Category: Jesus (page 1 of 1)

Saved by the Same Savior

The WORD

25 Now a discussion arose between John’s disciples and the Jews over purifying.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (John 3:25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

 
Since the beginning of the world the question has been raised and hotly debated whether salvation is attained by God’s grace or by works. The chief purification must precede, for “grace and truth come through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Furthermore, “from His fullness have we all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). After that we do not forbid good works. However, we do preach that good works can neither constitute nor bring about this purification. But Christ must purify us with His blood; then the other purification will follow from grace, Thus we come away from the Jordan and the Dead Sea.

Now John introduces a new mode of purification, one hitherto unknown to the Jews. In addition, he proclaimed the message that the people must desist from their evil deeds and life and await the coming Messiah. Such testimony implied that he himself was not the one who could purify them, and that his Baptism was not the purification. He says: “I purify with water. I do not claim that you are cleansed thereby. No, you are cleansed by Him who comes after me, who will purify you with the Holy Spirit.” At the same time those who had died before this were saved by accepting John’s Baptism and being purified through their faith in the advent of Christ, to whom John pointed as the true Purifier. In this way all the patriarchs and prophets were purified. Circumcision and all purification were associated with, and related to, the coming Messiah. Circumcision helped them inasmuch as it was linked to the coming Messiah; they were circumcised on their faith in Him, and thus they were saved. Otherwise they would not have been saved. And Cain, who presumed to be everything, is nothing; for his faith does not rely on the future Seed of the woman. It is Abel who is purified, not Cain.

About this a horrible quarrel ensued, so that in the end he who wanted to be everything slew Abel. This has always been the course of history. Just read the records, and see how all the patriarchs and fathers sacrificed and how the fire consumed their offerings. Then the ungodly Jews remarked: “God regards the gift and the sacrifice!” Now Cain had offered nothing but chaff. However, God is not interested in oxen, sheep, and sacrifices; as is evident from Ps. 50:8–9 and from Is. 1:11. God says: “Who commanded you to sacrifice?”

The trouble is, as we see from the books of all the prophets, that the ungodly assume they are purified because of their generous sacrifices; but God is of a different mind. Because of the assumption of the ungodly all the prophets were tortured and slain, and all the great kings dethroned. But whoever bore in mind during his sacrifice that the true Lamb, Christ, was to be slaughtered for the sins of the world, was saved by and in that faith in the advent of Christ. And whoever failed to do so was not saved. Even if such a person were willing to sacrifice a thousand oxen, it would be regarded by God as little as a fly. In the case of the godly, however, what availed was their reliance on the future Seed for their salvation. Thus from Adam and Abel down to our day there is but one way to salvation, for the promise of Christ and the Christian faith began with the promise that the woman’s Seed should crush the serpent’s head. This promise endured until He Himself appeared. And now faith no longer applies to the future Christ but to the present Christ, the Christ who has come. And what was formerly observed in the Law has validity no longer, whether it be Law or circumcision. Christ Himself is present now, and everything pointed to Him.


Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 22: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 22, pp. 426–428). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

our righteousness comes by faith alone

The WORD

4Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 2:4–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

 

The truth of the Gospel is this, that our righteousness comes by faith alone, without the works of the Law. The falsification or corruption of the Gospel is this, that we are justified by faith but not without the works of the Law. The false apostles preached the Gospel, but they did so with this condition attached to it. The scholastics do the same thing in our day. They say that we must believe in Christ and that faith is the foundation of salvation, but they say that this faith does not justify unless it is “formed by love.” This is not the truth of the Gospel; it is falsehood and pretense. The true Gospel, however, is this: Works or love are not the ornament or perfection of faith; but faith itself is a gift of God, a work of God in our hearts, which justifies us because it takes hold of Christ as the Savior. Human reason has the Law as its object. It says to itself: “This I have done; this I have not done.” But faith in its proper function has no other object than Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was put to death for the sins of the world. It does not look at its love and say: “What have I done? Where have I sinned? What have I deserved?” But it says: “What has Christ done? What has He deserved?” And here the truth of the Gospel gives you the answer: “He has redeemed you from sin, from the devil, and from eternal death.” Therefore faith acknowledges that in this one Person, Jesus Christ, it has the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Whoever diverts his gaze from this object does not have true faith; he has a phantasy and a vain opinion. He looks away from the promise and at the Law, which terrifies him and drives him to despair.

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 26, p. 88). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Word of the Heart

The WORD

1“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 1:1). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

 

When a man has a thought, a word, or a conversation within himself, he speaks to himself incessantly and is full of words that suggest counsel as to what to do or not to do. He continually converses and deliberates on this within himself. And particularly when something is close to his heart and makes him angry or happy, his heart is so full of anger and so full of happiness that his emotions involuntarily spill over into his mouth. For a word is not merely the utterance of the mouth; rather it is the thought of the heart. Without this thought the external word is not spoken; or if it is spoken, it has substance only when the word of the mouth is in accord with the word of the heart. Only then is the external word meaningful; otherwise it is worthless. Thus God, too, from all eternity has a Word, a speech, a thought, or a conversation with Himself in His divine heart, unknown to angels and men. This is called His Word. From eternity He was within God’s paternal heart, and through Him God resolved to create heaven and earth. But no man was aware of such a resolve until the Word became flesh and proclaimed this to us. This we shall see later in the words (John 1:18): “The Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has revealed it to us.”

But just as God, the Lord and Creator of all creatures, is immeasurably superior to poor, miserable man, who is earth and dust, so there is no analogy between the word of mortal man and the Word of the eternal and almighty God. There is a wide gulf between the thoughts, discussions, and words of the human heart and those of God. For God is not created or made as we human beings are; He is from all eternity. No one has given Him His speech, His Word, or His conversation. What He is, He is of Himself from eternity. But whatever we are, we received from Him and not from ourselves. He alone has everything from Himself.

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 22: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 22, p. 9). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.