Martin Luther’s Christmas Day Sermon 1530

“In my sin, my death, I must take leave of all created things.  No, sun, moon, stars, all creatures, physicians, emperors, kings, wise men and potentates cannot help me.

When I die I shall see nothing but black darkness, and yet that light, “To you is born this day a Savior” [Luke 2:11], remains in my eyes and fills all of heaven and earth.

The Savior will help me when all have forsaken me…

If you can say: The Son, who is proclaimed to be a Lord and Savior; and if you can confirm the message of the angel and say yes to it and believe it in your heart, then your heart will be filled with assurance and joy and confidence, and you will not worry much about even the costliest and best that this world has to offer…

If it is true that the child was born of the virgin and is mine, then I have no angry God and I must know and feel that there is nothing but laughter and joy in the heart of the Father and no sadness in my heart.

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Forde on “Post-Reformation Lutheranism” (and I would add Christianity in General)

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared anything from my favorite Lutheran Theologian Gerhard Forde.  Here’s a doozy:

The tragedy of post-Reformation Lutheranism and the theological root of its identity crisis is to be found in the persistent attempt to combine the radical gospel of justification by faith alone with an anthropology that cannot tolerate it…

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Luther on Psalm 51:9

This same petition proves that the doctrine of justification is the kind of thing that can never be learned completely.  Therefore it is true that those who have persuaded themselves that they know it fully have not even begun to learn.

Because every day new struggles arise from Satan and our flesh or the world or our conscience, prompting us to despair, wrath, lust, and other vices, how is it possible for this weakness of ours not to keep falling or breaking?  Then, too, how many concerns arise in this life that gradually make us forget this gladness?  Hence it is supremely necessary that we ask God to pour or sprinkle upon us this hearing of joy so that we are not covered with the sadness that the feeling of sin brings on.”

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 

Luther on Psalm 51:7

“It is He [Jesus] who bore the sins of the world.  This is the one satisfaction; this is the one washing, by which we are saved.  And the basis of salvation is that when you hear this, you should not be unbelieving toward divine revelation but believe it.  The fact that a new life should follow does not belong to satisfaction, but to the obedience you owe.  Because the Holy Spirit arouses this in us, we cannot claim any merit of ours from it to reconcile God and to expiate sins which, we are taught, have already been expiated through Jesus Christ.

Only that satisfaction is true which is called and is satisfaction of faith, namely, that Christ Jesus bore your sins.

If this satisfaction stands alone and pure without your flesh, then you may zealously exercise charity, serve your calling, and do everything that the Word of God permits you to undertake.  This obedience is pleasing and acceptable to God because it is done with the right aim, namely, of obeying God and not setting up your own satisfaction.

LW Vol. 12 

 

 

Luther on Psalm 51:5

Psalm 51:5   5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

“The human seed, this mass from which I was formed, is totally corrupt with faults and sins.  The material itself is faulty.  The clay, so to speak, out of which this vessel began to be formed is damnable…

So we are not sinners because we commit this or that sin, but we commit them because we are sinners first.

That is, a bad tree and bad seed also bring forth bad fruit, and from a bad root only a bad tree can grow…”

LW Vol. 12