-Wir sein pettler. Hoc est verum.--"We are beggars. This is true."--Martin Luther-

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Lutheran Quote of the Day: "We must simply cling to the Word of the Gospel alone."

"What I have said is this: God will not permit us to rely on anything or to cling with our hearts to anything that is not Christ as revealed in His Word, no matter how holy and full of the Spirit it may seem. Faith has no other ground on which to take its stand. Accordingly, the mother of Christ and Joseph meet with the experience that their own wisdom, calculations, and hopes fail them and turn out to be futile while they are hurrying from place to place seeking Him. For they are not seeking Him where they should, but consult their flesh and blood, which is always staring about after some comfort other than that offered by God's Word and always desires something visible and tangible, which can be grasped by the senses and human reason. For that reason God lets them go down to failure and forces this lesson upon them, that no comfort, aid, and advice which men seek from flesh and blood, from other men or any creature whatsoever, is worth anything unless God's Word is grasped. They had to abandon everything: their friends, acquaintances, the entire city of Jerusalem, every ingenious device, all that they themselves and other men could do. All these things did not provide them with the proper assurance, until they sought Him in the Temple, where He was about His Father's business. There Christ is surely found, and there the heart recovers its cheer, while it would otherwise remain cheerless, since comfort can be provided for us neither by ourselves nor by any other creature."Hence, when God sends us such grievous afflictions, we, too, must learn not to follow our own calculations or the advice of such men as send us hither and thither and direct us to our own or other people's resources. On the contrary, we should remember that we must seek Christ in His Father's house and business: we must simply cling to the Word of the Gospel alone, which shows us Christ aright and teaches us to know Him. Learn, then, from this and any other spiritual affliction that, whenever you wish to convey genuine comfort to others or to yourself, you must say with Christ: What does it mean that you are running hither and thither, that you torment yourselves with anxious and sad thoughts, imagining that God will not keep you in His grace and that there is no longer any Christ for you? Why do you refuse to be satisfied unless you find Him in yourselves and have the feeling of being holy and without sin? You will never succeed; all your toil will be labor lost. Do you not know that Christ will be nowhere nor permit Himself to be found anywhere except in that which is His Father's, not in anything that is your or other people's? There is no fault in Christ or His mercy; He is never lost and can always be found. But the fault is in you, because you are not seeking Him where you ought to, namely, in the place where He is to be sought. You are being guided by your feeling and think you can apprehend Him with your thoughts. You must come to the place where there is neither your own nor any man's business, but God's business and government, namely, to His Word. There you will find Him and hear and see that there is no wrath and disfavor against you in Him, as you fear in your despondency, but nothing else than grace and cordial love towards you, and that He is acting as your kind and loving Mediator with the Father, speaking the kindest and best words possible on your behalf. Nor does He send you trials with the intention of casting you off, but in order that you may learn to know Him better and cling more firmly to His Word."

-Martin Luther quoted in C.F.W. Walther's The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, trans. W.H.T. Dau. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986), 205-207.

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