#8-Jesus Like Us, But Without Sin

“But, secondly, we must have a Savior who is also our Brother, who is of our flesh and blood, who became like us in all respects but sin. And in the children’s Creed {that is, the Apostles’ Creed} we say, sing, and confess: “I believe in Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God the Father Almighty, conceived by the Holy Ghost, not by Joseph, born of Mary, a true, natural man who suffered, was crucified, died, rose from the dead on the third day, ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God, coequal with the Father in power and glory.” With a cheerful heart I may declare: “I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, who sits on His right hand as my Advocate. He is of my flesh and blood; yes, He is my Brother. For us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven, became incarnate, and died for our sins.” And John, too, introduced his Gospel with the theme of the eternal deity of Christ when he said: “In the beginning was the Word”; “this Word,” he added later, “became flesh.” At the proper time we shall hear more about this” (Luther’s Works, vol. 22, p.24).

#9- Three Things About Marriage: 1. A Sign of the Union of Christ’s Two Natures

“It {Marriage} is an outward and spiritual sign of the greatest, holiest, worthiest, and noblest thing that has ever existed or ever will exist: the union of the divine and human natures in Christ. The holy apostle Paul says that as man and wife united in the estate of matrimony are two in one flesh, so God and man are united in the one person Christ, and so Christ and Christendom are one body. It is indeed a wonderful sacrament*, as Paul says [Eph. 5:32], that the estate of marriage truly signifies such a great reality. Is it not a wonderful thing that God is man and that he gives himself to man and will be his, just as the husband gives himself to his wife and is hers? But if God is ours, then everything is ours.

Consider this matter with the respect it deserves. Because the union of man and woman signifies such a great mystery, the estate of marriage has to have this special significance. This means that the wicked lust of the flesh, which nobody is without, is a conjugal obligation and is not reprehensible when expressed within marriage, but in all other cases outside the bond of marriage, it is mortal sin. In a parallel way the holy manhood of God covers the shame of the wicked lust of the flesh. Therefore, a married man should have regard for such a sacrament*, honor it as sacred, and behave properly in marital obligations, so that those things which originate in the lust of the flesh do not occur [among us] as they do in the world of brute beasts” (Luther’s Works, vol. 44, p.10).

* Written in 1519, Luther uses the word “sacrament” in a wide sense to mean an estate instituted by God, not that marriage gives forgiveness.  

#7-Jesus, God’s Divine Son, Redeems Us

“To sum up, we must, first of all, have a Savior who can save us from the power of this world’s god (2 Cor. 4:4) and prince (John 16:11), the devil, that is, from sin and death. This means that He must be the true, eternal God, through whom all believers in Him become righteous and are saved. For if He is not greater and more exalted than Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, or John the Baptist, He cannot be our Redeemer. But if, as God’s Son, He sheds His blood to redeem us and cleanse us from sin, and if we believe this, rubbing it under the devil’s nose whenever he tries to plague and terrify us with our sins, the devil will soon be beaten; he will be forced to withdraw and to stop molesting us. For the hook, which is the divinity of Christ, was concealed under the earthworm. The devil swallowed it with his jaws when Christ died and was buried. But it ripped his belly so that he could not retain it but had to disgorge it. He ate death for himself. This affords us the greatest solace; for just as the devil could not hold Christ in death, so he cannot hold us who believe in Christ” (Luther’s Works, vol. 22, p.23).

#6-According to His Humanity, Christ is Our Brother

“However, we do not let ourselves be troubled by the blasphemies which the devil, through the mouths of his lying servants, speaks against Christ the Lord—now against His divinity, now against His humanity—and by the attacks which he then makes against Christ’s office and work. But we cling to the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles, who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). Their testimony about Christ is clear. He is our Brother; we are members of His body, flesh and bone of His flesh and bone. According to His humanity, He, Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary’s virginal womb (of which Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to her in Luke 1:42: “Blessed is the fruit of your womb!”). This was without the co-operation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that.* Everything else that a mother imparts to a child was imparted by Mary, the mother of God’s eternal Son. Even the milk He sucked had no other source than the breasts of this holy and pure mother” (Luther’s Works, vol. 22, p.22-23).

Note: Luther’s private opinion is that Mary was perpetually a virgin.

#5-The Teaching of Christ’s Divinity and Humanity, The Devil Finds Intolerable

“The devil is doing his worst against this article of the divinity and the humanity of Christ, which he finds intolerable. Christ must be true God, in accord with the powerful testimony of Scripture and particularly of St. Paul, who declares that in Him the whole fullness of the Deity dwells bodily (Col. 2:9); otherwise we are damned forever. But in His humanity He must also be a true and natural son of the Virgin Mary, from whom He inherited flesh and blood as any other child does from its mother. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, who came upon her and overshadowed her with the power of the Most High, according to Luke 1:35. However, Mary, the pure virgin*, had to contribute of her seed and of the natural blood that coursed from her heart. From her He derived everything, except sin, that a child naturally and normally receives from its mother. This we must believe if we are not to be lost. If, as the Manichaeans allege, He is not a real and natural man, born of Mary, then He is not of our flesh and blood. Then He has nothing in common with us; then we can derive no comfort from Him” (Luther’s Works, vol. 22, p.22).

Note: Luther did not believe that Mary was without sin, but pure through faith in Christ.

#4-Married Love – A Hospital for Incurables

“If Adam had not fallen, the love of bride and groom would have been the loveliest thing. Now this love is not pure either, for admittedly a married partner desires to have the other, yet each seeks to satisfy his desire with the other, and it is this desire which corrupts this kind of love.

Therefore, the married state is now no longer pure and free from sin. The temptation of the flesh has become so strong and consuming that marriage may be likened to a hospital for incurables which prevents inmates from falling into graver sin. Before Adam fell it was a simple matter to remain virgin and chaste, but now it is hardly possible, and without special grace from God, quite impossible. For this very reason neither Christ nor the apostles sought to make chastity a matter of obligation. It is true that Christ counseled chastity, and he left it up to each one to test himself, so that if he could not be continent he was free to marry, but if by the grace of God he could be continent, then chastity is better” (Luther’s Works, vol. 44, p.9).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 46: Works of the Flesh

Class #46:  Christians strive to avoid the works of the flesh, but we can’t avoid the desires which come from our sinful nature/flesh.  Therefore, the Christian life is a continual struggle against sin.  With our salvation secured through faith in Christ, we desire to please our Lord.  We walk by the Spirit when we confess those sinful thoughts and do not do the works of the flesh.  We also walk by the Spirit when after we find that we have sinned, we do not persist stubbornly in our sin.

In this study we begin to examine the works of the flesh described in Galatians 5:19-21.  St. Paul says, “just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  So Luther explains, “It is one thing to be aroused by the flesh and not to tolerate its desires any further, but to walk and to withstand by the Spirit; it is quite another thing to give in to the flesh and to do its works with a smug air, to persist in them…” (Luther’s Works, v.7, p.80).

Overhead: Overheads for Class 46
Handout 1: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 5 16 thru 21
Handout 2: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 5 22 thru 26
Handout 3: Chart for Flesh and Spirit

#3-Three Kinds of Love

“God makes distinctions between the different kinds of love, and shows that the love of a man and woman is (or should be) the greatest and purest of all loves. For he says, “A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife” [Gen. 2:24], and the wife does the same, as we see happening around us every day. Now there are three kinds of love: false love, natural love, and married love. False love is that which seeks its own, as a man loves money, possessions, honor, and women taken outside of marriage and against God’s command. Natural love is that between father and child, brother and sister, friend and relative, and similar relationships.

But over and above all these is married love, that is, a bride’s love, which glows like a fire and desires nothing but the husband. She says, “It is you I want, not what is yours: I want neither your silver nor your gold; I want neither. I want only you. I want you in your entirety, or not at all.” All other kinds of love seek something other than the loved one: this kind wants only to have the beloved’s own self completely.” (Luther’s Works, vol. 44, p.8-9).


Children’s Christmas Program 2017

On December 14, 2017, the preschool children at Trinity Lutheran Early Childhood Learning Center and the school-age children of Trinity Lutheran Church (Herrin, IL) presented the 2017 Christmas Program “From Heaven Above.”  [scroll down to play the video, 22 minutes long]

Bulletin: Children’s Program Bulletin 2017

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 45: The Conflict of Spirit and Sinful Nature

Class #45:  Before conversion there is nothing to oppose the lusts of the flesh, and therefore the sinful flesh has free reign.  After conversion, “the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another….”   Due to the remaining sinful nature, which wars against the Spirit, the Christian life is encumbered with much weakness.  We often fall short of our desire to do good, as described in Romans 7:14-19, “For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate that I do.”  When this happens we confess our sins and receive forgiveness.

It is also true as St. Paul assures us in Galatians 5:16-18, that believers “walk in the Spirit,” so that the Spirit prevents us from putting into practice the desires of the flesh–“…so that you do not do the {evil} things that you wish.”  Though we want to be free of those sinful desires and fight against them, we are comforted in our conflict that these sins are not imputed to believers.

Overhead: Galatians Class 45 Overhead
Handout 1: Gal 5 17 handout
Handout 2: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 5 16 thru 21