“Likewise, the blessed sacrament is not administered by men, but rather by God’s command; we only lend our hands to it. Do you think this is an insignificant meal, which feeds not only the soul but also the mortal body of a poor, condemned sinner for the forgiveness of sins in order that the body too may live? This is God’s power, this Householder’s power, not men’s.
So also in the absolution, when a distressed sinner is pardoned. By what authority and command is he pardoned? Not by human command, but by God’s command. Behold, here by God’s power I deliver you from the kingdom of the devil and transfer you to the kingdom of God [Col. 1:13]. So it is too with our prayer, which gains all things from God, not through its own power, or because it is able to do this, but because it trusts in God’s promise. In the world you see how hard it is to approach the Roman emperor and gain help; but a devout Christian can always come to God with a humble, believing prayer and be heard.
In short, the Word and the Holy Spirit, who prepares us for prayer, are in God’s power. It is the Word which we believe—this is what makes our hearts so bold that we dare to call ourselves the children of the Father. Where does this come from? The answer is: From God, who teaches us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer and puts into our hands the book of Psalms” (Luther’s Works, v. 51, p. 307).
Class #41: St. Paul has presented the truth of the believer’s justification through faith in Jesus Christ alone. He has made it clear that anyone who admits the bondage of the yoke of the law into the article of justification has “fallen away from grace” (5:4). Last of all, St. Paul tells the Galatians to remove the false teachers from the congregation.
Beginning with 5:13, St. Paul builds on this foundation of Christian freedom and directs the members to “Serve one another through love.” The Galatians are not to use their Christian freedom as a license(permission) to sin. St. Paul encourages and exhorts them to do true good works of love, which flow from faith.
“Here Christ is not speaking of how the church is built, as he spoke above concerning the dwelling. But when it has been built, then the Word must certainly be there, and a Christian should listen to nothing but God’s Word. Elsewhere, in worldly affairs, he hears other things, how the wicked should be punished and the good protected, and about the economy. But here in the Christian church it should be a house in which only the Word of God resounds. Therefore let them shriek themselves crazy with their cry: church, church! Without the Word of God it is nothing. My dear Christians are steadfast confessors of the Word, in life and in death. They will not forsake this dwelling, so dearly do they love this Prince. Whether in favor or not, for this they will leave country and people, body and life. Thus we read of a Roman centurion, a martyr, who, when he was stripped of everything, said, ‘This I know; they cannot take away from me my Lord Christ.’ Therefore a Christian says: This Christ I must have, though it cost me everything else; what I cannot take with me can go; Christ alone is enough for me. Therefore all Christians should stand strong and steadfast upon the Word alone, as St. Peter says, ‘by the strength which God supplies’ [I Pet. 4:11].
Behold, how it all happens in weakness. Look at baptism, it is water; where does the hallowing and the power come from? From the pope? No, it comes from God, who says, ‘He who believes and is baptized’ [Mark 16:16]. For the pope puts trust in the consecrated water. Why, pope? Who gave you the power? The ecclesia, the church? Yes, indeed, where is it written? Nowhere! Therefore the consecrated water is Satan’s goblin bath [Kobelbad], which cripples, blinds, and consecrates the people without the Word. But in the church one should teach and preach nothing besides or apart from the Word of God. For the pastor who does the baptizing says: It is not I who baptize you; I am only the instrument of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; this is not my work” (Luther’s Works, v. 51, p. 306-307).
“Thus since the Lord Christ said here, ‘He who has my commandments and keeps them, him will I love and manifest myself to him’ [John 14:21], Judas says: Are we to be the only ones? Is it to be such a meager revelation and manifestation? Will it not be manifest to the whole world, including the Jews and the Gentiles? What is it going to be? Are we to be the only ones to inherit you, and the Gentiles know nothing? This false Jewish delusion was in the apostles and that is why this Gospel here describes the kingdom of the Lord Christ and paints a far different picture of it for the disciples. It is if he were saying: No, the world has a different kingdom, my dear Judas; that’s why I say: If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and I will be with him along with my Father and the Holy Spirit and make our home with him. This home is God’s dwelling, as Jerusalem was called the dwelling of God, which he himself chose as his own: Here is my hearth, my house and dwelling [Isa. 31:9]; just as today the churches are called God’s dwellings on account of the Word and sacraments. Here I think that Christ is pronouncing a severe judgment, here he is prophesying and forgetting the dwelling of Jerusalem, of which all the prophets said: Here will I dwell forever. This dwelling the Lord Christ pulls down and erects and builds a new dwelling, a new Jerusalem, not made of stones and wood, but rather: If a man loves me and keeps my Word, there shall be my castle, my chamber, my dwelling” (Luther’s Works, v. 51, p. 304).
“After we have maintained this text over against the papistic rabble, different spirits come along from the opposite side and claim that they are the ones who have the Spirit. Their one boast is of nothing but the Spirit. And they bring some fine and alluring arguments and attractive words, as the Anabaptists and their ilk do today, and in years past the Montanists and many others did. Our whole quarrel with all these factions revolves about their claim that they have the Holy Spirit and that therefore they should be believed. It is our lot to be constantly locked in combat with the devil and false spirits. But if we view this verse and others aright, we can judge properly and refute everything that opposes it. Let them advance whatever doctrine they will; I know well what my Lord Christ says and what I must believe. If someone comes with a doctrine allegedly taught and revealed by the Holy Spirit, I cling to this Word and apply it to his doctrine as the proper touchstone. If I see that it agrees with the words of Christ, I consider it true and good. But if it deviates from them and presents something else, I declare: ‘You are not the Holy Spirit; you are the devil! For the true Spirit comes in the name of no one else than Christ, and He teaches nothing but what Christ said.’ Thus we can protect and defend ourselves against all error and fanatical spirits if we but adhere to this and preserve this verse in its truth and purity, knowing that the Holy Spirit does not present the trifles and hocus-pocus of men, but great and serious matters, namely, Christ with His gifts. We can boldly rely on this; and we can also conclude that we who have Christ are holy before God and have the Holy Spirit with us in opposition to any self-styled holiness” (Luther’s Works, v. 24, p. 176-177).
“If they were the true church, they would say: ‘I hold to the words of my dear Lord Christ. To these I cling firmly; according to them I decide everything, and I do not hold with those who want to do otherwise.’ That is what the church did years ago when it condemned all heresy and false doctrine, not on the basis of its own thinking, as the pope and his clique do, but in accordance with God’s Word. It concluded: ‘That is what my Christ says; that is what the Holy Spirit has taught me. Therefore I conclude and declare that Arius and others who teach the opposite are heretics and accursed teachers.’ This is a correct conclusion—the conclusion which must be adopted by the Christian Church. And this must be respected and observed. But conclusions touching on other things, such as vestments, food, drink, and other external show, were not reached in this manner; for they are based, not on Christ’s Word but on the pope’s own opinion. Let them prescribe in this sphere what they please; these matters do not concern the church. For whatever God’s Word teaches and Christendom concludes does not pertain to this life; it pertains to the life beyond. Therefore it must come not from our reason; it must come from above, from Christ, and must be in accord with His command” (Luther’s Works, v. 24, p. 176).
“This is why it must always be said that it is God who is speaking. After all, this is the way it must be in this world; if a prince wants to rule, his voice must be heard in his country and his house. And if this happens in this miserable life, so much the more must we let God’s Word resound in the church and in eternal life. All subjects and governments must be obedient to the Word of their Lord. This is called administration. Therefore a preacher conducts the household of God by virtue and on the strength of his commission and office, and he dare not say anything different from what God says and commands. And even though there may be a lot of talk which is not the Word of God, the church is not in all this talk, even though they begin to yell like mad. All they do is to shriek: church, church! Listen to the pope and the bishops!
But when they are asked: What is the Christian church? What does it say and do? they reply: The church looks to the pope, cardinals, and bishops. This is not true! Therefore we must look to Christ and listen to him as he describes the true Christian church in contrast to their phony shrieking. For one should and one must rather believe Christ and the apostles, that one must speak God’s Word and do as St. Peter and here the Lord Christ says: He who keeps my Word, there is my dwelling, there is the Builder, my Word must remain in it; otherwise it shall not be my house. Our papists want to improve on this, and therefore they may be in peril. Christ says: ‘We will make our home with him’; there the Holy Spirit will be at work. There must be a people that loves me and keeps my commandments. Quite bluntly, this is what he wants” (Luther’s Works, v. 51, p. 305-306).
Class #40: If the baptized life of a Christian were a race, the Galatians were running it well. They were justified by faith in Christ alone, and were continuing to hear and follow God’s Word. But then false teachers persuaded the congregation to admit a little law into the article of justification. This little leaven of false teaching quickly replaced the cross of Christ with outwards works. This law created troubled consciences.
Having taught the Galatians the false teachings propagated by the Judaizers, St. Paul now asks the question, “Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” All heads turn toward the false teachers. Now, what will the Galatians do? Having no other mind (than Christ’s), they are to remove the false teachers and their false teaching.