Category Archives: Martin Luther

“Beat it into their heads continually” by Martin Luther

“Just as our opponents refuse to concede to us the freedom that faith in Christ alone justifies, so we refuse to concede to them, in turn, that faith formed by love justifies. Here we intend and are obliged to be rebellious and stubborn with them, for otherwise we would lose the truth of the Gospel.

We would lose that freedom which we have, not in the emperor or in kings and princes or in the pope or in the world or in the flesh, but in Christ Jesus.

We would lose faith in Christ, which, as I have said, takes hold of nothing but Christ, the Jewel. If our opponents will let us keep intact this faith by which we are born again, justified, and incorporated into Christ, we are willing to do anything for them that is not contrary to this faith.

But because we cannot obtain this concession from them, we for our part will not budge the least little bit. For the issue before us is grave and vital; it involves the death of the Son of God, who, by the will and commandment of the Father, became flesh, was crucified, and died for the sins of the world.

If faith yields on this point, the death of the Son of God will be in vain. Then it is only a fable that Christ is the Savior of the world. Then God is a liar, for He has not lived up to His promises.

Therefore our stubbornness on this issue is pious and holy; for by it we are striving to preserve the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to keep the truth of the Gospel.

If we lose this, we lose God, Christ, all the promises, faith, righteousness, and eternal life.

But here someone will say: ‘But the Law is divine and holy.’ Let the Law have its glory. But no Law, no matter how divine or holy, has the right to tell me that I obtain justification and life through it.

I will grant that it can teach me that I should love God and my neighbor, and live in chastity, patience, etc.; but it is in no position to show me how to be delivered from sin, the devil, death, and hell.

For this I must consult the Gospel and listen to the Gospel, which does not teach me what I should do—for that is the proper function of the Law—but what someone else has done for me, namely, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death.

The Gospel commands me to accept and believe this, and this is what is called ‘the truth of the Gospel.’ It is also the main doctrine of Christianity, in which the knowledge of all godliness is comprehended.

It is, therefore, extremely necessary that we should know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 26; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 90–91. Luther is commenting on Galatians 2:5.

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“If we cannot all be writers, then we all want to be critics!” by Martin Luther

“Although I know full well and hear every day that many people think little of me and say that I only write little pamphlets and sermons in German for the uneducated laity, I do not let that stop me. Would to God that in my lifetime I had, to my fullest ability, helped one layman to be better!

I would be quite satisfied, thank God, and quite willing then to let all my little books perish. Whether the making of many large books is an art and of benefit to Christendom, I leave for others to judge.

If we cannot all be writers, then we all want to be critics! I will most gladly leave to anybody else the glory of greater things. I will not be ashamed in the slightest to preach to the uneducated layman and write for him in German.

Although I may have little skill at it myself, it seems to me that if we had hitherto busied ourselves in this very task and were of a mind to do more of it in the future, Christendom would have reaped no small advantage and would have been more benefitted by this than by those heavy, weighty tomes which are only handled in the schools among learned schoolmen.

Furthermore, I have never forced anyone or begged him to listen to me or read my sermons. I have served the church unstintingly with that which God gave me. This is my duty.

If anybody so chooses, he is free to read others and listen to them. If people do not want to read my books or hear my sermons, that does not matter very much.

As far as I am concerned it is quite enough, really more than enough, that some laymen—and those the most distinguished—are humble enough to read my sermons. And if nothing else motivated me, this would be more than sufficient.”

–Martin Luther, “Treatise on Good Works,Luther’s Works, Vol. 44: The Christian in Society I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 44; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 22.

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“The merciful One” by Martin Luther

“Christ came into the world so that He might take hold of us and so that we, by gazing upon Christ, might be drawn and carried directly to the Father.

As we have warned you before, there is no hope that any saving knowledge of God can come by speculating about the majesty of God; this can come only by taking hold of Christ, who, by the will of the Father, has given Himself into death for our sins.

When you have grasped this, then all wrath stops, and fear and trembling disappear; and God appears as nothing but the merciful One who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all (Rom. 8:32).”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 26; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 26: 42.

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“It cannot be grasped or held enough or too much” by Martin Luther

“It should not bore you if we repeat here what we teach, preach, sing, and write at other times and places. For if we lose the doctrine of justification, we lose simply everything.

Hence the most necessary and important thing is that we teach and repeat this doctrine daily, as Moses says about his Law (Deut. 6:7). For it cannot be grasped or held enough or too much. In fact, though we may urge and inculcate it vigorously, no one grasps it perfectly or believes it with all his heart.

So frail is our flesh and so disobedient to the Spirit!”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 26; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 26: 26.

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“Take hold of Him and cling to Him with all your heart” by Martin Luther

“If you want to be safe and out of danger to your conscience and your salvation, put a check on this speculative spirit.

Take hold of God as Scripture instructs you (1 Cor. 1:21, 24): “Since, in wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

Therefore begin where Christ began—in the Virgin’s womb, in the manger, and at His mother’s breasts. For this purpose He came down, was born, lived among men, suffered, was crucified, and died, so that in every possible way He might present Himself to our sight. He wanted us to fix the gaze of our hearts upon Himself and thus to prevent us from clambering into heaven and speculating about the Divine Majesty.

Therefore whenever you consider the doctrine of justification and wonder how or where or in what condition to find a God who justifies or accepts sinners, then you must know that there is no other God than this Man Jesus Christ.

Take hold of Him; cling to Him with all your heart, and spurn all speculation about the Divine Majesty; for whoever investigates the majesty of God will be consumed by His glory. I know from experience what I am talking about.

But these fanatics, who deal with God apart from this Man, will not believe me. Christ Himself says: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).

Outside Christ, the Way, therefore, you will find no other way to the Father; you will find only wandering, not truth, but hypocrisy and lies, not life, but eternal death.

Take note, therefore, in the doctrine of justification or grace that when we all must struggle with the Law, sin, death, and the devil, we must look at no other God than this incarnate and human God.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 26; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 26: 29.

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“Christ is truly God by nature” by Martin Luther

“The true deity of Christ is proved by this conclusion: Paul attributes to Him the ability to grant the very same things that the Father does—grace, peace of conscience, the forgiveness of sins, life, and victory over sin, death, the devil, and hell.

This would be illegitimate, in fact, sacrilegious, if Christ were not true God. For no one grants peace unless he himself has it in his hands. But since Christ grants it, He must have it in His hands.

Christ gives grace and peace, not as the apostles did, by preaching the Gospel, but as its Author and Creator. The Father creates and gives life, grace, peace, etc.; the Son creates and gives the very same things.

To give grace, peace, eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, justification, life, and deliverance from death and the devil—these are the works, not of any creature but only of the Divine Majesty.

The angels can neither create these things nor grant them. Therefore these works belong only to the glory of the sovereign Majesty, the Maker of all things.

And since Paul attributes the very same power to create and give all this to Christ just as much as to the Father, it follows necessarily that Christ is truly God by nature.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 26; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 26: 31.

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“These words are a veritable thunderbolt from heaven” by Martin Luther

“In a sense Paul treats the argument of this epistle in every word. He has nothing in his mouth but Christ.

Therefore in every word there is a fervor of spirit and life. Note how precisely he speaks.

He does not say: “Who has received our works from us” or “Who has received the sacrifices required by the Law of Moses—acts of worship, monastic orders, Masses, vows, and pilgrimages.”

Instead, he says: “Who has given.” Has given what? Neither gold nor silver nor cattle nor Passover lambs nor an angel, but “Himself.”

For what? Neither for a crown nor for a kingdom nor for our holiness or righteousness, but “for our sins.”

These words are a veritable thunderbolt from heaven against every kind of righteousness, as is the statement (John 1:29): “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Therefore we must pay careful attention to every word and not look at it casually or pass over it lightly; for these words are filled with comfort, and they give great encouragement to timid consciences.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 26; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 26: 32.

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