What better way to read a Luther sermon, with some good warm coffee and a family pet that does not feel threatened by Luther.
I appreciate how you ring out the UOJ belief among Lutherans by using Nazi and Red Chinese Communist picture language. Such is the "nth" degree, if we were to take seriously the UOJ position. Yet, I can understand why you may fall in disrespect by the UOJ crowd, as they apparently don't care to admit their over emphasis on the grace of God, at the expense of the Scriptural teaching of the Holy Spirit's work of bringing the lost soul to personal faith in Christ.
Now for some smattering comments on Luther's sermon text:
Luther says: ".....Their hearts are cleansed by faith,...."
According to the UOJ crowd, this statement by Luther is anathema. It flies in the face of the absolution granted by each UOJ pastor after the congregational confession of sins.
Yet, Luther substantiates with Scripture. And, we must remember, his explanation to the 3rd Article of the Apostle's Creed:
"......In which Christian church, He daily and richly forgives sins to me and all believers..........."
So true what you point out, Pastor Jackson:
".....But there is also a paradox. We remain sinful and weak, because of the Old Adam in us all, but Christ gives us His forgiveness through the work of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel....."
UOJ adherents get into big trouble because they don't understand "paradox." And, the Scripture is full of them. Hence, they utilize their sinful human reasoning, rather than simple trust (belief / faith) in the Word. Luther would take modern day UOJS out behind the woodshed and give them a good sound thrashing!
When Luther talks of faith in this sermon, he talks of it in the sense of the Apostle Paul's inspirational writing (under the Holy Spirit). Faith is unseen - yet, real. That, which is seen, is temporal. It's again the Spirit who gives wings to vibrant faith. Feeling is unessential, because faith is divine. It is that which truly believes and "bestirs itself cheerfully to believe the things it neither feels nor ‘can measure with all its powers inwardly or outwardly." [Luther]
Finally, it is so clear, when Luther says:
"If we believe that Christ made satisfaction for our sins and that his satisfaction is ours, that is then the righteousness. When we are free from sin, and are just and pious, then the world, Satan and the flesh will arise and contend and battle against us...."
What comes to mind after reading this, by Luther, are 3 groups, and a short [true] story:
Group 1 - Those who believe (by faith) that "Christ made satisfaction for our sins and that his satisfaction is ours, that is then the righteousness." [Luther]
Group 2 - Those who need to prove to themselves that they (somehow) believe. These are the type that needs externals, such as an altar; an altar call; a day of remembrance of "personally receiving the Lord."
Group 3 - Those who acknowledge belief, based upon Scripture's declaration of Christ's atoning work. They then accept this as their modus operandi perception and take it for themselves, and call it faith. Their "faith" is in the absolution often announced at communion services. Their belief is confused, because they emphasize Christ's finished work upon the Cross but kick the Holy Spirit to the gutter curb. It's as if they have stopped in their understanding at Christ's death and resurrection and ignore Christ's Words in the Gospel of John about the Comforter, Holy Spirit, who not only creates personal faith, but nurtures that faith to the end.
Now, my personal story in relation to the above 3 groups:
My aging mother took up my dear Baptist brother's offer to live in a cozy trailer home next to his house in the country. Mom often said that after Dad died, she wished she would have moved sooner. She loved the convenience of one floor with all facilities just steps away.
As the routine would have it, Joyce and I would come on Wednesday and take Mom to the senior's group. There we would eat and then play euchre afterwards. From there, we took Mom to do her weekly grocery shopping. When we would return to her trailer, we would play Scrabbles with Mom, before she would become sleepy.
It so happened that the one afternoon, my dear Christian Baptist brother stopped in. To Joyce and my surprise, he engaged Mom in the familiar Baptist question: "But, Mom - how do you know that you are 'saved'?" To that, my mother stopped my brother cold, in his conversation tracks, by emphatically responding: "Because, I believe God's promises!"
There was no more further conversation on my brother's part. Mom had made her point. In all my years of academic seminary study and other educational learning and reading, I have never heard a more beautiful and concise confession of personal faith! (And, of course, I'm biased. She was [is] my mother).
Nathan M. Bickel – emeritus pastor