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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:10-13 KJV.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Luther's Sermon on Circumcision and Name of Jesus

Norma Boeckler


NEW YEAR’S DAY.

TEXT:

Luke 2:21. And when eight days were fulfilled for circumcising him, his name was called Jesus, which was so called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.


I. OF THE CIRCUMCISION OF JESUS.

2. First let us ask the wise woman, Dame Jezebel, natural reason: Is it not a foolish, ridiculous, useless command, when God demands circumcision? Could he find no member of the body but this? If Abraham had here followed reason, he would not have believed that it was God who demanded this of him. For in our eyes it is such a foolish thing that there can scarcely be anything more absurd. The Jews had to endure great infamy and disgrace on account of it, were despised by everybody and treated as an abomination. Moreover, there is no use in it. What benefit is it, if the body is mutilated? Man is made no better by it, for everything depends upon the soul.

3. But such are all of God’s commandments and works, and such they are to be. In our eyes they appear most foolish, most contemptible, and most useless, in order that haughty Reason, who deems herself clever and wise, may be put to shame and blinded, and may surrender her self-conceit and submit to God, give him honor, and believe that whatever he appoints, is most useful, most honorable, and most wise, although she does not see it and thinks quite differently. If God had given a sign which would have been suitable to her and useful, wise, and honorable in her estimation, she would have remained in her old skin, would not have surrendered her haughtiness, would have continued in her custom of seeking and loving only honor, gain, and wisdom on earth, and so would have become ever more deeply rooted in worldly, temporal things. But now that he presents to her foolish, useless, and contemptible things, he tears her away from the seeking after gain, honor, and wisdom, and teaches her to regard only the invisible, divine wisdom, honor, and gain, and for its sake willingly to suffer the lack of temporal honor, gain, and wisdom, and to be a fool, poor, unprofitable, and despised for God’s sake. Therefore God was not concerned about the circumcision, but about the humiliation of proud nature and reason.

4. So we also have baptism in the New Testament, in order that we should be buried in the water, and believe that we are thereby cleansed from sins and saved; also, that Christ’s body is in the bread of the altar; also, that we worship the crucified man as Lord and God. All this is immeasurably far above, and contrary to, reason. So the works and words of God are all contrary to reason, and this, in turn, is also contrary to God and recoils at the sign that is spoken against. Before men it was a very foolish speech, when Noah built the ark and said, the world would be flooded. So Lot must needs have been a fool, when he said, Sodom and Gomorrah would perish. Moses and Aaron were fools before King Pharaoh. In short, God’s Word and his preachers must be fools, as St. Paul says, 1 Corinthians 1:21. In all this God seeks nothing but this humility, that man bring his reason into captivity and be subject to divine truth. Abraham and his seed received the foolish rite of circumcision, in order that by it they should give glory to God and suffer him alone to be wise.

5. Now circumcision was an external mark, by which God’s people were known in distinction from other nations; just as we see that every prince gives his people and army his standard and watchword, by which they are known among themselves and by which foreigners can tell, to what lord they belong. Thus God has never left his people without such a sign or watchword, by which it can outwardly be known in the world where his people are to be found. Jews are known by circumcision: that was their divine mark. Our mark is baptism and the body of Christ. Therefore the ancient fathers called these signs, characters, symbola, tesseras, that is, watchwords or standards, what we now call sacraments, that is, sacred signs. For where there is baptism, there certainly are Christians, be they where they will in the world. It matters not if they are not under the pope, as he claims; for he would like to make of himself a sacrament and a Christian watchword.

6. Let this be enough concerning the temporal reason for circumcision. We will now also look at the spiritual reason and its significance. First, why did he not command to circumcise a finger, hand, foot, ear, or eye, or some other member? Why did he select just that which in human life serves for no work or employment and which was created by God for natural birth and multiplication? If evil was to be cut off, then certainly the hand or the tongue, of all members, ought to have been circumcised: for by the tongue and hands all wickedness is perpetrated among men.

7. It is said that it was done for the reason, that evil lust manifests itself most in this member of the body; wherefore also Adam and Eve felt the disobedience of their flesh there, and sought a covering for their nakedness. That is all true; but in addition to that it also signifies, as we are wont to say, that God does not condemn or save the person on account of his works, but his works on account of the person. Accordingly, our fault lies not in our works, but in our nature. The person, nature, and entire existence are corrupt in us because of Adam’s fall. Therefore no work can be good in us, until our nature and personal life are changed and renewed. The tree is not good, therefore its fruits are bad.

8. Thus God has here taught every one, that nobody can become righteous by works or laws, and that all works and labors to become righteous and be saved are in vain, as long as the nature and person are not renewed. You see now that, had he commanded to circumcise the hand or the tongue, this would have been a sign that the fault to be changed lay in the words or works; that he was favorable to the nature and person, and hated only the words and works. But now, in selecting that member which has no work except that the nature and personal existense arise thereby, he gives clearly to understand that the fault lies in the entire state of the nature, that its birth and its origin are corrupt and sin. This is original sin, or the sin of the nature, or the sin of the person, the truly chief sin. If this did not exist, there would neither be any actual sin. This sin is not done, like all other sins; but it exists, lives, and does all sins, and is the essential sin, that sins not for an hour or a season; but wherever and as long as the person exists.

9. God looks at this sin of the nature alone. This can be eradicated by no law, by no punishment, even if there were a thousand hells: but the grace of God alone, which makes the nature pure and new, must purge it away. The law only manifests it and teaches how to recognize it, but does not save from it; the law restrains only the hand or member, it cannot restrain the person and nature from being sinful; for in birth the nature has already anticipated the law, and has become sin before the law could forbid it. Just as little as it lies in one’s human power to be born and to receive natural existence, so little does it lie in his power to be without sin or to escape from it. He who has created us, he alone must take it away. Therefore he first gives the law, by which man recognizes this sin and thirsts for grace: then he also gives the Gospel and saves him.

10. In the second place, why does he command to circumcise males only, when nature and birth involve the woman also? The prophet also complains more of the mother than of the father, when he says, Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” It was surely done on account of Christ and his mother, because he was to come, and because it was possible that a natural man and person could be born of a woman without sin and natural intercourse. But in all conception from a man, the man sins as well as the woman, and sin on either side cannot be avoided. Therefore Christ willed not to be conceived of a man, in order that his mother also might not be under the necessity of sinning and of conceiving him in sin. Therefore he made use of her womanly flesh and body for natural birth, but not for natural conception, and was conceived and born a true man without sin. Since, therefore, it is possible that a pure, innocent birth, nature, and person may be derived from a woman; but from a man only a sinful birth, nature, and person; therefore circumcision was imposed upon males only, in order to signify that all birth from man is sinful and condemned, requiring circumcision and change: but that a birth derived only from a woman without a man, is innocent and uncondemned, requiring no circumcision or change. And here one may apply what John writes, in John 1:12-18: “To them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”—with the understanding that “the will of man” refers to birth from man. If it were possible now that more women could bear without men, these births would be altogether pure and holy; but this has been reserved for this one mother alone.

11. In the third place, why was it necessary to perform it on the eighth day? Here again the sin of nature is indicated. For the poor babe has no actual sin of its own; nevertheless it must be circumcised and assume the sign of purification from sin. If he had commanded to circumcise after eight years, one might say it was done for sins committed and for the avoidance of future sins. But by commanding to circumcise on the eighth day he excludes both ideas, that it is done for sins committed and for the sake of future sins; without doubt, because a greater than any actual sin is born and ingrained in human nature.

12. But here it might be objected that Abraham and his servants and household were circumcised when they were grown and old, Genesis 17:23: therefore circumcision might signify actual committed sins. The answer is: Scripture anticipates and abolishes the idea that Abraham was justified by circumcision, for he was already justified of his sins when he received circumcision; for it is written in Genesis 15:6 that he was made righteous by his faith before his circumcision, when he was eighty years old or a little more, and circumcision he received when he was ninety-nine years old; so that circumcision was instituted almost twenty years after his justification. From this St. Paul, in Romans 4:11, concludes, against the Jews, that not circumcision, but faith without circumcision justifies, as Abraham’s example cogently shows. Therefore circumcision is not a putting off of sin, but a sign of such putting off, which is accomplished by faith alone, as was the case with Abraham. Therefore it demands, as in Abraham so in all men, faith, which removes the sin of nature and makes the person righteous and accepted.

13. If now Abraham’s faith had not been described before his circumcision, it would have been a certain sign of original sin in him, as it is in the case of children, whose faith is not described beforehand. The Scriptures have ordered it so, that Abraham first believed and afterwards was circumcised, and others were first circumcised and afterwards believed, in order that both truths might stand: first, that circumcision is only a sign of justification and nobody is justified by it; secondly, that faith justifies alone without the cooperation of circumcision, and therefore faith and its sign are clearly distinguished, to the discomfiture of the righteousness that trusts in works.

14. Perhaps the eighth day was also appointed for bodily reasons, in order that the babe might first grow stronger, lest it might appear that it had died from the circumcision, if it were circumcised directly after birth and had died from weakness.

15. But the spiritual significance is of greater importance. Seven days signify the time of this world until the last day, because this present time is measured by the week or seven days described in Genesis 1. The eighth day is the last day after the present time, when weeks, months, and years will cease, and there will be only an eternal day. On that day circumcision shall be fulfilled, when not only the soul, but also the body, shall be redeemed from sin, death and all impurity, and shall shine as the sun. Meanwhile the soul is circumcised from sin and an evil conscience by faith.

16. So we see that the Scriptures in all places urge to faith, but only to faith in Christ. Therefore circumcision was not given by the law of Moses, nor to the fathers before Abraham, but to Abraham, to whom Christ, his seed, was promised for a blessing, so that the bodily circumcision might everywhere be in accord with the spiritual circumcision.

17. Why then has it ceased, if that same faith in Christ, to which it points, still remains? The answer is, God has always, from the beginning of the world to the end, maintained one faith in Christ; but he has not given only one sign of it. If all the signs which refer to faith remained, who could keep them? But since faith is inward and invisible, God has foreshadowed it to men by many external signs, in order that they might be incited to believe as by many examples, and has permitted each to continue for its time. How many signs did Moses alone do in Egypt and in the wilderness, which have all passed away and lasted during their time, and still were all signs of faith? So when God promised to Abraham the blessings in his seed and gave to him a sign of it, namely circumcision, it could not exist by virtue of that promise longer than the fulfillment of the promise. But when Christ, the blessed seed, came, the promise was finished and fulfilled; it was no longer to be expected. Therefore the sign also necessarily was finished and fulfilled; why should it continue any longer, when the promise on which it depended was finished? But that which it signified, faith, remains always, whether the promise with its sign passes away or remains.

18. Yet circumcision has not been abolished in such a way that it is sin to be circumcised, as St. Jerome and many others contend; but it has become free. If anybody wishes, he may circumcise himself, or not circumcise himself, as long as he does not act from the opinion, that it is necessary and commanded, or that the promise of God to Abraham is unfulfilled and still to be expected. For faith can endure none of these opinions. Therefore it does not depend upon the work, but upon the imagination and opinion of the one doing the work. If anybody circumcise himself with the same opinion with which he cuts his hair, beard, or skin, in love and service to another, he would not commit sin; for he would do it bound not by the law and by necessity of justification, nor against the fulfilled promise of God, but from free volition and his own choice, because the promise is fulfilled and the sign attached to it is finished.

19. Moreover, God never has had the custom of establishing a sign again, when once it has come to an end, but he has always instituted other new signs. So after the fulfillment of his promise, after the coming of Christ, he instituted for Abraham’s seed another new sign, namely, baptism. This indeed is the last sign to be instituted before the last day, because he instituted it in person. Nevertheless the same faith in Christ, which was in Abraham, abides always; for it knows neither day nor night, nor any outward transformation. This baptism has the same significance as circumcision, as is to be shown at the proper time.

II. THE NAMING OF JESUS, AS WAS THE CUSTOM AT CIRCUMCISION.

20. Finally, it was the custom to give the child its name in circumcision, as we see here and in the instance of John the Baptist, to whom his name was also given in his circumcision. However, just as Christ was not obliged to be circumcised and this sign was empty in this case, so also his name had been given to him before by the angel, so that he did not obtain it by circumcision. This was done and is written, to the end that he should be altogether free from the law and from sin above all other men, and only serve us by submitting to the law and becoming like unto us in order to redeem us from it, as St. Paul said in the last Epistle: “He was born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law,” Galatians 4:4-5.

21. For when death fell upon him and slew him, and yet had no right or cause against him, and he willingly and innocently submitted and suffered himself to be slain: death became liable to him, did him wrong and sinned against him, and completely exposed itself, so that Christ has an honest claim upon it. Now the wrong which death became guilty of toward him, is so great that death can never pay nor atone for it. Therefore it must be subject to Christ and in his power forever: and so death is overcome and killed in Christ. Now Christ did not do this for himself, but for us, and has bestowed upon us this victory over death in baptism. Therefore all who believe in Christ must also be lords over death, and death must be their subject, nay, their criminal, whom they are to judge and execute; even as they do when they die and at the last day. For by the gift of Christ death has also become guilty to all those, who have received this gift from Christ. Behold, this is the sweet and joyous redemption from death through Christ; these are the spiritual victories of Joshua over the heathen of Canaan, notably the five kings, upon whose necks the princes of Israel put their feet by his command, Joshua 10.

22. So also circumcision did Christ wrong, for he was not subject to it. Therefore it is justly subject to him and he has power over it, has conquered it, and has granted to us, that it must cease and has lost its right over those who believe in Christ. He has released us from circumcision only by submitting to it innocently and by bestowing his right against it upon us.

23. Behold, this is putting Christ under the law, in order that he might redeem those who were under it. Galatians 4:5. Moreover, he has subjected himself to all other laws, to none of which he was bound, being Lord and God over all. Therefore they have all fallen into his power, have done him wrong, and must now justly be subject to him.

24. Now all this he has also given to us. Therefore if we believe in Christ, and the law would endeavor to punish us as sinners, and death would insist upon it, and try to drive the wretched conscience to hell; and if you then hold up to them in turn their sin and wrong, which they have done to Christ, your Lord: do you not suppose that they also shall be put to shame and be more afraid of you than you of them? Death shall feel its guilt and flee in disgrace; the law shall be compelled to give up its terror and smile friendly upon Christ. In this way sin must be banished by sin. The sins, which they have committed against Christ and now also against you on account of your faith, are greater than those which you have committed against them. In this case God, the just Judge, will not suffer that a great thief should hang a little one; on the contrary, if the great one is to be free, much more must the little one go free. Of this St. Paul says, Corinthians 15:55-57: “O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ; for death is swallowed up in victory.” Behold, is not this a precious redemption from the law through him, who innocently subjected himself to the law?

25. Praise God, what an exceedingly rich and mighty thing faith is! It indeed makes of man a god, to whom nothing is impossible, as Christ says, Mark 9:28: “If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth,” Therefore it is also said in Psalm 82:6: “Ye are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High.”

26. His name is rightly called on this day Jesus, that is interpreted, Savior: for Savior we call one who saves, redeems, brings salvation and is of help to everybody; this one the Hebrew language calls Jesus. So the angel Gabriel spoke to Joseph in sleep, Matthew 1:21: ‘She shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins.” Here the angel himself explains why he is called Savior, Jesus, namely, because he is help and salvation to his people. We have now heard how this comes to pass through faith, to which he gives all his right and possession, that he has over sin, death, and the law. He makes it righteous, free and blessed.

27. Now as circumcision signifies our faith, as we have heard: so the naming of children signifies that by faith we have a name and are known before God. For God knows none of those who do not believe, as is said in Psalm 1:6: “For Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the wicked shall perish.” And in Matthew 25:12: “Verily, I say unto you, I know you not.” What then is our name? Doubtless as Christ gives us all that is his, so he also gives his name to us; therefore we are all called Christian from him, all God’ children from him, all Jesuses from him, all Savior from him, and whatever is his name, that also is ours; as St. Paul writes, Romans 8:24: “In hope were ye saved,” for ye are Jesuses or Saviors. Behold, there is therefore no measure to the dignity and honor of a Christian! These are the super abundant riches of his goodness, which he pours out upon us, so that our heart may be free, joyous, peaceable, and unterrified; and willingly and cheerfully keep the law. Amen.

The Full Color Understanding Luther's Galatians Is Posted on Amazon

 

Understanding Luther's Galatians - Retail, Full Color print edition, on Amazon

I posted this so you could click on the link and make the book show up more easily on search engines. The Amazon retail price ($28) is double the Lulu author's price ($14). If you have not received your copy yet, send me an email.

I give them away to friends because I do the same for hostile reviewers. Will Phil Hale review Galatians? He has two free copies.

Logia (funded by the frozen ladies' man) would not accept a paid ad from me ($100!) - for Thy Strong Word - now that is hostile. They did not answer the phone or return the phone call.


Kindle will not sell this, so I am making it available as a free PDF.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Walmart Apologizes After Calling Senator Hawley “Sore Loser” In Tweet Mocking Election Challenge


Walmart apologized and said they would keep Doug McMillan off the official Wal-Mart Twitter account.

How Uninspiring - Grouchy Old Men (ALPB Online) Offer Advice about the Collapse of Lutherdom USA

This impressed me as the best graphic for the Wise Men from the East, aka the ALPB Online Forum.

Matt the Fatt has released the State of the Synod Report, a document with no statistics. What happened to the demand - from LCMS' Dr. Waldo Werning and Dr. Dr. Kent Hunter, both products of Fuller - that churches had to graph their statistics?

Like ELCA, the LCMS is sinking "into the depths, with bubbling groan, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown."

The ALPB solutions listed are funnier and scarier than "Lucy and the Long, Long Trailer." 

One is the goal solution - every parish should have a goal of five new members in the next year. You gotta have goals and you gotta make disciples. Fuller taught us that.

Another is the sociological analysis - which is just plain depressing. People are aging. Society has changed. Wuhan Flu has hurt attendance. Seminary costs too much. Boomers are moving upstairs in the near future. True, this is no solution; it is only the threnody of sad old boozers crying in their beer, something to do.

Another solution is group confession. This revolves around the idiocy of buying an empty campus in St. Louis, because Lutherans love to buy failed Catholic schools (see WELS for advice on that). That purchase was not looking good, so they sold the campus for a loss. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Nowhere (please prove me wrong) does anyone suggest sermons - yes sermons as the building block of the Church - teaching faith in Christ as the Chief Article of Christianity, visiting members and shut-ins especially, or shutting down the political games.

Seminex and the Barthians own the LCMS. Their dogma is as sterile as moon dust, as appealing as warmed over mainline stew. They are so full of Lutheran self-loathing that they borrow every fad they see marching by. The evidence for that is in their despicable treatment of the Reformation's 500th Anniversary. Missouri, WELS (and ELCA of course) were openly ashamed of Luther and glad to mock or criticize his Biblical teaching. 


+++



The LCMS improvers and perfecters have:
  1. Neglected the sermon, except for opportunities to damage faith.
  2. Eliminated the KJV in favor of the grossly corrupted NIV and ESV.
  3. Skipped the edifying work of pastoral visitation.
  4. Clamored for phony degrees and certificates of stupidity from Fuller, Willow Creek, Trinity Divinity, and other diploma mills.
  5. Buried The Lutheran Hymnal in favor of warmed over Calvinist bar music.
  6. Worked hard to invent plush salaries for fake jobs and invisible results.
I have been an observer and participant in the LCA, LCMS, WELS, and ELS. The old LCA honored to some extent the divine call. That vanished with radical quotas and the toxins of ELCA. The other synods gained nothing because of their hatefulness toward members and ministers alike. So many District Presidents and bishops have the perpetual angry look of Captain Queeg - "Who stole my strawberries?"

Missouri politics and vindictiveness are exemplified by the Preus-Otten attack on Walter A. Maier II, precisely because he was well liked as a person and professor - and taught Justification by Faith.  People thought Werning's last book was crazy hateful, but they should read David Scaer's. 

WELS-ELS-CLC-ELDONUTs - they are simply a smaller version of Missouri, less money, fewer drones to feed off the Thrivent and offering plate money. Each one pretends to be IT!, but they are tied to their family connections and idiosyncrasies. 

Tent-making is better than being hand-cuffed to a nasty little or nasty big synods. WELS would never answer my letters, but they sure loved to mail me ugly letters, signed by the DP, various seminary professors and executives - especially the alcoholic ones, the circuit pastor (hand-delivered!), and parish pastors too. 

All a congregation needs is a place to meet and a faithful leader. The ALPB Online Geezers do not trust the Gospel Word to accomplish God's work, because - as apostate Calvinists or wannabee Catholics - they are above all that. When man places his reason above God's Word, the results will be bad. WELS-ELS-LCMS built palaces from the guilt-offering of a rich but unrepentant adulterer. Now they get to pay the price for the upkeep.

Good fruit will not grow on the tree of unfaith. Sanctimony will flourish, but the fruits of the Spirit will not.



Renting the Long, Long Trailer

This Moon Trailer was decorated to promote the movie - and trailer sales.

We have found that the movie channels offer very little entertainment. Normally we rely on Turner Classic Movies, so we saw Laurel and Hardy at Oxford, a chain of unlikely but hilarious events.

We caught the end of "Lucy and the Long, Long Trailer", so we decided last night to go all out and rent it again. That may be the fifth time we have seen it together, still way behind "Bringing Up Baby," with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.

My only question is - which scene is funniest in "Long, Long Trailer"? No matter how many times I have seen Lucy guide the trailer into the relatives' elaborate wooden trellis archway, I still double up laughing. The recipe is perfect - anxious relatives, overly helpful direction from Lucy, panic steering by Ricky, and collapsing structure - far worse than the destroyed roses.

Getting humor from the situation is peaked, we might say, when the driver's and passenger's faces are filled with dread, almost hiding it, as they climb the 8,000 feet of the mountain pass. When will the rock collection break loose? What about the dozens of jars of preserves from all over? My hands sweat when watching a trapeze artist on TV, so I identify with the diver and the passenger. 

In real life, conquering fear is always a challenge. Most of the time we can avoid the situation. But this time, the entire world is involved in contradictory messages plus solutions to problems real and imagined. Based on the latest information, I expect the next week will be scary, dreadful, and thrilling. It will end in a genuine celebration on the Day of Epiphany. So I have added that to the list of evening services. See the masthead above.

January 6th, 7 PM Central.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

ELCA's Diminishing Parishes Have a Future

From ELCA to a donut shoppe? What's wrong with that?

"I think the ELCA has about 1/3 of its congregations on the edge of viability. I used to run down the yearbook (when we published one) and look at stats for synods and their congregations. An absolutely amazing number of congregations with fewer than 200 members or fewer than 100 worshipping regularly. Some of these will survive, but not many. And some will survive only as donut shops for the remaining members, not places reaching out with the Gospel or acts of mercy." ALPB Forum, ELCA Pastor/Editor

One ring to rule them all, and in a coffee shoppe bind them.


Bless you, ELCA, for finding a better use for your buildings.


Anniversary Photographs

Christina likes the way this photo shows off her hair.

We went through the photographs last night, and Mrs. Ichabod said she liked this one especially. I promised to post it soon.

I often start the day with a post, so now I have to do that first. If I get involved in editing or reading, the emails roll in - "Are you OK?" Then I have stop and assure people that I may have slept past dawn and started work on a book rather than a post. Those incidents remind me of a blogging instructor who said to the class, "If you post more than once a week, you're crazy!" I responded in my outdoor voice, "That explains a lot." No one in the class could comprehend what I do every day, which is as natural for me as repairing the car is for others. 

Question - You are up and writing at 4 AM? Answer - The phone does not ring. The texts do not pop up. The TV is off. The household sleeps. The pour-over coffee is fresh and hot. Above all - the eyes are rested.

Will Cub Editor Phil Hale condemn this as well? This is from Christian News publishing.


I am thankful for all the opponents who give me motivation and fuel for writing about them. A Facebook friend notified me that a FB discussion group - unknown to me - is going nuts over my clear, plain explanations of Justification by Faith. I have to join the page to view the comments, but they do not allow that - so far. Someone else can copy and paste those cherished verities, if it seems worthwhile.

I recall a young woman who was describing the pain her ex gave her. I said, "Time wounds all heels." There are many people who fall into that category. I can imagine how they were on the playground in elementary school. I would thank them now, but they have gone to their reward.

The laity understand Justification by Faith, but the clergy reject the Chief Article, often covering their dogma with evasions and "I will get back to you later."

The spirit of this age is to pit grace against faith, contrary the Holy Spirit's clear teaching -

Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (See Genesis 15:6)

Those who glory in grace-against-faith remind me of the LCA Word and Witness tape, where the narrator, in the most caustic voice said, "These TV Evangelicals are very popular, but there is no grace in them at all."

I thought about that statement (and the anger) a long time, and realized that the LCA expert was saying, "The Evangelicals emphasize faith, but we teach everyone is already forgiven and saved." That is exactly how the LCMS-WELS glory in "grace", which is not grace at all. Faith in Christ makes LCMS-WELS furious and anxious to pounce, if the conditions are right. 

"Justified before birth" - is that your confession?
The Preus Brothers used flimflam language like this to crush Walter A. Maier. They had a chance to ask for forgiveness, but their heirs - or errors - continue.


Monday, December 28, 2020

ELCA Seminaries Cost Roughly the Same as Harvard-Yale-Princeton

Yale Divinity School is about $30,000 for the year - tuition, room, board, medical. Yale College is close to $60,000 for tuition and fees.


Your Results May Vary

ELCA's United Lutheran Seminary is $50,000 to $60,000 a year, based on whether one lives on campus or off-campus.


Wartburg Seminary, Iowa, is somewhere between $13,000 and $17,000.


Mordor at Mequon - about $20,000 a year. Their advice - marry a girl with a good job. Yes, it is pricey for an education that starts with ritual abuse and ends with a major in Calvinism and a minor in Church Growth.

Concordia, Ft. Wayne. Some tuition is covered. Annual cost - hard to divine from the page.

Concordia, St. Louis. I figure $24,000 for tuition alone. The rest is a puzzle.




ELDONA's Seminary enrollment and costs are not made available "to heathens like you."

The Wuhan Flu may be a convenient way to consolidate a number of schools, yea even, a number of sects. The Little Sect on the Prairie could join the LCMS and not even be noticed. WELS is about as popular as bat soup.



Top Universities - Review


Yale Divinity School - Lawrence Eyre and I went there. Lawrence is a Whiffenpoof, the famous singing fraternity for undergraduates. I did eat lunch at Morey's once, the closest I got to being in a singing group.



Roland Bainton, author of Here I Stand, A Life of Martin Luther.



Yale Library - Roland Bainton had an office there. We went to meet him some years after finishing the STM degree. He helped me with my dissertation and offered to do some xeroxing for me! Ann Johnson earned a master's degree in music at Yale, so three of us from the Garfield Elementary School, MHS 66, earned degrees there.




Campanologists love the Harkins bell tower.

National Review has a report on universities, which prompted the nostalgia above. Yale College costs $57,000 for tuition and fees. Add on room and board! The top rated universities were in the same category, $50,000+ for tuition and fees.

Every college and university (with rare exceptions - like Purdue) raised prices as if the debt engine would never run out of gas.


Anton Boisen studied forestry at Yale. No, I am not kidding. Now it is the School of Environmental Studies, though forestry is easier to spell.  Boisen made his mark by championing chaplains at hospitals and similar institutions. The idea was to help people by integrating their illness with Christian care, an idea similar to the Inner Mission, which promoted nursing care and hospitals. 




Sunday, December 27, 2020

How thoughtful! Penney's gave us a sign, so we could remember which year it was.


Some people want this year to be over, but I see all kinds of things developing which are the results of many years of labor. 

In higher education, colleges are reducing tuition for the first time. Both of my universities have worked hard for their position in online education, and they are doing well. It helps to be a pioneer and laughed at for years, until everyone wants to know how it is done.

Some well known and yet hidden crimes are coming out into the open. Swalwell and his Chinese spy fling is just a hint of what is coming. A celebrity chef witnessed a high profile murder and paid the price. That may already be a significant arrest. I only partially believe what I read.

The major news has to come out before people realize that "evil" is just 1% or less of what they imagined. Here are some of the child traffickers - known but not known:
  1. Ghislaine Maxwell, the brains behind Epstein, is in prison and cooperating.
  2. The French model "agent" has been arrested.
  3. The billionaire Nygaard - with his own island near Epstein's, Biden's, and Branson's - is under arrest.
  4. Another billionaire trafficker is well known but not yet arrested.
As we all know, these crimes must have been carried out in the midst of powerful people who made sure no one was indicted for anything. That time is over. Francis, the Jesuit Pope, has sworn a lifelong oath of obedience to the Jesuit General. 

The only way to photograph us in the snow is to use Photofunia.


Why Not Let the Church Doctor - Kent Hunter - Fix the LCMS

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Rev. Kent R. Hunter and Tracee Swank speak on the topic of civility at the Heart Issues are Hard Issues Conference. Kent Hunter is an LCMS pastor who served churches in Michigan, Indiana, and South Australia. He is the author of 32 books including Who Broke My Church? (2017) and Restoring Civility (2020). Kent has consulted over 1,600 congregations in 78 denominational, non-denominational, and independent churches in the U.S. and Canada. Kent is the founder of Church Doctor Ministries. He is a graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He received his Ph.D. in Theology from ELCA's Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.

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Rick Strickert (Carlvehse)
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The 2020 version of the LCMS "State of the Synod" is available online. The Report contains an editorial from the Rev. Dr. [honorary only] Matthew C. Harrison, six interviews of various Synod officers, along with their "Looking Forward" reports and the Fiscal Year 2020 Financial Report.

The only problem is that the "State of the Synod" report lacked annual statistical information about the reported number of clergy, congregations, and congregational members in the Missouri Synod, the average weekly worship attendence numbers, the number of baptisms and confirmations, and other numerical information (except for the Synod's finance numbers).



Luther Quotation - On Faith



8. Do you ask: “What then am I to do? How shall I make myself good and acceptable in person to begin with? how secure that justification? The Gospel replies: “Hear Christ and believe in him, utterly despairing of yourself and resting assured you will be changed some Cain to an Abel and then present your offerings.” Just as faith is proclaimed without merit or work on your part, it is also bestowed regardless of your works, without any of your merits. It is given of pure grace. Note, faith justifies the individual; faith is justification. Because of faith God remits all sins, and forgives the old Adam and the Cain in our nature, for the sake of Christ his beloved Son, whose name faith represents. More, he bestows his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes the individual into a new creature, one with different reason and different will, and inclined to the good. Such a one, wherever he is, performs wholly good works, and all his works are good; as taught in the preceding epistle lesson.


I was reminded of Hebrews 11:1 -

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Luther's Sermon on the People of Law and of Grace. Galatians 4:1-7



SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS


EPISTLE

TEXT: GALATIANS 4:1-7. 1 But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bondservant though he is lord of all; 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed of the father. 3 So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the rudiments of the world: 4 but when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. So that thou art no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

THE PEOPLE OF LAW AND OF GRACE.

1. This text is very characteristic of the apostle Paul. It is not generally understood. Not because of any obscurity in itself, but because the doctrine of faith, a doctrine it is very necessary to understand if we are to comprehend Paul, for his energetic and zealous mind is, in all his epistles, occupied with the subject of faith — because, I say, this doctrine is almost obsolete in the world, today. A lengthy exposition is necessary to make it plain. To gain space to treat the subject clearly, we will let this suffice for the introduction.

MAN’S JUSTIFICATION.

2. We must know it is one thing to handle the subject of good works and another that of justification; just as the nature or personality of an individual is one thing and his actions or works another. Justification has reference to the person and not to the works. It is the former, not the latter, which is justified and saved, or is sentenced and punished.

3. Therefore, it is settled that no one is justified by works; he must first be justified by other means. Moses says (Genesis 4:4-5), “Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” First, he had respect to Abel the person, and then to his offering. Abel being godly, just and acceptable in person, his offering was acceptable. The sacrifice was accepted because of the person, and not the person because of the sacrifice. “But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” In the first place, God had not respect unto Cain the person; hence later he respected not his offering. From this quotation we may conclude it is impossible for any work to be good in God’s sight unless the worker first be good and acceptable. Conversely, it is impossible for any work to be evil before God unless the worker first be evil and not acceptable.

4. Now, let it be sufficiently proven for the present that there are two kinds of good works; some precede and others follow justification. The former merely appear to be good and effectual; the latter are really good.

5. Now, this is the point of contention between presumptuous saints and God. Right here carnal nature contends, even rages, against the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures everywhere treat of this contention. Therein God concludes all man’s works, previous to his justification, evil and ineffectual; he requires justification and goodness on the part of the individual first.

Again, he concludes that all persons in the state of nature and of the first birth are unjust and evil. As said in Psalm 116:11, “All men are liars.”

And in Genesis 6:5, “Every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually.” Hence the natural man can perform no good work, and all his attempts will be no better than Cain’s.

6. Here Madam Huldah with her scornful nose — human nature — steps in and dares to contradict her God and to charge him with falsehood. She hangs upon herself her old frippery, her straw armor — natural light, reason, free-will and human powers. She introduces the heathenish books and doctrines of men, and proceeds to harp upon these, saying: “Good works do precede justification. And they are not, as God says, the works of Cain. They are good to the extent of justifying. For Aristotle taught that he who does much good will thereby become good.” To this doctrine Madam firmly cleaves, perverting the Scriptures and presuming that God must first respect the works and then the doer. This satanic doctrine universally reigns at present in all the high schools and other institutions, and in the cloisters. Its advocates are but Cain-like saints, disregarded of God.

7. In the second place, Madam Huldah, basing her position simply on works and attaching very little importance to the justified individual, proceeds still further and attributes all merit and supreme righteousness to the works following justification. She quotes James 2:26, “Faith apart from works is dead.” Not understanding this statement, she undervalues faith. Consequently she continues to hold to good works, presuming to require of God acceptance of the doer for the sake of the works. So the two continually strive against one another. God respects the individual, Cain the works. God rewards the works for the sake of the doer; Cain would have the doer crowned because of his works. God will not yield his just and righteous position, and the young nobleman Cain will never while the world stands allow himself to be convinced of his error. We must not reject his works, slight his reason or look unto his free-will as powerless; for so he will become angry with God and slay his brother Abel, a fact to which all history gives abundant testimony.

8. Do you ask: “What then am I to do? How shall I make myself good and acceptable in person to begin with? how secure that justification? The Gospel replies: “Hear Christ and believe in him, utterly despairing of yourself and resting assured you will be changed some Cain to an Abel and then present your offerings.” Just as faith is proclaimed without merit or work on your part, it is also bestowed regardless of your works, without any of your merits. It is given of pure grace. Note, faith justifies the individual; faith is justification. Because of faith God remits all sins, and forgives the old Adam and the Cain in our nature, for the sake of Christ his beloved Son, whose name faith represents. More, he bestows his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes the individual into a new creature, one with different reason and different will, and inclined to the good. Such a one, wherever he is, performs wholly good works, and all his works are good; as taught in the preceding epistle lesson.

9. Then nothing else is necessary to justification but to hear and believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. But that is not a work of the natural man; it is a work of grace. He who presumes to attain justification by works, only obstructs the way of the Gospel, of faith, grace, Christ, God and all good.

On the other hand, nothing but justification is necessary to render works good. The justified man and none other does good; all he does, being justified, is good, without distinction of works. Therefore, the order of man’s salvation, the beginning and the sequel, is first to hear and then believe God’s Word as supreme, and then to act. Thus shall man be saved.

He who perverts this order and acts accordingly is certainly not of God.

10. Paul prescribes this order where he says (Romans 10:13-15): “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?” Christ teaches us to pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest; that is, faithful preachers. When they come they preach the true Word of God.

Hearing it, we are enabled to believe, and such faith justifies us and renders us godly; then we call upon God and do only good. Thus are we saved. So then, the believer shall be saved, but he who works without faith shall be damned. Christ says (Mark 16:16), “He that disbelieveth shall be condemned;” here works avail nothing.

11. Now, observe what people commonly do and say. “Yes,” they tell you, “I expect to become godly. Yes, we must be godly.” But if they are asked what we are to do to accomplish it, they go on to say, “Indeed, we must pray, fast, attend Church, abstain from sin, and so on.” One will enter a monastery, another some order. One will become a priest, another will don a hair-garment. One will punish himself in a certain way, and another in another way. They are like Cain and do the works of Cain. Personally they are as at first — without justification. They but assume an external change, an alteration of works, clothing, condition and habits. They are really apes, assuming the habits of saints but remaining unholy. Unmindful of faith, they rush along with their good works toward heaven — as they imagine — torturing themselves.

Relative to them, Christ in the Gospel (Luke 13:24) says: “Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” And why not? Because they do not recognize the narrow door. It is faith. Faith humbles one, reduces him to nothing, until he must despair of all his good works and cleave only to God’s grace; for that he must forsake all else. But the Cain-like saints imagine good works to be the narrow door. Hence they do not humble themselves. Nor do they despair of their good works; no, lading themselves with the cumbersome bundles of their collected deeds, they strive to pass through the door. They will pass as the camel with his great hump passes through the eye of the needle.

12. Mention faith to them and they scoff and laugh, saying: “Are we Turks or heathen that we must first learn what faith is? Is it possible that our multitude of monks, nuns and priests do not know? Who can be ignorant of what believing is when even they who openly sin know its meaning?” As if having finished with faith, they imagine they must henceforth devote themselves to works. As before said, they regard faith of slight importance; for they do not understand that it is our sole justifier. To accept as true the record of Christ — this they call faith. The devils have the same sort of faith, but it does not make them godly. Such belief is not Christian faith; no, it is rather deception.

13. In the preceding epistles we have heard that to be a Christian it is not enough simply to believe the story of Christ true — the Cain-like saints possess such faith — but the Christian must without any hesitancy believe himself one to whom grace and mercy are given, and that he has really secured them through baptism or through the Holy Supper. When he so believes, he is free to say of himself: “I am holy, godly and just. I am a child of God, perfectly assured of salvation. Not because of anything in me, not because of my merits or works, am I saved; it is of the pure mercy of God in Christ, poured out upon me.” To such extent will he appreciate God’s precious mercy, he cannot doubt that it renders him holy and constitutes him a child of God. But he who doubts, disparages to the utmost his baptism and the Holy Supper, and censures as false God’s Word and his grace in the sacraments.

14. The Christian should entertain no fear — he should not doubt — that he is righteous and a child of God through grace. Rather he needs to entertain anxiety as to how he shall endure steadfast to the end. There is where all fear and anxiety are due. For while he assuredly is given to possess full salvation, it may be somewhat doubtful whether or no he will steadfastly retain it. Here we must walk in fear. True faith does not hang upon works nor rely’ upon itself; it relies only upon God and his grace.

Grace cannot forsake the individual so long as reliance continues. But he knows not how long it will continue. Should temptation force him to lose his confidence, grace also will fail. Solomon (Ecclesiastics 9:1) says: “The righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God; whether it be love or hatred, man knoweth it not; all is before them.” He does not say it is uncertain at present, but in the future, because man knows not whether he will withstand the attacks or temptation.

15. When the Cain-like saints hear the doctrine of faith, they cross themselves, both with hands and feet, and exclaim: “God forbid! How could I call myself holy and righteous? How could I be so egotistical and presumptuous? No, no; I am a poor sinner.” You see how they make faith of no value to themselves, and so must regard as heresy all doctrine based upon it. Thus they do away with the whole Gospel. These are they who deny the Christian faith and exterminate it from the world. Paul prophesied concerning them when he said (1 Timothy 4:1): “In later times some shall fall away from the faith.” The voice of faith is now silenced all over the world. Indeed, faith is condemned and banished as the worst heresy, and all who teach and endorse it are condemned with it. The Pope, the bishops, charitable institutions, cloisters, high schools, unanimously opposed it for nearly four hundred years, and simply drove the world violently into hell. Their conduct is the real persecution by Antichrist, in the last times.

16. Tell them what the prophet says in Psalm 86:2: “Preserve my soul; for I am godly”; and Paul’s words in Romans 8:16: “The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God;” and they reply: “Yes, but the prophet and the apostle did not mean by these statements to establish a doctrine or leave an example of what others may claim. They were enlightened and their holiness was revealed to them.”

Similarly, they construe every passage relating to the subject as not doctrinal in design, but exhibiting a remarkable miracle, a special prerogative of certain individuals not to be possessed by every believer.

This explanation is a mere invention of their own minds. Themselves unbelievers, tasting not the Spirit, they think no one else should so believe or taste. By such conduct — their own fruits — they may be clearly identified as thorns and thistles; not as Christians, but as enemies and destroyers of Christians, and persecutors of the Christian faith.

17. Such, however, is the character of their own faith, they are led to believe they are made godly and holy through their works, and that therefore God must save them. Note, in their opinion, to become godly through works is Christianity; but to become godly through divine grace is heresy. Apparently their works are of greater importance and value than the grace of God. Their faith can rely upon works, but not upon God’s grace. Since they reject the rock and build upon the sand, they but get their deserts when they fall into the error of their own works and torture themselves to death, to the devil’s advantage. It is all because they will not rely upon the grace of God and render him reasonable service.

18. They who possess the Christian faith must in consequence of it be confidently happy in God and his grace. They will even delight in good works. The prayers the Cain-like ones offer, and the costume they affect, are not good works. Only such works as minister to the profit of a neighbor are good, as we said in the last Gospel lesson. Yes, Christians will readily suffer everything, for they doubt not God’s presence with them, and his favor. These are they who honor God and are useful to man.

19. But the Cain-like people profit not God, the world nor themselves.

They are mere useless burdens to the earth, harmful to themselves and everyone else. Lacking faith, they do not serve nor honor God. They do no work that contributes in any way to the benefit of their neighbor’s bodly or property, his honor or his soul. Their works exclusively their own, consisting in certain gestures, apparel and meats and performed in honor of certain places and times.

Tell me, how does it benefit me for you to affect a large bald pate or to wear a gray cowl? Who profits by your fasting on a certain day and observing a certain other day as holy? by your abstaining from particular meats, and secluding yourself in a certain place, to read and mutter so much every day? So doing, you simply murder yourself to please the devil, leaving a pernicious example, that others may follow in the same life and conduct as if it were good, and consistent with the principles of Christianity. Having not a Christian belief, you cannot pray in a Christian manner. Hence your fasting is not, as it should be, a mortification of the body; it is performed as a good work. Such a life is nothing else than the idolatry of Baal and of Moloch formerly practiced among the Jews, who tortured, burned and otherwise murdered their children for the devil’s honor.

THE USE AND NECESSITY OF THE LAW.

20. Perhaps you ask, “If it is true that we are justified not by works, but by hearing of Christ and believing in him as ours personally, what is the need and use of the commandments? Why has God so urgently taught them? I answer: We come now to this our epistle lesson. It tells us the object of the commandments. The Galatians first learned the Christian faith from Paul.

Afterward, being perverted by certain false teachers, they turned back to their works, imagining they must become righteous through the deeds of the Law. In our lesson Paul recalls them from their works unto faith, and with multiplied terms points out to them the two kinds of works of the Law. His conclusion is: the works preceding justification — or faith — are unprofitable and merely constitute us servants; but faith makes us children of God — his sons — whereupon really good works must follow.

21. But we must acquaint ourselves with Paul’s language, his distinction between the servant and the child. The self-righteous he terms a servant.

Concerning that individual much has been said heretofore. The believer in Christ he calls a child. The believer is and will be justified by faith alone — without works. This distinction is based upon the fact that the selfrighteous one does not serve in the same spirit that actuates the child and heir conscious of his own inheritance. He renders his service in the spirit of a day-laborer upon another’s property. Although the works of the two may be precisely of the same character, the spirit that moves them — the conscience, and faith makes a difference. The child confidently expects to remain heir to the estate. The servant, recognizing his ultimate dismissal, does not await inheritance. As Christ declares (John 8:35): “The bondservant abideth not in the house for ever: the son abideth for ever.”

22. Now, the Cain-like saints have not, as they themselves confess, the Christian faith which would assure them of being the children of God. They protect themselves from that awful heretical presumption by making the sign of the cross. So they continue to hang in doubt. As they believe, so is it with them. They are not children of God and never will become his happy children in the way they are going, notwithstanding they may perform the requirements of the Law, may faithfully put it into practice.

Observance of the Law will constitute them servants, and servants will they continue to be securing no more than a temporal reward — a competence on earth, and rest, honor and pleasure. We see this in the spiritual orders, where all the wealth, power, pleasure, honor and favors of the world are enjoyed. Here is the reward of the self-righteous. They are servants and not children; therefore in the hour of death they will all be cast out from the eternal inheritance which they refused in this life to believe in and to receive through faith. You see, so far as the works are concerned, there is scarcely a difference between the child and the servant. Faith, however — the spirit of service — makes the distinction.

23. The apostle’s design is to make plain the fact that, lacking faith, the Law, with all its works, constitutes us simply servants. Only faith can make us children. Not the Law, nor the works of the Law, nor human nature can create faith within us; the Gospel alone brings it. It is present when we give ear to the Gospel, the Word of grace, which Word is accompanied by the Holy Spirit when preached and heard in quiet sincerity. Witness the example of Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:44), who received the Holy Spirit simply upon hearing Peter preach.

24. The Law was given merely to reveal to man his graceless and servile condition and his lack of filial affection; to show him how he serves God without faith and confidence, and a free, spontaneous spirit. The selfrighteous saints confess to their utter want of confidence; and, if they would but make further confession, they must admit that they prefer to have no Law, and do not submit to it from choice. Destitute of faith as they are, their whole conduct is regulated by restraints. They must acknowledge the Law powerless to yield them any higher perfection. Let them learn from the Law their condition as servants and not as children, and be led to come out. of their servitude into the prerogative of the child, regarding their own efforts ineffectual. Thus through faith and the grace of God they may attain their rightful place in life.

25. Such is the right way to view the Law; such is the use we are to make of it. It is calculated simply to convict and vanquish all who presume to fulfill it without faith. For these, being servants, undertake its requirements with no free, spontaneous spirit and with no reliance on grace. The Law is designed to try men, to teach them by defeat in the conflict with it how unwilling, how faithless, they are, and thus lead them to seek help elsewhere and not to presume by their own strength to meet its demands.

A voluntary spirit is necessary, and only the child of God can fulfill the Law.

The Law is an enemy to the unwilling and to servants.

26. But the self-righteous go so far as to acknowledge their utter lack of faith, yes, they reject the faith which would constitute them children; they are sensible of their unwillingness, and really prefer freedom from the Law; yet they presume by their own works to render themselves godly; they desire to remain servants instead of children, but at the same time to cleave to the inheritance, so perverting all order. Though, as we said, the purpose of the Law is to bring them into conflict and teach that they are servants lacking a voluntary spirit, and to lead them to despair of their own efforts and cleave to faith, which would afford grace and constitute them children — notwithstanding all this, they pervert the Law to the extent of undertaking to fulfill its demands by their works. Thus they frustrate the end of the Law and its true meaning, striving against faith and grace, to which the Law points, even urges, them. So they remain forever a blind, perverse, laboring and servile people. Such is the teaching of Paul where he fearlessly says (Romans 3:20), “By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” Why not? He answers (Romans 7:7), Because the Law effects only the knowledge or experience of sin.

27. Beloved, how does the Law do this? Study a Cain-like individual and you will see. In the first place, only with great pains and labor does he perform all his works in obedience to the Law. Yet, as he readily confesses, he does not believe himself a child of God and holy. Indeed, as before said, he condemns such faith as the most abominable presumption and heresy.

He continues in doubt, expecting to become a child through his own works.

28. You see plainly, that individual is not good nor righteous, for he is destitute of faith, in fact is an enemy to faith. Being an enemy to faith, he is an enemy to righteousness. Consequently his works are not meritorious, no matter how admirable they may appear judged by the standard of the Law.

So you see Paul is right when he says, “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” In God’s sight the doer must be good before his works are good. True, his works may justify him before men, who judge according to the deeds performed and not according to the doer’s spirit — the state of his heart. While men judge individuals by their works, God judges the works by the individual.

The first commandment of the Law demands that we have one God and honor him, that is, trust and confide in him, build upon him. This is true faith, whereby we are made children of God. Thus the Law clearly reveals the sin of the Cain-like — their unbelief. In like manner you experience whether you believe or not. Without such a law no one could experience or know this. Note, this is what Paul calls a knowledge of sin by the Law.

29. You cannot extricate yourself from unbelief, nor can the Law do it for you. All your works in intended fulfillment of the Law must remain works of the Law and powerless to justify in the sight of God, who regards as just only believing children. For only these fulfill the first commandment and hold him true God. Though you torture yourself to death with works, yet they will not afford your heart the faith this commandment requires.

Indeed, as before stated, works neither know nor tolerate faith. They do not recognize that the Law requires faith. Therefore, he who puts his trust in works must continue the devil’s martyr and a persecutor of faith and the Law through those very works wherein he trusts, until he comes to himself, knows himself and, despairing of himself and his works, gives honor to God; until, perceiving his own worthlessness, he ardently desires pure grace, driven to it by God, through the Law. Then faith and grace come to fill the empty heart, to feed the hungry soul. Then follow really good works. These works are not of the Law; they are works of the Spirit of grace, in the Scriptures styled the works of God — works he produces in us. All not produced in us by God through grace, all that we perform of ourselves without grace, is really wrought of the Law and avails nothing to justification. Rather it is evil and opposed to God, because of the unbelief in which it is wrought

30. In the second place, one like Cain never performs his duty willingly and voluntarily unless he is hired and is permitted to exercise his own pleasure, to have his own desires. He is precisely like the servant who will not do his duty unless he is driven, or is given his own way. Now, servants that have to be driven or coaxed or flattered are very disagreeable. Likewise the Cain-like are displeasing, and by no means acceptable in the sight of God.

For they perform no work of the Law unless driven by fear of punishment and of hell; or only after being coaxed and given their own way; or again, unless they do it to secure from God a competence to use as they desire.

You see they are not actuated by heartfelt love for the Law, but by the expectation of reward or fear of punishment. Being with all their hearts enemies to the Law, evidently they would prefer that the Law did not exist.

If the doer be evil, the work is also evil. It is merely extorted by fear, or secured by conceding the doer his own pleasure in the matter; just as entreaty and persuasion move one to action.

31. The Law teaches us to recognize the unwillingness and perversity of our minds. They are wholly sinful before God. Where is the holiness in performing with the hands required duties when our hearts are unkindly disposed toward the Law and the Law-giver? Indeed, ill-will toward the Law is very sinful.

Note, what Paul calls knowing sin by the Law, is coming into conflict with it, feeling and experiencing the perversity of our hearts and in consequence shuddering, despairing of ourselves, and eagerly striving after grace. Grace removes disinclination and generates a willing, cheerful spirit, a spirit giving us sincere good-will for the Law and enabling us to perform our duties voluntarily, without constraint, our only motive being pure delight in righteousness and the Law, while we are uninfluenced by expectation of reward or by fear of punishment. Thus, of the slave, the child is made; of the bond-servant, an heir. The faith of Christ alone can create such a spirit, as sufficiently stated before. Now let us consider the epistle. “So long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bond-servant, though he is lord of all.”

32. Paul introduces a figure from material life. As we know, a minor, a child, who is heir to an estate left from parents or bequeathed by will, is reared in restraint like a servant so fat as control of the estate is concerned. He is powerless to exercise his own pleasure in regard to it. He is kept under restraint and discipline, being permitted to derive from the estate only enough for food and raiment, notwithstanding the property is really his own. In the matter of his own possessions, he is but as a stranger and a servant.

33. Similarly, in spiritual matters God made a testament when he gave Abraham the promise (Genesis 22:18) that in his seed, Christ, should all the nations of the earth be blessed. This testament was afterward established by the death of Christ; and after his resurrection it was published through the Gospel. The Gospel is merely a revelation, a manifestation, of this testament wherein it is declared to the world that in Christ, the seed of Abraham, grace and blessing are willed and given to all men, and may be received by every one if only he believes it.

34. Before this testament was opened and published, children of God were under the Law, burdened and constrained by its works. Nevertheless, their works did not justify; rather they were servile and unprofitable. But because God’s children were predestined to a future faith which should constitute them children, they were unquestionably heirs of the grace and blessing conveyed in the testament; though not then in possession of it and able to appropriate it, but, like others without faith, servile and occupied with works. Just so, it is the case now, and always has been, that many believe, and acknowledge faith, after having been previously overwhelmed with works and in ignorance of faith; after having been, with hypocrites, occupied in works. From the fact of their now apprehending faith and receiving the inheritance, they certainly must have been all the time heirs and predestined of God, though in ignorance of the fact, and though servants, self-righteous and Cain-like.

35. So some who are now occupied with works and whose holiness is like Cain’s, who are servants as he was, are nevertheless future heirs and children, because they will yet believe. Faith will enable them to lay aside their servility, to surrender their works and to obtain the great blessing, the vast inheritance, of justification. And being justified, righteousness and salvation are theirs without works, Then will they voluntarily do all their works to the honor of God and the benefit of their neighbors, without expectation of reward or intent to secure righteousness or a reward. For they are in possession of the inheritance and blessing; they have what Christ has bequeathed to them in his testament and caused to be opened, proclaimed and distributed through the Gospel, all of pure grace and mercy.

36. Abraham and every other patriarch, you will observe, recognized God’s testament or covenant. It was delivered to them just as much as to us, although not at that time read and proclaimed to the world as after Christ’s ascension. They obtained the very same thing that we and all God’s children obtain, and through the very same faith, The grace, the blessing, the testament, the faith — all are the same; the Father is one and the same God of us all.

37. Note, Paul everywhere teaches justification, not by works, but solely by faith; and not as a process, but instantaneous. The testament includes in itself everything — justification, salvation, the inheritance and great blessing. Through faith it is instantaneously enjoyed, not in part, but all.

Truly is it plain, then, that faith alone affords such blessings of God, justification and salvation — immediately and not in process as must be the case with works — and constitutes us children and heirs who voluntarily discharge their duties, not presuming to become godly and worthy by a servile spirit. No merit is needed; faith secures all gratuitously — more than anyone can merit. The believer performs his works gratuitously, being already in possession of all the Cain-like saints vainly seek through works and never find — justification and divine inheritance, or grace. “But is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed of the father.”

38. These guardians and stewards are they who bring up the heir on his father’s estate, restraining him from a wild and vagabond life. Though they withhold from him control of the inheritance, they are necessary and benefit the heir in various ways. In the first place, as stated before, they keep him at home on the estate, to better fit him for enjoyment of it.

Secondly, the fact of his being carefully and closely restrained will inspire in him stronger desire for control of the inheritance; when he arrives at the age of discretion he will yearn for freedom and be unwilling to continue under others’ control.

39. The same is necessarily true of everyone still occupied with works under the Law, and a servant. The Law is his guardian, his steward. He is under its control as one in constraint of another. The Law is designed, in the first place, to train him and keep him in bounds; to restrain him externally, through fear of punishment, from committing evil works; to save him from becoming wholly dissolute, from risking everything and altogether shutting himself out from God and his salvation, as do the profligate.

The Law is intended, in the second place, to teach man to know himself; to bring him to reason, where he may recognize his unwilling allegiance to the Law, how he performs no work willingly as a child, but by constraint as a bond-servant. The Law gives him experience as to his shortcomings; it shows him his lack of a free, new and ever-willing spirit — a spirit the Law and its works cannot give. Indeed, the more he works, the more unwillingly is it done; and the harder is it to work, for he is influenced by a grudging spirit.

40. Being made aware of his unwilling attitude, he sees that his works are only an external observance of the Law, while in his heart he is an enemy and opposer of the Law, so far as cheerful obedience is concerned. Hence he truly is constantly at heart a sinner against the Law, and externally a saint according to the Law; in other words, a real Cain, an egregious hypocrite. Manifestly to himself, his works are works of the Law, but his heart is a heart of sin. His heart being not disposed to the Law, it is disposed to sin, while merely his hands are constrained to observe the Law’s requirements.

41. Very aptly has Paul styled works without faith “works of the Law.”

For the Law forces them; they are simply compulsory works. Now, the Law demands the heart also. It desires a willing obedience. A willing obedience may be said to be not only “a work of the Law,” but “a heart of the Law”; not only “hands of the Law,” but “will, spirit and all the powers of the Law.” As Psalm 1:1-2 declares: “Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of Jehovah; and on his law doth he meditate day and night.” Such a spirit the Law demands, but it does not create it; nor is human nature able of itself to produce it. Hence the Law oppresses the soul and condemns it to hell as disobedient to God’s commandments. Anguish and distress of conscience follow, but there is no help.

This is the time appointed of the Father. Now the child of God will crave grace and help. He will confess his wretchedness, weakness and guilt. He will let go his claim to security in works, and despise himself. For he recognizes that between himself and public sinners there is no difference except as to external conduct. In his heart he is as much opposed to the Law as any other sinner; in fact, his heart may be even more embittered toward it. For the sinner of actual practice may find less desire to sin and may become somewhat inimical to sin, in consequence of the resulting unpleasantness and injury he must meet. The child of God, hindered and restrained by its tutor the Law, may really burn and rage in his desires and lusts for sin, though he dare not commit the deed. Thus, in expression he may be more righteous than the public sinner, but in heart more wicked.

42. Now, it is easily apparent to everyone that to give our hands to the Law and our whole hearts to sin, is a very unequal division of service; for the whole heart means vastly more than the works of the hands. What is such a proceeding but giving the chaff to the Law and the grain to sin, or the shell to God and the kernel to the devil? This explains how, as taught in the Gospel, the sin of the public transgressor is but a mote, while that of the secret offender is a great beam.

43. Now, where circumstances are such that Cain does not see this beam find does not learn to know himself in this sense of the Law, but continues obdurate and blind in his works, disregarding his inner wickedness — where such is the case, he proceeds very inconsistently to judge with malice the world in general, despising sinners as did the Pharisee in the Gospel — presuming to regard himself godly in contrast with others. If any attempt to rebuke him, and justly to condemn his conduct, he rages and raves, kills Abel and persecutes all men, claiming that he does it for the sake of good works and righteousness, to the praise of God. He expects to merit much as a persecutor of blasphemers, heretics, offenders and wicked ones who would lead him astray and lure him from good works. Right here all Scripture denunciations of these venomous spirits come in. Christ calls them serpents and a generation of vipers. Matthew 23:33. They are like Cain, and will continue like him. Servants are they, and will remain servants.

44. But the prospective Abels and future children learn to recognize themselves by the Law, to discover how little heartfelt delight they have for that Law. Ceasing to rely upon their own presumption, they let go their hold and with this knowledge are completely helpless in their own eyes.

Just here the Gospel comes in. Here is where God gives grace to the humble. These children of God lay hold of the testament and believe. With and in this faith they receive the Holy Spirit. He gives to them a new heart, a heart delighting in the Law and hating sin, and doing right voluntarily and cheerfully. Works of the Law are now superseded by hearts of the Law.

This is the time appointed of the father for the heir to come into his own — no longer to be a servant nor under a guardian. Now we understand what Paul means by the words: “So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the rudiments [elements] of the world.”

45. The apostle uses a word familiar to us — “rudiments.” But we are not to understand here the four rudiments or elements of nature — fire, water, air and earth. That is not its Scriptural meaning. That use of the term originated in heathen philosophy, and in such sense it would be entirely inadmissible in the Scriptures. The apostle means by “rudiments” the literal characters — the letters — of the Law. In both the Latin and the Greek languages, letters are terms the “rudiments” of the language.

Similarly, Paul says (Hebrews 5:12), “When by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God.” And (Colossians 2:8): “Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Again (Galatians 4:9-10), “How turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again? Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years.”

46. It is in a rather contemptuous sense that Paul terms the Law “rudiments,” or letters; it is “weak and beggarly” because it can afford no relief. It renders us likewise weak and beggarly, for it demands service of the heart and mind; and the heart and mind are not present. Hence the conscience grows weak and beggarly, confessing it has not and can not have what it should have. As the apostle expresses it (2 Corinthians 3:6), “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

47. Some understand by “rudiments” not the letter of the law, but the ceremonials and outward forms of worship incident to the religious life, and which we early teach children. In that connection, “rudiments” implies the first crude, childish forms of worship.

48. Paul qualifies “rudiments” by the phrase “of the world,” because the self-righteous, while boasting obedience to the Law, observe it only in external and worldly things, such as days, meats, apparel, places, persons, vessels and the like. These are all creatures of this world, and such, practically, is the extent of the works of the Law. [Therefore we rendered the meaning in German by “Aeuszerliche Satzung,” outward or worldly laws. Editions of 1540 and 1543.] 49. But faith, independent of the world, hangs upon God, his Word and his mercy; and justifies us, not by works or any other wordly thing, but by the eternal, invisible grace of God. To the Christian, one day is like another; and meats, places, apparel and all worldly things are alike. They neither help nor hinder his salvation and justification, as they do in the case of Cain and the self-righteous. Therefore, the Christian gives no heed to the rudiments of this world, but regards the fullness of the eternal blessings.

So, though the Christian has to do with external, temporal affairs, yet he is indifferent to worldly things. He is free to disregard them. All are alike to him — persons, places, days, meats, apparel, etc. He makes no particular choice. Doing the duty that presents, he is unconcerned about what does not. His external conduct does not represent something select and peculiar.

50. The Cain-like take a different course. They must make some distinction — must be recognized by some peculiarity. They eat no meat, wear nothing black, pray not in houses, observe days. One is bound to one custom, another to another. Yet these are all temporal and transitory things. The observers are servants of the rudiments of this world.

Nevertheless, their practices are styled holy orders, good morals and real ways to salvation.

Upon this point Paul says (Colossians 2:20-23): “If ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances, Handle not, nor taste, nor touch (all which things are to perish with the using), after the precepts and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility.”

51. From this quotation and from our foregoing arguments, clearly all orders, institutions and cloisters, now styled ecclesiastical positions, are directly opposed to the Gospel and to the freedom of Christian life; and they who are bound by them are in greater danger than are actual worldlings. The things they devise are mere rudiments of this world. They pertain only to apparel, persons, conditions, times, forms, meats and vessels — solely worldly and temporal things. Adhering to these as having power to make them pious and spiritual, faith is excluded and they are not Christians. Their whole life is but sin and corruption.

52. These ecclesiasts have more need than anyone else to guard against such dazzling devices. They have especial need to adhere steadfastly to faith, the righteousness of which is beyond the world and worldly things.

The glitter and show of works tear away from faith with greater violence than do gross, open sins, and place the doers in the condition to which Paul here refers when he says, “So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the rudiments of the world.” When we were ignorant of faith and occupied with the works of the Law, we per-formed — yet unwillingly and as servants — works relating to temporal things, presuming thereby to become righteous and saved. It was a false idea, and made of us children and servants. The mere works would have been harmless had it not been for the idea that excluded faith and the doctrine of godliness only through grace, and had all temporal things been left optional. “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

53. Now, since the law cannot effect justification nor faith, and human nature with all its works cannot merit them, Paul introduces him who merited faith in our stead, and who is master of justification — and justification was not secured without price; it cost much, even the Son of God himself. Him Paul introduces, saying: “When the fullness of the time was come”; that is, at the expiration of the time when we were children and servants. The apostle follows a usage of the Scriptures in speaking of the expiration of the time as its “fulfillment.” For instance, Acts 2:1: “When the day of Pentecost was [fulfilled] fully come”; that is, when it was completed. And Exodus 23:26, “The number of thy days I will fulfill,” meaning, “I will not shorten them; I will give their full measure.” Also Luke 1:57; Now Elizabeth’s time was fulfilled that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.”

54. Hence the learned doctors erred in interpreting this passage by Paul to mean that the time of fulfillment was the time of grace following Christ’s birth. This is directly contrary to the apostle, who does not say, “the time of the fulfillment,” but “the fulfillment of the time,” meaning the previous time appointed of the Father for the heir, — the period of his guardianship.

55. Like as the time of the bondservant was fulfilled for the Jews by the bodily advent of Christ, so is it still daily fulfilled for the individual when he is enlightened by faith, and his period of servitude in legal works terminates. Christ’s bodily advent would have been to no purpose had it not effected a spiritual advent, the advent of faith. The purpose of the former appearance was the establishment of the latter one. Christ came spiritually to all who, whether previously or subsequently, believed in his bodily advent. Hence, because of their faith, he was always present with the ancient fathers; but he has not yet come to the Jews of today because of their unbelief.

Everything, from the beginning of the world to the end, depends on that bodily advent. Faith therein terminates the state of servitude whenever, wherever and in whomsoever it exists. Therefore, the time is fulfilled for each individual when he begins to believe in Christ as the promised one now come.

WHAT WE ARE TO BELIEVE CONCERNING CHRIST.

56. So rich in meaning is this verse, I am not sure I shall be able to do it justice in my explanation. It is not enough merely to believe that Christ is come; we must believe also what Paul here states: that he is sent of God and is the Son of God; that he is true man; that his mother was a virgin; that he alone has fulfilled the Law, and not for his own sake but for our good — to secure grace for us. These points we will examine in order.

On the first point John’s entire Gospel insists, as we said on the selection for Christmas. John continually proves Christ the Son of God and sent of the Father. He who does not believe that Christ is true God is lost; witness John 8:24: “Except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”

And (John 1:4) “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” And again (John 14:6): “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” And the reason that we must believe if we would be saved, is this: 57. The soul cannot, and should not, be content with anything but the Highest Good — its Creator and the fountain of its life and salvation. Now, God chose to be himself that one on whom the soul should rely and believe. No one but God deserves the creature’s confidence. Therefore, he himself came to earth as man, gave himself for man, and draws man unto himself, inviting him to believe in him. No necessity on God’s part demanded that he come to earth as man; the necessity was ours — it was for our benefit. Now, if we were not to cleave by faith unto Christ as true God, God would be robbed of the honor due him, and we of life and salvation. It is our duty to believe in God only, who is the Truth; without him we cannot live or be saved.

58. The apostle says, “God sent his son.” The fact of sending necessitates previous existence of the Son. Christ must have existed before he manifested himself on earth in human form. Again, if he is a Son, he must be greater than an angel. Being more than man and more than angels, the highest creatures, he must be true God. To be the Son of God is to be superior to an angel, as said in the Epistle for Christmas day. Further, Christ being sent by God, and being God’s Son, he must be a distinct person from him who sends. Thus Paul teaches here the existence of one God in two persons, Father and Son. We shall speak later of the Holy Spirit.

59. For the second point: We are also to believe Christ to be true, natural man, and the Son of man. Paul says he was born of a woman, or made of a woman. Now, he who is born of a woman must be truly a natural man. A woman can bear only according to her nature — bear true man. In John 6:53, Christ says: “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves.” Eating and drinking here means simply believing that Christ, the Son of God, had a true flesh-and-blood nature, like other men.

This is also the testament or covenant of God to Abraham (Genesis 22:18), “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” To be the seed of Abraham, Christ must surely have Abraham’s flesh and blood — must be his natural child.

60. No one, then, must presume by his own devotion, his own efforts, to institute a way of approach to God. It is futile to call on God in the manner of the Jews and the Turks. We must approach him through the seed of Abraham, and be blessed through that seed, according to God’s covenant.

God will not make a special way for you. He will not, because of your service, annul his covenant. You must abandon your own efforts and cleave to the seed he mentions, to that flesh and blood; otherwise you will be lost with all the spiritual skill and wisdom you may have gained from God. Christ says (John 14:6), “No one cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

61. Because of the exalted and incomprehensible character of the divine nature, God has for our good manifested himself in the most familiar form — in our own nature. In this character he awaits us. Here, and nowhere else, he may be found. Whosoever calls upon him in this relation will be heard at once. Here is the throne of grace, where no one who comes is excluded. But they who permit Christ to dwell here in vain, and presume in some other way than through his humanity to serve and call upon God, the Creator of heaven and earth, may see their sentence already pronounced in Psalm 18:41, where it is said of such: “They cried, but there was none to save; even unto Jehovah, but he answered them not.”

62. In the third place, we must believe that Christ’s mother was a virgin.

The apostle makes this plain when he declares the Son of God was made of a woman — not of manlike other children. He alone among men is born of woman only. The apostle is not disposed to say “born of a virgin,” because “virgin” is not naturally consistent here. But “woman” represents a state in nature — the natural instrumentality for bearing fruit, for bringing forth children. The mother of Christ is truly woman by nature, who brought forth the divine fruit; yet from herself alone, not by man. Therefore she is a virgin woman — not simply a virgin.

63. Paul attaches more importance to the birth of Christ than to Mary’s virginity. He passes over in silence her virginity, merely a peculiar personal grace that benefited none but herself, and points out her womanhood, advantageous not only to herself but to her fruit. Her virginity ministers not so much to Christ as does her womanhood. She was selected in her virginity not for her own sake, but for Christ’s sake. He chose to be born of a virgin that he might be born without sin. A sinless birth was impossible except through the instrumentality of a virgin woman who was able to conceive and bring forth without the aid of man.

64. Such seems to be included in God’s covenant, declaring that all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in the seed of Abraham. From the fact of a blessing being promised, it is evident that men must be under a curse because of their physical birth in sin resulting from Adam. Should this seed of Abraham be a blessing to all, it could not itself be under a curse; therefore, the Savior could not come of Adam’s birth, which is altogether under the curse.

65. Further, to verify the testament or covenant of God who cannot lie, Christ must be the natural child of Abraham — his flesh and blood. But to what is such reasoning leading us? Christ is to be a natural child, born of flesh and blood, and yet not to be a child of carnal birth. The inconsistency of the reasoning is removed by the fact that a woman alone, independent of man, was chosen to effect the birth. Thus it was possible for a real, natural child, one truly the seed of Abraham, to be born sinless, of a woman, and productive of abundant blessings. In him, then, mankind, under the curse in consequence of its own sinful birth, may be blessed. Thus the requirements of God’s covenant are fully met; the carnal birth of Adam with its inordinate desire is avoided, and a physical birth in spiritual manner really effected.

66. If to Mary, the holy virgin, is due great honor for her virginity, infinitely greater honor is due her for her womanhood. For her procreative powers were instrumental in the fulfillment of God’s covenant, and in making the blessed seed of Abraham the blessed fruit of her womanhood.

Her mere virginity would have been insufficient to accomplish it; in fact, entirely futile.

67. in the fourth place, we must believe that none but Christ has fulfilled the law. He says (Matthew 5:17), “Think not that I came to destroy the law… but to fulfill.” Such, too, is the meaning of the covenant that says the whole world is condemned, and shall be blessed in Abraham’s seed. Genesis 22:18. Now, if all men are condemned and unblessed, the individual cannot be good; he is only Cain-like. Consequently his works cannot be good, as said before. God does not regard the works, but the persons — Abel and Cain. And the works of the law render no one righteous.

68. The fact that Christ rejects all works of the Law and demands that the person first be good and blessed, may seem to teach that he rejects good works and designs to destroy the Law altogether. But in reality Christ teaches us to perform good works. For the very purpose of correcting error on this point, he says (Matthew 5:17): “Think not that I came to destroy the Law” because I reject the works of the Law. Rather I design its fulfillment through men’s faith in me, which first renders the individual good and then enables him to do really good works.

Similarly Paul says, rejecting all works of the Law and exalting faith alone: “Do we then make the law of none effect through faith? God forbid: nay, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31.

Of us at the present day also it is said that we forbid good works when we condemn the practices of the cathedrals and cloisters in the matter of works. Nevertheless, our actual desire for the people is that they first embrace true faith whereby they may become personally good, and be blessed in Christ the seed of Abraham, and thus be enabled to do good works contributing to the mortification of the body and to the good of mankind. To this end the things wrought in cathedrals and cloisters contribute nothing, as already fully stated.

69. Observe, no one is able to fulfill the Law until he first is liberated from it. We must become accustomed to Paul’s peculiar phraseology in his reference to some being “under the Law” if we would know who is really under it and who is free. All who perform good works simply because commanded, and from fear of punishment or expectation of reward, are under the Law. Their piety and good deeds result from constraint, and not from a willing spirit. The Law is their master, their driver, and they its bondservants and captives. Such is the attitude of all men without Christ the blessed seed of Abraham. Our own experience and the voice of everyone’s conscience teach this. Were it not for the restraint of Law — the fear of punishment or the expectation of reward — were each individual left to his own inclinations and there were no punishment or reward, he would do evil and neglect good, particularly under the influence of temptation and allurements. But when the Law with its threats and its promises interposes, man abstains from evil and endeavors to do good; not from love of good and hatred of evil, but through fear of punishment or hope of reward. Thus the Cain-like saints are under the Law, controlled by it, like servants.

70. But they who are liberated from the Law do good and avoid evil, regardless of the threats and promises of the Law — not from fear of punishment or expectation of reward. They act voluntarily, from love for the good and hatred of the evil, because they delight in the Law of God.

Even were there no Law, they would not have it otherwise, and be prompted by the same spirit to do good and abstain from evil. Such are really children. Human nature cannot create that spirit; it has origin with the seed of Abraham. The blessing of Christ gives the willing disposition.

Willingness is the result of his grace and of the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, “not under the Law” does not mean liberty to do evil and to neglect good as we feel inclined. It means doing good and avoiding evil, not in consequence of fear, not from the restraints and requirements of the Law, but from pure love and a willing spirit. Freedom from the Law involves a spirit which would voluntarily do only good, as if the Law did not exist and our nature were prone to do good. It is a freedom paralleled by that of the body, which willingly eats, drinks, assimilates, sleeps, moves and performs all natural functions. No law, no compulsion, is necessary. It acts voluntarily and seasonably, without fear of punishment or expectation of reward. It may truly be said that the body is under no law, still it performs its functions; it acts spontaneously.

71. Mark you, we must have within ourselves a ready, natural willingness that will incline to good and recoil from evil. This is spiritual liberation, or redemption from the Law. Thus is explained Paul’s words (1 Timothy 1:9): “Law is not made for a righteous man.” From his own impulse the righteous man inclines to good and abstains from evil; it is with no fear of penalty or hope of recompense. Again, we read (Romans 6:15), “We are not under law, but under grace.” That is, we are children, not bondservants; we incline to good readily, without constraint. Again (Romans 8:15), “Ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” The Law produces a spirit of fear; a servile, Cain-like spirit. But grace produces a free, filial, Abel-like disposition, through Christ the seed of Abraham. To that spirit, Psalm 51:10, has reference: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Again, in Psalm 110:3, it is said concerning the people of Christ: “Thy people offer themselves willingly... in holy array.”

72. Thus Christ fulfilled the Law and did all, of his own free will; not because of the compelling or restraining power of the Law. No other has ever fulfilled it, nor will any fulfill it, except in and through him. So Paul here says that Christ was “born under the law, that he might redeem them that Were under the law.”

73. In the fifth place, we are to believe that Christ’s motive was to benefit us. He desired to make children of us servants. What is meant by the phrase “that he might redeem them that were under the law”?

Unquestionably, that he might redeem us from under the Law. But how does Christ effect that? As said before, not by the threats or the rewards of the Law, but by bestowing a voluntary spirit; a spirit prompted neither by compulsion nor restraint; a spirit that regards not the terrors nor the rewards of the Law, but proceeds as if no Law existed and all action were voluntary, as was the case with Adam and Eve before the fall.

74. But what is the process whereby Christ gives us such a spirit and redeems us from under the Law? The work is effected solely by faith. He who believes that Christ came to redeem us, and that he has accomplished it, is really redeemed. As he believes, so is it with him. Faith carries with it the child-making spirit. The apostle here explains by saying that Christ has redeemed us from under the Law that we might receive the adoption of sons. As before stated, all must be effected through faith. Now we have discussed the five points of the verse.

HOW CHRIST WAS UNDER THE LAW.

75. The question, however, still arises: How can Christ be under the Law if to be “under the Law” is to be prompted to obedience only by its restraints and compulsion, and if no one under the Law can fulfill it since God requires a voluntary conformity to its demands? I answer: The apostle seems to make a distinction when he says that Christ was put, or made under the Law; that is, he voluntarily placed himself under the Law. Again, with his voluntary consent, the Father placed him under the Law, though properly he was not subject. We, however, were made subject against our desires. We, as Paul says, were naturally and essentially in forced subjection. While Christ was voluntarily, not by nature, under the Law, we were by nature, not voluntarily, in subjection.

76. There is a marked difference between being placed under the Law and being of choice under the Law; just the difference there is between volition and the compulsion of nature. Acting according to the pleasures of the will differs materially from obeying the impulses of nature. What is performed by pleasure of the will may be omitted; it is not compulsory. But what is wrought in obedience to the impulses of nature is of necessity; it is not optional. One may go to the Rhine or not, as he pleases; but he must eat, drink, assimilate, sleep, grow and advance in years regardless of his will.

Christ put himself under the Law voluntarily, when he had power to refrain. But we were by nature under it; there was no alternative. We could not voluntarily obey and suffer the Law as if under no constraint, as before stated. But Christ, independent of any obligation to obey the Law, observed it voluntarily; he acted as if there were no law for him.

77. To illustrate: Peter, the apostle (Acts 12:6-7), lay captive in the prison of Herod, bound with chains to two soldiers, while the keepers stood guard at the door. The angel of God entered the prison in a brilliant light, awoke Peter and led him past all the keepers and out the door, leaving the chains in the prison. This event is an illustration of how Christ liberates us from the Law. Let us analyze it.

Peter was an inmate of the prison not willingly; he was kept there by force.

He knew not how to deliver himself. The angel also entered the prison, but willingly. He was not compelled to be there. He was not there for his own sake, but for the sake of Peter. And he knew how to deliver himself. Now, Peter, when he followed the angel obediently, was liberated.

The prison represents the Law, in which our consciences are unwillingly held captive. For no one voluntarily effects the good required by the Law or omits the evil it forbids.

Man acts through fear of punishment or hope of reward. The fear or threat and the reward, or rather the expectation of reward, are the two chains that hold us in prison under the Law. The keepers are the teachers of the Law, who explain it to us. Thus we remain — yes, unwillingly lie — in the Law.

Christ is the angel who voluntarily approaches us in prison — approaches us under the Law; he does willingly the works we unwillingly perform. His motive is to benefit us; he would attach us to himself and liberate us. Christ well knows how to liberate, for he is himself independent of will. Then, mark you, if we cleave to him and follow him, we too shall be liberated.

78. But how is this done? We cleave to Christ and follow him when we believe that he effects all for our benefit. Such faith introduces the Spirit.

Having faith, we too shall perform the requirements of the Law voluntarily, unfettered and liberated from the prison of the Law. The two chains, fear of punishment and hope of reward, will no longer restrain us. All our acts will be spontaneous, prompted by pure love and a cheerful spirit.

79. To further understand how Christ was put under the Law: Observe, he placed himself in subjection in a twofold manner. In the first place, he put himself under the works of the Law. He permitted himself to be circumcised and to be presented and purified in the temple. He was submissive to his father and mother, and all those things, when no obligation required. For he was Lord over all laws. He acted voluntarily in this respect, unprompted by fear of punishment or expectation of reward as far as he was himself concerned. When we consider the question of mere external works, we can perceive no difference between his conduct and that of individuals actuated by compulsion and restraint. His liberty and free will were concealed from men, just as the imprisonment and unwillingness of others were not apparent. Thus Christ acts under the Law, though properly not under the Law. He conducts himself like those in bondage to it, but he is himself free. His will being free, he is not under the Law. In the matter of works, which he voluntarily performs, he is subject.

But we, both as to our wills and to our works, are under the Law; for we effect works by constraint of will.

80. In the second place, Christ willingly put himself under the penalty of the Law. He did more than perform the works of the Law to which he was not obligated; he willingly and innocently suffered the penalty threatened and inflicted of the Law upon all who fail of observance. Now, the Law adjudges to death, condemnation and eternal punishment every transgressor of its commands. Paul, quoting from Deuteronomy 27:26, says: “Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Galatians 3:10.

81. We have now made sufficiently plain the fact that no individual out of Christ is able to keep the Law; all of that class are under the Law, like servants, and fettered and constrained. Consequently, the disregarder of the Law deserves its judgment and penalties. He who is under the Law in the first respect — in the matter of works — must also be subject in the second respect — the matter of punishment. Now, first, all our works are sinful because not performed from a willing spirit but rather in opposition to our will. And second, we are adjudged to death and condemnation.

CHRIST REDEEMS US.

But Christ intervenes before sentence is executed upon us. He interposes, approaching us as we are under sentence. He suffers the penalty — death, curse and condemnation; just as if he had himself violated the entire Law, and deserved the full penalty resting upon the transgressor. At the same time he has not broken the Law; he has fulfilled it, and that without obligation. He is doubly innocent. First, even had he observed no Law — and such was his privilege — he was under no obligation to suffer. Second, he observed the Law from superabundant willingness and was liable to no penalty. In contrast, our guilt is also of twofold character. First, we, under obligation to keep the Law, failed so to do; consequently we should justly suffer its calamities. Second, even had we observed it, it would be right that we should suffer whatever God designs.

82. Note, the Son of God is put under the Law in that he redeemed us who were under it. For us, for our good, he effected all; not for himself. He purposed to manifest toward us only love, goodness and mercy. As Paul has it (Galatians 3:13), “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.” In other words: For us, Christ put himself under the law and complied with its demands, designing every believer of this fact to be redeemed from under the Law with its curse.

83. Mark you, then, the priceless blessing for the believing Christian: To him are attributed as his own all the works and sufferings of Christ. He may rely upon them as if they were his — wrought by himself. For, to repeat, Christ effected all, not for himself, but for us. Christ needed not any of the things he wrought. He accumulated the treasure that on it we might confidently rest. Further, such faith will be accompanied by the Holy Spirit.

84. What more should God do? How can the heart avoid being free, joyous and cheerfully obedient in God and Christ? What work can it encounter or what suffering endure to which it will not respond singing and leaping in love and praise for God? When such is not the case, there is certainly some defect in our faith. For the greater our faith, the greater our freedom and happiness; the less our faith, the less our joy. Note, this is the Christian redemption, the Christian freedom from the Law and its curse — sin and death. Not that the Law and death shall be removed, but they shall become as if they were not. The Law shall not lead us to sin, nor death to shame.

But faith shall guide us into righteousness and eternal life.

85. This is an occasion to admonish the poor Cain-like saints, the ecclesiasts, if that is possible in their condition. Were they to observe their orders, laws, ceremonies, prayers, masses, clothing and meats as Christ observed the Law, these might be retained. For example, if they assigned the Christian faith its true place and allowed it to control the heart; if they confessed that they did not become pious and were not saved through their orders, stations and works, but alone through faith in Christ; and if then they considered their works and laws optional, needed only for the mortification of the body and the benefit of the neighbor; then these ordinances might be retained. But the impression at present is that such practices are essential to piety and eternal salvation. This is nothing but a delusion and very sinful. It drives people to perdition by severe martyrdom, and it merits eternal martyrdom; because full, child-like faith is opposed by servile and compulsory works. Faith cannot tolerate such stupid works; it alone makes us pious and forever happy. With the believer all works are optional; he cheerfully suffers all that God sends and does as his neighbor’s need requires. These are the works of faith, these and no other. Faith inquires not about masses, appointed fasts, particular clothing, special meats, rare positions, persons or works; nay, faith rejects all these as hindrances to its liberty.

86. Let this suffice on that verse. We were compelled to treat the subject at length because so little is known concerning the doctrine of faith, a knowledge of which is necessary to a right understanding of Paul. Now follows: “And because ye are sons [children], God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

87. Here we see that the Holy Spirit is communicated, not through works, but through faith; for as it reads, the Spirit is given to men because they are children and not servants. Children believe; servants only work. Children are free from the Law; servants are under it. The foregoing explanations make all this plain. It may be necessary, however, for us to consider in some measure the sense in which Paul uses the words “child” and “servant,” “free” and “bond.” Works performed under compulsion are the works of servants, and works wrought of free will are the works of children.

88. Why does Paul tell the Galatians the Holy Spirit was given them because they were children, when the fact is, the Holy Spirit creates children from servants, and must be essentially present before they can become children? I reply: He speaks in the same future sense characteristic of verses three and four, where we read that before the time was fulfilled we were under the rudiments. Here the reference is to children prospectively, in the sight of God. The Holy Spirit was sent to transform the servants into the children they were designed to be.

89. Paul speaks of the Spirit as the Spirit of the Son of God. Why not the Spirit of God? Because he would emphasize the point he is making. Being children of God, God sends them the Spirit of Christ, himself a child, giving them the right to cry, with him, “Abba, Father.” In other words, God sends you his Spirit, who dwells in his Son, that you may be brethren and heirs with him, crying as he cries, “Abba, Father.” The unspeakable goodness and grace of God are extolled in the fact that through faith we share with Christ the full blessings, having all he has, and all he is — also his Spirit.

90. These words also establish the doctrine of a third person — the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. For not only does the Spirit dwell in Christ as he does in men, but he also is Christ’s, deriving his divine substance from him just as he does from the Father. Otherwise the language of Paul — “the Spirit of his Son” — would be false. No creature can claim the Holy Spirit as his own spirit; he is the Spirit of God alone. Creatures are the property of the Holy Spirit; though one might, it is true, say “my Holy Spirit” in the sense in which we say “my God,” “my Lord.” The Son is God, then, because the Spirit of God is his Spirit.

91. But let everyone be certain that he feels the Holy Spirit’s presence in himself and hears his voice. Paul says: When the Holy Spirit is in the heart he cries, “Abba, Father.” Again (Romans 8:15), “Ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” We recognize that voice when the conscience, without doubt or wavering, is firmly persuaded, fully satisfied, that our sins are forgiven and that we are children of God; and when, having such assurance of salvation, we may with joyous and confident heart approach God and call him our beloved Father. But we must be as certain as we are that we live, and must prefer death in any form, yes, hell with all its pangs, to being deprived of the Spirit or to distrusting him. It would be unreasonable doubt of the unbounded achievements of Christ and of his unlimited sufferings were we not to believe that he freely wrought all for us, and not to let this fact incite us to confidence and strength in him equal to the force wherewith sin or temptation terrifies or dissuades us.

92. True, conflict may arise here. The individual may have a fearful feeling that he is not a child of God. He may imagine God to be a judge over him, angry and austere. Such was the case with Job, and many others. In such conflict, filial confidence must gain the victory, however it may tremble and quake; otherwise all will be lost.

93. Now, the Cain-like individual, hearing this doctrine, blesses himself, and crossing his hands and his feet, and affecting great humility, he exclaims: “Guard me, O God, against such abominable heresy and presumption! Shall I, a poor sinner, be so bold as to say, I am a child of God? No, no; I humbly confess myself a poor sinner”; and so on. Ignore such a one. Guard against him as the worst enemy to Christian faith and to your salvation.

We, too, know full well what poor sinners we are. But it does no good to contemplate what we are and what we do. Rather we are to consider what Christ is and what he has accomplished and still accomplishes for us. The point is not our nature, but the grace of God, which is as high above us as the heaven is above the earth, or as far removed as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:11-12. If you regard it a wonderful thing to be a child of God, think it not a small thing that the Son of God came to earth, was born of a woman and was subject to the Law, for the very purpose of enabling you to be a child of God.

94. All the works of God are wonderful and of mighty import. Hence they fill us with joy and courage, giving us fearlessness and ability to endure anything that may befall us. But the principles of the Cain-like are narrow, productive only of quaking hearts, which are wholly incapable of endurance and action, hearts that tremble at the sound of a driven leaf, as Leviticus 26:36 has it.

95. Let us, then, heed closely the text. We must perceive the cry of the Spirit in our hearts. It is truly the cry of our own hearts; why, then, should we not recognize it? Paul uses the term “crying” when he might as easily have referred to the Spirit as “whispering,” “speaking” or “singing.” But the first word is more forcible. The Spirit calls, or cries, with power; that is from our full heart, a heart that always lives and moves in true, child-like confidence. As said in Romans 8:26, “The Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Again (Romans 8:16), “The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God.” Then why should not our hearts perceive that crying, intercession and witness-bearing?

96. How preciously effective temptations and afflictions are in this direction! They drive us to cry; they rouse the Spirit. But we fear and flee at sight of the cross. Consequently we never feel the Spirit, and we continue Cain’s subjects. If we do not recognize the Spirit’s cry, we must reflect, and must not cease to pray until God hears us; for we are like Cain and our condition is perilous. We are not to expect, however, that no voice but the Spirit’s will cry within us. The voice of murder will cry, to impel us to desire the Spirit’s voice and to exercise ourselves to hear it. So has it ever been with men.

Our sins will also cry: they will produce in our conscience strong tendencies to despair. But the Spirit of Christ must, and shall, outvoice that cry. He will create in us a confidence stronger than the tendency to despair.

John says (1 John 3:19-22): “Hereby shall we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before him: because if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God; and whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight.”

97. The Spirit calling and crying within us is simply a powerful assurance, a perfect confidence, from the depths of the hearts of loving children toward God their beloved Father.

98. Note how far above mere human nature is the life of the Christian.

Human nature is not capable of such a cry, of such confidence in God. It only fears and cries murder upon itself. It exclaims, “O wo, wo, is me!

Thou austere and intolerable judge? Just as Cain cried to God (Genesis 4:13-14): “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the ground; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth; and it will come to pass that whosoever findeth me shall slay me.” Such exclamations are necessarily characteristic of Cain-like saints. Why? Because they rely upon themselves and their works, and not upon God’s Son, who was sent to earth, was born of a woman and put under the Law. They do not believe that salvation through him was designed for them; nor are they concerned about it. They are occupied merely with their own works, endeavoring by such means to help themselves and to secure the grace of God.

99. In persecuting faith and defaming and condemning it as heresy and presumption, the unbelievers conduct themselves as their father Cain did to his brother Abel. Thus in themselves they slay Christ their brother. His innocent blood will not cease to cry toward heaven against them, as the blood of Abel cried against Cain. God will inquire after Abel; he will demand of each of them, “Where is Christ your brother?” Then the disordered Cain will go on to dissemble, saying: “What do I know about him? am I my brother’s keeper?” For it is the same thing to say: “Shall I be presumptuous enough to regard myself righteous and holy and a child of God merely through Christ? No, no; I will work until I become righteous myself, without his aid.” Mark you, thus the crying blood of Abel continued to be upon Cain; and the crying blood of Christ will continue upon all believers, still demanding vengeance and wrath. But as for the believers, the blood will, through the Spirit of Christ, cry for pure grace and reconciliation.

100. The apostle places a Hebrew word in apposition with a Greek word; he says Abba, Pater (Father). In the Hebrew, Abba means “father”; hence the prelates in certain cloisters are called “abbots.” In former times the holy hermits gave their chiefs the name Abba, Father. These terms were introduced also into the Latin and German. Abba, Pater is equivalent to “Father, Father.” In full German, Mein Vater, Mein Vater; or Lieber Vater, Lieber Vater — My Father, My Father, or Dear Father, Dear Father.

101. But why does Paul duplicate the word to express the cry of the Spirit?

Permit my opinion. In the first place, for the sake of emphasizing the cry.

The earnest suppliant frequently makes repetition of his cry. So strenuous must be our appeal and so great our confidence that sin, the cry of Cain, has not power to suppress them.

102. In the second place, it seems to be Scripture usage to indicate certainty and assurance by duplicating words and phrases. Joseph tells King Pharaoh (Genesis 41:32) that by repetition God indicates it is assured and done even as the words teach. So here the Spirit twice cries “Father” to give us the assurance that God is and will be our Father; to make us not only hopeful of great things, but certainly confident.

103. In the third place, the apostle may have purposed to show the Spirit’s persistence. The first word, Abba, marks the beginning of the Spirit’s cry.

But at that point great conflict will arise. The devil will assail us unceasingly and we must persevere. The addition of the word Father so teaches. We must not cease to cry; as we have begun, we are to continue.

So doing, we will come to know what confidence is; the utmost assurance will possess us. Paul may also have designed by employing the word Abba, a somewhat unfamiliar Hebrew word, and supplementing it with Father, a native and familiar Greek term (he was addressing the Greeks and wrote in their own language) — he may also have designed to teach that we hardly know the meaning of confidence at the first. But confidence grows with exercise. In time, seemingly it becomes a part of the believer’s nature and he feels at home with God his Father. “So that thou art no more a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through Christ.”

104. Christ having come and having been recognized, Paul says, you are no more a bondservant. As before stated, there is a remarkable difference between a child and a servant. Their dispositions are altogether unlike. The child has freedom and is willing; the servant is constrained and is unwilling.

The child is ruled by faith; the servant, by works.

105. Plainly, then, in the sight of God no one by works can accomplish anything toward his salvation. Salvation must be obtained and enjoyed before works are begun. Having salvation, works will follow spontaneously, to the honor of God and to the benefit of our neighbor.

They will not be in any wise prompted by fear of punishment or expectation of reward. This is implied in the words: “If a son, then an heir through Christ.”

106. Now we have made it sufficiently plain that faith alone, faith before any works are done and without them, constitutes us children. If it makes us children, it makes us heirs; a child is an heir. When the inheritance is already possessed, can it be first secured through works? It is an inconsistent conclusion that the inheritance bequeathed through grace is already possessed, and at the same time is still to be sought and obtained first through works and merits, as if it were not present or not given. The inheritance is simply eternal salvation. We have frequently asserted that through baptism and faith the Christian instantaneously possesses all, but does not yet behold it visibly. He possesses it only in faith, for in this life he could not bear the open manifestation of such blessings. As Paul says (Romans 8:24-25), we are already saved, but in hope; we do not yet see our salvation, but we wait for it. And Peter tells us (1 Peter 1:4-5) that our salvation is reserved in heaven ready to be revealed in the last time.

107. For this reason, the Christian ought not to be influenced, like a servant, by a desire to secure advantage for himself, but by a longing to benefit others in their need. Truly, he must live and act, not for himself, but for his neighbor here on earth. So doing, he will most assuredly live and work for God. Through faith he has sufficient for himself; he is rich, well filled and happy for ever.

108. Paul adds “through Christ” to avoid the implication that the inheritance is bestowed upon us without any merit or cost whatever.

Although it costs us nothing, and although it is bestowed without merit on our part, yet Christ was placed under great obligations. For the sake of that inheritance he was put under the Law for us; he paid the cost to secure, or to merit, the inheritance for all who believe in him. When we confer an unmerited favor upon a neighbor, it costs him nothing. But what we bestow on him freely, of our pure goodness, as Christ bestows blessings upon us, costs us labor and substance.

109. The unlearned may be somewhat confused by Paul’s assertion that men are no longer servants, but children, and when the fact is, there are few believers in Christ, few children, while the world is filled with heretics and Cain-like people. But we must remember he speaks in a doctrinal connection. His meaning is: Before Christ came, and before the preaching of the Gospel whereby children are made, only the Law was preached — the Law which can make only servants with its work. The Gospel being preached at the present time, we have no need for the servant-maker, the Law. All who aforetime were, through the Law and its works, servants like Cain, now may become, through faith, righteous and saved without works.

Therefore, to say there are no more servants, but children, is practically saying that now no servile doctrine is to be taught; now we become children, not servants. Only faith and the Gospel are to be preached. Only they are to be our doctrine. This doctrine imparts the Spirit and teaches us to confide in God and to serve only our neighbor. Thus the whole Law is fulfilled.

110. In this manner Paul calls the Galatians again from the teachers who had led them back to the Law and its works. Similarly, the Pope with his foolish laws has for a long time misled the people through his bishops, priests and monks, and has exterminated the Christian faith — conduct foretold in the Scriptures concerning Antichrist. Then let him who would be saved, shun the Pope and his adherents, and all church orders, as he would Lucifer’s own servants and apostles.