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  • Martin Luther's Small Catechism
    into temptation What does this mean Answer God indeed tempts no one but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil the world and our flesh may not deceive us nor seduce us into misbelief despair and other great shame and vice and though we be assailed by them that still we may finally overcome and gain the victory The Seventh Petition But deliver us from evil What does this mean Answer We pray in this petition as in a summary that our Father in heaven would deliver us from all manner of evil of body and soul property and honor and at last when our last hour shall come grant us a blessed end and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself into heaven Amen What does this mean Answer That I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven and heard for He Himself has commanded us so to pray and has promised that He will hear us Amen Amen that is Yea yea it shall be so The Sacrament of Holy Baptism as the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household First What is Baptism Answer Baptism is not simple water only but it is the water comprehended in God s command and connected with God s Word Which is that word of God Answer Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit Secondly Cranach What does Baptism give or profit Answer It works forgiveness of sins delivers from death and the devil and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this as the words and promises of God declare Which are such words and promises of God Answer Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved but he that believeth not shall be damned Thirdly Original drawing How can water do such great things Answer It is not the water indeed that does them but the word of God which is in and with the water and faith which trusts such word of God in the water For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism But with the word of God it is a baptism that is a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost As St Paul says Titus chapter three By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior that being justified by His grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life This is a faithful saying Fourthly What does such baptizing with water signify Answer It signifies that the old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts and again a new man daily come forth and arise who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever Where is this written Answer St Paul says Romans chapter 6 We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death that like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father even so we also should walk in newness of life How the unlearned should be taught to Confess What is Confession What is Confession Answer Confession embraces two parts the one is that we confess our sins the other that we receive absolution or forgiveness from the confessor as from God Himself and in no wise doubt but firmly believe that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven What sins should we confess What sins should we confess Answer Before God we should plead guilty of all sins even of those which we do not know as we do in the Lord s Prayer But before the confessor we should confess those sins alone which we know and feel in our hearts Which are these Answer Here consider your station according to the Ten Commandments whether you are a father mother son daughter master mistress a man servant or maid servant whether you have been disobedient unfaithful slothful whether you have grieved any one by words or deeds whether you have stolen neglected or wasted aught or done other injury A Brief Form of Confession Speak thus Employees Employer Pray Propose to Me a Brief Form of Confession Answer You should speak to the confessor thus Reverend and dear sir I beseech you to hear my confession and to pronounce forgiveness to me for God s sake Proceed I a poor sinner confess myself before God guilty of all sins especially I confess before you that I am a man servant a maidservant etc But alas I serve my master unfaithfully for in this and in that I have not done what they commanded me I have provoked them and caused them to curse have been negligent and permitted damage to be done have also been immodest in words and deeds have quarreled with my equals have grumbled and sworn at my mistress etc For all this I am sorry and pray for grace I want to do better A master or mistress may say thus In particular I confess before you that I have not faithfully trained my children domestics and wife for God s glory I have cursed set a bad example by rude words and deeds have done my neighbor harm and spoken evil of him have overcharged and given false ware and short measure And whatever else he has done against God s command and his station etc But if any one does not find himself burdened with such or greater sins he should not trouble himself or search for or invent other sins and thereby make confession a torture but mention one or two that he knows Thus In particular I confess that I once cursed again I once used improper words I have once neglected this or that etc Let this suffice But if you know of none at all which however is scarcely possible then mention none in particular but receive the forgiveness upon your general confession which you make before God to the confessor Then shall the confessor say Absolution Pastoral care God be merciful to thee and strengthen thy faith Amen Furthermore Dost thou believe that my forgiveness is God s forgiveness Answer Yes dear sir Then let him say As thou believest so be it done unto thee And by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ I forgive thee thy sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost Amen Depart in peace But those who have great burdens upon their consciences or are distressed and tempted the confessor will know how to comfort and to encourage to faith with more passages of Scripture This is to be merely a general form of confession for the unlearned The Sacrament of the Altar as the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household First What is the Sacrament of the Altar Answer It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine for us Christians to eat and to drink instituted by Christ Himself Where is this written Answer The holy Evangelists Matthew Mark Luke and St Paul write thus Our Lord Jesus Christ the same night in which He was betrayed took bread and when He had given thanks He brake it and gave it to His disciples and said Take eat this is My body which is given for you This do in remembrance of Me After the same manner also He took the cup when He had supped gave thanks and gave it to them saying Take drink ye all of it This cup is the new testament in My blood which is shed for you for the remission of sins This do ye as oft as ye drink it in remembrance of Me Second Original drawing What is the benefit of such eating and drinking We are told in the words For you and for the forgiveness of sins By these words the forgiveness of sins life and salvation are given to us in the sacrament for where there is forgiveness of sins there are also life and salvation Third How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things Answer It is not the eating and drinking indeed that does them but the words which stand here namely Given and shed for you for the remission of sins Which words are beside the bodily eating and drinking as the chief thing in the Sacrament and he that believes these words has what they say and express namely the forgiveness of sins Fourth Who then receives such Sacrament worthily Answer Fasting and bodily preparation is indeed a fine outward training but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words Given and shed for you for the remission of sins But he that does not believe these words or doubts is unworthy and unfit for the words For you require altogether believing hearts How the head of the family should teach his household to bless themselves in the morning and in the evening In the morning In the morning when you rise you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say In the name of God the Father Son and Holy Ghost Amen Then kneeling or standing repeat the Creed and the Lord s Prayer If you choose you may in addition say this little prayer I thank Thee my Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ Thy dear Son that Thou hast kept me this night from all harm and danger and I pray Thee to keep me this day also from sin and all evil that all my doings and life may please Thee For into Thy hands I commend myself my body and soul and all things Let Thy holy angel be with me that the Wicked Foe may have no power over me Amen Then go to your work with joy singing a hymn as the Ten Commandments or what your devotion may suggest In the evening In the evening when you go to bed you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say In the name of God the Father Son and Holy Ghost Amen Then kneeling or standing repeat the Creed and the Lord s Prayer If you choose you may in addition say this little prayer I thank Thee my Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ Thy dear Son that Thou hast graciously kept me this day and I pray Thee to forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong and graciously keep me this night For into Thy hands I commend myself my body and soul and all things Let Thy holy angel be with me that the Wicked Foe may have no power over me Amen Then go to sleep promptly and cheerfully How the head of the family should teach his household to ask a blessing and return thanks Asking a Blessing The children and servants shall go to the table with folded hands and reverently and say The eyes of all wait upon Thee O Lord and Thou givest them their meat in due season Thou openest Thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing Note To satisfy the desire means that all animals receive so much to eat that they are on this account joyful and of good cheer for care and avarice hinder such satisfaction Then the Lord s Prayer and the prayer here following Lord God Heavenly Father bless us and these Thy gifts which we take from Thy bountiful goodness through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen Returning Thanks Likewise also after the meal they shall reverently and with folded hands say O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good for His mercy endureth forever He giveth food to all flesh He giveth to the beast his food and to the young ravens which cry He delighteth not in the strength of the horse He taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him in those that hope in His mercy Then the Lord s Prayer and the prayer here following We thank Thee Lord God Father through Jesus Christ our Lord for all T hy benefits who livest and reignest forever and ever Amen Table of Duties consisting of certain passages of scripture for various holy orders and stations whereby these are to be admonished as by a special lesson regarding their office and service For Bishops Pastors and Preachers A bishop must be blameless the husband of one wife vigilant sober of good behavior given to hospitality apt to teach not given to wine no striker not greedy of filthy lucre but patient not a brawler not covetous one that ruleth well his own house having his children in subjection with all gravity 1 Tim 3 2 4 Not a novice 1 Tim 3 6 Holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers Titus 1 9 What the Hearers Owe to Their Pastors Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel 1 Cor 9 14 Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things Gal 6 6 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor especially they who labor in the Word and doctrine For the Scripture saith Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn and the laborer is worthy of his reward 1 Tim 5 17 18 Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves for they watch for your souls as they that must give account that they may do it with joy and not with grief for that is unprofitable for you Heb 13 17 Concerning Civil Government Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers For the power which exists anywhere is ordained of God Whosoever resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation For he heareth not the sword in vain for he is the minister of God a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil Rom 13 1 4 What Subjects Owe to the Magistrates Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar s Matt 22 21 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers etc Wherefore ye must needs be subject not only for wrath but also for conscience sake For for this cause pay ye tribute also for they are God s ministers attending continually upon this very thing Render therefore to all their dues tribute to whom tribute is due custom to whom custom fear to whom fear honor to whom honor Rom 13 1 5ff I exhort therefore that first of all supplications prayers intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men for kings and for all that are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty 1 Tim 2 1f Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers etc Titus 3 1 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord s sake whether it be to the king as supreme or unto governors as unto them that are sent by him etc 1 Pet 2 13f For Husbands Ye husbands dwell with your wives according to knowledge giving honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life that your prayers be not hindered 1 Pet 3 7 And be not bitter against them Col 3 9 For Wives Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord even as Sarah obeyed Abraham calling him lord whose daughters ye are as long as ye do well and are not afraid with any amazement 1 Pet 3 6 For Parents Ye fathers provoke not your children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord Eph 6 4 For Children Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right Honor thy father and mother which is the first commandment with promise that it may be well with thee and thou mayest live long on the earth Eph 6 1 3 To Workers of All Kinds Servants be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling in singleness of your heart as unto Christ not with eye service as men pleasers but as the servants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart with good will doing service as to the Lord and not to men knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth the same shall he receive of the Lord whether he be bond or free Eph 6 5ff Col 3 22 To Employers and Supervisors Ye masters do the same things unto them forbearing threatening knowing that your Master also is in heaven neither is there respect of persons with Him Eph 6 9 Col 4 1 For Young Persons in General Likewise ye younger submit yourselves unto the elder Yea all of you be subject one to another and be clothed with humility for God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that

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  • Commandment The Eighth Commandment The Ninth and Tenth Commandments Conclusion of the Ten Commandments Part Second OF THE CREED Article I Article II Article III Part Third OF PRAYER The Lord s Prayer The First Petition The Second Petition The Third Petition The Fourth Petition The Fifth Petition The Sixth Petition The Seventh and Last Petition Part Fourth OF BAPTISM Of Infant Baptism Part Fifth OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE

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  • The Large Cathechism - Second Edition
    body and all they had as cattle and other possessions Moreover every man had power over his wife to put her away publicly by giving her a bill of divorce and to take another Therefore they were in constant danger among each other that if one took a fancy to another s wife he might allege any reason both to dismiss his own wife and to estrange the other s wife from him that he might obtain her under pretext of right That was not considered a sin nor disgrace with them as little as now with hired help when a proprietor dismisses his man servant or maid servant or takes another s servants from him in any way Therefore I say they thus interpreted these commandments and that rightly although their scope reaches somewhat farther and higher that no one think or purpose to obtain what belongs to another such as his wife servants house and estate land meadows cattle even with a show of right or by a subterfuge yet with injury to his neighbor For above in the Seventh Commandment the vice is forbidden where one wrests to himself the possessions of others or withholds them from his neighbor which he cannot do by right But here it is also forbidden to alienate anything from your neighbor even though you could do so with honor in the eyes of the world so that no one could accuse or blame you as though you had obtained it wrongfully For we are so inclined by nature that no one desires to see another have as much as himself and each one acquires as much as he can the other may fare as best he can And yet we pretend to be godly know how to adorn ourselves most finely and conceal our rascality resort to and invent adroit devices and deceitful artifices such as now are daily most ingeniously contrived as though they were derived from the law codes yea we even dare impertinently to refer to it and boast of it and will not have it called rascality but shrewdness and caution In this lawyers and jurists assist who twist and stretch the law to suit it to their cause stress words and use them for a subterfuge irrespective of equity or their neighbor s necessity And in short whoever is the most expert and cunning in these affairs finds most help in law as they themselves say Vigilantibus iura subveniunt that is The laws favor the watchful This last commandment therefore is given not for rogues in the eyes of the world but just for the most pious who wish to be praised and be called honest and upright people since they have not offended against the former commandments as especially the Jews claimed to be and even now many great noblemen gentlemen and princes For the other common masses belong yet farther down under the Seventh Commandment as those who are not much concerned whether they acquire their possessions with honor and right Now this occurs most frequently in cases that are brought into court where it is the purpose to get something from our neighbor and to force him out of his own As to give examples when people quarrel and wrangle about a large inheritance real estate etc they avail themselves of and resort to whatever has the appearance of right so dressing and adorning everything that the law must favor their side and they keep the property with such title that no one can make complaint or lay claim thereto In like manner if any one desire to have a castle city duchy or any other great thing he practises so much financiering through relationships and by any means he can that the other is judicially deprived of it and it is adjudicated to him and confirmed with deed and seal and declared to have been acquired by princely title and honestly Likewise also in common trade where one dexterously slips something out of another s hand so that he must look after it or surprises and defrauds him in a matter in which he sees advantage and benefit for himself so that the latter perhaps on account of distress or debt cannot regain or redeem it without injury and the former gains the half or even more and yet this must not be considered as acquired by fraud or stolen but honestly bought Here they say First come first served and every one must look to his own interest let another get what he can And who can be so smart as to think of all the ways in which one can get many things into his possession by such specious pretexts This the world does not consider wrong nor is it punished by laws and will not see that the neighbor is thereby placed at a disadvantage and must sacrifice what he cannot spare without injury Yet there is no one who wishes this to be done to him from which we can easily perceive that such devices and pretexts are false Thus it was done formerly also with respect to wives they knew such devices that if one were pleased with another woman he personally or through others as there were many ways and means to be invented caused her husband to conceive a displeasure toward her or had her resist him and so conduct herself that he was obliged to dismiss her and leave her to the other That sort of thing undoubtedly prevailed much under the Law as also we read in the Gospel of King Herod that he took his brother s wife while he was yet living and yet wished to be thought an honorable pious man as St Mark also testifies of him But such an example I trust will not occur among us because in the New Testament those who are married are forbidden to be divorced except in such a case where one shrewdly by some stratagem takes away a rich bride from another But it is not a rare thing with us that one estranges or alienates another s man servant or maid servant or entices them away by flattering words In whatever way such things happen we must know that God does not wish that you deprive your neighbor of anything that belongs to him so that he suffer the loss and you gratify your avarice with it even if you could keep it honorably before the world for it is a secret and insidious imposition practised under the hat as we say that it may not be observed For although you go your way as if you had done no one any wrong you have nevertheless injured your neighbor and if it is not called stealing and cheating yet it is called coveting your neighbor s property that is aiming at possession of it enticing it away from him without his will and being unwilling to see him enjoy what God has granted him And although the judge and every one must leave you in possession of it yet God will not leave you therein for He sees the deceitful heart and the malice of the world which is sure to take an ell in addition where ever you yield to her a finger s breadth and at length public wrong and violence follow Therefore we allow these commandments to remain in their ordinary meaning that it is commanded first that we do not desire our neighbor s damage nor even assist nor give occasion for it but gladly wish and leave him what he has and besides advance and preserve for him what may be for his profit and service as we should wish to be treated Thus these commandments are especially directed against envy and miserable avarice God wishing to remove all causes and sources whence arises everything by which we do injury to our neighbor and therefore He expresses it in plain words Thou shalt not covet etc For He would especially have the heart pure although we shall never attain to that as long as we live here so that this commandment will remain like all the rest one that will constantly accuse us and show how godly we are in the sight of God Conclusion of the Ten Commandments Thus we have the Ten Commandments a compend of divine doctrine as to what we are to do in order that our whole life may be pleasing to God and the true fountain and channel from and in which everything must arise and flow that is to be a good work so that outside of the Ten Commandments no work or thing can be good or pleasing to God however great or precious it be in the eyes of the world Let us see now what our great saints can boast of their spiritual orders and their great and grievous works which they have invented and set up while they let these pass as though they were far too insignificant or had long ago been perfectly fulfilled I am of opinion indeed that here one will find his hands full and will have enough to do to observe these namely meekness patience and love towards enemies chastity kindness etc and what such virtues imply But such works are not of value and make no display in the eyes of the world for they are not peculiar and conceited works and restricted to particular times places rites and customs but are common every day domestic works which one neighbor can practise toward another therefore they are not of high esteem But the other works cause people to open their eyes and ears wide and men aid to this effect by the great display expense and magnificent buildings with which they adorn them so that everything shines and glitters There they waft incense they sing and ring bells they light tapers and candles so that nothing else can be seen or heard For when a priest stands there in a surplice embroidered with gilt or a layman continues all day upon his knees in church that is regarded as a most precious work which no one can sufficiently praise But when a poor girl tends a little child and faithfully does what she is told that is considered nothing for else what should monks and nuns seek in their cloisters But see is not that a cursed presumption of those desperate saints who dare to invent a higher and better life and estate than the Ten Commandments teach pretending as we have said that this is an ordinary life for the common man but that theirs is for saints and perfect ones And the miserable blind people do not see that no man can get so far as to keep one of the Ten Commandments as it should be kept but both the Apostles Creed and the Lord s Prayer must come to our aid as we shall hear by which that power and strength to keep the commandments is sought and prayed for and received continually Therefore all their boasting amounts to as much as if I boasted and said To be sure I have not a penny to make payment with but I confidently undertake to pay ten florins All this I say and urge in order that men might become rid of the sad misuse which has taken such deep root and still cleaves to everybody and in all estates upon earth become used to looking hither only and to being concerned about these matters For it will be a long time before they will produce a doctrine or estates equal to the Ten Commandments because they are so high that no one can attain to them by human power and whoever does attain to them is a heavenly angelic man far above all holiness of the world Only occupy yourself with them and try your best apply all power and ability and you will find so much to do that you will neither seek nor esteem any other work or holiness Let this be sufficient concerning the first part of the common Christian doctrine both for teaching and urging what is necessary In conclusion however we must repeat the text which belongs here of which we have treated already in the First Commandment in order that we may learn what pains God requires to the end we may learn to inculcate and practise the Ten Commandments For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments Although as we have heard above this appendix was primarily attached to the First Commandment it was nevertheless we cannot deny that it was laid down for the sake of all the commandments as all of them are to be referred and directed to it Therefore I have said that this too should be presented to and inculcated upon the young that they may learn and remember it in order to see what is to urge and compel us to keep these Ten Commandments And it is to be regarded as though this part were specially added to each so that it inheres in and pervades them all Now there is comprehended in these words as said before both an angry word of threatening and a friendly promise to terrify and warn us and moreover to induce and encourage us to receive and highly esteem His Word as a matter of divine earnestness because He Himself declares how much He is concerned about it and how rigidly He will enforce it namely that He will horribly and terribly punish all who despise and transgress His commandments and again how richly He will reward bless and do all good to those who hold them in high esteem and gladly do and live according to them Thus He demands that all our works proceed from a heart which fears and regards God alone and from such fear avoids everything that is contrary to His will lest it should move Him to wrath and on the other hand also trusts in Him alone and from love to Him does all He wishes because he speaks to us as friendly as a father and offers us all grace and every good Just this is also the meaning and true interpretation of the first and chief commandment from which all the others must flow and proceed so that this word Thou shalt have no other gods before Me in its simplest meaning states nothing else than this demand Thou shalt fear love and trust in Me as thine only true God For where there is a heart thus disposed towards God the same has fulfilled this and all the other commandments On the other hand whoever fears and loves anything else in heaven and upon earth will keep neither this nor any Thus the entire Scriptures have everywhere preached and inculcated this commandment aiming always at these two things fear of God and trust in Him And especially the prophet David throughout the Psalms as when he says Ps 147 11 The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him in those that hope in His mercy As if the entire commandment were explained by one verse as much as to say The Lord taketh pleasure in those who have no other gods Thus the First Commandment is to shine and impart its splendor to all the others Therefore you must let this declaration run through all the commandments like a hoop in a wreath joining the end to the beginning and holding them all together that it be continually repeated and not forgotten as namely in the Second Commandment that we fear God and do not take His name in vain for cursing lying deceiving and other modes of leading men astray or rascality but make proper and good use of it by calling upon Him in prayer praise and thanksgiving derived from love and trust according to the First Commandment In like manner such fear love and trust is to urge and force us not to despise His Word but gladly to learn hear and esteem it holy and honor it Thus continuing through all the following commandments towards our neighbor likewise everything is to proceed by virtue of the First Commandment to wit that we honor father and mother masters and all in authority and be subject and obedient to them not on their own account but for God s sake For you are not to regard or fear father or mother or from love of them do or omit anything But see to that which God would have you do and what He will quite surely demand of you if you omit that you have an angry Judge but in the contrary case a gracious Father Again that you do your neighbor no harm injury or violence nor in any wise encroach upon him as touching his body wife property honor or rights as all these things are commanded in their order even though you have opportunity and cause to do so and no man would reprove you but that you do good to all men help them and promote their interest howsoever and wherever you can purely from love of God and in order to please Him in the confidence that He will abundantly reward you for everything Thus you see how the First Commandment is the chief source and fountainhead which flows into all the rest and again all return to that and depend upon it so that beginning and end are fastened and bound to each other This I say it is profitable and necessary always to teach to the young people to admonish them and to remind them of it that they may be brought up not only with blows and compulsion like cattle but in the fear and reverence of God For where this is considered and laid to heart that these things are not human trifles but the commandments of the Divine Majesty who insists upon them with such earnestness is angry with and punishes those who despise them and on the other hand abundantly rewards those who keep them there will be a spontaneous impulse and a desire gladly to do the will of God Therefore it is not in vain that it is commanded in the Old Testament to write the Ten Commandments on all walls and corners yes even on the garments not for the sake of merely having them written in these places and making a show of them as did the Jews but that we might have our eyes constantly fixed upon them and have them always in our memory and that we might practise them in all our actions and ways and every one make them his daily exercise in all cases in every business and transaction as though they were written in every place wherever he would look yea wherever he walks or stands Thus there would be occasion enough both at home in our own house and abroad with our neighbors to practise the Ten Commandments that no one need run far for them From this it again appears how highly these Ten Commandments are to be exalted and extolled above all estates commandments and works which are taught and practised aside from them For here we can boast and say Let all the wise and saints step forth and produce if they can a single work like these commandments upon which God insists with such earnestness and which He enjoins with His greatest wrath and punishment and be sides adds such glorious promises that He will pour out upon us all good things and blessings Therefore they should be taught above all others and be esteemed precious and dear as the highest treasure given by God Part Second OF THE CREED Thus far we have heard the first part of Christian doctrine in which we have seen all that God wishes us to do or to leave undone Now there properly follows the Creed which sets forth to us everything that we must expect and receive from God and to state it quite briefly teaches us to know Him fully And this is intended to help us do that which according to the Ten Commandments we ought to do For as said above they are set so high that all human ability is far too feeble and weak to attain to or keep them Therefore it is as necessary to learn this part as the former in order that we may know how to attain thereto whence and whereby to obtain such power For if we could by our own powers keep the Ten Commandments as they are to be kept we would need nothing further neither the Creed nor the Lord s Prayer But before we explain this advantage and necessity of the Creed it is sufficient at first for the simple minded that they learn to comprehend and understand the Creed itself In the first place the Creed has hitherto been divided into twelve articles although if all points which are written in the Scriptures and which belong to the Creed were to be distinctly set forth there would be far more articles nor could they all be clearly expressed in so few words But that it may be most easily and clearly understood as it is to be taught to children we shall briefly sum up the entire Creed in three chief articles according to the three persons in the Godhead to whom everything that we believe is related so that the First Article of God the Father explains Creation the Second Article of the Son Redemption and the Third of the Holy Ghost Sanctification Just as though the Creed were briefly comprehended in so many words I believe in God the Father who has created me I believe in God the Son who has redeemed me I believe in the Holy Ghost who sanctifies me One God and one faith but three persons therefore also three articles or confessions Let us briefly run over the words Article I I believe in God the Father Almighty Maker of heaven and earth This portrays and sets forth most briefly what is the essence will activity and work of God the Father For since the Ten Commandments have taught that we are to have not more than one God the question might be asked What kind of a person is God What does He do How can we praise or portray and describe Him that He may be known Now that is taught in this and in the following article so that the Creed is nothing else than the answer and confession of Christians arranged with respect to the First Commandment As if you were to ask a little child My dear what sort of a God have you What do you know of Him he could say This is my God first the Father who has created heaven and earth besides this only One I regard nothing else as God for there is no one else who could create heaven and earth But for the learned and those who are somewhat advanced have acquired some Scriptural knowledge these three articles may all be expanded and divided into as many parts as there are words But now for young scholars let it suffice to indicate the most necessary points namely as we have said that this article refers to the Creation that we emphasize the words Creator of heaven and earth But what is the force of this or what do you mean by these words I believe in God the Father Almighty Maker etc Answer This is what I mean and believe that I am a creature of God that is that He has given and constantly preserves to me my body soul and life members great and small all my senses reason and understanding and so on food and drink clothing and support wife and children domestics house and home etc Besides He causes all creatures to serve for the uses and necessities of life sun moon and stars in the firmament day and night air fire water earth and whatever it bears and produces birds and fishes beasts grain and all kinds of produce and whatever else there is of bodily and temporal goods good government peace security Thus we learn from this article that none of us has of himself nor can preserve his life nor anything that is here enumerated or can be enumerated however small and unimportant a thing it might be for all is comprehended in the word Creator Moreover we also confess that God the Father has not only given us all that we have and see before our eyes but daily preserves and defends us against all evil and misfortune averts all sorts of danger and calamity and that He does all this out of pure love and goodness without our merit as a benevolent Father who cares for us that no evil befall us But to speak more of this belongs in the other two parts of this article where we say Father Almighty Now since all that we possess and moreover whatever in addition is in heaven and upon the earth is daily given preserved and kept for us by God it is readily inferred and concluded that it is our duty to love praise and thank Him for it without ceasing and in short to serve Him with all these things as He demands and has enjoined in the Ten Commandments Here we could say much if we were to expatiate how few there are that believe this article For we all pass over it hear it and say it but neither see nor consider what the words teach us For if we believed it with the heart we would also act accordingly and not stalk about proudly act defiantly and boast as though we had life riches power and honor etc of ourselves so that others must fear and serve us as is the practise of the wretched perverse world which is drowned in blindness and abuses all the good things and gifts of God only for its own pride avarice lust and luxury and never once regards God so as to thank Him or acknowledge Him as Lord and Creator Therefore this article ought to humble and terrify us all if we believed it For we sin daily with eyes ears hands body and soul money and possessions and with everything we have especially those who even fight against the Word of God Yet Christians have this advantage that they acknowledge themselves in duty bound to serve God for all these things and to be obedient to Him which the world knows not how to do We ought therefore daily to practise this article impress it upon our mind and to remember it in all that meets our eyes and in all good that falls to our lot and wherever we escape from calamity or danger that it is God who gives and does all these things that therein we sense and see His Paternal heart and his transcendent love toward us Thereby the heart would be warmed and kindled to be thankful and to employ all such good things to the honor and praise of God Thus we have most briefly presented the meaning of this article as much as is at first necessary for the most simple to learn both as to what we have and receive from God and what we owe in return which is a most excellent knowledge but a far greater treasure For here we see how the Father has given Himself to us together with all creatures and has most richly provided for us in this life besides that He has overwhelmed us with unspeakable eternal treasures by His Son and the Holy Ghost as we shall hear Article II And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Ghost born of the Virgin Mary suffered under Pontius Pilate was crucified dead and buried He descended into hell the third day He rose again from the dead He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead Here we learn to know the Second Person of the Godhead so that we see what we have from God over and above the temporal goods aforementioned namely how He hits completely poured forth Himself and withheld nothing from us that He has not given us Now this article is very rich and broad but in order to expound it also briefly and in a childlike way we shall take up one word and sum up in that the entire article namely as we have said that we may here learn how we have been redeemed and we shall base this on these words In Jesus Christ our Lord If now you are asked What do you believe in the Second Article of Jesus Christ answer briefly I believe that Jesus Christ true Son of God has become my Lord But what is it to become Lord It is this that He has redeemed me from sin from the devil from death and all evil For before I had no Lord nor King but was captive under the power of the devil condemned to death enmeshed in sin and blindness For when we had been created by God the Father and had received from Him all manner of good the devil came and led us into disobedience sin death and all evil so that we fell under His wrath and displeasure and were doomed to eternal damnation as we had merited and deserved There was no counsel help or comfort until this only and eternal Son of God in His unfathomable goodness had compassion upon our misery and wretchedness and came from heaven to help us Those tyrants and jailers then are all expelled now and in their place has come Jesus Christ Lord of life righteousness every blessing and salvation and has delivered us poor lost men from the jaws of hell has won us made us free and brought us again into the favor and grace of the Father and has taken us as His own property under His shelter and protection that He may govern us by His righteousness wisdom power life and blessedness Let this then be the sum of this article that the little word Lord signifies simply as much as Redeemer i e He who has brought us from Satan to God from death to life from sin to righteousness and who preserves us in the same But all the points which follow in order in this article serve no other end than to explain and express this redemption how and whereby it was accomplished that is how much it cost Him and what He spent and risked that He might win us and bring us under His dominion namely that He became man conceived and born without any stain of sin of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary that He might overcome sin moreover that He suffered died and was buried that He might make satisfaction for me and pay what I owe not with silver nor gold but with His own precious blood And all this in order to become my Lord for He did none of these for Himself nor had He any need of it And after that He rose again from the dead swallowed up and devoured death and finally ascended into heaven and assumed the government at the Father s right hand so that the devil and all powers must be subject to Him and lie at His feet until finally at the last day He will completely part and separate us from the wicked world the devil death sin etc But to explain all these single points separately belongs not to brief sermons for children but rather to the ampler sermons that extend throughout the entire year especially at those times which are appointed for the purpose of treating at length of each article of the birth sufferings resurrection ascension of Christ etc Ay the entire Gospel which we preach is based on this that we properly understand this article as that upon which our salvation and all our happiness rest and which is so rich and comprehensive that we never can learn it fully Article III I believe in the Holy Ghost the holy Christian Church the communion of saints the forgiveness of sins the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting Amen This article as I have said I cannot relate better than to Sanctification that through the same the Holy Ghost with His office is declared and depicted namely that He makes holy Therefore we must take our stand upon the word Holy Ghost because it is so precise and comprehensive that we cannot find another For there are besides many kinds of spirits mentioned in the Holy Scriptures as the spirit of man heavenly spirits and evil spirits But the Spirit of God alone is called Holy Ghost that is He who has sanctified and still sanctifies us For as the Father is called Creator the Son Redeemer so the Holy Ghost from His work must be called Sanctifier or One that makes holy But how is such sanctifying done Answer Just as the Son obtains dominion whereby He wins us through His birth death resurrection etc so also the Holy Ghost effects our sanctification by the following parts namely by the communion of saints or the Christian Church the forgiveness of sins the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting that is He first leads us into His holy congregation and places us in the bosom of the Church whereby He preaches to us and brings us to Christ For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ or believe on Him and obtain Him for our Lord unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel The work is done and accomplished for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering death resurrection etc But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it then it would be in vain and lost That this treasure therefore might not lie buried but be appropriated and enjoyed God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us Therefore sanctifying is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good to which we could not attain of ourselves Learn then to understand this article most clearly If you are asked What do you mean by the words I believe in the Holy Ghost you can answer I believe that the Holy Ghost makes me holy as His name implies But whereby does He accomplish this or what are His method and means to this end Answer By the Christian Church the forgiveness of sins the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting For in the first place He has a peculiar congregation in the world which is the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God which He reveals and preaches and through which He illumines and enkindles hearts that they understand

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  • pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust For if ye love them which love you what reward have ye do not even the publicans the same And if ye salute your brethren only what do ye more than others do not even the publicans so Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect THE SIXTH CHAPTER V 1 4 Take heed that you do not your alms before men to be seen of them otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven Therefore when thou doest thine alms do not sound a trumpet before thee as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets that they may have glory of men Verily I say unto you they have their reward But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth that thine alms may be in secret and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly V 5 6 And when thou prayest thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets that they may be seen of men Verily I say unto you they have their reward But thou when thou prayest enter into thy closet and when thou hast shut thy door pray to thy Father which is in secret and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly V 7 13 But when ye pray use not vain repetitions as the heathen do for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking Be not ye therefore like unto them for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him After this manner therefore pray ye Our Father which art in heaven Hallowed be thy name Thy kingdom come Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven Give us this day our daily bread And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever Amen V 14 15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses V 16 18 Moreover when ye fast be not as the hypocrites of a sad countenance for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast Verily I say unto you they have their reward But thou when thou fastest anoint thy head and wash thy face that thou appear not unto men to fast but unto

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  • will graciously hear me not because of my worthiness but for the sake of the Lord Christ By this means you can drive away the thoughts and doubts and cheerfully kneel down and pray not regarding your worthiness or unworthiness but your need and his word upon which he tells you to build especially since he has placed before you and put into your mouth the words how and what you are to pray for as follows so that you joyously send up these prayers through him and can lay them in his bosom that he may lay them by his own worthiness before the Father V 7 13 But when ye pray use not vain repetitions as the heathen do for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking Be not ye therefore like unto them for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him After this manner therefore pray ye Our Father which art in heaven Hallowed be thy name Thy kingdom come Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven Give us this day our daily bread And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever Amen He rebuked above their wrong intention in prayer as they sought their own honor and profit among the people even in doing that which was directed to God alone calling upon him and beseeching him for help in our need and temptation Here he is rebuking this perversion of prayer that they suppose it is praying if one uses many words and vain repetitions and he calls it a heathenish method a trifling useless prattle as of those who suppose they will otherwise not be heard For he saw very well that this would be the case and that such an abuse would continue in Christendom as it existed among them already at that time so that prayer would be made a mere work that would be valued in proportion to its size and length as if thereby it were admirably done and thus instead of a true prayer there was a mere prattle and babbling of which the heart knew nothing Thus as we see it was carried on in monasteries nunneries and the whole ecclesiastical crowd that seem to have had nothing else to do in their calling than to weary themselves daily so many hours and at night besides with singing and reading their Horas and the more of this they could do the holier and greater worship they called it And yet among them all there was not one that uttered a real prayer from his heart but they were all filled with the heathenish notion that one must tire God and one s self with crying and muttering as if he neither could nor would otherwise hear and they have thereby accomplished nothing else than to waste their time and punish themselves like asses with their praying Therefore they have themselves said that there is no harder work than to pray and that is in fact true if you aim to make a work or labor out of your praying imposing upon your body to read or sing so many hours continuously so that any day laborer would rather choose to thresh for a whole lay than only to move his mouth for two or three hours one after another or look straight into a book In short their prayer was not a sighing or desire of the heart but a mere force work of the mouth or tongue so that if a monk has been reading or muttering his Horas for forty years he has not prayed from his heart for an hour during all that time For they never think of presenting their wants before God in their prayers but they think only that they must do it and God must regard this trouble and toil But the Christian s prayer which is offered in faith upon the promise of God and presents before him from the heart its need that is easy and occasions no labor For faith soon tells what it wants yes with a sigh that the heart utters and that cannot be reached or uttered in words as Paul says The Christian prays and because he knows that God hears him he does not need to prate everlastingly Thus the saints in the Scriptures prayed as Elijah Elisha David and others with short but strong and powerful words as we see in the Psalms in which there is hardly one that has a prayer of more than five or six verses Therefore the old fathers have very properly said there is no use in many long prayers but they praise the short ejaculatory prayers in which one lifts a sigh heavenward with a word or two which one can do very often when he is reading writing or doing some other work But the others who make only a huge labor out of it can never pray with satisfaction or with devotion but they are glad when they are through with their babbling for it must be so if one prays without faith and with no feeling of need thus there can be no heart in it but if the heart is not in it and the body is to do the work then it becomes difficult and vexatious as we see also in secular labor he who does anything unwillingly how difficult and disagreeable it is but on the contrary if the heart is cheerful and willing then it takes no notice of the work So also it is here if one is in earnest about it and takes pleasure in prayers then he neither knows nor feels any labor or troubles but looks only at his needs and has finished singing or praying the words before he knows what he is about In short one should pray short but often and strongly for God does not ask how much and long one has prayed but how good it is and how it comes from the heart Therefore Christ now says Your Heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask for it as if he would say What are you about that you think to overwhelm him with your long babbling so that he may give you what you need You do not need to convince him with words or instruct him at length for he knows beforehand better what you need than you do yourselves Just as if you were to come before a prince or a judge who knew your case better than you could describe it to him and you would undertake to make a long story to inform him about it he would rightly laugh at you or rather be offended at you Yes we do not know says St Paul how we are to pray so that if he hears us and gives us something he gives it above what we can understand or hope for Therefore sometimes he lets us ask for something that he does not soon give or indeed does not give at all as knowing very well what we need or what would be useful to us or not what we ourselves do not see and at last must ourselves confess that it would not have been good for us if he had given to us in accordance with our prayer Therefore we need not teach him or prescribe with our long babbling what and how he is to give to us for he will give in such a way that his name may be hallowed and his kingdom and his will may be advanced and promoted etc But do you say Why then does he let us pray and present our need and does not give it to us unasked since he knows and sees all our need better than we do He gives surely to the whole world daily so much good freely as sun rain corn money body life etc which no one asks or is grateful for as he knows that they cannot get along for a single day without light eating and drinking why does he then tell us to pray for these things Answer He does not require it indeed for the reason that we are to teach him this with our praying viz what he is to give us but in order that we may acknowledge and confess what kind of blessings he is bestowing upon us and yet much more he can and will give so that we by our praying are rather instructing ourselves than him For thereby I am turned about that I do not go along like the ungodly that never acknowledge this or offer thanks for it and my heart is thus turned to him and aroused so that I praise and thank him and have recourse to him in time of need and look for help from him and the effect of all this is that I learn more and more to acknowledge what kind of a God he is and because I address my supplications to him he is the more disposed to answer me abundantly See this is now a genuine supplicant not like those other useless talkers who babble indeed a great deal but never acknowledge this But he knows that what he has is the gift of God and he says from his heart Lord I know that I cannot of myself produce or get a piece of my daily bread or shield myself against any kind of need or misfortune therefore I will await it and beseech it from thee as thou dost teach me and dost promise to give me as he who is ready with favors regardless of my thoughts and who anticipates my need See such acknowledgment in prayer is pleasing to God and is the true highest and most precious worship which we can render to him for thereby the honor and gratitude that are due are given to him This the others do not do but they seize and devour all the gifts of God just as hogs they appropriate one country city house after another never think of paying any regard to God want meanwhile to be holy with their great intonations and babbling in the churches But a Christian heart that learns out of the word of God that we have everything from God and nothing from ourselves such a heart accepts this in faith and familiarizes itself with it so that it can look to him for everything and expect it from him Thus praying teaches us so that we recognize both ourselves and God and learn what we need and whence we are to seek for it and get it Thus there is developed an excellent sensible man who can readily adapt himself to all circumstances Christ having thus rebuked and rejected these false and useless prayers proceeds himself to give an excellent brief form how and what we are to pray that embraces all kinds of wants that are to drive us to prayer so that we can daily remind ourselves of them in such short words and no one may be excused as though he did not know how or what he is to pray and it is a very good practice especially for ordinary people children and house servants to pray the whole of the Lord s prayer daily morning and evening and at table and also at other times so that one may present to God in it all our needs in general Since however the Lord s Prayer is sufficiently expounded in the Catechism and elsewhere I will add no further comments at present It is however as has often been said surely the very best prayer that was ever uttered upon earth or that any one could conceive since God the Father gave it through his Son and laid it upon his lips so that we dare not doubt that it is extremely pleasing to him He admonishes us at the very beginning both concerning his command and his promise in the word Our Father etc as the one who demands from us this honor that we are to ask from him as a child from its father and he wants us to have the confidence that he will gladly give us what we need and this is further also a part of it that we glory in being his children through Christ and thus we come in accordance with his command and promise and in the name of the Lord Christ and appear before him with all confidence Now the first second and third petitions refer to the highest benefits that we receive from him namely first because he is our Father that he may have his honor from us and his name be held in high honor in all the world Herewith I gather into one heap all sorts of false belief and worship the whole of hell all sin and blasphemy and pray that he may put a stop to the abominable belief of the pope the Turks the factious spirits and heretics all of whom desecrate and abuse his name or under his name seek their own honor There are indeed but few words but their meaning is as wide as the world against all false doctrine and life Secondly after we have his word and true doctrine and worship that also his kingdom may be and remain in us that is that he may control us in this doctrine and life and thereby protect and preserve us against all the power of the devil and of his kingdom and that all the kingdoms that rage against it may go to destruction so that this kingdom may stand And thirdly that not our will nor that of any man but alone his will may be done and that what he thinks and advises may succeed in opposition to all designs and undertakings of the world and whatever may strive against this will and counsel even if the whole world masses itself and struggles to maintain its antagonistic cause These are the three most important topics In the other four petitions we find ourselves confronted by the need that daily meets us on our own account with reference to this poor weak temporal life Therefore we pray in the first place that he may give us our daily bread that is everything that is needful for the preservation of this life food a healthy body good weather house home wife child good government peace and that he may preserve us from all manner of calamity sickness pestilence dear times war insurrection etc Then that he may forgive us our trespasses and not regard the shameful misuse of and ingratitude for the blessings which he daily so richly bestows upon us and that he may not for this reason refuse and deny us these or punish us with the disfavor that we deserve but graciously forgive us although we who are called Christians and his children do not live as we should Thirdly because we are living upon earth in the midst of all manner of temptation and vexation where we are assaulted on every side so that we are hindered and are tempted not alone outwardly by the world and the devil but also inwardly by our own flesh so that we cannot live as we should nor be able to endure for a day amid so much danger and temptation we pray therefore that amid this danger and need he may sustain us so that we are not thereby overcome and ruined And finally that he may at last wholly deliver us from all evil and when the time comes that we are to pass out of this life may grant us a gracious happy dying hour Thus we have laid upon his bosom briefly all our bodily and spiritual need and in a few words have gathered up a world of meaning But there is in the text a small appendage that closes the prayer as with a common grateful confession which is this For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever These are the proper titles and names that belong to God alone For these three things he has reserved for himself that is to govern to judge and to glory No one has a right to rule or have supremacy except God alone or those to whom he has entrusted it through whom as his servants he exercises the control Likewise no man has a right to judge another or to be angry and punish except he who holds the office by divine appointment For it is not a natural right of men but one given by God These are the two that he here calls the kingdom or the sovereignty so that all authority may be his and then the power that is the result of the deciding exsecutio so that he can punish hold the wicked in subjection and protect the pious For he who punishes does it in God s stead and it is all owing to his power that one handles justice protects and sustains Therefore let no one avenge himself or punish for it is not his office or sphere and it does not avail as he says Vengeance is mine I will repay and elsewhere he threatens He who takes the sword shall perish by the sword So also the glory or honor is alone God s own so that no one may boast of anything of his wisdom holiness or ability except through him and from him For that I honor a king or prince and call him Gracious Lord or bend the knee before him this is not done on account of his person but on God s account as he is sitting in majesty in God s stead So when I show honor to father and mother or to those who are in their stead I do this not to man but to the divine office and I honor God in them thus where there is authority and power to this is due honor and glory And thus his kingdom power and glory prevail in the whole world so that he alone rules punishes and is glorified in the divine offices and estates as father mother master judge prince king emperor etc although the devil through his agents opposes himself and aims to hold the authority and power exercise vengeance and punishment and monopolize all the glory Therefore we pray also especially for his name his kingdom and his will as those that alone should avail and that all other names kingdoms power and will may go to destruction and we thus confess that he is the highest in all these three respects but the others are his instruments by which he acts and accomplishes these things V 14 15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses That is a remarkable addition but a very precious one and any one may well wonder how he happens to add such an appendix to this particular petition Forgive us our trespasses etc whilst he might just as well have added also such a fragment to one of the others and have said Give us our daily bread as we give to our children or Lead us not into temptation as we tempt no one Deliver us from evil as we rescue and deliver our neighbor and yet no petition has anything added to it except this one And it looks besides as if the forgiveness of sins was gained and merited by our forgiving what would then become of our doctrine that forgiveness comes alone through Christ and is received by faith Answer to the first He meant especially to state this petition in such a way and to link the forgiveness of sin to our forgiving so that hereby he would obligate the Christians to love each other and to make this their main and foremost duty next to faith and the reception of forgiveness to be constantly forgiving their neighbor so that as we live in faith toward him so also towards our neighbor in love that we do not vex or injure others but think that we always forgive although we are injured as this must often happen in this life or we are to know that we are also not forgiven For if anger and ill will be present this spoils the whole prayer so that one cannot pray or wish any of the former petitions See this means the making of a firm and strong bond by which we are held together so that we do not become disunited and create divisions parties and sects instead of our coming before God to pray and get what we need but we are to forbear with one another through love and remain of one accord If this be the ease the Christian man is perfect as both believing and loving aright What other faults he may have these are consumed in the prayer and all is forgiven and cancelled But how does he attach in these words forgiveness to our doing when he says If you forgive your neighbor you shall be forgiven and again etc Does not that make forgiveness depend upon faith Answer The forgiveness of sin as I have often said elsewhere occurs in two ways first through the Gospel and the word of God which is received internally in the heart before God through faith secondly externally by works of which 2 Peter 1 10 says when he is teaching about good works Dear brethren be diligent to make your calling and election sure etc Here he means that we are to make this sure that we have faith and the forgiveness of sin that is that we show the works so that one may tell the tree by the fruits and that it may be manifest that it is a good and not an evil tree For where there is true faith there assuredly good works will follow In this way a man is both inwardly and outwardly pious and upright both before God and man For this is the result and the fruit with which I make myself and others sure that I am a true believer which I cannot otherwise know or see So also here the external forgiveness which I practically show is a sure sign that I have the divine forgiveness of my sins Again if this is not shown towards my neighbor then I have a sure proof that I am not forgiven before God but am still in unbelief See this is the twofold forgiveness one internal in the heart that clings alone to the word of God and one external that breaks forth and assures us that we have the internal one Thus we distinguish works from faith as an internal and external righteousness but in such a way that the internal is there first as the root and stem from which the good works as the fruit must grow the external however their witness and as Peter says certifcatio an assurance that the other is certainly there For he who has not the internal righteousness he does none of the external works Again if the external signs and proofs be wanting I cannot be sure of the former but am deceiving both myself and others But if I see and feel that I am gladly forgiving my neighbor then I can conclude and say I do not this work naturally but I feel myself through the grace of God disposed otherwise than before This is a short answer to the twaddle of the sophists But this is also true that this work as he here calls it is not a mere work like others that we do of ourselves for faith is not thereby overlooked For he takes this work and plants a promise upon it so that one might honestly call it a sacrament thereby to strengthen faith Just as baptism too is to be regarded as a work that I do when I baptize or am baptized but because God s word is associated with it it is not a mere work as that which itself avails or effects something but a divine word and token upon which faith rests Thus also our prayer as our work would not avail or effect anything but its efficacy comes from this that it is done in accordance with his command and promise so that it may well be regarded as a sacrament and rather as a divine work than as one of our own I say this for this reason because the sophists look at the works that we do only by themselves aside from God s word and promise Therefore when they hear and read these passages that refer to works they must indeed say that man merits this by his doing But the Scriptures teach thus that we are not to look to ourselves but to God s word and promise and cling to this by faith so that if you do a work prompted by the word and promise then you have a sure proof that God is gracious to you in such a way that your own work that God has now taken to himself is to be to you a sure proof of forgiveness etc Now God has provided various ways modes and manners through which we obtain grace and the forgiveness of sins as first baptism and the sacrament also as just said prayer also absolution and here our forgiveness so that we are richly provided for and can find grace and mercy everywhere For where would you seek it nearer than with your neighbor with whom you are daily living and have daily occasion to practice this forgiveness For it cannot be that you are not much and often offended so that we have not only in church or with the priest but in the midst of our life a daily sacrament or baptism one brother with another and every one at home in his house For if you take hold of the promise through this work you have the very thing that you get in baptism How could God be more richly gracious to us than by hanging about our neck such a common baptism and binding it to the Lord s prayer which baptism every one realizes in himself when he prays and forgives his neighbor So that no one has cause to complain or to excuse himself that he cannot bring himself to it and it is too high and far off for him or too heavy and dear since it is brought home to him and his neighbor right before his door yes put into his bosom See if you look at it not with reference to the work itself but with reference to the word which is associated with it you find it an excellent precious treasure so that it is no longer your work but a divine sacrament and it is a powerful consolation that you can attain to the grace of forgiving your neighbor although you may not be able to come to other sacraments This ought to induce you willingly to do this work from the heart and to be thankful to God that you are worthy of this grace you ought surely to run after this to the end of the world and spend all your means for it as we used to do for the fictitious indulgences He who will not receive this must be a shameful cursed man especially if he hears of and recognizes this grace and yet remains so crooked and stubborn that he will not forgive whereby he at once loses both baptism and sacrament and everything else For they are all linked together so that he who has one should have them all or retain none For he who has been baptized ought also to receive the sacrament and he who receives the sacrament must also pray and he who prays must also forgive etc If you do not forgive you have here a fearful sentence that your sins also shall not be forgiven although you are among Christians and are enjoying the sacrament and other blessings but these will be all the more injurious and condemnatory for you And that Christ may the more incite us to do this he has employed kind friendly words saying If ye forgive men their trespasses etc He does not say their wickedness and villainy or perverseness and vice etc For by a trespass he means such a sin as is committed rather through weakness or ignorance than from malice Why does he thus minimize and reduce the sin of our neighbor for we often see that many a one sins deliberately from sheer wickedness and an evil will He does it for the reason that he wishes to allay your anger and soften you that you may willingly forgive and he is more concerned to make your heart sweet and friendly than to make the sin as great as it is in itself For before God it is and must be so great that it deserves eternal condemnation and excludes from heaven even though it be a small sin and only a fault if one does not acknowledge and ask your pardon for it But he does not mean that the sin should be thus regarded by you and me whose prerogative it is not to punish sin but to forgive it so that you should think thus Although your neighbor has done something against you through malice yet he is still misled taken captive and blinded by the devil Therefore you ought to be so pious as to rather pity him who is overcome by the devil so that it may be called a great unpardonable sin on the part of the devil who has put him up to it but on the part of your neighbor a failure and fault as Christ also himself has done toward us when he prayed on the cross Father forgive them for they know not what they do That was making our sin small and of little account which is yet in itself the very greatest that was ever committed on earth For what greater sin can be committed than most shamefully to torture and kill the only begotten Son of God Yet you must so interpret this error and fault that your neighbor who has sinned against you may acknowledge it and request forgiveness and desire to reform For I have elsewhere said that there are two kinds of sin one that is confessed which no one should leave unforgiven the other which is defended this one none can forgive for it will not be regarded as sin or accepted as forgiveness Therefore also Christ Matthew 18 18 where he is speaking of forgiveness or the keys places both side by side binding and loosing to show that one cannot absolve the sin which one will not acknowledge to be sin or have forgiven but must bind it in the depth of hell but on the other hand those which are confessed we are to absolve and raise to heaven etc Just as it is with the office of the keys so is it also with each Christian in regard to his neighbor who although he should be ready to forgive every one that injures him yet if any one will not acknowledge and refrain from sin but besides will continue in it you cannot forgive him and this not on your account but on his because he will not have forgiveness But so soon as he acknowledges his guilt and asks forgiveness everything must be granted and the absolution follow promptly For since he rebukes himself and forsakes his sins so that no sin any longer adheres to him I should the rather pass them by if he however himself clings to them and will not forsake them I cannot take them from him but must let him lie in them making for himself out of a pardonable sin an unpardonable one In short if he will not recognize himself we must burden his conscience as heavily as possible and show no mercy as he will perversely be the devil s own On the other hand if he confesses his sin and seeks your pardon and you refuse to forgive then you have laden it upon yourself so that it will condemn you too Thus Christ intends also that the sin be confessed inasmuch as he still calls it a transgression he does not mean to deny that it is wrong or to impose it upon you to sanction it as properly done or treat it as right or good only if it have become pardonable and of so small an account as to be called only a fault that you then say to your neighbor Although I cannot praise it and it is wrong yet since you acknowledge your error and your heart is now changed and you have no ill will against me I will also gladly overlook it as a fault and oversight and will forget my anger If you now are thus disposed towards your neighbor God will also show himself again towards you with a sweet friendly heart and he will make your great heavy sin that you have committed against him and are still committing of such small account that he calls it only a fault if you acknowledge it and pray for forgiveness as he is more inclined to forgive than we can expect him to be Now you should offer your body and life to God for such a heart and seek for it to the end of the world as they used to seek for it in the papacy and worried themselves for it with many kinds of works Now there is here such a heart offered to you presented and given altogether gratuitously just as baptism the gospel and all its blessings and you get more than you with all your works and those of all men could acquire For here you have the sure promise that cannot belie or deceive you that all your sins however many or great they may be shall be before him as small as human daily weaknesses which he will not count or remember so far as you have faith in Christ For just as other sacraments originate in and operate through the Lord Christ so also that our prayer is heard and we have certain forgiveness that we have not deserved it but all is acquired through him and bestowed upon us so that he always remains the sole Mediator through whom we have everything so that also the forgiveness based upon this work avails alone through him So you see now why Christ added this appendage to the prayer so that he might thereby unite us the more closely together and preserve his followers in unity of spirit both in faith and love so that we do not allow ourselves to be separated on account of any sin or fault that we may not lose faith and everything else For it cannot be otherwise than that many offenses will daily occur amongst us in all

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  • curse VERSE 10 For it is written Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them VERSE 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God it is evident for The just shall live by faith VERSE 12 And the law is not of faith VERSE 12 But The man that doeth them shall live in them VERSE 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us for it is written Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree VERSE 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ VERSE 14 That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith VERSE 15 Brethren I speak after the manner of men Though it be but a man s covenant yet if it be confirmed no man disannulleth or addeth thereto VERSE 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made He saith not And to seeds as of many but as of one And to thy seed which is Christ VERSE 17 And this I say that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ the law which was four hundred and thirty years after cannot disannul that it should make the promise of none effect VERSE 18 For if the inheritance be of the law it is no more of promise VERSE 18 But God gave it to Abraham by promise VERSE 19 Wherefore then serveth the law VERSE 19 It was added because of transgressions VERSE 19 It was added because of transgressions VERSE 19 Till the seed should come to whom the promise was made VERSE 19 And it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator VERSE 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one VERSE 20 But God is one VERSE 21 Is the law then against the promises of God VERSE 21 God forbid VERSE 21 For if there had been a law given which could have given life verily righteousness should have been by the law VERSE 22 But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin VERSE 22 That the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe VERSE 23 But before faith came VERSE 23 But before faith came we were kept under the law shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed VERSE 23 Shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed VERSE 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ VERSE 24 That we might be justified by faith VERSE 25 But after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster VERSE 26 For we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus VERSE 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ VERSE 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek there is neither bond nor free there is neither male nor female for ye are all one in Christ Jesus The list might be extended indefinitely There is neither preacher nor hearer neither teacher nor scholar neither master nor servant etc In the matter of salvation rank learning righteousness influence count for nothing VERSE 28 For ye are all one in Christ Jesus VERSE 29 And if ye be Christ s then are ye Abraham s seed and heirs according to the promise CHAPTER 4 VERSE 1 Now I say That the heir as long as he is a child differeth nothing from a servant though he be Lord of all VERSE 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father VERSE 3 Even so we when we were children were in bondage under the elements of the world VERSE 3 Under the elements of the world VERSES 4 5 But when the fullness of the time was come God sent forth his Son made of a woman made under the law to redeem them that were under the law VERSE 5 That we might receive the adoption of sons VERSE 6 And because ye are sons God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts VERSE 6 Crying Abba Father VERSE 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant but a son VERSE 7 And if a son then an heir of God through Christ VERSE 7 Through Christ VERSES 8 and 9 Howbeit then when ye knew not God ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods But now after that ye have known God or rather are known of God how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage VERSE 9 But now after that ye have known God VERSE 9 Or rather are known of God VERSE 9 Whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage VERSE 10 Ye observe days and months and times and years VERSE 11 I am afraid of you lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain VERSE 12 Be as I am for I am as ye are VERSE 12 Be as I am for I am as ye are VERSE 12 Brethren I beseech you Ye have not injured me at all VERSE 12 Ye have not injured me at all VERSES 13 14 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not nor rejected but received me as an angel of God even as Christ Jesus VERSE 15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of VERSE 15 For I bear you record that if it had been possible ye would have plucked out your own eyes and have given them to me VERSE 16 Am I therefore become

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  • Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians 1535
    concerning Christ A testament is not a law but an inheritance Heirs do not look for laws and assessments when they open a last will they look for grants and favors The testament which God made out to Abraham did not contain laws It contained promises of great spiritual blessings The promises were made in view of Christ in one seed not in many seeds The Jews will not accept this interpretation They insist that the singular seed is put for the plural seeds We prefer the interpretation of Paul who makes a fine case for Christ and for us out of the singular seed and is after all inspired to do so by the Holy Ghost VERSE 17 And this I say that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ the law which was four hundred and thirty years after cannot disannul that it should make the promise of none effect The Jews assert that God was not satisfied with His promises but after four hundred and thirty years He gave the Law God they say must have mistrusted His own promises and considered them inadequate for salvation Therefore He added to His promises something better the Law The Law they say canceled the promises Paul answers The Law was given four hundred and thirty years after the promise was made to Abraham The Law could not cancel the promise because the promise was the testament of God confirmed by God in Christ many years before the Law What God has once promised He does not take back Every promise of God is a ratified promise Why was the Law added to the promise Not to serve as a medium by which the promise might be obtained The Law was added for these reasons That there might be in the world a special people rigidly controlled by the Law a people out of which Christ should be born in due time and that men burdened by many laws might sigh and long for Him their Redeemer the seed of Abraham Even the ceremonies prescribed by the Law foreshadowed Christ Therefore the Law was never meant to cancel the promise of God The Law was meant to confirm the promise until the time should come when God would open His testament in the Gospel of Jesus Christ God did well in giving the promise so many years before the Law that it may never be said that righteousness is granted through the Law and not through the promise If God had meant for us to be justified by the Law He would have given the Law four hundred and thirty years before the promise at least He would have given the Law at the same time He gave the promise But He never breathed a word about the Law until four hundred years after The promise is therefore better than the Law The Law does not cancel the promise but faith in the promised Christ cancels the Law The Apostle is careful to mention the exact number of four hundred and thirty years The wide divergence in the time between the promise and the Law helps to clinch Paul s argument that righteousness is not obtained by the Law Let me illustrate A man of great wealth adopts a strange lad for his son Remember he does not owe the lad anything In due time he appoints the lad heir to his entire fortune Several years later the old man asks the lad to do something for him And the young lad does it Can the lad then go around and say that he deserved the inheritance by his obedience to the old man s request How can anybody say that righteousness is obtained by obedience to the Law when the Law was given four hundred and thirty years after God s promise of the blessing One thing is certain Abraham was never justified by the Law for the simple reason that the Law was not in his day If the Law was non existent how could Abraham obtain righteousness by the Law Abraham had nothing else to go by but the promise This promise he believed and that was counted unto him for righteousness If the father obtained righteousness through faith the children get it the same way We use the argument of time also We say our sins were taken away by the death of Christ fifteen hundred years ago long before there were any religious orders canons or rules of penance merits etc What did people do about their sins before these new inventions were hatched up Paul finds his arguments for the righteousness of faith everywhere Even the element of time serves to build his case against the false apostles Let us fortify our conscience with similar arguments They help us in the trials of our faith They turn our attention from the Law to the promises from sin to righteousness from death to life It is not for nothing that Paul bears down on this argument He foresaw this confusion of the promise and the Law creeping into the Church Accustom yourself to separate Law and Gospel even in regard to time When the Law comes to pay your conscience a visit say Mister Law you come too soon The four hundred and thirty years aren t up yet When they are up you come again Won t you VERSE 18 For if the inheritance be of the law it is no more of promise In Romans 4 14 the Apostle writes For if they which are made of the law be heirs faith is made void and the promise made of none effect It cannot be otherwise That the Law is something entirely different from the promise is plain The Law thunders Thou shalt thou shalt not The promise of the seed pleads Take this gift of God If the inheritance of the gifts of God were obtained by the Law God would be a liar We would have the right to ask Him Why did you make this promise in the first place In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed Why did you not say In thy works thou shalt be blessed VERSE 18 But God gave it to Abraham by promise So much is certain before the Law ever existed God gave Abraham the inheritance or blessing by the promise In other words God granted unto Abraham remission of sins righteousness salvation and everlasting life And not only to Abraham but to all believers because God said In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed The blessing was given unconditionally The Law had no chance to butt in because Moses was not yet born How then can you say that righteousness is obtained by the Law The Apostle now goes to work to explain the province and purpose of the Law VERSE 19 Wherefore then serveth the law The question naturally arises If the Law was not given for righteousness or salvation why was it given Why did God give the Law in the first place if it cannot justify a person The Jews believed if they kept the Law they would be saved When they heard that the Gospel proclaimed a Christ who had come into the world to save sinners and not the righteous when they heard that sinners were to enter the kingdom of heaven before the righteous the Jews were very much put out They murmured These last have wrought but one hour and thou hast made them equal unto us which have borne the burden and heat of the day Matthew 20 12 They complained that the heathen who at one time had been worshipers of idols obtained grace without the drudgery of the Law that was theirs Today we hear the same complaints What was the use of our having lived in a cloister twenty thirty forty years what was the sense of having vowed chastity poverty obedience what good are all the masses and canonical hours that we read what profit is there in fasting praying etc if any man or woman any beggar or scour woman is to be made equal to us or even be considered more acceptable unto God than we Reason takes offense at the statement of Paul The law was added because of transgressions People say that Paul abrogated the Law that he is a radical that he blasphemed God when he said that People say We might as well live like wild people if the Law does not count Let us abound in sin that grace may abound Let us do evil that good may come of it What are we to do Such scoffing distresses us but we cannot stop it Christ Himself was accused of being a blasphemer and rebel Paul and all the other apostles were told the same things Let the scoffers slander us let them spare us not But we must not on their account keep silent We must speak frankly in order that afflicted consciences may find surcease Neither are we to pay any attention to the foolish and ungodly people for abusing our doctrine They are the kind that would scoff Law or no Law Our first consideration must be the comfort of troubled consciences that they may not perish with the multitudes When he saw that some were offended at his doctrine while others found in it encouragement to live after the flesh Paul comforted himself with the thought that it was his duty to preach the Gospel to the elect of God and that for their sake he must endure all things Like Paul we also do all these things for the sake of God s elect As for the scoffers and skeptics I am so disgusted with them that in all my life I would not open my mouth for them once I wish that they were back there where they belong under the iron heel of the Pope People foolish but wise in their conceits jump to the conclusion If the Law does not justify it is good for nothing How about that Because money does not justify would you say that money is good for nothing Because the eyes do not justify would you have them taken out Because the Law does not justify it does not follow that the Law is without value We must find and define the proper purpose of the Law We do not offhand condemn the Law because we say it does not justify We say with Paul that the Law is good if it is used properly Within its proper sphere the Law is an excellent thing But if we ascribe to the Law functions for which it was never intended we pervert not only the Law but also the Gospel It is the universal impression that righteousness is obtained through the deeds of the Law This impression is instinctive and therefore doubly dangerous Gross sins and vices may be recognized or else repressed by the threat of punishment But this sin this opinion of man s own righteousness refuses to be classified as sin It wants to be esteemed as high class religion Hence it constitutes the mighty influence of the devil over the entire world In order to point out the true office of the Law and thus to stamp out that false impression of the righteousness of the Law Paul answers the question Wherefore then serveth the Law with the words VERSE 19 It was added because of transgressions All things differ Let everything serve its unique purpose Let the sun shine by day the moon and the stars by night Let the sea furnish fish the earth grain the woods trees etc Let the Law also serve its unique purpose It must not step out of character and take the place of anything else What is the function of the Law Transgression answers the Apostle The Twofold Purpose of the Law The Law has a twofold purpose One purpose is civil God has ordained civil laws to punish crime Every law is given to restrain sin Does it not then make men righteous No In refraining from murder adultery theft or other sins I do so under compulsion because I fear the jail the noose the electric chair These restrain me as iron bars restrain a lion and a bear Otherwise they would tear everything to pieces Such forceful restraint cannot be regarded as righteousness rather as an indication of unrighteousness As a wild beast is tied to keep it from running amuck so the Law bridles mad and furious man to keep him from running wild The need for restraint shows plainly enough that those who need the Law are not righteous but wicked men who are fit to be tied No the Law does not justify The first purpose of the Law accordingly is to restrain the wicked The devil gets people into all kinds of scrapes Therefore God instituted governments parents laws restrictions and civil ordinances At least they help to tie the devil s hands so that he does not rage up and down the earth This civil restraint by the Law is intended by God for the preservation of all things particularly for the good of the Gospel that it should not be hindered too much by the tumult of the wicked But Paul is not now treating of this civil use and function of the Law The second purpose of the Law is spiritual and divine Paul describes this spiritual purpose of the Law in the words Because of transgressions i e to reveal to a person his sin blindness misery his ignorance hatred and contempt of God his death hell and condemnation This is the principal purpose of the Law and its most valuable contribution As long as a person is not a murderer adulterer thief he would swear that he is righteous How is God going to humble such a person except by the Law The Law is the hammer of death the thunder of hell and the lightning of God s wrath to bring down the proud and shameless hypocrites When the Law was instituted on Mount Sinai it was accompanied by lightning by storms by the sound of trumpets to tear to pieces that monster called self righteousness As long as a person thinks he is right he is going to be incomprehensibly proud and presumptuous He is going to hate God despise His grace and mercy and ignore the promises in Christ The Gospel of the free forgiveness of sins through Christ will never appeal to the self righteous This monster of self righteousness this stiff necked beast needs a big axe And that is what the Law is a big axe Accordingly the proper use and function of the Law is to threaten until the conscience is scared stiff The awful spectacle at Mount Sinai portrayed the proper use of the Law When the children of Israel came out of Egypt a feeling of singular holiness possessed them They boasted We are the people of God All that the Lord hath spoken we will do Ex 19 8 This feeling of holiness was heightened when Moses ordered them to wash their clothes to refrain from their wives and to prepare themselves all around The third day came and Moses led the people out of their tents to the foot of the mountain into the presence of the Lord What happened When the children of Israel saw the whole mountain burning and smoking the black clouds rent by fierce lightning flashing up and down in the inky darkness when they heard the sound of the trumpet blowing louder and longer shattered by the roll of thunder they were so frightened that they begged Moses Speak thou with us and we will hear but let not God speak with us lest we die Ex 20 19 I ask you what good did their scrubbing their snow white clothes and their continence do them No good at all Not a single one could stand in the presence of the glorious Lord Stricken by the terror of God they fled back into their tents as if the devil were after them The Law is meant to produce the same effect today which it produced at Mount Sinai long ago I want to encourage all who fear God especially those who intend to become ministers of the Gospel to learn from the Apostle the proper use of the Law I fear that after our time the right handling of the Law will become a lost art Even now although we continually explain the separate functions of the Law and the Gospel we have those among us who do not understand how the Law should be used What will it be like when we are dead and gone We want it understood that we do not reject the Law as our opponents claim On the contrary we uphold the Law We say the Law is good if it is used for the purposes for which it was designed to check civil transgression and to magnify spiritual transgressions The Law is also a light like the Gospel But instead of revealing the grace of God righteousness and life the Law brings sin death and the wrath of God to light This is the business of the Law and here the business of the Law ends and should go no further The business of the Gospel on the other hand is to quicken to comfort to raise the fallen The Gospel carries the news that God for Christ s sake is merciful to the most unworthy sinners if they will only believe that Christ by His death has delivered them from sin and everlasting death unto grace forgiveness and everlasting life By keeping in mind the difference between the Law and the Gospel we let each perform its special task Of this difference between the Law and the Gospel nothing can be discovered in the writings of the monks or scholastics nor for that matter in the writings of the ancient fathers Augustine understood the difference somewhat Jerome and others knew nothing of it The silence in the Church concerning the difference between the Law and the Gospel has resulted in untold harm Unless a sharp distinction is maintained between the purpose and function of the Law and the Gospel the Christian doctrine cannot be kept free from error VERSE 19 It was added because of transgressions In other words that transgressions might be recognized as such and thus increased When sin death and the wrath of God are revealed to a person by the Law he grows impatient complains against God and rebels Before that he was a very holy man he worshipped and praised God he bowed his knees before God and gave thanks like the Pharisee But now that sin and death are revealed to him by the Law he wishes there were no God The Law inspires hatred of God Thus sin is not only revealed by the Law sin is actually increased and magnified by the Law The Law is a mirror to show a person what he is like a sinner who is guilty of death and worthy of everlasting punishment What is this bruising and beating by the hand of the Law to accomplish This that we may find the way to grace The Law is an usher to lead the way to grace God is the God of the humble the miserable the afflicted It is His nature to exalt the humble to comfort the sorrowing to heal the broken hearted to justify the sinners and to save the condemned The fatuous idea that a person can be holy by himself denies God the pleasure of saving sinners God must therefore first take the sledge hammer of the Law in His fists and smash the beast of self righteousness and its brood of self confidence self wisdom self righteousness and self help When the conscience has been thoroughly frightened by the Law it welcomes the Gospel of grace with its message of a Savior who came into the world not to break the bruised reed nor to quench the smoking flax but to preach glad tidings to the poor to heal the broken hearted and to grant forgiveness of sins to all the captives Man s folly however is so prodigious that instead of embracing the message of grace with its guarantee of the forgiveness of sin for Christ s sake man finds himself more laws to satisfy his conscience If I live says he I will mend my life I will do this I will do that Man if you don t do the very opposite if you don t send Moses with the Law back to Mount Sinai and take the hand of Christ pierced for your sins you will never be saved When the Law drives you to the point of despair let it drive you a little farther let it drive you straight into the arms of Jesus who says Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest VERSE 19 Till the seed should come to whom the promise was made The Law is not to have its say indefinitely We must know how long the Law is to put in its licks If it hammers away too long no person would and could be saved The Law has a boundary beyond which it must not go How long ought the Law to hold sway Till the seed should come to whom the promise was made That may be taken literally to mean until the time of the Gospel From the days of John the Baptist says Jesus until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John Matthew 11 12 13 When Christ came the Law and the ceremonies of Moses ceased Spiritually it means that the Law is not to operate on a person after he has been humbled and frightened by the exposure of his sins and the wrath of God We must then say to the Law Mister Law lay off him He has had enough You scared him good and proper Now it is the Gospel s turn Now let Christ with His gracious lips talk to him of better things grace peace forgiveness of sins and eternal life VERSE 19 And it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator The Apostle digresses a little from his immediate theme Something occurred to him and he throws it in by the way It occurred to him that the Law differs from the Gospel in another respect in respect to authorship The Law was delivered by the angels but the Gospel by the Lord Himself Hence the Gospel is superior to the Law as the word of a lord is superior to the word of his servant The Law was handed down by a being even inferior to the angels by a middleman named Moses Paul wants us to understand that Christ is the mediator of a better testament than mediator Moses of the Law Moses led the people out of their tents to meet God But they ran away That is how good a mediator Moses was Paul says How can the Law justify when that whole sanctified people of Israel and even mediator Moses trembled at the voice of God What kind of righteousness do you call that when people run away from it and hate it the worst way If the Law could justify people would love the Law But look at the children of Israel running away from it The flight of the children of Israel from Mount Sinai indicates how people feel about the Law They don t like it If this were the only argument to prove that salvation is not by the Law this one Bible history would do the work What kind of righteousness is this law righteousness when at the commencement exercises of the Law Moses and the scrubbed people run away from it so fast that an iron mountain the Red Sea even could not have stopped them until they were back in Egypt once again If they could not hear the Law how could they ever hope to perform the Law If all the world had stood at the mountain all the world would have hated the Law and fled from it as the children of Israel did The whole world is an enemy of the Law How then can anyone be justified by the Law when everybody hates the Law and its divine author All this goes to show how little the scholastics know about the Law They do not consider its spiritual effect and purpose which is not to justify or to pacify afflicted consciences but to increase sin to terrify the conscience and to produce wrath In their ignorance the papists spout about man s good will and right judgment and man s capacity to perform the Law of God Ask the people of Israel who were present at the presentation of the Law on Mount Sinai whether what the scholastics say is true Ask David who often complains in the Psalms that he was cast away from God and in hell that he was frantic about his sin and sick at the thought of the wrath and judgment of God No the Law does not justify VERSE 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one Here the Apostle briefly compares the two mediators Moses and Christ A mediator says Paul is not a mediator of one He is necessarily a mediator of two The offender and the offended Moses was such a mediator between the Law and the people who were offended at the Law They were offended at the Law because they did not understand its purpose That was the veil which Moses put over his face The people were also offended at the Law because they could not look at the bare face of Moses It shone with the glory of God When Moses addressed the people he had to cover his face with that veil of his They could not listen to their mediator Moses without another mediator the veil The Law had to change its face and voice In other words the Law had to be made tolerable to the people Thus covered the Law no longer spoke to the people in its undisguised majesty It became more tolerable to the conscience This explains why men fail to understand the Law properly with the result that they become secure and presumptuous hypocrites One of two things has to be done Either the Law must be covered with a veil and then it loses its full effectiveness or it must be unveiled and then the full blast of its force kills Man cannot stand the Law without a veil over it Hence we are forced either to look beyond the Law to Christ or we go through life as shameless hypocrites and secure sinners Paul says A mediator is not a mediator of one Moses could not be a mediator of God only for God needs no mediator Again Moses could not be a mediator of the people only He was a mediator between God and the people It is the office of a mediator to conciliate the party that is offended and to placate the party that is the offender However Moses mediation consisted only in changing the tone of the Law to make it more tolerable to the people Moses was merely a mediator of the veil He could not supply the ability to perform the Law What do you suppose would have happened if the Law had been given without a mediator and the people had been denied the services of a go between The people would have perished or in case they had escaped they would have required the services of another mediator to preserve them alive and to keep the Law in force Moses came along and he was made the mediator He covered his face with a veil But that is as much as he could do He could not deliver men s consciences from the terror of the Law The sinner needs a better mediator That better mediator is Jesus Christ He does not change the voice of the Law nor does He hide the Law with a veil He takes the full blast of the wrath of the Law and fulfills its demands most meticulously Of this better Mediator Paul says A mediator is not a mediator of one We are the offending party God is the party offended The offense is of such a nature that God cannot pardon it Neither can we render adequate satisfaction for our offenses There is discord between God and us Could not God revoke His Law No How about running away from God It cannot be done It took Christ to come between us and God and to reconcile God to us How did Christ do it Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us which was contrary to us and took it out of the way nailing it to his cross Col 2 14 This one word mediator is proof enough that the Law cannot justify Otherwise we should not need a mediator In Christian theology the Law does not justify In fact it has the contrary effect The Law alarms us it magnifies our sins until we begin to hate the Law and its divine Author Would you call this being justified by the Law Can you imagine a more arrant outrage than to hate God and to abhor His Law What an excellent Law it is Listen I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt out of the house of bondage Thou shalt have no other gods showing mercy unto thousands honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land Ex 20 2 3 6 12 Are these not excellent laws perfect wisdom Let not God speak with us lest we die cried the children of Israel Is it not amazing that a person should refuse to hear things that are good for him Any person would be glad to hear I should think that he has a gracious God who shows mercy unto thousands Is it not amazing that people hate the Law that promotes their safety and welfare e g Thou shalt not kill thou shalt not commit adultery thou shalt not steal The Law can do nothing for us except to arouse the conscience Before the Law comes to me I feel no sin But when the Law comes sin death and hell are revealed to me You would not call this being made righteous You would call it being condemned to death and hell fire VERSE 20 But God is one God does not offend anybody therefore He needs no mediator But we offend God therefore we need a mediator And we need a better mediator than Moses We need Christ VERSE 21 Is the law then against the promises of God Before he digressed Paul stated that the Law does not justify Shall we then discard the Law No no It supplies a certain need It supplies men with a needed realization of their sinfulness Now arises another question If the Law does no more than to reveal sin does it not oppose the promises of God The Jews believed that by the restraint and discipline of the Law the promises of God would be hastened in fact earned by them Paul answers Not so On the contrary if we pay too much attention to the Law the promises of God will be slowed up How can God fulfill His promises to a people that hates the Law VERSE 21 God forbid God never said to Abraham In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because thou hast kept the Law When Abraham was still uncircumcised and without the Law or any law indeed when he was still an idol worshiper God said to him Get thee out of thy country etc I am thy shield etc In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed These are unconditional promises which God freely made to Abraham without respect to works This is aimed especially at the Jews who think that the promises of God are impeded by their sins Paul says The Lord is not slack concerning His promises because of our sins or hastens His promises because of any merit on our part God s promises are not influenced by our attitudes They rest in His goodness and mercy Just because the Law increases sin it does not therefore obstruct the promises of God The Law confirms the promises in that it prepares a person to look for the fulfillment of the promises of God in Christ The proverb has it that Hunger is the best cook The Law makes afflicted consciences hungry for Christ Christ tastes good to them Hungry hearts appreciate Christ Thirsty souls are what Christ wants He invites them Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest Christ s benefits are so precious that He will dispense them only to those who need them and really desire them VERSE 21 For if there had been a law given which could have given life verily righteousness should have been by the law The Law cannot give life It kills The Law does not justify a person before God it increases sin The Law does not secure righteousness it hinders righteousness The Apostle declares emphatically that the Law of itself cannot save Despite the intelligibility of Paul s statement our enemies fail to grasp it Otherwise they would not emphasize free will natural strength the works of supererogation etc To escape the charge of forgery they always have their convenient annotation handy that Paul is referring only to the ceremonial and not to the moral law But Paul includes all laws He expressly says If there had been a law given There is no law by which righteousness may be obtained not a single one Why not VERSE 22 But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin Where First in the promises concerning Christ in Genesis 3 15 and in Genesis 22 18 which speak of the seed of the woman and the seed of Abraham The fact that these promises were made unto the fathers concerning Christ implies that the fathers were subject to the curse of sin and eternal death Otherwise why the need of promises Next Holy Writ concludes all under sin in this passage from Paul For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse Again in the passage which the Apostle quotes from Deuteronomy 27 26 Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them This passage clearly submits all men to the curse not only those who sin openly against the Law but also those who sincerely endeavor to perform the Law inclusive of monks friars hermits etc The conclusion is inevitable Faith alone justified without works If the Law itself cannot justify much less can imperfect performance of the Law or the works of the Law justify VERSE 22 That the promise by faith of Jesus

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  • APOSTLES OF CORNELIUS IN THE TENTH OF ACTS NAAMAN THE SYRIAN THE GENTILES JUSTIFIED WITHOUT THE LAW EVEN WHEN THE LAW AND POLICY OF MOSES WAS YET IN FORCE Are ye so foolish that after ye have begun in the Spirit ye would now end in the flesh Have ye suffered so many things in vain If notwithstanding it be in vain He therefore that ministereth to you the spirit and worketh miracles among you doth he it through the works of the law or by the hearing of faith As Abraham believed God and it was imputed to him for righteousness Christian righteousness consisteth in faith of the heart and God s imputation Ye know therefore that they which are of faith the same are the children of Abraham Ye know therefore that they which are of faith the same are the children of Araham And the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles through faith Preached the Gospel before unto Abraham saying in thee shall all the gentiles be blessed So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham For as many as are of the works of the law are accursed For it is written cursed is every man that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them Deuteronomy 27 26 AN ANSWER TO THOSE ARGUMENTS WHICH THE ADVERSARIES ALLEGE AGAINST THE DOCTRINE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH And that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God it is evident for the just shall live by faith Habakkuk 1 4 And the law is not of faith But the man that shall do these things shall live in them Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law having been made a curse for us for it is written cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree etc Deuteronomy 21 23 That the blessng of Abraham might come upon the gentiles through Christ Jesus That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith Brethren I speak according to man though it be but a man s covenant when it is confirmed yet no man doth abrogate it or addeth anything thereto Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made He saith not and to the seeds as speaking of many but and to thy seed as of one which is Christ And this I say that the law which was 430 years after cannot disannul the covenant that was confirmed before of God in respect of Christ that it should make the promise of none effect For if the inhertance be of the law it is no more by the promise etc But God gave it unto Abraham by promise Wherefore then serveth the law It was added because of transgressions OF THE DOUBLE USE OF THE LAW The law was added because of transgressions Until the seed came unto the which the promise was made And it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator Now a mediator is not a mediator of one But God is one Is the law then against the promises of God God forbid For if there had been a law given which could make alive verily righteousness should have been by the law etc The Scripture hath concluded all under sin That the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ should be given to them that believe But before faith came But before faith came we were kept in ward under the laws shut up unto the faith which should afterward be revealed The law shutteth men under sin two ways civilly and spiritually And shut up unto the faith which should after be revealed Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ That we may be made righteous by faith But after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster For ye are all the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus For all ye that are baptized have put on Christ There is neither jew nor grecian there is neither bond nor free there is neither male nor female For ye are all one in Christ Jesus And if ye be Christ s then are ye Abraham s seed and heirs according to the promise CHAPTER 4 This I say that the heir as long as he is a child differeth nothing from a servant though he be lord of all but is under tutors and governors until the appointed of the father So also we as long as we were children were in bondage under the rudiments of the world Under the elements or rudiments of this world etc But after the fulness of time was come God sent his son made or born of a woman and made under the law that he might redeem them which were under the law That we might receive the adoption of sons And because you are sons God hath sent forth the spirit of his son into your hearts Crying abba father Wherefore thou art no more a servant but a son Now if thou be a son thou art also the heir of God through Christ Through Christ But even then when ye knew not God ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods but now seeing ye know God yea rather are known of God how turn you again to impotent and beggarly rudiments whereunto as from the beginning ye will be in bondage again But now seeing ye know God Yea rather are known of God etc Whereunto ye will be in bondage again Ye observe days and months times and years I am in fear of you lest I have bestowed on you labor in vain Be ye as I am for I am as ye are Be ye as I am for I am as ye are Brethren I beseech you

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