Luther on Psalm 51:8

Only hearing brings joy.

This is the only way for the heart to find peace before God.  Everything else that it can undertake leaves doubt in the mind…  the forgiveness of sins becomes actual not through works but through hearing…

On this do I build, that God says to me through the brother: ‘I absolve you in the name and merit of Christ.’  I believe this word is true, nor will my faith fail me.

It is ‘built on the rock of the words of the Son of God,’ who cannot lie because He is the Truth.  In this way your minds are filled with joy and the true gladness of the Holy Spirit, which consits wholly in the certainty of the Word in hearing.”

LW Vol. 12 

Robert Capon on Hell

I came across this bombshell of a quote while I was researching for this week’s sermon about the “Unforgiving Servant.”

In heaven, there are only forgiven sinners.

“There are no good guys, no upright, successful types who, by dint of their own integrity, have been accepted into the great country club in the sky.  There are only failures, only those who have accepted their deaths in their sins and who have been raised up by the King who himself died they might live.

But in hell, too, there are only forgiven sinners.

Continue reading

Gene Veith on Preaching

ip

“Whether preaching the need to conform to society, reform it, or separate from it, all these options are theologies of the Law, not Gospel.  They reduce Christianity to rules, behavior, and codes of conduct–neglecting the fact that human beings are in such bondage to sin that they cannot fulfill the Law.  More profoundly, they neglect the fact that Christianity is about God’s grace, the atonement of Christ, and the forgiveness of sins.  Put another way, in their ambitious kingdom-building, they exhibit the theology of glory, rather than the theology of the cross.”

Gene Edward Veith, Jr.  “The Spirituality of the Cross

Luther on Receiving the Holy Spirit

Came across this wonderful quote while writing a sermon today.  Speaking on Galatians 3:2 Luther proclaims:

“It seems unlikely that the Holy Spirit is received only by believing what we hear and that there is nothing required of us but rather we must set aside all our works and give ourselves only to hearing the Gospel.  The human heart does not understand or believe that such a great treasure–namely, the Holy Spirit–is given only by believing what we hear.  We reason that forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, righteousness, and everlasting life are great things, and therefore we must do something that is great if we want to obtain these inestimable benefits…  So when our reason hears that we can do nothing to obtain the forgiveness of sins but must only hear the Word of God, it immediately cries out ‘Rubbish! You are making the forgiveness of sins too unimportant a matter…’  We must learn that forgiveness of sins, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are given to us freely, simply by believing what we hear preached, despite our horrible sins.  We must not think about the greatness of what is given, nor about how unworthy we are of it; rather, we must think how it pleases God to give us this unutterable gift freely.”

Martin Luther “Commentary on Galatians

Karl Barth “In View of Christ’s Cross”

crucifixion

“In view of Christ’s Cross we are invited on the one hand to realize the magnitude and weight of our sin in what our forgiveness cost.  In the strict sense there is not knowledge of sin except in light of Christ’s Cross.  For he alone understands what sin is, who knows that his sin is forgiven him.  And on the other hand we may realize that the price is paid on our behalf, so that we are acquitted of sin and its consequences.  We are no longer address and regarded by God as sinners, who must pass under judgment for their guilt.  We have nothing more to pay.  We are acquitted gratis, sola gratia, by God’s own entering in for us.”

Karl Barth “Dogmatics in Outline