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Martin Luther's Definition of Faith:

Discussion in 'Theologia Crucis - Lutherans' started by Dr. Martin Luther, Jan 1, 2005.

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  1. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    An excerpt from
    "An Introduction to St. Paul's Letter to the Romans,"
    Luther's German Bible of 1522
    by Martin Luther, 1483-1546
    Translated by Rev. Robert E. Smith
    from DR. MARTIN LUTHER'S VERMISCHTE DEUTSCHE SCHRIFTEN.
    Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63
    (Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp.124-125. [EA 63:124-125]
    August 1994

    Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream
    is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by
    good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they
    speak and hear much about faith. ``Faith is not enough,'' they
    say, ``You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.''
    They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working,
    creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, ``I
    believe.'' That is what they think true faith is. But, because
    this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything
    from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn't come from this
    `faith,' either.

    Instead, faith is God's work in us, that changes us and gives
    new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us
    completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits,
    our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with
    it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this
    faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn't
    stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone
    asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without
    ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an
    unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good
    works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are.
    Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many
    words.

    Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of
    God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it.
    Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy,
    joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The
    Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you
    freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve
    everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who
    has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to
    separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from
    fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard
    against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they're smart enough
    to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools.
    Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without
    faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.

    _________________________________________________________________

    This text was translated for Project Wittenberg by Rev. Robert E.
    Smith and is in the public domain. You may freely distribute,
    copy or print this text. Please direct any comments or
    suggestions to:

    Rev. Robert E. Smith
    Walther Library
    Concordia Theological Seminary

    ________________________________________________________________
     
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  2. Organist

    Organist Hammond A102

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    I had not read this before. Thanks for posting, and "Amen!" :priest:
     
  3. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    But outside the matter of justification, when thou must dispute with Jews, Turks, Papists, or Heretics, concerning the power, wisdom and majesty of God, then empty all they wit to that end, and be as profound and subtle a disputer as thou canst, for then thou art in another vein. But in the case of conscience, of righteousness and life, against the law, sin and death, or in the matter of satisfaction, of remission of sins, of reconciliation, and of everlasting life, thou must withdraw they mind wholly from searching of the majesty of God, and look only upon the man Jesus Christ who setteth Himself forth unto us to be the Mediator. Thus doing thou shalt perceive the love, goodness and sweetness of God, thou shalt also see His wisdom, power, and majesty, according to that saying of Paul, "In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. ii. 3), and again, "For in Him dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. ii. 9). The world is ignorant of this, and therefore it searcheth out the will of God, setting aside the promise in Christ to its destruction. "For no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him." (St. Matthew xi. 27).
     
  4. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    So seek thou God as Paul teacheth thus: "We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness, but to them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (I Cor. i. 23-24). For to this end Christ came down, was born, was conversant with men, suffered, was crucified, and died, that by all means He might set forth Himself plainly before our eyes, and fasten the eyes of our hearts upon Himself, that He might thereby keep us from climbing up into heaven and from the curious searching of the Divine Majesty.
     
  5. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    Therefore after the law hath humbled thee, and utterly beaten thee down, see that thou learn to use it rightly: for the office and use of it is not only to reveal sin, and convict us of it, but also to drive men to Christ. This use of the law the Holy Ghost setteth forth in the gospel, where He witnesseth that God is present unto the afflicted and broken-hearted, and we hear Christ's voice saying to us, "come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (St. Matt. xi. 28). This is the true and best use of the law, when it driveth men to Christ.
     
  6. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    Chapter II, Verse 19 - For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

    These are marvelous words, and unknown kinds of speech, which man's reason can in nowise understand. As though he were moved through indignation of the Holy Ghost, he calleth grace itself the law, giving a new name to the effect and working of grace, in contempt of the law of Moses and the false apostles which contended that the law was necessary to justification: and so he setteth the law against the law. And this is a sweet kind of speech, full of consolation, when in the Scriptures, and especially in Paul, the law is set against the law, sin against sin, death against death, captivity against captivity, hell against hell, the altar against the altar, the lamb against the lamb, the passover against the passover.

    In the eighth of Romans it is said: "For sin He condemned sin" ; in Ephesians (iv.): "He led captivity captive" ; in Hosea (xii): "O death I will be thy plagues, O grave I will be thy destruction." So he saith here, that through the law he is dead to the law. As if he said: the law of Moses accuseth and condemneth me: but against that accusing and condemning law, I have another law, which is grace and liberty. James (I. 25) also calleth grace "the law of liberty". This law accuseth the accusing law, and condemneth the condemning law. So death killed death, but the killing death is life itself. But it is called the death of death, by a vehement indignation of spirit against death. So righteousness taketh the name of sin, because it condemneth sin, and this condemning of sin is true righteousness.

    But here Paul seemeth to be a heretic; yea, of all heretics the greatest, and his heresy is strange and monstrous. For he saith: "that he being dead to the law, liveth unto God." The false apostles said, Except thou live to the law, thou art dead to God, that is, unless thou live after the law, thou art dead before God. But Paul saith quite the contrary, "Except thou be dead to the law, thou canst not live unto God." The doctrine of our adversaries at this day, is like to the doctrine of the false apostles of that time. They say, if thou wilt live to God, live to the law, or after the law. But contrariwise we say: if thou wilt live to God, thou must be utterly dead to the law. Man's reason and wisdom understandeth not this doctrine: therefore it teacheth always the contrary, for is it not written: "Do this and thou shalt live."

    And this is a special principle among all popish divines: He that liveth after the law, liveth unto God. Paul saith, we cannot live unto God unless we be dead to the law.

    Wherefore we must mount up to this heavenly altitude, that we may be assured that we are far above the law, yea, that we are utterly dead to the law. Now, if we be dead unto the law, then hath the law no power over us, like as it hath no power over Christ, who hath delivered us from the same, that we might live unto God.

    And here Paul speaketh not of the ceremonial law only, but of the whole law, whether ceremonial or moral, which to a Christian is utterly abrogated, for he is dead unto it: not that the law is utterly taken away: nay, it remaineth; liveth, and reigneth still in the wicked. But a godly man is dead unto the law, like as he is dead unto sin, the devil, death and hell; which notwithstanding do still remain; and the world with all the wicked shall still abide in them.
     
  7. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    Galations, Chapter II, Verse 20 - "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

    Let us dwell on that word "me", "who gave Himself for me". Who is this me? Even I, wretched and damnable sinner, but loved so dearly at the Son of God that He gave Himself for me. If I through any works, efforts, merits could have come to Him, what need was there that He should give Himself for me? If the papists have well considered these words it had been impossible that so many monstrous sects should have sprung up among them. For faith would have come to answer the question,why dost thou choose this kind of life, this religious order, this work? Dost thou this to please God, and be justified thereby? Dost thou not know then, that the Son of God shed His Blood for thee? This fact well grasped would have easily withstood all manner of sects.

    Therefore I say again, as I have often said, that there is no remedy against sects, or power to resist them, but this only article of Christian righteousness. For because there was no other price either in heaven or on earth, but Christ the Son of God, therefore it was most necessary that He should be delivered up for me. This He did of inestimable love; for Paul saith, "which loved me".

    He that can utter this word "me", and apply it to himself with a true faith, as Paul did, shall be a good disputer with Paul against the law.

    Faith therefore embraceth and wrappeth in itself Christ Jesus the Son of God, delivered to death for us, who being apprehended thus by faith, giveth unto us righteousness, and life. And here he setteth out most lively the priesthood and offices of Christ; which are to pacify God, to make intercession for sinners, to offer up Himself a sacrifice for their sins, to redeem, to instruct, and to comfort them. Let us there define Him as Paul doth here: namely, that He is the Son of God, who not for our deserts, or say righteousness of ours, but of His own free mercy offered up Himself a sacrifice for us sinners, that He might sanctify us for ever.
     
  8. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    Content of the ninth chapter: The Apostle sorrows over the hardening of the Jews and shows that the Jews have not been cheated out of the promises of the Fathers. He reminds them of the call of the heathen.

    ELECTION IS BY GRACE ACCORDING TO THE PROMISE IN CHRIST

    I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever,. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken one effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall they seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise. At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; ) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall I say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharoah, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore, hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth (9:1-18).
     
  9. ByzantineDixie

    ByzantineDixie Handmaid of God, Mary

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    Marty...

    pertaineth?
    hast?
    saith?
    shewest????

    Sweetie, tell me you had a better mastery of Koine Greek than you do of 21st Century English! :eek: ;)

    :hug: Rose
     
  10. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    Either 'tis 16th century der Deutche, oder 16th century die Englisch! :D

    These are translated from the original German. Give me a break, I just got here. This shall take some time. The 21st century you say....wow :doh: can't get used to it just yet.

    ML
     
  11. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    Oh, and I do appreciate your comments. ;)
     
  12. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. This confidence in god's grace and knowledge of it makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and all His creatures; and this is the work of the Holy Ghost in faith. Hence a man is ready and glad, without compulsion, to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, in love and praise to God, who has shown him this grace; and thus it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible, in love and praise to God, who has shown him this grace; and thus it is impossible as to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light fires. Beware, therefore, of your own false notions and of the idle talkers, who would be wise enough to make decisions about faith and good works, and yet are the greatest fools. Pray God to work faith in you; else you will remain forever without faith, whatever you think or do.
     
  13. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    "Of sins that are past" (3:25). That is, the sins which preceded the demonstration of His righteousness. These were committed before the world knew that those who are justified are justified alone through Christ.

    "Through the forbearance of God" (3:25). Had God not patiently borne the sinners, there never could have been any remission of sins, nor any proof of His righteousness. God bears sinners go patiently to forgive them. He forgives them to show forth His righteousness and the justification of sinners which they receive through faith in His blood.

    These are some who explain the words "for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God," thus: God showed His righteousness to the Fathers of the Old Covenant. He forgave them their sins through His forbearance, that is, in view of the promised atonement to be made by Christ. But I prefer the explanation: God reveals Himself through the remission of sins that are past as the One who justifies all men. His gracious remission of sins proves Him to be the God who is just and who alone has power to justify. With these words he also gives the answer to foolish objectors: Well, then, God has fulfilled the Law; hence, from now on He will no longer impute sin. Nor will He regard that as sin which He regarded as sin in the past. Hence, we may sin as we please, for what used to be sin, is no longer sin.
     
  14. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved" (9:27). the term "remnant" is found frequently in the prophets. Thus in Isaiah 46:3 we read: "Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel." They were called the "remnant" because they were allowed to remain, as is clear from Isaiah; for while God gave the others up to perdition, He let them remain as the seed for another people.

    "For he will finish the work, an cut it short in righteousness," (9:28). Almost the entire people were carnal and glorified in the flesh. Therefore God does a work, which is finished and cut short, corresponding to the large number of carnal persons in Israel. It would not have been surprising had all been cut off; for all were children of the flesh and descended from the fathers according to their flesh. Only the Lord allowed a seed to remain unto Himself. He adds, "in righteousness." In Isaiah 10:22 we read: "Though thy people be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. It is strange that there should be decreed consumption that is finished and cut off, and yet also an overflowing with righteousness. But here it is accomplished: the promise of God overflowed with righteousness, yet at the same time it was cut off for almost all. In those in whom the promise was accomplished, it overflowed with righteousness.

    "Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness" (9:31). The work righteous will never be justified, because they resist divine grace. But believers are justified because they accept grace.

    As it is written, "Behold, I lay on Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed" (9:33). The righteousness of Christ becomes his who believes on Him; and the sin of him who believes on Him becomes that of Christ. Therefore, sin cannot remain on him who believes, just as man's sin could not remain on Christ. The Hebrew text reads: "He who believes, does not flee." This means that he who believes in Christ need not hurry away or flee, as he will not be terrified. The believer is afraid of nothing, but stands quiet and secure on a firm rock, as the Lord teaches in Matthew 7:24 ff. But he who does not believe will flee and yet cannot escape when he is hard pressed by tribulation and anguish and above all by judgment; for it is the punishment of the damned and their endless restlessness that they flee God, and yet cannot escape.
     
  15. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    I Peter 1:3b

    The reason we Christians continue to live on the earth is that we, after becoming believers, should proclaim abroad the virtue of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, that others might through us come to the same knowledge and faith, just as we received it through brethren. Otherwise it would be best if God would permit us to die as soon as we are baptized and commence to believe. But as long as we are upon the earth, we must live in hope. For although we are indeed assured that through faith we possess all the treasures of God (for faith certainly brings with it a new birth, adoption as a child of the heavenly family, and the inheritance), we do not yet possess them according to the senses, but we expect them through hope, which Peter, according to a Hebrew idiom, calls the hope of life. According to our manner of speaking, we call it a living hope or that in which we confidently hope and have the assurance of eternal life. The treasure, however, is still hidden, and a curtain is drawn before it, so that we cannot see it. It can now be apprehended only by the heart and through faith. Therefore we must in the meanwhile comfort ourselves with the hope, which is certain and will not let us be put to shame, until that day when we shall see what we now hope for. We call it "a living hope;" that is, one in which we certainly expect, and may be assured of, eternal life. But it is concealed, and a veil is drawn over it, that we see it not. It can only be apprehended in the heart and by faith, as John writes in his epistle, I John 3:2: "Now we are the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall behold him as he is."
     
  16. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    8e: Be Courteous

    Courteous means "to lead outwardly a gentle, pleasing lovely manner of life; not merely to sympathize one with another, as a father and mother for their child, but also to walk in love and gentleness one with another." There are some men rough and knotty, like a tree full of knots; so uncivil that no one likes to have anything to do with them. Hence they are usually full of suspicion, and become soon angry; with whom none of their own choice love to associate. But there are gentle people, who interpret all for the best, and are not suspicious; do not permit themselves to be easily irritated; can at least understand some things are well meant; such persons are called in Latin "Candidos," candid (from which "candidate" comes, one clothed in white). This virtue Paul names in Greek "chrastotas" (goodness, Romans 2:4), and it is often praised by him.

    Now consider the Gospel, which portrays the Lord Christ so distinctly that we may trace this virtue especially in others, that they might take him; yet he does not suffer himself to become enraged. And although the apostles often stumble and act a foolish part here and there, he nowhere assails them with angry words. Instead he is ever courteous and attracts them toward himself, so that they remained gladly with him, and walked with him. This likewise we see among good friends and associates on earth, where there are two or three good friends who thoroughly understand one another: though one acts foolishly, the others can readily pardon him. There is represented in some measure that which Peter here intends, although it is not perfectly set forth; for this courteousness is to be considered obligatory upon everyone individually. Hence you see the true nature of love, and what excellent people Christians are. The angels in heaven live with one another thus, and so should it indeed also be on earth; but rarely does it take place (but weakness and imperfections reign here; edition of 1539).

    As Peter has already said, the man servant and the maid servant, the husband and the wife, should so conduct themselves that each may attend to his own business, so would he have us all do generally, one with another. Therefore, if you will be certain and assured that you are doing an excellent work that is pleasing to God, then set yourself in God's name in opposition to whatever has been preached in the devil's name, whereby the world walks and seeks to merit heaven. For how can you be better assured that you are acceptable to God than when you observe, as he here says, the works which a man should do, the conduct which everyone should lead, so that you be compassionate, brotherly affectionate, heartily kind, courteous? In this he says nothing of those fool-works which we have been taught. He says not, build churches, found masses, be priests, wear a cowl, vow chastity, etc. But this is his language: See to it that you be courteous. These are truly precious, golden deeds, precious stones and pearls, well pleasing to God.

    But this the devil cannot tolerate, for he knows that thus his interests are thrown to the ground. Therefore he devises what he can in order to suppress such doctrine and to incite monks and priests to cry out, "Do you say: We and our work amount to nothing? That is for you to talk like Satan." But reply to them then: "Do you not know that these must be good works, of which Peter here speaks, to wit, that we be brotherly affectionate, heartily kind, and courteous? If these are the best, as must be confessed, you must indeed be deceived in regard to your works, if you think they are better."

    I am really greatly astonished that such blindness could come upon us, for Thomas, the preaching monk, has written and says shamelessly, that monks and priests are in a better state than ordinary Christians. This the high schools have confirmed, and men have been doctorated for doing so. After them the Pope and his multitude have gone ahead and exalted those to be saints, who taught such doctrine.

    Therefore understand this now, for as I said, Christ himself and all his apostles have taught, if you would do the best works, and be in the best state in life, you will find them nowhere else than in faith and love; that is the highest state of all. Therefore it must be a falsehood when they say their state is better than that of faith and love. For if it be better than God's Word, it is better than God himself. Therefore Paul has correctly said, in 2 Thessalonians 2;4, that Antichrist should exalt himself against God. So know now therefore how to judge concerning these things; where love and friendship are wanting, there certainly all works are condemned and trodden under foot. Thus we see how Peter has so bravely expatiated on the external character of a truly Christian life, as he taught us above, in a masterly manner, how the inner or spiritual life should be ordered toward God. Therefore this is to be regarded as a truly golden epistle. Upon this it now follows:

    v. 9 "Not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling; but contrariwise blessing; for hereunto were ye called, that ye should inherit a blessing."

    This is a still further illustration of love, showing how we should act toward those that injure and persecute us. If any one does you evil, his meaning is, do him good; if any one rails at and curses you, then bless him and wish him well. This is an important part of love. O Lord God! How few such Christians there are!

    But why should we render good for evil and bless those who curse us? Because, Peter says, ye are hereunto called that ye should inherit a blessing, which means that instead of children of wrath and enemies of Godl, ye should become children of grace and friends of God though Christ. Consequently, ye have no reason to revile, but to bless.

    You have received a blessing from God, not only for yourselves, but also that you may be a blessing to those who are still held by the curse. In other words you are to pray for them that they may also come to faith through your doctrine, patience, and exemplary manner of living. Is your effort in their behalf lost and they rush ahead injuring and cursing you, then consider how highly God has exalted and honored you; for the blessing you shall inherit is not temporal and pertains not to this fleeting life. It is that you are now in the state of grace with God through Christ, that you enjoy the forgiveness of your sins, that you are rescued from death and the power of Satan, and that you now look for eternal life and salvation. Of this you are sure, for to this end you were baptized and received the Holy Spirit through the word of grace, who assures you of it. Therefore, even if you should lose your head on account of it, what would that be compared with the glory of this salvation? Hence you have more cause to pray for your enemies and to have compassion upon them than to be angry with them, and the like. They are children of wrath and condemnation, and greater punishment they could not have. If they do injustice, it will surely overtake them in time, so that they will weep for it bitterly enough and will have to suffer because of such injustice; if not here in time, then hereafter eternally in the abyss of hell.

    In the Scriptures we Christians are called a people of blessing, or a blessed people. For thus said God to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: "In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Since God has now so richly poured this blessing upon us, in that he takes from us all the malediction and the curse which we have brought with us from our first parents, as well as that which Moses suffered to pass upon the disobedient, so that we are now filled with blessing, we ought so to conduct ourselves that it shall b said of us, Yes that is a blessed people. This then is what the apostle here means: See, God has shown you his favor and has taken from you the curse. Reviling, you have dishonored him. He neither imputes nor punishes, but has bestowed upon you such rich grace and blessing--when we were only worthy of all malediction, because ye reviled God without intermission, for where there is unbelief the heart must ever curse God. Do ye also, as has been done to you are treated ill, and endure it where injustice is done you. Here then he quotes a passage from Psalm 34;12, 13, where the prophet David speaks thus:

    v. 10 "For, he that would love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile."

    This verse introduced here by Peter from Psalm 34:13 pertains especially to doctrine. But since he is here speaking of the outward life of Christians, he has very beautifully applied it. He teaches by it how they shall prepare for themselves peace and happy days, and says: They shall not plot and strive, like the children of the world, who can have no peace or rest before they take vengeance and cool their rage on those who have caused them grief by hand or mouth. Therefore, if the world and false brethren show you an evil, spiteful spirit, cause you grief or injury, reproach, and curse you, do not let your anger rise, do not wish to take vengeance, do not render evil for evil, one invective for another. Otherwise you will receive a double misfortune instead of one -- outwardly injury to your body, honor, and property, and inwardly a restless spirit, an evil conscience, and in addition you will lose your best treasure, the grace and blessing of God, and you will load upon yourself his wrath and everlasting curse. But possess thy soul in patience and establish thy heart in contentment, and remember it is enough that you received injury in body and property or are wickedly reviled. Should I also lose on account of it the peace and joy of my soul, become angry and impatient, in return do evil and curse, which would be the will and joy of the devil? Be that far from me.

    Peter calls that, "To refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile." This is an art that Christians only understand, yes, and are still students in it, for you cannot easily graduate in this fine art. With people who are not Christians, the contrary takes place. If one should punish them and tell them the truth, they would curse him with all the plagues; and if you cause them any suffering or harm, they repay you sevenfold.

    That is, whoever would have pleasure and joy in life and would not die the death, but see good days, so that it may go well with him--let him keep his tongue from speaking evil. Let him do this not only in respect to his friends (for that is a small virtue and a thing even the most wicked persons may do, yea, even snakes and vipers), but he says, maintain a kind spirit and keep your tongue silent even against your enemies, though you are incited thereto, though you have cause to rail and speak evil.

    to be continued.....
     
  17. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    Besides, he says, keep your lips that they do not deceive. There are probably many who utter good words and say "good morning" to their neighbor, but they think in their heart, "The devil take you." These are people who have not inherited the blessing; they are the evil fruit of an evil tree. Therefore Peter has introduced a passage that refers to works, even to their root, that which springs from within out of the heart. Furthermore, the passage in the prophet says:

    vv. 11-12a. "And let him turn away from evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous."

    The world considers it to be peace when one person does another injustice, to pound his head real well for it. But in this way we never come nearer to peace, for no king has ever been able to attain peace before his enemies. The Roman empire became to powerful that it struck down all that set itself against it. Despite all that, it could not preserved. Therefore this method is of no avail in securing peace. For though a man should prostrate and silence one foe, ten and twenty rise up again, till at length he is compelled to yield. But he who seeks true peace, and moreover would also find it, let him restrain his tongue; let him turn from evil and do good: the course is different from that the world pursues. To turn from evil and do good means, that when a man hears evil words, he be able to overlook the wickedness and injustice. See thus after peace, so shall you find it; when your enemy has lost his courage and done all he can, if you hear him, rail and rant not back, he has to subdue himself by his own violence. For thus Christ also on the cross subdued his enemies, not by the sword or by violence.

    Therefore it is a proverb which should be written with gold, "Striking back again produces hatred," and "whoever strikes back again is unjust." Hence it must follow that not to strike back again produces peace. But how can this be? Is it then something not human? Certainly it does not accord with human nature; but if you in this way suffer unjustly and do not strike back again, but let the matter go, it shall come to pass as follows:

    v. 11. "And let him turn away from evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and pursue it."

    To turn away from evil and do good signifies that if one hear wicked words, not to render one invective word for another, but a word of blessing. Likewise, not only endure and suffer wrong and injustice, but overcome the evil with the good. Therefore if your enemy cools his rage on you and causes you all the suffering he can; if you then bear it, revile and rage not back, but be a blessing to him and do him all the good you can. In this way you seek peace and also find it, that is to say, keep a good conscience and a friendly, quiet heart, that can with true assurance say: Forgive us, beloved Lord, our debts.

    Peter adds not in vain the words: "He seeks peace and pursues it." Only do not think that peace will pursue you; yea, you will indeed feel, when you suffer and are reviled without any cause on your part, that you will be moved to anger, impatience, revenge, that you would gladly render evil for evil; but this is the time when you should stand firmly and conquer yourself, be sorry and pursue peace. This is accomplished when you do not render evil for evil, nor curse in return, but commend the matter to God, and let it comfort you that you are a child of grace and of blessing, and pray that you may not fall into temptation. Now he concludes this exhortation with a promise.

    v. 12 "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears unto their supplication; but the face of the Lord is upon (against) those that do evil."
     
  18. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    This must be understood in the sense that Abraham was always ready to believe God. He steadfastly believed God. This fact we learn from Genesis chapters 12 and 13, where we are told that Abraham believed God who called and commanded him to leave his country and go into a strange land. Again he believed God when, according to Genesis 22:1ff., he was commanded to slay his son Isaac, and so forth. Whatever he did, he did by faith as the Apostle declares in Hebrews 11:8-10. So also what is stated in our text (v.3) is said of Abraham's faith in general, and not merely with regard to the one promise recorded in Genesis 15:4-6. To believe God means to trust Him always and everywhere.
     
  19. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    "Hope maketh not ashamed" (5:5). Tribulation takes from man everything and leaves him naked and destitute. It also prevents him from seeking help and salvation in his own temporal and spiritual good works. Finally, it causes him to despair of every creature, to look away from himself, and apart from himself and everything else, to seek help alone from God, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 3:3: "But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter of mine head." That is what "hope" means, and through the experience such hope is confirmed in us. On the other hand, the wicked, who trust in their virtues and do not endure tribulation with patience, and so do not allow themselves to be tried by it, never discover that we must put our trust alone in God. Therefore when the last trial will come and all their virtues and merits will disappear, then, when they sink into a hopeless eternity, they will cry out to the mountains: "Fall on us" (Luke 23:30). Their assumed hope was no hope at all, but only a perverse, arrogant trust in their own works and righteousness.

    "Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts" (5:5). Hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God, that is, the love which is of God and works in us an unshakable adherence to Him, is shed abroad in our hearts. This love we receive by grace and not on account of our merits; and it makes us willing to endure tribulation. If men are unwilling and of an unstable mind, they do not endure it by the Holy Ghost. St. Augustine remarks on this passage: "Step by step he, (the Apostle), leads us toward love, which, as he says, we have as a gift from the Holy Spirit. He shows us thereby that we must ascribe all that we might claim for ourselves to God who by grace grants us His Holy Spirit."

    We must understand these words as an added motivation or instruction of the Holy Spirit, showing why we can glory in tribulation, though this is impossible by our own strength. It is not the effect of our own power, but it comes from the divine love which is given us by the Holy Ghost.
     
  20. Dr. Martin Luther

    Dr. Martin Luther sola fida, sola gratia, sola Scriptura

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    The Fifth Commandment

    God's Gift of Life

    You shall not murder.

    What does this mean? We should fear and love God s that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.

    52. What does God forbid in the Fifth Commandment?
    A. God forbids us to take the life of another person (murder, abortion, euthanasia) or our own life (suicide).

    150 Gen. 9:6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.

    151 Matt. 26:52 All who draw the sword will die by the sword.

    Bible narratives: Cain murdered his brother Abel (Gen. 4:8), David murdered Uriah through others (2 Sam. 11:15). Killing through carelessness (Ex. 21:29 and Deut. 22:8). Judas killed himself (Matt. 27:5).

    ABORTION

    The living but unborn are persons in the sight of God from the time of conception. Since abortion takes a human life, it is not a moral option except to prevent the death of another person, the mother.

    152 Jer. 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.

    153 Ps. 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

    Bible narrative: John the Baptist leaped for joy while still in his mother's womb. In doing so, John the Baptist and Elizabeth, by the Holy Spirit, acknowledged the unborn Jesus as Lord (Luke 1:41-44).

    EUTHANASIA

    The severely handicapped, infirm, helpless, and aged are persons in the sight of God with life given by Him and to be ended only by Him.

    154 Prov. 6:16-17 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him; haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood.

    155 Prov. 31:8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

    156 Acts 17:25 He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

    SUICIDE

    My own life is a gift of God to be ended only by Him.

    157 Jer. 31:3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness."

    158 Luke 12:22 Jesus said to His disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. "

    B. God forbids us to hurt or harm our neighbor physically, that is, to do or say anything which may destroy, shorten, or make his or her life bitter.

    159 Deut. 32:39 See now that I Myself am He! There is no god besides Me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of My hand.

    160 Rom. 12:19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is Mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.

    Bible narratives: Joseph's brothers harmed Joseph and made the life of their father bitter by their wickedness (Gen. 37:23-35). The Egyptians made the lives of the children of Israel bitter by hard labor (Exodus 1).

    C. God forbids us to keep anger and hatred in our hearts against our neighbor.

    161 Matt. 5:22 I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.

    162 I John 3:15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

    163 Matt. 15:19 Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

    164 Eph. 4:26 In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

    Bible narratives: The Jews showed their anger against Stephen (Acts 7:54). God warned Cain against anger (Gen. 4:5-7).
     
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