#47- Those Who Are the Church Show It by Teaching and Life, Faith and Fruits

“Therefore it is dangerous and suspicious for them boastfully to appropriate the name of the Christian Church, as if this required great skill and everyone before them were ignorant. You must tell them: “If you want to be the church and bear its name, you must prove your title. You must teach correctly, as the holy Christian Church teaches. You must have your life conform to its life. You must manifest your faith and the fruits of faith. Give evidence that you are the Christian Church.” But since they do not administer the episcopal office as it should be administered but persecute whom they will and yet insist on being regarded as pious princes and the Christian Church, we are obliged to say that they are the devil’s church; for the Christian Church does not treat doctrine so wantonly. The heretics frighten and delude many people with their claim to the name “church.” That is what the people in the Gospel did when they said that Christ must come from Bethlehem and when they spurned Him because He had come from Galilee.

Our adversaries talk similarly of us today. They deny our claim to be the Christian Church because we come from Galilee or from Wittenberg, and because we will not await their decision. We will tell them: ‘Lo, there are Christians also from Galilee and from Nazareth. Just because they believe and proclaim what is displeasing to you, you do not consider them Christians.’ We will not wait for their decision, nor will we preach to their liking. Let us preach about the Man who will give us abundance also after this life. If we had preached to suit their taste, we would have become great lords long ago. But—so it is said—there is no gain in that.

The people were divided over Christ’s preaching, in this way that some said He was the Christ, others declared He was a prophet, and still others flatly disavowed both contentions and said that no prophet comes from Galilee. This argument among the people was not settled, and there is not much to be said about this matter”  (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 289).

Posted in 2017 Reformation Quotes.