all fled from him; they tarried with him like a rabbit does with its young. He should have called them deserters, yea, betrayers, reprobates, anything but brethren. Therefore this word is sent to them through the women out of pure grace and mercy, as the apostles at the time keenly experienced, and we experience also, when we are mired fast in our sins, temptations and condemnation.
4. These are words, full of all comfort that Christ receives desperate villains as you and I are and calls us his brethren. Is Christ really our brother, then I would like to know what we can be in need of? Just as it is among natural brothers, so is it also here. Brothers according to the flesh enjoy the same possessions, have the same father, the one inheritance, otherwise they would not be brothers: so we enjoy with Christ the same possessions, and have in common with him one Father and one inheritance, which never decreases by being distributed, as other inheritances do; but it ever grows larger and larger; for it is a spiritual inheritance. But an earthly inheritance decreases when distributed among many persons. He who has a part of this spiritual inheritance, has it all.
5. However, what is Christ’s inheritance? His heritage is life and death, sin and grace, all that is in heaven and earth, eternal truth, power, wisdom, righteousness; he governs and rules over all, over hunger and thirst, over fortune and misfortune, over everything imaginable, whether in heaven or on earth, not only spiritual but also secular affairs; and the sum total of all is, he has all things in his hand, be they eternal or temporal. Now if I believe on him, I become partaker with him of all his possessions, and obtain not only a part or a piece; but, like him, I obtain all, eternal righteousness, eternal wisdom, eternal strength, and become a lord and reign over all. The stomach will not hunger, sins will not oppress, I will no more fear death, nor be terror-stricken by Satan, and I will never be in want, but will be like Christ the Lord himself.
6. In the light of this we now easily understand the sayings here and there in the prophets and especially in the Psalms; as when David in Psalm 34:10 says: “The young lions (the rich) do lack, and suffer hunger; but they that seek Jehovah shall not want any good thing.” And in another Psalm: “Jehovah knoweth the days of the perfect; and their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be put to shame in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.” Psalm 37:18-19. And immediately following in verse 25: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” All this comes of itself from the fact that we are and are called Christ’s brethren; not because of our worthiness, but because of God’s pure grace. Yes, if God gave us this in our heart, so that we experience it, then we would be saved; but it goes in one ear and out the other. And this it is that Paul praises so highly and strongly to the Romans when he says: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.” Romans 8:14-17.
7. The title of being Christ’s brothers is so high that the heart of man cannot understand it. If the Holy Spirit bestows not this grace, none can say: Christ is my brother. For reason is not bold enough to say so; although one may say it with the tongue, as the spirits of modern times do. It is not uttered in this way, it is necessary for the heart to experience it; otherwise it is pure hypocrisy. If you truly experience it in your heart it will be such a great thing that you will much prefer to keep silence than to speak about it, yea, in the presence of the magnitude of this inheritance you easily doubt and waver as to whether it is really true or not. Those who only cry: Christ is my brother! Christ is my brother! are not true Christians. A Christian acts quite differently, and it is very wonderful, so that the flesh shudders at it and dares indeed neither speak of it nor confess it.
8. We should bestir ourselves to hear this, not only with the natural ear, but also to experience it in our hearts, for then we would not be so forward and impudent, but would be surprised and amazed over it. True and godly Christians go along in life in contempt of themselves and in fear; they think thus: Ah, shall I, a poor, miserable person, who am steeped in sin, be now so exalted that God’s Son becomes my brother? Ay, how is it that I, a miserable poor creature, am thus honored? I am at once confounded before it and feed upon it; for it truly requires a great effort to believe it; yea, when one experiences it thus, how it is in truth, he must from that hour die; for man, since he is flesh and blood, cannot understand it. Here in this life man’s heart is in too great straits to lay hold of it; but after death, when the heart becomes larger and broader, we experience what we have heard through the Word.
9. In the Gospel of John Christ tells Mary Magdalene of the benefit and use of his death and resurrection still more plainly, when he says: “But go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.” John 20:17. This is one of the great and comforting passages upon which we can venture, and of which we dare boast. As if Christ had said: Go hence, Mary, and say to my disciples who have deserted me on the field of battle, and who have well merited punishment and eternal condemnation, that my resurrection has taken place for their benefit; that is, by my resurrection I have brought it to pass that my Father is their Father, and my God is their God. These are few words and very short; but they contain a great thought, namely, that we have as great a confidence and refuge in God as Christ his Son himself has. Who can grasp such exceeding joy, unless one speaks of himself when he says a poor, corrupt sinner can and may call God his Father and his God, just like Christ himself does?
10. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has grasped the words of Psalm 22:23 and taken them well to heart, when he says of Christ: “For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise.” Hebrews 2:11-12. If any worldly lord were to condescend so low as to say to a thief, or a murderer or to a low French character, Thou art my brother; that would be a great thing and everyone would be amazed at it; but that this King, who in his glory sits at the right hand of God, his Father, says to a poor sinner: Thou art my brother, that no one takes to heart, no one receives it in earnest, and yet on that hangs our highest comfort and courage against sin, death, Satan, hell, law, and against all misfortune, both of the body and of the soul.
11. Since we are flesh and blood, and subject to all kinds of affliction, it follows that it must be thus also with our brother; or he would not be like us in all respects. Therefore, in that he becomes like us, he tastes of all that we do, in order to be our true brother and save us, so that we on the other hand may become like him. This the Epistle to the Hebrews paints and brings out very beautifully when it says: “Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily not to angels doth he give help, but he giveth help to the seed of Abraham. Therefore it behooveth him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” Hebrews 2:14-18.
12. St. Paul in a very beautiful way condensed the benefit and use both of Christ’s sufferings and his resurrection in one short passage, as in a nutshell, when he says to the Romans: “Who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.” Romans 4:25.
But on this theme enough has been said for the present; whoever desires may with profit meditate on it; more is written about it in the Postil; whoever desires to have it let him get it and read. We will now discuss another subject. Since people in many localities still cling to the papal abuses, so that they flock to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper on Easter, and this custom is so deeply drilled into them, that it is very difficult to root it out everywhere, we wish to give some instruction to the singleminded and plain people, how they should at the present time partake of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. (Rodt’s Ed., 1525.)Of this the following sermon plainly speaks.
|Kidnappers and syphilitic adulterers like UOJ.|
Aegidius Hunnius has a brilliant section in A Clear Explanation of the Controversy among the Wittenberg Theologians concerning Samuel Huber’s misuse of Romans 5 to prove that all those who have been condemned through Adam’s sin have also been justified by Christ’s obedience (whether they believe in Him or not).Hunnius takes apart Huber’s (and the official WELS) doctrine piece by piece, concluding with this observation about Huber’s supposed “confessional subscription” to the Lutheran Book of Concord:
And what will Dr. Huber reply to the Book of Concord, which, in citing these very words from Romans, explicitly confirms that those things mean nothing other than that we are justified by faith? This is what the Book of Concord says in the Latin edition, page 666: “Therefore, these statements are equivalent and clearly mean the same thing, when Paul says that we are justified by faith; or that faith is imputed to us for righteousness; and when he teaches that we are justified by the obedience of one Mediator, who is Christ; or that through the righteousness of one man, justification of life comes upon all men. For faith does not justify on account of this, that it is such a good work, or that it is such a splendid virtue, but because it apprehends and embraces the merit of Christ in the promise of the Gospel.” Thus far the Book of Concord. If the Pauline phrase (that “through the righteousness of one Man, justification of life comes upon all men”) clearly means the same thing as that other statement, “We are justified by faith” (as the Book of Concord clearly and emphatically asserts), then the interpretation is rejected by the sentence of the Book of Concord that imagines from these words of Paul a justification apart from faith—one that extends also to those who have never had faith and never will. Dr. Luther says it even better in [his lectures on] the second chapter to the Galatians: “Where Christ and faith are not present, there is no remission of sins, no refuge, nothing but pure imputation of sins and condemnation.”
Seems pretty cut and dry. I thought other explanations and quotes from Hunnius and the Wittenberg faculty/Lutheran Church were good enough, but the opponents always twist and wiggle out of them, or so they make it. But this is pretty cut and dry. To say otherwise seems to fly directly in the face of Hunnius, et al and in direct favor of Huber's position/interpretation.
In addition, it seems as though Hunnius is bound to the interpretations of specific passages within the Lutheran Confessions. In some debates I've been in, I did exactly as Hunnius did by showing how the Confessions interpret the referenced passage, the pastor(s)' response: we're not bound by how the writers of the Confessions may interpret individual passages when they cite them. I almost spit up my drink when I read the Clear Explanation a few weeks ago and Hunnius was doing the same thing I did just years after the Book of Concord was compiled. So it's obvious Hunnius, et al disagree with that notion of "not being bound." I'll stand with them and their justification-only-by-faith interpretation of supposed universal-justification-of-all-sinners-without-faith passages.
sets forth a strong inference based on vv. 15-17. It is interesting to note that in the original Greek, v. 18 is written as a verbless pair of comparative clauses, which is not at all unusual. Any verbal aspect which colors v. 18 must be drawn from the surrounding verses, v.17 and v. 19. v. 17 uses a 3rd person plural aorist active indicative verb, "ebasileusen, reigned," in its protasis; v. 17's apodosis uses the same vocable, but as a 3rd person future active indicative, "basileusosin, will reign." v. 17's first verb indicates the completed action of its subject. Thus: "death reigned." v. 17's 2nd verb indicates the contrast, a projected, but not completed action regarding its subjects: "those receiving the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness."
v. 19 follows the same paradim of verbal tenses and moods, but changes verbal voices: The verbal protasis is 3rd person plural, aorist passive indicative, "katestathesan, were thoroughly established;" while the apodosis is 3rd person plural, future passive indicative, "katastathesontai, will be thoroughly established." Thus v. 19's two parts, respectively, "the many were thoroughly established..., ...the many will be thoroughly established..."
Based on Paul's linguistic pattern in 5:17,19, v. 18's strong comparative inference would follow this set verbal tense paradim: The protasis reflects the aorist verbal aspect of completed action even as its own context makes clear, "...just as through one's transgression, there resulted condemation for all men..."; and the apodosis reflects the future verbal aspect of projected, future action, (most clearly an incomplete action), "...so also through One's justification, there will result justification of life for all men."
The context makes clear the comparison: Adam's transgression effected for many the reign of death (v.17), for all, the abiding fact of condemnation(v.18), and for many, the established status as being sinful based on Adam's disobedience. v.19 by contrast asserts, "even so for many there awaits gracious results purchased by Christ (v.17), for all there awaits justification of life (v.18), and there awaits for many the establishment of their status as just men, based on Christ's obedience.
The technical clarity yielded by the Greek in these verses clearly teaches justification based on Christ's merits alone, a gracious gift intended for all, a gracious gift awaiting many. The overall context of Romans which precedes and follows 5:17-19 makes clear that the attribution of justice by God based on Christ's merits alone is by the agency of faith alone, effected by the Spirit alone. Hunnius correctly cites the Book of Concord when referring to Romans 5:18
. Those who oppose this verse can only do so by reading into the context more than it says and allows, or reading out of the context what it clearly, sufficiently, and efficaciously teaches.
In Christ alone,
Those are excellent points. Thank you for highlighting the Greek of those verses. I agree with you on the tenses that ought to be supplied for the ellipses in that verse.
I suspect that another reason why the WELS is pushing so hard for the NIV is that, of all the other options (ESV, Holman, NKJV, etc.), only the NIV really supports the WELS This We Believe statement on justification, with regard to the tenses and the structure of Romans 5:18
. The ESV's "leads to" is probably the most difficult translation for the WELS' use of Rom. 5:18
in This We Believe, as it would no longer support their conclusions in that paragraph at all.
NIV: "...so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men."
ESV: "...so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men."
Holman: "...so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone."
NKJV: "...through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life."
Hunnius also gave an interpretation of Romans 5:18
in his Theses Opposed to Huberianism:This notwithstanding, we most willingly grant that there is a righteousness that avails before God for the entire human race, a righteousness that has been gained and acquired through Christ, so that if the whole world were to believe in Christ, then the whole world would be justified. With respect to this, Paul writes in Romans 5 that “through one man’s justification (δικαίωμα), the gift has spread toward all men for justification (δικαίωσις) of life.” Nevertheless, no one is justified nor does anyone obtain remission of sins from this acquired universal righteousness without the imputation of this acquired righteousness of Christ. But the imputation of righteousness does not take place except through faith. (Thesis 5)
"I suspect that another reason why the WELS is pushing so hard for the NIV is that, of all the other options (ESV, Holman, NKJV, etc.), only the NIV really supports the WELS This We Believe statement on justification,...
So then the only real issue at the 2013 WELS Convention is the chief article of Christ's doctrine - Justification, and not the manipulated acceptance of the New Age, Methodist, Baptist, RCC, Pentecostal NNIV.
Because it's not the confessed acceptance of the NNIV which separates individuals, churches and synods from Christ - it's the confessed acceptance of a false gospel.
Hunnius was faithful and bold enough to attribute the gospel of UOJ to its chief author in his Theses Opposed To Huberianism. Other faithful Christians should be so bold - and so faithful to do the same, by the grace and mercy of the Triune God.
May the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ lead the laity to do what the majority of clergy have utterly failed to do - publicly renounce the gospel of Universal Objective Justification for what it is - for what Hunnius so long ago faithfully identified it as, and then boldly confesses, teach and proclaim Christ's one true Gospel of the forgiveness of sins: Justification, righteousness and eternal salvation solely through faith in Christ alone.
The Lord's will be done.
The Christian Message: Upgraded topical message: Rejecting the Resurrection Reality:
The Christian Message has upgraded the following message with additional pics, captions, internal links and minor editing:Rejecting the Resurrection Reality
Easter morning, a couple of years ago, I posted on the local online forum 3 words – “He is risen!” My father taught me this declaration every Easter morning. He would declare: “He is risen!” And then he would expect the following reply: “He is risen, indeed!” Such was the declaration and response of the early Christians every year commemorating the death and resurrection of the Christ of history.One forum personality responded, like the early Christian response. However, there was another response that stated, “Where?” His, was a declaration of unbelief, basically saying [Paraphrase]: “I don’t see anything.” I then posted the following reply: ............. Continued:
Please note: For the whole topical message, please access it at its originating source:Rejecting the Resurrection Reality - thechristianmessage.org/2011/04/Also note: "The Christian Message" subject listing of topical messages'via Blog this'
Get the word out! In order to protect the personal property of Pastor Hastings it has been advised to retrieve it all now. As unfortunate as this measure is..things have to now be done with legalities in mind. We need helpers. After our Easter Service we will proceed to the church and parsonage to load it up. We will need the following. A 16 foot Uhaul. Boxes. A storage location would be awesome. We have an alternate if need be. So if you come to our Easter service. Consider helping pack up books and furniture or bring a box. At a minimum you can come and see what it looks like when Satan has attacked the church.
With your continued support, when we win, I will call you all back to move it back in!
'via Blog this'
This is the third in a series of posts that seek to present key passages pertaining to the doctrine of Justification by comparing the statements of contemporary authors with the patristic writings of the the Church Catholic. It's by no means exhaustive; if it were, there would be far too many quotations for a simple blog post. But I hope it brings to mind a number of important questions: "Why is there so much disconnect? Why do the interpretations of these passages appear to completely contradict and disagree with one another?" (The first and second posts can be found here and here, respectively)
-- Interpretations of 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 by modern sources --
A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod (1932)
"God no longer looks upon sinful man with wrath, but 'before His divine tribunal' forgives the sins of mankind, does not impute their trespasses unto them (2 Cor. 5:19). 'By the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life' (Rom. 5:18). And this reconciliation is, as has been shown, complete and perfect, extensively and intensively, for we certainly have no right to restrict the meaning of of either the terms 'world' (2 Cor. 5:19) and 'all men' (Rom. 5:18) or the terms 'not imputing their trespasses' (2 Cor. 5:19) and 'justification' (Rom. 5:18). Nor do these passages speak merely of a new relation between God and man, but they state definitely that God’s action produced the new relation, God’s action in not imputing their sins unto men, in forgiving them their sins, in justifying men in His heart, this is the meaning of objective reconciliation, as taught in 2 Cor. 5:19, Rom. 5:18; 5:10; 4:25. CHRISTIAN DOGMATICS, by Francis Pieper, Volume 2, pages 398 & 399
"Paul’s actual words say that God was reconciling the world to Himself not counting their sins against them. The only possible antecedent of “their” in that sentence is “the world,” and the world certainly includes all men. What Paul actually says, therefore, is that God does not count the sins of all men against them. In his letter to the Romans the apostle indicates beyond question that not to count a man’s sin against him means to forgive his sin. Paul writes, “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” We are therefore justified in saying that Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:19 teaches that in Christ God has indeed forgiven the sins of the whole world. God reconciled the world to Himself by forgiving the sins of all men." (www.wlsessays.net/files/BeckerUniversal.rtf)
"Objectively speaking, without any reference to an individual sinner's attitude toward Christ's sacrifice, purely on the basis of God's verdict, every sinner, whether he knows about it or not, whether he believes it or not, has received the status of a saint. What will be his reaction when he is informed about this turn of events? Will he accept, or will he decline?"
J. P. Meyer, Ministers of Christ, A Commentary on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1963, p. 103f. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.
John Moldstad Jr.
“When Paul uses the word ‘reconciling’ here, [2 Corinthians 5:19] he clearly means that forgiveness of sins is really imputed to ‘the world.’"
Lutheran Sentinel, October, 1996, p. 11
--Interpretations of 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 in the writings of the Orthodox Lutheran Fathers--
The Wittenberg Faculty Writing against Huber's "Universal Justification"
“Never does Paul teach universal justification. For as far as concerns 2 Corinthians 5,the words ‘not imputing their trespasses unto them,’ they are not to be understood universally about all men regardless of faith.”
Actorum Huberianorum pars prior. Durch die Württembergischen Theologen Pars posterior, p. 122
"10 Now this power of forgiving sin must not be understood to have been given to the priests in such a way that God had renounced it for Himself and had simply transferred it to the priests, with the result that in absolution it is not God Himself but the priest who remits sin. For Paul expressly distinguishes between the power and efficacy of reconciliation which belongs to God, and the ministry which was given to the apostles, so that it is God who reconciles the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19) and forgives sins (Is. 43:25), not however without means but in and through the ministry of Word and sacrament.
Ministers indeed are said to loose and remit sins on account of the keys, that is, because they have the ministry through which God reconciles the world to Himself and remits sins. Thus Paul says (2 Cor. 1:24) that although he has authority, he nevertheless does not lord it over their faith but is a servant and steward of the mysteries of Christ (1 Cor. 4:1), so that he who plants and he who waters is nothing, but He who gives the increase, namely God (1 Cor. 3:7). Nevertheless, he shows that the use of the ministry is useful and necessary, for, says he, we are co-workers, that is, assistants, whose labors God uses in the ministry, but where nevertheless all the efficacy belongs to Him. We are servants, says he, through whom you have believed. Likewise: “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15). Paul treats this distinction clearest of all in 2 Cor. 5:18–20. It is God who reconciles us to Himself through Christ, not counting our sins against us. To the apostles, however, He gave the ministry of reconciliation. But how so? “He entrusted to us,” says Paul, “the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Thus this distinction honors God and gives Him the glory that properly belongs to Him; it also claims for the ministry the honor and authority it has according to the Word of God. For even as it is Christ who baptizes through the ministry and also imparts His body and blood, so also it is Christ who through the ministry absolves and remits sins.
Chemnitz, M., & Kramer, F. (1999). Vol. 2: Examination of the Council of Trent (electronic ed.) (559–560). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. (HT: http://www.faithalonejustifies.com/reconciling-the-world-but-not-without-means/)
"2 Corinthians 5:19
…not imputing their sins to them.
This demonstrates what the effect is of the reconciliation made by the Son. For since God the Father transferred the sins of us all from us to the Son so that He might pay for us the penalty for sins and in this way reconcile again the offended Father, the eternal Father now does not impute sins to those who believe in His Son; He regards them as righteous on account of the obedience and intercession of His Son. For the righteousness of man which God regards as righteousness is that sins are remitted, are not imputed and are covered, as Paul defines righteousness in Romans 4, citing Psalm 32. Therefore, the effect of reconciliation is that sins are not imputed; instead, the faith that embraces Christ the Reconciler is imputed for righteousness.
And He placed among us, etc.
That is, He instituted the ministry of teaching about the reconciliation made through the death of the Son. For God wants it announced to the entire human race that reconciliation has been made by the Son, so that sins are not imputed to believers; instead, righteousness is imputed to them, and thus believers are saved. For this reason, among the ruins of the empires and so many sects and heresies, God has to this day wondrously preserved this ministry, and will continue to preserve it until the end of the world and the advent of His Son, as Paul says, “You shall announce the death of the Lord until He comes.”
He says this, of course, of the whole Church, which, by itself, He frequently also calls by the name of the world: as when it is said, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. 2 Corinthians 5:19...But that world which God is in Christ reconciling unto Himself, which is saved by Christ, and has all its sins freely pardoned by Christ, has been chosen out of the world that is hostile, condemned, and defiled.
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701087.htm>.
|Hindus are all justified too.|
And saved - ask DP Buchholz.
has left a new comment on your post "Ecclesia Augustana
I added this quote after I published it just so ya'll know:
So, then, we are reconciled (2 Cor. 5:18); however, not only we, but also Hindus, and Hottentots and Kafirs
, yes, the world (2 Cor. 5:19). “Reconciled,” says our translation; the Greek original says: “placed in the right relation to God.” Because before the Fall we, together with the whole creation, were in the right relation to God, therefore Scripture teaches that Christ, through His death, restored all things to the former right relation to God. We, then, are redeemed from the guilt of sin; the wrath of God is appeased; all creation is again under the bright rays of Mercy, as in the beginning; yeah, in Christ, we were justified before we were even born. For do not the Scriptures say: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Cor. 5:19)? This is not the justification which we receive by faith, but the one which took place before all faith."
(The Justification of the Sinner Before God)
Ecclesia Augustana: A Valediction to Ecclesia Augustana
Who We Are
A Valediction to Ecclesia Augustana
I wrote in my previous post on my "encouragement" that I am willing to be corrected or instructed. Here I hope to make good on that statement.
'via Blog this'
That post was my revealing of a weak argument against me -- one that bent around a fairly elementary logical fallacy (guilt by association), one that felt slick with legalism, and was enforced argumentum ad consequentiam (an appeal to positive or negative consequences.) I'm not ashamed of what I wrote. But contrary to certain outside opinions going wild on this incident, this was not coercion or bullying. The episode stemmed from genuine concern about my present and future ministry, and I will repeat here one more time, I am genuinely grateful for that concern. Nevertheless, I wish such an episode of guilt-heaping (i.e. guilting and not even using God's Law to do so properly) shouldn't exist in the Lutheran church.
Since then, after much prayer, I have come to believe that I ought to retract my authorship here. To my co-authors, I'd like to give my sincere praise. It shows great spiritual maturity to be so interested and public about Lutheran dogma. This is a rare gem to see in the youth, and I wouldn't want this enthusiasm quashed. But I would also exhort these acquaintances to "watch their life and doctrine closely," particularly in what they choose to opine in public, and especially when using sensationalist words. Wise Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 10: Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil ferment and stink; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
I am rescinding my author status and disassociating with the blog "Ecclesia Augustana".
What, now, may happen to me? If my mere association here was so grave, will my past collaboration with these Ecclesia Augustana authors unnecessarily and unrighteously haunt me into the future? I pray no. If indeed I am promised "all is forgiven," I urge: don't later revoke or make hypothetical God’s own absolution. C.F.W. Walther says about forgiveness of sins:
"If the pastor strongly doubts the repentance and sincerity of a person confessing to him, without, however, being able to convict him of it and refuse absolution, [the pastor] dare not salve his own conscience by adding all sorts of conditions, or even warnings and threats, to the absolution." (Pastorale, p. 164. Emphasis mine)
--- Brett Meyer
has left a new comment on your post "How Many Church and Changers Have Quit Their WELS ...
Benjamin Rusch, "...such an episode of guilt-heaping...
I believe that is a sufficient description of bullying.
Interesting that Benjamin equates giving a bold public statement (and in the case of his former Ecclesia acquaintances - faithful Christian confessions concerning the chief article of Christ's doctrine - Justification) to dead flies making oil ferment and stink.
What a shame.
Then he's embraced by Tarheel Paul who himself praised August Pieper for taking to task Lutherans quoting at length the faithful statements of the Lutheran Confessions, Luther, Gerhard, Chemnitz, Hunnius etc. etc. When the fruit of August's Pietism peaked with this heinous statement in the third volume of the Quartalschrift
, "But whoever molests the doctrine of justification stabs the
gospel in the heart ...even if he ever so much emphasizes justification by faith." (as quoted by unChristian Pastor Nathan Seiltz (W)ELS in defense of teaching the laities children the false gospel of forgiveness without faith.)
GJ - Bullying is standard behavior for WELS. They are frightened that people will study the issues, think on their own, and act on them.
has left a new comment on your post "How Many Church and Changers Have Quit Their WELS ...
Ah, I'm a bit late to the party...
Good gravy, Mr. Meyer. I thought my post was lucid enough, so I'd like to address your deductions. I believe that is a sufficient description of bullying.
It's your place to define what bullying means to you. I can't refute that.
I deliberately did not disclose every fact of this episode for obvious ethical reasons. Seeing what I did choose to disclose, I can understand how you came about that determination. Nevertheless, "this was not coercion or bullying" is my reminder to you.Interesting that Benjamin equates giving a bold public statement (and in the case of his former Ecclesia acquaintances - faithful Christian confessions concerning the chief article of Christ's doctrine - Justification) to dead flies making oil ferment and stink.
Hyper-analyzation. "Equate to"? Did I mention Justification? Did I link to any articles on Justification? Did I even allude to the doctrine of Justification? The folly of sensationalism is the source of dead flies.
As for "giving a bold public statement," read the very same paragraph again. "I wouldn't want this enthusiasm quashed," should suffice as an answer.
GJ - True - no one knows all the facts, including the defenestrated. But the question remains - how many Church and Changers were forced to jump ship on their
blog? In fact, when WELS was telling people that Church and Change was over, finished, shut down, the wily rodents were registering people for their next conference via a link on the WELS.net website
. I had to prove that many times before the link disappeared.
I do not believe the Intrepids were given their own registration link for their
conference. Nor were the people who ran Issues in WELS, which included a former DP.
Apostasy is rewarded in WELS. Ask Larry Olson, David Valleskey, Frosty Bivens, Paul Calvin Kelm, Steve Witte, Elton Stroh, Mark and Avoid Jeske, Floyd Luther Stolzenburg, and VP James Huebner.
Justification by faith is punished, but a Day is coming when human judgment means nothing.
|This is Luther's answer to WELS/LCMS infatuation with|
Management by Objective.
Good Friday Vespers, 2013, 7 PM Central Time
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
The Psalmody Psalm 22 p. 128
The Sermon Hymn #143 O Dearest Jesus 2:56
The Sermon – Bearing Our Sins
The Collect for Grace p. 45
The Hymn #151 Christ the Life 2:78
Isaiah 52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. 14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
KJV John 19:1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. 2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, 3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. 4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.
5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! 6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. 7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. 8 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; 9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.
10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? 11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. 12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. 13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! 15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. 17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. 19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. 21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. 22 Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. 24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. 25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. 31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
For Holy Communion Preparation on Easter Sunday
O Lord Jesus Christ, we thank Thee, that of Thine infinite mercy Thou hast instituted this Thy sacrament, in which we eat Thy body and drink Thy blood: Grant us, we beseech Thee, by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not receive this gift unworthily, but that we may confess our sins, remember Thine agony and death, believe the forgiveness of sin, and day by day grow in faith and love, until we obtain eternal salvation through Thee, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
Bearing Our Sins
One statement is often used to explain that everyone is the world has been forgiven and saved, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
KJV John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Luther treated this extensively in his commentary on Galatians, which is commended to all readers of the Book of Concord as their guide to justification by faith.
The point Luther makes is often lost on those who cannot grasp the efficacy of the Word or the Means of Grace. The Gospel is this very fact – that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world.
Every single form of punishment dealt to Him should be seen as part of bearing our individual sins, taking on the penalty for our sin.
A parallel explanation is “bearing the sins of the world.” This is not a logical puzzle for man to solve with his human reason. It does not mean that bearing the sins is the same as universal grace, universal forgiveness, universal salvation. Those who think this way become Universalists and then atheists.
Instead the cross is all grace, all forgiveness – that is – Christ is all grace and forgiveness. But this forgiveness, according to God’s wisdom, is distributed in one way only – through the Word of God, the message of the Gospel.
Strangely, many people talk about the Word of God but they do not want to teach the Gospel contained there. They have their own opinions, which fascinate them no end. They are like the banker who thought everyone should have citrus and ginger each day. He brought it around to people and insisted that they have their citrus and ginger – but only one citrus. (Birmingham, Our Crowd). He went to one a second time by mistake, and then said, “You already had yours,” and took it away. Why this was good for everyone is impossible to tell at this date, but it was vital to him.
So people get accustomed to the simple truths of the Gospel and invent something essential that they foist on everyone.
But this message of Isaiah and John is compelling for one particular reason, and that is vital for each person to hear.
When all the punishments and forms of torture are numbered –
- Whipping to the bone
- Carrying the cross
- Nailing to the cross
- Lifting up the cross for a slow suffocation death
- Cry of dereliction –
They point to one thing – those individual sins of ours are indeed paid for. We should not dwell on what the Romans did, what the religious opponents did, or what the followers failed to do.
We should meditate on what Christ did wash away our sins, to give us grace through this Means of Grace – the Gospel.
The largest part of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is the Way of the Cross, the last few days of Jesus’ public ministry.
The central message of Paul is Christ crucified.
That is the Gospel. If it means pointing out dearly He paid for our sins, then it also makes clear how they are completely taken away among believers.
Unbelievers have no grasp of this. The apostates make fun of the atonement. So do atheists. Two ELCA professors, still alive, are considered the greatest Lutheran theologians today. Both of them (Braaten, Jenson) joined in mocking the crucifixion in their giant dogmatics book (two volumes!). Why does WELS and Missouri work with them? The reasons are obvious. The apostasy of ELCA does not matter, except to prove how superior other sects are.
It does matter a great deal whether we believe the Word of God or not. Trust is everything. Our lives are based upon trust and promises. When I walk our wonder dog Sassy, she trusts my word. If I say “stay” she stands next to me until I let her walk again. If I say “come back” she immediately returns. If she sneaks into a neighbor’s backyard to explore, I say “GIT over here” and she comes back with a grin for having a little fun sniffing around. She trusts that I love her and care for her safety.
When we talk about going out, she walks into her little box and waits for her treat. She always gets something. She tries to get seconds too.
I find it odd that people would say, “Christ suffered all this, but no one needs to believe in Him. They are still righteous. They have been forgiven, saved, period. End of story.” (DP Buchholz)
To say faith does not matter turns the Gospel into a lie, because John’s Gospel was written, as he said, so that people would have faith, and in believing, have eternal life in His Name.
It also corrupts the meaning of faith as trust. Faith is not the same as virtue or human willpower or a decision, because God creates it through the Word of the Gospel.
Here is the comfort of the Gospel – believing is forgiveness. How does one believe? By hearing the Gospel, because the Holy Spirit is always at work in the Gospel.
How doe we know this is true? Two ways – One is our own experience in growing more confident in God through hearing the Gospel. Another is opposition – as soon as the Gospel gains a foothold, there is demonic opposition to it. Every possible fault is found, so much that people are disturbed by the conflict and made uncertain. These disturbances are good because they separate the good from the bad.
The crucifixion of Christ is the most disturbing, perplexing story of world religion. Back then and even now, people ask, “How can this be, that my sins are forgiven freely and completely, if I believe in Him and confess Him with my mouth?” And yet, this is the one and only religion of grace.
God gives instead of receiving from man.
God is gracious and forgiving rather than being demanding.
God forgives instead of condemning.
"Thus, we know how and where the Holy Spirit is to be found, and we need not be in doubt nor waver, gazing here and there for special revelations or illuminations. Each one should hold to the Word, and should know that through it alone, and through no other means, does the Spirit enlighten hearts and is He ready to dwell in them and to give true knowledge and comfort through faith in Christ."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 300.
Not for Us To Judge Results
"Be not worried because of this! for even though a man preach and continue in the Gospel for many years, he must still lament and say: Aye, no one will come, and all continue in their former state. Therefore you must not let that grieve or terrify you."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II, p. 305. Easter Tuesday Luke 24:36‑47.
"But when St. Peter stood up and preached, they made a mockery of it and considered the apostles drunken fools. When they had urged the Gospel a long time, they gathered together three thousand men and women. But what were they among so many? Yea, no one could discern that the Gospel had accomplished anything, for all things continued in the same state as before. No change was seen, and scarcely anyone knew that there were Christians there. And so it will be at all times."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II, p. 306. Easter Tuesday Luke 24:36‑47.
God Builds with the Word
"The Word and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are materials with which He builds. Though the dwelling is not altogether completed, yet through His grace and love it is accepted of God."
Sermons of Martin Luther, III, p. 322.
Only the Word
"Secondly, it is shown here that this Word precedes, or must be spoken beforehand, and that afterwards the Holy Spirit works through the Word. One must not reverse the order and dream of a Holy Spirit who works without the Word and before the Word, but one who comes with and through the Word and goes no farther than the Word goes."
Sermons of Martin Luther, III, p. 329.
THIRD SERMON. MARK 16:1-8.
Mark 16:1-8. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, they come to the tomb when the sun was risen. And they were saying among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb? and looking up, they see that the stone is rolled back: for it was exceeding great. And entering into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, arrayed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he saith unto them, Be not amazed: ye seek Jesus, the Nazarene, who hath been crucified : he is risen: he is not here: behold, the place where they laid him! But go tell his disciples and Peter, He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they went out, and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them: and they said nothing to any one; for they were afraid.
This sermon, delivered in 1538, is printed in place of the preceding one in edition c. It appeared under the title: “A beautiful Easter sermon delivered in the presence of the Elector of Saxony. Dr. Martin Luther, Wittenberg, 1538. Printed at Wittenberg by Nickel Schirlentz.”
German text: Erlangen edition vol. 11, 223; Walch edition vol. 11, 861; St.
Louis edition vol. 11, 632.
THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
I. THE STORY OF CHRIST’ S RESURRECTION
II. THE BENEFIT AND COMFORT OF CHRIST’ S RESURRECTION,IN THE LIGHT OF THIS SERMON CHRIST PREACHED TO HIS DISCIPLES.
A. That This Benefit And Comfort Are The Chief Things In The Resurrection 3.
B. The Sermon, In Which This Benefit Isaiah Set Forth.
1. This is the first and the most comforting sermon Christ delivered after his resurrection 3-4.
2. The occasion on which Christ preached this sermon 5-6, 3. How Christ used an entirely new discourse in this sermon 7.
4. How and why it is very difficult for both the apostles and all believers to understand this sermon 8-10.
5. The contents of this sermon, which treat of the brotherhood of Christ. a. How and why we should thoroughly consider this brotherhood 11- 12. b. This brotherhood is unmerited grace
13. c. The exceeding greatness and honor of this brotherhood 14-17. d. How and why this brotherhood can never be sufficiently understood 17-18. e. How this brotherhood helps us to pray the Lord’s Prayer aright 18f. f. How this brotherhood should give us true comfort in the time of temptation 19-23. g. How and why one should exercise himself thoroughly to understand this brotherhood 24-28. h . That it is the greatest sin to neglect this brotherhood through unbelief 29-30. i. How and by what means God chastises those who slight this brotherhood 31. k. How the papists despise and deny this brotherhood 32-35. l. How Paul greatly praises the righteousness that springs from this brotherhood 85-87.
* Why believers still fear death and hell
* What we are to answer our opponents, when they make the charge that we know nothing to teach but faith 39.
I. THE STORY OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION.
1. This Gospel lesson is part of the general account and the first announcement of the resurrection of Christ, which was made by the angel to the women who went early to the tomb to anoint the dead body of the Lord, before Christ showed himself to them and talked with them; inasmuch as he wanted to reveal his resurrection through the Word, even before they should see him and experience the power of his resurrection.
2. And as we said there are two ways of considering Christ’s passion and death and the other doctrines of Christ, so there are also two things concerning the Lord’s resurrection that we ought to know and understand.
First, the history which relates the events as they occurred, together with the different circumstances and how he revealed himself alive in various manifestations; so that we might have a sure record and testimony of everything as a foundation and support of our faith, inasmuch as this article of faith on the resurrection is the chief one upon which our salvation is finally based, and without which all others would be useless and altogether fruitless.
Now, what a person ought to know about the historical events, namely in what order these two events, the appearance of the angel — which is reported in part in this Gospel — and the manifestation of the Lord occurred, that should be discussed in connection with the full account, compiled and arranged in order from all the Evangelists; therefore, we will treat the part mentioned in this Gospel in connection with that account.
II. THE BENEFIT AND COMFORT OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION.
3. The second point, that is more important and necessary, and on account of which the narrative has been recorded and is preached, is the power, benefit and comfort of the joyous resurrection of the Lord; and the use we are to make of the same faith. Concerning this Paul and all the apostles and the entire Scriptures teach and preach gloriously and richly; but most gloriously of all did Christ the Lord himself preach, when he manifested himself first of all to the women. Therefore, in order that we too may hear and gather something useful from it, let us consider the words Christ spoke unto Mary Magdalene, as recorded in the Gospel according to John 20:17: “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father; but go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.”
4. This is the first sermon our Lord delivered after his resurrection and, without doubt, also the most comforting; although in words very brief, but exceedingly kind and tender, and spoken first of all to his beloved Mary Magdalene, and through her also to his disciples after their deep woe, grief and sorrow, caused by his departure and death, that he might comfort and gladden them by his resurrection. And since this Mary is far more deeply and tenderly concerned about the Lord than the others, and is first at the grave to anoint the body of Christ with costly spices; and especially because, when she fails to find him, she is frightened and bewildered, deeply troubled and in tears, supposing him to have been taken away; therefore, he permits her to enjoy this evidence of his love, in that he appears first of all to her, comforting her in her fears, and preaching this beautiful sermon, which we will now consider.
5. In the first place, when Jesus manifests himself to her not far from the tomb, before he speaks to her, she mistakes him for the gardener; but when he calls her by name and says “Mary,” she immediately recognizes the voice, and at once turns with that name upon her lips by which she as well as the other disciples had been accustomed to address him in their language, namely “Rabboni,” that is: O dear Master, or dear Lord, for they would say Master, whereas we generally say, My Lord, and immediately, as she was accustomed to do, she falls at his feet to touch him. But he restrains her and says: “Touch me not,” as though he meant to say: I know indeed that thou lovest me, but thou canst not yet rightly look upon nor touch me, as thou shouldest look upon and touch me.
For her joy is no higher or greater than the mere bodily, fleshly pleasure of having her Lord alive again as she had him before; clinging thus only to the fact of his return, and thinking that he will again be with them as he had been before, to eat and drink with them, to preach and do miracles; intending therefore, by her service and by touching his feet, to show him that love she had shown him before, when she anointed him both in life and in death.
6. He does not permit himself to be touched in this manner now, however, because he wants her to stand still and listen, and learn what as yet she knows not; namely, that he refuses to be touched and anointed or to be served and waited upon, as she had done heretofore; but he says ‘ I will tell thee something different and new’ I am not risen in order to walk and remain with you bodily and temporally, but that I may ascend to my Father; hence I do not need or desire such service and attention, nor will it do to look upon me as you look upon Lazarus and others, still living in the body.
For it is not here that I intend to dwell and abide; but I would have you believe that I go to the Father, where I will rule and reign with him eternally, and whither I will also bring you out of your death and sorrow.
There you shall have me visibly and tangibly with you indeed, and you shall rejoice forever in eternal communion with me and the Father.
Therefore, he wishes to say: Refrain henceforth from all such bodily service and reverence, and go rather and become a messenger, and proclaim what I tell thee unto my dear brethren, that I will no more be and abide here in bodily form, but that I have left this mortal state to enter upon a different existence, where ye may no more handle and touch me, but shall know and possess me only in faith.
7. Here he uses language entirely new, when he says: “Go and tell my brethren,” taken from Psalm 22:22, which treats entirely of Christ, and in which he speaks both of his passion and resurrection, saying: “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, etc.” Never had he spoken in this manner to his apostles before. For at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, he indeed calls them his “dear children” and his “friends,” John 13:33; John 15:14; but now he employs the most affectionate and glorious name possible and calls them his “brethren.” And it is of great importance to him; for he does not delay, but as soon as he is risen, his first concern is to have them told what he intends to do and why he is risen from the dead.
8. And, indeed, this is said in a manner that is lovely and sweet beyond all measure, so that whoever desires to believe, has reason enough to believe, all his life and as long as the world endures, that these things are true indeed; even as the dear apostles themselves had found in them encouragement enough, and more than enough, to believe. For the comfort is too great and the joy too glorious, and the heart of man too small and narrow to have attained it.
9. The Apostles crouched behind barred doors, not only discouraged and cowed, as sheep that are scattered without a shepherd, but also troubled in conscience. Peter had denied and renounced his Lord with an oath, and cursed himself; and the others had all fled and proved themselves to be disloyal. That was indeed a fall so deep and terrible that they might well think they would never be forgiven for denying the Son of God, and so shamefully forsaking their dear Lord and faithful Savior. How could it have ever entered their hearts that Christ would send such an affectionate greeting and such a kind good-morning to them who had been so disloyal and denied him, and would not only forgive everything, but also call them his dear brethren? Or who can believe and grasp it today? I myself would like to believe it at times, but I cannot get it into my heart so completely that I dare rely upon it wholly, and dare count it to be really true. Yea, if we only could, we would be in heavenly bliss already in this life, and would fear neither death, nor the devil, nor the world, but our hearts would constantly bound for joy, and sing to God an eternal Te Deum Laudamus, i.e. We praise thee, O God.
10. But alas, this is not the case upon earth; our miserable beggar’s bag, this old hide of ours, is too cramped. Therefore, the Holy Spirit must come to our rescue, not only to preach the Word to us, but also to enlarge and impel us from within, yea, even to employ the devil, the world and all kinds of afflictions and persecutions to this end. Just as a pig’s bladder must be rubbed with salt and thoroughly worked to distend it, so this old hide of ours must be well salted and plagued until we call for help and cry aloud, and so stretch and expand ourselves, both through internal and through external suffering, that we may finally succeed and attain this heart and cheer, joy and consolation, from Christ’s resurrection.
11. For, let us consider for a moment what manner of words these are, which Christ here uses; and let us not pass lightly over them, as has been done heretofore, and is still done in all popedom, where we have read, heard and sung them until we are weary; and nevertheless we have passed over them, as a cow walks by a sanctuary; so that it is a sin and a shame to have heard and known such words, and still to let them lie, cold and dead, outside of the heart, as if they were spoken and written altogether for naught; and that even Christians themselves, though they do not despise them as others do but use them daily, neither appreciate them as highly nor believe them as firmly as they would like to do.
12. For consider, I say, what these words contain and offer: Go my dear sister, for thus he would undoubtedly address these women, since he appeared unto them first, and tell the denying and disloyal disciples that they are called, and shall be, my dear brethren. Isaiah not this, in a word, including and placing us with Christ into the complete tenure and inheritance of heaven and of everything Christ has? Rich and blessed indeed must be the brethren and sisters who can boast of this Brother, not hanging now upon the cross, nor lying in the grave under the power of death, but a mighty Lord over sin, death, hell and the devil.
13. But how have these poor, frightened and discouraged disciples come to such honor and grace, and wherein have they deserved such brotherhood?
Was it by Peter’s shameful denial of Christ, and by the disloyalty of all the others to him? And how have I and others deserved it to apply this also to ourselves? I, who have read the idolatrous mass for fifteen years blaspheming God and helping daily to crucify Christ afresh? Fine merit this, forsooth, riding to hell in the devil’s service and looking to other brotherhoods, — those of the devil and his clique, bearing the names of dead saints, St. Anthony, St. Francis, St. Sebastian, St. Christopher, St.
George, St. Ann, St. Barbara, concerning some of whom it is not known whether they were saintly, yea, whether they ever lived at all. Fie! what a sin and shame for us, who are called Christians, to have had this brotherhood of Christ the Lord, so graciously offered us, and then to despise and reject it, and fall into such deep blindness as to have ourselves inscribed in the rascally brotherhood of the shameful monks and of the whole herd of the pope, and to preach about and praise this as though it were a precious thing indeed!
But that is what the world deserves. Why did we not appreciate the Word of God that was written, painted, played, sung and rung before our eyes and ears? And even now, that the Word of God itself points this out, and rebukes us, we cease not to blaspheme and to persecute; whereas we ought to thank and praise God for having so graciously delivered us, without, and contrary to, any merit of our own from such blindness and blasphemy, and for having vouchsafed unto us grace to recognize it.
14. Now let him who can believe it. For whether we believe it or not, it is the truth none the less. This brotherhood is founded among us, and is not such a brotherhood as our loose Kaland, and the brotherhood of the monks, but it is that of Christ, wherein God is our Father and his own Son our brother, and where such inheritance is bestowed upon us as assures not merely a hundred thousand dollars, one or more kingdoms, but in which we are redeemed from the fellowship of the devil, from sin and death, and obtain the inheritance and possession of eternal life and eternal righteousness; and though we were once in sin, worthy of death and eternal damnation, and are so even now, we should know that this brotherhood is greater, mightier, stronger and superior to. the devil, sin and all things. We are not fallen so deeply’, and things are not so bad and ruined that this brotherhood cannot arrange and fully restore everything again, inasmuch as it is eternal, infinite and inexhaustible.
15. For who is he that has instituted this brotherhood? The only Son of God and almighty Lord of all creatures, so that on his own account he did not need to endure suffering or death. But I have done all this, he tells us, for your sake, as your dear Brother, who could not bear to see, that you, eternally separated from God by the devil, sin and death, should so miserably perish; hence I stepped into your place and took your misery upon myself, gave my body and life for you that you might be delivered; and I have risen again to proclaim and impart this deliverance and victory to you, and receive you into my brotherhood, that you might possess and enjoy with me all that I have and hold.
16. Thus you see, it is not enough for Christ that the historical fact has occurred, and that as far as he is concerned everything is accomplished; he infuses it into us and creates a brotherhood from it, so that it may become the common possession and inheritance of us all; he does not place it in praedicamento absoluto, but relationis, namely, he has done this, not for himself personally nor for his own sake, but as our Brother and alone for our good. And he does not want to be considered and known otherwise than as being ours with all these blessings, and that we, on the other hand, are his; and that we are therefore so closely united that we could not be more intimately related, having a common Father, enjoying an equal, common and undivided estate, and authorized to use all his power, honor and estate, to boast of it, and to comfort ourselves with it, as though it were our own.
17. Who can fully, comprehend this? and what heart can sufficiently believe that the Lord is so completely ours? For, indeed, it is a thing too great and unspeakable, that we poor, miserable children of Adam, born and grown old in sin, are to be the real brethren of supreme Majesty, joint-heirs and joint-rulers in eternal life; as St. Paul so gloriously declares, Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7: “And if children then heirs, heirs of God, and jointheirs with Christ, etc.” For all this follows in order: if we are called the children of God, then we must truly be also his heirs, and brethren and joint-heirs of Christ the Lord, who is the only essential Son of God.
18. Hence, let him who can learn rightly to begin to pray the Lord’s Prayer; and to know what it signifies for me to call God my Father, and for me most truly and fully to regard and consider myself his dear child and the brother of Christ the Lord, who has shared with me everything that he has and placed me in possession of his eternal treasures. Here examine and ask your own heart, whether without doubt and wavering you can thus say from the bottom of your heart: “Our Father;” whether you are firmly grounded upon and can be assured before God: I consider myself thy dear child, and thee my dear Father, not because I have merited it, or could ever merit it, but because my dear Lord wants to be my Brother, and of his own accord has proclaimed it and invited me to regard him as my Brother, and has said that he would also regard me as such.
Only begin this, I say, and see how you will succeed in the task; and you will soon discover what an unbelieving knave is hidden in your bosom, and that your heart is too dull to believe it. O, I am such a poor sinner, nature exclaims, how dare I exalt myself so highly, seat myself in heaven and boast that Christ is mine, and I am his brother! For this greatness and glory is so exceedingly high, beyond all human sense, heart and thought, that we cannot comprehend it; even as Paul himself also confesses in Philippians 3:12, that he is pressing on to. lay hold of it, but has not yet attained it.
Yea, man is astounded and terrified at himself for presuming to receive and boast of such honor and glory.
19. But, what shall we do? We must indeed say, and it is true, that we are poor sinners, and with St. Peter, we have denied our Lord (I especially above others). But what shall we do about it? It is enough and more than enough that which I did against him in falling away from him and making myself a knave. Should I, in addition, make him a liar and a knave, and deny this comforting proclamation, and blaspheme? God forbid!
20. Yea, says the devil, through my flesh thou art not worthy of this. Alas, it is true; but if I would not believe and accept it, I would have to, make my Lord a liar, and declare that it is not true when he tells me that he is my Brother. God forbid that I should do this, for that would be rejecting my God and all my salvation and eternal blessedness, and to trample it under foot.
21. This, therefore, will I say: I know very well that I am an unworthy being, worthy to be the brother of the devil, not of Christ and his saints; but now Christ has said that I, for whom he died and rose again, as well as for St. Peter, who like myself was a sinner, am his brother; and he earnestly would have me to believe him, without doubt and wavering, and would not have me consider that I am unworthy and full of sin, because he himself will not so consider nor remember it, as indeed he well might do, having abundant cause to repay his followers and visit upon them what they committed against him. But it is all forgotten and blotted out of his heart; yea, he has slain, covered and buried it; and he knows nothing to say of them now but that which is kind and good, and he greets them and addresses them affectionately as his faithful, dearest friends and pious children, as though they had not done any wrong, nor grieved him, but had done only good to him; so that their hearts may not be uneasy or worried with the thought that he would remember it and charge it against or visit it upon them. Since then he does not want it remembered, but wants it slain and buried, why ,should not I leave it at that, and thank, praise and love my dear Lord with my whole heart, for being so gracious and merciful? Even though I am laden with sin, why should I go on and brand as a falsehood this gracious Word, which I hear himself speak; and willfully reject the proffered brotherhood? If I do not believe it, I will not receive its benefits; but that neither renders it false nor proves that anything is lacking in Christ.
22. If anyone now desires to load himself down with new sins, and does not want forgotten what he has forgotten, let him then so sin that it never will be forgotten, and he never can be helped; as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Hebrews 4:4-6, and Hebrews 10:26, concerning those who have sinned by falling away from God’s Word and rebuking it as a lie.
This is the sin against the Holy Ghost and is described as crucifying the Son of God afresh and putting the Spirit of grace to an open shame. From this may God protect all who desire to be Christians!
Alas, there is too much of the old blindness and folly, in which we have been enveloped hitherto. This ought to perish and be forgotten, now that we have become his brethren, if we only accept it. If we cannot believe as firmly as we ought, let us begin, like young children, to drink at least a little spoonful of this milk, until we become stronger, and not thrust it from us altogether.
23. Therefore, though your own unworthiness rebukes you, when you engage in prayer, and though you think: Alas, my sins are too many, and I am afraid that I cannot be Christ’s brother, strike out about you and defend yourself as best you can, that such thoughts may find no room in your mind. For here you are in great danger of committing the sin against the Holy Ghost. With all confidence and boldness reply to such thoughts of the devil: I know very well what I am, and you need not tell nor teach me, for it is not your business to judge this case; therefore, away, thou lying spirit!
I will not and must not listen to thee. Here is my Lord Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, who died for me and rose again from the dead; he tells me that all my sins are forgotten, and that he will be my Brother, and that I likewise am to be his brother; and it is his will that I should believe this from my heart without wavering.
24. A knave and a villain, yea, a brother of the wretched devil himself must he be who would not accept this. Though I be not worthy of it, yet am I in great need of it; and even if that were not so, God at least is worthy that I should honor him and judge him to be the true God. But should I not believe, I would, in addition to all other sins, in this worst possible way heap dishonor upon him in violation of the first commandment, in making him a liar and a vain God. What greater wickedness and blasphemy has any man ever heard or proclaimed?
Much rather do thus: When you feel that it is too hard for you to believe, fall down upon your knees and complain to God of your inability; and say with the apostles: “O, Lord, increase our faith.” Luke 17:57. I would at heart gladly count thee my dearest Father, and Christ my Brother, but my flesh, alas, will not submit; therefore help my unbelief that I may honor thy name and hold thy Word to be true.
25. See, in this way you will yourself experience what a great conflict it requires to believe God’s Word and to pray the Lord’s Prayer aright; not as though this Word in itself were not sure, steadfast and strong enough, but that we are so weak, yea, so much like wretched, unstable mercury that we cannot hold fast that which is well worthy of being held with hands and hearts of steel and adamant.
26. Formerly, when we were led astray and cheated with lies and false worship, we could hold fast and comfort ourselves with firm, though false, faith in all the saints and the brotherhoods of the monks; and joyfully said:
Help, dear lord St. George, or St. Anthony, and St. Francis, and let me enjoy the benefit of thy intercessions! There was no doubting or opposition then; this occupation was agreeable to us, and we had fists and strength of iron to believe. But here where Christ, the Truth itself, offers us his fellowship, even invites and urges us in the most affectionate manner, saying: Beloved, receive me as your Brother, he cannot succeed in leading us to believe and accept it. So mightily do the flesh and the devil resist and oppose it.
27. Therefore, I say, it is best for each one, when he goes into his closet and begins to pray, to make an effort to understand what he is saying, and properly to weigh two words, “Our Father.” For example: My friend, what are you praying? How does your heart respond? Do you truly regard God as your Father, and yourself as his dear child? No, indeed, says the heart, I do not know; how can I presume to ascribe a thing so great and glorious to myself? Then why do you not refrain from prayer, when with your lips you call God your Father, while your heart gives the lie to yourself and to him as he has revealed himself in his Word? Rather, confess your weakness and say: I indeed call thee my Father, and ought to call thee so, according to thy Word and command; but I am afraid that my heart is lying like a knave.
And the worst of it is, not that I myself alone am lying; but that I accuse thee also of falsehood. Help me, dear Lord and Father, that I may not make thee a liar; for I can not become a liar myself without first having made thee one.
28. Therefore, though I realize and experience, alas, that I cannot say “Our Father” with my whole heart, as indeed no man on earth fully can, else we would already be in heavenly blessedness, yet will I make an attempt and begin, as a little child begins to nurse at its mother’s breast. If I cannot believe it fully, yet will not I count it a falsehood, nor say, nay. Though I cannot play the game as is proper, I will beware lest I play in opposition as the monks and the despairing hearts do, who fail to regard Christ as their Brother, but as an enemy and a taskmaster; for that would be turning him into the very devil. But I would daily spell at the letters, until I am able to repeat “Our Father” and this Sermon of Christ as well or as poorly as I may. God grant that though I stammer and stutter or lisp, I may to some degree at least accomplish it.
29. For, as already stated, this is the sin of all sins, that when God is gracious and wants all our sins forgiven, man by his unbelief rejects God’s truth and grace, and casts it away from him, and will not let the death and resurrection of Christ the Lord avail. For, indeed, I cannot say that this brotherhood, which brings us forgiveness of sins and every blessing, is my work and doings, or that of any man, or that anybody labored or sought for it. For this resurrection occurred and was accomplished before any man knew aught about it; and that it is proclaimed and preached to us is likewise not done through the word of man but by that of God; wherefore it cannot fail or lie. Since then it is solely the truth and work of God, it behooves us, under penalty of God’s extreme wrath and displeasure, to accept it as coming from God, and to hold it fast by faith, so that we may not fall into the sin that is unpardonable.
30. For whatever other sins there are, contrary to God’s command and Law, which consist of all that we are to do and that God demands of us, these are all covered by forgiveness, since we are never entirely free from them during our whole life; and if God were to reckon with us according to our life and conduct, we could never be saved. But he who will not believe the Word of Christ nor accept his work, sins a hundred thousand times more; for he strives against grace, and robs himself of forgiveness. For it is grace that saith: The law shall not hurt nor condemn thee, although thou hast sinned against it exceedingly, but these sins shall all be forgiven and taken away by Christ; since that is why he (lied for thee and rose again, and now presents all this to thee, through this proclamation of his brotherhood.
Now if you will not believe nor accept this, but stubbornly set your head against it, and say: I want no grace, what will then help you? Or what will you seek further, to obtain forgiveness and be saved? Yea, I will be a Carthusian friar, go barefooted to Rome and buy an indulgence, etc. Very well, go ahead as you will, not in God’s, but in the wretched devil’s name; for by this you have denied not only grace, but also the law, and are fallen from God completely, inasmuch as you seek such works and holiness as are not commanded by God, yea, are even forbidden.
31. Should not God be angry and punish us for daily babbling, singing and reading the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed without understanding, faith and heart, and for thinking nothing not only of Christ, but also of God’s Law; boasting instead and bringing before God only our own efforts and false spirituality, over and above and opposed to his grace and command, expecting thereby to reconcile him and earn heaven from him? This is what we deserve for despising God’s Word and this glorious, comforting proclamation of Christ; to. be shamefully blinded and cheated by the devil, and punished and plagued by the pope; as though God thereby said: Very well, if you will not have my Son as your Brother, and me for your dear Father, then take the pope with his monks, who point you away from the Gospel, the Creed and the Ten Commandments, to their shabby, stinking cowls and the devil’s brotherhood.
32. For since they did not want Christ to be and remain our Brother without our merit and worthiness, and to bring us God’s grace and forgiveness of sin; what is this but really and actually denying faith in God and his Son, as St. Paul says, Titus 1:16, even though they confess him with their lips? Just as I too did in my former blindness, when I helped to sing and read these words with others, and yet thought far more highly of my monkery and my own works.
For if I had accepted as true and certain what St. Paul says in Romans 4:25 that Christ died for our sins and was raised again for our justification, in order that we might become his brethren, then I would thereby have learned that my own works and my monk’s hood could not obtain this for me. Otherwise what need would there have been for Christ to go and take my sins and the wrath of God upon himself in his cross and death, and by his resurrection to place me into the inheritance of the forgiveness of sins, of eternal salvation and glory?
33. But now, inasmuch as they cling to their monkery, and seek God’s grace by their own merits, desiring thereby to get rid of and atone for their sins, they bear witness against themselves that they do not believe what they say with their lips: I believe in Jesus Christ who died for me and rose again, etc.; but they believe, on the contrary, in the cowl and cord of the barefooted monks, in St. Ann, St. Anthony, and in the devil (pardon me), in his rump. Because it is impossible for one who knows Christ in this brotherhood to be engaged in such follies as are taught and observed no.t only without faith and contrary to it, but also contrary to the commandments, and which are real diabolical sins, the sins of all sins.
34. Therefore, in opposition to all this, a Christian ought to acquire the custom of praying the Lord’s Prayer, firmly crossing himself and saying in thought: Keep me, dear Lord, from the sin against the Holy Ghost, that I may no.t fall from faith and thy Word, and may not become a Turk, a Jew or a monk and a papal saint, who believe and live contrary to this brotherhood; but that I may hold fast to a little fringe of the garment of this brotherhood. Let it be sufficient that we have believed and lived contrary to it so long; now it is time to pray God to make this faith sure and steadfast in us.
For if we have this faith, then are we healed and delivered from sin, death and hell, and are able to try all other spirits, to discern and reject all error, deception, and false faith, and to pronounce the sentence: He who dons the cowl and shaves his head in order to become holy, or joins the brotherhood of monks, is a mad, senseless fool, yea, a blind, miserable, unhappy and despairing creature; he who tortures himself with much fasting and castigation, like the Carthusian friars or Turkish saints, is already separated from God and Christ and condemned to hell.
For all this is nothing but blasphemy and contradiction of the blessed heavenly brotherhood of Christ. They may indeed pray and read a great deal about it, as Isaiah 29:13 says: “This people draweth nigh to me with their lips,” cometh before my face in the churches: with singing and ringing, “but their hearts are far from me.” What pleasure, think you, can he have in such saints, who outwardly act as though they were real children of God, reading and singing the Gospel, employing the most beautiful words and celebrating a glorious Easter festival in processions, with banners and candles, and yet, do not try to understand or believe it, but rather oppose it by their doctrine and life ?
35. For if they understood and believed it, they would not cling to their mockery and vanities, but would forthwith trample their cowls and cords under foot, and say: Fie upon this shameful brotherhood! To the wretched devil with it, for opposing the brotherhood taught me by the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer! For it is not worthy of notice or attention.
Thus Paul in Philippians 3:5, pronounces judgment upon his own holy life in Judaism: I was, says he, a pious, blameless man, not only in my own vain estimation, but according to the law of Moses; but when I learned to know Christ, I counted all my righteousness under the law loss, yea, not only loss, but I counted it refuse and filth. I indeed thought I was a great saint, that I had kept the law strictly and with all diligence, and counted this my highest treasure and greatest gain; but when I heard of this brotherhood and inheritance of the Lord Jesus Christ, O how my pride and the boast of my own righteousness left me so completely that I now shudder at it, and do not even want to think of it.
36. See, he extols the righteousness this brotherhood brings us in such a way that he belittles and thoroughly despises the life and the holiness of all men even when it is at its best according to the law of God, which law must indeed be kept, and than which there is verily nothing more praiseworthy and better on earth. And yet, because it still is our own effort and life, it cannot and shall not have the honor and glory of making us God’s children, and of acquiring the forgiveness of sins and eternal life; but this is effected when you hear the word of Christ, saying: Good-morning, my dear brother; in me thy sin and death are overcome, for all I have done, I have done for thee, etc.
37. This is the ground of St. Paul’s defiance of sin and death: “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55 and Hosea 13:14. As though he wished to say: In times past you were mighty, terrible foes, before whom all men, no matter how holy and pious, had to tremble and despair; but where are you now? How did I lose you so completely? Why, he replies, everything is swallowed up and completely drowned in a victory. But where is the victory, or whose is the victory? “Thanks be to God”, he replies in verse 51, “who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
38. This indeed is glorious and great boldness, possible, however, for such faith alone as that of St. Paul; yet which, as he himself laments, was not as strong as he desired it to be; still, he certainly had it, and was able to maintain it against the wrath and power of the devil. That we are not able to do likewise and are still so fearful and terrified at death and hell, is an evidence that we still have too little faith. Therefore we have the more reason to impel us to call upon God and pray and also to ask the supplications of our brethren to that end, and daily to work the Word into our hearts, until we too, in some degree, obtain this assurance.
39. Let our adversaries laugh us to scorn and derisively say that we know how to teach nothing but faith, and let them cry that we must rise far higher and do far more. But if we only had faith enough, we would soon attend to everything else. For the chief and most necessary thing, of which they know nothing, is, how to get rid of the terror of sin, death and hell, and how to acquire a peaceful conscience before God, so that we may be able truly and heartily to pray “Our Father.” Where this has not been found everything else is in vain, though we should torture ourselves to death with our works. But since everybody comes short in this respect, we need not be ashamed of learning and being concerned about these things daily, as we are about our daily bread, and in addition we should ask God to give us power and strength. Amen.
SECOND SERMON. MARK 16:1-8.
This sermon is also not found in edition c.
German text: Erlangen edition vol. II, 213; Walch edition vol. II, 849; St.
Louis edition vol. II, 622.
OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION.
I. IF CONSIDERED AS TO ITS HISTORICAL FACTS,THEN NOTE:
1. The time of the resurrection of Christ 1-3.
* Why Christ did not remain longer than three days In the grave
2. The knightly courage of the women, who appeared at Christ’s grave after his resurrection. a. This heroic courage in itself 4. b. Its spiritual meaning 5.
II. IF CONSIDERED AS TO ITS BENEFITS AND FRUITS,THEN NOTE:
1. The nature of this fruit and benefit 6-7f.
2. How we become partakers of this fruit 8-10.
3. An admonition to understand and profess the fruit 11.
4. An objection that is made to this fruit; and the answer. a. The objection 12. b. The answer 13-17.
I. THE STORY OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION.
1. In the first place we shall briefly examine the text of this narrative, and afterwards speak of the benefits of the resurrection of Christ, and how we should build upon it. The text reads: “And when the sabbath was past.”
Here we must remember Mark writes of the sabbath according to the custom of the Hebrews, for according to the Jewish reckoning the day began in the evening and lasted until the evening of the next day, as the first chapter of Genesis says: “And there was evening and there was morning, one day,” “a second day,” “a third day,” and so forth. Thus the first and greatest sabbath began on the evening of the day when Christ was crucified, that is to say at the time of sunset on the evening of Friday. Our reckoning conveys the wrong sense. Yesterday was the great sabbath, when Christ lay in the grave; in addition to this the Jews had seven full days which they celebrated and all of which they called sabbaths, counting them from the first holiday after the great sabbath and calling it prima sabbathorum (first of the sabbaths), and the third holiday secundam sabbathorum (second of the sabbaths), and so forth. On these days they ate only wafers and unleavened bread, for which reason they are also called by the Evangelist the days of unleavened bread. From this we must conclude that Christ rose before sunrise and before the angel descended in the earthquake. Afterwards the angel only came to open the empty grave, etc., as has been clearly described by the Evangelists.
2. The question now arises: How can we say that he rose on the third day, since he lay in the grave only one day and two nights? According to the Jewish calculation it was only a day and a half; how shall we then persist in believing there were three days? To this we reply that he was in the state of death for at least a part of all three days. For he died at about two o’clock on Friday and consequently was dead for about two hours on the first day.
After that night he lay in the grave all day, which is the true sabbath. On the third day, which we commemorate now, he rose from the dead and so remained in the state of death a part of this day, just as if we say that something occurred on Easter-day, although it happens in the evening, only a portion of the day. In this sense Paul and the Evangelists say that he rose on the third day.
3. For this period and no longer Christ was to lie in the grave, so that we might suppose that his body remained naturally uncorrupted and that decomposition had not yet set in. He came forth from the grave so soon that we might presume that corruption had not yet taken place according to the course of nature; for a corpse can lie no longer than three days before it begins to decompose. Therefore Christ was to rise on the third day, before he saw corruption.
4. The great longing and love of the women for the Lord must also be particularly noted here, so that unadvised and alone they go early to the grave, not thinking of the great stone which was rolled before the tomb.
They might have thought of this and taken a man with them. But they act like timid and sorrowing persons, and therefore they go on their way without even thinking of the most necessary things. They do not even think of the watchers who were clad in armor, nor of the wrath of Pilate and the Jews, but boldly they freely risk it and alone they venture on their way.
What urged these good women to hazard life and body? It was nothing but the great love they bore to the Lord, which had sunk so deeply into their hearts that for his sake they would have risked a thousand lives. Such courage they had not of themselves, but here the power of the resurrection of Christ was revealed, whose Spirit makes these women, who by nature are timid, so bold and courageous that they venture to do things which might have daunted a man.
5. These women also show us a beautiful example of a spiritual heart that undertakes an impossible task, of which the whole world would despair.
Yet a heart like this stands firm and accomplishes it, not thinking the task impossible. So much we say for the present on this narrative, and now let us see what are the fruits and benefits of the resurrection of Christ.
II. THE FRUITS AND BENEFITS OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
6. St. Paul writes in Romans 4:25 as follows: “Christ was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.” Paul is indeed the man who extols Christ in a masterly manner, telling us exactly why and for what purpose he suffered and how we should conform ourselves to his sufferings, namely, that he died for our sins. This is a correct interpretation of the sufferings of Christ, by which we may profit. And as it is not sufficient to know and believe that Christ has died, so it will not suffice to know and believe that he rose with a transfigured body and is now in a state of joy and blessedness, no longer subject to mortality, for all this would profit me nothing or very little. But when I come to understand the fact that all the works God does in Christ are done for me, nay, they are bestowed upon and given to me, the effect of his resurrection being that I also will arise and live with him; that will cause me to rejoice. This must be brought home to our hearts, and we must not merely hear it with the ears of our body nor merely confess it with our mouth.
7. You have heard in the story of the Passion how Christ is portrayed as our exemplar and helper, and that he who follows him and clings to him receives the Spirit, who will enable him also to suffer. But the words of Paul are more Christian and should come closer home to our hearts and comfort us more, when he says: “Christ was raised for our justification.”
Here the Lamb is truly revealed, of whom John the Baptist testifies, when he says in John 1:29: “Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” Here is fulfilled that which was spoken to the serpent: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head,” which means that for all those who believe in him, hell, death, and the devil and sin have been destroyed. In the same manner the promise is fulfilled to-day which God gave to Abraham, when he said in Genesis 22:18: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Here Christ is meant, who takes away our curse and the power of sin, death and the devil.
8. All this is done, I say, by faith. For if you believe that by this seed the serpent has been slain, then it is slain for you; and if you believe that in this seed all nations are to be blessed, then you are also blessed. For each one individually should have crushed the serpent under foot and redeemed himself from the curse, which would have been too difficult, nay impossible for us. But now it has been done easily, namely, by Christ, who has crushed the serpent once, who alone is given as a blessing and benediction, and who has caused this Gospel to be published throughout the world, so that he who believes, accepts it and clings to it, is also in possession of it, and is assured that it is as he believes. For in the heart of such a man the Word becomes so powerful that he will conquer death, the devil, sin and all adversity, like Christ himself did. So mighty is the Word that God himself would sooner be vanquished than that his Word should be conquered.
9. This is the meaning of the words by St. Paul: “Christ was raised for our justification.” Here Paul turns my eyes away from my sins and directs them to Christ, for if I look at my sins, they will destroy me. Therefore I must look unto Christ who has taken my sins upon himself, crushed the head of the serpent and become the blessing. Now they no longer burden my conscience, but rest upon Christ, whom they desire to destroy. Let us see how they treat him. They hurl him to the ground and kill him. O God; where is now my Christ and my Savior? But then God appears, delivers Christ and makes him alive; and not only does he make him alive, but he translates him into heaven and lets him rule over all. What has now become of sin. There it lies under his feet. If I then cling to this, I have a cheerful conscience like Christ, because I am without sin. Now I can defy death, the devil, sin and hell to do me any harm. As I am a child of Adam, they can indeed accomplish it that I must die. But since Christ has taken my sins upon himself, has died for them, has suffered himself to be slain on account of my sins, they can no longer harm me; for Christ is too strong for them, they cannot keep him, he breaks forth and overpowers them, ascends into heaven (takes sin and sorrow captive, Ed. 1531), and rules there over all throughout eternity. Now I have a clear conscience, am joyful and happy and am no longer afraid of this tyrant, for Christ has taken my sins away from me and made them his own. But they cannot remain upon him; what then becomes of them? They must disappear and be destroyed. This then is the effect of faith. He who believes that Christ has taken away our sin, is without sin, like Christ himself, and death, the devil and hell are vanquished as far as he is concerned and they can no longer harm him.
10. Here we also refer to the passage in Hosea 13:14, which Paul quotes in reference to the victory that Christ has won by his resurrection and by which he has conquered sin, death, hell and all our enemies. Paul says that death is swallowed up in this victory, and he defies death with these words: “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?”
Just as if Paul would say: O death, where are thy teeth? Come, bite off one of my fingers. Thou formerly hadst a spear, what has become of it now?
Christ has taken it from thee. Death, where is now thy spear, etc.? Sin, where is now the edge of thy sword and thy power? Paul says that the power of sin is the law. The more clearly we understand the law, the more sin oppresses and stings us. For this reason Paul says that Christ has completely destroyed and annihilated the spear and whetstone of death.
Now, this Gospel he has not taken with him into heaven, but he caused it to be preached throughout the world, so that for him who believes in Christ, spear and whetstone, nay, sin and death, should be destroyed. This is the true Gospel, which bestows life, strength, power and marrow, and of which all the passages of Scripture speak.
11. Therefore seek and learn to know Christ aright, for the whole Scriptures confer upon us the righteousness of the true knowledge of Christ. But this must be brought about by the Holy Spirit. Let us therefore pray God that his Gospel may prosper, that we all may truly learn to know Christ and thus rise with him and be honored by God as he was honored.
12. The question now arises: If Christ has taken away death and our sins by his resurrection and has justified us, why do we then still feel death and sin within us? For our sins torment us still, we are stung by our conscience, and this evil conscience creates the fear of hell.
13. To this I reply: I have often said before that feeling and faith are two different things. It is the nature of faith not to feel, to lay aside reason and close the eyes, to submit absolutely to the Word, and follow it in life and death. Feeling however does not extend beyond that which may be apprehended by reason and the senses, which may be heard, seen, felt and known by the outward senses. For this cause feeling is opposed to faith and faith is opposed to feeling. Therefore the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews writes of faith: “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.” For if we would see Christ visibly in heaven, like the visible sun, we would not need to believe it. But since Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification, we cannot see it nor feel it, neither can we comprehend it with our reason. Therefore we must disregard our feeling and accept only the Word, write it into our heart and cling to it, even though it seems as if my sins were not taken from me, and even though I still feel them within me. Our feelings must not be considered, but we must constantly insist that death, sin and hell have been conquered, although I feel that I am still under the power of death, sin and hell. For although we feel that sin is still in us, it is only permitted that our faith may be developed and strengthened, that in spite of all our feelings we accept the Word, and that we unite our hearts and consciences more and more to Christ. Thus faith leads us quietly, contrary to all feeling and comprehension of reason, through sin, through death and through hell.
Then we shall see salvation before our eyes, and then we shall know perfectly what we have believed, namely, that death and all sorrow have been conquered.
14. Take as an illustration the fish in the water. When they are caught in the net, you lead it quietly along, so that they imagine they are still in the water; but when you draw them to the shore, they are exposed and begin to struggle, and then they first feel they are caught. Thus it also happens with souls that are caught with the Gospel, which Christ compares with a net, Matthew 13:47. When the heart has been conquered, the Word unites this poor heart to Christ and leads it gently and quietly from hell and from sin, although the soul still feels sin and imagines to be still under its power. Then a conflict begins, the feelings struggling against the Spirit and faith, and the Spirit and faith against our feelings; and the more faith increases, the more our feelings diminish, and vice versa. We have still sins within us, as for instance pride, avarice, anger and so forth, but only in order to lead us to faith, so that faith may increase from day to day, and the man become finally a thorough Christian and keep the true sabbath, consecrating himself to Christ entirely. Then the conscience must become calm and satisfied and all the surging waves of sin subside. For as upon the sea one billow follows and buffets the other, as though they would destroy the shore, yet they must disappear and destroy themselves, so also our sins strive against us and would fain bring us to despair, but finally they must desist, grow weary and disappear.
15. In the second place, death is still at our elbow. It also is to exercise the faith of him who believes that death has been killed and all his power taken away. Now, reason feels that death is still at our elbow and is continually troubling us. He who follows his feelings will perish, but he who clings to the Word with his heart will be delivered. Now, if the heart clings to the Word, reason will also follow; but if reason follows, everything will follow, desire and love and all that is in man. Yea, we desire that all may come to the point when they may consider death to be dead and powerless. But this cannot come to pass until the old man, that is the old Adam, be entirely destroyed, and meanwhile that process has been going on of which Christ speaks in Matthew 13:33, where he compares the kingdom of God to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal. For even if the kneading has begun, the meal is not yet thoroughly leavened. So, it is here. Although the heart clings to the belief that death and hell are destroyed, yet the leaven has not yet worked through it entirely. For it must penetrate and impregnate all the members of the body, until everything becomes leavened and pure, and there remains nothing but a pure faith. This will not be brought about before the old man is entirely destroyed; then all that is in man is Christlike from center to circumference.
16. These two things, sin and death, therefore remain with us to the end that we might cultivate and exercise our faith, in order that it may become more perfect in our heart from day to day and finally break forth, and all that we are, body and soul, become more Christlike. For when the heart clings to the Word, feelings and reasoning must fail. Then in the course of time the will also clings to the Word, and with the will everything else, our desire and love, till we surrender ourselves entirely to the Gospel, are renewed and leave the old sin behind. Then there comes a different light, different feelings, different seeing, different hearing, acting and speaking, and also a different outflow of good works. Now, our scholastics and papists have taught an external piety; they would command the eyes not to see, and the ears not to hear, and would put piety into our hearts from the outside. Ah, how far this is from the truth! But it comes in this way: When the heart and conscience cling to the Word in faith, they overflow in works, so that, when the heart is holy, all the members become holy, and good works follow naturally.
17. This is signified by the sabbath that was to be hallowed and on which the Lord lay quietly in the grave. It signifies that we should rest from all our works, should not stir, nay, should not allow any sin to stir within us, but we should firmly believe that death, hell, sin and the devil are destroyed by the death of Christ, and we are righteous, pious, holy and therefore contented, experiencing no longer any sin. Then all the members are calm and quiet, being convinced that sin and death are vanquished and prostrated. But this cannot be brought about, as I have said, until this impotent, wretched body and the old Adam are destroyed. Therefore it is indeed necessary that we are required to keep this sabbath. For as Christ lies in the grave on the sabbath, never feels nor moves, so it must be with us, as we have heard: Our feelings and actions must cease. And I say again that this cannot be accomplished before the old Adam is annihilated.
Nevertheless we still experience sin and death within us, wrestle with them and fight against them. You may tie a hog ever so well, but you cannot prevent it from grunting (until it is strangled and killed Ed. 1531). Thus it is with the sins in our flesh. As they are not yet entirely conquered and killed, they are still active, but when death comes, they must also die, and then we are perfect Christians and pure, but not before. This is the reason why we must die, namely, that we may be entirely freed from sin and death.
These words on the fruits of the resurrection of Christ may suffice for the present, and with them we will close. Let us pray God for grace that we may understand them and learn to know Christ aright.
THE RECEPTION OF THE HOLY SACRAMENT.
This sermon is not found in edition c. It appeared first in 1523 and in under the title: “The Rules and Instructions (Ordnung und Bericht)how those wishing to go to the Lord’s Supper should conduct themselves.
Issued first by Dr. Martin Luther, and to be observed with special diligence and earnestness. With two sermons on Christ’s resurrection, the chief article of our faith. Martin Luther, Wittenberg, 1525.”
German text: Erlangen edition vol. II, 197; Walch edition vol. II, 831; St.
Louis edition vol. II, 608.
OF THE HOLY SACRAMENT, AND OF CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION.
I. OF THE HOLY SACRAMENT.
1. What moved Luther to treat here of the Lord’s Supper
2. The false ideas about the Lord’s Supper refuted 2-11.
3. How one should act toward those who wish to receive the Lord’s Supper 4-6.
4. Historical faith is not sufficient in the Lord’s Supper, it requires true faith 7f.
5. The Lord’s Supper should be given to no one unless it is known how he believes 8-10.
6. Whether it is enough if one only believes that Christ’s body and blood are present in the Lord’s Supper
7. Of the right use of the Lord’s Supper 12-13.
8. One is to guard lest he has a false faith at the Lord’s Table
9. Whether the Lord’s Supper should be given to every one, without any discrimination 15.
10. Of the fruit that follows where there is the right use of the Lord’s Supper.
A. In General 16.
B. In Detail. a. The first fruit 17-19, b. The second fruit 20-21.
* That there is something exceedingly great connected with the Lord’s Supper
* What is the right use of the Lord’s Supper 23.
II. OF CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION.
A. Of Confession.
1. Whether it is necessary in confession to mention every sin
2. How should confession be conducted in the right way 24-25.
3. An opinion on the confession of the papists 25.
B. Of Absolution 26.
I. THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER.
1. You, beloved, have often before heard how we should prepare for the time when we receive the most worthy Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. But since this is the time appointed for the consideration of this subject, we must again speak of it, especially those features of it that are needed to be touched upon; for if I mistake not there are some who do not understand it. However, I hold that we cannot better grasp and understand it than by comparing the misuse of the Sacrament with the right Christian, evangelical use of it, which Christ instituted and prescribes.
2. In the first place, hitherto we have taught that we should be of good cheer and firmly believe that under the bread is the true body of Christ and under the wine the true blood of Christ. This is the first thing that has been most emphasized, and when we planted this in the people we thought we were very successful preachers. Afterwards however we proceeded farther and asked the people whether they had a desire to receive the Sacrament, and thus freely gave it to them and then never concerned ourselves further.
Thus it rested upon two thoughts, that we thus believe and that we desired the Sacrament; but to what end we should desire it and what more belongs to it, no one cared for that and no one saw that such faith might be, and is, in Satan and all unchristians; for we are easily persuaded to believe this much. For, if I can believe that Christ rose from the dead; likewise that he went through the stone at the mouth of the grave and made no hole in it; and if I can believe that he went through closed doors without breaking or damaging anything, thus that wood and his body were in one place, and yet true flesh and blood were there; then can I also readily believe that the body and blood of Christ are present in the bread and wine.
3. Hence it is an unimportant matter if we let it rest there and believe only that much, although the communicants thought they thereby did a precious work. Such faith and desire are still not enough for the Sacrament, and all, who know no more about and have not higher faith and desire for it, should remain away; for giving the Holy Sacrament to such persons is not much different than when you thrust it down the throat of a pig. It is mockery and a dishonoring of the Sacrament. Therefore remember you must be different, or not approach the Lord’s Supper.
4. Therefore hereafter it shall be ordered that no one is to be admitted to the Sacrament unless he be asked first and it be learned from him what is the state of his heart, whether he knows what it is and why he goes to the communion. We have looked through our fingers at this long enough and tolerated the old misuse of it; but since the Gospel has now been working farther into the world we must give attention to this matter and improve the imperfections. We should here act, as we do with a child or any other person we baptize. When one brings him to baptism, it is not enough for him to believe that that is baptism and a sacrament instituted by Christ. It is also not enough for one to inquire whether he wishes to be baptized, which is the last thing to be asked; but first one asks him: Dost thou renounce the devil, and all his works and ways? Then: Dost thou believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost? When the one baptizing inquires whether he has true faith and knows what he is seeking and why he is there and for what purpose he makes use of the Sacrament. Much more then should one do thus in the Lord’s Supper, so that no one goes to the communion unless we first hear whether he is a vessel that can contain it, so that it is not thrust as it were into the throat of an unclean animal. For those who go to the Lord’s Supper only with such a faith, think no farther than that they may only receive it, they hold it to be a meritorious work and think that is enough. They do it only because it is instituted and it is the custom to do so, just as when you ask one, why he desired to be baptized and he answers: I do not know; it is thus instituted, therefore I will also do like other people. I think it is a good thing to do.
5. Now, one can in no way abuse and dishonor the most worthy Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper more than by regarding it only as a good work. For a good work is that which I can do to another and it must be my work; but the Lord’s Supper is not my work but God’s work, with which I permit myself to be served, and I receive a blessing, therefore, as far as God’s work and my work are different from one another, so far are the thoughts separated from one another which hold the Sacrament to be God’s and at the same time our own work. Hence it is now clear that it is a great abuse of the Sacrament and blasphemy. if you do not esteem it to be the work of God.
6. Therefore the people should be asked when anyone desires to go to the Sacrament: first, what is the Sacrament? Then the answer should be: The words which Christ spoke at his Last Supper are the Sacrament: “Take ye, this is my body, which is given for you; this is my blood that is shed for you, for the remission of sins.” Therefore Christ instituted by these words the bread and wine, under which are his flesh and blood, for a token and a seal that his words are true. Then ask further: To what end are these words a blessing which Christ here speaks and attaches to them a token? Answer:
They are a blessing to the end that I believe in them, not that I make a good work out of them, thus that my faith clings to them with my heart and I doubt not but that it is as the words read. How then do the words read?
Thus: “This is my body, which is given for you.” These words Christ says to all who receive the Lord’s Supper, therefore you must cleave to them by faith, and say, I come and desire the Sacrament because I believe his body was given for me and his blood was shed for me, in order that thereby my faith may be strengthened, for this reason I desire to receive the token of bread and wine. Whoever cannot do this, or does not believe, should by no means go to the communion; for where this faith is not in the heart all is lost.
7. Behold now how far that and this faith are from one another. For if you do even believe that the Sacrament is the body and blood of Christ, how are you made better? To what end does that profit you? The devil believes that too; but what does it help him? By it you do nothing but a good work, and you have no more benefit of it than the box in which the wafer is kept, or the cloth that is spread over it; for you are not a vessel prepared, in which true faith works. But when the faith comes that lays hold of the Word, and .says: These words Christ spoke and I believe they are true, and I am ready to die trusting in them, and I am certain and sure that he is there present, that he has given himself to me and he is mine, also that I appropriate him to myself, as if it were my own possession which God has bestowed upon me. This is far different from the other faith; for that gives you nothing, but this gives you and brings you, as you believe, all the treasures of which the words speak.
8. Therefore until the present time we have shown enough forbearance; but hereafter no one shall be given the Sacrament until it is known how he believes and that he is a vessel that can hold it, and knows how to give information concerning his faith. Moreover it is very necessary to do this, because the Sacrament is instituted in an outward form to the end that people may confess and prove their faith, in order that it may become manifest before the world. For before God it is enough that we believe in the Gospel, but now he wants us to remain upon the earth to serve the people and to confess before the world the faith we have in our hearts by means of certain tokens, that is, by means of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. With the mouth we must confess the Gospel and then receive the Lord’s Supper as a token that the world may know that we are Christians.
And in this way I then become certain, as for my own person, that I have a gracious God, besides I have done enough before the world. If you do not do this, what do you accomplish then at the Lord’s Supper? What will you do if it should cost you your life and you approach a cross? Likewise, when it comes to the point that you should die and the devil tests you? If you will then say: Yes, I believe that I received the Sacrament; I believe that it is the true body and blood of Christ; then the devil will reply: yes, that I also believe. Thus your faith will not help you, and the devil has triumphed and will remove you where there will never be any help for you.
9. But if you say: Behold, thou tyrant, or thou devil and death, I have received the Sacrament, in which my Lord Christ confidently promised through his Word that his body and blood are mine, and this I believe: not only so far as you do, that it is his flesh and blood; but that all is given to me that the words imply. The words will not lie to me, for they are God’s words and God’s token. In this way you must be armed when you die; there neither I nor any other man can help you, even if all priests stood by your side with the Sacrament; like they heretofore did and accomplished no more than made a good work out of it and imagined it should help. Yes, indeed it should have helped them.
10. We read in the books of the Kings, 1 Samuel 4:3 f., when the Israel warred against the Philistines and were defeated and put to flight, the elders of Israel said to the people: The reason God permitted us to suffer defeat was because we have not the ark of the covenant with us. Then they went and brought the ark; when they had now returned they cried in a hostile, triumphant way, so that their enemies almost feared and thought they had now been defeated; but when they met one another, the Israelites were nevertheless again slain. What then was the cause? The ark or chest was in their midst, where God was as surely as he is in the Lord’s, Supper; why would he not help them? Because they also made of it a work of merit. For they clung to it alone and had no faith; therefore God punished them and they were slain worse than before. We also do likewise, we cling only to our work, that we have received the Sacrament, and go ahead without any faith. Thus will also Satan, when the test comes, smite us worse than any time before.
11. I know very well that this misuse of the Sacrament is, alas, a deeply spread evil; therefore we must indeed bestir ourselves to root out the error and give the alarm to those who think it is enough for one to believe that the body and blood of Christ are present in the Lord’s Supper. True it is, the food is indeed there; but you do not eat and enjoy it. Christ does not say in his words: Behold, there it is, there it lies; but he says: “Take ye,” it shall be yours. It is therefore not the nature of the Sacrament that we should have Christ lying there; but that we should make use of him and his.
12. Then there is no right use of the Lord’s Supper unless thou believest that this body was offered for thee and this blood was poured out for thee; then thou hast, what thou believest. When thy conscience troubles thee and says: There and there thou hast sinned and thou art anxious to be free from thy trouble, then go to the Sacrament, and say: Have I sinned, then this body has not sinned, it is without guilt; this body is offered for me, and this blood is shed for me for the remission of sins, this I do believe, and as a token of it I will receive the Sacrament. When thou dost this, then thy sins are taken away and can cause thee no more distress. For who then can do thee any harm? Everything must here close its mouth and remain speechless, in spite of Satan and all misfortune; for I am one bread (ein Kuchen)with Christ, and no suffering can befall me, of that I am certain; and there I have then triumphed.
13. It is now necessary for every Christian to know this, so that he can also tell, when asked, that he knows why he takes the Sacrament. Therefore I say again, although heretofore indeed according to the old custom everyone who came was allowed to go to the Sacrament; yet from now on it shall not continue so, but be so ordered that whoever wishes to receive the Sacrament must be asked what the Lord’s Supper is and what he seeks there; and that he answers as I just mentioned: First, that the words of Christ and the token of Christ’s body and blood are the Lord’s Supper.
Secondly, that he seeks these to strengthen his faith and to console his conscience, so that we get out of ourselves and come to Christ. In this you must prepare yourself so that you may know how to make the right use of the Sacrament; can you not do this, then the Lord’s Supper should not be administered to you.
14. Besides, be on your guard not to make a false faith, even if you do believe that Christ is there given and is thine; and if your faith is only a human thought, that you have originated, then remain away from this Sacrament. For it must be a faith that God makes, you must know and feel that God works this in you, that this Word and token are given to you, and that you are so bold as to think you would be willing to die for it. And if you still waver and doubt, then kneel down and pray God to impart to you grace that you may forsake self and come to the true faith. Then you would see how few Christians there are and how few of them would go to the Sacrament.
15. However we should plan and accomplish it, as I have earnestly wished, that we might gather into one place those who truly believe, and acknowledge our faith before others. I earnestly desired to have this done long ago, but circumstances did not permit; for this truth has not been preached and urged enough. That is the way Christ did; he delivered his sermons to the multitude for everybody as the apostles later did, so, that every person heard them, believers and unbelievers; whoever caught it, caught it. We must do the same. But we are not to cast the Sacrament among the people in a crowd, as the pope has done. When I preach the Gospel I do not know to whom it applies; but here I should take it for granted that it applies to those who come to the Sacrament. Here I must not act in doubt, but be sure that the one to whom I give the Sacrament has laid hold of the Gospel and has true faith, just like when I baptize any one; neither the one who receives the Sacrament should doubt, nor the one that is baptized. Thus you have now the right way and the Christian use of receiving the Lord’s Supper. In addition we will speak of the fruits that follow when one makes the right use of the Sacrament. We will now consider this thought.
THE FRUITS OF THE HOLY SUPPER.
16. We have two blessings or fruits from the holy Sacrament. The one is that it makes us brethren and fellow-heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ that thus he and we become one bread, (ein Kuchen, one cake). The second is, that we become like, and one with, all other believers, wherever they are upon the earth, and all are thus one bread, one cake. St. Paul pathetically touches upon these two fruits in his first Epistle to the Corinthians: “Seeing that we, who are many, are one bread, one body; for we all partake of the one bread,” 1 Corinthians 10:17. Likewise in the same connection Paul says in verse 16: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ?” These words should be very familiar and constantly repeated in Christendom and thoroughly understood, since so much is embodied in them. When we eat the bread, he says, then we all have the same food, you have just what I have, and there is no difference, whether you be a man or a woman; and in that we all receive it in common in the Sacrament. We receive all that Christ has and is. When I believe that his body and blood are mine, then I have the whole Christ, my Lord, and all he can do is to make my heart happy and bold, because I do not trust in my own goodness, but in the innocent blood and in the pure body, which I receive at the Communion.
17. Now, what has our Lord Jesus Christ and what is he able to do? His body and blood are without sin, full of grace, yea, the bodily dwelling place of the divine majesty. In brief, all that the Lord God has is Christ’s, and all these possessions become here mine.
But in order to have a token and the assurance that such precious and indescribable treasures are mine, I appropriate to myself the body and blood of Christ. Therefore no sin will ever be blotted out by a work of mine, as the poor, raging multitude under the papacy has falsely taught; but through my fully and truly believing that the body and blood of Christ are given to me. Therefore I am fully assured and conscious that Christ, my Lord, bestows upon me all the treasures he has, and all his strength and authority. Thus his wisdom, truth and godliness take away and blot out all my sins; his eternal life swallows up death for me; through his strength and influence I conquer Satan. Then will the Christian be an heir of eternal life and lord over all things, so that nothing can do him any harm.
18. Such vast possessions you cannot acquire even if you held a thousand masses every day. Christ is a person who gives himself for you, so that it is impossible for sin, death, hell and Satan to stand before him, not to mention that they should gain a victory over the Divine Majesty. Now where his flesh and blood are, there he will always without a doubt have his eyes open and never permit them to be trodden under foot; you have all power that God himself has; that is, we become one bread, one cake, with Christ, our Lord, so that we enter into the fellowship of his treasures and he into the fellowship of our misfortune. For here his innocence and my sins, my weakness and his strength are thrust together, and all thus become one. What is mine is his, and what is his that I also have. This is high, inexpressible grace, because of which the heart must be happy and of good courage. If you are now one cake, as it were, with Christ, what more do you wish? You have all in superabundance whatever your heart desires; and you are now sitting in paradise.
19. This is what we should have heretofore urged had we really treated of the Lord’s Supper. But it has been so completely lost that not a word has been heard about it. When we wished to prove what kind of fruit and benefits the Lord’s Supper brought, we taught whoever hears a mass on any day no harm would befall him that day (and like monkeyism, “Affenspiel,” Ed. 1531): and they thus applied it to all outward fortune and misfortune. Besides this they have done more, and so cancelled and covered up the words that no one should hear or speak them in Christendom except the priests only, because they were the holiest words in the mass. Who but the worst devil in hell has spoken and originated it, that we should keep that covered up and concealed which we are to tell forth and advocate above everything else in Christendom, and which should be the best known of all things? If that is governing Christendom, then may God have mercy. This is now the first fruit of the Lord’s Supper.
20. The other fruit or blessing of the Lord’s Supper is, that we become also one bread and one drink among one another, as Paul says. These are marvelous words and out of the ordinary way of speaking, so that we do not under-stand them; and the only reason of this is that we make a meritorious work out of the Sacrament. How is it then that we are all one bread and eat one another. It is done in this way. When I eat the Sacrament, then it eats me again: outwardly I eat the Sacrament; but inwardly and spiritually I receive all the treasures of Christ and even himself, just as when I eat my temporal bread it strengthens me inwardly as to my physical existence. So when I receive the Sacrament, then Christ receives me and consumes me also, and devours me and my sins, and I enjoy his righteousness. Thus his godliness and riches swallow up my sins and misery, so that afterwards I am nothing but righteousness (and nothing but riches, “reichthum,” Ed. 1531).
21. Just so is it also among us, we all become one bread, one cake, and eat one another. You know when we make bread all the grains of wheat are crushed and ground, so that each grain becomes the flour of the others, they are then mixed together so that we see in a sack of flour all the grains joined together, and that each has become the flour of the other, and no grain of wheat retains its own form, but each gives the other its flour, and each loses its body, in order that the body of the many grains may become the body of one bread. The same way is it when we make wine, each grape mixes its juice with the juice of the other grapes, and each loses its form, so that there comes from it one drink. So should it also be with us. When I become a public servant and serve you so that you enjoy my service whenever you need me, then I am thus your food; even as you enjoy your daily bread when you are hungry so that it helps and gives strength to your weak body and your hungry stomach. Therefore when I help and serve you in every time of need, then I am thus your bread. Again, art thou also a Christian, then thou dost in return act so that thou dost serve me with all thou hast, that all may be benefited and that I may enjoy’ the same as my meat or drink. For example, am I a sinner and thou art pious through God’s grace, then thou approachest me and sharest thy piety with me, thou prayest for me, intercedest in my behalf before God, and dost interest thyself in me as if thou wast in my place. Thus thou dost swallow by thy godliness my sins, as Christ devoured our sins. Thus thou eatest me; then I in return eat you.
22. Here you see what an exceedingly great thing this Sacrament is when a person uses it aright, that man would be terrified to death because of its greatness, if he fully experienced it; for reason can never grasp it. Is it not great that the High Majesty intercedes for me and even gives himself as my own? Afterwards, that all the saints step before me and stand there, are interested in and care for me, and serve and help me? Thus God places us in fellowship with Christ and his elect; there we have great comfort upon which we can depend. Am I a sinner, Christ stands there and says: The sinner belongs to me, I will lay hold of him with my holy fingers, who will murmur against it? Thus my sins drop out of sight and I enjoy his righteousness. And we Christians do the same thing among one another, one becomes interested in the other, so that one bears the other’s sins and infirmities and serves him with his piety. This we do not understand; and even if we did hear and understand it, we could not believe it; therefore we continually rush ahead and never experience any fruit or change for the better.
23. These are the fruits of the wafer of the Sacrament and this is its true Christian use, and in brief it consists in this (we must soon conclude)that we believe the words to be true that belong to the Sacrament, and then go forth (receive the Sacrament, Ed. 1531) and confess that we are Christians.
Later we can feel and see whether those who received the Lord’s Supper also prove thus that the fruits follow and whether they show love for others; where they will not do as they thus profess we can excommunicate them from the congregation. Thus may it come into use again, so that it may be known who are faithful Christians and who are not.
II. CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION.
24. This we have said for the present on the reception of the Lord’s Supper; we will now speak a little on Confession and soon conclude. In confession certain words are also spoken, by which the minister absolves you as the representative of God; these same words we ought not to despise here. We will force no one to enumerate all his sins; still no one should go to the Lord’s Supper who does not esteem the confession. But we have often preached on this; yet we wish now to say and admonish you:
When you desire to confess, then be on your guard that you look to, and think about, your future more than your past life; and do not, as persons formerly did, go to confession because you were commanded to go once a year, by which the conscience was sorely oppressed, and especially, in that you were forced to relate all the details and the circumstances, when, how and where. The people only thought of going through the form of confession and never cared how they might live better lives in the future.
Therefore, we should turn this around, so that you be wholly concerned about your future; for all the sins you committed before are now forgiven.
Therefore you are to see to it, how you may begin a different life, and that you grieve over, and are tired of, your former life.
25. Then be on your guard that you be thus disposed. If you are not, then it will not help you, even if you confessed all your life. For when you go and confess it should serve to the end that you be absolved and think about beginning to live another life; so that you may now say that your sins are forgiven, and God is gracious to you. The pope commanded and by law forced people to go to confession every year at the time of the Easter festival when they went to the Sacrament, and all there confessed the sins they did during the entire year, and every year the same was to be repeated; when it should have been left free, only for the benefit of those who are prepared to begin a new life; then each may confess whenever he will. The papists thought it was in our power and free will to be penitent over our sins and begin a different life; therefore they urged it with laws. But here they bring the people to the point that they must lie and say they are sorry for their sins when it is not true. Therefore see to it that you thoroughly grasp this part.
26. The other part that belongs in this connection is, that you hear with true faith the absolution, and doubt not that the words he speaks, to whom you confess, are spoken by God himself. For God thus humbled himself and condescended to lay his holy, divine Word in the mouth of man, so that the one confessing should in no way doubt that God himself said it.
Therefore we shold receive it as if God himself did it. He did it for your good; for perhaps you might not stand it, if he spake to you directly. How you would run, yes, to the end of the world, if you heard that God himself was announced to speak there. This you have at home at your door. Why do you not then see it? And it is as sure here as there, yea, even surer. For here I have his promise, there I have it not. Therefore prepare yourself to the end that you may believe and think how to lead a different life; otherwise it is better for you to remain away from the Confession and the Lord’s Supper. We will let it rest at this for the present and call upon God for grace.
The Christian Message: He is Risen!
'via Blog this'
He is Risen!
Christ’s Resurrection From the Dead -- The Christian believer’s certification of the truth and assurance of eternal life, as opposed to that ofeternal death
1 Corinthians 15:1f lays out the rationale for the|
historical fact of Christ. This chapter of the
Scriptures illustrates how the resurrection of
Christ is the foundational basis for the Christian
Faith. And, all this is based upon the historical
God-authored divine revelation as found in the
Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.
“……For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37
“…..I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…” John 11:25-2
“….Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures… 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
People display their foolishness
This emeritus Christian pastor is no stranger to some online forums. I find that if a person wants proof of human foolishness, all one has to do is access some web forums; better yet some Facebook comments. There exhibited, are more often than not, comments by people who defy human logic and scatter sound reasoning to the four winds. The minority comments are those whose forum personalities think through their responses and clearly and sanely communicate.
Recently, there was a comment on this one national forum that illustrated an erroneous universal conception of the Lord Jesus Christ. The forum personality stated that Christ never existed and that there was no evidence of him on the historical scene. And, this foolish forum personality brazenly went on to illogically assert that because we have no personal writings of Christ, - that, (in itself) was evidence for his non existence.
Of course, we know that few (by comparison in number) people, who lived in the past, personally left little in the way of historical documentation about themselves. [Relatively few people keep a daily diary]. And, unless they have made provisions while they lived – and their family members didn’t destroy personal writing provisions – there is none of that particular "proof" that these people ever existed. But, as I just stated, if you desire evidence of human foolishness, just go and visit, online forums.
Of all people who have ever lived, Jesus Christ is more evidenced by human history:
It is fallacious reasoning to insist that people from the past must have personal writings to establish their existence. Foolish people who accept this false premise are very quick to dismiss both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. They refuse to accept these historical documents at face value and to recognize that the major theme in its composite 66 books is the person of Christ. People who will find their souls damned in hell forever with death everlasting, will have refused to accept the testimony of history of the Christian Faith being spread in all corners of the world by groups of Christians who worship Christ. They fail to understand that history was, and still is, (by many) to be divided by BC and AD.
Refusing to accept the historical person of Christ is a smoke and mirrors excuse:
People who refuse to accept Christ, who He claimed to be, prefer to go it alone in eternity. They would rather dismiss the Scripture’s prophetic message of Christ and His God revealed Scriptural biography:
“……For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Gospel of John 18:37
“…..I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…” Gospel of John 11:25-26
“….Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures… 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
The Gospel Good News of the Christ being your sacrifice for your offensive sins against God and fellowman takes on new meaning when we consider that He now lives, having been risen from the dead:
Not too long ago I talked with someone who was bothered about his hereafter existence. He knew that his time here was very limited. I told him that I don’t believe in those 4 or 5 point prescriptions that are used to convince a person that they are one of God’s children. Rather, I pointed him to some basic Scripture realities about human sin; God’s wrath and displeasure over sin; His judgment of sin and the sinner – but also, His love in Christ, who came to be the holy and just God’s “Lamb” sacrificed for sin, in order to allow the sinner to be accepted by God and His heaven. I explained about the thief on the cross next to Jesus, and said to this fairly young man – “Look to Jesus Christ whose work for you, was to be God’s cleansing for all of your sins. Trust Him and His sacrifice for you.”
Friend, it is not that complicated – especially when you are able to leave your sinful excuses behind and come as the Prodigal [Lost] Son who had nothing to offer, except a contrite “sorry” for having sinned against God commandments and his fellowman. Luke 15:1f
Friend, I would be wasting my time to attempt to convince you of evident realities, except it be for the grace of God. Only through the grace of God will you come to the knowledge of the truth. May the Christ who claimed to be total truth and, who, history testifies to His resurrection from the dead, -- may He by God’s grace and mercy, (by His Holy Spirit) lead you to encounter the Truth and lead you to life everlasting. May you expose yourself to the Lord's written revelation. It is by that written Scriptural revelation of God [His Word] that faith can be had in your sinful soul. Romans 1:16 ; Romans 10:17 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ;James 1:18 ; 1 Peter 1:23 ; Acts 8:26-39
My father taught me the following declaration every Easter morning, as he would go room to room waking up his sons. He would declare: “He [Christ] is risen!” And then he would expect the following reply: “He is risen, indeed!” Such was the declaration and response of the early Christians every year commemorating the death and resurrection of the Christ of history.
"He is risen!" "He is risen, indeed!"
Isaiah 53:1f ; Psalm 16:10 -- Prophecies hundreds of years before His birth, Christ’s life, suffering, death and resurrection
Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel
Please also note:
The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.
The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3
Note: This message, (with the exception of some minor editing) was previously posted online by Nathan Bickel
Ecclesia College Christian Arts: Springdale, Arkansas
Ecclesia College wanted me to show them how to use social media, so I began one blog featuring Norma Boeckler's art, which she is happy to share with all believers.
That blog links to two other blogs, with support from Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.
If you want to locate a treasury of Christian art, go to this blog, which is linked with the other blogs on the lower left of Ichabod.'via Blog this'
Part II of a Martin Luther Easter sermon: the fruits and benefits of Christ’s Resurrection | Churchmouse Campanologist
: Yesterday’s post reproduced the first part of a Martin Luther Easter sermon which dates from the 1520s (H/T: Glosses from an Old Manse). It examined the timeline between Jesus’s death and rising again as well as the devotion of the women who discovered the empty tomb. Luther took as his text Mark 16:1-8.'via Blog this'