#44- We Need Not Wait For A Decision, The Word Has Already Spoken the Truth

“People say that they will wait until. the Christian Church has decided the issue. Let the devil wait for that; I will not. For the Christian Church has already determined everything. The members of the body are united and need not wait until the body’s filth says or decrees whether or not the body is sound. This can be ascertained from the body’s members, but not from its urine, excrement, or filth. Thus we, too, do not want to wait until pope and bishops sit in council and decide that this or that is true. They are not part of the body; they are not good and sound members. They are Junker Filth, the snot on the sleeve and dung itself; for they persecute the true Gospel, which they know to be God’s Word. It is evident from this that they are filth, stench, and the devil’s own members.

Consequently, we must declare: The Christian Church has already decided the issue, for this is the universal doctrine, believed by all baptized Christians. Such a decision does not emanate from an external assembly. It springs from a spiritual council and does not require a convention. It is permissible to convoke a council to regulate fasting and prayer, vestments, the confirmation and confession of the true articles of the Creed, or other issues, as was done at the Council of Nicea. But no council can decide the truth of Christian doctrine. No, there I simply say: ‘This is my stand on Baptism. I believe that the Gospel is true and holy. This is my stand on the Lord’s Supper’”  (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 287).

#43- False Teachers And Ungodly Are In the Church, But They Are Not Of The Church

“You must distinguish between the genuine Christian Church, the true church, and the church which presumes to be the church but is not. The false church has only the appearance, although it also possesses the Christian offices. Even a knave is able to baptize, read the Gospel, go to the Sacrament, and recite the Ten Commandments. All this is and remains proper, but he remains a vile knave and is not to be called a Christian or the Christian Church. No, we say that he is found in the Christian Church just as mouse droppings are found among the pepper or cockleburs among the grain. They merely help to fill the bushel. A body may possess fine, sound, and useful members which man can employ for his various needs; but that same body may also contain perspiration, secretion from the eyes, nasal mucus, scabs, abscesses, and other filth.

All the latter are found on the human body together with ears, stomach, heart, fingers, and eyes. But filth is still part of the body, even though it stinks. Thus the heretics, the false teachers, or the ungodly in the church are not its natural and genuine members but the filth which the body exudes. Consequently, it is true that no one will ever preach the truth unless he is in the Christian Church. To be sure, he can preach; but that is not enough. He must also have the Holy Spirit, preach the truth, and lead a decent life. And this he cannot do unless he is a true member of the Christian Church”  (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 286-287).

#42- The Pope Is Not the Church, but There Are Believers in the Roman Church

“This is the issue. They imitate the Pharisees and the Jews here and persist in their delusion that we are heretics. They exclaim that they are good Christians, but that we are heretics. This accusation we cannot and will not tolerate. We will not answer with physical force, but we will not pass over it in silence. Good and well, the pope declares that he is the Christian Church. We deny this, although we admit that in the papacy there are some people who are members of the Christian Church, just as there are many such among the Turks, in France, or in England. They are baptized, they have the Gospel, they use the Sacraments properly, and they are true Christians. But we object to their condemnation of us, to their assertion that our doctrine is false. We object to this, that meanwhile they whitewash and justify themselves with their laws, their inventions, their monastic orders, and their good works, and with their claim that he who observes these is a true Christian and that this is the true Christian Church.

We are ready to concede that they are in the Christian Church, but not that they are the true members of the church. To be sure, they have the pulpit, Baptism, the ministry, the Sacrament, and they are in the church; but they are not genuine members. Similarly, among us there are many who are baptized and partake of the Lord’s Supper, who pose as Christians, but who are still knaves through and through. They are not sincere. Therefore we say that they are numbered among the Christians, and that they bear the name and have the outward appearance and semblance of the church and of Christians. But for all that they are not the church and are not Christians”  (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 285-286).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 33: Sarah and the Promise

Class #33:  Not all of the sons of Abraham are sons of the promise.  In Genesis 15:1ff, God tell Abram that the heir(Savior) would come from Abram’s body.  Before God’s words made it clear that the line of the Savior would come from Sarah’s body as well, Sarah tried to provide children by means of Hagar.  Although Hagar’s son, Ishmael, and his descendants were sons of Abraham, they were not sons of the promise.

The promises of the law are conditional and always in doubt (Ex 19:15, Dr. 28:9, Ps 95:7).  The promises of the gospel are unconditional and are sure.  The gospel promise is that through faith in Jesus Christ you will be saved.

Overhead: Galatians Class 33 Overhead
Handout: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 4 21 thru 31

#41- The Name Christian Church is Claimed By Both Believers and Heretics

“You have often heard it said that when God formed man from a clod of earth, the devil also took earth and fashioned a toad or a monk from it. And this saying is also current, that where God builds a church, the devil places a chapel next door. The Christian Church is of two kinds. The word “church” is often a misnomer: people call that the Christian Church which is not the Christian Church, and that which is the Christian Church is often not acknowledged as such. It is not a question whether one must believe the church, or whether there is a church; but the issue is: Which is the true church? For we are agreed with the pope that there is a church. We believe that there assuredly is a Christian Church. The pope concurs in this. We are as firmly and strongly convinced as they that there must be a Christian Church on earth. But this is the question at issue and the bone of contention: Which is the Christian Church? For the devil and the pope dismember, pervert, and falsify all names.

The Anabaptists claim that they have Baptism, and that there is no salvation without it. No, we do not ask, or argue about, whether there is a saving Baptism. The same thing holds true of the Sacramentarians. We concede that they have the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  We agree on this. But the question in dispute is: Who has the true Sacrament? It is, of course, also incumbent on the Christian Church to preach the Gospel. But this suggests the question: Which is the true Gospel, and who possesses it in its purity? Similarly, we are now debating the question with the pope whether the papists or we are the true Christian Church, whether they have and administer Baptism, the Gospel, and the Lord’s Supper correctly. They claim to have these unalloyed. So do we”  (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 285).