Whoever Desires Grace and Forgiveness Should Come

cropped-Luther-seal.jpgFor this reason, such persons should learn that the greatest wisdom is to know that the Sacrament does not depend on our worthiness; for we do not permit ourselves to be baptized, as being meritorious and holy; nor do we confess our sins, as being pure and sinless; but on the contrary, we confess as being poor and miserable, and even because we are undeserving; yet, if any one should neither desire grace nor absolution, nor think of amending his ways, he is unworthy to approach the Sacrament. But whoever desires to have grace and consolation, should urge himself, allowing no one to deter him from it; and he should say: “I would truly desire to be worthy, but I approach, not upon the merit of any worthiness, but upon the authority of thy word,—because thou hast commanded it,—as one who desires to be thy disciple, let my worthiness remain where it can.” But this is a difficult and a grave resolution; for the fact that we look more upon ourselves than upon the word and voice of Christ, continually lies in our way, and impedes us. For human nature ardently wishes so to act that it may firmly rely and depend on itself ; if frustrated in this attempt, it will not approach” (LC V, 61-63, Henkel p. 540-541).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 10

Class #10:  The false judaizing prophets, who were troubling the Galatians, had denied St. Paul’s apostolic call and perverted the Gospel. St. Paul’s response was to defend his call and to intricately connect it with the true Gospel message. St. Paul was called immediately by Jesus (not by or through men) and the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith apart from works came “through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The Galatians are “brothers” in the faith, because they had received the the true Gospel taught by St. Paul.

Handout: Galatians Bible Study Handout-for-11-13-2016

Worthiness Not Determined by Individual Piety or Purity

cropped-Luther-seal.jpg“But if you ask,—What then, if I feel that I am unfit to receive the Sacrament? Answer:—This feeling troubles me too, resulting especially from the old impression made by the teachings of the Pope, under whom we tormented ourselves to a very great degree, in order that we might become entirely pure, and that God might not discover the slightest imperfection in us; in consequence of which we felt so intimidated, that every one immediately became alarmed, and said: “O, alas! I am unworthy.” For human nature and reason begin to estimate our worthiness in comparison with this great and precious blessing: here they find themselves as an obscure lantern compared with the meridian sun, or as dust with precious stone; and because they feel this, they are unwilling to approach the Sacrament, deferring it until they become fit, to such a length of time, that one week brings on another, and one half year another. But if you wish to take into consideration your piety and purity, and to strive after these, so that nothing may disturb you, you can never approach the Sacrament”

“Therefore we should make a distinction here between persons. For those who are intractable and obstinate, we should advise to abstain from the Sacrament; for they are not prepared to receive the remission of sins, having no desire for it, and not wishing to be pious. But others who are not so rude and dissolute and who earnestly desire that they might be pious, should not be absent from the Lord’s Supper, even if they are otherwise weak and defective, even as St. Hilary has said: “If a sin is not committed in such a way that the perpetrator can be justly excluded from the congregation, and regarded as a heathen, he should not stay away from the Sacrament, so that he may not deprive himself of life.” For no one will arrive at such a degree of perfection, as not to have daily defects in his flesh and blood”   (LC V, 55-60, Henkel p. 540).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 9

Class #9:  The work of a faithful pastor over many years can be ruined by a heretic so quickly.  Though we should rightly be concerned about falling into the gross outward sins(Jude 4) of immorality, there is a sneakier way in which we can fall away from the true Gospel.  In Galatians, the Judaizers are wanting the people to trust in Jesus AND the morality of their works righteousness(Acts 15:1ff).  When even one law requirement is added to the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus, the Gospel is perverted and ceases to be the true Gospel.

The Holy Scriptures, which teach salvation by the Gospel apart from Law, are the norm by which the church and her teachers are judged.  St. Paul’s varying approach with regard to Timothy (Acts 16:1-3) and Titus (Galatians 2:3), makes it clear that circumcision is not necessary for salvation.  If St. Paul would give in to the Judaizer’s legalistic demands, he would be guilty of removing the offense of the cross (Galatians 5:1).

Handout: Galatians Bible Study Handout-for-11-6-2016

The More Frequently We Enjoy It…

cropped-Luther-seal.jpgThird-last Sunday in the Church Year

“The first thing necessary then, especially for those who are cold and negligent, is for them to reflect seriously and to awake. For this is undoubtedly true,—as I have indeed experienced in myself, and as everyone will discover in himself,—that if we thus separate ourselves from the enjoyment of the Sacrament, we daily become the more careless and cold, and finally neglect it altogether. But if the Eucharist is more frequently used, we may examine our hearts and our consciences, and conduct ourselves as persons who sincerely desire to be in favor with God: yes, the more frequently we enjoy it the more the heart is warmed and animated, so that it may not grow entirely cold” (LC V, 53-54, Henkel p. 539-540).

Christ and Believers in Heavenly Places


Reformation Day / All Saints Day

“Now if Christ can suffer and die on earth, even though he is at the same time in the Godhead and is one person with God, why should he not much more be able to suffer on earth, though he is at the same time in heaven? If heaven prevented it, much more would the Godhead prevent it. Indeed, what if I said that not only Christ was in heaven when he walked on earth, but also the apostles and all the rest of us mortals on earth, insofar as we believe in Christ? That would kick up a rumpus in Zwingli’s magician’s kit! He would start drawing conclusions and ask, “Is there also sin in heaven? Is there error in heaven? Does the devil assail us in heaven? Does the world persecute us in heaven? Do flesh and blood tempt us in heaven? And so forth. For we sin and err constantly, as we learn from the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Forgive us our trespasses’ [Matt. 6:12], and we are continually being assailed by the devil, the world, and the flesh. In this way you would place the devil and the world and flesh and blood in heaven. See what you have got yourself into, you mad Luther! Phooey! Won’t you ever learn that our spirit is no buffoon? Now, there you have it!”

What shall I do with him? St. Paul has misled me when he said, Ephesians 1[:3], “God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” and again, chapter 2[:5 f.], “He has made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places,” and in Colossians 3[:3] he says, “Our life is hid with Christ in God,” which certainly means in heaven” (Luther’s Works, vol. 37, p.223).

I Confess God’s Word, But I Do Not Understand It

cropped-Luther-seal.jpgIn response to the fanatics who claimed the Christ’s Body was at the right hand in heaven, and thus couldn’t be in the Lord’s Supper on earth: “This is a lofty subject,” you say, “and I do not understand it.” Yes, this is my complaint too, that these fleshly spirits who scarcely know how to crawl on the earth, untested in faith, inexperienced in spiritual matters, wish to fly aloft above the clouds and measure and judge these profound, mysterious, incomprehensible matters not according to God’s words but according to their crawling and walking on the earth. They will fare as Icarus did in the poet’s story. For they too have stolen others’ feathers—i.e. texts of Scripture—and fastened them on with wax—i.e. adjusted them to their own interpretation with reason—and now they fly aloft. But the wax melts, and they fall into the sea and drown in all kinds of errors.

Christ says, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe me, how can you believe it if I tell you heavenly things?” [John 3:12]. Behold, this is entirely an earthly and bodily thing, when Christ’s body passes through the stone and the door. For his body is an object which can be laid hold of, as much so as the stone and the door. Still, no reason can grasp how his body and the stone are in one place at the same time when he passes through it, and yet neither does the stone become larger or expand more, nor Christ’s body smaller or more compressed. Here faith must blind reason and lift it out of the physical, circumscribed mode into the second, uncircumscribed mode which it does not understand but cannot deny” (Luther’s Works, vol. 37, p.220-221).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 8

Class #8:  St. Paul makes a distinction between the Galatians and the false teachers.  In attempting to restore (6:1) the people of the congregations, he is gentle even while he reveals their error.  However, when St. Paul speaks about the false teachers(1:9, 5:10, 5:12), he is rough and even condemning of those who are troubling the consciences of the Galatians.

Their error is two-pronged.  They have turned away from God Himself and the true Gospel, which is the good news about the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ.

Handout: Galatians Bible Study Handout for 10-31-2016

Unless You Become Like Little Children Taught By God About the Supper

cropped-Luther-seal.jpgIn response to the fanatics who claimed the Christ’s Body was at the right hand in heaven, and thus couldn’t be in the Lord’s Supper on earth: “Here you will say with Nicodemus, “How can this be?” [John 3:9]. Must all places and space now become one space and place? Or, as this dolt dreams according to his crude, fleshly sense, must the humanity of Christ stretch and extend itself like a skin as wide as all creation? I answer: Here you must with Moses take off your old shoes, and with Nicodemus be born anew. According to your old notion, which perceives no more than the first, corporeal, circumscribed mode, you will understand this as little as the fanatics, who cannot think of the Godhead in any other way than existing everywhere in a corporeal, circumscribed mode, as if God were some vast, extended entity that pervades and embraces all creation. This you may gather from their charge that we stretch and extend the humanity and thereby enclose the divinity. Such words obviously apply to the corporeal, circumscribed mode of being, as a peasant stuffs himself into his jacket and trousers, when the jacket and trousers are expanded so that they will go around his body and his legs.

Get out of here, you stupid fanatic, with your worthless ideas! If you cannot think in higher and other terms than this, then sit behind the stove and stew pears and apples, and leave such subjects alone. If Christ passed through the closed door with his body, and the door was not on that account expanded nor his body compressed, why should the humanity here be expanded or the divinity enclosed, where there is a far different and more exalted mode of presence?” (Luther’s Works, vol. 37, p.219-220).