“How to Fight the Daily Battle of Faith” – Luther

 

Martin Luther on the battle we all face daily.

Although I feel my sin and cannot have as confident and cheerful a heart as I should like, still I must permit the Word to have sway and say accordingly: “I am lord over sin, and I don’t want to know of any sin.” “Indeed,” you will say, “let your own conscience say that; it feels and experiences something far different.” That is surely true; if things followed the rule of feeling, I would surely be lost. But the Word must be valid over and beyond all of the world’s feeling and mine. It must remain true no matter how insignificant it may appear and how feebly it may be believed by me; for we all see and experience the fact that sin condemns us straightway and consigns us to hell, that death consumes us and all the world, and that no one can escape it. And you venture to speak to me of life and of righteousness, of which I cannot behold as much as a small spark! To be sure, that must be but a feeble life. Yes, indeed, but a feeble life by reason of our faith. But no matter how feeble it is, as long as the Word and a small spark of faith remain in the heart, it shall develop into a fire of life which fills heaven and earth and quenches both death and every other misfortune like a little drop of water. And the feeble faith shall tear these asunder so that neither death nor sin will be seen or felt any longer. However, to adhere to faith in the face of seeing and feeling calls for an arduous battle.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 28: 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 15, Lectures on 1 Timothy, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, 1 Co 15:1–2 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).

Source: Daily Luther: How to Fight the Daily Battle of Faith | CyberBrethren – A Lutheran Blog.

 

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“Higher Things” Reflection for July 14

To You I will cry, O LORD my Rock: Do not be silent to me Psalm 28:1 from the Introit for Trinity 6

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We always tend to think that if we could just hear a voice of some sort from God, we could be certain of what He has to say. But the book of Hebrews tells us that in these last days, God has spoken to us by His Son Hebrews 1:2. That means whatever God has to say, He’s told us through Jesus. And if we would hear Jesus, then we have His Word in the Scriptures and preached and taught in His church.

Tomorrow we’ll go to the Divine Service to hear God—not in some strange, whispery voice in the back of our heads or in some dreams or strange experiences. In the Divine Service, the Lord speaks to us through His Word. The Word in the Scriptures. The Word in the liturgy and hymns. The Word spoken in Holy Absolution. The Word preached in the sermon. The Word spoken over the bread and wine.

And what does that Word say? It tells us what we need most of all to hear: that Christ has died for your sins and is risen from the dead. That all that stands between you and God is forgiven. That you will be raised on the Last Day. That for Jesus sake, nothing in heaven or earth or under the earth can separate you from God’s love.

If we cried out to God and He didn’t answer us, we wouldn’t know whether He is for us or against us. We could never be sure what his heart is toward us. If we think God should speak to us through some strange voice in our heads or visions or something like that, we could never be sure of what He’s saying.

But the Lord speaks through Christ and Christ through His Word in His church. There we can be certain of what God has to say: Your sins are forgiven. We go to the Divine Service to cry out to God and to hear Him. He is not silent, but full of words that save and forgive and comfort and give life. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Here stands the font before our eyes, Telling how God has received us. The altar recalls Christ’s sacrifice And what His Supper here gives us. Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim Christ yesterday, today, the same, And evermore, our Redeemer. LSB 645:4

Source: Higher Things : July 14, 2012 – Saturday of the Fifth Week after Trinity.

“Higher Things” Reflection for July 11

What is the Sacrament of the Altar? It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink. Small Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Catechism answer says it all. It cuts through all the arguments and discussions and gets to the heart of what we believe according to Jesus’ words.

What is it? The true body and blood of Christ. Not a symbol, a mere trigger for us to remember or think about Jesus who is far away. It is not simply a ritual. It is not a meal in the usual sense that we eat and drink to get rid of our physical hunger. It is the true body and blood of Jesus. It is so because He says so in His Word.

Where is it? Under the bread and wine. The body and blood of Jesus aren’t “up there” somewhere. They aren’t in our hearts or our imaginations. Jesus is right there where He promised to be, where the bread and wine are that have His Word spoken over them.

Who instituted and gave us this meal? Christ Himself. This isn’t some dude off the street making stuff up! This is the Lord Himself. This is God’s own flesh and blood. This is the Savior of the world telling us what He’s giving us and why: His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. More than anyone ever, Jesus truly gives what He says He gives.

What’s it for? To eat and drink. Not for parades or keeping it off to the side and saying prayers to it. It’s not for use as a good luck charm. It’s not something for us to ignore and think we’re still Christians. We’re Christians, so we eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood.

And by this gift, Jesus delivers and gives to you what He won for you on the cross: the forgiveness of sins. The Lord’s Supper, the Sacrament of the Altar, is one of the ways in which the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world makes sure you know YOUR sin is taken away. Jesus doesn’t institute this Holy Supper just to see if you’ll do it like He says or to test your obedience or something like that. He gives it because He knows sinners like you and me need it. Simple as that. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

He speaks the Word the bread and wine to bless: “This is My flesh and blood!” He bids us eat and drink with thankfulness This gift of holy food. All human thought must falter — Our God stoops low to heal, Now present on the altar, For us both host and meal! LSB 639:2

Source: Higher Things : July 11, 2012 – Wednesday of the Fifth Week after Trinity.

Beginning the Conversation With Jesus

A great article in the Lutheran Witness on beginning religious conversation with Jesus.

Another option is beginning the religious conversation with Jesus. That is, after all, where our Gospels begin. Like other famous figures, He really was a part of history. Luke notes that Jesus was born when Caesar Augustus ruled the Roman Empire and was executed by the governor appointed by that emperor. Ancient creeds even catch this by saying that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

So, if we can agree to the reality of Jesus, the question about religion can continue, even if those to whom we talk can agree only to see Him as a great moral teacher and not God. The conversation can continue by agreeing to listen to what He said about Himself as God, His relationship to the Father, and His astounding claim that no one comes to God except through Him.

At the same time, the four Gospels begin with Jesus. Luke starts with apostles who were eyewitnesses of the Word, that is, Jesus. Mark simply says, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” John begins with Jesus as the Word and then introduces God. “In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Matthew begins with Jesus as the Immanuel child, “God with us,” who by being called out of Egypt is recognized as God’s Son. This is confirmed at Jesus’ Baptism by the voice from heaven claiming Him as His Son. Finally, the Trinitarian God is revealed with the appearance of the Spirit in the form of a dove.

Only later, at the end of his Gospel, does Matthew give us the familiar order of how the divine persons exist with one another: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But in the well-known benediction, Paul still begins with Jesus: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Rev. Scaer sums it up perfectly.

Jesus is the content of faith and Jesus is the content of faith and its boundaries. its boundaries. With Him, we begin and end the religious conversation.

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