#40- God Makes Christians Through Baptism And The Gospel

“Such are the offenses and objections directed against the Gospel. Similarly, we hear it said in the papacy today that a theologian can emerge from no other place than from Christendom and the church. This position they maintain, and on it they rely as a ram does on his horns. It is true that there is no preacher outside the Christian Church; that is impossible. It is ordained that God will make no Christians except by Baptism and the call of the Gospel. God wants all who are called Christians to be set apart from the world by means of Baptism and the Gospel. Thus there is no true preacher or prophet outside the pale of the church. Scripture states this, and no one can deny it. Just so the Jews say here: ‘No prophet is to rise from Galilee.’

This is a strong argument that agitates many who are convinced of the correctness of our doctrine. Although they are unable to advance anything to refute our doctrine, they are like an intractable horse. All they say is that the Holy Christian Church has not yet determined and approved the doctrine. …  They say: ‘The Christian Church has not yet taken action. This does not emanate from Christendom’  They are waiting for councils and diets, for a meeting of scholars to adopt resolutions. Until such a time they retain their old position. Thus both the fools and the wise declare today that they will wait until the Christian Church comes to a decision, since at present the one espouses this, the other that view.  They assert that the Christian Church has not yet taken up the question. Until the church decides what is right, they propose to hold to the faith of their fathers. Thus they delude the simple-minded….  By the same token it is true that anyone who is not in the Christian Church and whose doctrine has not been accepted by it is a false and heretical preacher”  (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 284-285).

#39- The Word of God Everywhere Suffers Offense, Defection, and Obstruction

John 7:41, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee?” “This, they think, is preposterous. Nothing more ridiculous and nonsensical, they suppose, has ever been said. … They say that it is impossible for the Christ to come from Galilee. If He did, He would be but a poor Christ. But that is the work of the devil. In Matt. 11:6 Christ declares: ‘Blessed is he who takes no offense at Me.’ This doctrine gives and ever will give offense if one presumes to fathom and comprehend it with his reason, if one approaches it with his head and five senses. We refer to the doctrine that Christ is the Light of the world, able to help everybody—though He walked this earth as a poor carpenter who often lacked bread; though He could not call one foot of ground His own, neither He nor His father Joseph; though finally He was nailed to the cross like the worst criminal. The thought that He was a poor carpenter’s apprentice is too offensive and cannot be brought into harmony with the words: ‘He who believes in Me, etc.’

Thus the Word of God everywhere suffers offense, defection, and obstruction. Those who would approach it are offended, as is the case here. Men offer a specious argument, still adduced by all the worldly-wise, and they repel many when they say: ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee?’ Admittedly, Holy Writ does declare that He is to come from Bethlehem. This is stated by Micah, who adds the lineage of Christ to the place of His birth. Scripture is explicit on both. Micah says (5:2): ‘But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, etc.’ And David is told that a child of his lineage, flesh, and blood will be the Christ (2 Sam. 7:12). The Jews knew that the Christ was to come from the lineage and family of David and from the small town of Bethlehem. These facts had been drilled into them….”  (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 282-283).

#38- The Reformation Accomplished Much Because of the Gospel Alone

“However, they do not want to be reformed (as they say) by this former mendicant monk. Yet this same mendicant monk (I must brag a little, but secretly, so that they do not hear about it) has reformed them considerably. I have, God be praised, reformed more with my gospel than they perhaps might have done with five councils. So far they have done nothing more in the councils than play around with unprofitable matters that do not concern the Christian church. However, now our gospel comes along, takes away indulgences, abolishes pilgrimages, puts a stop to bulls, checks covetousness, and achieves marvelous results, which they themselves accept and utilize and would not have attained by any councils. I am not even mentioning the chief articles of the faith. However, they indeed perceive that the Reformation is about to become too powerful now that the chief article and the true cornerstone of the papal church, the holy mass, is also being attacked. This is going to be too much for them. At this point—and it is time—they really have to shout, lie, murder and resort to all kinds of insults and abuses in order that their one rock of consolation and chief fortress might not fall. However, it must fall, nothing can be done about that; for Daniel has appeared on the scene and will do what the angel Gabriel has shown him” (Luther’s Works, v.38 p.231-232).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 32: Abraham’s Mother’s Day

Class #32:  St. Paul was not reading into the historical account of Genesis, chapters 16-21, when he declared that the children of Hagar and Sarah teach us about two covenants: the law and the promise.  The Scriptures themselves bear witness to Jesus (John 5:39) that all who believe in Him receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43).

These Old Testament stories are not designed to teach simple morals (e.g. don’t make fun of others).  Instead, they show us believers, like ourselves, who struggle with life as they believe in the Savior.  Abraham and Sarah are beyond the age of child-bearing, but they know that God has promised a Savior-descendant.  The actions of Hagar and Ishmael reveal a disdain for the promise of God and rejection of the Savior.  Those who reject salvation by faith in the Savior are “cast out” of the Christian church.

Overhead: Galatians Class 32 Overhead
Handout: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 4 21 thru 31

#37- The Conscience Will Be The Undoing of the Evildoer

“They claim that it is the church’s and the ancient fathers’ teaching, even though their own conscience bears witness to them that it is something else.

Truly, how others feel about this matter I do not know, but I feel this way about it: If I know that a person is fighting with and going against his conscience, then I do not have to be afraid of him, even if he at first puts on a bold front and looks cross or perhaps strikes a blow; for if the opposition [of his conscience] continues to plague him, the evildoer has to give way to his bad conscience, despair, and flee. For thus says my book: ‘The Lord will give you a trembling heart’ [Deut. 28:65], and ‘One chases a thousand’ [Deut. 32:30]. In this way, by God’s help, I have been able to avoid fearing the papacy until now; in the past they have been very much afraid of me, a miserable human being, and they still have to be afraid of me. Their conscience is on my side against them; they feel that the truth is contending against them and that they are protecting themselves solely with lies and brute force. They cannot continue like this indefinitely. Yet I have truly not wished them any evil or done them any evil, but I only wanted to point them to Christ, the truth” (Luther’s Works, v.38 p.231).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 31: The Messenger and the Message

Class #31:  St. Paul came to the Galatians because of health problems(4:13).  Nevertheless, they welcomed him and received his message concerning salvation through faith in Christ alone.  Through the Gospel, St. Paul gave them a new birth unto salvation.  After some time had passed and in his absence, the Galatians have been wooed by false teachers so that they have now begun to trust in faith AND obedience to Jewish regulations.

In this quite emotional and personal appeal(4:12-20), St. Paul is troubled at how they could leave behind their freedom and chose to become enslaved again–this time by Judaic laws.  When they added works to their trust they had rejected both the gospel and their gospeler, St. Paul himself.

Overhead: Galatians Class 31 Overhead
Handout: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 4 8 thru 20

#36- The Papal Church Turned the Mass into a Business to Make Money

“Finally, this is what I want you to consider: If the mass would produce and bestow as little of temporal honor, riches, and power as the precious gospel and the truth, how many ardent celebrants of the mass, do you think, one would find today? In truth, for the past six hundred years (I do not want to calculate backward too far) we would have seen neither pope, cardinal, bishop, nor other servants of the mass, but they all would have become evangelical or Lutheran, and we would at the present time truly wonder what these names, pope, cardinal, bishop, mass, clerics, etc., meant, and what kind of creatures they would have been, whether elf, dwarf, water nymphs, or malicious demons. However, because the mass brought in money, honor, and power, such great goods were gained as a result of this commercial activity and business that they have now subjected the world’s kingdom to themselves and have also undertaken to subject heaven and God’s kingdom and majesty to themselves, and would like to have his word be subject to themselves. However, at this point, Lucifer becomes too ambitious, desiring to establish his throne as being equal to God’s, yes, above God’s. As a result he knocks his head against the vault [of heaven] and falls down into the abyss below.

There is no doubt about it: If God would give me enough [power] so that I would be able to make the pope and his papacy as rich and as mighty as they have been till now, and they would be certain that it would remain that way, ah, I would within a month’s time make better Lutherans out of the pope, cardinals, bishops, clerics, monks, and all the worms and avaricious vermin than I myself am. These highly learned, thoughtful, thievish, and rapacious lords still think that no one, not even the Holy Spirit himself, should perceive that they are contending so fiercely for their mass solely on account of their avarice, their belly, their rule, and their power. They claim that it is the church’s and the ancient fathers’ teaching, even though their own conscience bears witness to them that it is something else” (Luther’s Works, v.38 p.230-231).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 30: Not Knowing, Then Knowing

Class #30:  Before the Galatians knew the one true God, they served, or rather were enslaved by idols.  They feared, loved, and trusted in something which wasn’t God.  Through St. Paul’s preaching of the Word and the efficacious work of the Holy Spirit, these pagans came to be saved through faith in the work of Christ, and not by obedience to any weak and miserable principles(laws).

In Galatians 4:8ff, St. Paul is shocked that the Galatians are leaving the freedom of the Gospel in order to be enslaved again.  This time they are beginning to trust in their obedience to the Mosaic law.

Overhead: Galatians Class 30 Overhead
Handouts: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 4 8 thru 20