Book of Concord Drawing, Reformation 2017 Followup

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In recognition of the five hundred year anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, Light from Light hosted a giveaway of a copy of the Christian Book of Concord, Second Edition from Concordia Publishing House.

Seventy-two people entered.  The winner chosen at random was David P.

Congratulations.

The Book of Concord should be in every Lutheran home.  If a person isn’t familiar with this book, he’ll think, ‘That old book is just for pastors.  I don’t have to preach.  After working all day, I can’t sit down and study in the evening.  If I read my morning and evening devotions, that’s enough.’  No, that is not enough!  The Lord doesn’t want us to remain children, blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine; instead of that, He wants us to grow in knowledge so that we can teach others.

Dr. C.F.W. Walther.

Click here for additional reasons why every Lutheran home should have a copy of the Christian Book of Concord.

May God bless you in the upcoming holiday / holy-day season.

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Book of Concord Drawing, Reformation 2017

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Five hundred years ago on October 31, Martin Luther posted ninety-five theses.  Those theses sparked a discussion in the one holy catholic and apostolic Church that is still ongoing.  The first theses said:

When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent,’ He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

In recognition of this 500th anniversary, I would like to give away a copy of the Christian Book of Concord bonded-leather-cover Second Edition from Concordia Publishing House.  This is similar to the regular hard-cover Second Edition, except it has a bonded-leather-cover with gold trim on the page edges and comes in a gift box.  The condition is new, never used.

If you would like to enter the drawing for a free copy, just fill out the form below.  However, you must be at least 18 years old, may enter the drawing only once, and you must be a resident of the United States.

After the winner is chosen at random, all names and emails will be permanently deleted.  The deadline for entries is 12 noon CDT on All Saints’ Day (Wednesday, November 1), 2017 A.D.

Book of Concord Drawing, Reformation 2016

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Four hundred ninety-nine years ago, Martin Luther posted ninety-five theses.  Those theses sparked a discussion in the one holy catholic and apostolic Church that is still ongoing.  The first theses said:

When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent,’ He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

In recognition of this 499th anniversary, I would like to give away a copy of the Christian Book of Concord bonded-leather-cover Second Edition from Concordia Publishing House.  This is similar to the regular hard-cover Second Edition, except it has a bonded-leather-cover with gold trim on the page edges and comes in a gift box.  The condition is new, never used.

If you would like to enter the drawing for a free copy, just fill out the form below.  However, you must be at least 18 years old, may enter the drawing only once, and you must be a resident of the United States.

After the winner is chosen at random, all names and emails will be permanently deleted.  The deadline for entries is 12 noon on All Saints’ Day (Tuesday, November 1), 2016 A.D.

For Others

“Christ first takes possession of the conscience, and when it is right in faith toward God, then he also directs us to do work toward our neighbor…   God does not desire the Christian to live for himself.  Yea, cursed is the life that lives for self.  For all that one lives after he is a Christian, he lives for others.”

—Martin Luther,
Homily for Trinity 19, Church Postils.
Emphasis added.

Book of Concord Drawing, Reformation 2015

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Four hundred ninety-eight years ago, Martin Luther posted ninety-five theses.  Those theses sparked a discussion in the one holy catholic and apostolic Church that is still ongoing.  The first theses said:

When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent,’ He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

In recognition of this 498th anniversary, I would like to give away a copy of the Christian Book of Concord bonded-leather-cover Second Edition from Concordia Publishing House.  This is similar to the regular hard-cover Second Edition, except it has a bonded-leather-cover with gold trim on the page edges and comes in a gift box.  The condition is new, never used.

If you would like to enter the drawing for a free copy, just fill out the form below.  However, you must be at least 18 years old, may enter the drawing only once, and you must be a resident of the United States.

After the winner is chosen at random, all names and emails will be permanently deleted.  The deadline for entries is 12 noon on All Saints’ Day (Sunday, November 1), 2015 A.D.

Book of Concord Drawing, Reformation 2014

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Four hundred ninety-seven years ago, Martin Luther posted ninety-five theses.  Those theses sparked a discussion in the one holy Christian and apostolic Church that is still ongoing.  The first theses said: “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent,’ He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

In recognition of this 497th anniversary, I would like to give away a copy of the Christian Book of Concord bonded-leather-cover Second Edition from Concordia Publishing House.  This is similar to the regular hard-cover Second Edition, except it has a bonded-leather-cover with gold trim on the page edges and it comes in a gift box.  The condition is new, never used.

If you would like to enter the drawing for a free copy, just fill out the form below.  However, you must be at least 18 years old, may enter the drawing only once, and you must be a resident of the United States.

After the winner is chosen at random, all names and e-mails will be permanently deleted.  The deadline for entries is 12 noon on All Saints’ Day (Saturday, November 1), 2014 A.D.

Pointing to Christ

This is my favorite picture from the Reformation: it is of Martin Luther using the word of God to point to Christ crucified.  This is the goal of all Christian reformation: to direct and redirect men to Christ.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified…  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

—1 Corinthians 2:2-5 (NIV-1984).

All congregations on earth are always in need of constant reformation.  However, some don’t know it.

FMI

For more information on the above painting by Lucas Cranach (the elder), check out this post entitled “Cranach in the Study” by Pastor Caauwe.

Luther Quotations on Faith

The following are five quotations from Martin Luther on the subject of faith.  They are taken from What Luther Says, compiled by Ewald M. Plass, Volume I, pages 477-479, paragraphs 1412-1415, and 1420.

Luther contended that salvation is the free gift of God, and therefore could be received only though faith, and that faith itself is a gift of God.  Says Plass regarding paragraph 1412: Faith is “a work performed in us rather than by us.”  Faith is a divine work that produces all the other works below it.

Paragraph 1412:

Faith is full of life and power.  It is not an idle thought.  It does not float on the surface of the heart, as a goose does on water; but it is as water that has been warmed by fire.  Although such water remains water, it is no longer cold but warm and, therefore, an entirely different sort of water.  So faith, which is the work of the Holy Spirit, makes the mind and the thinking of a person different and thereby makes an entirely new man of him.  Faith, then, is an active, independent (difficilis), and powerful thing; and if we want truly to evaluate it, we should call it an influence (passio) on us rather than an act (actio) performed by us.  For it changes our souls and our views.

Paragraph 1413:

Do not think lightly of faith.  It is a work that is of all works the most excellent and the most difficult.  Through it alone you will be saved, even though you were obliged to do without all other works.  For it is the work of God, not of man, as Paul teaches (Ephesians 1:19).  The other works He performs with our co-operation and through us; this alone He works within us and without our co-operation (sine nobis).

Paragraph 1414:

Faith is a divine work which God requires of us; but He Himself must give us the strength to do it.

Paragraph 1415:

It is a mistake to place faith and its work alongside other virtues and works.  Faith should be elevated above all and regarded, as it were, as a sort of constant and general influence above all works, through the movement and activity of which everything that is in man is sent into motion, works, is vigorous and pleasing.

Paragraph 1420:

A Christian modestly says to God: Dear Lord, although I am sure of my position, I am unable to sustain it without Thee.  Help Thou me, or I am lost. — He is indeed certain of his position, as Peter was on the water (Matthew 14:29).  Peter could not be more certain than he was.  The water was supporting him.  He saw no obstacle in his way.  But when the wind came rushing on, he saw what was lacking in him.  This must be taken well to heart.  For although we are sure of our position, have Scripture, and are covered and armed with clear passages in the very best way, yet our security depends on the power, the will, and the might of God, who protects us and defends us against the devil, our adversary and greatest enemy.

But this happens that God may make us determined and yet keep us fearful, so that we are always filled with concern and cry to Him: O Lord, help us, and increase our faith (Luke 17:5); for without Thee we are undone.  At heart we should always feel as if we were just beginning to believe today, and every day we should feel as if we had never heard the Gospel before.  We must believe anew every day.

“The Bondage of the Will” Quotation

We are free in matters that are below us.  For example, we can choose the color of our socks or to help our neighbor.  However, we are not free in matters that are above us because they are beyond our abilities.  For example, life and faith are above us, and can only be gifts from God.

Martin Luther considered his work “The Bondage of the Will” to be one of his best.  It was written in response to Erasmus who asserted the freedom of man’s will in spiritual matters.  Said Luther:

Before man is created and is a man, he neither does nor attempts to do anything toward becoming a creature, and after he is created he neither does nor attempts to do anything toward remaining a creature, but both of these things are done by the sole will of the omnipotent power and goodness of God, who creates and preserves us without our help; but he does not work in us without us, because it is for this he has created and preserved us, that he might work in us and we might cooperate with him, whether outside his Kingdom through his general omnipotence, or inside his Kingdom by the special virtue of his Spirit.

In just the same way … before man is changed into a new creature of the Kingdom of the Spirit, he does nothing and attempts nothing to prepare himself for this renewal and this Kingdom, and when he has been recreated he does nothing and attempts nothing toward remaining in this Kingdom, but the Spirit alone does both of these things in us, recreating us without us and preserving us without our help in our recreated state, as also James says:  “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of his power, that we might be a beginning of his creature” [James 1:18]—speaking of the renewed creature.

But he does not work without us, because it is for this very thing he has recreated and preserves us, that he might work in us and we might cooperate with him.  Thus it is through us he preaches, shows mercy to the poor, comforts the afflicted.  But what is attributed to free choice in all this?  Or rather, what is there left for it but nothing?  And really nothing!

— Luther’s Works, Vol. 33, page 243.
(Emphasis added).

Faith is above us, therefore, faith “is the gift of God.”  No one can boast because faith is not by works, choices, or cooperation.  We are saved by grace alone through faith alone, and this (faith & grace) is the gift of God.  (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Through His Word of promise, God alone gives faith and God alone preserves faith.

On the other hand, the good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do are below us.  (Ephesians 2:10).  That is where we cooperate with God.  As Luther says, God “preaches, shows mercy to the poor,” and “comforts the afflicted” through us.  Because of God we do these works willingly.  (Philippians 2:13).

God works through us to do His work here in this world.  His Word from above creates in us new life and new impulses so that we willingly do His good will.  It is God alone who gives us life and faith and makes us clean and holy so that according to his will we willingly do the good works that are below us.  (Philippians 2:13).  And in heaven we will be rewarded for those good works.  (Ephesians 6:8).

But the good that comes from above is a pure gift.  (James 1:17-18).  Faith, from beginning to end, is a miracle from God: a working of His divine power to raise the dead to spiritual life.  Faith is not partly God’s work and then partly our work any more than life itself is partly God’s work and partly our work.  Yes, we live, but the life we live is the life God gives.

Likewise, we believe, but faith is God’s gift of trust and spiritual life.  The Word of promise creates faith.  “When we believe, our hearts are brought to life by the Holy Spirit through Christ’s Word.”  (Apology of the Augsburg Confession XIIA (V). Repentance, 44-46).

A living tree produces fruit.  Life comes from God, and the life in the tree gives life to the fruit.  The fruit does not give life to the tree.  Those who resist the Holy Spirit and refuse to produce fruit, may lose life.  (Luke 13:7).  But God alone makes alive and preserves life, and it is because of His life in us (faith) that we produce the fruit of life (good works and choices).  Even though we can willingly do the good works below us that God has prepared for us to do, the life and faith that comes from above is God’s work alone.  (John 6:29, 15:16).

After conversion, can a Christian perfect faith by choosing to believe?  No.  True faith by definition is founded on only Christ, and not at all on our will, choices, or decisions.  (Matthew 16:17 and 1 Corinthians 3:11).  Christ alone is “the author and perfecter of our faith,” therefore, we must “fix our eyes on Jesus” and not on our choices.  (Hebrews 2:12).  Christ makes faith secure.  “On Christ the solid rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand.”  (CW, 382).  Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”  (John 14:6).  Like life itself, faith, from beginning to end, is a gift that comes from above.  (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Therefore, we should diligently pray, “Increase our faith!”  (Luke 17:5).

Only God Can Grow His Church

We should serve God to the best of our abilities within our vocations.  God will care for His Church.  One cannot emphasize enough “the utter dependence of the church on her Lord,” because her trust in Him is her greatest strength.

God uses the gospel to bring us to faith, to keep us in the one true faith, and to perfect our faith.  (Hebrews 12:2).  His one gospel does all that.  Therefore, those called to distribute God’s gospel in word and sacrament should work to deliver only that gospel.  No other “gospel” or human wisdom should be sought, because only God can grow His Church.  (Galatians 1:8).

With Might of Ours Can Naught Be Done

No man or creature is able by any thoughts, wisdom, or abilities of his own to advance and maintain the church.  In this matter, therefore, neither power nor might nor protection, with which we may console ourselves and on which we may rely, is to be sought from the world.

On the contrary, this task rests entirely and completely in the hands of God alone.  He must maintain the church through His divine power, as in fact He has done constantly and marvelously from the beginning in the midst of great weakness, divisions caused by sects and heretics, and persecutions brought on by tyrants.  The control of the church is entirely His own, although He commits the office and ministry to men whom He would require and employ to dispense His Word and Sacrament.  Therefore every Christian, especially he who is in this office of ministering to others, should make it his sole purpose faithfully to serve God in the sphere into which He has called and placed him and to carry out whatever he has been commanded to do.

But the care as to where and how the church may continue and be maintained against the devil and the world is to be referred entirely to the Lord.  He has assumed the entire responsibility for this task and has thereby divested us of all care so that we may be certain that the church will stand and endure.  For if the cause of the church were to depend on the counsel, power, and will of man, the devil would soon subvert and overthrow it with his power.

What Luther Says, Volume I, compiled by Ewald Plass,
Concordia Publishing House, 1972.  Page 283.