#11 We Surely Deserve Punishment for Our Sins

Alas, I ask myself if this is not happening in punishment of some of my chief patrons and of me. Of my patrons, because, though they believe that Christ is risen, they still wander about in the Garden [looking] for him along with Magdalene, and he has not yet ascended to the Father for them [John 20:17]. Of me, because, as a concession to good friends, I was so subdued at Worms lest I appear stubborn, and so did not make a more explicit and a bolder confession before the tyrants, although since that time these unbelieving heathen have accused me of replying arrogantly. They judge as heathen (that is what they are), who have never sensed a bit of the spirit of faith. I have often regretted my humility and deference.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.65)

Picture:  Art. III  Das Christu Gott und Mensch anser Erlöser und Heÿland seÿ. 
“That Christ God is our Savior and Redeemer of men.”
Jere. 23, v. 6 ;  “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely : and this is his name whereby he shall be called.  THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
1 Tim. 2, v. 5 ; “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#10 The Hardest Persecution is What Comes From our Friends

Recently our faith was put to a still harder test. Satan, who always mingles with the children of God [Job 1:6], has made fine sport of us, mainly of me, in Wittenberg.  He has permitted our adversaries to indulge their hatred against us. He opened his mouth wide to vilify the gospel. All my foes, including all devils, no matter how viciously they (often) attacked me, have never hit me as hard as our own people did now. I must confess that the smoke sorely smarts my eyes and makes me heartsick. Here, the devil thought, “I will depress Luther’s courage and break his strong spirit. He will neither understand nor overcome what is done.”  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.64-65)

Picture:  Revelation 14:6-7, “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’”

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

 

#9 Pray for Your Persecutors To Be Delivered From Falsehood

I ask you and yours to commend him to the Lord in your prayer (for it is our duty to be kindly and sincerely disposed to our adversaries, even though they resent our being so). Perhaps he may be snatched from the jaws of the dragon and be changed from a Saul into a Paul.  The perishing of such miserable people is not to our advantage. I would exhort you to write him such a letter, but, at the same time, I do not like to see that which is holy cast to the dogs, nor pearls to the swine [Matt. 7:6]. For he will not lend an ear to it nor give it a thought, so that I know of nothing else to do in his behalf than to pray for him. He is destroying many souls and storing up a great treasure for himself for the great day of wrath [Rom. 2:5]. However, I shall leave [the decision as to writing him] to your discretion. We will live even if they kill us and inflict every kind of woe upon us.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.64)

Picture: Revelation 18:4-5, “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.”

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#8 Our Persecutors Don’t Know Our Happiness and Joy

Our wretched foes do not know such happiness and joy in Christ. And they are angry with us because we want to communicate this joy to them and offer it to them. They would give us death in exchange for life. O God, the almighty resurrection of Christ is surely too strong a bulwark for them to intimidate and frighten Him with the momentary power of their straw and paper tyranny! One of the principal foes is that bladder {Duke George of Saxony).  He challenges heaven with his big paunch. He has renounced the gospel. He also plans to devour Christ just as a wolf eats a gnat. He even imagines that he has already bitten more than just a little wound into His left spur, and he rants more than all the others. Certainly I have prayed for him with all my heart, and I felt very sorry for him because of his dreadful attacks. I hear however that his long-deserved judgment is making itself felt.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.63-64)

Picture: Art. II  Das nach Adams Fall alle menschen in Sünden gebohren. 
“That after Adam’s fall all people are born sinners.”
Ps. 51, v. 7 ; “Purge me with Hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
Rom. 5, v. 12 ; “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin : and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#7 Our Persecutors Ought to Know that Death Doesn’t Threaten Us

They threaten us with death.  If they were as smart as they are stupid, they would threaten us with life. It is a shame and disgrace to try to threaten and terrify Christ and his Christians with death for, after all, they are lords and victors over death. It is just like trying to frighten a man by bridling and saddling his horse and bidding him to ride on it.

However, they do not believe that Christ rose from the dead and is a Lord over life and death. For them he is still in the grave, yes, in hell. But we are happy and confident because we know that Christ rose and that death is no more than the end of sin and the end of itself. For the life in this flesh still cleaves to us and is still lived in sin; this life cannot be without sin by reason of the flesh. And that prompts the incipient spirit in us to cry: Come, death and Judgment Day, and put an end both to sin and death. Amen. [That is the meaning of] St. Paul’s words in Romans 7 [:18–19] and 8 [:22–23].  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.63)

 Picture:  The First Article (Der Erst Artickel
Wir Glauben Das Gott einig im wesen dreÿfach in der Persö seÿ.
“We believe that God is united in the essence of three persons.”
Deut. 6, v. 4 ; “Hear, O Israel : The Lord our God is one Lord.”
I John 5, v. 7 :  “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost : and these three are one.”

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#6 More Concerned For Others Than our Persecution Woes

Therefore we are not concerned with our woes, but with the wretchedness of our persecutors; for we ourselves are well provided for. We are certain that they cannot detract from that; rather, the more they rage against us, the more they destroy themselves and prosper us, as St. Paul states in Philippians 1 [:18]. “Who can harm us since we have a Lord who holds the death and life of all our adversaries in his hand” [Rom. 14:9], and who addresses our heart so comfortingly in John 16 [:33] saying, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.63)

Picture:  Left:  The Augsburg Confession; Right: The everlasting Gospel

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#5 True Faith Desires to Save Others, Even Under Persecution

However, this thirst not only is not slaked by its speaking, it is also made worse with gall and vinegar, as was the thirst which Christ experienced on the cross [John 19:29]. St. Paul felt such a thirst, Acts 26 [:29], when he wished that everyone were as he himself—except for his chains. [In] Romans 11 [9:3] he wished to be cut off from Christ for the sake of his brethren, the Jews.

See here, you too have been given such a thirst for the salvation of your brethren, which is a reliable sign of a genuine faith.  It is only the gall and the vinegar that still awaits you, that is, the vilification, the shame, and the persecution for the sake of your thirsty speech. Wherever Christ is, Judas, Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, and Annas will inevitably be also, so also his cross. If not, he is not the true Christ.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.62-63)

Picture:  Each of the seven rays are designated with a few words and a Scripture verse:
To comfort – Romans 15:12, “Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”
To satisfy – Romans 14:7, “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.”
To sanctify – Romans 1:4, “…and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
To strengthen – Ephesians 3:16, “…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,”
To enlighten – 1 Corinthians 12, “v.1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:…”
To receive eternal life – Romans 5:16, “And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.”
To ignite – Romans 12:11, “…not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#4 The Word Brings with it the Desire to Speak

However, this noble word naturally brings with it a burning hunger and unquenchable thirst that can never be filled. Even though many thousands of people believed in it, we would still desire that no person would want for it. Such thirst is ever active and knows no rest, but impels us to speak, as David states in Psalm 116 [:10], “I believe, therefore I speak.” And (as St. Paul declares in II Corinthians 4 [:13]), “We have the same spirit of faith, therefore we, too, speak,” until we include and incorporate everyone with us and make them one communion with us, wherever this is possible.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.62)

Picture:  At the top of each of the seven branches is a burning candle.
[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#3 The Word of God is Persecuted Ruthlessly By Many

It is the nature of the divine word to be heartily received by a few, but to be persecuted ruthlessly by many. Wolves and bears and lions do not persecute it, but men do, all men do, Christ says. Is it any wonder, then, that the world is full of people, that is, full of persecutors of Christ? What is the world other than people? But the word makes gods of men, as Psalm 71 [82:6] says, “I have said, you are gods, children of the Most High, all of you.” Christ himself interprets this statement in John 10 [:34, 35], saying, “Scripture calls them gods to whom the word of God came.” And in John 1 [:12], “To those who believe in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” Thus it ever remains true that men persecute God’s word and God’s children.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.62)

Picture:  At the end of the rays coming from the dove are the seven branches of the lampstand with three roundlets designating the first 21 articles of the Augsburg Confession.
One: XVI, XVII, XVIII
Two: X, XI, XII
Three: IIII, V, VI
Four: I, II, III
Five: VII, VIII, IX
Six: XIII, XIIII, XV
Seven: XIX, XX, XXI

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#2 Despite Persecution, Greatly Gladdened by the Word’s Small Successes

Therefore I could not refrain from visiting you in the spirit with this letter to tell you of my joy. For I can truthfully boast that the condemnation and persecution of the pope and all the world do not offend and sadden me as much as I am strengthened and delighted when I hear that a person grasps and praises the tender truth. How much more it comforts me when I discovered and daily do discover that this truth has been recognized so zealously by you and others of your class, and is openly confessed. God mercifully permits me to see that his Word does not go forth in vain, as he declares in Isaiah 44 [55:11], in order to comfort me so that my faith will grow stronger and so that I will not have only sadness. He also informs me that all the world opposes this, as he says in Matthew 24 [:9], “You must be hateful to all nations for my name’s sake.”  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.61-62)

Picture: At the top of the etching, a dove is hovering with seven rays extending down to the seven branches of the lampstand.  Above the dove are the words, “The Spirit of God is yours/for you.’  Each of the seven rays is designated with the words:
To receive eternal life (Romans 5:16)
To strengthen (Ephesians 3:16)
To satisfy (Romans 14:7)
To comfort (Romans 15:12)
To sanctify (Romans 1:4)
To enlighten (1 Corinthians 12)
To ignite (Romans 12:11)
[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]