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

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lutheran Quote of the Day: Köberle on the Work of the Gospel

I really appreciate this quote from Adolf Köberle. I think people who have been in the faith for a long time get complacent in their interaction with the gospel. We need to ever be reminded of the surpassingly wonderful gift of salvation. It is easy to turn justification into a theory, as Oswald Bayer might say. Köberle gives us a reality check here, he makes sure we never forget our "first love" (Rev. 2:4), and reminds us that the gospel of Christ is the "power of God to salvation to everyone believing" (Rom. 1:16). It is always refreshing to observe people who are new to the faith and how different they often approach the gospel compared to the often digressive tendencies of us who grew up in the church.

"Any one who knows but a little of what is being accomplished out on the mission fields through the operation of the Gospel; any one who knows something of the strength of faith and sacrifice that is shown by the baptized heathen who so shortly before were still in fetters, will be inclined to be ashamed of this "European theology" which, as a result of scholastic investigation and almost a century of submersion in materialism seems to have forgotten how to trust in God's greatness or how to ask great things of Him. Here the "paralytic Christianity" (Blumhardt) of the West must turn back and again learn to become like the little children; it must learn from the foolish how the first shall be last and the last first. The thing that impresses every student of missions is the striking parallels he finds to the accounts given by St. Paul of his missionary experiences [see my post: The Power of a Simple Message...]. Here, as there, we find evidence of "actually existing and easily demonstrable operations" of an external power. We see a great break with the heathen past, as for example, in the case of the "great repentance" on the island of Nias in the year 1917. In these fields the fear of demons and the tyranny of sorcery lose their power over enslaved men, as happened once at Ephesus. Shame and repentance, modesty and fervor in prayer appear in hearts before barren and hardened. And all that takes place not as the result of moral compulsion but through the overwhelming conviction of the Spirit working through the Word. In the same way the work of Inner Missions has its Pauline parallels. Here we can see how through the spiritual power of the preaching of the Cross and Resurrection the specific and very real vices of the great cities are overcome, now as then, and how the Easter power of purity becomes manifest."
-The Quest for Holiness, trans. John C. Mattes (Minneapolis, Minn: Augsburg Publishing House, 1938), 123-124.

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