Sola Publishing News and Feedback [Devotions Category] http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/feed.html?category=19 News, devotions and feedback blog for Sola Publishing en-us Concerning Original Sin – part 3 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/concerning-original-sin-–-part-3/a2081.html Tue, 10 Jan 23 00:00:00 +0000

1 Corinthians 3:18–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

We will show later more fully that our description agrees with the usual and ancient definition. First, we must show our design in preferring to use these words. In their schools, the adversaries confess that "the material," as they call it, "of original sin is concupiscence." So, in framing the definition, concupiscence should not be omitted, especially now, when some philosophize about original sin in a manner unbecoming teachers of religion. They speak about this natural, wicked desire in terms of heathen philosophy rather than according to God's Word, or Holy Scripture.

Pulling It Together: One of the slogans of the Reformation was (and continues to be) “Sola Scriptura.” Those Latin words mean “Scripture alone.” The idea behind that motto is that the Bible, the written word of God, may be relied upon as a sufficient guide and last word on truth. This is why the Lutherans returned to the Bible over and over again as documentation for what they taught. This was the custom of the prophets and apostles too. They wrote 80 times between the books of Joshua and 1 Peter, “It is written.” This was ample explanation for a variety of positions.

This will be the insistence of the Lutherans too. What is written in the Bible? They were not interested in philosophy so much as they were in what the Bible had to say on a matter. What Aristotle or Plato had to say was always subordinate to the Word of God. Even the Church Fathers were reliable only in as much as they agreed with Scripture. A proper understanding of original sin, therefore, will rely upon “sola Scriptura” as the final word.

Prayer: Lord, let me live today by what is written in your Word. Amen. 

A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

Part 1  • Pt 1 Leader's Guide  • Part 2  • Pt 2 Leader's Guide

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Concerning Original Sin – part 2 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/concerning-original-sin-–-part-2/a2080.html Mon, 09 Jan 23 00:00:00 +0000

Colossians 3:2–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin

It is quite evident that such subtleties have originated in the schools, not in the council of the Emperor. But although this sophistry can be very easily refuted; yet, in order that all decent folk may understand that we teach nothing absurd on this matter, we ask that the German Confession be examined first. This will free us from the suspicion of novelty. For there it is written: Weiter wird gelehrt, dass nach dem Fall Adams alle Menschen, so natuerlich geboren werden, in Suenden empfangen und geboren werden, das ist, dass sie alle von Mutterleibe an voll boeser Lueste und Neigung sind, keine wahre Gottesfurcht, keinen wahren Glauben an Gott von Natur haben koennen. (It is further taught that since the Fall of Adam all men who are naturally born are conceived and born in sin, i.e., that from their mother's womb, they all are full of evil desire and inclination, and can have by nature no true fear of God, no true faith in God.) This passage testifies that we deny to those conceived according to carnal nature not only the acts of fearing and trusting in God but also the power or gifts to do so. For we say that those naturally born have concupiscence and cannot produce true fear and trust in God. What fault can be found in this? Indeed, we imagine that we have sufficiently vindicated ourselves to respectable people. For in this sense the Latin passage denies the power to human nature—even to infants. Specifically, it denies the gifts and power to produce fear and trust in God. In adults, beyond this innate evil disposition of the heart, it also denies the acts. So when we cite concupiscence, we mean not only the acts or fruits but the constant inclination of our nature that does not cease as long as we are not born anew through the Spirit and faith.

Pulling It Together: A young family lives across my street and yesterday, the little boy brought their heavy trash can down the driveway to the street. His father was already teaching this seven- or eight-year-old some family responsibility. He will probably grow up, being able to care for his own family, providing all the good they need, including properly teaching his own children. We are quite capable of doing some good in this world, once taught to do so.

Yet Lutherans teach that original sin is a lack of power to do good because of a proclivity for evil. By good, we mean a righteousness of life that excludes sin. In our natural beings, we lack the power of such good. We may learn to take out the trash but even the finer acts of our lives are polluted with sin (Isa 64:5–6). This sinful nature is inherited, part of the basic human constitution. It skips no one.

More to the point, though we may learn to do some basic, good things, we are born incapable—and remain unable—of fearing, loving, and trusting God. Therefore, throughout life, we scramble after our lusts. The unceasing disposition to fulfill these natural desires remains in us until we are reborn through the work of God's Spirit and faith (John 3:5–7).

Prayer: Holy Father, set my heart and mind on the things above, not on the things of this earth. Amen. 

The Basics of the Christian Faith is an edition of the catechism that is aimed at seekers, visitors, and those that may not come from a Lutheran background. It is recommended for use in outreach, as a visitor welcome gift, or in new member packets. 

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Concerning Original Sin – part 1 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/concerning-original-sin-–-part-1/a2079.html Fri, 06 Jan 23 00:00:00 +0000

Psalm 51:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

The adversaries approve of the second article concerning original sin, but in such a way that they, nevertheless, criticize the definition of original sin, which we incidentally mentioned. Right away, His Imperial Majesty will discover that the writers of the Confutation were lacking not only in judgment but also in honesty. Where we simply desired to examine those things which original sin includes, they framed a discriminatory interpretation by craftily distorting a statement that has nothing in it which in itself is wrong. As a result, they say that to be without the fear of God and without faith is actual guilt. Therefore they deny that it is original guilt.

Pulling It Together: Lutherans teach that original sin is actual sin, not merely the inclination to sin. The result is that we are naturally without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with all the lusts of this life. Lutherans do not say that original sin is these specific things, but that these things are sinful outcomes and evidences of the corruption that is within us from the outset. The sins we commit indicate a deeper problem. The very first sin one commits points to that deeper, original corruption of being. Original sin is not a specific sin such as not fearing God, or not trusting in him, or desiring unlawful things. It is not the commission of a particular sin but the depraved condition, the diseased state of the natural person, that is itself sin.

Therefore, “we confess that we are in bondage to sin.” Our depravity is not just in the thinking, saying, and doing of wrong things; nor is it only in leaving them undone. We are enslaved to such behavior from the start because we are “brought forth in iniquity”—all of us. This corruption of our nature is hereditary (Rom 5:12).

Prayer: Thank you, God, for meeting my sin and guilt with your boundless mercy and grace. Amen. 

Sola Scriptura: The Norm of Faith is a study about how the Word informs and guides our understanding of what Scripture says. In other words, what the Bible means based on what it does. In terms of how we come to articulate our faith and our doctrinal teachings, to speak of Scripture as the "norm" of faith means that it is the standard against which our theology and proclamation are measured.

Leader's Guide

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Concerning God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/concerning-god/a2078.html Thu, 05 Jan 23 00:00:00 +0000

Matthew 28:17–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning God

Our adversaries approve of the First Article of our Confession, in which we declare that we believe and teach that there is one divine essence, undivided, etc., and that nevertheless, there are three distinct persons, of the same divine essence, and coeternal: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have always taught and defended this article. We believe that it has sure and firm testimonies in Holy Scripture that cannot be overthrown. We constantly assert that those who think otherwise are outside of the Church of Christ; they are idolaters and insult God.

Pulling It Together: The Church in Rome believed the same thing about God's nature that Lutherans believed. Yet, as we shall soon see, there was much in the Lutheran Confession at Augsburg that they found disagreeable. It is good that we may live together in unity (Psa 133:1) on this Article.

Jesus declared that his followers are to go into all the world, baptizing and teaching. He said that they are to do so in the name. The word “name” is singular—not only in English but in the original Greek as well. Although they are to go in the singular name, three names are given: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christians are to go into the world in the one name of the three. Lutherans and Roman Catholics confess that this is God. We believe from Scripture that the name of God given by Jesus is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From these verses in Matthew and from many other evidences in Scripture, we believe that God is Trinity, one divine essence of three persons. 

Prayer: Help me believe the mystery that your Word affirms, Lord. Amen. 

This pocket edition of Luther's Small Catechism includes quotations from the English Standard Versions (ESV) of Scripture, and the traditional ICET liturgical texts (as used in the Lutheran Book of Worship). The primary verses of Scripture, Creed, and Prayers are printed in italics; Luther’s explanations are printed in plain text. Luther’s explanations are formatted with a mid-sentence break, to highlight contrasting phrases and to aid in memorization.

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From the Preface to the Defense http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/from-the-preface-to-the-defense/a2077.html Sun, 01 Jan 23 00:00:00 +0000

Colossians 2:1–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

From the Preface

We commend our cause to Christ, who in time will judge these controversies. We pray he will look upon the afflicted and scattered churches, and bring them back to godly and perpetual concord. So, if the known and clear truth is trampled underfoot, we will resign this cause to God and Christ in heaven, the Father of orphans and the Judge of widows and of all the forsaken, who we know will rightly judge and pass sentence upon this cause. Lord Jesus Christ, it is your holy gospel; it is your cause. Look upon the many troubled hearts and consciences, and maintain and strengthen in your truth your churches and little flocks who suffer anxiety and distress from the devil. Confound all hypocrisy and lies, and grant peace and unity, so that your glory may advance, and your kingdom, strong against all the gates of hell, may continually grow and increase.

Pulling It Together: The Church in Rome replied to the Lutheran's Augsburg Confession with what is called the Confutation. However, the Lutherans were not permitted to have a copy or to know what was contained therein, except that they agree to three things. They must not publish it, or reply to it, and must agree with it wholesale and unseen. They could not accept those conditions and relied upon notes taken at a public reading of the Confutation. Later, Melancthon also saw a copy and finished the Lutheran Defense that would never be accepted by the emperor. It seemed the Romanists had won the day. Nevertheless, the Defense of the Augsburg Confession was enthusiastically received by the Lutherans, further strengthening their beliefs. Since they had been rooted and built up in Christ and established in the faith, what could they do but trust in God and continue walking in the Lord?

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, give me strength through your Word that I may continue to walk with you in thanksgiving. Amen. 

This "Thank You" card by Ad Crucem includes 1 Corinthians 1:4. The 5"x7" card is printed on premium paper at a G7 and Green Certified USA facility. Each card is protected with a plastic sleeve and includes a bookmark, gift tag, and envelope.

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We Are the Lord’s http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/we-are-the-lord’s/a2076.html Sat, 31 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 

Romans 14:8–9, RSV

From Luther

In the past much has been written and ingeniously devised on the topic of preparing for death and the final judgment. But it has only served to further confuse timid consciences. For these comforters were not able to show anything of the comfort to be found in the riches of grace and bliss in Christ. They directed the people to oppose with their own works and good life, death and God’s judgment. In place of this delusion is now evident the precious truth; he who knows the gospel doctrines, goes on and performs his own work and duty in his respective calling. He takes comfort in the fact that through baptism he is engrafted into Christ; he receives absolution and partakes of the Holy Supper for the strengthening of his faith, commending his soul and body to Christ. Why should such a one fear death? Though it came at any time, in form of pestilence or accident, it will always find the Christian ready and well prepared, be he awake or asleep; for he is in Christ Jesus.

For all these things the Christian may well thank and bless God, realizing that he has no further need, nor can he gain anything better than he already has in the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the faithful prosecution of his calling; however, he should remain and daily grow in faith and supplication. But we cannot hope to attain to another and better doctrine, faith, Spirit, prayer, sacrament and reward than had all the saints, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, or in fact than has now every Christian that is baptized. Therefore I need not idly spend time in trying to prepare people for death and inspire them with courage by such commonplaces as recalling and relating the innumerable daily accidents, ills and dangers of this life. This method will not answer; death will not thereby be frightened away, nor will the fear of death be removed. The gospel teaching is: Believe in Christ, pray and live in accordance with God’s Word, and then, when death overtakes or attacks you, you will know that you are Christ the Lord’s. We Christians live upon this earth to the very end that we may have assured comfort, salvation and victory over death and hell.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 459–460.

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In the Beginning http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/in-the-beginning/a2075.html Fri, 30 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word 

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 

John 1:1–5, RSV

From Luther

That this gospel may be more easily understood, we must go back to the passages of the Old Testament upon which it is founded, namely, the beginning of the first chapter of Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth; and God said, Let there be light; and God said, Let there be a firmament; and God said, Let there be sun, moon and stars.” From these words of Moses it is clearly proved that God has a Word, through which or by means of which he spoke, before anything was created; and this Word cannot be anything that was created, since all things were created through this divine utterance. The Word must therefore have preceded the light, since light came by the Word; consequently it was also before all creatures, which also came by the Word, as Moses writes.

If the Word preceded all creatures, and all creatures came by the Word and were created by it, the Word must be a different being than a creature, and was not made or created like a creature. When all things began it was already there, and cannot be confined to time nor to creation; rather time and creation are made and have their beginning through it. Thus whatever is not temporal must be eternal; that which has no beginning cannot be temporal; that which is not a creature must be God. Besides God and his creatures there is nothing. Hence the Word of God, which was in the beginning and through which all things were made and spoken, must be God eternal and not a creature.

Again, the Word and he that speaks it are not one person; for it is not possible that the speaker is himself the Word. What sort of speaker would he be who is himself the Word? But Scripture here speaks in strong, lucid words: “God said.” Thus God and his Word must be two distinct things. Thus the words of Moses show conclusively that there are two persons in the Godhead from eternity, before all creatures, that the one has his existence from the other, and the first has his existence from nothing but himself. Yet the Scriptures firmly maintain that there is only one God. Thus there must be two persons in the Godhead and yet be one God.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 458–459.

 Next Reading 

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A Just Reward http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/a-just-reward/a2074.html Thu, 29 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

2 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring. 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering

2 Thessalonians 1:2–5, RSV

From Luther

One of the chief reasons why God permits Christians to suffer on earth is to make plain the distinction between their reward and that of the ungodly. In the sufferings of believing Christians, and in the wickedness, tyranny, rage and persecution directed by the unrighteous against the godly, is a certain indication of a future life unlike this and a final judgment of God in which all men, godly and wicked, shall be forever recompensed. When Paul speaks of the tribulations and sufferings of Christians, he means to say that these afflictions are the indication of God’s righteous judgment, and a sign that you are worthy of the kingdom of God for which you suffer. In other words: “O beloved Christians, regard your sufferings as dear and precious. Think not God is angry with you, or has forgotten you, because he allows you to endure these things. They are your great help and comfort, for they show that God will be a righteous judge, will richly bless you and avenge you upon your persecutors. In this you have unfailing assurance. You may rejoice and console yourselves, believing without the shadow of a doubt that you belong to the kingdom of God, and have been made worthy of it, because you suffer for its sake.”

But it is impossible that it should continue to be, as now, well with the world and evil with you. God’s righteousness will not admit of it. Just because he is a righteous judge, things must be eventually different: the godly must have eternal good, and the wicked, on the other hand, must be punished forever. Otherwise God’s judgment would not be righteous; in other words, he would not be God. This is an impossible proposition, since God’s righteousness and truth are immutable, in his capacity as judge he must perforce in due time come from heaven, when he shall have assembled his Christians, and avenge them of their enemies, recompense the latter according to their merits, and confer eternal rest and peace upon his followers for the temporal sufferings they have endured here. Necessarily, then, he has planned a future state for Christians and for non-Christians, in either instance unlike what they know on earth.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 457–458.

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The Faith of Shepherds http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-faith-of-shepherds/a2073.html Wed, 28 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; 18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 

Luke 2:15–20, RSV

From Luther

Had not these shepherds believed the angel they would never have gone to Bethlehem, they would have done none of those things related of them in this gospel. One might say, I would gladly believe if an angel from heaven were to preach to me. But whoever does not receive the Word for its own sake will never receive it for the sake of the preacher, even if all the angels preached it to him. He who receives it because of the preacher does not believe in the Word, neither in God through the Word, but he believes the preacher and in the preacher. Hence the faith of such persons does not last long. But whoever believes the Word, does not care who the person is that speaks the Word, and neither will he honor the Word for the sake of the person; but on the contrary, he honors the person because of the Word, and always subordinates the person to the Word. If the preacher perishes, or even falls from the faith and preaches differently, he will forsake the person of the preacher rather than the Word of God.

All who believed Christ because of his person and his miracles fell from their faith when he was crucified. So it is in our day and so it has always been. The Word itself, without any regard to persons, must be enough for the heart; it must lay hold of man as if taken captive, so that he feels how true and right it is, even if the world, all the angels, all the princes of hell said differently, even if God himself spake otherwise; as he at times tempts his own elect and appears as if different from what he had before declared. So it was with Abraham when commanded to offer his son Isaac; with Jacob, while wrestling with the angel; with David, when persecuted by his son Absalom. This faith triumphs in life and death, and nothing is able to overthrow it; because it rests upon nothing but the Word without any regard whatever to persons. Such faith these shepherds possess; they cleave to the Word so strongly that they forget the angels who declared it to them. They do not say, Let us go and see what the angels made known to us, but what the Lord hath made known to us.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 456–457.

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Our Need of the Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/our-need-of-the-gospel/a2072.html Tue, 27 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” 

Luke 2:8–14, RSV

From Luther

The shepherds were in the field, under the canopy of heaven, and not in houses, showing that they do not cling to temporal things. They are in the fields by night, unknown to the world which sleeps in the night, and by day delights to walk that it may be noticed. They represent all the lowly who live on earth, often despised and unnoticed but dwell only under the protection of heaven; they eagerly desire the gospel.

That they were “shepherds,” means that no one is to hear the gospel alone for himself, but every one is to tell it to others who are not acquainted with it. For he who believes for himself has enough and should endeavor to bring others to such faith and knowledge, so that one may be a shepherd of the other to lead him into the pasture of the gospel in this world, during the night time of this earthly life. At first the shepherds were sore afraid because of the angel; for human nature is shocked when it first hears the gospel that all our own works are nothing and are condemned before God, for it does not easily give up its prejudices and presumptions.

Now let every one examine himself in the light of the gospel to see how far he is from Christ, what is the character of his faith and love. Many are enkindled with dreamy devotion, when they hear of the poverty of Christ, are almost angry with the citizens of Bethlehem, denounce their blindness and ingratitude, and think, if they had been there, they would have shown the Lord and his mother a more becoming service, and would not have permitted them to be treated so miserably. But they do not look by their side to see how many of their fellow men need their aid, whom they let go on in their misery unaided. It is altogether wrong for you to think that you have done much for Christ, when you have done nothing for those needy ones. Had you been in Bethlehem you would have paid as little attention to Christ as they did; but since it is now made known who Christ is, you profess to serve him, but you would hardly have done it before.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 454–455.

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Grace Working in Nature http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/grace-working-in-nature/a2071.html Mon, 26 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrollment, when Quirini-us was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 

Luke 2:1–7, RSV

From Luther

He was born of the virgin Mary. There is no deception here, for the Word clearly states that it was an actual birth. Mary’s experience was not different from that of other women, so that the birth of Christ was a real natural birth, Mary being his natural mother and he being her natural son. But she brought forth without sin, without shame, without pain and without injury, just as she had conceived without sin. The curse of Eve did not come upon her, where God said: “In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.”

Grace does not interfere with nature and her work, but rather improves and promotes it. I mention this that we may be grounded in the faith and know that Jesus was a natural man in every respect just as we are, the only difference being in his relation to sin and grace, he being without a sinful nature. It is a great comfort to us that Jesus took upon himself our nature and flesh. Therefore we are not to take away from him or his mother anything that is not in conflict with grace, for the text clearly says that she brought him forth, and the angels said, Unto you he is born.

How could God have shown his goodness in a more sublime manner than by humbling himself to partake of flesh and blood, so that henceforth even that can be regarded godly, honest and pure, which in all men is ungodly, shameful and impure? These are real miracles of God, for in no way could he have given us stronger, more forcible and purer pictures of chastity than in this birth. When we look upon this birth, and reflect how the sublime Majesty moves with great earnestness and inexpressible love and goodness upon the flesh and blood of this virgin, we see how all evil lust and every evil thought is banished. No woman can inspire such pure thoughts in a man as this virgin; nor can any man inspire such pure thought in a woman as this child. If in reflecting on this birth we recognize the work of God that is embodied in it, only chastity and purity spring from it.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 453–454.

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For You http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/for-you/a2070.html Sun, 25 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:7–11, RSV

From Luther

Faith comes first, and it is proper that we recognize it as the most important in every word of God. The right and gracious faith which God demands is, that you firmly believe that Christ is born for you, and that his birth took place for your welfare. The gospel teaches that Christ was born, and that he did and suffered everything in our behalf. It is not simply said, Christ is born, but to you he is born. The right ground of salvation which unites Christ and the believing heart is that they have all things in common. But what have they?

Christ has a pure, innocent and holy birth. Man has an unclean, sinful and condemned birth. David says: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Nothing can help this unholy birth except the pure birth of Christ. But Christ’s birth cannot be distributed in a material sense, neither would that avail anything; it is imparted spiritually through the Word; it is given to all who firmly believe, so that no harm will come to them because of their impure birth. In this way we are cleansed from the miserable birth we have from Adam. For this purpose Christ willed to be born, that through him we might be born again. Christ takes our birth from us and absorbs it in his birth, and grants us his, that in it we might become pure and holy, so that every Christian may rejoice and glory in Christ’s birth. Whoever does not believe this, or doubts, is no Christian.

O, this is the great joy of which the angel speaks. This is the comfort and exceeding goodness of God that, if a man believes this, he can boast of the treasure that Mary is his rightful mother, Christ his brother, and God his father. But this cannot occur except through the faith that teaches us rightly to understand the gospel and properly to lay hold of it. This is the only way that Christ can be rightly known so that the conscience is satisfied and made to rejoice. Out of this grow love and praise to God who in Christ has bestowed upon us such unspeakable gifts. This gives courage to suffer everything that is well pleasing to God.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 452–453.

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Behold! http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/behold/a2069.html Sat, 24 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” 

John 1:29–34, RSV

From Luther

By this John means to say: I have, by my teaching, made you all sinners, having condemned your works and told you to despair of yourselves. But in order that you may not also despair of God, I will show you how to get rid of your sins and obtain salvation. Not that you can strip off your sins or make yourselves pious through your works; another man is needed for this; nor can I do it, I can point him out, however. It is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. He, he, and no one else in heaven or on earth, takes our sins upon himself. You yourselves could not pay for the very smallest of your sins. He alone must take upon himself not alone your sins, but the sins of the world, and not some sins, but all the sins of the world, be they great or small, many or few.

Now if you are able to believe that this voice of John speaks the truth, and if you are able to follow his finger and recognize the Lamb of God carrying your sins, then you have gained the victory, then you are a Christian, a master of sin, death, hell and all things. Then your conscience will rejoice and become heartily fond of this gentle Lamb of God. Then you will love, praise and give thanks to our heavenly Father for his infinite wealth of mercy, preached by John and given in Christ. Finally you will become cheerful and willing to do his divine will, as best you can, with all your strength. What lovelier and more comforting message can be heard than that our sins are not ours any more, that they no more lie on us, but on the Lamb of God. Lying on him, sin must be vanquished and made to nothing, and likewise death and hell, being the reward of sin, must be vanquished also. Behold what God our Father has given us in Christ.

Take heed lest you presume to get rid of the smallest of your sins through your own merit before God, and lest you rob Christ, the Lamb of God, of his credit. John indeed demands that each one should know himself, repent and grow better, yet not in himself, but in Jesus Christ alone.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 451–452.

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The Last Message http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-last-message/a2068.html Fri, 23 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 They said to him then, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” 

John 1:19–23, RSV

From Luther

The question arises, Did John really confess the truth when he denied that he was Elijah or a prophet, when Christ himself called him Elijah and more than a prophet. He himself knew that he had come in the spirit and power of Elijah, and the Scriptures called him such. The truth of the matter is that he simply confessed the truth in a straightforward manner, namely, that he was not that Elijah about whom they asked, nor a prophet. The prophets commonly led and taught the people, who sought advice and help from them. Such a one John was not and would not be, for the Lord was present, whom they were to adhere to and follow. He did not desire to draw the people to himself, but to lead them to Christ, which was needful before Christ himself came. A prophet foretells the coming of Christ. John, however, shows him present, which is not a prophet’s task. John directs the people to Christ, and this is a higher and greater office than that of a prophet, yet it is not on account of his merit, but on account of the presence of his Master. In praising John for being more than a prophet, not his worthiness but that of his Master, who is present, is extolled. For it is customary for a servant to receive greater honor and reverence in the absence of his master than in his presence.

The rank of a prophet is higher than that of John, although his office is greater and more immediate. A prophet rules and leads the people, and they adhere to him; but John does no more than direct them away from himself to Christ, the present Master. Therefore, in the simplest and most straightforward manner, he denied being a prophet, although abounding in all the qualities of a prophet. This he did for the sake of the people, in order that they might not accept his testimony as the foretelling of a prophet and expect Christ in other future times, but that they might recognize him as a forerunner and guide, and follow his guidance to the Lord, who was present. The gospel through which Christ has come into the world is the last message before the day of judgment.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 449–450.

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The Word-angel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-word-angel/a2067.html Thu, 22 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings’ houses. 9 Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.'" 

Matthew 11:7–10, RSV

From Luther

We must accustom ourselves to the Scriptures, in which angel means a messenger; not a bearer of messages or one who carries letters, but one who is sent to solicit orally for the message. Hence in the Scripture this name is common to all messengers of God in heaven and on earth, be they holy angels in heaven, or the prophets and apostles on earth. Thus they who proclaim God’s Word are called his angels or messengers and solicitors. But the heavenly spirits are called angels chiefly because they are the highest and most exalted messengers of God. Thus John the Baptist is also an angel or word-messenger, and not only that, but one who also prepares the way before the face of the Master in such manner that the Master himself immediately follows him, which no prophet ever did. For this reason John “is more than a prophet,” namely an angel or messenger, and a forerunner, so that in his day the Lord of all the prophets himself comes with his messenger.

The preparing here means to make ready the way, to put out of the way all that interferes with the course of the Lord, just as the servant clears the way before the face of his master by removing wood, stones, people and all that is in the way. But what was it that blocked the way of Christ and that John was to remove? Sin, without doubt, especially the good works of the haughty saints; that is, he should make known to everybody that the works and deeds of all men are sin and iniquity and that all need the grace of Christ. He who knows and acknowledges this thoroughly is himself humble and has well prepared the way for Christ.

Thus John is not a prophet, but a messenger. And not a messenger who stays at home, but one that goes before the face of his master and brings the master along with him, so that there is but one time for the messenger and for the master. Thus Christ pleads with the Jews to take John as a messenger, and not as a prophet. To this day it is the delusion of the Jews that they look for another time. They, therefore, remain shaken reeds and soft raiment seekers.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 448–449.

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Believe and Rejoice http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/believe-and-rejoice/a2066.html Wed, 21 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. 6 Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 4:4–7, RSV

From Luther

Joy is the natural fruit of faith. Until the heart believes in God, it is impossible for it to rejoice in him. When faith is lacking man is filled with fear and gloom and is disposed to flee at the very mention, the mere thought of God. The unbelieving heart is filled with enmity and hatred against God. Conscious of its own guilt, it has no confidence in his gracious mercy; it knows God as an enemy to sin who will terribly punish the same. One may as well try to pursuade water to burn as to talk to such a heart of joy in God. All words will be without effect, for the sinner feels upon his conscience the pressure of God’s hand. The psalmist says, “Rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” It must be the just and the righteous, then, who are to rejoice in the Lord. This text, therefore, is not written for the sinner, but for the saint. We must first tell the sinners how they can be liberated from their sins and perceive a merciful God. When they have been released from the power of an evil conscience, joy will naturally result.

But how shall we be liberated from an accusing conscience and receive the assurance of God’s mercy? He who would have a quiet conscience and would be sensitive of God’s mercy must place no hope whatever in works, but must comprehend God in Christ, comprehend the gospel and believe its promises. But what does the gospel promise other than that Christ is given for us, bears our sins and is our Bishop, Mediator and Advocate before God, and that only through him and his works is God reconciled, our sins forgiven and our consciences set free and made glad? When this sort of faith in the gospel really exists, the heart confidently feels his favor and grace. It is secure and in good spirits because God has conferred upon it, through Christ, superabundant goodness and grace. It will enjoy sincere pleasure in God as its beloved and gracious Father. Such is the rejoicing of which Paul here speaks — a rejoicing where is no sin, no fear of death and hell, but rather a glad and all-powerful confidence in God and his kindness.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 447–448.

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Armor of Light http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/armor-of-light/a2065.html Tue, 20 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

11 Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; 12 the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. 

Romans 13:11–14, RSV

From Luther

We are not profited by the shining of the sun, and the day it produces, if our eyes fail to perceive its light. Similarly, though the gospel is revealed and Christ is proclaimed to the world, none are enlightened but those who receive it, who have risen from sleep through the agency of the light of faith. They who sleep are not affected by the sun and the day; they receive no light and receive as little as if there were neither sun nor day. It is to our day that Paul refers when he says: “Knowing the season, that already it is time for you to wake out of sleep.” In the light of our spiritual knowledge we are to rise from sleep and lay aside the works of darkness. Paul is not addressing unbelievers. He tells the Romans they know the time is at hand, that the night is past and the dawn appears.

But why this passage to believers? Because no one ever gets to the point of knowledge where it is not necessary to admonish him, continually to urge him to new reflections upon what he already knows; for there is danger of his untiring enemies — the devil, the world and the flesh — wearying him and causing him to become negligent, and ultimately lulling him to sleep. There should, therefore, be continuous exhorting to vigilance and activity. Hence the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter or Helper, who incites and urges to good.

Not the works of darkness Paul calls “armor,” but the works of light. Why “armor” rather than “works?” Doubtless to teach that only at the cost of conflicts, pain, labor and danger will the truly watchful and godly life be maintained. But it is no easy thing to stand always in battle array during the whole life. Good trumpets and bugles are necessary, preaching and exhortation of a sort to enable us valiantly to maintain our position in battle. Good works are armor. Let not the works of darkness get such control of you as to render your members weapons of unrighteousness. The word “light” here carries the thought of faith. The “armor of light” is simply the works of faith. “Darkness” is unbelief; it reigns in the absence of the gospel and of Christ through the instrumentality of the doctrines of men, instigated by the devil.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 446–447.

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Spiritually Poor http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/spiritually-poor/a2064.html Mon, 19 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. 2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.

Matthew 11:1–5, RSV

From Luther

Among the works of Christ none is greater than the preaching of the gospel to the poor. This means that to the poor the divine promise of grace and consolation in and through Christ is preached, offered and presented, so that to him who believes all his sins forgiven the law is fulfilled, conscience is appeased and at last life eternal is bestowed upon him. What more joyful tidings could a poor, sorrowful heart and troubled conscience hear than this? How could the heart become more bold and courageous than by such consoling, blissful words of promise. Sin, death, hell, the world, the devil and every evil are scorned when a poor heart receives and believes this consolation of the divine promise. To give sight to the blind and to raise up the dead are but insignificant deeds, compared with the preaching of the gospel to the poor.

Surely these poor are not the beggars and the bodily poor, but the spiritually poor, namely, those who do not covet and love earthly goods; those poor broken-hearted ones who in the agony of their conscience seek and desire help and consolation so ardently as to covet neither riches nor honor. Nothing but a merciful God will help them. These are the ones for whom such a message is intended, and they are delighted in their hearts with it.

Though the gospel is heard by all the world, yet it is not accepted but by the poor only. It is to be preached and proclaimed to all the world as a message only for the poor, as the rich cannot receive it. Whosoever would receive it must first become poor, just as Christ says, he came not to call the righteous, but sinners only, although he called all the world. In like manner all should become poor who hear the gospel, that they might be worthy of the gospel. Hence you see who are the greatest enemies of the gospel, namely, the work-righteous saints, who are self-conceited. The gospel has not the least in common with them. They want to become rich in works, but the gospel wills that they are to become poor. So they clash with the gospel.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 444–45.

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The Spiritual Day http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-spiritual-day/a2063.html Sun, 18 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

11 Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; 12 the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. 

Romans 13:11–14, RSV

From Luther

This is equivalent to saying, “salvation is near us.” By the word “day” Paul means the gospel; the gospel is like day in that it enlightens the heart or soul. Christ and his grace, promised to Abraham, are now revealed; they are preached in all the world, enlightening mankind, awaking us from sleep and making manifest the true, eternal blessings, that we may enjoy ourselves with the gospel of Christ and walk honorably in the day. By the word “night” we are to understand all doctrines apart from the gospel. For there is no other saving doctrine; all else is night and darkness.

Paul designates the most beautiful and vivifying time of the day — the delightful, joyous dawn, the hour of sunrise. In response to the morning dawn, birds sing, beasts arouse themselves and all humanity arises. At daybreak, when the sky is red in the east, the world is apparently new and all things reanimated. In many places in the Scriptures, the comforting, vivifying preaching of the gospel is compared to the morning dawn, to the rising of the sun. The gospel day is produced by the glorious Sun, Jesus Christ. Malachi calls him the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings. The natural sun makes the natural day, but the Lord himself is the author of the spiritual day. Christ is the Sun, the source of the gospel day. From him the gospel brightness shines throughout the world. As the natural heavens bring the sun and the day, so the apostles in their preaching bring us the real Sun, Christ.

The Scriptures sublimely exalt the gospel day, for it is the source of life, joy, pleasure and energy, and brings all good. Hence the name “gospel,” joyful news. Who can enumerate the things revealed to us by this, the gospel day? It teaches us everything—the nature of God, of ourselves, and what has been and is to be in regard to heaven, hell and earth, to angels and devils. It enables us to know how to conduct ourselves in relation to these, whence we are and whither we go. In permitting ourselves to be blinded by human doctrines, we return to the night. Whatsoever is not the gospel day surely cannot be light. The gospel declares him the Light and Sun of the world.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 443–44.

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The Peace of the Cross http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-peace-of-the-cross/a2062.html Sat, 17 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. 6 Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 4:4–7, RSV

From Luther

By “peace of God” we must understand, not that calm and satisfied peace in which God himself dwells, but the peace and contentment he produces in our hearts. This peace is the gift of God and is called the “peace of God,” because, having it, we are at peace with him even if we are displeased with men. This peace is beyond the power of mind and reason to comprehend. They who know nothing of fleeing to God in prayer, when overtaken by tribulation and adversity and when filled with care and anxiety, proceed to seek that peace alone which reason apprehends and which reason can secure. But reason apprehends no peace apart from the removal of the evil. But they who find their peace in God, rejoice in him and are contented. They calmly endure tribulation; standing firm, they await the inner strength wrought by faith. It is not theirs to inquire whether the evil will be long or short in duration; they ever leave it to God’s regulation. They are not anxious to know when, where or by whom termination of the evil is to come. God affords them grace and removes their evils, bestowing blessings beyond their expectation.

This is the peace of the cross, the peace of God, the peace of conscience, Christian peace, which gives us eternal calm and makes us satisfied with all men and unwilling to disturb any. Reason cannot understand how there can be pleasure in crosses and peace in disquietude. Such peace is the work of God, and none can understand it until he has experienced it. “Heart” and “mind” here must not be supposed to mean human will and understanding; but faith and love are meant in all their operations, in all their inclinations toward God and men. The reference is simply to a disposition to trust and love God, a willingness of heart and mind to serve God and man to the utmost. Briefly, this text is a lesson in Christian living, in the attitude of the Christian toward God and man. It teaches us to let God be everything to us, and to treat all men alike, to conduct ourselves toward men as does God toward us, receiving from him and giving to them. It may be summed up in the words “faith” and “love.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 442–43.

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Priestly Prayer http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/priestly-prayer/a2061.html Fri, 16 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. 6 Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 4:4–7, RSV

From Luther

Here Paul teaches us to cast our care upon God. Should anything transpire to give you care or anxiety, turn to God with prayer, with supplication, entreating him to accomplish for you all you would seek to effect by care. Do so in thankfulness; you have a God solicitous for you, to whom you may freely come with all your anxieties. Whoever does not so when misfortune befalls him, but endeavors to measure it by his reason and to overrule it by his counsel, and thus falls into anxiety—this man plunges himself into deep wretchedness, loses his joy and peace in God, and all to accomplish nothing. Of this fact we have daily testimony in our experience and in that of others. But let no one conclude that he will be utterly careless and rest upon God, making no effort, no exertion, not even resorting to prayer. Whoso adopts this course must soon fail and fall into anxiety. We must ever strive. Many care-engendering things befall us for the very purpose of driving us to prayer. Many things transpire which tend to create in us anxiety, but we must not let them make us overanxious. We must commit ourselves to God and implore his aid for our needs.

Prayer is made vigorous by petitioning; urgent by supplication; pleasing and acceptable by thanksgiving. Strength and acceptability combine to prevail and secure the petition. This, we see, is the manner of prayer practiced by the Church; the holy fathers in the Old Testament always offered supplication and thanks in their prayers. The Lord’s Prayer opens with praise and thanksgiving and the acknowledgment of God as Father. It earnestly presses toward him through filial love and a recognition of fatherly tenderness. For supplication this prayer is unequaled. Hence it is the sublimest and noblest prayer ever uttered.

These words of Paul beautifully spiritualize and explain the mystery of the golden censer of which Moses has written much in the Old Testament, detailing how the priests should burn incense in the temple. We are all priests and our prayers are censers. The golden vessel signifies the precious words of prayer; the live coals stand for thanksgiving for benefits in prayer; the ascending smoke is our faith, when we believe our appeal reaches God and is heard. We must not doubt that God hears us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 440–42.

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Serving God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/serving-god/a2060.html Thu, 15 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 18 But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.

James 2:14–18, RSV

From Luther

Faith receives the good works of Christ, love bestows good works on our neighbor. Our faith is strengthened and increased when Christ is held forth to us in his own natural works, namely, that he associates with the blind, the deaf, the lame, the lepers, the dead and the poor; that is, in pure love and kindness toward all who are in need and in misery, so that finally Christ is nothing else than consolation and a refuge for all the distressed and troubled in conscience. Here is necessary faith that trusts in the gospel and relies upon it, never doubting that Christ is just as he is presented to us in this gospel, and does not think of him otherwise, nor lets any one persuade us to believe otherwise. That gospel which suffers Christ to be seen and to be doing good only among the needy will not belie you.

If you desire to believe rightly and to possess Christ truly, then you must reject all works that you intend to place before God. They are only stumbling blocks, leading you away from Christ and from God. Before God no works are acceptable but Christ’s own works. Let these plead for you before God, and do no other work before him than to believe that Christ is doing his works for you and is placing them before God in your behalf. God demands of us no other work that we should do for him than to exercise faith in Christ. With that he is satisfied, and with that we give honor to him, as to one who is merciful, longsuffering, wise, kind and truthful. After this think of nothing else than to do to your neighbor as Christ has done to you, and let all your works together with all your life be applied to your neighbor. Look for the poor, sick and all kinds of needy, help them and let your life’s energy appear in this, so that they may enjoy your kindness, helping wherever your help is needed, as much as you possibly can with your life, property and honor. Know that to serve God is nothing else than to serve your neighbor in love, whether he be enemy or friend, or whether you can help in temporal or spiritual matters. This is serving God and doing good works.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 439–40.

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The Offense of Christ http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-offense-of-christ/a2059.html Wed, 14 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.” 

Matthew 11:2–6, RSV

From Luther

There are two kinds of offenses, one of doctrine, and the other of life. The offense of doctrine comes when one believes, teaches or thinks of Christ in a different way than he should, as did the Jews, teaching that Christ was other than he really was, expecting him to be a temporal king. Christ and Paul always dwell upon this offense, scarcely mentioning any other. It is not without reason that men are admonished to remember this. Under the reign of the pope this offense has been hushed entirely, so that neither monk nor priest knows of any other offense than that caused by open sin and wicked living, which the Scriptures do not call an offense. They teach the people to believe that the mass is an offering and a good work, that by works men may become pious, may atone for sin and be saved, all of which is nothing less than rejecting Christ and destroying faith.

The offense of life is, when one sees and teaches an openly wicked work of another. It is impossible to avoid this offense, inasmuch as we must live among the wicked, but it is not so dangerous, since everybody knows that such offense is sinful, and no one is deceived by it. There is no disguise nor deception. But in the offense of doctrine there may be the most beautiful religious ceremonies, the noblest works, the most honorable life, so that it is impossible for common reason to censure or discern it. Only faith through the Spirit recognizes that it is all wrong. Against this offense Christ warns us, saying: “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones, which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Whosoever does not preach Christ, or who preaches him otherwise than the gospel teaches, namely, as one caring for the blind, the lame and the poor, teaches us how to become unhappy and stumble in Christ. It is truly a great blessing not to be offended in Christ, and there is no other help or remedy than to look at his works and compare them with the Scriptures. Otherwise it is impossible to keep from being offended at Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 438–39.

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Coming in Power and Grace http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/coming-in-power-and-grace/a2058.html Mon, 12 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.” 

Matthew 11:2–6, RSV

From Luther

The disciples of John had learned from him many excellent testimonies concerning Christ, that he was the Lamb of God and the Son of God, that Christ must increase while he must decrease. All this his disciples and the people did not believe, nor could they understand it, as they and all the people thought more of John than of Christ. Consequently they clung so closely to John, that for his sake they became jealous of Christ and were dissatisfied with him, when they saw that he also baptized and drew the people to himself.

To this error they are led for two reasons. First, Christ was not yet known to the people, but only to John; neither had he yet performed any miracle. The second reason was that Christ appeared so humble, being the son of a carpenter and of a poor woman. He did not belong to the priesthood, nor to the learned, nor had he ever studied, but was only a layman and a common apprentice. Hence it seemed that the excellent testimony of John concerning Jesus of Nazareth did not at all seem true. They were looking for one who might appear in an imposing manner among them, or like a highly learned leader among the priests or like a mighty king. From this delusion John could not dissuade them.

But when Jesus began to perform miracles and became famous, John thought that he would direct his disciples from himself to Christ, that they might not establish a new sect and become Johnites, but might cling to Christ and become Christians. They must learn that the works and coming of Christ would not be attended by drums and bugles and the like worldly pomp, but by spiritual power and grace; that by virtue of such power and grace the dead would be raised up, the blind receive their sight, the deaf hear, and all kinds of bodily and spiritual evil be removed. This would be the coming and glory of this King, the least of whose works could not be performed by all the kings, all the learned and all the rich of the world.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 436–37.

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The Promised Seed http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-promised-seed/a2057.html Sun, 11 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Genesis 22:15–18, RSV

From Luther

The blessing here promised to the patriarch in his seed is simply the grace and salvation in Christ which the gospel presents to the whole world. For Christ is the seed of Abraham, his own flesh and blood, and in Christ all believing inquirers will be blessed. This promise to the patriarch was later more minutely set forth and more widely circulated by the prophets. All of them wrote of the advent of Christ, his grace and gospel. The divine promise was believed by the saints prior to the birth of Christ; thus, through the coming Messiah they were preserved and saved by faith.

But faith is not abolished in the fulfilment of the promise; rather it is established. As they in former time believed in the future fulfilment, we now believe in the completed fulfilment. Faith in the two instances is essentially the same; but one belief succeeds the other as fulfilment succeeds promise. In both cases faith is based on the seed of Abraham, that is, on Christ. In one instance it precedes his advent and in the other it follows. He who would now, like the Jews, believe in Christ yet to come, as if the promise were still unfulfilled, would be condemned. For he would make God a liar in holding that the word is unredeemed, contrary to fact. Were the promise not fulfilled, our salvation would be still far off; we would have to wait its future accomplishment.

Having in mind faith under these two conditions, we must now believe not only in the promise but in its past fulfilment. For though the faith of the fathers is one with our faith, they trusting in Christ to come and we in a Christ revealed, yet the gospel leads from the former faith to the latter. It is now necessary to believe the promise, and also its fulfilment. Abraham and the ancients were not called on to believe in the accomplished fulfilment, though they had the same Christ as we have. There is one faith, one spirit, one Christ, one community of saints; but they preceded, while we come after, Christ. Thus we—the fathers and ourselves—have had and still have a common faith in the one Christ, but under different conditions. Because of this common faith believers unite in Christ as one body.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 434–35.

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Wake Up http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/wake-up/a2056.html Sat, 10 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

11 Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; 12 the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. 

Romans 13:11–14, RSV

From Luther

For the sake of effect and emphasis the apostle in his admonition employs a pleasing figure and makes an eloquent appeal. The word “sleep” is used as a simile to help us grasp the spiritual thought. Since for the sake of temporal gain men rise from sleep, put aside the things of darkness and take up the day’s work when night has given place to morning, how much greater the necessity for us to awake from our spiritual sleep, to cast off the things of darkness and enter upon the works of light, since our night has passed and our day breaks. “Sleep” here stands for the works of wickedness and unbelief. For sleep is properly incident to the night time. Then, too, the explanation is given in the added words: “Let us cast off the works of darkness.” Similarly in the thought of awakening and rising are suggested the works of faith and piety. They that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet the hope of salvation.

Paul, of course, does not enjoin against physical sleep. His contrasting figures of sleep and wakefulness are used as illustrations of spiritual lethargy and activity — the godly and the ungodly life. Note the analogy between natural and spiritual sleep. The sleeper sees nothing about him; he is not sensitive to any earthly realities. In the midst of them he lies as one dead and useless, without power or purpose. Though having life in himself he is practically dead to all outside. His mind is occupied, not with realities, but with dreams, in which he beholds mere images, vain forms of the real; and he is foolish enough to think them true. But when he wakes, these illusions or dreams vanish. Then he begins to occupy himself with realities.

So it is in the spiritual life. The ungodly person sleeps. He is in a sense dead in the sight of God. He does not recognize the real spiritual blessings extended him through the gospel; he regards them as valueless. For these blessings are only to be recognized by the believing heart; they are concealed from the natural man.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 433–34.

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Well Prepared http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/well-prepared/a2055.html Fri, 09 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 

Romans 8:18–25, RSV

From Luther

You say, I would indeed await his coming with joy, if I were holy and without sin. I answer, What relief do you find in fear and flight? It would not redeem you from sin if you were to be filled with terror for a thousand years. The damned are eternally filled with fear of that day, but this does not take away their sin; this fear rather increases sin and renders man unfit to appear without sin on that day when it comes.

There is no one so well prepared for the judgment day as he who longs to be without sin. If you have such desire, what do you fear? You are then in perfect accord with the purpose of that day. It comes to set free from sin all who desire it, and you belong to that number. Return thanks to God and abide in that desire. Christ says his coming is for our redemption. But do not deceive yourself and be satisfied, perhaps, with the simple desire to be free from sin and to await the coming of the day without fear. Perhaps your heart is false and you are filled with fear, not because you would be free from sin, but because in the face of that day you cannot sin free and untrammeled. See to it that the light within you be not darkness. For a heart that would be truly free from sin will certainly rejoice in the day that fulfils its desire. If the heart does not so rejoice there is no true desire to be loosed from its sin.

From this we learn how few there are who pray the Lord’s Prayer acceptably. There are few who would not rather that the day would never come. This is nothing else than to desire that the kingdom of God may not come. Yet, he who feels such fear must not despair, but rather use it wisely. He does so who permits such fear to urge him to pray for grace that his fear might be taken away and he be given joy and delight in that day. Therefore those who fear are nearer their salvation than the hard-hearted, who neither fear nor find comfort in that day.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 432–33.

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His Kingdom Come http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/his-kingdom-come/a2054.html Thu, 08 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 

Luke 21:25–28, RSV

From Luther

How shall we look up and lift up our heads, which evidently means, how shall we manifest any joy in and longing for these signs? In answer I would say that all this is spoken only to those who are really Christians and not to heathen and Jew. True Christians are so afflicted with all manner of temptations and persecutions that in this life they are miserable. Therefore they wait and long and pray for redemption from sin and evil; as we also pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” and, “Deliver us from evil.” If we are true Christians we will earnestly and heartily join in this prayer. If we do not so pray, we are not yet true Christians.

If we pray aright, our condition must truly be such as to look up to them with joy and earnest desire, however terrible these signs may be, as Christ admonishes: “When these things come to pass, look up.” He does not say, Be filled with fear or drop your heads; for there is coming that for which we have been earnestly praying. If we really wish to be freed from sin and death and hell, we must look forward to this coming of the Lord with joy and pleasure.

But what do those do who are filled with fear and do not desire to have him come, when they pray, “Thy kingdom come,” “Thy will be done”? Do they not stand in the presence of God and lie to their own hurt? Do they not strive against the will of God who will have this day for the redemption of the saints. It is necessary that we exercise great care lest we be found to hate and to dread that day. Such dread is a bad omen and belongs to the damned, whose cold minds and hard hearts must be terrified and broken, if perchance they might reform.

To believers that day will be comforting and sweet. To them that day will be the highest joy and safety; just as in this life the truths of the gospel are exceedingly sweet to the godly and exceedingly hateful to the wicked. Why should the believer fear and not rather exceedingly rejoice, since he trusts in Christ who comes as judge to redeem him and to be his everlasting portion?

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 431–32.

Today's video was made in 2021 so references in the video to days and dates may be askew in the year in which you are listening. However, the Luther reading is, indeed, for this day in the year.

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Signs of the Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/signs-of-the-gospel/a2053.html Wed, 07 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 

Luke 21:25–28, RSV

From Luther

By the powers of heaven some understand the angels of heaven. But since Christ speaks of signs and says we shall see them and recognize in them the coming of the last day, they must surely be visible tokens and be perceived with the bodily senses. For those people whose consciences are in distress and whose hearts are failing from fear, though this be an affection of the soul, yet manifest it by word and countenance. Therefore these powers of heaven must be such as can be really shaken and so perceived.

The Scriptures speak in a twofold way concerning the powers of heaven. At one time they are spoken of as the heavens which are the most powerful among all creatures, “and God called the firmament—expanse or fortress—heaven.” Every creature under heaven is ruled and strengthened by the light, heat and movements of the heavens. What would the earth be without the heavens but a dark and desert waste? At another time the powers of heaven signify the hosts of heaven: “and the heavens and the earth were finished and all the hosts of them.” It is common in the Scriptures to speak in this way of the powers of heaven. And it is clear from this and other passages that the hosts or powers of heaven include all that is in them; in the heavens, the sun, moon, stars and other heavenly bodies; on earth, man and beast, birds and fish, trees, herbs and whatsoever lives upon it. The passage before us may therefore mean the powers of heaven in both senses, probably chiefly the hosts of heaven. Christ could say that all creatures shall be shaken and shall serve as tokens of that day; sun and moon with darkening, the stars with falling, the nations with wars, men with hearts failing from fear, the earth with earthquakes, the waters with winds and roaring, the air with infection and pestilence, and the heavens with their hosts.

Christ calls these signs and desires us to take special notice of them, appearing, as they do, not alone, but with a multitude of other tokens. Let the unbeliever doubt and despise God’s tokens and speak of them as simply natural; but let us hold fast to the gospel.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 429–30.

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Signs http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/signs/a2052.html Tue, 06 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 By your endurance you will gain your lives. 20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfil all that is written. 23 Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; 24 they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 

Luke 21:19–28, RSV

From Luther

“The sun shall be darkened” (Matthew 24:29). Some think that the sun is to be darkened never to shine again; but this cannot be the meaning, for day and night must continue to the end. “While the earth remaineth day and night shall not cease.” This sign therefore dare not interfere with day and night and still be fulfilled before the judgment day. “The moon shall not give her light.” The same is to be said of this as of the signs of the sun. Is it not true that scarcely a year has passed in which sun and moon have not been eclipsed? Astronomers have told us, and rightly so, that these eclipses are but natural phenomena. As a result the tokens are the more despised and carnal security is increased. “The stars shall fall from heaven.” This is seen almost daily. Aristotle again talks about the nature of the thing; but the gospel, which is the Word and wisdom of God, pronounces the falling of the stars a sign. Wherefore if the stars fall or the sun and moon fail to give their light, be assured that these are signs of the last day; for the gospel cannot utter falsehood. While in these years there have been so many showers of stars, they are all harbingers of the last day, as Christ says; they must appear often that the great day may be abundantly proclaimed. These signs appear and pass, but no one heeds them; they are waiting for other signs, just as the Jews are waiting for another Christ.

“Distress of nations” does not, indeed, mean that all nations and all people among these nations will so suffer; for you must note that these are to be signs. Stars do not fall from heaven at all times; the sun does not lose its brightness for a whole year; all these may be tokens without changing the order of things. “Distress of nations” does not refer to the body. For there will be peace and joy in abundance. People will eat and drink, buy and sell, marry and be given in marriage and wrap themselves up in this present life as if they expected to abide here forever. I take it that it is the condition of agonized conscience. Sin and conscience oppress. By these the sinner becomes so distressed that he knows not what to do, nor whither to flee.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 428–29.

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Absurd Doctrine http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/absurd-doctrine/a2051.html Mon, 05 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no better than a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate; 2 but he is under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. 3 So with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe. 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir. 

From Luther

Galatians 4:1–7, RSV

In the article of faith, in which we say that the Son of God became man and that he was of the same nature as we ourselves are, in order that he might redeem us from sin and death and give us eternal life without any merit or worthiness of our own, we give Jews and Turks no less occasion for laughter and mockery than when we speak of the three persons in the Godhead. For this is a more absurd assertion by far, in the estimation of human reason, which speculates in its Jewish and Turkish, yea, heathenish teachings, on this wise: God is an only, almighty Lord of all, who has created all men and given them the law according to which they are to live; accordingly it follows that he will be merciful to the good and obedient, but will condemn and punish the disobedient. Therefore he who does good works and guards himself against sin, God will reward. These are nothing but heathenish conclusions drawn from earthly, worldly experience and observation.

Such heathen ideas of wisdom, holiness and service of God are taught and practiced by the pope. So we believed, myself and others, while we were under him, not knowing any better; otherwise we would have done and taught differently. In fact, he who has not this revelation and Word of God, can neither believe nor teach other than pagan doctrine. For human reason knows no better; and how can it know better without the revelation? Even when the revelation was proclaimed, human wisdom would not heed it, but despised it and followed its own fancies.

But to us this counsel and mind of God, in giving his Son to take upon himself our flesh, is revealed and declared. From the Word of God we have the knowledge that no man of himself can be righteous before God; that our whole life and all our deeds are under wrath and condemnation, because we are wholly born in sin and by nature are disobedient to God; but if we would be delivered from sin and be saved, we must believe on this mediator, the Son of God, who has taken our sin and death upon himself, by his own blood and death rendering satisfaction, and has by his resurrection delivered us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 427–28.

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A Spiritual Kingdom http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/a-spiritual-kingdom/a2050.html Sun, 04 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

12 The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on an ass’s colt!” 

John 12:12–15, RSV

From Luther

We will direct our attention to the reason why the evangelist quotes the words of the prophet, in which was described long ago and in clear, beautiful and wonderful words, the bodily public entrance and advent of our Lord Jesus Christ to the people of Zion or Jerusalem. The prophet wanted to show to his people and to all the world, who the Messiah is and in what manner he would come and manifest himself. He thereby anticipates the mistaken idea of the Jews, who thought that, because there were such glorious things said and written of Christ and his kingdom, he would manifest himself in great worldly pomp and glory, as a king against their enemies, especially the Roman empire, to the power of which they were subject, and that he would overthrow its power and might, and in its place set up the Jews as lords and princes. Thus they expected nothing in the promised Christ but a worldly kingdom and deliverance from bodily captivity. They were led to this notion, and strengthened in it, by their false priests, preachers and doctors, who perverted the Scriptures concerning Christ and interpreted them according to their own worldly understanding as referring to bodily, worldly things, because they would fain be great earthly lords.

But the dear prophets plainly foretold that we should not think of such an earthly kingdom, nor of bodily salvation, but give attention to the promise of a spiritual kingdom and of a redemption from the pernicious fall of mankind in paradise. This is a different salvation from that of bodily freedom, power and glory, the end of which is death.

The evangelist therefore quotes this saying of the prophet to punish the blindness and false notions of those who seek bodily and temporal blessings in Christ and his gospel, and to convince them by the testimony of the prophet, who shows clearly what kind of a king Christ was and what they should seek in him, in that he calls him just and having salvation and adds this sign of his coming by which they are to know him: “He cometh to thee, meek, and riding upon a colt, the foal of an ass.” This verse takes away all support for excuse, if they do not receive Christ, and it cuts off all hope and expectation for another. It distinctly announces that he would come on this wise and he has fulfilled everything.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 426–27.

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By Faith Alone http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/by-faith-alone/a2049.html Sat, 03 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If any one says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them immediately.” 4 This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.” 

Matthew 21:1–5, RSV

From Luther

“Behold.” With this word the evangelist at once rouses us from sleep and unbelief as though he had something great or remarkable to offer, something we have long wished for and now receive with joy. Such waking up is necessary, because everything that concerns faith is against reason; for example, how can reason comprehend that an individual should be king of Jerusalem who enters in such poverty and humility as to ride upon a borrowed ass? But the nature of faith is that it does not judge nor reason by what it sees, but by what it hears. It depends upon the Word alone and not on vision or sight. Christ is received as King only by the followers of the word of the prophet, by the believers in Christ. These are the true daughters of Zion.

This King is distinguished from all other kings. It is “thy” King who was promised to you, whose own you are. For him you have yearned from the beginning, him the fathers have desired to see, he will deliver you from all that has hitherto burdened, troubled and held you captive. This is a comforting word to a believing heart, for without Christ man is subject to many raging tyrants who are not kings, but murderers, at whose hands he suffers great misery and fear.

But where the heart receives the King in firm faith, it is secure and does not fear sin, death, hell, nor any other evil; for it well knows and in no wise doubts that this King is the Lord of life and death, of sin and grace, of hell and heaven, and that all things are in his hands. Thus he became our King and came down to us that he might deliver us from these tyrants and rule over us himself alone. He who is under this King cannot be harmed either by sin, death, hell, Satan, man nor any other creature. Such boundless gifts are brought by this poor, despised King. All this reason does not understand, nor nature comprehend; it can be comprehended by faith alone.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 424–25.

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Your King Comes to You http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/your-king-comes-to-you/a2048.html Fri, 02 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. 11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your captives free from the waterless pit. 

Zechariah 9:9–11, RSV

From Luther

Learn from these words what takes place when God begins to make us godly, and what is the first step in becoming so. There is no other beginning until your King comes to you and begins to work in you. It is done in this way: the gospel comes first and must be preached and heard. In it you hear and learn how all your works count for nothing before God and that everything that you work and do is sinful. Your King must first be in you and rule you. Here is the beginning of your salvation; you relinquish your works and despair of yourself, because you see and hear that all you do is sin and amounts to nothing, as the gospel tells you. You receive your King in faith, cling to him, implore his grace and find consolation in his mercy alone.

But when you hear and accept this it is not your power, but God’s grace, that renders the gospel fruitful in you, so that you believe that you and your works are nothing. For you see how few there are who accept it, so that Christ weeps over Jerusalem. Nor is it by virtue of your power and your merit that the gospel is preached and your King comes. God must send him out of pure grace. Hence, no greater wrath of God exists than where he does not send the gospel; there is only sin, error and darkness, there man may do what he will. Again, there is no greater grace than where he sends his gospel, for there must be grace and mercy in its train, even if not all, perhaps only a few, receive it.

This is what is meant by “Thy King cometh unto thee.” You do not seek nor find him; he seeks and finds you. The preachers and their sermons come from him, not from you; your faith and everything that your faith works in you comes from him, not from you; when he does not come, you remain outside; where there is no gospel, there is no God, but only sin and damnation. Therefore you should not ask where to begin to be godly; there is no beginning, except where the King is proclaimed and enters.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 423–24.

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Your Neighbor Needs You http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/your-neighbor-needs-you/a2047.html Thu, 01 Dec 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

7 “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 12 So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. 

Matthew 7:7–12, RSV

From Luther

Faith brings and gives Christ to you with all his possessions. Love gives you to your neighbor with all your possessions. These two things constitute a true and complete Christian life; then follow suffering and persecution for such faith and life, and out of these grows hope in patience. Where, then, are the good works which you are to do to your neighbor? They have no name. As the good works which Christ does to you have no name, so your good works are to have no name. They have no name so that there may be no distinction made and they be not divided, else you might do some and leave others undone. You shall give yourself entirely to him with all you have, the same as Christ gave himself wholly to you, with praying, fasting, all works and suffering, so that there is nothing in him that is not yours and was not done for you. Thus it is not your good work that you give alms and pray, but that you offer yourself to your neighbor and serve him, whenever he needs you and in every way you can, be it with alms, prayer, work, counsel, comfort, apologizing, clothing, food, and if need be, with suffering and death.

If you have ears to hear, listen and learn what good works are. A work is good for the reason that it is useful and benefits or helps the one for whom it is done; why else should it be called good? A tree bears fruit, not for itself, but for the good of man and beast, and these fruits are its good works. You are not to do good to God and to his dead saints, they are not in need of it; still less to wood and stone, to which it is of no use, but to men. To men you should do everything that you would they should do to you. A man is to live, suffer and die for his wife and child, the wife for the husband, children for parents, servants for masters, masters for servants, the government for subjects and subjects for governments, each one for his fellow man, even for his enemies. Such are truly Christian and good works, and should be done at all times, in all places, and toward all people.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 422–23.

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Awaiting Glory http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/awaiting-glory/a2046.html Wed, 30 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

13 Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17 Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. 

Philippians 3:13–21, RSV

From Luther

We Christians are expectantly to await the coming of the Saviour. His coming will not be to our injury or shame as it may be in the case of others. He comes for the salvation of our unprofitable, impotent bodies. Wretchedly worthless as they are in this life, they are much more unprofitable when lifeless and perishing in the earth. But, however miserable, powerless and contemptible in life and death, Christ will at his coming render our bodies beautiful, pure, shining and worthy of honor, until they correspond to his own immortal, glorious body. Not like it as it hung on the cross or lay in the grave, blood-stained, livid and disgraced, but as it is now, glorified at the Father’s right hand. We need not then be alarmed at the necessity of laying aside our earthly bodies; at being despoiled of the honor, righteousness and life adhering in them, to deliver it to the devouring power of death and the grave — something well calculated to terrify the enemies of Christ; but we may joyfully hope for and await his speedy coming to deliver us from this miserable, filthy pollution.

Think of the honor and glory Christ’s righteousness brings even to our bodies! How can this poor, sinful, miserable, polluted body become like unto that of the Son of God, the Lord of glory? What are you — your powers and abilities, or those of all men, to effect this glorious thing? But Paul says human righteousness, merit, glory and power have nothing to do with it. Another force intervenes, the power of Christ the Lord, who is able to bring all things into subjection to himself. Now, if he has power to subject all things unto himself at will, he is able also to glorify the pollution and filth of this wretched body, even when it has become worms and dust. In his hands it is as clay in the hands of the potter, and from the polluted lump of clay he can make a vessel that shall be a beautiful, new, pure, glorious body, surpassing the sun in its brilliancy and beauty. The righteousness of Christ inspires with power, making evident that we worship the true and living God, who delivers from sin, death and condemnation, and exalts this perishable body to eternal honor and glory.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 421–22.

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The Comfort of the Word http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-comfort-of-the-word/a2045.html Tue, 29 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering — 6 since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

2 Thessalonians 1:5–12, RSV

From Luther

Whatever the Christian suffers here on earth at the hands of the devil and the world befalls him simply for the sake of the name of God and for his Word. True, as a baptized child of God the Christian should justly enjoy unalloyed goodness, comfort and peace on earth; but since he must still dwell in the kingdom of the devil, who infuses sin and death into human flesh, he must endure the devil. Yet all Satan’s afflictions and the world’s plagues, persecutions, terrors, tortures, even the taking of the Christian’s life, and all its abuse, is wrought in violence and injustice. But to offset this, the Christian has the comforting assurance of God’s Word that because he suffers for the sake of the kingdom of Christ and of God he shall surely be eternally partaker of that kingdom. Certain it is, no one will be worthy of it unless he suffers for it.

Christians should certainly expect this and comfort themselves in the confidence that God will not permit the wrongs of his people to continue unpunished and unavenged. We might think he had forgotten, were we to judge from the facts that godly Abel was shamefully murdered by his brother, that God’s prophets and martyrs — John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Paul and others — suffered death at the hands of bloodhounds like the Herods, Neros and other shameless, sanguinary tyrants of that sort, and this when God had, even in this life, given glorious testimony of their being his beloved children. A judgment must be forthcoming that tyrants may suffer pains and punishments, and that the godly, delivered from sufferings, may have eternal rest and joy. Let all the world know that God does not forget even after death.

This is the consolation which the future judgment at the resurrection of the dead holds, that, as God’s righteousness requires, the saints shall receive for their sufferings a supremely rich and glorious recompense. Paul seems to present, as the principal reason why God must punish the world with everlasting pain, the fact that the world has inflicted tribulation on Christians. This is indicated where we read that Christ shall say on the last day: “Depart from me, ye cursed … inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 419–21.

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Ready for Advent http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/ready-for-advent/a2044.html Mon, 28 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Luke 21:25–28, RSV

From Luther

The signs preceding the judgment day are many and great. They will all be fulfilled, even though none or very few men take note of or esteem them as such. Two things must take place according to the Word and prophecy of Christ and the apostles: first, many and great signs will be made manifest; second, the last day will come unawares; the world will not expect it, even though that day be at the door. Though men see those signs and be told that they are signs of the last day, still they will not believe. Some, indeed, will see it and it will be those who least expect it. That there will be such security and indifference among men we prove from the words of Christ and the apostles. Christ says: “Take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you suddenly as a snare, for so shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of the earth.”

From these words it is clear that men in great measure will give themselves over to surfeiting and drunkenness and the cares of this life, and that, drowned as it were in these things, they will rest secure and continue to dwell on the earth as if the dreadful day were far away. For were there no such security and heedlessness, that day would not break in unawares. But he says it will come as a snare by which birds and beasts are caught at a time when most concerned about their food and least expecting to be entrapped. In this figure he gives us clearly to understand that the world will continue its carousing, eating and drinking, building and planting, and diligently seeking after earthly things, and will look upon the day of judgment as yet a thousand and more years off, when, in the twinkling of an eye, they may stand before the terrible judgment bar of God. Whatever other signs may appear before Christ’s coming, I know that, according to Christ’s words, surfeiting and drunkenness, building and planting, buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage and other cares of this life will be in evidence.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 418–19.

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Spiritual Knowledge http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/spiritual-knowledge/a2043.html Sun, 27 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

9 And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

Colossians 1:9–11, RSV

From Luther

The apostle’s words are “be filled,” that is, not only hear and understand God’s will, but become rich in the knowledge of it, with ever increasing fullness. You have begun well; you are promising shoots. But something more than a good beginning is required, and the knowledge of God’s will cannot be exhaustively learned at once on hearing the Word. “Knowing the will of God” means more than simply knowing about God, that he created heaven and earth and gave the law, a knowledge which even the Jews and Turks possess. When this point has been reached further enlightenment is necessary if man is to be saved. He must know the meaning of Christ’s words: “This is the will of my Father, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life.”

This spiritual knowledge, or confidence, is not so easily learned as other things. It is not so readily apprehended as the knowledge of the law written in nature. Indeed, that more than anything else hinders the Christians and saints from obtaining the knowledge of God’s will in Christ, for it compels the heart and conscience to plead guilty in every respect and to confess having merited the wrath of God; therefore the soul naturally fears and flees from God. Then, too, the devil fans the flame of fear and sends his fiery arrows of dismay into the heart. The wicked world eagerly contributes its share of hindrance against Christians as a people of the worst type, condemned enemies of God. Our flesh and blood is a drawback, making much of its own wisdom and holiness and seeking thereby to gain honor and glory or to live in security of life and wealth, pleasure and covetousness. Hence on every side a Christian must be in severe conflict, if he is to succeed in preserving the knowledge of God’s will. Verily, there is need of earnest and diligent use of the Word of God and prayer, that Christians may not only learn to know the will of God, but also to be filled with it. Only so can the individual walk always according to God’s will, and gain strength to enable him to face fears and terrors against the devil, the world, flesh and blood.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 417–18.

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Day to Day Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/day-to-day-faith/a2042.html Sat, 26 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” 23 The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. 

John 21:20–25, RSV

From Luther

Christ teaches us a beautiful and touching lesson. Notwithstanding the examples and lives of all the saints every person should attend to the work entrusted to him and guard the honor of his calling. This is truly a needed and wholesome teaching. Many persons are found like Peter, looking around to the saints Christ loved, and turning their backs to the commission and calling to follow Christ. As no one now is without some commission and calling, so no one is without some kind of work, if he desires to do what is right. Every one therefore is to take heed to continue in his calling, look to himself, faithfully do what is commanded him, and serve God and keep his commandments; then he will have so much to do that all time will be too short, all places too cramped, all resources of help too weak.

Moreover it is a common plague that no one is satisfied with his own lot, so that the heathen say: How does it happen that there is always better fruit in another field, and that the neighbor’s cow gives more milk than our own? How does it come that no one is content with his own state and thinks that of another is better than his own? If God allowed one to change his lot with all his will, even then he would be like every one else, would become more tired and at last stay with his own. Hence one ought not to think of changing his lot, but of changing his spirit of discontent. Cast aside and change that restless spirit, then the lot of one will be like that of another and all will be prized alike.
To overcome such unrest, discontent and disgust in one’s self, faith is helpful and necessary — a faith which is of the firm conviction that God governs all alike, places each one in the lot that is the most suitable for him. This faith brings rest, contentment and peace; it banishes the tired spirit. Hence we see how faith is needed in everything and how it makes everything easy, good and sweet, even if you were in prison or in death, as the martyrs prove. Without faith all things are difficult and bitter, though you possessed the pleasures of the whole world, as all the great lords and wealthy prove, who at all times lead the most wretched lives.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 416–17.

Today's video was made in 2021 so references in the video to days and dates may be askew in the year in which you are listening. However, the Luther reading is, indeed, for this day in the year.

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Kept in Fear http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/kept-in-fear/a2041.html Fri, 25 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's video was made in 2021 so references in the video to days and dates may be askew in the year in which you are listening. However, the Luther reading is, indeed, for this day in the year.

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you. 11 To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 

1 Peter 5:8–11, RSV

From Luther

The devil does not sleep; he looks around and exerts himself to exterminate the pure doctrine in the Church and will finally, it is feared, bring it to this, that should one pass through all Germany he would find no pulpit where the pure Word of God is preached as in former days. He tries with all his might to prevent the pure doctrine from being taught, for he cannot endure it. To escape from the enemy is most difficult. He lurks and watches everywhere, and pushes his affairs so hard that even the learned fall and the elect stumble, as did Moses, Peter and the other apostles. We think we are safe and permit matters to drift. We should pray and call on God to maintain the gospel and cause his holy name to be proclaimed more and more widely; but no one cares, no one prays for the advancement of the gospel. The consequence must be that God will overthrow both us and Satan. The end will be that our rashness and indifference shall bring us into great misery.

The heart must thoroughly grasp this idea, that although we may feel secure concerning a matter and have Scripture for it, and be prepared and fortified in the best possible manner with clear proofs, it is after all the will and power of God that protect us and defend us against the devil, our adversary and most bitter foe. But this occurs only when God awakens us and keeps us in his fear, so that we may always be concerned and cry: “Lord, increase our faith.” Our hearts should always be in a condition as if we had only begun to believe to-day, and always be so disposed toward the gospel as if we had never before heard it. We should make a fresh beginning each day. Our faith must constantly grow and become stronger. Man is a poor, weak creature. Paul says, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” This treasure is the gospel. An earthen vessel is easily broken and its contents spilled. When the devil notices what a treasure faith is and in what a poor vessel it is kept he rages and storms in his wrath to shatter the vessel and spill the treasure. Man is a poor, weak earthen vessel; if God would permit, Satan would soon utterly destroy the whole vessel.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 414–15.

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Commending Ourselves to God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/commending-ourselves-to-god/a2040.html Thu, 24 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Matthew 25:31–34, RSV

This will take place publicly in the presence of all angels, men and creatures, and before the whole rabble of an ungodly world, that it may be seen who have been pious, honest Christians, as well as who have been hypocrites. Such a separation cannot take place in the world until that day, not even in the assembly which constitutes the Christian Church. The good and the bad must remain together in this world, as we learn from the parable of the wedding guests, or as Christ himself had to tolerate Judas among his apostles. Christians are much grieved that they must remain in the midst of a crooked, perverse, ungodly people, which is the kingdom of Satan.

While Christians have their sufferings here upon earth, they will also have their comfort on the coming day of judgment, when Christ will separate them from the other flock, so that after that day no false, ungodly men, nor death, nor devil can ever touch them or offend them. Christ will pronounce the verdict in the very words in which he has already prepared it and set it forth and will certainly not change it. Therefore see to it that you are among those who are kind and merciful here upon earth for Christ’s sake, or who even suffer for his sake, then you may joyfully await the last day, and need not be afraid of the judgment; for he has already selected you and placed you among those who shall stand at his right hand.

We who are Christians should hope for the coming of this judgment and desire it with our whole heart, as we pray in the words: Thy kingdom come; thy will be done; deliver us from evil; so that we may also hear the glad and welcome words: Come, ye blessed, into the kingdom of my Father. This is the verdict we await; for this we are Christians. For we must constantly see and hear the maliciousness which Satan and the world practice against the gospel. There is so much misery upon earth that we ought to be tired of this life and cry aloud: Come, dear Lord, and deliver us. For there are certainly souls who are joyfully awaiting the judgment of Christ with a good conscience.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 413–14.

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That We May Stand http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/that-we-may-stand/a2039.html Wed, 23 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats

Matthew 25:31–32, RSV

From Luther

Had it not been told us we should be inqusitive beyond measure to know what would happen on the last day, and what Jesus would say and do on that day. Here we are now told of and have set before us, first of all, death, which no one can escape; but after that the day of judgment. Then it will come to pass that Christ will bring together by means of the resurrection all who have ever lived upon earth; and at the same time he will descend in inexpressible majesty, sitting upon the throne of judgment, with all the heavenly host hovering around him; and all the good and bad will appear, so that we shall all stand exposed before him and no one will be able to conceal himself.

The appearance of this glory and majesty will immediately become a great terror and pain to the condemned, lest they shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might. Even if there were no more than a single angel present, there would not remain in his presence one fickle, wicked conscience, were it possible to escape, any more than a thief and a rascal can bear to come before a human judge. If he could escape he would much prefer it, if only for the purpose of escaping public disgrace, to say nothing of his being compelled to hear the judgment passed upon him.

What a terrible sight it will be, when the ungodly shall see not only all of God’s angels and creatures, but also the Judge in his divine majesty, and shall hear the verdict of eternal destruction and hell-fire pronounced upon them forever. This should surely be a powerful admonition for us to live as Christians, so that we may stand in honor and without fear at the right hand of this majestic Lord, where there will be no fear, nor terror, but pure comfort and everlasting joy. Whoever is not moved and aroused by these words can certainly never be moved by anything.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 412–13.

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Striving to Be His http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/striving-to-be-his/a2038.html Tue, 22 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 2:1 My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 1:7–2:2, RSV

From Luther

Since we are unable to keep the law, Christ came and stepped between the Father and us, and prays for us: Beloved Father, be gracious unto them and forgive them their sins. I will take upon me their transgressions and bear them; I love thee with my whole heart, and in addition the entire human race, and this I will prove by shedding my blood for mankind. I have fulfilled the law and I did it for their welfare in order that they may partake of my fulfilling the law and thereby come to grace.

Thus there is first given us through Christ the sense that we do not fulfil the law and that sin is fully and completely forgiven; however, this is not bestowed in a way or to the end that we need not keep the law in the future, and may forever continue to sin, or that we should teach, if we have faith we need no longer to love God and our neighbor. But the meaning is that the fulfilling of the law may now for the first time be successfully attempted and perfectly realized, and this is the eternal, fixed and unchangeable will of God. To this end it is necessary to preach grace that man may find counsel and help to come to a perfect life.

But the help offered us is that Christ prays the Father to forgive us our sins against the law, and not impute what we are still owing. He promises also to give the Holy Spirit, by whose aid the heart begins to love God and to keep his commandments. God is not gracious and merciful to sinners to the end that they might not keep his law, nor that they should remain as they were before they received grace and mercy; but he condones and forgives both sin and death for Christ’s sake, who has fulfilled the whole law to make the heart glad and through the Holy Spirit to kindle and move the heart to begin again to love from day to day more and more. Thus begins in us not only love, but also truth, a true character, as the law requires. Christ is full of grace and truth, and through him grace and truth grow in us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 411–12.

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Preaching for Christ’s Sake http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/preaching-for-christ’s-sake/a2037.html Mon, 21 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

Luke24:44–48, RSV

From Luther

The gospel is the preaching of repentance and remission of sins. It should not be preached in a corner, but before all men, whether it be received or not, for it is to spread even farther that it may be heard and bear fruit. We are not to be offended though few receive it, nor say it has been given in vain. We should be content that Christ has commanded us to preach it in all the world, that he who will may receive it.

By repentance Christ means a change for the better; not what we have called repentance, when one scourges and chastises himself and does penance to atone for his sin, or when the priest imposes this or that upon any one for penance. Scripture does not speak of it in this sense. Repentance signifies a change and reformation of the whole life; so that when one knows that he is a sinner and feels the iniquity of life, he desists from it and enters upon a better course of life in word and deed, and does it from the heart.

But we should preach also forgiveness of sins. This signifies that the gospel should be preached, which declares unto all the world that in Christ the sins of all the world are swallowed up, that he suffered death to put away sin from us, and arose to blot it out. All this he did, that whoever believeth should have the comfort and assurance that it is reckoned unto him even as if he himself had done it. This continues as long as we live until the day of judgment.

Forgiveness is so great and powerful that God not only forgives your past sins, but forgives also the sins you will yet commit. He will not condemn us for our daily infirmities, but forgives all, in view of our faith in him, if we only strive to press onward and get rid of sin. Repentance in his name is done when in those who believe in Christ God through that faith works a change for the better, not for a moment, nor for an hour, but for their whole life. A Christian is not perfectly nor instantaneously cleansed, but the reformation and change continues as long as he lives. Nothing will be accomplished except in Christ’s name. That alone has power to save.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 409–10.


Today's video was made in 2021 so references in the video to days and dates may be askew in the year in which you are listening. However, the Luther reading is, indeed, for this day in the year.

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When Tempted http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/when-tempted/a2036.html Sun, 20 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy word. 10 With my whole heart I seek thee; let me not wander from thy commandments! 11 I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. 12 Blessed be thou, O LORD; teach me thy statutes! 

Psalm 119:9–12, RSV

From Luther

A man may be familiar with God’s Word, yet if he walks in self-security, concerned about other matters, or perhaps, being tempted, he loses sight of God’s Word, it may easily happen that he is seduced and deceived by the secret craft and cunning of the devil; or of himself become bewildered, losing his wisdom and being unable to find counsel or help even in the most trivial temptations. For the devil and reason, or human wisdom, can dispute and syllogize with extraordinary subtlety in these things until one imagines that to be true wisdom which is not. A wise man soon becomes a fool; men readily err and make false steps; a Christian likewise is prone to stumble; and even a teacher and prophet can easily be deceived by reason’s brilliant logic. So there is need of understanding, of careful, keen discernment, that wisdom be not perverted and falsified, and man be deceived with its counterfeit.

Man is prone to stumble and to fail in understanding when not watchful of his purposes and motives, to see how they accord with the wisdom of God’s Word. Particularly is his understanding unreliable when the devil moves him to wrath, impatience, dejection, melancholy, or when he is otherwise tempted. Often they who have been well exercised with trials become bewildered in small temptations and uncertain what course to take. In this one needs to be watchful and not go by his reason or his feelings, but remember God’s Word, or ascertain if he does not know what it is, and be guided thereby. Man cannot judge aright by the dictates of reason when he is tempted. Therefore he ought not to follow his own natural intelligence, nor to act from hasty conclusions. Let him be suspicious of all his reasoning and beware of the cunning of the devil, who seeks either to allure or to intimidate us by his specious arguments. Let him call upon the understanding born of his wisdom in the gospel, what his faith, love, hope and patience counsel, what God’s will eloquently teaches every one and under all circumstances, and let him strive and pray to be filled with such knowledge.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 408–09.

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The Golden Year of God's Word http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-golden-year-of-gods-word/a2035.html Sat, 19 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, 20 always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. 

Ephesians 5:15–20, RSV

From Luther

The time is unquestionably good as long as the gospel is faithfully preached and received. At the same time, even to-day the world is filled with evils, factions, false theories and bad examples of every sort; much of this wickedness is inherent in ourselves. With these things the Christian must always contend; the devil pursues, and our own flesh discourages and allures us from recognition and observance of the divine will. If we strive not against it, we shall soon lose sight of God’s will, to our own injury, even while listening to the gospel. For the devil’s strongest fury is exerted to befoul the world with fanaticism, and to draw from the pure doctrine of faith into that evil even those who possess the gospel. Being flesh and blood we are always self-secure, unwilling to be led by the Spirit, indolent and unresponsive in relation to the Word of God and to prayer. In the outward walks of life, obstacles and evils meet us everywhere, impeding our spiritual progress and impelling us to suppress the gospel and to rend the Church.

Let no one, then, expect to enjoy an era of peace and pleasure here on earth. Although the present time is in itself good, and God bestows upon us the golden year of his Word and his grace, yet the devil is here with his factions and followers, and our own flesh supports him. He corrupts the blessed days of grace at every possible opportunity, and so oppresses Christians that they must contend against him with their utmost strength and vigilance if they would not, through the influence of evils and obstacles, be wrested from the gospel they have received and would persevere therein to the end.

Wherefore we have the best reasons to adapt ourselves to the present time in the best possible way; to walk wisely and circumspectly, showing all faithfulness to the will of God; obeying it while we have opportunity — while still in possession of God’s Word, his grace and his Spirit. Being opposed and obstructed by the devil and our own flesh, we must be wise and careful and guard against following them. So, then, we are to understand by “evil days” the allurements that lead us away from God’s Word and his will.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 407–08.

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The Noahic Covenant http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-noahic-covenant/a2034.html Fri, 18 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 

Genesis 6:17–18, RSV

From Luther

Interpreters discuss what that covenant was. Lyra explains it as the promise to defend him against evil men who had threatened to murder him. Burgensis claims this covenant refers to the perils amid the waters, which were to be warded off. Still others believe it was the covenant of the rainbow, which the Lord made with Noah. In my opinion he speaks of a spiritual covenant, or of the promise of the seed which was to bruise the serpent’s head. The giants had this covenant, but when its abuse resulted in pride and wickedness, they fell from it. So it was afterward with the Jews, whose carnal presumption in reference to God, the law, worship and temple led to their loss of these gifts, and they perished. To Noah, however, God confirms this covenant by certainly declaring that Christ was to be born from his posterity and that God would leave, amid such great wrath, a nursery for the Church. This covenant not only includes protection of Noah’s body, the view advocated by Lyra and Burgensis, but also eternal life.

He plainly states “with thee.” He mentions not the sons, nor the wives, whom he was also to save, but he mentions Noah alone, from whom the promise was transmitted to his son Shem. This is the second promise of Christ, which is taken from all other descendants of Adam and committed to Noah alone. Afterward this promise is made clearer from time to time. It proceeded from the race to the family, and from the family to the individual. From the race of Abraham it was carried forward to David alone; from David to Nathan; from Nathan down to one virgin, Mary, who was the dead branch or root of Jesse, and in whom this covenant finds its termination and fulfilment. The establishment of such a covenant was most necessary in view of the imminence of the incredible and incalculable wrath of God.

It was no easy matter to believe that the whole human race was to perish. The world consequently judged Noah to be a dolt for believing such things and ridiculed him. In order to strengthen his mind amid such offenses God speaks with him often, and now even reminds him of his covenant.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 406–07.

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Your Neighbor as Yourself http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/your-neighbor-as-yourself/a2033.html Thu, 17 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Romans 15:4–7, RSV

From Luther

There are two reasons why we should receive one another. The first is because of Christ’s example. The Scriptures present Christ to us as one upon whom fell the infamy of our sins—for us he was ignominious in God’s sight—and who did not despise, reject nor revile us, but received us, that he might redeem us from our sins. We are, then, under particular obligation to receive one another. The other reason the apostle presents for our receiving one another is that thus we contribute to the praise and honor of God. This we learn from Christ. He everywhere testifies that all he does is in obedience to his Father’s will, and that he came for no other purpose than to do the will of God. It is certain, then, that he bore the ignominy of our sins simply because it was his Father’s will.

Mark the exceeding mercy of the Father’s controlling will in placing upon his beloved Son our sins, and permitting him to bear the shame of them, merely that we might escape condemnation. A true recognition of this, God’s gracious will, must evoke sincere love and praise to him and gratitude for his mercy. Christ has in himself upheld the honor of God by receiving us and bearing our sins. So should we likewise take upon ourselves the burdens, the sins and imperfections of our neighbors, and bear with them and help reform them.

When such Christian conduct is manifest before sinners and the spiritually weak, their hearts are attracted to God and forced to exclaim: Truly, he must be a great and gracious God, a righteous Father, whose people these are; for he desires them not to judge, condemn nor reject us poor, sinful and imperfect ones, but rather to receive us, to give us aid and to treat us as if our sins and imperfections were their own. Should we not love and exalt such a God? Should we not praise and honor him and give him the implicit confidence of our hearts in all things? This is the praise God would have from us, that we receive and regard our neighbor’s condition as our own. Such conduct on our part will encourage others to believe and will strengthen the faith of believers.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 404–05.

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Willful Wickedness http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/willful-wickedness/a2032.html Wed, 16 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

48 As I live, says the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. 49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them, when I saw it

Ezekiel 16:48–50, RSV

From Luther

These same conditions now exist everywhere. Every peasant, burgher, nobleman is simply gathering dollars, waits and saves, eats and drinks, is insolent and mischievous as though God were nothing at all. No one cares for the despised Jesus in his poverty; nay, he is even trod under foot, until all obedience, discipline and honor are destroyed among us, as they were in Sodom and Gomorrah, and matters become so bad as to become unbearable, because all admonition and preaching seem to be of no avail. The world will not recognize that it must die and stand before God in judgment, but rages against known truth. Let us give heed and take it to heart, that the wrath of God may not also sweep us away. What else would God need to do to that end than let loose both the Turks and Satan against us. The Turk would be compelled to cease doing what he has done and is still doing, were we not so hardened in blindness and impenitence and so completely ripe for judgment. The reason is that we rage so blasphemously against God’s Word and his proffered help.

I hold that if we Lutherans, as they call us, were only dead, the whole world would immediately cry, “Victory,” as though they had already devoured every single Turk. But it shall happen to them also that a hundred shall be slain by one Turk. The younkers at Jerusalem thought, if they could only put the prophet Jeremiah out of the way they would surely be safe from the king of Babylon. What happened? After they had cast Jeremiah into the dungeon, the king came and led them all into captivity.

I can also see that God has spun a web over Germany as it is determined to be guilty of willful blindness, wickedness and ungratefulness in opposing the precious gospel. It is determined to be guilty of foolishness before God for which it will have to pay dearly.* May God preserve us and grant us and our little flock that we may escape this terrible wrath, and be found among those who honor and serve our dear Christ, and await the judgment at his right hand joyously and blissfully. Amen.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 403–04.

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The Right Righteousness http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-right-righteousness/a2031.html Tue, 15 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

Philippians 3:7–9, RSV

From Luther

As far as the righteousness of the law is concerned, Paul dares to say that he regards it as filth and refuse; notwithstanding in its beautiful and blameless form it is unsurpassed by anything in the world. Only the righteousness of faith teaches us how to apprehend God — how confidently to console ourselves with his grace and await a future life, expecting to approach Christ in the resurrection. By “approaching” him we mean to meet him in death and at the judgment day without terror, not fleeing, but gladly drawing near and hailing him with joy as the one awaited with intense longing.

Now, the righteousness of the law cannot effect such confidence of mind. Hence, for me it avails nothing before God. What does avail is God’s imputation of righteousness for Christ’s sake through faith. God declares to us in his Word that the believer in his Son shall, for Christ’s sake, have God’s grace and eternal life. He who knows this is able to wait in hope for the last day, having no fear, no disposition to flee.

But is it not treating the righteousness of the law with irreverence and contempt to regard it as something not only useless, but loathsome and abominable? Should we not condemn as a heretic this preacher who goes beyond his prerogative and dares find fault with the law of God? Paul would say: I, too, was such a one. In my most perfect righteousness of the law I was an enemy and persecutor of the Church of Christ. It was the legitimate fruit of my righteousness that I thought I must be a party to the most horrible persecution of Christ and his Christians. Thus my holiness made me an actual enemy of Christ and a murderer of his followers.

Whence such a disposition? It naturally springs from human righteousness. Every individual who professes human righteousness, and knows nothing of Christ, holds that righteousness efficacious before God. He relies upon it and gratifies himself with it, presuming thereby to present a flattering appearance in God’s sight and to render himself especially acceptable to him. His enmity is greater and his hatred more bitter toward the preaching that dares to censure such righteousness and assert its futility to merit God’s grace and eternal life.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 402–03.

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The Table of Gratitude and Grace http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-table-of-gratitude-and-grace/a2030.html Mon, 14 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Luke 22:17–20, RSV

From Luther

The words “my” and “you” are words of unmistakable significance. Who is it that says “my body,” “my blood”? The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who shed his blood and died for you. When he says, “my body,” “my blood,” he merely asks “you” to acknowledge and believe it, to rest in such faith and render him thanks for what cost him so bitterly. He would not have you shamefully despise his Sacrament or lightly neglect it because it is to be had without price or effort.

But you may argue that the statement of Paul is too awful, when he says, whosoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, eats and drinks judgment unto himself, and is guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. Dear friend, you must not consider yourself so much from the standpoint of worthiness or unworthiness of your person as from that of your need, which makes the grace of Christ necessary. If you recognize and feel your need, you have the requisite worthiness and preparation. The Holy Supper has been instituted by Christ, not as a poison for us and as a sign of Christ’s wrath, but as a means of comfort and salvation. Above all, you must realize that however great your unworthiness, the merit of your Lord Jesus Christ cannot be doubted. It is your duty to praise, honor and thank him, and to be one of the observers of his ordinance and institution, as he has a right to expect and as you have vowed in your baptism.

There is a twofold reason for you to receive the Lord’s Supper. It means gratitude and praise for Christ, and grace and solace for yourself. To occupy the standpoint of this twofold reason does not argue wickedness and a misuse of the Sacrament; it is the right standpoint and pleasing to God. Our relation to God is right only when we occupy the standpoint of gratitude and supplication. In rendering thanks we honor him for the blessings and grace already received, in supplication for those we crave for the future. When one goes to the Holy Supper with this disposition, what is his act but the declaration: Lord, I thank thee for all the grace I have received at thy hands, and I pray thee to supply still further my need? You cannot more highly honor God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 400–01.

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Unmoved http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/unmoved/a2029.html Sun, 13 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

3 O LORD, in the morning thou dost hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for thee, and watch. 7 But I through the abundance of thy steadfast love will enter thy house, I will worship toward thy holy temple in the fear of thee. 8 Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of my enemies; make thy way straight before me. 11 But let all who take refuge in thee rejoice, let them ever sing for joy; and do thou defend them, that those who love thy name may exult in thee. 12 For thou dost bless the righteous, O LORD; thou dost cover him with favor as with a shield.

Psalm 5:3, 7-8, 11-12, RSV

From Luther

Here we are told when and what joy is, namely, confidence and a good conscience resting in the mercy of God. They that have had experience in these things say that there is no joy above that of a pure conscience, nor any sorrow greater than that of a guilty and troubled one. A pure and joyful conscience comes in no other way than by looking steadfastly to the mercy of God. In the former part of this verse he describes the joy in tribulation; in the latter part the joy of prosperity, which cannot be true and sincere unless it be a rejoicing in God only. This verse briefly makes a distinction between prosperity and adversity. It is impossible that he who does not trust in the Lord should not be filled with sorrow when tribulation comes upon him. He who is in sorrow cannot but continually murmur, because there is no praising of God without joy of heart, and this sorrowful and impatient murmurer must displease God and be more and more forsaken of him.

On the other hand it is impossible that he should not rejoice who trusts in God. If the whole world should burst upon the head of such a one he would stand unmoved amid the falling ruins. He who is joyful in such hope cannot but think well of God, exult in his praise, and encourage himself in him. The man who thus rejoices is patient, happy and in a state to be protected of God. Nor will such a one rejoice, hope and exult in vain, for God will preserve him. If then thy soul be sad and cast down, begin some joyful song or psalm or something that brings thy God to thy memory and thou wilt find relief and wilt prove that the counsel of the wise man it good: “In the day of evil be not unmindful of good things.”

By the name of the Lord we may understand Jesus Christ, or Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All these are names of God. They who love the name of Jesus love the salvation of God, the truth, the mercy and the wisdom of God; all these are included in the name of the Lord. If a man love these he must of necessity love the name of the Lord.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 399–400.

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Daily Fear http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/daily-fear/a2028.html Sat, 12 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.  11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” 

Matthew 22:8–14, RSV

From Luther

God deals with us in a way to put down arrogance, that we may not become haughty and wanton, but may always remain in fear. For when temptation comes we are liable to fall into error. Peter on the water retained his pure faith as long as he unhesitatingly ventured on the water according to the word of Christ. Had he remained in this faith, he might have walked hundreds of miles on the water; but as soon as he wavered he began to sink. So Moses also had a strong faith, but at times fell from it. Thus it happens that one may have a strong faith, but doubts and falls. By faith Moses led the people of Israel through the midst of the sea and through death, and Peter boldly ventured on the sea; but they both fell, although God raised them up again. The thief on the cross laid hold on faith once for all and clung to it.

We have a beautiful parable of this in the tree which begins to blossom in the spring and is soon covered with white blossoms. But as soon as the rain falls on them, many of the blossoms are ruined and the frost utterly destroys many more of them. When the fruit begins to appear and the winds arise, much of the young fruit falls to the ground; later the caterpillars and worms make their appearance and they prick and destroy the fruit to such an extent, that scarcely the twentieth, yea, hardly a hundredth part ripens. The same thing happens to the gospel. At first everybody wants to become a Christian, and the gospel promises to do well, but as soon as the rain and wind of temptation come, large numbers fall away. Afterwards come the sects and factions, like worms and beetles, which prick and pollute the fruit of the gospel, and so much false doctrine is taught, that only a few remain faithful to the gospel.

The first thing that faith requires is that we be not secure and presumptuous, but remain in fear. We need to cling to God and pray: Merciful God, thou hast permitted me to become a Christian, help me to continue to be one and to increase daily in faith.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 398–99.

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Subduing the Nations http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/subduing-the-nations/a2027.html Fri, 11 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

7 I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my son, today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 

Psalm 2:7–9, RSV

From Luther

Here the vain dreams of the flesh are to be removed, and no one is to imagine that the kingdom of Christ is either founded on or preserved by iron or arms; because it is written that he delighted not in chariots, nor in horses, nor in the legs of a man. The apostle says: “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” The Turks, whom at this day we never seek to conquer by any other means than the sword, we ought to conquer by increasing the number of Christians among them.

Why do we not attack with the sword also the wicked among ourselves? But God forbid. The kingdom of Christ consists in righteousness, truth and peace. By these it was obtained and by them it will be preserved. Hence, when he said above that he was appointed king, he recommended no other office whatever than that of the Word, saying, “I will declare the decree of God,” not, I will ride fine horses, I will lay waste cities, I will seek the treasures of the world; but I will do this one thing — declare those things which God has commanded, that is, that Christ is God and man, which Paul calls the gospel, saying, “Separated unto the gospel of God, which he had promised afore, concerning his Son Jesus Christ.”

You see that this whole verse is an allegory which really takes place in fact and life. As the word “Christ” is the word of salvation and peace, not in the flesh, but in the spirit, it follows of necessity that it subdues and drives out the safety, peace and easy life of the flesh. Where it does this, it appears unto the flesh harder and more unfeeling than iron itself. Wherever the carnal man is savingly touched by the Word of God, one thing is felt, another is wrought, namely, “The Lord killeth and maketh alive.” Though God is the God of life and salvation and these are his proper works, yet, in order to accomplish these, he kills and destroys, that he may come unto his proper work. He kills our will, that he may establish his own in us. He mortifies the flesh and its desires, that he may implant the Spirit and his desires; and thus “the man of God is made perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 397–98.

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The External Word http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-external-word/a2026.html Thu, 10 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent. 39 You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

John 5:37–40, RSV

From Luther

The external word or preaching belongs to Christianity as a channel or means through which we attain unto the forgiveness of sins, or the righteousness of Christ, with which Christ reveals and offers us his grace or lays it in our bosom, and without which no one would ever come to a knowledge of this treasure. Whence would any man know, or in what man’s heart would it ever come, that Christ, the Son of God, came from heaven for our sake, died for us, and rose from the dead, acquired the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, and offers the same to us, without publicly having it announced and preached? Although he acquired this treasure for us through his suffering and death, no one could obtain or receive it, if Christ did not have it offered, presented, and applied. All that he had done and suffered would be to no purpose, but would be like some great and precious treasure buried in the earth, which no one could find or use.

Therefore I have always taught that the oral word must precede everything else, must be comprehended with the ears, if the Holy Ghost is to enter the heart, who through the Word enlightens it and works faith. Faith does not come except through the hearing and oral preaching of the gospel, in which it has its beginning, growth and strength. Therefore the Word must not be despised, but held in honor. We must familiarize ourselves with it and constantly practice it, so that it ever bears fruit. It can never be understood and learned too well.

Here then you have all that belongs to the article of the righteousness of Christ. It consists in the forgiveness of sins, offered to us through Christ, and received by faith in and through the Word, purely and simply without any works on our part. Yet I do not mean that Christians should not do good works, but that these are not to be mingled in the doctrine of faith and decorated with the shameless delusion that they avail before God as righteousness. After we have this righteousness of faith, works are to follow and continue here on earth. Both faith and works are to be maintained, each in its proper place, the former before God above all works, the latter in works of love to our neighbor.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 395–96.

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The Book of Comfort http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-book-of-comfort/a2025.html Wed, 09 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; 2 let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him. 3 For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Romans 15:1–6, RSV

From Luther

The apostle gives us a general admonition from the Scriptures, saying that not only this passage, but the entire Scriptures were written for our learning. The Bible contains much about Christ, and also about numerous saints—Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob—which was not recorded for their sakes. The Bible was written long after their time; they never saw it. Thus, however much is written about Christ, it is not for his sake; he had no need of it. It is recorded for our instruction. The record of Christ’s words and deeds is for our edification, the model for us to follow. Although the words are about Christ, they are directed to us, for our learning; we are to conduct ourselves as the Scriptures tell us Christ and his saints conducted themselves.

Mark the book the apostle here presents for the perusal and study of Christians — none other than the holy Scriptures. He tells us it contains doctrine for us. Now if our doctrine is to be found in the Bible, we certainly should not seek it elsewhere; all Christians should make daily use of this book. No other bears the title here given by Paul — book of comfort — one that can support the soul in all tribulations, helping it not to despair, but to maintain hope. For thereby the soul apprehends God’s Word and, learning his gracious will, cleaves to it and continues steadfast in life and death. He who knows not God’s will must doubt, for he does not know what relation he sustains to God.

Since the life to come is not evident to mortal sense, it is necessary for the soul to have something to which it may cling in patience, something to help it to a partial comprehension of that future life, and upon which it can rest. That something is God’s Word. Paul mentions “patience” before “comfort” to indicate that he who is unwilling to endure suffering and seeks consolation elsewhere cannot taste the comfort of the Word. It is the province of the Word alone to comfort. It must therefore meet with patience first. To maintain Christian patience under trials, the afflicted must comfort themselves with those portions of Scripture that show Christ’s example. Thus the hope of the soul continues steadfast.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 394–95.

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Stages of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/stages-of-faith/a2024.html Tue, 08 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Caperna-um there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way.

John 4:46–50, RSV

From Luther

The nobleman must have had faith, else he would not have asked the Lord to come to his son. He believed that if Christ would come to his house, he could heal his son; but unless he were present, he could not effect the cure. His faith was not strong enough to realize that Christ could heal without being present. Hence, his faith had to attain a higher stage. When Christ said, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe,” his faith drooped and he feared lest Christ would refuse to help him. The earthen vessel was shattered and he thought his son had to die. But Christ approached, raised him up, and placed him on a higher plane of faith. “Go thy way; thy son liveth.” Thus the man advanced from his first faith, when he believed that Christ could heal if he were present, to a higher stage of faith, by reason of which he now believed the mere Word of Christ. For if he had not believed the Word, he would not have ceased until the Lord had accompanied him to his house; but he accepted the Word, believed Christ and clung to his Word.

This is a pure and strong faith, that requires the individual to cast away all sense, understanding and reason, and sink himself into one little word, be satisfied with it and feel secure in it. Reason would have led him to say: When I left my son, he was ill. As I left him so shall I find him. But faith says the contrary, abides firmly by the Word and is immersed in it; it does not at all doubt that it shall be as the Word declares. The father accepted the word of Christ, “Go thy way; thy son liveth,” and so he said in his heart: My son is ill, but I shall find him well. This was faith over against reason and experience. Thus faith does not remain idle or quiet, but progresses and rises higher.

So Christ also deals with us and permits us to be tried to strengthen our faith. If at the close of our lives we shall have a spark of such faith, it will be well with us. It matters not how insignificant faith may be, the power lies in seeing that it be not overthrown.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 393–94.

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Nothing but Receiving http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/nothing-but-receiving/a2023.html Mon, 07 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Luke 22:14–19, RSV

From Luther

If you desire to render a precious noble service to God, and duly to honor the passion of Christ, bethink yourself of the Sacrament and partake of it. His praise and honor are bound up with it. This is his memorial. There is no show of garment or ceremony filling the eye. The only agent at work is the spoken Word. On earth the Word may be lowly esteemed; but no eye can see, no ear can hear, no heart can comprehend its worth and sublimity in the eyes of God and his angels. God’s Word and work at first but feebly impress. Hence they require application and meditation. This art is effectively taught in the words, “This do in remembrance of me.” Receive, proclaim, praise and laud the tidings of the grace manifested in Christ and thank him for it. Thus you will confess with heart and mouth, with body and soul, that you have given God nothing, that you can give him nothing, but everything you have has been received from him, especially eternal life and infinite righteousness in Christ.

He who remembers Christ and honors his passion is safeguarded against error and devilish delusions of every kind. He serves and honors God. He does not despise God’s institution and order, but observes it with humility and joy. God certainly receives such honor gladly, since he has instituted the Holy Supper to be appropriated, and not to be neglected. Surely he cannot be delighted when man does not approach and receive it. Such neglect means to charge God with the folly of instituting unnecessary ordinances and with uncertainty as to what we need. But he who partakes, honors God by celebrating and aiding in the perpetuation of this memorial of Christ by proclaiming, praising and blessing the grace manifested by Christ, through his suffering, to us poor sinners. With the Lord’s Supper God has bound up his own honor, for in Christ alone he desires to be acknowledged and worshiped as our God. So far as the Holy Supper is a confession before men, the communicant proclaims Christ and teaches faith in him. He helps to spread and preserve the kingdom of Christ, strengthens the influence of gospel and sacrament, aids in the conversion of sinners and in storming the devil’s kingdom.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 391–93.

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Triumphant Laughter http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/triumphant-laughter/a2022.html Sun, 06 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.” 

Psalm 2:1–6, RSV

From Luther

These things are written for our sake, “that through patience and through comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope.” What is written in this psalm with reference to Christ is applicable to all Christians, for whoever sincerely desires to be a Christian, will bear with his Herods, his Pilates, his rulers, his kings, his people and his heathen who rage against him, meditate vain things, rise up and take counsel together against him. For if these things are not done by men, they will be done by devils, or at least by men’s own conscience, and certainly in the hour of death; then there is need of remembering this and like consolations, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at them; the Lord shall have them in derision,” and of standing firmly in this hope and being moved by no circumstances whatever.

But this derision is divine. God made the Christ-murdering Jews and Gentiles a derision to the whole world by raising Christ from the dead and making, out of his despairing kingdom among that one people, a kingdom that shall flourish eternally over all creatures, thus turning all their endeavors into an event the very contrary of what they expected. Therefore as in the preceding verses the passion and death of Christ are prophesied, so in this verse his resurrection is predicted, though by a somewhat obscure allusion. Who would have thought, while Christ was suffering and the Jews triumphing, that God was laughing at them all the while! So also while we are oppressed, how shall we believe that God is holding our adversaries in derision, when it seems to us as though we were held in derision both by God and men? What a power of faith is required in all these words!

But his sitting in heaven is so secret and hidden that unless thou be in heaven thou canst not know and understand it. Thou art suffering upon earth and the hope of help is denied thee in all things by all, until, rising by faith and hope above all things, thou mountest up to reach unto him who sitteth in the heavens. Here it is that the anchor of our heart is to be cast in all tribulation, and all the evils of the world will not only be made easy to bear, but will become a derision.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 390–91.

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The Sum of the Matter http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-sum-of-the-matter/a2021.html Sat, 05 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 

Psalm 51:1–3, RSV

From Luther

Every Christian who wishes to make confession of his sins should place his confidence without reserve in the merciful promises and invitations of God, firmly believing that Almighty God will graciously forgive him his sins. Before he confesses his sins to a confessor, let him with due diligence make confession to the Lord God himself. Let him enumerate to the divine Majesty all his sins and infirmities, his conversation, deeds and manner of life without extenuating or concealing anything, just as if he dealt with a very familiar friend. His sinful and wicked thoughts also, so far as can be recalled, should be confessed.

Every Christian who would confess his sins should possess the honest intention and determination to amend his life and to forsake every manner of open, mortal sin. A confession without this purpose would be a dangerous and unpromising undertaking. When one discovers that he lacks the steady purpose to amend his life, he should fall upon his knees and pray to God for it. One must consider that it is impossible to call to mind and confess all his mortal sins; he should remember that after applying all diligence he confesses only the smallest part of his sins. The sins to be confessed, therefore, are the manifestly mortal sins and such as press upon a man’s conscience at the time of confession. It is quite impossible to confess all mortal sins in view of the fact that when God sits in judgment and passes sentence upon them, not according to his gracious mercy, but his stern justice, even our good works render us guilty of death and condemnation.

The sum of the matter is this, that those persons are saved who place their trust solely in God, not in their works, nor in any creature. Consequently man should learn to have greater confidence in God’s mercy than in the zeal with which he makes confession. One cannot be too active, determined and guarded against the accursed evil of confiding in one’s own works. Therefore we should accustom our consciences to trust in God, and let it be done with the understanding that to believe and trust in God is pleasing to him, and that unreserved trust in God is his highest glory.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 389–90.

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Proper Attire http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/proper-attire/a2020.html Fri, 04 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Bible

8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.  11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” 

Matthew 22:8–14, RSV

From Luther

Among the company sitting at table, there was also found a rogue, whom the king, in looking over the guests, speedily recognized to have on no wedding garment, and to have come, not in honor of the wedding, but disgracing the bridegroom and the lord who had invited him. These are such as permit themselves to be numbered among the Christians, hear the gospel, are in the outward communion of the right Church and act before the people as if they might also be of the gospel, but are not in earnest about it.

Such people the Christians must suffer in their gatherings and cannot prevent them from being amongst them; nor can they remove them, nor turn them out of their gatherings. They cannot judge and recognize them all, but must bear them and suffer their company until God himself comes with his judgment, so that they become manifest and betray themselves by their wicked life or false belief and spirit of heresy as not being true and honest Christians. So Paul says: “There must be also heresies among you, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you.” Thus the king comes in himself and makes manifest him who has not on the wedding garment.

It is easy to understand what is meant by this man’s being without a wedding garment, namely, without the new adornment in which we please God, which is faith in Christ, and therefore also without truly good works. He remains in the old rags and tatters of his own fleshly conceit, unbelief and security, without penitence and without understanding his own misery. He does not from the heart seek comfort in the grace of Christ, nor better his life by it, and looks for nothing more in the gospel than what his flesh covets. This wedding garment is the new light of the heart, kindled in it by the knowledge of the graciousness of this bridegroom and his wedding feast, which takes place especially through faith, by which the heart is renewed and purified. Where there is no faith, there the Holy Ghost is not, nor such fruits as please God. Whosoever does not know Christ through faith will also care little for God’s Word, nor think of living in accordance with it. He remains proud and insolent, but weeping and gnashing of teeth come soon enough.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 388–89.

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Equal Service http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/equal-service/a2019.html Thu, 03 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

From the Word

1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; 2 let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him. 3 For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Romans 15:1–6, RSV

From Luther

All the good we can do to God is to praise and to thank him. This is the only true service we can render him. We receive all blessings from him, in return for which we should make the offering of praise. If anything else purporting to be service to God is presented for your consideration, rest assured it is erroneous and delusive. The distracted world attempts to serve God by setting apart houses, churches, cloisters, vestures, images, bells, organs and candles; the money for this expense should have been appropriated for the poor, if the object was to make an offering to God. Service to God is praise to him. It must be free and voluntary at table, in the chamber, in house or field, in all places, with all persons, at all times.

But how shall there be honor and praise of God, when we do not love him? How shall we love him when we do not know him and his blessings? How shall we know him and his blessings when no word is preached concerning them and when the gospel is left to lie under the table? Where the gospel is not in evidence, knowledge of God is an impossibility. Then to love and praise him is likewise impossible. True divine service of praise cannot be established with revenues, nor be circumscribed by laws and statutes. It emanates from the gospel, and certainly is as often rendered by a poor, rustic servant as by a great bishop.

Divine service must be rendered with “one mind” and with “one mouth.” One needs Christ as much as another. We render divine service when we are harmonious, and when we recognize our common equality and our common blessings in Christ; when none exalts himself above another, nor assumes special advantages. We all receive the same baptism and sacrament, the same faith, the same Christ and Spirit, the same gospel—in a word, the same God. Here in this wilderness the heavenly bread is impartially distributed. Then how can it possibly be right for one to exalt himself over his fellow? Since there is one common blessing for the weak and the firm in faith, for the strong in Christian conduct and for the weak, one should not esteem another more lightly than himself, nor reject him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 386–87.

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Remember http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/remember/a2018.html Wed, 02 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Just One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ 

Acts 22:14–16, RSV

From Luther

The benefit of the Sacrament of Baptism is this, that therein God unites himself with you and becomes one with you in a gracious, comforting covenant. You desire, in accordance with the purpose and meaning of Baptism, to die from your sins and to be renewed on the last day, a hope inspired by the sacrament. On the strength of such desire on your part, God admits you to Baptism. The renewing work begins from that hour; he imparts to you his grace and Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit begins to kill the sin in your nature and to prepare the latter for death and for the resurrection on the last day.

You pledge yourself to remain in this state, and throughout your life, to the moment of death, to destroy sin more and more. God, accepting your pledge, exercises you during your whole life by imposing many good works, and not a few sufferings. Since such is your pledge to God, God in turn shows you grace and covenants with you that he will not impute to you the sins remaining in your nature after Baptism and will not regard them, nor condemn you on account of them. He is pleased with your effort to destroy sins and your desire to be rid of them. Though evil thoughts and desires may stir, though at times you sin and fall, yet if you arise and renew your covenant, your sins are forgiven by virtue of the covenant based upon the Sacrament of Baptism. If it were not for this covenant, every sin, however small, would condemn us. Hence there is no greater comfort on earth than Baptism, in which we pass under the jurisdiction of God’s grace and mercy.

Therefore one should not be terrified when he feels evil lust; when one’s thoughts and desires burn with passion; even when one falls from grace, still there is no ground for despair. But he should call to mind his baptism and joyfully comfort himself with the fact that God there covenanted to slay his sins and not to impute them unto condemnation, provided he refuses to consent to them and remain in them; provided he calls upon God for grace in order to make self-discipline possible; to battle against sin until released by death.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 385–86.

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God Wants Us http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/god-wants-us/a2017.html Tue, 01 Nov 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.’ 5 But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” 

Matthew 22:1–14, RSV

From Luther

The great love Christ has for us is presented to us in this picture of the marriage feast. There are many kinds of love, but none is so fervent as a bride’s love for her bridegroom and that of the bridegroom for his bride. True love has no regard for pleasures or presents, or riches or gold rings, but cares only for the bridegroom. Even if he gave her all he had, she would regard none of his presents, but would say: I will have only thee. And on the other hand if he has nothing at all, it makes no difference to her, she will in spite of all that desire him. This is the true nature of the love of a bride. But where she has regard to pleasure, she does not care for him, but for the money; such love does not last long.

This true bride-love God presents to us in Christ, in that he allowed him to become man for us and be united with our human nature that we might thus perceive and appreciate his good will toward us. As the bride loves her betrothed, so also does Christ love us; and we on our part will love him, if we believe and are the true bride. Although he gave us the wisdom of all the prophets, the glory of all the saints and angels, and even heaven, yet would we not esteem them unless he gave us himself. The bride can be satisfied with nothing; the only one thing she wants is the bridegroom himself. “My beloved is mine and I am his.”

So is Christ also disposed toward me; he will have me only and nothing besides. If I gave him all I could, it would be of no use to him; he would not regard it, if I wore all the hoods of all the monks. He wants my whole heart; the outward things, as the outward virtues, are only maid-servants, he wants the wife herself. He demands my heart. This marriage union is accomplished by faith, so that I rely fully and freely upon him, that he is mine. If I really have him, what more can I desire? If I am his and he is mine, I have eternal life, righteousness and all that belongs to him, so that neither death, sin, hell nor Satan can harm me.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 384–85.

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The Rage of Unbelief http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-rage-of-unbelief/a2016.html Mon, 31 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my son, today I have begotten you. 

Psalm 2:1–7, RSV

From Luther

It is evident that by “kings” is signified Herod and Pilate, even though Pilate was not a king; for these two operated together to fulfil that which the counsel of God had foreordained to be done, namely, to destroy Christ. By “rulers” are to be understood the leaders among the priests; by “heathen” the Roman soldiers under Pilate, who seized Jesus, scourged and crucified him; and by “people” we are clearly to understand the common people of the Jews.

Observe here the tenderness and modesty of the prophet, how feelingly and sympathetically he speaks of the fury of these men, when he might with justice have mentioned those enraged expressions of the Jews, “Away with him, crucify him,” and all those other infuriated clamors with which they accused Christ, frenzied and maddened, but he calls them only “meditations.” Meditation is a continual prating or talking and is here used in a bad sense. For as a lover is always spontaneously saying many things about the object loved, so the hater is assiduously prating the worst of things about the object hated. There is the same modesty also in the words “rage” and “take counsel together;” the act itself was far more atrocious than the purport of these words would seem to indicate. We are thereby taught not to exaggerate the evil conduct of men, but as much as possible lessen it, and thus show that we do not feel so much indignation on our own account as pity on theirs.

“Against the Lord and against his anointed,” is also a word of faith. God orders his words thus, that we may learn for our consolation and exhortation that we never suffer any injury, but what it offends God first, more than it does us; and such is the care of God our Father over us, that he feels every injury done to us before we do, and aims a greater indignation against it. This David holds forth to us, that we may keep ourselves from all feeling of revenge; that we may rather pity those whom we see rushing upon such majesty unto their own perdition. They do not in the least injure us, but horribly destroy themselves.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 383–84.

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The Way of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-way-of-faith/a2015.html Sun, 30 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives  away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. 

Psalm 1:1–6, RSV

From Luther

The way of the ungodly is so specious that unto men they may seem to rise in the judgment and to stand in the congregation. But he who cannot be deceived understands their ways and knows that they are ungodly; in his eyes they are not at all among the members of his Church. He knows the righteous only and not the sinners, that is, he approves the one and not the other. Therefore, their way shall perish, a thing they least of all expect or believe, though it continues with such success as to seem to be eternal. God knoweth only the way of the righteous, although it is hidden even to the righteous themselves. God’s right hand leads them on in a wonderful way, seeing that it is a way, not of sense, nor of reason, but of faith only; even of that faith that sees in darkness and beholds things that are invisible.

When, therefore, we are subject to ungodly shepherds, we do not obey the ungodly, but men; for we do not follow their ungodliness, but we endure the presence of their persons. When men cast out and put down such, is it the ungodly that are put down? No, the persons are put down; for the ungodly who are put down remain ungodly still. The ungodly man is only then put down when he is led from ungodliness to godliness. This is not done by external violence but by love, internally praying and externally admonishing, while God condescends to work at the same time.

When thou hearest that all things “prosper” for the righteous man, thou art to desire it for thyself and to sigh for all those who are placed in any adversity, of whatsoever kind it may be; when thou hearest that their leaf doth not wither and that the pure Word of God flourisheth in the Church of Christ, all fables and dreams of men are cast out; when thou seest any of these things thus take place anywhere thou art to congratulate thyself, to rejoice and give thanks unto the divine goodness. And do not think that thou art thus exhorted to impossibilities; only make the attempt and thou wilt be compelled to rejoice and be thankful.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 381–82.

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True Man and True God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/true-man-and-true-god/a2014.html Sat, 29 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, 44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put thy enemies under thy feet’? 45 If David thus calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did any one dare to ask him any more questions. 

Matthew 22:41–46, RSV

From Luther

Here Christ does not explain, but only says that David in his Psalm called Christ his Lord. “How then doth David in the Spirit call him Lord?” It does not sound right and it is contrary to nature for a father to call his son lord, be subject to him and serve him. Now David calls Christ his Lord, and to whom the Lord himself says: “Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool,” that is, be like me, acknowledged and worshiped as the right and true God; for it becometh none other to sit at his right hand; he is indeed so jealous that he allows no one to sit equal to him, as he says: “My glory will I not give to another.”

Since the Lord now makes Christ equal to himself, he must be above all creatures. Therefore he proposes to the Jews a great question, without solving it; for they did not understand it and the time had not yet come to make this publicly known. But the meaning is as our articles of faith teach us to believe, that Christ was both David’s true natural son, of his blood and flesh, and also David’s Lord, whom David himself must worship and hold as God. However, it was impossible to make these statements harmonize, as it is still impossible for human reason, where the Holy Spirit does not reveal it, to comprehend how the two should be at the same time in the one Christ, that he was truly David’s seed and God’s Son by nature.

Now Christ propounded this question to teach that it is not enough to have the law, which only shows from what state we have fallen; but that Christ must be born, not in sin as David and all men are born, but had to be born without man of the virgin, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, born a real, true man, yet without sin. He is the only man that has been able to keep and fulfil the law. This one must intercede in our behalf before God and be our right hand and protection, in whom we have forgiveness of sins and deliverance from God’s anger and hell. He also gives us the Holy Spirit to follow him until we come to him and be like him without any sin and in perfect righteousness.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 380–81.

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The Unity of the Church http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-unity-of-the-church/a2013.html Fri, 28 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; 2 let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him. 3 For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Romans 15:1–6, RSV

From Luther

God gives patience and consolation. As he is the God of heaven and earth, so he is the God of patience and consolation. All are his gifts. If they are given, they are not of nature, but of grace. If God does not direct his Word to the heart to fit the needs of the individual, the heart will never discover this patience and consolation. But when he gives grace to search the Scriptures, he likewise gives these gifts. There is no more marked manifestation of God’s wrath than the fact that he permits the decline of his spoken and written Word. On the other hand, God gives no greater blessing than when he exalts his Word among us and permits it to be read.

The apostle enjoins the Romans to be of one mind and tolerant of one another. The weak in conscience should accept as right what they of strong faith and sound conscience observe. The effort should be for a oneness of faith and conscience, and a sameness of opinion to avoid the wrangling occasioned by conflicting personal ideas of what is right. It is not necessary that we should all follow the same occupation. One may be a smith and another a tailor without impairing unity of faith and purpose, only let one tolerate the outward calling of the other. As privilege of occupation is right, so in external things of meats, apparel and place, we are at liberty to follow our own pleasure. It is not wrong to fast in honor of the name of an apostle, or to confess during Lent. But neither does he who omits these things commit any evil by this omission. Let not one censure, judge, condemn and quarrel with his fellow over the matter. But I refer to toleration only in things wherein we are at liberty to be lenient. We are to permit the weak in faith to continue in their practices for a time until we are finally able to extricate them from error. They must not be too hastily and rashly rejected with disastrous results to their consciences.

The apostle enjoins us to be likeminded according to Christ Jesus; that is, from a Christian point of view. For unbelievers, too, are likeminded, but according to the flesh, the world and the devil, and not according to Christ. The Jews were of one mind against Christ and against his Church. Christian unity resists sin and everything opposed to the religion of Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 379–80.

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The Sin of Ingratitude http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-sin-of-ingratitude/a2012.html Thu, 27 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

13 If a man returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house. 14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water; so quit before the quarrel breaks out. 

Proverbs 17:13–14, RSV

From Luther

The heathen everywhere, despite their ignorance of God and his grace, condemned even to the utmost the evil of ingratitude. They regarded it the mother of evils, than which was none more malevolent and shameful. Among many examples in this respect is one left us by a people in Arabia called Nabathians, who had an excellent form of government. So strict were they in regard to this evil that any one found guilty of ingratitude to his fellows was looked upon as a murderer and punished with death.

No sin is more abominable to human nature, and of none is human nature less tolerant. It is easier to forgive and forget the act of an enemy who commits a bodily injury, or even murders one’s parents, than it is to forget the sin of him who repays simple kindness and fidelity with ingratitude and faithlessness; who for love and friendship returns hatred. In the sentiment of the Latin proverb, to be so rewarded is like rearing a serpent in one’s bosom. God likewise regards this sin with extreme enmity and punishes it.

Thus we have the teaching of nature and of reason regarding the sin of men’s ingratitude toward one another. How much greater the evil, how much more shameful and accursed, when manifested toward God, who, in his infinite and ineffable goodness, conferred upon us while yet enemies of him and deserving of the fires of hell, not ten dollars, not a hundred thousand dollars even, but redemption from divine wrath and eternal death, and abundantly comforted us, granting safety, a good conscience, peace and salvation! These are inexpressible blessings, incomprehensible in this life. And they will continue to occupy our minds in yonder eternal life. How much more awful the sin of ingratitude for these blessings as exemplified in the servant mentioned in the gospel to whom was forgiven the debt of ten thousand talents and who yet would not forgive the debt of his fellow-servant who owed him a hundred pence!

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 378–79.

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The Evils of Ingratitude http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-evils-of-ingratitude/a2011.html Wed, 26 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge —  6 even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you — 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:3–9, RSV

From Luther

We have before us the opening words of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, which Paul was moved to write because of unpleasant conditions in the church at Corinth after his departure. Divisions had arisen and sad confusion prevailed in doctrine and life. Hence the apostle was constrained to rebuke their wickedness and correct their infirmities. Because of these wholesome admonitions, the reading and heeding of this epistle is not only profitable but essential, for the devil takes no respite, but whenever the gospel is preached in its purity he mixes with the children of God and sows his tares.

Paul begins very leniently, showing them what they have received through the gospel. His purpose is to arouse their gratitude to God, and to induce them, for his honor and glory, to be harmonious in doctrine and life, avoiding divisions and other offenses. Paul would say: What abundant grace and gifts have been given you of God! They are bestowed, not because of your righteousness, merits and works; nay, all these blessings have been freely given you in Christ and for his sake, through the preaching of the gospel. The gospel is a grace which brings to you all manner of gifts, by him enriching you in everything.

He gives them an example of his own gratitude, thanking God on their behalf, for the purpose of calling forth their especial gratitude when they should consider what they formerly were and what they now had received through the gospel. He would have them beware lest, forgetful of their former misery and present grace, they relapse into their old blindness. We are aware of the great benefits bestowed upon us, but at the same time we see and realize that the devil instigates divisions and scandals. The cause of these evils may be traced to our ingratitude. Where God’s mercies are lightly dismissed from the mind and disregarded, gratitude and regard for God’s Word cannot be the result; satiated, listless Christians go their way fancying that their spiritual conditions always were and always will be as now. The people, therefore, must be awakened to consider their former destitution, the wretchedness in which they were, that they may return thanks to God and recount the superior and wonderful gifts which have enriched them in all things.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 376–77.

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The Unity of the Church http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-unity-of-the-church/a2010.html Tue, 25 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:1–6, RSV

From Luther

Christians should feel bound to maintain the unity of the Spirit, since they are all members of one body and partakers of the same spiritual blessings. They have the same priceless treasures — one God and Father in heaven, one Lord and Saviour, one Word, baptism and faith; in short, one and the same salvation, a blessing common to all, whereof one has as much as another, and cannot obtain more.

The unity of the Church does not consist in similarity of outward form of government, likeness of law, tradition and ecclesiastical customs. The Church is called “one holy, Christian Church,” because it represents one plain, pure gospel doctrine, and an outward confession thereof, always and everywhere, regardless of dissimilarity of physical life, or outward ordinances, customs and ceremonies. But they are not members of the true Church of Christ who, instead of preserving unity of doctrine and oneness of Christian faith, cause divisions and offenses by human doctrines and self-appointed works for which they contend, imposing them upon all Christians as necessary.

One of the wickedest offenses possible to commit against the Church is the stirring up of doctrinal discord and division, a thing the devil encourages to the utmost. This sin usually arises in certain haughty, conceited, self-seeking leaders who desire peculiar distinction for themselves and strive for personal honor and glory. They will give honor to no one, even when they recognize the superiority of his gifts over their own. In their envy and vengefulness they seek occasion to create factions and to draw people to themselves. Many are deceived and immediately respond to the new doctrine presented in specious words by presumptuous leaders thirsting for fame. Many weak but well-meaning ones fall to doubting; many become reckless pleasure lovers, disregarding all religion and ignoring the Word of God. Even they who are called Christians come to have hard feelings against one another, their love grows cold and faith is extinguished. Christians, then, should be careful to give no occasion for division or discord. They must strive against them, submitting to all suffering and performing all demands to prevent, so far as possible, any disturbance of the unity of doctrine, of faith and of Spirit.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 375–76.

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Showing Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/showing-faith/a2009.html Mon, 24 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. 

Matthew 5:14–16, RSV

From Luther

Let the Christian know that his earthly life is not unto himself, nor for his own sake; his life and work belong to Christ, his Lord. Hence his walk must be such as shall contribute to the honor and glory of his Master, whom he should so serve that he may be able to say with Paul, not only with respect to the spiritual life — the life of faith and righteousness by grace — but also with respect to its fruits — the outward conduct: “It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me.” The world is to recognize Christ by his shining in us.

It is an astonishing fact that the world is merged into so great darkness that it utterly disregards the Word of God and the conditions he designed for our daily living. If we preach faith in God’s Word the world receives it as heresy. If we speak of works instituted of God himself and conditions of his own appointing, the world regards it as idle talk. Living a simple Christian life in one’s own family, or performing faithfully the duties of a servant, is of no value, but it says: “Oh, that is merely the following of worldly pursuits. To do good works you must set about in a different way. You must creep into a corner, don a cap, make pilgrimages to some saint; then you may be able to help yourself and others to gain heaven.”

The Scriptures teach no other good works than God enjoins upon all men in the ten commandments and which pertain to the common conditions of life. True, these do not make such a brilliant show in the eyes of the world as do the self-appointed ceremonials constituting the divine service of the hypocrites; but they are true, worthy, good and profitable works in the sight of God and man. What can be more acceptable to God and advantageous to man than a life lived, in its own calling, in the way that contributes to the honor of God, and that by its example influences others to love God’s Word and to praise his name? Therefore, influence men by your godly walk and good works to believe in Christ and to glorify him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 374–75.

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Holding Fast in Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/holding-fast-in-faith/a2008.html Sun, 23 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 

Philippians 1:3–6, RSV

From Luther

Paul rejoices in the gospel with his inmost soul. He thanks God that others have come into its fellowship. His confidence is firm regarding certain beginners in the faith, and he is so interested in their salvation as to rejoice in it as much as in his own, apparently unable to thank God sufficiently for it. He prays unceasingly that he may live to see many come with him into such fellowship and be preserved therein until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall perfect and complete all the defects of this earthly life. He prays these beginners may go forth faultlessly in faith and hope until that joyful day.
Thus the apostle pours out the depths of his heart, filled with the real fruits of the Spirit and of faith. He burns with love and joy whenever he sees the gospel recognized, accepted and honored, and the Church flourishing. For the converts he can conceive of no loftier desire — can offer no greater petition for them than to implore God that they may increase and persevere in the gospel faith. Such is the inestimable value he places upon possessing and holding fast God’s Word.

Paul is here an example of gratitude for us. It behooves the Christian who recognizes the grace and goodness of God, expressed in the gospel, first of all to manifest his thankfulness toward God and then toward men. As Christians who have abandoned the false services and sacrifices that in our past heathenish blindness we zealously practiced, let us remember our obligation henceforth to be the more fervent in offering true service and right sacrifices to God. We can render him no better service than the thank-offering, as the Scriptures call it. That is, receiving and honoring the grace of God and the preaching and hearing of his Word, and furthering their operation, not only in word, but sincerely in our hearts and with all our physical and spiritual powers. This is the truest gratitude.

These words therefore give us an exact delineation of the Christian that believes in the holy gospel. Such hearts are rare in the world and especially difficult to find, unless it be among the beloved apostles or those who approach them in the likeness of Christ. Let us not be found unthankful, and forgetful of God’s infinite goodness.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 373–74.

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A Prosperity of Grace http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/a-prosperity-of-grace/a2007.html Sat, 22 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. 

Psalm 1:1–6, RSV

There is a common inquiry among men concerning blessedness; there is no one who does not wish that it may be well with him, and does not dread the thought that it should be ill with him. Yet all who have ever inquired into the matter have wandered from the knowledge of true blessedness, and those have wandered the most widely who have inquired with greatest diligence, such as the philosophers, the greatest of whom have placed true blessedness in the works of virtue, having rendered themselves more unhappy than the rest; they have deprived themselves of the blessings both of this life and of that which is to come. The common people, although their ideas were the more grossly mad by making blessedness to consist in carnal pleasure, enjoyed at least the good of this life. This teacher, however, deriving his doctrine from heaven and detesting all the devoted endeavors of men, gives this only true definition of blessedness which is wholly unknown to men — that he is the blessed man who loves the law of God. It is a short definition, but it contains a savor that is contrary to all human ideas, and especially to human wisdom.

Is he not a blessed man and one strong in the faith who does not walk in the broad way in the midst of the multitudes; who suffers reproaches and many evils from the same, and yet does not consent unto them so as to walk with them? Who is not deceived by the most specious counsel of the ungodly, which might deceive the very elect? It is a great thing not to be overcome by riches, pleasures and honors; but to overcome the specious righteousness and wisdom of the ungodly, who direct their attacks most of all against pure faith, is the greatest of all victories. But you are to notice that these words are the words of faith and that they do not speak of men according to what they appear to be. For no one would imagine such to be the ungodly. The prophet here speaks in the spirit; and spiritually that is ungodly which the world considers most godly, because it is devoid of faith. The ungodly are secure and confident in their lives, and there is no fear of God before their eyes.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 371–72.

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Freely Forgiven http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/freely-forgiven/a2006.html Fri, 21 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; 25 and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

Matthew 18:23–27, RSV

From Luther

What does the servant do? He foolishly thinks he will pay the debt, falls down and asks the Lord to have patience with him. This is the torment of all consciences, when sin comes and smarts deeply until they feel in what a sad state they are before God; then there is no rest; they run hither and thither, seek help here and there to be freed from sin, and in their presumption think they can do enough to pay God in full. Thus we were taught hitherto. From this also have come so many pilgrimages, cloisters, masses and other nonsense. So we fasted and scourged ourselves, and became monks and nuns. All this came because we undertook to begin a life and to do many works of which God should take account and allow himself to be paid by them. Thus we thought to quiet the conscience and put it at peace with God. We acted just like this foolish servant.

Now a heart that is thus smitten with the law, feels its blows and distress, is truly humiliated. Therefore it falls before the Lord and asks for grace, except that it still makes the mistake of intending to help itself, for this we cannot root out of our nature. When the conscience feels such misery, it dare promise more than all the angels in heaven are able to fulfil. When our consciences were forced in the confessional, we did everything that was imposed upon us and gave more than was demanded of us. What should the poor people do? They were glad to be helped even in this manner; they ran and martyred themselves to be rid of their sins. Yet it did no good whatever, for the conscience remained in doubt as before, and did not know on what terms it stood with God.

But the Lord comes and sympathizes with this distress, because the servant is captive and bound in his sins, and yet is such a fool as to want to help himself; he looks for no mercy, knows nothing to say of grace, and feels nothing but sins, which press him heavily, and knows of no one to help him. Then his lord has mercy on him and sets him free. Thus God deals with us. He forgives our debt, because he hears our cries and sees our humiliation.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 370–71.

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Standing Firmly http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/standing-firmly/a2005.html Thu, 20 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:10–13, RSV

From Luther

The devil neither sleeps nor rests, and consequently it is not safe for a Christian to fold his hands and be idle. He is to consider how he may fortify himself against the power of the devil; for he is not called the prince of this world in vain. He rules the world, howls and rages, and cannot bear that a Christian makes progress. For thereby a rupture is made in his kingdom and his net broken. Hence, wherever possible, he hinders the growth and development of the Christian life. When the fire of faith is kindled and burns, and the devil feels it and becomes aware of it, he immediately attacks it with all his cunning, for he knows how his kingdom is endangered by it. Therefore he endeavors to protect his kingdom with great zeal and exerts himself to retain all under his obedience. For that rogue has a sharp vision and easily becomes conscious of the presence of a true Christian. Therefore he tries to entrap him, surrounds and attacks him on all sides; for he cannot bear that any one should desert his kingdom.

On this account it is dangerous to live heedlessly, for the devil is likely to take us by surprise. This happens even to the great ones among the saints, who rightly apprehend the Word of God. When they think they stand securely, this rogue is behind them, strikes them down and wrestles with them until they are vanquished. This is what happened to the great men of God, to Moses, to Aaron and to the princes of Judah. They had an excellent faith, when they led the people out of Egypt, and all the people went in faith through the Red Sea, through the wilderness and through many wonderful experiences, in which they manifested their faith. At last they came to a point where they feared that they would have to die of hunger and thirst in the parched wilderness. Is it not a pity that after manifesting their faith in so many great trials, wrestling with them and overcoming them, they should allow themselves to be overcome by their belly and murmur against God, and be so fiercely attacked that they succumbed and allowed themselves to be overthrown by Satan. Hence no one is secure, unless his faith continues to grow stronger and stronger.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 369–70.

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He Promised http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/he-promised/a2004.html Wed, 19 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked; and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. 

Psalm 34:19–22, RSV

From Luther

God kindly sends upon his Christians temptation, sorrow and affliction. These preserve them from carnal satiety and teach them to seek comfort and help. God did thus also in former ages, in the time of the martyrs, when he daily suffered them to be violently seized in person and put to death by sword, fire, blood and wild beasts. In this way he truly led his people to school, where they were obliged to learn to know his will. Faith taught them and confirmed to them that such suffering was God’s purpose and immutable will concerning themselves, which, whatever attitude towards them he might assume, he could not alter, even as he could not in the case of Christ himself. This discipline and experience of faith strengthened the martyrs and soon accustomed them to suffering, enabling them to go to their death with joy and pleasure.

What noble and enlightened, what strong and courageous people God produced by the discipline of cross and affliction! We, in contrast, because unwilling to experience such suffering, are weak and enervated. If but a little smoke gets into our eyes, our joy and courage are gone, likewise our perception of God’s will, and we can only raise a loud lamentation and cry of woe. Just so Christ’s disciples in the ship, when they saw the tempest approach and the waves beat over the vessel, quite forgot, in their trembling and terror, the divine will, although Christ was present with them. So also in the time of the martyrs, many Christians became timid and at first denied Christ from fear of torture or of long confinement in prison.

It is God’s will that we, too, should learn to accustom ourselves to these things through temptation and affliction, though these be hard to bear and the heart is prone to become agitated and utter its cry of woe. We can quiet our disturbed hearts, saying: I know what is God’s thought, his counsel and will in Christ, which he will not alter: he has promised me through his Son, and confirmed it through my baptism, that he who hears and sees the Son shall be delivered from sin and death, and live eternally. The heart possessing such knowledge is kindled by the Holy Spirit and armed against the flesh, the world and the devil.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 368–69.

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Enriched http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/enriched/a2003.html Tue, 18 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge — 6 even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you — 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 

1 Corinthians 1:4–9, RSV

From Luther

What Paul terms being enriched “in all utterance”—which, in the exalted spiritual meaning of the words, bears on life everlasting—is having the comfort of faith in Christ and of invocation and prayer. “Enriched in all knowledge” means having true conception and right judgment in all things of our physical life and in all our earthly relations. All things that a Christian should know and should possess are comprehended in these two terms. These blessings are gifts and treasures indescribably great. He who will contrast them with the destitution of our former condition cannot but be joyful and thankful.

The Christian has indeed inestimable treasures. In the first place he has the testimony of the Word of God, which is the word of eternal grace and comfort, that he has a right and true conception of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the Commandments and the Creed. In addition he has the sure refuge of God’s promise to deliver us from every trouble in which we shall call upon him, and to give us, as he promised by the prophet Zechariah, the Spirit of grace and of prayer. And the Christian, by virtue of his enlightened understanding, can wisely discern what are good works and what callings are pleasing to God; on the other hand, his judgments are equally true as to unprofitable and vain works and false services. Formerly we had not this wholesome knowledge. We knew not what we believed, or how we prayed and lived. We sought comfort and salvation in self-devised trivialities, in penances, confessions and satisfactions, in self-righteous works of monkery and in obedience to the commands of the Pope. We believed such works to be fully satisfactory and, indeed, the only things that were holy; the pursuits of common Christians we considered worldly and dangerous. In contrast to this darkness, consider the priceless and to-be-cherished blessing of knowing with certainty wherein the heart is to take comfort, how to seek help in distress and how to conduct oneself in one’s own station. Truly we should now render to God heartfelt thanks for the great favor and blessing of restored light and understanding in Scripture and the right conception of doctrinal matters.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 366–67.

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Renewed http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/renewed/a2002.html Mon, 17 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

17 Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; 18 they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; 19 they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness. 20 You did not so learn Christ! — 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. 22 Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 
25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth 

Ephesians 4:17–25, RSV

From Luther

The new man has the Spirit and the truth, by which the heart is illuminated unto righteousness and holiness wherein man follows the guidance of God’s Word and feels a desire for a godly walk and a good life. This new man is created after God, as an image of God, and must of necessity differ from such as live in error and in lusts, without the knowledge of God and disobedient to him. For if God’s image is in man, man must consequently have the right knowledge of God and right conceptions and ideas, and lead a godly life consistent with holiness and righteousness as found in God himself.
Such an image of God Adam was when first created. He was, as to the soul, truthful, free from error, possessed of true faith and knowledge of God; and as to the body, holy and pure, that is, without the impure, unclean desires of avarice, lasciviousness, envy, hatred and the like. Thus the whole life of the man was a beautiful portrait of God, a mirror wherein God himself was reflected; even as the lives and natures of the holy spirits and angels are wrapped up in God and represent true knowledge of him, assurance, and joy in hm and utterly pure and holy thoughts and works according to the will of God.

All Adam’s children — all men — would have so remained from their birth, if Adam had not suffered himself to be led astray by the devil and to be thus ruined. But since Christians, by the grace and Spirit of God, are now renewed in this image of God, they are so to live that soul and spirit are righteous and pleasing to God through faith in Christ; and that also the body — meaning the whole external life — be pure and holy. They thus enter again into their former relation and into the true paradise of perfect harmony with God and of justification; they are comforted by his grace. They are disposed to lead a godly life and resist ungodly lusts and ways. They begin to taste God’s goodness and lovingkindness and to realize what they lost in paradise. He, therefore, that would be a Christian should strive to be found in this new man created after God — in the very essence of righteousness and holiness before God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 365–66.

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The Old Man http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-old-man/a2001.html Sun, 16 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

22 Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 

Ephesians 4:22–24, RSV

From Luther

What Paul calls “the old man” is well known to us, namely, the whole nature of man as descended from Adam after his fall in paradise, being blinded by the devil, depraved in soul, not keeping God before the eyes, nor trusting him, yea, utterly regardless of God and the judgment day. He portrays the old man as given to error, coming short of the truth, knowing naught of the true knowledge of Christ and faith in him, indifferent alike to God’s wrath and God’s grace, deceiving himself in his own conceit that darkness is light.

Out of this error proceeds the other corruption, the lusts of the body, which are the fruits of unbelief. Unbelief causes men to walk in sinful security and yield to all the appetites of their flesh. Such have no inclination for what is good, nor do they aim to promote order, honor or virtue. They take desperate chances on their lives, wanting to live according to the lusts of their flesh and yet not be reprimanded.

This, says the apostle, is the old man’s course and nature. He will do naught but ruin himself. The longer continued, the greater his debasement. He draws down upon himself his own condemnation and penalty of body and soul; in proportion as he becomes unbelieving and hard-hearted, does he become haughty, hateful and faithless, and eventually a perfect scoundrel and villain. This was your former manner of life, when as yet you were heathen and non-Christian. Therefore you must by all means put off the old man and cast him far from you; otherwise you cannot remain a Christian, for glorying in the grace of God and the forgiveness of sin is inconsistent with following sin, remaining in the former unchristian life and walking in error and deceitful lusts. A life and walk of this nature is not becoming a Christian, who is regarded, and truly is, a different order of being from his former self. A Christian must take care that he deceive not himself; he differs from the hypocrite, who may honor God’s Word and the gospel, yet in reality he is unchanged. True Christians so live that it is apparent from their lives that they keep God before their eyes and truly believe the gospel.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 364–65.

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One in Ten http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/one-in-ten/a2000.html Sat, 15 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” 

Luke 17:11–19, RSV

From Luther

The stranger sincerely gives God all the glory. O, what a terrible example is this! Among ten only one, and he among the least and most worthless. How entirely does God overlook that which is great, wise, spiritual and honorable! Yet such people have no fear, but become hardened and petrified in their nature. It is also terrible that the Lord knows that ten were cleansed, of this they did not think. He inquires after and seeks them: Where are the nine? O, what a frightful thing it will be when they at some future time will feel this inquiry and must answer whither they went, that they did not give God the glory. Then they will say: Well, we have nevertheless praised and thanked God, and thus our priests have taught us! Then it will appear whether it will help us to follow the doctrines of men in the name of God, and to forsake the doctrine and will of God. We are sufficiently warned in the gospel, so that no excuse will help us if we allow ourselves to be deceived. In Baptism we have all vowed to follow Christ and his doctrine; no one has vowed to follow the pope, the bishops and clergy. Thus Christ has thoroughly rejected and forbidden the doctrines of men.

Christ comforts his poor Samaritans, who for his name’s sake must risk their lives with the priests and Jews, and strengthens their hope with the sentence and judgment that he demands the nine and judges them as God’s thieves, who steal God’s glory, but he justifies the Samaritan. This hope gives them strong courage, that their cause before God will be rightly maintained and will stand, and that that of the others will be condemned, it matters not how great they were and what power they had on earth.

Before Christ justifies the Samaritan, he judges the nine, that we should be sure not to hasten or desire revenge, but leave it only to him, and go our way. For he himself is so careful to defend the right and punish the wrong. Nor does he wait long to have them accused before him, but of his own free will summons them, so that without doubt the cause of unbelievers affects him more and sooner than it strikes or harms us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 363–64.

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Calling Jesus “Lord” http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/calling-jesus-“lord”/a1999.html Fri, 14 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were heathen, you were led astray to dumb idols, however you may have been moved. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 

1 Corinthians 12:1–3, RSV

From Luther

To call Jesus “Lord” is to confess oneself his servant and to seek his honor alone; to act as his messenger or the bearer of his Word and command. Paul refers here chiefly to the office which represents Christ and bears his Word. Where the office answers these conditions and points to Christ as the Lord, it is truly the message of the Holy Spirit, even though the occupant of the office does not in his own person possess the Spirit; the office itself is essentially of the Holy Spirit. Hypocrisy and invention have no place here. One must proceed in sincerity if he would be certain he is Christ’s minister, or apostle, and really handles his Word. Only the inspiration of the Holy Spirit can give one this assurance.

All Christians — each in his own sphere — may equally call Christ “Lord.” One may be assured he serves Christ if he can call him “Lord,” for only by the Holy Spirit is he enabled to do that. Let him try for a single day — from morning until evening — whether or no he can truly say at all times that he is the servant of God and of Christ in what he does. When delivering a sermon or listening to one, when baptizing a child or bringing one to baptism, when pursuing your daily duties, ask yourself if the act is attended by such faith that you can, without misgiving and not hypocritically, nor mechanically, boast — if necessary, die by your boast — that you serve and please Christ therein. This is calling Christ “Lord.” Unquestionably you will often feel your heart doubting and trembling over the matter. Flesh and blood is too weak to obtain this glorious confidence; the Holy Spirit is essential.

I often used to wonder that St. Ambrose was so bold as to call himself a servant of Jesus Christ. I supposed we all ought to be terrified at thoughts of this kind, and that none but the apostles might boast of such honor. But the fact is, we must all say to Christ: Thou art my Lord and I am thy servant; for I believe in thee and aspire to be with thee and all the faithful and to possess thy Word and Sacrament. Otherwise Christ will not acknowledge us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 361–62.

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Knowledge of Sin http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/knowledge-of-sin/a1998.html Thu, 13 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:5–9, RSV

From Luther

All hear the gospel, but it does not enter the hearts of all, for they do not all feel their sins. But the gospel teaches that everything we have in us is sin. Therefore it also offers comfort, forgiveness of sin. But if I am to receive forgiveness of sins. I must have knowledge of sin. Forgiveness of sins consists in nothing more than two words, in which the whole kingdom of Christ consists. There must be sins, and if we are conscious of them, we must confess them; when we have confessed them, forgiveness and grace are immediately present. Before there is forgiveness, there is nothing but sin. This sin must be confessed that I may feel and know that all that is in me is blindness; forgiveness of sins cannot exist where there is no sin. There is, however, no lack of sins to confess, but the lack is in not feeling and knowing our sins.

When God forgives sins it is quite a different thing from man’s forgiving. When one man forgives another his sins, he thinks of them again, or perhaps even lays them up to him. But God condemns no more, he banishes all wrath from him, he thinks no more of sin. Now when this wrath is gone, then hell, death, the devil and all misfortune that the devil may bring with him, must also disappear; and instead of wrath God gives grace, comfort, salvation and everything good that he himself is. Sin is all unhappiness, forgiveness is true happiness. The divine majesty is great, great is also that which it forgives. But you must know in your heart how great these words are in which you must trust and for which you can cheerfully die. Only a few rightly receive these words, therefore there are but few true Christians.

This then is the kingdom of Christ. Here there is no work, but only the acknowledgment of all our misfortune, and the reception of all the gifts of God. Therefore it is not by merit; it is a simple gift. This is the gospel upon which faith depends. I need no works before God, and need only be careful rightly to confess my sins. Then I have forgiveness of sins and am one with God, all of which the Holy Spirit works in me.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 360–61.

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Behold His Glory http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/behold-his-glory/a1997.html Wed, 12 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me. 26 I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” 

John 17:24–26, RSV

From Luther

These words are the last petition of this prayer, but the most comforting one for all those who cling to Christ. We are here assured of what we are finally to receive, where we shall find rest and abide, because in this world we are wretched, despised and have no sure abiding place. Therefore, as a kind, faithful Saviour, Christ encourages us, by saying that he will prepare mansions for us, that we are to be with him, and are to be as happy as he is with his Father. He would say: Do not worry as to your abiding place; let the world and the devil rave and rage, you shall be taken care of and come to the place you desire, where you may rest and remain in spite of the world and the devil. These words should be a pillow and a downy bed for our souls; and when the last hour shall arrive and we are to be freed from sin, from the world, from the power of the devil and from every evil, and are to be brought to our eternal rest and joy, we should go thitherward with cheerful hearts.

We are not only to be with him, but we are also to come to a clear, bright view of his glory. Here upon earth we have it and recognize it only by faith. We do not really see it, but only through the Word as through a dark glass. Our knowledge is still obscure, as when a dark cloud overshadows the bright sun. No human heart can understand the greatness of Christ’s glory, since he appeared so very obscure while on earth. But in the world beyond another light will shine most brilliantly in our very presence, which we shall behold with unspeakable joy. What injury can the world do us, though it deprive us of property, honor, and life, if thereby we are brought to Christ and may behold his glory. But we are too cold and sluggish to believe this. It is beyond human understanding to comprehend that our poor, decaying bodies should ever reach such a position of honor as to be able to see this excellent, divine glory forever; yea, our bodies shall become more brilliant and brighter than the sun and the stars.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 359–60.

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The Authority to Proclaim http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-authority-to-proclaim/a1996.html Tue, 11 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 

John 20:19–23, RSV

From Luther

The forgiveness of sins is of two kinds: the first is to drive sin from the heart and infuse grace into it; this is the work of God alone. The second is the declaration of the forgiveness of sin; this man can do to his fellow man. Christ did both. He instils the Spirit into the heart and externally he declared forgiveness through the word, which is a declaration and public preaching of the internal forgiveness.

All men who have been baptized and are Christians have this latter power. With this power they praise Christ, and the word is put into their mouth, so that they may and are able to say, if they wish, and as often as it is necessary: Behold, O man! God offers thee this grace, forgives thee all thy sin; be comforted, thy sins are forgiven; only believe, and thou wilt surely have forgiveness. This word of consolation shall not cease among Christians until the last day. Such language a Christian may always use and in this manner has power to forgive sins. Therefore if I say to you: Thy sins are forgiven, then believe it as surely as though God himself had said it to you.

Now if there were no man on earth to forgive sins, and there were only law and works, what a weak and miserable thing a poor troubled conscience would be. But now when God adequately instructs every one so that he is able to say to others: Thy sins are forgiven thee, wherever thou art, the golden age has arrived. On this account we are to be defiant and boastful against sin, so that we can say to our brother, who is in anxiety and distress on account of his sins: Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven; although I cannot give the Holy Ghost and faith, I can yet declare them unto thee; if thou believest, thou hast them. They who thus believe these words, praise and glorify God. He has given man power to forgive sins, and thus the kingdom of Christ is spread, the conscience is strengthened and comforted. This we do now through the Word. God grant that we may also thus understand it. But who could do this if Christ had not descended and instructed us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 358–59.

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Kingdom Comfort http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/kingdom-comfort/a1995.html Mon, 10 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, take up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home.

Matthew 9:1–7, RSV

From Luther

These words contain in brief what the kingdom of Christ is, namely, this sweet voice penetrating our inmost soul, “Thy sins are forgiven.” In no other sense are we to view the kingdom of Christ than to know how we stand before God. From it follows that the kingdom of Christ is realized where comfort and the forgiveness of sins reign, not only in proclaiming the words, which is also necessary, but where they reign in reality. Christ did not only speak these words into the ear of this sick man; but he also forgave his sins and comforted him. It is well for us Christians to know this. These words are indeed easily and quickly said and heard; but when it comes to the test the light is soon extinguished and Satan begins to lead us astray. We must beware and properly learn the character and nature of the kingdom of Christ. You know how reason is inclined to fall from faith to works. But here you see no works at all, no merit, no command; there is only the offering of Christ’s assistance, his comfort and grace.

If the kingdom of Christ is to grow, we must keep the law out of it, and not be busy with works. For it is not in harmony with Christ’s kingdom to say: Run hither and thither and atone for your sins; you must observe and do this and that, if you will be free from sin. Your sins are forgiven out of pure grace without any work or law. The fanatics profess to have a nobler spirit; they urge and insist upon our doing something first of all, and allow faith and love to be overlooked.

This of course is not of the Holy Spirit. Christ first takes possession of the conscience, and when it is right in faith toward God, then he also directs us to do works toward our neighbor. He first highly extols faith and keeps works in the background. This the fanatics cannot understand. Yet so it must be, Christ will prove his Word, and examine who has received it and who not. Let us therefore remain on the right road to the kingdom of Christ with the words of the gospel which comfort the conscience: Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 357–58.

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Fulfilling God's Law http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/fulfilling-gods-law/a1994.html Sun, 09 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:10, RSV

From Luther

All the works of the law tend in the end to prove our love to God. This love the law requires and will have above everything else. We are to observe that all the works of the law are not commanded merely for the purpose of being performed. If God had even given us more commandments, he would not want us to keep them to the injury and destruction of love. If these commandments oppose the love of our neighbor, God wants us to annul them. Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, leading them for forty years through the wilderness, and not one of them was circumcised, although it was commanded them. Was God angry with them, because they did not obey his commandment? No, there was a higher commandment in force at that time, namely, that they were to obey God who commanded them to come out of Egypt in haste to the promised land. By their marching they daily obeyed God, otherwise God would have been angered by disobedience. Both the need and the love were at hand, for it would have been unbearable to endure the pain of circumcision and at the same time the burden of the journey. Thus love took the place of the commandment.

In like manner Christ excused his disciples, when they plucked the ears of corn and ate them on the Sabbath day, and the Jews accused them of transgressing the law by doing on the Sabbath day that which was not lawful to do. The Lord gave them to understand that here is no Sabbath day; the body needs food, necessity demands it; we must eat even though it be on the Sabbath day. Thus David went into the house of God and ate the shew bread, which it was not lawful for him, nor for those with him, to eat, but only for the priests. David ate the bread, though he was not a priest, because hunger pressed him to do it. Neither did Ahimelech, the priest, violate the law in giving the bread to David, for love was present and urged him to do it. Therefore we have need of the law, that love may be manifested; but if it cannot be kept without injury to our neighbor, God wants us to suspend it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 355–56.

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Pleasing Service http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/pleasing-service/a1993.html Sat, 08 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your descendants be named.” 19 He considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

Hebrews 11:17–19, RSV

From Luther

To reason it was a foolish command God gave to Abraham to slay his son. If reason should be the judge all mankind would come to no other conclusion than that it was an unfriendly and hostile command. How could it be from God, since he himself had said to Abraham that he would multiply his seed through this son, and that it should become as innumerable as the stars of the firmament and as the sand by the sea. Therefore to reason it was a foolish, a grievous and hard commandment. But what did Abraham do? He closes his senses, takes his reason captive, and, obeying the voice of God, goes and does as God commanded him.

By this Abraham proved that he obeyed from the heart; otherwise, even if he had put his son to death a hundred times, God would not have cared for it; but God was pleased that the deed came from the heart and was done from true love to God. It came from a heart that must have thought: Even if my son dies, God is almighty and faithful, he will keep his word, he will find ways and means beyond that which I am able to devise; only obey, there is no danger. Had he not had this boldness and faith, how could he have had it in his fatherly heart to proceed to kill his only and well beloved son?

Later the Jews wanted to follow this example and offered their children to God, hoping thereby to perform a service well-pleasing to God; but it was far from it. O, how many healthy, noble and beautiful children perished! The prophets protested against this service, they preached, warned and wrote against it, telling the people that it was a deception, but all in vain. Many a prophet lost his life because of this, as the history of the Books of the Kings shows.

But why was this service of the Jews displeasing to God? Because it did not come from the heart, and was not done out of love to God; but they simply looked upon the service without the command and word of God. There must be first love in the heart, then follows the service that will be pleasing to God. Abraham proved by his act that he loved God with his whole heart.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 354–55.

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The Christian Life http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-christian-life/a1992.html Fri, 07 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 

Luke 17:11–14, RSV

From Luther

How very friendly and lovingly the Lord invites all hearts to himself in this example and stirs them to believe in him! There is no doubt that he desires to do for all what he does here for these lepers, if we only freely surrender ourselves to him for all his favor and grace. The Lord desires that we should joyfully and freely venture to build on his favor before we feel or experience it. He has here sufficiently testified that he hears them willingly without any hesitation. He does not first say he will do it, but as though it were already done, he did as they wished. He does not say: I will have mercy on you, and cleanse you; but merely: “Go show yourselves unto the priests.” As though he would say: There is no use of asking, your faith has already acquired and obtained it, before you begin to ask; you were already cleansed in my sight when you began to expect such things of me; only go and show yourselves to the priests; as I consider you and as you believe, so you are and shall be.

Behold, so powerful is faith to obtain all it wants of God, that God considers it done before the asking. Of this the prophet Isaiah has already said, “It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Not as though faith or we were worthy of it, but in order that he might show his unspeakable goodness and willing grace, that he might stir us to believe in him, and with joyful and unwavering consciences to look to him for every good thing. For thus Christ hears these lepers before they call, and before they cry out he is prepared to do all their hearts desire. Are not these strong incentives that make the heart joyful and eager? His grace permits itself to be felt and grasped, yea, it grasps and satisfies us.

The lepers have taught us how to believe; Christ teaches us to love. Love does to its neighbor as it sees Christ has done to us. This is a Christian life; it does not need much doctrine, nor many books, it is wholly contained in faith and love.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 353–54.

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Faith and Love http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/faith-and-love/a1991.html Thu, 06 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

18 But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, 23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead. 

James 2:18–26, RSV

From Luther

aith is an active, living thing. But in order that men may not deceive themselves and think they have faith when they have not, they are to examine their works, whether they also love their neighbors and do good to them. If they do this, it is a sign that they have the true faith. If they do not do this they only have the sound of faith and they are as one who sees himself in a glass; when he leaves it, he sees himself no more, but sees other things, forgetting the face in the glass. From this passage deceivers and blind masters have demolished faith and established only good works as though righteousness and salvation did not rest on faith, but on our works.

But James means that a Christian life is nothing but faith and love. Love is being kind and useful to all men, to friends and enemies. Where faith is right it certainly loves, and does to others in love as Christ did to him in faith. Thus every one is to beware lest he has in his heart simply a dream and fancy instead of faith, and thus deceives himself. This he will not learn as well anywhere as in doing the works of love. Beware, if your life is not in the service of others, and you live only for yourself, and care nothing for your neighbor; then your faith is certainly nothing, for it does not do what Christ has done for you. Paul also says: “If I have faith enough to remove mountains, and have not charity (love), I am nothing.” This explains the whole matter, not that faith is insufficient to make us pious, but that a Christian life must embrace and never separate these two, faith and love. But the presumptuous undertake to separate them, they want only to believe and not to love, they despise their neighbor, and yet pretend to have Christ. This is false and must fail. Thus we say, then, that faith is everything and saves us, that a man needs no more for his salvation. But he is on this account not idle, but labors much for the benefit of his neighbor and not for himself; for he does not need it, he has enough in Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 352–53.

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Securing the Unseen http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/securing-the-unseen/a1990.html Wed, 05 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. 37 “For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls. 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 10:35–11:1, RSV

From Luther

This means as much as to say, faith is the means by which one trusts in possessions he does not see, namely, that I should expect temporal things which I can neither see nor hear, but must only hope for. If I were a man who had a wife and children, had nothing for them and no one gave me anything; then I should believe and hope that God would sustain me. But if I see that it amounts to nothing and I am not helped with food and clothing, what takes place? As an unbelieving fool I begin to doubt and take whatever is at hand, steal, deceive, cheat the people and make my way as best I can. This is what shameless unbelief does. But if I am a believer, I close my eyes and say: O God, I am thy creature and thy handiwork. I will depend entirely upon thee who carest more for my sustenance than I do myself; thou wilt indeed nourish, feed, clothe and help me when and where thou knowest best.

Thus faith is a sure foundation through which I expect that which I see not. Therefore faith must always have sufficient; before it should fail the angels would have to come from heaven and dig bread out of the earth in order that believing persons should be fed. The heavens and the earth would have to pass away before God would let his believers lack clothing and the other necessaries of life. The comforting and powerful Word of the divine promise demands this. But when one inquires of reason for counsel it soon says: It is not possible. You must wait a long time until roasted ducks fly into your mouth, for reason sees nothing, grasps nothing, and nothing is present. Concerning spiritual blessings I wish to say that when we come to die we will see before our eyes very death, when we would eagerly wish to live; we will see very hell, and yet we would fondly wish to possess heaven. In brief, we will not see a single thing we would like to have. But faith is the principle by which I secure what I do not see. I fully trust that God, by virtue of his promise, will give me life and salvation.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 351–52.

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Follow the Pattern http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/follow-the-pattern/a1989.html Tue, 04 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

17 Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. 

Philippians 3:17–21, RSV

From Luther

Paul, contemplating with special interest and pleasure his Church of the Philippians, is moved by parental care to admonish them to hold steadily to what they have received, not seeking anything else and not imagining themselves perfect with complete understanding in all things. He particularly admonishes them to follow him and to mark those ministers who walk as he does; also to shape their belief and conduct by the pattern they have received from him. He not only makes an example of himself, but introduces those who similarly walk, several of whom he mentions in this letter to the Philippians. The individuals whom he bids them observe and follow must have been persons of special eminence. But it is particularly the doctrine which the apostle would have the Philippians pattern after. Therefore we should be chiefly concerned about preserving the purity of the office of the ministry and the genuineness of faith. When these are kept unsullied, doctrine will be right, and good works spontaneous.
Apparently Paul is a rash man to dare boast himself a pattern for all. Other ministers might well accuse him of wishing to exalt his individual self above others. “Think you,” our wise ones would say to him, “that you alone have the Holy Spirit, or that no one else is as eager for honor as yourself?” Just so did Miriam and Aaron murmur against Moses, their brother, saying: “Hath the Lord indeed only spoken by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us?” Paul, however, does not say, “I, Paul, alone;” but, “as ye have us for an example.” That does not exclude other true apostles and teachers. He admonishes his church, as he everywhere does, to hold fast to the one true doctrine received from him in the beginning. They are not to be too confident of their own wisdom in the matter; but rather to guard against pretenders to a superior doctrine, for so had some been misled. At that time many Jews went about with the intent of perverting Paul’s converts, pretending that they taught something far better, drawing the people away from Christ and back to the law in order to establish and extend their Jewish doctrines.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 349–50.

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The Inner Man http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-inner-man/a1988.html Mon, 03 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God. 

Ephesians 3:14–19, RSV

From Luther

The apostle alludes to his prayer by naming its outward expression—bending the knees. But the external posture, if accompanied by nothing else, is sheer hypocrisy. When prayer is genuine, possessing the fire by which it is kindled, prompted by a sincere heart which recognizes its need and likewise the blessings that are ours as proclaimed in the Word, and when faith in God’s Word — in his promise — revives, then the individual will be possessed with a fervor prompting him to fall upon his knees and pray for strength and for the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit of prayer is enkindled and burns within the heart, the body will responsively assume the proper attitude; involuntarily, eyes and hands will be upraised and knees bended. Recall the examples of Moses, David and even Christ himself.

Paul here establishes the doctrine that no one should presume to speak to God, to entreat him for any favor, unless approaching, as Paul does here, in the name of “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” For Christ is our sole Mediator, and no one need expect to be heard unless he approach the Father in the name of that Mediator and confess him Lord given of God as intercessor for us and ruler of our bodies and souls. Prayer according to these conditions is approved. Strong faith, however, is necessary to lay hold of the comforting Word, picturing God in our hearts as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.The statement that Christ is our Lord is very comforting, though we have made it terrifying by regarding Christ as a stern and angry judge. But the fact is that he is our Lord for the sole purpose of securing us against harsh lords, tyrants, the devil, the world, death, sin and every sort of misfortune. We are his inheritance, and therefore he will espouse our cause, deliver us from violence and oppression of all kinds and better our condition. The name “Lord” is altogether lovable and comforting to us who believe, and gives us confidence of heart. Naught is here for me but real help and pure grace. God designs to have me his child in Christ, placed above all things temporal and eternal.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 348–49.

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Appearances http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/appearances/a1987.html Sun, 02 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

Luke 17:11–16, RSV

From Luther

Why was it necessary for the evangelist to write that this one leper was a Samaritan? By this he opens our eyes and warns us that God has two kinds of people who serve him. The one kind has the appearance and name of having a great, spiritual, holy life, wholly wrapped up in it, but all in vain. They are nothing more than ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing. Yet they have the honor and are regarded as the true worshipers of God; therefore goods, friendship and everything the world has comes to them. The others are of the opposite appearance, and are without show or name, as though no one were less God’s people than they.

The Jews alone had the name of being God’s people, and they alone had God and his worship in preference to all other people on the earth. They hated the Samaritans above all nations, for they too claimed to be God’s people along with the Jews; therefore a Samaritan was to them as an apostate Christian is to us. It is true that the Samaritans did not have the right belief and that the Jews had the true law of God. But as God loves the truth and is an enemy to hypocrisy with all its boasting, he turns it round and accepts the Samaritans and lets the Jews go. Thus it happens that they are not his people who still have the name, the appearance and honor of his people. Again, they who are his people, and have the name and appearance, are regarded as heretics, apostates and the devil’s children.

So it is even at the present time. The clergy, priests and monks call themselves and are regarded the servants of God. No one is a Christian who does not believe as they do, although no one is less a Christian. Those whom they regarded as heretics, many of whom they have burned and exiled, dare not be called Christians, although they alone are the true Christians. No one falls on his face at the feet of Christ, except the Samaritans, the despised, the condemned, the accursed. Therefore let us guard against everything that makes only a show, it certainly is deceiving; and let us not reject what does not make a display, so that we do not reject Christ and God, as the Jews did.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 347–48.

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The Spirit Within http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-spirit-within/a1986.html Sat, 01 Oct 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 

Romans 8:14–16, RSV

From Luther

Paul describes here the power of the kingdom of Christ, the real work and the true exalted worship which the Holy Spirit effects in believers, the comfort by which the heart is freed from the fear and terror of sin and given peace, and the heartfelt supplication which in faith expects of God an answer and brings his help. These blessings cannot be secured through the law or through our own holiness. That we are children of God and may confidently regard ourselves as such, we learn from the witness of the Spirit, who, in spite of the law and our unworthiness, testifies to it in our weakness and assures us of it. Where there is faith in Christ, there the Holy Spirit brings comfort and childlike trust, which doubts not that God is gracious and will answer prayer as he has promised, not for the sake of our worthiness, but for the sake of the name and merit of Christ, his Son. This witness is the experience within ourselves of the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word and the knowledge that our experience accords with the Word and the preaching of the gospel. For thou art surely aware whether or no, when thou art in fear and distress, thou dost obtain comfort from the gospel, whether thy heart is assured of God’s graciousness, and thou no longer fleest from him, but canst cheerfully call upon him in faith, expecting help.This is the true inward witness by which thou mayest perceive that the Holy Spirit is at work in thee. In addition to this thou hast also external witnesses. It is a witness of the Holy Spirit in thee that he gives the special gifts, spiritual understanding, grace and success in thy calling; that thou hast pleasure and delight in God’s Word, confessing it before the world at the peril of life and limb; that thou hatest and resistest ungodliness and sin. Those who have not the Holy Spirit are neither willing nor able to do these things. Even in the Christian these things are accomplished in great weakness; but the Holy Spirit governs them in this weakness, and strengthens them in this witness, as Paul says: “The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 346–47.

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Speaking Forgiveness http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/speaking-forgiveness/a1985.html Fri, 30 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 

John 20:19–23, RSV

From Luther

This is a great and mighty power which no one can sufficiently extol, given to mortal men of flesh and blood over sin, death, hell and all things. The pope, too, boasts in the canon law, that Christ has given him power over all earthly things; which indeed is correct if the people rightly understood it. They apply it to the civil government; this is not Christ’s thought; he wishes to say that when ye speak a word concerning a sinner it shall be spoken in heaven and shall avail as much as if God himself had spoken it. This is not civil, but spiritual power.

If Christ speaks a word, it must be so, since he is Lord over sin and death. When he says to you: Thy sins are forgiven, they must be forgiven and nothing can prevent it. If he says: Thy sins shall not be forgiven thee, they remain unforgiven, so that neither you, nor an angel, nor a saint, nor any creature, can forgive your sin, even if you tortured yourself to death. But in this matter one must not do like the popes. They have reached the point to claim the power that whatever they say, so it must be. If the pope says: Thy sins are forgiven thee, they are blotted out, even though you do not repent, nor believe. They mean by this that they have the power to open or shut heaven. From this it would follow that our salvation depended upon the authority and power of man. Since this is in conflict with all the Scriptures, it cannot be true. These words do not establish the power of him who speaks, but of him who believes. God has given us the Word and authority to speak. This power belongs to every Christian, since Christ has made us all partakers of his power and dominion. Here is not a civil but a spiritual rule, and Christ’s followers rule spiritually. Christ’s meaning is: Ye shall have the power to speak the Word, and to preach the gospel, and whosoever believeth has the remission of his sins; but whosoever believeth not has no remission of sin. Therefore if you believe the Word, you gain this power; but if you believe not, then what I speak or preach will avail nothing even though it be God’s Word.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 344–45.

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Serving One Lord http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/serving-one-lord/a1984.html Thu, 29 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Woord

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Matthew 6:24–25, RSV

Fron Luther

Mammon means goods or riches, and such goods as one does not need, but holds as a treasure, and it is gold and possessions that one deposits as stock and storage provisions. This Christians do not do, they gather no treasures; but they ask God for their daily bread. Others, however, are not satisfied with this, they gather a great store upon which they think they can depend; in case our God should die to-day or to-morrow, they would be able to keep themselves.

To have money and possessions is not forbidden, as we cannot get along without them. Abraham, Lot, David, Solomon and others had great possessions and much gold; and at present there are many wealthy persons who are pious, in spite of their riches. But it is one thing to have possessions and another to serve them; to have mammon and to make a god of it. Job also was wealthy, he had great possessions and was more powerful than all who lived in the East; yet he says: “If I have made gold my hope, and said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; have I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gotten much?”

Whoever possesses riches is lord of the riches. Whoever serves them, is their slave and does not possess them, but they possess him; for he dare not make use of them when he desires, and cannot serve others with them; yea, he is not bold enough to dare to touch them. But if he is lord over his riches, they serve him, and he does not serve them; then he dare use them and casts his care only upon God; he aids the poor with his wealth and gives to those who have nothing. We see here and there many pious poor people existing only for the purpose that the wealthy may help and serve them with their riches.

The sum of it all is, that God cannot allow us to have another Lord besides himself. He is a jealous God and cannot suffer us to serve him and his enemy. It is his will that we serve not gold and riches, and that we be not overanxious for our life; but that we labor and commend our anxiety to him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 343–44.

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Tempting Christ http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/tempting-christ/a1983.html Wed, 28 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same supernatural food 4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to dance.” 8 We must not indulge in immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put the Lord to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come.

1 Corinthians 10:1–11, RSV

From Luther

In Numbers, chapter 21st, we read that after the people had journeyed forty years in the wilderness and God had brought them through all their difficulties and given them victory over their enemies, as they drew near to the promised land, they became dissatisfied and impatient. They were setting out to go around the land of the Edomites, who refused them a passage through their country, when they began to murmur against God and Moses for leading them out of Egypt. Thereupon God sent among them fiery serpents and they were bitten, a multitude of the people perishing.

Complaining against God is here called tempting him. Men set themselves against the Word of God and blaspheme, as if God and his Word were utterly insignificant, because his disposing is not as they desire. Properly speaking it is tempting God when we not only disbelieve him, but oppose him, refusing to accept what he says as true and desiring that our own wisdom rule. Such was the conduct of the Jews, notwithstanding God’s promise to remain with them and to preserve them in trouble; and notwithstanding that he proved his care by daily providences in special blessings and strange wonders.

Paul, in speaking of how they tempted God, says, “They tempted Christ,” pointing to the fact that the eternal Son of God was from the beginning with his Church and with the people who received the promise of his coming in the form of man. They believed as we do that Christ was the Rock that followed them. That sin and blasphemy was the real meaning of their murmurings is indicated by the fact that Moses afterward, in the terrible punishment of the fiery serpents by which the people were bitten and died, erected at God’s command a brazen serpent and whoever looked upon it lived. It was a sign to them of Christ who was to be offered for the salvation of sinners. It taught the people that they had blasphemed against God, incurred his wrath and deserved punishment, and therefore in order to be saved from wrath and condemnation, they had no possible alternative but to believe again in Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 342–43.

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Our Only Help http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/our-only-help/a1982.html Tue, 27 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

Luke 10:30–35, RSV

From Luther

The man who lies here half dead, wounded and stripped of his clothing, is Adam and all mankind. The murderers are the devils who robbed and wounded us and left us lying prostrate and half dead. We still struggle a little for life; but there lies horse and man, we cannot help ourselves to our feet, and if we were left thus lying we would have to die by reason of our great anguish and lack of nourishment. If the poor wounded man had desired to help himself he would only have done harm to himself and irritated his wounds. Had he remained lying quiet, he would have suffered all the same. This parable pictures us perfectly.

Thus we are when left to ourselves. We are always lost, we may lay hold where we will. Hitherto man has thought out many ways and methods how he might reform his life and get to heaven. One invented this way, another that; therefore there arose the many kinds of orders, the letters of indulgence, and the crusades; but they have only made evil worse. The world is thus finely portrayed in this wounded man; it lies in sins over head and ears and cannot help itself.

But the Samaritan, who is our Lord Jesus Christ, has fulfilled the law and is perfectly healthy and sound. He comes and does more than both priest and Levite. They saw the wounded man lying helpless and half dead, but they could not help that. He who lay there half dead saw it too, but could not improve matters. The dear sainted fathers saw very well that the people lay in their sins over their ears, and felt the anguish of sin, but what could they do to remedy it? But Christ, the true Samaritan, goes to him and does not require the helpless one to come to him; for here is no merit, but pure grace and mercy; he binds up his wounds and pours in oil and wine. This is the whole gospel from beginning to end. Cling firmly to this Samaritan, Christ the Saviour, he will help you, and nothing else in heaven or on earth will.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 341–42.

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Adhering to the Word http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/adhering-to-the-word/a1981.html Mon, 26 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles — 13 ... ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. 

Ephesians 3:1, 13, RSV

From Luther

Having been imprisoned at Rome by order of the emperor, Paul thus consoles his beloved converts at Ephesus, admonishing them to cleave to the doctrine learned from him, and not to be frightened from it by his fate. He reminds them of that whereunto God has called them, and of that they have received through his preaching.

Such admonition is still, and will ever be, necessary in the Christian community. The weak must endure severe conflicts in the tribulations which the gospel inevitably entails. The trial is especially hard when they must lose their leaders and teachers, and in addition hear the shameful, bitter taunts of the calumniators. We in this day have to expect that some will be offended when teachers are assailed. We should therefore be prepared, and when any of our number fall away from our faith to flatter tyrants and the pope, and become liars and knaves, we must individually lay hold of the gospel in such a way as to enable us to stand and to say: “Not because a certain one has taught thus, do I believe. It matters not what becomes of him or what he may be, the doctrine itself is right. This I know, whatever God may permit to befall myself or others because of it.”

How could I comfort myself and stand firm unless I were able to say: “Though ten other worlds and everything great, lofty, wise and prudent, and all my friends and brethren as well, should turn from me, the doctrine still remains true. I will adhere to the Word of God, stand or fall what may.” When the trying hour arrives, we are able to accomplish as little against the enemy as Paul when he lay in chains, powerless to succor a soul. He was obliged to commit his cause to the Lord. At the same time, as a faithful apostle, he ceased not to admonish and warn to the full extent of his power. Well he knew that many false apostles were ready, as soon as he said a word, to pervert it. For the sake of affording his converts comfort and strength, Paul proceeds to make his sufferings and tribulations pleasing to them by speaking of these afflictions in unusual and beautiful terms.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 340–41.

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We Are the Widow http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/we-are-the-widow/a1980.html Sun, 25 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word 

11 Soon afterward he went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. 

Luke 7:11–15, RSV

From Luther

This was indeed a sad condition in the life of the widow. She had lost her husband, and now her only son, whom she loved, had died. Among those people it was regarded a great misfortune, if parents could not leave their name, or children. They regarded this a great disfavor of God. Hence the widow, who, after the death of her husband, had placed all her hope and comfort in her only son, must have had great sorrow when her son was torn from her and she had nothing left on earth. She undoubtedly thought: You are also one of the accursed women to whom God is such an enemy as to compel you to pass from the earth without leaving an offspring.

Therefore this woman had great sorrow, not only because she had been robbed of her husband and afterwards of her son, the family being thereby destroyed before her eyes; but, what seemed far more serious, she was forced to think: Now I see that God is unfavorable to me and I am cursed; for this punishment has been executed upon me, because God in the Psalms and the Prophets has threatened the ungodly to destroy them root and branch. This has happened to me. If some one had then said to her: Thy son shall live again before thine eyes, she would undoubtedly have replied: Alas! do not mock me in my deep sorrow. Grant me at least so much that I may bewail my great misery, and do not add to it by mockery.

But all this is portrayed here that we might learn that with God nothing is impossible, whether it be misfortune, calamity, anger, or whatever it may be, and that he sometimes allows misfortune to come upon the good as well as upon the wicked. Yea, God even permits at times the ungodly to sit at ease, and meet with success in all their undertakings, while he appears to the pious as if he were angry with them and unfavorable to them. So it happened to the godly Job, all whose children were sadly destroyed in one day, who was robbed of his cattle and land, and his body terribly tormented. He was an innocent man and yet he was compelled to endure a punishment such as no ungodly person had suffered.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 338–39.

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The Righteousness of God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-righteousness-of-god/a1979.html Sat, 24 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus

Romans 3:19–24, RSV

From Luther

The law is known when I learn from it that I am a sinner and am condemned, and see that there is no hope nor comfort anywhere for me, and I cannot help myself, but must have another one to deliver me. Then is the time I look around for him who can help, and he is Christ Jesus, who for this purpose became man, like unto us, in order that he might help us out of the mire into which we have fallen. He loved God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, and submitted his will to the will of his Father, fulfilled the law in every respect; this I could not do and yet I was required to do it. God accepts him; and that which he fulfilled in the law, he offers me. He freely gives me his life with all his works, so that I can appropriate them to myself as a possession that is my own and is bestowed upon me as a free gift.

Christ has through his death secured for us the Holy Spirit; he fulfils the law in us and not we. For that Spirit, whom God sends into your heart for the sake of his Son, makes an entirely new man out of you, who does with joy and love from the heart everything the law requires, which before would have been impossible for you to do. This new man submits himself wholly and entirely to the will of God. Whatever God does with him, is well pleasing to him. This Spirit you cannot merit yourself, but Christ has secured it. When I believe from the heart that Christ did this for me, I receive also the same Holy Spirit that makes me an entirely new man. Then everything God commands is sweet, lovely and agreeable, and I do what he desires of me; not by my own strength, but by the the strength of him that is in me, as Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.”

But take heed that you do not undertake to secure this faith in Jesus Christ by your own works or power. The Holy Ghost must do it, and faith alone is sufficient to this end. Our good works are for another purpose, namely, to prove our faith.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 337–38.

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Thy Will Be Done http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/thy-will-be-done/a1978.html Fri, 23 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 22:34–39, RSV

From Luther

Consider it an established fact that reason can never understand and fulfil the law, even though it knows the meaning of the law. Human nature alone will never be able to accomplish what God requires in this commandment, namely, that we surrender our will to the will of God, so that we renounce our reason, our will, our might and power, and say from the heart: Thy will be done. You will nowhere find a person who loves God with his whole heart and his neighbor as himself. It may indeed happen that two companions live together in a very friendly manner, but even there hypocrisy is hidden, which continues until you are offended by him; then you will se how you love him, and whether you are flesh or spirit. But this commandment requires me to be friendly with all my heart to him who has offended me.

Take to yourself this commandment: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and think upon it; how far you are from fulfilling it, that you have not yet made a beginning to suffer and to do from the heart what God demands of you. When God does our pleasure, then we can easily say: How I do love God, he is my Father! How gracious he is to me! But when he sends misfortune and adversity, we no longer regard him as our God, nor as our Father. True love to God does not act in this way, but thinks in the heart and says with the lips: Lord God, I am thy creature; do with me as thou wilt; if thou desirest, I will suffer any misfortune or die this very hour; I will cheefully do so. But you will never find a person who will always regulate himself according to this commandment.

Therefore there is no human being who is not condemned, for no one has kept this commandment, and God requires everyone to keep it. We stand in the midst of fear and distress, unable to help ourselves. Our human nature is unable to keep the law, which wants the heart, and unless done from the heart, it avails nothing before God. This is never done except man is born anew through the Holy Spirit. When you realize this, the law has accomplished its work.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 336–37.

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The Firm Assurance of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-firm-assurance-of-faith/a1977.html Thu, 22 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

11 Soon afterward he went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother.

Luke 7:11–15, RSV

From Luther

These words are instantly followed by such power and efficacy that the dead man did not lie as before, but sat up, bound and covered as he was, began to speak and showed that he was no longer dead, but alive. This was a wonderful and quick change from death to life. Where the spark of life had long been extinguished and there was no sign of life, there are fully and instantly restored breath, blood, sensibility, movement, thought, speech and everything else that belongs to life. Christ, with one word, turned the sad and sorrowing procession into a joyous, lovely and beautiful procession of life, in which both the youth, carried by four or more to be buried under ground, and his mother, joyously follow the Lord Jesus into the city, accompanied by the whole crowd, forgetting death, the bier and the grave, and speaking joyously and thankfully only of life.

But the glory and honor of this work belong to the Lord Jesus, through whose power and authority alone death can be removed and life brought forth from it. Hence the fame and report concerning Christ, of which the gospel speaks, saying that it went forth throughout the whole country, is recorded for our consolation and joy over against the fear and dread of death, that we may know what kind of a Saviour we have in Christ. He so manifested himself on earth in his ministry and form of a servant, that he can be known as the Lord both of death and life, to destroy the former and bring the latter to light. He met death and fought with it, as in the case of Jairus’ daughter and again that of Lazarus, and at last in his own person, when he finally overcame and destroyed it.

We should learn to believe this and comfort ourselves in the hour of death and in all other times of distress. We should be firmly assured that in Christ we have obtained victory over death and life. Yea, the more misery and death are in us, the more richly we shall find comfort and life in him, provided we hold fast to him by faith, to which he spurs us on and admonishes us both through his Word and by such examples as the one mentioned above.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 335–36.

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Suffering Life http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/suffering-life/a1976.html Wed, 21 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 
18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:15b–18, RSV

From Luther

Here you have the great boast, the honor and glory of the Christian. Leave to the world its splendor, its pride and its honors, which mean nothing else—when it comes to the point — than that they are the children of the devil. But consider the marvel of this, that a poor, miserable sinner should obtain such honor with God as to be called, not a servant of God, but a son and an heir of God. Any man might well consider it a privilege to be called one of God’s lowest creatures; but the apostle declares that we who believe in Christ shall be his heirs, his sons and daughters. Who can sufficiently magnify God’s grace? But the apostle adds the words, “if so be that we suffer with him,” to teach us that while we are on earth we must so live as to approve ourselves good, obedient children, who do not obey the flesh, but who for the sake of this dominion endure whatever befalls them or causes pain to the flesh.

O how noble it is in a man not to obey his lusts, but to resist them with a strong faith, even though he suffer for it! To be the child of a mighty and renowned king or emperor means to possess nobility, honor and glory on earth. How much more glorious it would be, could a man truthfully boast that he is the son of one of the highest angels! Yet what would all that be compared with one who is named and chosen by God himself, and called his son, the heir of exalted divine majesty? Such sonship and heritage must assuredly imply great and unspeakable glory and riches, and power and honor, above all else that is in heaven or on earth. This very honor, even though we had nothing but the name and fame of it, ought to move us to become the enemies of this sinful life on earth and to strive against it with all our power, notwithstanding we should have to surrender all for his sake and suffer all things possible for a human being to suffer. But the human heart cannot grasp the greatness of the honor and glory to which we shall be exalted with Christ. It is altogether above our comprehension or imagination.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 333–34.

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The Anxious World http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-anxious-world/a1975.html Tue, 20 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.  34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

Matthew 6:30–34, RSV

From Luther

The world is always anxious about the future, and thinks thereby to be removed from danger and to protect and support itself. It sees not its own vanity, and that its projects may be wrong; that it is true and experience testifies, as Christ here says, that each day brings its own misfortune and evil. Thus it happens with such plottings and prudence of its own, with which it means to insure itself and to forestall all coming danger, the world only causes more woe and harm. Whenever worldlings see that things do not go as they expected, or that an accident happens, they begin to despond, think of one remedy and another, and imagine they must look for help, protection and safety, wherever they can and as best they can. They begin to patch and think to help matters by all sorts of strange craftiness and practices against God and their consciences to which they are driven by unbelief. Hence comes so much misfortune, misery, murder, war, and all misdoings of the wicked world. Each one means to carry out his affairs without God, to oppress and choke every one who would hinder them, and to throw all things higgledy-piggledy in a heap, rather than desist from his intent. From this all order is destroyed and naught but evil grows in governments and all other affairs.

Against this Christ would caution his believers that they may not waver, nor stake their affairs on that which is uncertain, vainly caring for the future, but at all times do that which is right; that they may not worry at the outcome of things, nor allow themselves to be swerved by future and uncertain good or evil. He would rather commend care to God, and then take everything that happens to them in good part and overcome it with faith and patience. On earth it cannot be otherwise than that each one in his daily calling meets with things other than he welcomes, which cause him trouble and labor. Hence Christ calls this life daily evil or misfortune. He would have us know it and be prepared for it, and not hanker after the world and become partakers in its unrighteousness and evil affairs, which lead us and others into ruin and damnation.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 332–33.

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First Things First http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/first-things-first/a1974.html Mon, 19 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. 

Matthew 6:25–33, RSV

From Luther

This is the chief passage in this sermon, and states the manner in which we are to proceed to obtain the divine or eternal gift, and what we need for this life. Would you rightly look to that of which it behooves you to take care, then let this be the first, aye, your only care, that you strive according to God’s Word to do your duty, to serve him in his kingdom as his Word teaches you—for in this consists the righteousness belonging to this kingdom—and to prize his Word more highly than all pertaining to this temporal life.

If you have done this you have done well and provided well, and you need not take any further burdens upon you, nor cherish any cares in your heart; indeed, it should be much too small a thing for you to care for so slight a matter as the wants of your daily bread, and thus to aggrieve yourselves. Rather do this for the honor of God and for your own benefit, that you strive after the great and eternal good; if you attain and keep this, the rest will surely take care of itself. Neither can you obtain it from God in any better way than by first seeking and asking of him great things.

It is to his liking that we ask great things of him, and he is pleased to give them. Since he gladly gives great things, he will not stint the small things, but will throw them into the bargain. God has often caused many pious people, who have helped in building up God’s kingdom, have served the Church and furthered God’s Word, to experience this. God has richly blessed them with goods and honor. This is evidenced not only by the examples of the Scriptures, but also by the history of some of our pious kings and princes, who, having liberally given for the ministry and for schools, have not become poorer, but were more richly blessed of God and have reigned in peace, in victory and good fortune. God would gladly do this still, if the world would happily follow the well-meant advice which is given here, and not with unbelief, greed and unchristian scheming rage against his Word to its own harm and ruin.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 331–32.

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The Gracious Offer http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-gracious-offer/a1973.html Sun, 18 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word 

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” 

The Revised Standard Version. Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1971, p. Lk 18:9–14.

Luke 18:9–14, RSV

From Luther

Surely this is the art of a great master, which is entirely foreign to, high and far above human understanding. Reason cannot harmonize what this publican has here put together to construct a prayer from words entirely opposed to each other. It does not at all seem proper that such a sinner and condemned person should dare come before God and pray. Sin and mercy are opposed to each other, like fire and water. Mercy does not belong where sin abounds, but wrath and punishment. How then does this man discover the art to harmonize and unite them, and how dare he desire and call for grace to cover his sins? To this belongs more than to know the law and the ten commandments, an art, of which the Pharisee knew nothing at all.

This is preaching the precious gospel of God’s grace and mercy in Christ, which is published and offered to condemned sinners without any merit of their own. The publican must have heard of this, and the Holy Spirit must have touched and moved his heart with it, as he feels his sins through the law, that he comes before God and offers his prayer, that he certainly believes as he has heard from the Word of God, that God will be merciful and forgive sins, will turn away his wrath and eternal death for the sake of his Son, the promised Messiah. Such faith united and bound together these two opposing elements in this prayer.

This preaching of the gospel is heard by many, and it appears an easy matter to say it; but it is not as common as men think. No one better understands how difficult it is than the few who study and exercise themselves to believe and pray like the publican. The reason of this is, that the pious Pharisee is still within us and hinders us from thus uniting them. Thus you have in this publican a beautiful example of true Christian repentance and faith. He gives honor and praise to God alone for his divine grace; he prays to him from the heart and in true confidence in his Word and promise. You see here an excellent masterpiece of spiritual wisdom and the proper fruits that follow faith.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 330–31.

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The Sooner the Better http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-sooner-the-better/a1972.html Sat, 17 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

From the Word

26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26–27, RSV

From Luther

This passage sounds as though permission were given to be angry. But Paul is taking into consideration the way of the world. Men are tempted and moved to anger. There are no clean records. Under sudden provocation the heart swells with ire, while the devil lustily fans the flame; he is ever alert to stamp us with his seal and image and make us like unto himself, either through error and false doctrine, or through wrath and murder in conflict with love and patience. These two forms of evil you will encounter, especially if you make an effort to be a godly Christian, to defend the truth and to live uprightly in the sight of all. You will meet with all manner of malice aforethought and deceit, and with faithlessness and malignity on the part of those you have benefited. This will hurt you and move you to wrath. In your own house and among your dear Christian brethren you will often meet with that which vexes you; a word of yours may hurt their feelings. It will not be otherwise. This life of ours is so constituted that such conditions will exist. Flesh and blood cannot but be stirred at times by wrath and impatience, especially when it receives evil for good; the devil is ever at hand kindling your anger and endeavoring to fan into a blaze the wrath and ill humor between yourself and your neighbor.

But right here, says the apostle, you should beware and not sin; not give rein, nor yield to the impulse and promptings of wrath. That you may indeed be moved, the apostle would say, I well know, and you may fancy you have the best of reasons for exhibiting anger and vengeance; but beware of doing what your wrath would have you do; if overcome by wrath and led to rashness, do not continue in it, do not harbor it, but subdue and restrain it, the sooner the better. Do not suffer it to take root or to remain with you over night. If followed, wrath will cause you to fall and sin against God and your neighbor. When wrath attacks you, go into your chamber, pray the Lord’s Prayer and confide in God; he will uphold your right.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 328–29.

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The Chief Good http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-chief-good/a1971.html Fri, 16 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”

Luke 10:25–28, RSV

From Luther

God is a jealous God and cannot suffer us to love anything above himself. God allows us indeed to love his creatures; they were created for this purpose and are good. All things that are attractive and beautiful by nature cause us to love them. This God permits us to do. But that I should cling to the creature and love it with the same love with which I love God, the Creator, this he cannot and will not allow. The love of the creature should stand far, far below our love to him; and as he is the chief good, his will is also to be loved in the highest degree above all other good.

To love God with all the heart is to love him above all creatures. I must be affectionate towards him, evermore cleave to him, depend upon him, trust him, have my desire, love and joy in him, and always think of him. To love God with all the soul is to devote your entire bodily life to him. The soul in the Scriptures signifies the life of the body, which acts through the five senses, seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting, and everything that the soul does through the body, as eating, drinking, sleeping. All this I will give up before I forsake my God, you must be able to say. To love God with all our strength is to devote all our members and whatever we may be able to do through our bodies to the love of God, and sacrifice all rather than do anything contrary to his will. To love God with all the mind is to take to nothing except what is pleasing to God.

But there is not a man on earth who thus fulfils the law. Thus this law makes us all sinners in that not the least letter of this commandment is fulfilled even by the most holy person in the world. No one clings so firmly to God with all the heart, that he would forsake all things for God’s sake. What would we do if we had to give our lives for God’s and Christ’s sake? Still the law requires it. Therefore it is safer to confess that we are sinners, than to have respect to our works and beautiful, glittering lives.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 327–28.

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The Sin Remover http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-sin-remover/a1970.html Thu, 15 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:29, RSV

From Luther

With reference to the forgiveness of sins let me say that you will not find anything in your heart with which you can pay them off, nor raise any funds for which God might recognize you and cancel the debt in the ledger. But if you seize Christ as the one who has become your substitute, who has taken your sin upon himself, and who has given himself with all his merit and worthiness for you, no sin can avail anything against you. If I am a sinner, he is holy and Lord over sin, death, Satan and hell, so that no sin can harm me, because he has been given me as my righteousness and salvation.

Through grace we have, indeed, the forgiveness of all sins, but in no way except in and through Christ alone, and in him only it must be sought and can be obtained. Whoever will come before God with any kind of work, which God is to recognize as meritorious for obtaining grace, will be disappointed and deceived, yea, instead of grace he will heap wrath upon himself. All other ways and means are condemned as the doctrines of devils, as when men are led and directed to their own works, or to the holiness and merits of others, as of the saints who have led ascetic lives or have suffered and expiated a great deal; or as those have done who have comforted people in the throes of death by admonishing them to suffer death willingly for their sins. Whoever dares to offer anything else for sin or to atone for it himself does nothing less than deny the Lord Jesus Christ, disgrace and slander him, as if the blood of Christ were of no more consequence than our repentance and satisfaction, or were not sufficient to take away all the sins of the world.

Would you, then, be freed from your sins, you need not chastise yourself with them, nor have anything to do with them, but simply creep under the wings and into the bosom of Christ, as he is the one who has taken them away and has laid them upon himself.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 326–27.

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The House of God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-house-of-god/a1969.html Wed, 14 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” 

Luke 19:45–46, RSV

From Luther

Here the Lord tells us what the temple of God is: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.” This is a strong passage. The words, “for all people,” “for all Gentiles,” is against the Jews, who trusted in the temple of God at Jerusalem, and thought that it was impossible for God to demolish this temple or destroy this city. They stoned Stephen, because he said, “Jesus shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” But we must rightly understand this expression, that the city of Jerusalem, the temple and the people, should remain until the time of Christ. With this agree all the prophets, who have given all things into the hands of Christ; as he would then dispose of them, so it would be and remain.

It is true that God himself had established the temple at Jerusalem and had himself consecrated and sanctified it with his Word, when he said: This house is my house! for his Word was preached in it. Wherever God’s Word is preached, there is God’s own true house, there God most certainly dwells with his grace. Wherever his gospel is, there is a house of prayer, there men shall and may truly pray and God will also hear their prayer. But where the Word of God is not found, there the devil has full sway.

That we have imitated the Jews and have built so many churches would be well enough, if we had done it in order that the Word of God might be preached there; for where the Word goes there God is present and pours out his grace. But Jesus says to the Jews: You have made my house a den of thieves. Truly he gives it a scandalous name. But he does it because they no longer respect the house of God, but make it a market house. The priests did not inquire whether the Word of God was preached in it, although they sang and babbled and read the prophets and Moses. But God cares nothing for such babbling of psalms, and Christ is therefore justly angry at such a desecration of his temple by these bloated misers, who not only forsake the true worship of God, but trample it under their feet.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 325–26.

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Craving Riches http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/craving-riches/a1968.html Tue, 13 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. 

1 Timothy 6:10, RSV

From Luther

We see from daily experience what a shameful and accursed vice covetousness is, and what harm it does, especially in high places, whether clerical or lay. If the money fiend has taken possession of a pastor’s or preacher’s heart, so that like the rest of the world he aims at securing for himself great riches, then, like Judas, the traitor, he has already fallen into the jaws of the devil and is prepared to betray Christ, his Word and his Church for a few pieces of silver. Thus the pope has introduced all sorts of idolatries and abominations in the name of God and the Church in order to secure and maintain his riches and dominion; he has led multitudes of souls to the devil, so filling them with false terrors of his ban that no one dares to say a word against it.

How harmful it is in civil government when lords and princes are dominated by this shameful vice, aiming to appropriate everything to themselves! On this account they forget to exercise their princely office so as to be of help to the land and people over whom they have been placed as lords for this purpose, and thus they have forfeited the commendation and love, which they should receive with all honor and praise as the fathers of their people and their country. They do not concern themselves about the spread of God’s Word, the administration and support of churches and schools, or the maintenance of law and order among their subjects. They permit destitute pastors with their wives and children, the widows and orphans, to suffer injustice, violence and want. In the meantime they go about with their tax lists, and consider only how they may collect money enough for their extravagant expenditures and pomp.

Nowadays every one who has the power by means of his money impoverishes his neighbors and thus sets God and conscience aside. Upon such unchristian doings must come the fearful wrath and punishment of God. The time will come when he will turn us out of doors; since we do not heed his Word and admonition, he himself may put a forcible end to this godless business. This the believer escapes who with godly fear quietly occupies his station in life, satisfied with the things that God gives him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 323–25.

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The Bold Faith of Lepers http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-bold-faith-of-lepers/a1967.html Mon, 12 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word 

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”

Luke 17:11–13, RSV

From Luther

This is a plain, simple history or transaction, which requires little explanation. Yet as plain as it is, great is the example it presents to us. In the leper it teaches us faith, in Christ it teaches us love. Now, faith and love constitute the whole character of the Christian. Faith receives, love gives. Faith brings man to God, love brings man to his fellow man. Through faith he permits God to do him good, through love he does good to his brother. For whoever believes has everything from God, and is happy and rich. He needs nothing more and does and orders all things for the good and benefit of his neighbor. Through love he does to his neighbor as God did to him through faith. He reaps good from above through faith, he gives good below through love.

It is characteristic of faith boldly to trust God’s grace, and to form a bright vision and refuge in God, doubting nothing. Where there is no true faith there is no true prayer, nor any seeking after God. But where it exists it makes man bold and anxious freely to bring his troubles unto God, and earnestly to pray for help. It is not enough to believe there is a God, and pray many words as the wretched custom is now. But observe in the leper how faith is constituted, how without any teacher at all it teaches us how our prayers may be truly fruitful. You here observe how they had a good opinion of and a comforting assurance in Christ, and firmly thought he would be gracious to them. This thought made them bold and anxious to bring their troubles to him, and to cry for help with great earnestness and a loud voice.

Luke does not relate three things of the lepers in vain: first, that they went to meet him; second, they stood; third, they lifted up their voices. By these three things their strong faith is commended to us as an example. The going forth to meet him is the boldness excited by comforting assurance. The standing is the firmness and sincerity against doubt. The lifting up of the voice is the great earnestness in prayer, growing out of such confidence.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 322–23.

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The Consolation of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-consolation-of-faith/a1966.html Sun, 11 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 

Romans 8:12–17, RSV

From Luther

This is a noble and comforting text, worthy of being written in letters of gold. Because ye now through faith, he means to say, have the Holy Spirit and are led by him, ye are no longer in bondage as ye were when under the law; ye need no longer be afraid of its terrors and its demands, as if God would condemn and reject you on account of your unworthiness and the remaining infirmity of your flesh. But ye have the consolation that, through faith, ye have the assurance of God’s grace, and may consider God your Father and call upon him as his children.

Paul speaks of the “spirit of bondage” and the “spirit of adoption” according to the customs of his times. In those days man-servants and maid-servants were the property of the master of the house in the same sense that a cow was his property. He bought them with his money; he did with them as he pleased, just as with his cattle. They were afraid of their master and had to expect stripes, imprisonment and punishment even unto death. They could only say: Here I serve for my bread only; I have nothing to expect but stripes, and must be content to have my master cast me out or sell me to some one else whenever he chooses. They could never have a well-grounded hope of release from such fear and bondage and coercion.

Such a slavish, captive, fearful and uncertain spirit ye do not have, says the apostle. Ye are not compelled to live continually in fear of wrath and condemnation as are the followers of Moses and all who are under the law. On the contrary, ye have a delightful, free spirit, one confident and contented, such as a child entertains toward its father, and ye need not fear that God is angry with you or will cast you off and condemn you. For ye have the Spirit of his Son in your hearts and know that ye shall remain in his house and receive the inheritance, and that ye may comfort yourselves with it and boast of it as being your own.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 321–22.

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Trusting the Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/trusting-the-gospel/a1965.html Sat, 10 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him to lay his hand upon him. 33 And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; 34 and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

Mark 7:31–35, RSV

From Luther

In this text both faith and love are presented to us. Faith, in that these people had before heard how kind and compassionate Jesus was and how he had helped those who had come to him. Although the text does not state this, yet we must so conclude, and the facts prove that they must have previously heard the good tidings of Christ the Lord, on account of which they believed. This was the beginning of their faith. For the Word must first have been heard, and must have entered the human heart, showing the mercy of God in such a way as to create faith. Then they clung to these tidings, trusted them, went thither, and hoped to receive of him what they had heard. In this way faith grows out of the Word of God. We must, therefore, earnestly search the gospel in order thus to lay the first stone. The Word first informs us of the mercy and goodness of God; faith then lays hold on the Word with firm confidence, and we obey it. We now become conscious of it in our hearts and are satisfied. For as soon as we believe we are already justified and are with Christ in his inheritance.

This text also sets forth the works of love in this, that these people go and take care of this poor man, just as Christ sent forth the tidings to them, showing his goodness and mercy, without any merit in them or their efforts to obtain it. As soon as they lay hold on that mercy and drink from its fountain, they again send it forth freely and impart it to their neighbor. These people do not need this work themselves, they are not looking for a reward, nor do they even think of themselves, but are only thinking of the poor man and how they may help him. So Christians should carefully consider how love works and how it cares for others. “Love seeketh not its own.” “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 320–21.

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Faithful Suffering http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/faithful-suffering/a1964.html Fri, 09 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. 7 Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. 8 Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you.

1 Peter 5:6–10, RSV

From Luther

This is a precious and comforting passage, the truth of which Peter learned, not only by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but from his own experience. One instance of his experience was when, in the high priest’s house, he thrice denied his Lord, and soon thereafter fell into such anxiety and despair that he would have followed the traitor Judas had not Christ turned and looked on him. It was for this reason that Christ, so soon after his resurrection, first of all commanded that the glad tidings be announced to Peter.

Weak Christians suffer beyond measure because they are plagued and beset so constantly by the devil. Their afflictions oppress them so sorely that they imagine no one suffers as severely as they do. Especially does this seem the case in the great spiritual temptations which come to those endowed with peculiar gifts and called to positions of prominence in the Church. Thus Paul often laments his great temptations, which the common people do not understand and cannot endure. These sufferings are often such that even the great and strong would languish and wither beneath them, were it not for the comfort God bestows. These troubles grip the heart and consume the very marrow. It is true that temptations differ and come from different sources, and so every one may imagine his own a peculiar kind, yet the sufferings and temptations of all Christians are alike in this, that the devil tries to drive them all from the fear of and confidence in God into unbelief, contempt, hatred, and blasphemy against God.

Amid such temptations Peter comforts suffering Christians by telling them that they are not the first, nor the only ones, to be thus assailed. They are not to feel as if it were a wonderful and unheard of cross which they bear and were bearing it alone. They are to know that their brethren, Christians of all times, and scattered through all the world, must suffer the same things at the hands of Satan and his minions. It assuages and comforts the sufferer beyond measure to know that he does not suffer alone, but with a great multitude.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 319–20.

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That Which Makes for Peace http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/that-which-makes-for-peace/a1963.html Thu, 08 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

41 And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. 

Luke 19:41–42, RSV

From Luther

If you only knew what belongs to your peace, you would yet this day consider, and redeem the time. But you are blind and will neglect the opportunity until there shall be neither help, nor counsel. The Jews were stubborn and depended on God’s promises. They vainly thought they owned the temple, and that God dwelt there; besides, they thought they had mighty men, money and treasures enough to defy all their enemies. They trusted in their own glory and built their own confidence on a false delusion, which finally deceived and destroyed them.

The Lord, however, saw deeper into the future than they when he said: O Jerusalem! if thou hadst known what I know, thou wouldst seek thy peace. Peace in the Scriptures means that all things go well with us. You now think you have pleasant days, but if you knew how your enemies will encamp round about you, compass you about and hedge you in on every side, crush you to the ground and demolish all your beautiful buildings, and leave not one stone upon another, you would eagerly accept the Word, which brings solid peace and every blessing to you.

God caused his threat to be executed; the city was besieged at the time of the Easter festival, when the Jews from every land were assembled within the walls of Jerusalem. There were together at that time about three million people. One hundred thousand would have been enough to crowd the city. But all this great multitude God in his wrath intended to bake, melt and weld together into one mass of ruin. The apostles and Christians were all out of the city. They had withdrawn and were scattered in Samaria, Galilee and among the heathen. Thus God separated and saved the good grain and heaped the chaff into one place.

Here let us learn a lesson, for this concerns also us. God has now opened the precious treasures of his holy gospel unto us, by which we can learn God’s will. Yet no one will earnestly believe it; we rather despise it and make light of it. God has great patience; he waits to see how we will deal with his gospel; but when we once let the opportunity slip, he will take his Word from us, and then the wrath which consumed the Jews will also consume us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 317–18.

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Nothing More http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/nothing-more/a1962.html Wed, 07 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

3 Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

Luke 17:3–5, RSV

From Luther

There are those who hear and read the gospel and what is said by faith, and immediately conclude that they have a correct conception of what faith is. They think that faith is something which is altogether in their own power to have or not to have, as any other natural human work. When in their hearts they begin to think that the doctrine is right, and believe it is true, they immediately conclude that faith is present. But as soon as they see and feel in themselves and others that no change has taken place, that they remain in their old ways, they conclude that faith is not sufficient, that they must have something more and greater than faith. Then they cry: “Faith alone does not do it.” Why? Because there are so many who believe, and are no better than before. Such people are those whom Jude in his epistle calls dreamers, who deceive themselves with their own dreams.

The true faith, of which we speak, cannot be manufactured by our own thoughts, for it is solely a work of God in us without any assistance on our part. It is God’s gift and grace. Faith is something very powerful, active, restless, effective, which at once renews a person and regenerates him and leads him altogether into a new manner and character of life, so that it is impossible not to do good without ceasing. Just as natural as it is for the tree to produce fruit, so natural it is for faith to produce good works.

Whoever has not this faith talks but vainly about faith and works, and does not know what he says. For he has not received it; he juggles with lies and applies the Scriptures where they speak of faith and works to his own dreams and false thoughts, which is purely a human work. Whereas the Scriptures attribute both faith and good works not to ourselves, but to God alone. We should therefore despair of ourselves and pray to God for faith as the apostles did. When we have faith we need nothing more, for it brings with it the Holy Spirit, who not only teaches us all things, but also firmly establishes us in them, and leads us through death and hell to heaven.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 316–17.

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Evident Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/evident-faith/a1961.html Tue, 06 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 7:21, RSV

From Luther

If we are to do God’s will, we must first know for a certainty what it is, and how to do it. This our own wisdom and thoughts do not teach, or all men, heathen and Turks, could do it as well, and every fanatic would come and pretend that whatever pleases him was God’s will. Therefore we must hear God’s Word alone, which reveals plainly unto us what the will of God, the Father, is. First that he has sent his only begotten Son into the world to reconcile us sinners unto God by his death, to purify and sanctify us through his blood without our merits; this he has proclaimed to every one by the gospel, and requires you to believe and accept it. Then, when we have received such grace and salvation, have been baptized into Christ and believe, his will is that we should afterwards live accordingly, obey God and do what is commanded in the ten commandments, every one in his calling confess God’s Word, honor and support it, avoid and flee from sin, be good, patient, chaste, modest, kind, faithful and true.

This God will have preached not only with the mouth, but in the heart and in the deed. Whoever neglects this or teaches, believes and acts contrary, should know that he has not done God’s will and is already judged, that he does not belong to the kingdom of heaven, because he is without faith and love. It will do him no good to boast of Christ as though he were serving him faithfully, preached much and did great wonders. On the other hand, if you earnestly do this will of God, cheerfully hear and believe God’s Word, honor him and do good to your neighbor, you can bravely and joyfully say before God: Lord, Lord, and comfort yourself with the kingdom of heaven which God has given you. Whether on this account the world reviles and condemns you need not trouble you. For now you hear that God does not wish you to seek praise and honor when you say: Lord, Lord! But you are to do the deed and bear fruit of him, who does the will of God. Then measure all doctrine and life with this rule to the praise of God and you will not be deceived.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 315–16.

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God's Dollar http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/gods-dollar/a1960.html Mon, 05 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these men with bread here in the desert?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd.

Mark 8:4–6, RSV

From Luther

Christ commands the disciples to set the loaves before the multitude, by which he shows that he will administer his work and gifts through the instrumentality of human agencies. He thus teaches those who have an office or commission and those who stand before others faithfully and conscientiously to serve the people in obedience to Christ by cheerfully and meekly giving of their own and imparting to others what God entrusted and gave to them. Especially would he teach them to be useful and bring comfort to the poor flock of Christians by their good example of faith and love in order to strengthen their faith and love. He here shows how he gives and will give rich blessings to the end that such office and service may accomplish much good, and bring forth much fruit.

Let us also learn that the gifts and good things which God gives, are not profaned, if they are used in helping the poor in acts of charity, as Christ promises when he says: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.” This has been experienced by many pious people everywhere who have liberally given before our time for the support of the ministerial office, schools, the poor and the like. God gave to them for so doing good times, peace and quiet. Hence arise the proverbs among the people which have been confirmed: One loses no time by going to church; giving alms does not impoverish; possessions unjustly gotten bring no blessing.

But the world will not believe this. It goes on with its raking and scraping together of riches and will let no one be satisfied with what he has; every man desires more than his fellow and seeks riches by robbing, stealing and oppressing the poor. It is evident from this that there is no blessing in such riches; but only the curse of God, misery, misfortune and agony of heart. Therefore a Christian should think much more of a dollar that God gives him than of all the great treasures of the rich misers upon the earth. He has this beautiful treasure in his home which is called godliness, a peaceful quiet heart in God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 314–15.

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Blessed Ears http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/blessed-ears/a1959.html Sun, 04 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.’ 6 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. 

Matthew 13:15–17, RSV

From Luther

Christ spoke these words especially to his disciples at the time when he was greatly moved with spiritual delight and praised his heavenly Father for the revelation of the gospel. He was especially anxious to speak with them because their own salvation also depended upon that revelation. They are nothing more than words of thanksgiving that the disciples lived in the time of the revelation of the gospel, which brings deliverance and salvation from sin and misery to the world. The beloved prophets had prophesied of this time in a glorious manner, they longed for it beyond measure. Therefore, he would say, you are blessed and more than blessed; for you now enjoy the truly golden year, the pure kingdom of grace and the blessed time; only be careful that you retain it and make good use of it.

On the one hand he exhorts to thanksgiving for such grace; and on the other he laments over the great ingratitude of the world, because there are so few people who know and receive this grace, and many even despise it. Therefore Christ especially turned to his disciples and praised them, as though he wished to say: Your eyes and ears are indeed blessed, which see and hear this gospel grace; alas, there are many eyes and ears that do not wish to see and hear it, although they have it right before them. This is a great and superabundant treasure, but the great mass of the people only despise it, and even persecute it.

But the blessed treasure really depends upon a right seeing and hearing; for it is plainly revealed and stands in the clear light before their eyes. But the great mass cannot see nor understand it. What did it help the Pharisees that Christ himself preached the gospel to them? What would it help all the fanatics and critics if forgiveness of sins were preached twice as clearly as it is? They are so completely chilled and choked with thoughts of their own conceits and pleasures dear to them that they can neither see nor hear anything else. But these are indeed blessed eyes and ears that can make a right use of the blessed time or dispensation of the gospel, and know what God has given them in it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 312–13.

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No Other Gods http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/no-other-gods/a1958.html Sat, 03 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 

Exodus 20:1–3, RSV

From Luther

The Jews abstained outwardly from idolatry, but their hearts were far from God, full of mistrust and unbelief. Outwardly they appeared beautiful, as though they meant it in all sincerity, but within they were full of idolatry. They understood this law to mean no more than that they should not set up idols and images to worship, and when they could confess with their lips that they have only one God and honor no other gods, they thought they had kept this commandment.

Now we must have high regard for the law. Thou, thou, it says, thou, and everything thou art; especially does it mean the heart, the soul, and all the powers. It does not speak of the tongue, or the hands, or the knees; but it speaks of the whole body and of all thou hast and art. If I am to have no other God, then I must surely possess the only true God with my heart, I must in my heart be affectionate to him, evermore cleave to him, depend upon him, trust him, have my desire, love and joy in him, and always think of him. Thou shalt love God with all thy heart, so that thy whole body from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet, inwardly and outwardly, goes forth in love, rejoices in God and honors him.

Now find me a man who is chaste and otherwise pious with a burning passion and love; there is none such on the earth. We find ourselves much more inclined to anger, hatred, envy, worldly pleasures. You see, you poor condemned creature, you should have delighted in God’s law, and you have no pleasure in it. Had we now remained in this condemnation, we would have had to perish forever. Therefore Christ comes and offers his mercy, and says: You are to love God with all your heart, but you have not done it; now believe in me. Then when we come before God the Father, Christ will say: Father! Although they have not wholly fulfilled thy law, yet I have done so, let this be to their benefit because they believe in me.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 311–12.

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A Cup of Cold Water http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/a-cup-of-cold-water/a1957.html Fri, 02 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth. 

1 John 3:14–18, RSV

From Luther

John uses an illustration plain enough for any one to understand, and from which we may judge that the soul wanting in small duties will be deficient in great ones. According to the apostle, if one possesses this world’s goods and sees his neighbor in want, being able to render assistance without injury to himself, and closes his heart against him, not assisting him even with the slightest work of love, how can the love of God dwell in him, since he appreciates it so little that he will not spare his needy brother a penny? How can he be expected to render a greater service — to lay down his life for his brother? What right has such a soul to boast that Christ has laid down his life for him and delivered him from death?

Frequently people are found who have this world’s goods and are able to help the needy, yet close their hearts against the unfortunate. Where shall we find in imperial courts, among kings, princes and lords, any who extend a helping hand to the needy Church in the maintenance of the poor, of the ministry, and of schools? How would they measure up in the greater duty of laying down their lives for the brethren, and especially for the Christian Church?

But the merely selfish may well escape our censure in comparison to those who not only close their purses to the poor, but shamelessly and forcibly deprive and rob their needy neighbor of his own by overreaching, by fraud, oppression and extortion; who take from the Church the property rightfully hers and especially reserved for her. Not only is the papistical rabble of to-day guilty of such sin, but many who would be known as evangelical practice the same fraud with reference to the parochial estates and general property of the Church, and tyrannically harass and torment the poor ministers. But oh, how heavy and terrible the impending judgment for those who have denied to Christ the Lord in his thirst even the cup of cold water. Therefore let him who would prove himself a Christian show himself such by his deeds and works.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 310–11.

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That They May Hear and Believe http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/that-they-may-hear-and-believe/a1956.html Thu, 01 Sep 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him to lay his hand upon him. 33 And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; 34 and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

Mark 7:32–35, RSV

From Luther

The people bring the poor man to the Lord, who takes him aside, lays his fingers into his ears, spits and touches his tongue with spittle, looks up toward heaven, and sighing says, Ephphatha, that is, be opened. This is a lovely picture. Those who bring the deaf-mute to the Lord signify the office of the ministry. Apostles and ministers lead the poor consciences of men to God.

This is done in three ways, by preaching, by a godly life and by intercession. With the preaching of the Word, though it be by a sinner, men are brought to God; a godly life serves to show the Word so much the mightier in its power; to pray for the people leads them on the road to faith and works.

If the Word thus goes on its way in a threefold manner, it cannot fail to bring forth fruit. God says, “My Word, that goeth forth out of my mouth, shall not return unto me void.” This is indicated by the bringing of the deaf-mute into Christ’s presence. The ministers bring the sinners before God, who opens their eyes, ears and mouth. When persons are thus brought to God, he gives them grace to believe. By laying his fingers into the man’s ears Jesus signifies that through the Word he breathes the Holy Spirit into him, and makes the heart believing, chaste and holy. The spittle laid on the man’s tongue typifies the Word of God which is put into his mouth that he may be able to speak it. For wherever there is true faith, the Spirit will give you no peace. “I believe,” says David, “therefore have I spoken.”

That Christ takes the man aside and looks up to heaven teaches us that such power must come from heaven, working in the heart of man by divine power. Thus we must first hear the Word of God and, through the intercession of Christ, obtain faith. Then we will publicly confess and praise God forever.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 309–10.

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The Heavenly Force http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-heavenly-force/a1955.html Wed, 31 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

5 Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness, fading as this was, 8 will not the dispensation of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor? 9 For if there was splendor in the dispensation of condemnation, the dispensation of righteousness must far exceed it in splendor. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had splendor has come to have no splendor at all, because of the splendor that surpasses it. 11 For if what faded away came with splendor, what is permanent must have much more splendor. 

2 Corinthians 3:5–11, RSV

From Luther

The “letter” is the whole law of Moses, or the doctrine of the ten commandments, which teach how we should obey God, honor parents, love our neighbors, and the like—the very best doctrine to be found in all books, sermons and schools. There is another message, which Paul terms the “ministration of a new covenant or of the Spirit.” This doctrine does not teach what works are required of man; but it makes known to him what God would do for him and bestow upon him, indeed what he has already done; he has given his Son Christ for us; because, for our disobedience to the law, which no man fulfils, we were under God’s wrath and condemnation. Christ made satisfaction for our sins, effected a reconciliation with God and gave to us his own righteousness. This doctrine is revealed through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works in the hearts of them who hear and accept the doctrine. Therefore this ministration is termed the ministration “of the Spirit.”

It is of design that the apostle does not term the two dispensations “law” and “gospel,” but names them according to the respective effects produced. For it is impossible to keep the law without Christ, though man may, for the sake of honor or property, or from fear of punishment, feign outward holiness. The heart which does not discern God’s grace in Christ cannot turn to God, nor trust in him; it cannot love his commandments and delight in them, but rather resists them. Therefore, God would have his gospel message unceasingly urged as the means of awakening man’s heart to discern his state and recall the grace and lovingkindness of God, with the result that the power of the Holy Spirit is increased constantly. No influence of the law, no work of man is present here. The force is a new and heavenly one — the power of the Holy Spirit. He impresses upon the heart Christ and his works, making it a true book which does not consist in tracing mere letters and words, but in true life and action.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 308–09.

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Faith Bears Fruit http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/faith-bears-fruit/a1954.html Tue, 30 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. 18 A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits. 

Matthew 7:15–20, RSV

From Luther

No one knows others by their fruits, except he who is born again. Therefore he who has not the Spirit cannot have this knowledge. The fruit by which we are to know them is unbelief. One can know them to some extent by open sins, yet this judgment is deceptive, for Christians also fall. Hence the fruit by which they are known is an inner fruit, and I must have the Holy Spirit and judge according to his guidance. The fleshly eye and reason are not sufficient. You may see two persons go to the Lord’s Supper, the one is a believer, the other not, and yet their external work is the same. What then makes the difference? Faith in the heart and unbelief, because the one regards it as a good work, the other not. Tauler said that believers and unbelievers were often so similar in external appearance that no one could distinguish them, nor is reason able to judge unless we have the Spirit of God. For this reason the decision and judgment of spiritual things should not be based on external things, as on the work and person, but on the inner condition of the heart. The fruits and the good works do not make any one pious or good; but he must first be good and pious at heart. The apples do not make the tree, but the tree must be there before the fruit.

If I understand this, then I notice that there is no work so bad as necessarily to condemn a man, nor none so good as to save him. Faith alone saves us, and unbelief alone condemns us. The deed of the adulterer does not condemn him; the adultery only shows that he has fallen from the faith, and this condemns him. Nothing makes any one good but faith, and nothing makes one wicked but unbelief. The tree shall be cut down; he does not say, the fruit shall be cut down. Thus the works of love do not make me good, but faith, in which I do these works and bear this fruit. We must begin with faith, but the pope begins with works, just as though I could bear apples before I was an apple tree. Thus unbelief is the foundation of all sin.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 306–07.

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Exercise Judgment http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/exercise-judgment/a1953.html Mon, 29 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Matthew 7:15, RSV

From Luther

We should well consider this passage, for Christ our Lord here commands and gives all Christians the power to be judges of all doctrine, and he gives them power to judge what is right and what is not. It is now well on a thousand years that this passage has been perverted by false Christians, that we have had no power to judge, but had to accept what the pope and the councils determined without any judgment of our own. Either the gospel lies or the pope and the councils do. Christ says, we have the right to judge all doctrines, and whatever is proposed for us to keep or reject. The Lord does not speak to the pope here, but to all Christians. As the doctrine, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” is proclaimed to all; so likewise the words, “Beware of false prophets,” exclude no one.

Hence I say, Pope, you and the councils have resolved, and now I have to decide whether I may accept it or not, because you will not stand and answer for me when I die, but I must see to it myself how I stand before God, so that I may be certain of my fate. You must be certain in regard to this matter, that it is God’s Word, as certain and more so than you are that you are living, for on this alone your conscience must rest. God commands his Word to be told you through men, and especially has he permitted it to be proclaimed and written for you by the apostles, who did not preach their own word, but God’s Word. Surely a person can preach the Word to me, but no one is able to put it into my heart except God alone, who must speak to the heart, or all is in vain; when he is silent the Word is not spoken. Hence no one shall draw me from the Word which God teaches me.

All this you must now believe, not as a word that Peter preached, but the Word that God has commanded you to believe. You must return to the gospel and observe where the foundation has its source; you must be judges and have the power to judge over all things that are offered you. But no one can judge false doctrine, except the man who is spiritual.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 305–06.

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Trusting God with the Future http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/trusting-god-with-the-future/a1952.html Sun, 28 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

And they ate, and were satisfied; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 

Mark 8:8, RSV

From Luther

It is God’s will that we do not squander his gifts uselessly; but be economical and prudent with them, and use the abundance which he gives faithfully for our benefits and needs, and preserve them for the future, when we may have further use for them. That is honoring the precious food and not permitting the crumbs to lie under the table; just as our fathers taught their children from this example and added the proverb: “He who saves when he has will find when he needs.” It is a malignant, shameless vice and great contempt of the gifts of God, that the world is now overflooded with cloisters, pomp and expenditure of money for everything far beyond its ability to pay. From this then must follow such robbing, stealing, usury, hoarding and pinching by which the country and the people, rulers and subjects, are ruined as a punishment.

We should not shamefully expend and destroy that which we have in abundance and cannot enjoy either in our need or in our pleasure. If such is expended and destroyed in an unchristian manner, the poor have not only their little torn from their teeth by our greed, but we even merit that God does not permit us to enjoy that which we have raked together, extorted and saved by pinching. The jaws of avarice can devour the property of a prince faster than a whole city can give it to him, and yet no person is happy or better because of it. A prince must have more for banking, for sports, for display in dress than his people and country can afford. Consequently there is lack everywhere in those things we need for the Church and the school, for government and the common advantage of all, for our nourishment and necessities.

It can no more be called enjoying the gifts of God, which he gives so richly and abundantly to the end for us to enjoy; for man will not use them in the praise of God and enjoy them for himself, but only for the dishonor of God and for the destruction of the blessings given. No one has any thought of saving anything for posterity, but all live as if they rejoiced in destroying everything at once. But in all this destruction God will nevertheless help us, since we have no other desire.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 304–05.

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God Will Take Care of You http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/god-will-take-care-of-you/a1951.html Sat, 27 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him, and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat.

Mark 8:1–2, RSV

From Luther

Behold, what a sympathetic Christ we have, who even provides food for us. Here new hope is awakened and man is comforted through the words of Christ, when he says: Here they are and listen to me until the third day. I must now give them also what they need. Here you see that all who faithfully cling to the Word of God will be fed by God; for that is the nature and power of faith, which flows alone out of the Word of God.

Therefore let us make a beginning to believe; for unbelief is the cause of all sin and vice, which now abounds in all stations of life. How does it come to pass that everywhere there are so many foolish women and rogues, so many rank impostors, thieves, robbers, usurers, murderers, and sellers of indulgences? It all comes from unbelief. For such men judge alone according to human reason, and the reason judges only according to that which it sees; what it does not see it does not wish to accept.

But Christ wishes to set before us a twofold picture, namely, one of faith, that we should not be overanxious; and also a picture of love, that as he does to us, is anxious about our welfare, feeds and clothes us out of free love, not for the sake of his own advantage or because of our worthiness; so we should also do to our neighbor, freely and gratuitously, out of pure love. This is beautifully portrayed in the visible picture of the four thousand men who cling to God by a faith which says: God will indeed feed us. They commend themselves to God and freely lay all their need upon him. Then Christ comes, before they have any care and before they ask him to come, takes all more to heart than they do themselves, and says to his disciples, “I have compassion on the multitude.” In this confidence and hope let thy faith run its course, acknowledge that God is thy friend, flee to him in greatest need; believe and expect it and he will help thee; this thou shouldst not doubt. In harmony with this thou shouldst serve thy neighbor freely and gratuitously.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 303–04.

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Eternal Delight http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/eternal-delight/a1950.html Fri, 26 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.

Genesis 8:22, RSV

From Luther

Following this text, the Jews divide the year into six parts, each comprising two months. But it seems to me that Moses simply speaks of the promise that we need not fear another general flood. During the time of the flood such confusion reigned that there was no season, either of seedtime or harvest, and by reason of the great darkness caused by the clouds and the rain, day could not readily be distinguished from night. The meaning is simply that God here promises Noah the imminent restoration of the earth, so that the fields might again be sowed; that the desolation caused by the flood should be no more; that the seasons would run their course in accordance with regular law, harvest following seedtime, winter following summer, cold following heat in due order.

This text should be carefully remembered in view of the common notions concerning the signs before the last day. Some declare there will be eclipses of ever so many days’ duration. They say foolishly that for seven years not a single child will be born. But this text declares that neither day, nor night, neither summer, nor winter, shall cease; therefore these natural changes will go on, and there will never be an eclipse which will rob human eyes of an entire day.

Nor is it a phrase devoid of meaning when he says, “While the earth remaineth,” for he gives us to understand that the days of this earth shall sometime be numbered, and other days, days of heaven, shall follow. As long as the days of the earth endure, so long shall the earth abide and with it the rotation of seasons. But when these days of the earth shall pass, then all these things shall cease, and then shall follow days of heaven, that is eternal days. Then shall be one Sabbath after the other, when we shall not be engrossed with bodily labor for the purpose of gaining a livelihood; for we shall be as the angels of God. Our life will be to know God, to delight in God’s wisdom and to enjoy the presence of God. This life we attain through faith in Christ, in which may the eternal Father mercifully keep us, through the merit of his Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, by the ruling and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 302–03.

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Worthy of Your Calling http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/worthy-of-your-calling/a1949.html Thu, 25 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called

Ephesians 3:20–4:1, RSV

From Luther

The chief thing that should influence a Christian’s outward walk is the remembrance of his calling and appointment by God. He should be mindful why he is called a Christian, and live consistently. He must shine before the world; that is, through his life and God’s work, the Word and the name of Christ the Lord must be exalted. Paul would say: “You have received God’s grace and his Word and are a blessed people. In Christ all your needs are happily supplied. Be mindful of this and remember you are called to a far different and vastly higher life than others know. Show by your manner of living that you seek a higher good than the world seeks, that you have, indeed, received far greater blessings. Let your lives honor and glorify the Lord who has given you such blessings.

The so-called Christian life that does not honor Christ makes its sin the more heinous for the name it bears. Every sin the people of God commit is a provocation of Jehovah; not only in the act of disobedience itself, but also in the transgression of the second commandment. The enormity of the sin is magnified by the conditions that make it a blasphemy of God’s name and an occasion of offense to others. Paul says, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” So a Christian should by all means guard the honor of God in his life. He must take heed that he be not guilty of blaspheming that name and of doing wickedness. The devil, aided by the world, construes every act, when possible, to reflect upon God’s honor and glory. His purpose is to injure the Church by charging offenses, thus deterring unbelievers from embracing the gospel and causing the weak to fall away.

To guard against such disaster, Christians should be particularly careful to give no occasion for offense in their conduct, and to value the name and honor of their God too highly to permit blasphemy of them. Let them remember that upon keeping sacred the name and honor of God depends their own standing before God and men. God promises, “Them that honor me will I honor.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 300–01.

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Led by the Spirit http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/led-by-the-spirit/a1948.html Wed, 24 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Romans 8:12–14, RSV

From Luther

Like ourselves, Paul had to deal with two classes of people, the true and the false Christians. There is not so much danger from the adversaries of the doctrine; their opposition is so open that we can readily beware of them. But since the devil sows his seed among us who are called Christians and boast of the gospel, it behooves us to take heed of those who claim to be Christians. It is easy enough to boast of God and of Christ and of the Spirit. But whether such boasting has any foundation depends on whether or not the Spirit so works and rules in us as to subdue and mortify sin. For where the Spirit is, there assuredly he is not idle, nor powerless. He proves his presence by ruling and directing man and prevailing on him to obey and follow his promptings.

To be “led by the Spirit of God” means to be given a heart which gladly hears God’s Word and believes that in Christ it has grace and the forgiveness of sins; a heart which confesses and proves its faith before the world; a heart which seeks, above all things, the glory of God, and endeavors to live without giving offense, to serve others and to be obedient, patient, pure and chaste, mild and gentle; a heart which, though at times overtaken in a fault, and may stumble, soon rises again by repentance and ceases to sin. All these things the Holy Spirit teaches one if he hears and receives the Word, and does not willfully resist the Spirit.

The devil, who is also a spirit, persuades the hearts of the worldlings; but it soon becomes evident that his work is not that of a good or divine spirit. For he leads men to do the reverse of that which the Spirit of God leads them to do; they find no pleasure in hearing and obeying God’s Word, but despise God, and become proud and haughty, avaricious, unmerciful. Let every one therefore take heed that he deceive not himself. For there are many who claim to be Christians and are not. We perceive this from the fact that not all are led by the Spirit of God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 299–300.

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Resist! http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/resist/a1947.html Tue, 23 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, 20 for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. 

James 1:19–20, RSV

From Luther

To God alone belong honor, judgment, and vengeance, hence also wrath. But I fear this will not be done as long as we are in this life, and yet it would be grace, if we only became so pious as to make a beginning; for as soon as we suffer an injury, flesh and blood at once act as flesh and blood; we begin to rage and rave in anger and impatience. It is natural for us to feel hurt when suffering, injustice and violence attack us, hence it becomes necessary to check and restrain the feelings of anger and to resist them. The feeling that you are injured will pass away, but that desire to avenge yourself in any way is prohibited. If you cannot secure your rights without doing greater harm, let it go. It is not good to check or punish one wrong with another, nor is God willing to have universal justice perish because of your petty claims.

We know that God has committed the judiciary to the civil government and to that end established princes and lords, who bear the sword in God’s stead. Aside from this they are personally exactly like the other people are, having no more right to be angry than any one else. The judge or executioner, in condemning and executing a man that never personally did them an injury, does so in God’s stead, officiating in God’s place, inasmuch as the malefactor has become liable to God’s sentence and penalty. There should be no anger, nor bitterness in man’s heart, while God’s wrath and sword accomplish their work.

The same holds good in war, when you must defend yourself, thrust, beat and burn, then wrath and revenge are likely to reign supreme, and yet it should not proceed from the heart of man, but emanate from divine authority and command, so that the wicked be punished and peace be maintained. Hence where such wrath exists it is not to be called man’s wrath, but God’s. When unhappily you commingle God’s and man’s wrath, it is the miserable doings of the devil. Thus the wrath of man is at all times full of envy to his neighbor, but God’s wrath is administered according to his command and springs from a good heart, that deplores the fact that man should suffer any ill, and yet God must punish and abolish wickedness.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 298–99.

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The Sinful Conscience http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-sinful-conscience/a1946.html Mon, 22 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, 7 they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

Luke 5:4–8, RSV

From Luther

A sinful conscience is apt to do just as Peter does here, flee from its Saviour, and think: O God, I am not worthy to be saved and sit among the saints and angels! That treasure is far too high for me! But this is foolish; for should you establish yourself upon your own holiness, you would build on the sand. Not until Peter considered himself unworthy did he become really worthy. Just because you are a sinful person you must the more trust in God. In this matter you must open wide and greatly expand your heart that grace may freely flow into it.

It is proper that you know yourself, and the more thoroughly you do this, the better it is; but you must not on that account reject grace because of your sins. If you find that your conscience troubles you and would drive you to despair, you are most fortunate; then you will find consolation in the words of Micah and say: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity and casteth our sins into the depths of the sea?” All gods that do not take away sin are idols. These wish to discover righteousness, but the Lord God brings it. Therefore when your God comes to you and your conscience feels its sins, you must not despair. The more you feel your disgrace, the quicker God imparts grace.

The Scriptures praise God because he takes away sins and casts them into the depths of the sea. Gods says: “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake; I will not remember thy sins.” We cannot become rid of our sins by our works, nor become righteous by means of any power within ourselves. God will do that without merit and without works, out of pure grace. Therefore the more you feel that you are a sinful man and the more you wish to flee from God, the more you should press toward him. Do not desist, but approach God with renewed confidence and hold fast to him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 297–98.

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Without Distinction http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/without-distinction/a1945.html Sun, 21 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. 

Luke 6:35–36, RSV

From Luther

How is God our heavenly Father merciful? In this that he gives us all things, natural and spiritual, temporal and eternal, gratuitously and out of pure goodness. For should he give unto us according to our merits, he would have to give us only eternal condemnation. Therefore what he gives us in our possessions and honor is given out of pure mercy. He sees that we are captives of death; he is merciful and gives us life. He sees that we are the children of hell; but he is merciful and gives us heaven. He sees that we are poor, naked and exposed, hungry and thirsty; but he is merciful and clothes, feeds and gives us drink, and satisfies us with all good things. Thus, whatever we have, for the body or spirit, he gives us out of mercy, and pours his blessings over us and into us. Therefore Christ says: Imitate your Father and be also merciful as he is merciful.

This is not a common mercy, nor one that reason teaches. For that is selfish; it gives to the great and learned; it loves those who are beautiful; it gives to those from whom it has some benefit or advantage. It is a politic, beggarly, piece-meal mercy. Christians must not seek their own, but look at all alike, whether friend or foe, as our heavenly Father does. Where this mercy is not, there is also no true faith. For if your heart is not in the state of faith so that you know your God has revealed himself to you as good and merciful, without any merit on your part, while you were still an enemy and a child of wrath; if you believe this, you cannot refrain from showing yourself in like manner to your neighbor, and do all, out of the love of God, for your neighbor’s welfare. Therefore see to it that you make no distinction between friend and foe, the worthy and the unworthy. This has been said of faith and works, namely, that the motion of faith is inwards and upwards, of works, outward and downward. For thus we are righteous before God and men, in that we honor God and look direct to him and believe according to his Word, and in love do what we can for our neighbor.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 296–97.

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Bold Peace http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/bold-peace/a1944.html Sat, 20 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

6 Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 4:6–7, RSV

From Luther

This is the true peace that satisfies and quiets the heart; not in times when no adversity is at hand, but in the midst of it, when outwardly there is nothing but strife. This is the difference between worldly and spiritual peace. Worldly peace consists in removing the outward evil that disturbs the peace; when enemies besiege a city there is no peace; but when they depart peace returns. Such is the case in poverty and sickness. While they afflict you, you are discontented; but when they are removed and there is health and plenty, there is peace and rest again. He who experiences this peace is not changed, being just as faint-hearted whether the evil be present or not; only he feels it and is frightened when it is present.

Christian or spiritual peace, however, just turns the thing about, so that outwardly the evil remains, as enemies, sickness, poverty, sin, death and the devil. These are there and never desist, encompassing us on every side; nevertheless, within there is peace, strength and comfort in the heart, so that the heart cares for no evil, is really bolder and more joyful in its presence than in its absence. Therefore it is peace which passeth and transcendeth all understanding and all the senses. Reason cannot grasp any peace except worldly or external peace; it knows not how to comfort or satisfy a person in times of affliction. But when the Spirit comes, he lets the outward adversity remain, but strengthens the person, making the timid fearless, changing the troubled into a quiet, peaceful conscience.

Whence does he receive this? From his faith in Christ. For if I truly believe in the Lord from the depth of my heart, so that it can truly say: My Lord Christ has by his resurrection conquered my need, my sin, death and all evil, and will be with and in me; it is impossible for me to be faint-hearted and timid, no matter how much sin and death oppress me. If you look to Christ and believe on him, no evil that may befall you is so great that it can harm you and cause you to despair. Therefore it is impossible for the fruit of peace to be absent where faith is.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 294–95.

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The Majestic Command http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-majestic-command/a1943.html Fri, 19 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. 

Genesis 6:21–22, RSV

From Luther

This is the first passage in which praise for obedience to God is clothed in such a form of words. Later we find it stated repeatedly that Moses and the people did according to all that God commanded them. But Noah received commendation as an example for us. His was not a dead faith, which is no faith at all, but a living and active faith. He renders obedience to God’s commands, because he believes both God’s promises and threats; and he carefully carries out what God commanded with reference to the ark, the gathering of the animals and the food. This is unique praise for Noah’s faith, that he remains on the royal road — adds nothing, changes nothing and takes nothing from the divine command, but abides absolutely in the precept he has heard.

It is the most common and the most noxious sin in the Church, that people either altogether change God’s commands, or render something else paramount to them. They sin who swerve too much to the left by failing to perform the divine commands. Those who swerve to the right and do more than God has commanded, like Saul when he spared the Amalekites, sin even more grievously. They add a sham piety. While those who err on the left cannot excuse their error, these do not hesitate to ascribe to themselves remarkable merit, and such error is exceedingly common. God is wont sometimes to command common, ridiculous and even offensive things; but reason delights in splendid things. From the common ones it shrinks or undertakes them under protest. Thus the monks shrank from home duties and chose for themselves others, apparently of greater glamor. To-day the great throng, hearing that common tasks are preached in the gospel, despise it as a common thing and lacking in elegance. Such is the madness of man’s wisdom.

Hence Moses rightly commends Noah’s obedience when he says that he did everything the Lord had enjoined. That means to give God credit for wisdom and goodness. Noah kept his eye on the majesty of him who gave the command. That was enough for him, even though the command be absurd and apparently impossible. All such objections he passes by and takes his stand upon the one thing commanded by God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 293–94.

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Eat What Is in Front of You http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/eat-what-is-in-front-of-you/a1942.html Thu, 18 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. 

Genesis 6:21–22, RSV

From Luther

As the flood was to last a whole year, it was necessary to remind Noah of the food to be collected from the herbs and the fruits of the trees in order to preserve the life of man and of animals. Though the wrath of God was terrible to the destruction of everything born on earth, yet the goodness of the Lord shines forth in this awful calamity. He looks to the preservation of man and the animals, and through their preservation to that of the species. The animals chosen for preservation received food suitable to their nature. As for man he did not yet use flesh for food. He ate only of the vegetation of the earth, which was far more desirable before the flood than at present, after the remarkable corruption of the earth through the brackish waters.

It would have been an easy matter for God to preserve Noah and the animals for the space of a full year without food, as he preserved Moses, Elijah and Christ without food. But God in the government of the things created allows them to perform their functions. In other words, God performs his miracles along the lines of natural law. God also requires that we do not discard the provisions of nature, which would mean to tempt God, but that we use the things God has prepared for us with thanksgiving. A hungry man, who looks for bread from heaven, rather than tries to obtain it by human means, commits sin. Christ commands the apostles to eat what is set before them. Noah is here enjoined to employ the ordinary methods of gathering food. God did not command him to expect in the ark a miraculous supply of food from heaven.

The life of the monks is all a temptation of God. They abstain from certain meats, though God has created them to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe, and by those who know the truth, that every creature of God is good and nothing to be rejected, if it be received with thanksgiving.

We observe here the providence of God, by whose counsel the evil are punished and the good saved. By a miracle God preserves a portion of his creatures, when he punishes the wicked, and graciously makes provision for their posterity.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 292–93.

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A Constant Dying http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/a-constant-dying/a1941.html Wed, 17 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh —  13 for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.

Romans 8:12–13, RSV

From Luther

Here the apostle confesses that even in the Christian there is a remnant of the flesh, that must be put to death — all manner of temptation and lusts in opposition to God’s commandments. These are active in the flesh and prompt to sin. They are here called the “deeds of the body.” Of this nature are thoughts of unbelief and distrust, coldness and indolence with respect to God’s Word and prayer, carnal security and presumption instead of the fear of God, impatience and murmurings under suffering, anger and vindictiveness, or envy and hatred against our neighbor, avarice, unchastity and the like. Such inclinations as these dwell in flesh and blood and cease not to move and tempt man. Because of human infirmity they at times overtake him when he is not careful enough about transgression. They will surely overpower him unless he resolutely opposes them, and puts to death these “deeds of the body.” To do this means a severe struggle, a battle, which never abates, nor ceases as long as we live. The Christian dare never become slothful or negligent in this matter. He must constantly put to death the flesh lest he himself be put to death by it.

This constitutes the difference between those who are Christians and sanctified and those who are without faith and the Holy Spirit, or who grieve and lose the Spirit. For although believers, as well as unbelievers, are not wholly free from the sinful lusts of the flesh, they yet remain in repentance and the fear of God; they hold fast to the belief that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, because they do not yield to them, but resist them. Therefore they continue under forgiveness, and their remaining infirmity is not fatal, nor damning to them as it is to those who, without repentance and faith, go on in carnal security and purposely follow their evil lusts against their own conscience, casting away from themselves both faith and the Holy Spirit. Having received the Holy Spirit, Christians are to comfort themselves with the fact that they have help and strength to resist and mortify sin.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 291–92.

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Our Sufficiency http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/our-sufficiency/a1940.html Tue, 16 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life. 

2 Corinthians 3:4–6, RSV

From Luther

These words are blows and thrusts at the false apostles and preachers. We rely not upon ourselves or our wisdom and ability, Paul would say; we preach not what we ourselves have invented. But this is our boast and trust in Christ before God, that we have made of you a divine epistle; have written upon your hearts, not our thoughts, but the Word of God. We are not glorifying our own power, but the works and power of him who has called and equipped us for such an office; from whom proceeds all you have heard and believed.

It is a glory which every preacher may claim, to be able to say with full confidence of heart: This trust have I toward God in Christ, that what I teach and preach is truly the Word of God. Likewise when he performs other official duties in the Church — baptizes a child, absolves and comforts a sinner — it must be done in the same firm conviction that such is the command of Christ. Who would teach and exercise authority in the Church without this glory, “it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” For the devil’s lies is what he preaches, and death is what he effects.

God puts into our heart and mouth what we should say, and impresses it upon your heart through the Holy Spirit. We cannot ascribe to ourselves any honor, cannot seek our own glory as the self-instructed, proud spirits do; me must give to God the honor, and must glory in the fact that by his grace and power he works in you unto salvation through the office committed unto us. Nothing should be taught and practiced in the Church but what is unquestionably God’s Word. Man’s achievements, man’s reasoning and power, are of no avail in spiritual matters save in so far as they come from God. For it is of no moment that men observe our greatness and ability; the important thing is that poor souls may rest assured of being presented with God’s Word and works, whereby they may be saved.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 289–90.

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Bless the Work of Our Hands http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/bless-the-work-of-our-hands/a1939.html Mon, 15 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

From the Word

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Luke 5:4, RSV

From LutherWhen Christ wished to bestow his gifts upon Peter and the others he did not cause the fish to leap into the boat without labor or nets, as he very well might have done. He commanded them to put out into the deep and let down their nets. They are to engage in the handicraft they understood and were accustomed to. Christ keeps aloof from the lazy, unfaithful idlers who will not do as they have been commanded, and will not keep their hands and feet from straying. Thus he teaches a twofold lesson, that he will not give us anything unless we work for it, and that the things that we obtain do not come from our work, but from God’s help and blessing. You are to work, but you are not to depend upon that work, as if that which resulted from it were of your own accomplishment.

Our work produces and bestows nothing. Yet it is necessary as a means through which we may receive what God gives. The disciples must use their hands to let down the nets and draw them in, if they wish to secure anything, and must be willing to do so. Yet they must acknowledge that their labor did not bring about the result, otherwise they would have succeeded without Christ in the first place. He permits them to make a trial and discover by experience that the toil of this entire night has been in vain and to no purpose.

This he teaches us by daily experience in all kinds of affairs and doings on earth. Very often he permits us to labor long and arduously without results, till it becomes bitterly painful to us, and we are forced to complain with Peter: “We have toiled all night, and have taken nothing.” This he does that we may not venture to depend upon our labor, but may know that he must grant it success, and that we have not secured this through our own efforts, skill, or diligence. All human life and nature are such that, until God gives the increase, we may often labor long and much to no purpose. But the work is not to cease on that account, nor should any man be found without work. God giveth the increase.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 288–89.

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On Being Useful http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/on-being-useful/a1938.html Sun, 14 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, 7 they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.”

Luke 5:4–10, RSV

From Luther

That Peter is not alarmed on account of his unworthiness and sins is an abundant comfort and grace. He is not only to have the forgiveness of sins, but is also to know that God intends to accomplish still greater things through him by making him a help and comfort to others. What Christ would say is, That which thou hast accomplished by the draught of fishes is much too little; really, it is nothing at all. Thou art henceforth to become a different kind of fisherman, in a different sea, with a different net and boat. I am going to engage thee in a business which shall be called “catching men.” This means that throughout the entire world, thou art to draw away souls from the power of the devil into the kingdom of God. Then only wilt thou become the sort of man that can help others, even as thou thyself hast been helped.

From this gospel let us rightly comprehend and grasp Christ and the power of his comfort, that we may comfort both ourselves and others, and may instruct and remind the consciences which are in distress and fear that may by no means run or flee away from Christ, but may much rather flee to him and wait for his comfort. Thus to fear and run away is nothing else than to drive your own salvation and happiness away from you. Christ has not come to make you afraid, but to remove your sins and distress from you. Nor does he draw nigh and follow after you to drive you away, but that he may kindly allure you to himself. “Fear not” speaks to your heart, and to the hearts of all troubled consciences, and pronounces absolution from all sins and removes all fear. He will grant you a still richer grace by making you such a holy, blessed and useful man in his kingdom that you can be of comfort to others and can bring those to him who like yourself are now full of fear and in need of comfort and grace. Here you see how a man is delivered from spiritual poverty and distress through Christ’s Word. He obtains forgiveness of sins and peace of conscience with increase of spiritual gifts through the grace of Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 287–88.

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The Curse of Humanity http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-curse-of-humanity/a1937.html Sat, 13 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

6 There is great gain in godliness with contentment; 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; 8 but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. 

1 Timothy 6:6–10, RSV

From Luther

Those who plant themselves among the thorns of avarice, and seek after great possessions, must suffer the consequences of being stung and torn and must fall, not only into manifold temptations and dangers, but also into snares in which they are so thoroughly caught that they sink into a temporal destruction and eternal damnation from which they can never again escape. Of this we have daily examples even in those who boast of the gospel and Christianity. Everywhere we find robbery, oppression, assessment and usury, to such an extent that even God and conscience are set aside for the sake of a miserable penny. Then, as if such a fall were not deep enough, they harden themselves, and keep on their course defiantly and sacrilegiously, until they sink so far as to become enemies of the Word of God, become blind and deaf, so unblessed and accursed that they are of no service in any vocation of life, and can do nothing that is wholesome and good or useful to the pleasure and improvement of others.

All comes from this that men are bent on being rich. Such covetousness and cares do assuredly keep company with a pride that makes men aim at being something great and powerful. Covetousness would appropriate everything to itself. It would at first have this house, this field, this castle, this village. It grows greater and greater till it becomes a dragon’s tail that draws everything after it. Where covetousness has once become rooted, it daily brings forth cares of a hundred different kinds; there the human heart boils and bubbles with countless insatiable lusts and desires that serve no other purpose than its own destruction, and springs from no other source than man’s fall from faith, and thence from one temptation and snare to another. It is a dreadful plague that has taken such thorough possession of men that, on account of it, they can do nothing good or useful, and can no longer have any thought of serving God or man. The curse has already been pronounced that he shall never be satisfied and that he must endure all sorts of misfortune and heartaches through the very things he has coveted to his everlasting destruction.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 286–87.

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No Worries http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/no-worries/a1936.html Fri, 12 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Luke 15:3–7, RSV

From Luther

This great and good Shepherd is not satisfied to seek his lost sheep so lovingly and carry it home so gently with joy; but when he brings it home he appoints a special feast and season of joy, and calls together his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him. Yea, he makes a great jubilee. Thus God in heaven together with all the heavenly hosts and all creatures rejoice over one sinner that repents. Here is shown who the lost sheep is, namely, the sinner who repents, that is, who feels his sins and is heartily sorry on account of them, and would gladly be free from them, come to Christ and amend his life. The character of Christ is such as to seek and carry no sheep except that which is lost and knows no refuge or help of its own.

How could Christ preach more effectively and comfortingly, or what more should he do to make the heart joyful and awaken a strong confidence in him? He is such a Shepherd as is not only unwilling to lose his sheep, but anxiously seeks it; and when he has found it, he carries it home with all joy, and instigates such a feast of joy that all the angels and saints in heaven and all creatures rejoice and smile so benignly that even the sun must shine more lovely. For when man is sorrowful, the sun and everything appears dark to him, but when the heart is joyful everything appears lighter and brighter to him.

He who will firmly believe Christ to be this kind Shepherd shall receive true consolation and joy in Christ the Lord; because he has here the promise, that if he cling unto Christ and permit himself to be carried on his shoulders, he is a dear guest in the kingdom of heaven and will be received with great joy. Therefore if you desire to possess true comfort and joy, learn to impress this lovely picture on your heart. In Christ you find all things, if you only remain under his protection and lie still upon his shoulders. You need not be troubled about sin, death or life, you have all things in Christ who carries and defends you.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 285–86.

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God Remembered http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/god-remembered/a1935.html Thu, 11 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

23 He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days. 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.

Genesis 7:23–8:1, RSV

From Luther

When that horrible wrath had exhausted itself, and all flesh and living things on the earth had been destroyed, the promise made by God to Noah and his sons, that they were to be the seed of the human race, began to be realized. No doubt this promise was to them an object of eager expectation. No life is so hedged about with difficulties as that of faith. This was the life lived by Noah and his sons, whom we see absolutely depending upon the heavens for support. The earth was covered with water. There was no bottom on which to stand. It was the word of promise that upheld them, as they drifted in this welter of waters.

The difficulty besetting Noah is hinted at in the words, “God remembered.” Moses thus intimates that Noah had been tossed on the water so long that God seemed to have forgotten him entirely. They who pass through such mental strain, when the rays of divine grace are gone and they sit in darkness or are forgotten by God, find by experience that it is far more difficult to live in the Word or by faith alone than to be a hermit or a monk. Hence it is not a meaningless expression when the Holy Spirit says that “God remembered Noah.” He means that from the day that Noah entered the ark, no word was spoken, nothing was revealed to him; that he saw no ray of divine grace shining, but merely clung to the promise which he had accepted, while the waters and waves raged as if God had certainly forgotten him.

The word “remembered” indicates that great sadness beset both man and beast during the entire time of the flood. It must have been by dint of great patience and extraordinary courage that Noah and the others bore this lapse from God’s memory, which is simply unbearable to the flesh without the Spirit, even in slight trials. True, God always remembers his own, even when he seems to have forgotten them; but Moses indicates that he remembered his people here in a visible way, by a sign, and by openly fulfilling what he had previously promised through the Word and the Spirit. This story sets before us an example of faith, of endurance and patience.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 283–84.

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Revelation of the Divine http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/revelation-of-the-divine/a1934.html Wed, 10 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen. 

Romans 11:33–36, RSV

From Luther

The reason and wisdom of man go so far as to reach the conclusion, although feebly, that there must be one eternal being, who has created and who preserves and governs all things. Man sees such a beautiful and wonderful creation in the heavens and on the earth, one so wonderfully, regularly and securely preserved and ordered, that he must say: It is impossible that this came into existence by mere chance, or that it originated and controls itself; there must have been a Creator and Lord from whom all these things proceed and by whom they are governed.

But, even knowing this, we have not yet searched out or fathomed the exalted, eternal, divine essence of the Godhead. For even though I have learned that there is an only divine majesty, who governs all things, I do not thereby know the inner workings of this divine essence himself; this no one can tell me, except in so far as God himself reveals it in his Word. Now we Christians have the Scriptures which we know to be the Word of God. From these, and from no other source, we have obtained all that is known of God and divine works from the beginning of the world. And our knowledge is confirmed and proven by great miracles, even to the present day. These Scriptures declare that there is no God nor divine being save this one alone. They not only manifest him to us from without, but they lead us into his inner essence, and show us that in him there are three persons; not three Gods or three kinds of divinity, but the same undivided, divine essence.

Such a revelation is radiantly shed forth from the declaration of his divine counsel and will. In that counsel and will it was decreed from eternity and was proclaimed in his promises, that his Son should become man and die to reconcile man to God. This no angel nor any other creature could do; it must be done by God himself. It could not be done by the person of the Father, who was to be reconciled, but it must be done by a second person with whom this counsel was determined and through whom and for whose sake the reconciliation was to be brought about.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 282–83.

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Our Neighbor's Honor http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/our-neighbors-honor/a1933.html Tue, 09 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 

Luke 15:1–5, RSV

From Luther

Christ is the good shepherd. He has lighted the lamp, that is, the gospel, and he goes about in the desert, that is, the world. He seeks the lost sheep, when he comes with his Word and proclaims to us first our sins, and then his grace and mercy. Christ’s declaration, that he is the Shepherd and has laid our sins upon his shoulders, makes us fully trust in him, and makes publicans and sinners run after him. These would not have come to him, had they regarded him as a hard and wrathful judge; they were drawn to him when they heard this loving doctrine.

Learn from this, that our neighbor is to be sought as a lost sheep, that his shame is to be covered with our honor, that our piety is to be a cover for his sins. When you come together, conceal the shame of others, and do not cause wounds which you cannot heal. Should you meet with anything like this in some one’s house, throw your mantle over it and close the door. A very good reason for doing this is that you would have others do the same to you. Christ acts thus. He keeps silent and covers our sins. He could expose us to shame and tread us under foot, but he does not do so. All will be brought to light, however, at the final judgment. There is in God’s judgment no greater sin on earth than when pious men and women despise those who lie in their sin.

Hence this gospel is very comforting to sinners. But while it is friendly to sinners, it is a source of great fear to Pharisees. It is spoken to those only who acknowledge their sins, and they acknowledge their sins when they repent of them. It is of no use to the Pharisees, for they do not acknowledge their sins. To those who acknowledge them and are about to despair, the gospel must be brought. When your sins are gnawing at you, and your heart is agitated, say: Oh, God! I have come to feel my sins, I need the one Shepherd who seeketh me. I will freely venture on the gospel. When you thus come to God, you are already the sheep placed upon his shoulders. You have found the Shepherd.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 281–82.

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Helping Sinners http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/helping-sinners/a1932.html Mon, 08 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 

Luke 15:1–2, RSV

From Luther

We have here the Pharisees and hypocrites, who are exceedingly pious people and are over head and ears in holiness. We have also the open sinners and publicans, who were over head and ears in sin. These were despised by those shining saints, and were not considered worthy of their society. But Christ intervenes with his judgment and says that those saints are to stoop down and take the sinners upon their shoulders, and with their righteousness and piety they are to bear in mind to help the others out of their sins.

It is truly a Christian work to descend and get mixed up in the mire of the sinner, taking his sin upon ourselves and floundering out of it with him, not acting otherwise than if his sins were our own. We should rebuke and deal with the sinner in earnest; yet we are not to despise but sincerely to love him. There are great and good works in which we should exercise ourselves. But no man pays attention to them. Such works have entirely faded away, and it is to be feared that the holiest are in the deepest hell, and that sinners are mostly in heaven. Moses acted thus when the Israelites worshiped the molten calf. He mingled freely with the people in their sins. He punished them severely, but afterward he went up and bowed down before God, and prayed that he would forgive the people their sin, or blot him out of the Book of Life. Here we have a man who knew that God loved him and had written his name in the book of the blessed. Thus Paul also at times severely rebuked the Jews, yet he writes to the Romans, “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Thus we should act and serve our neighbor; but such a course is much too lofty for reason and passes beyond its conception. Our bearing toward sinners should be: inwardly, the heart in service; outwardly, the tongue in earnest. This is what Christ, our Captain, has manifested in himself. He could have justly condemned us as sinners, but de did not do so. He gave himself to be our Servant. His righteousness has served for our sins, his fulness for our feebleness, his life for our death.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 280–81.

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The Humble Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-humble-gospel/a1931.html Sun, 07 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were heathen, you were led astray to dumb idols, however you may have been moved. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 

1 Corinthians 12:1–3, RSV

From Luther

No one can possibly possess the Holy Spirit, if he does not regard Christ as the Lord, much less if he call him accursed. Destroy the foundation and you destroy all; there will be no God, no Spirit, and all your claims, teaching and works are naught. You must recognize and be governed by the fact that either Christ must be received and believed in as the one true Lord, and praised and glorified as such, or else he will be cursed; between these alternatives is no medium. We are to make the doctrine of this verse the standard and authority as to what and how we preach concerning Christ. He who speaks by inspiration of the Holy Spirit certainly will not curse Christ; he will glorify and praise him. If his teaching is not to the glory of God, you may safely conclude that he is not true, not inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Thus Paul rejects the glorying and boasting of the sects over their offices and gifts — they who pretend to be filled with the Spirit and to teach the people correctly, and who make out that Paul and other teachers are of no consequence. Themselves the chief of apostles, the people must hear them and accept their baptism. More than that, they demand a higher attainment in the Spirit for gospel ministers, deeming faith, the sacrament and the outward office insufficient. All such teachers are in reality simply guilty of condemning, reproaching and cursing Christ, though themselves bearing and boasting that name. To slight Christ’s Word and ministry, and exalt in their stead other things as mediums for obtaining the Holy Spirit and eternal life, or at least as being equally efficacious and essential — what is this but scorning Christ and making him of no consequence? The tongue of a minister — the language he employs — must be of that simplicity which preaches naught but Christ. If he is to testify of the Saviour and glorify him, he cannot present other things whereby Christ would be ignored and robbed of his glory.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 279–80.

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Misdirection http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/misdirection/a1930.html Sat, 06 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

36 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. 37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them. 

Luke 24:36–43, RSV

From Luther

As the text gives occasion, we may here speak of ghosts, or walking spirits, for we see here that the Jews and the apostles themselves held that spirits roam about and are seen by night and at other times. But the Scriptures do not say, nor give any example, that such are the souls of dead persons walking among the people and seeking help, as in our blindness and delusion by the devil we have heretofore believed.

We have good reason not to believe such apparitions of roaming, erring spirits that profess to be souls. First, because the Scriptures nowhere say that the souls of the deceased that have not yet risen should wander about among the people; whereas everything else we need to know is clearly revealed in the Scriptures. Not one word of this is given for our instruction, nor is it possible that we should grasp and understand the state of the spirits that have departed from the body before the resurrection and the day of judgment; for they are sundered and separated altogether from the world and from this generation. Furthermore, it is clearly forbidden in the Scriptures to consult the dead or to believe them who do. God will neither let one rise from the dead, nor preach, because we have Moses and the prophets, or the Scriptures.

Know therefore that all ghosts and visions, which cause themselves to be seen and heard, especially with din and noise, are not men’s souls, but evidently devils that amuse themselves either to deceive the people with false claims and lies, or unnecessarily frighten and trouble them. A Christian should be well girded with God’s Word and faith, that he may not be deceived nor affrighted, but abide in the doctrine that he has learned and confessed from the gospel of Christ, and cheerfully despise the devil with his noise. Nor does he tarry long when he feels that a soul trusts in Christ and despises him.

That Christ shows his hands and his feet to his disciples signifies that they were weak. But he does not rebuke them; he lovingly comforts them that they might be strong and fearless. Hence they were also made cheerful and of good courage. Therefore we ought not to cast away the weak, but so deal with them that they may become strong and of good cheer.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 277–79.

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The Inclination of the Heart http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-inclination-of-the-heart/a1929.html Fri, 05 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing odor, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” 

Genesis 8:20–22, RSV

From Luther

This is a powerful passage relating to original sin. Whoever weakens its force, goes groping like the blind man in the sunlight, failing to see his own acts and experiences. Look in how many ways sin manifests itself in our earlier years. What an amount of switching it requires until we are taught order and attention to duty! What then shall we say of the inward vices when unbelief, presumption, neglect of the Word, and wicked views grow up? Original sin is not a slight disorder or infirmity, but complete lawlessness, the like of which is not found in other creatures, except in evil spirits. Not even the saints are excepted. For we learn by experience that even holy men can scarcely stand firm; that even they are often entangled by gross sins, being overwhelmed by such natural corruptions.

The Hebrew ne-urim denotes the age when man begins to use his reason; this naturally occurs in the sixth year. Similarly the term ne-arim is used to denote boys and youths who need the guidance of parents and teachers up to the age of manhood. It will be profitable for each of us to glance backward to that period of life and consider how willingly we obeyed the commands of our parents and teachers, how diligent we were in studying, how persevering we were, how often our parents punished our sauciness. Who can say for himself that he was not much more pleased to go out for a walk, to play games and to gossip than to go to church in obedience to his parents.

Although these impulses can be corrected or bridled to a certain extent by discipline, they cannot be entirely rooted out of the heart, as their traces show when we are grown up. God, indeed, causes some persons to experience emotions which are naturally good; but they are induced by supernatural power. Thus Cyrus was impelled to restore the worship of God and to preserve the Church. But such is not the tendency of human nature. Where God is present with his Holy Spirit, there only the imagination of the human heart gives place to the thoughts of God. God dwells there through the Word and the Spirit. But Moses speaks here only of those who are without the Holy Spirit; they are wicked even at their best.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 276–77.

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Intolerant http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/intolerant/a1928.html Thu, 04 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Do not wonder, brethren, that the world hates you.

1 John 3:13, RSV

From Luther

Why this hostility? Because the apostles sought to deprive the world of its idolatry and damnable doings. Such good works the world could not tolerate. What it desires is nothing but praise and commendation for its own evil doings, expecting from God the impossible endorsement, “Your deeds are good and well-pleasing to me. You are pious children. Just keep on cheerfully killing all who believe and preach my Word.”

In the same way the world conducts itself to-day with reference to our gospel. For no other reason are we hated and persecuted than because we have, through God’s grace, proclaimed his Word that has rescued us from the blindness and idolatry in which we had sunken as deeply as the world, and because we desire to rescue others. We preach no other doctrine than faith in Christ, which they themselves confess in words. We differ only in our claim that Christ having been crucified for us and having shed his blood to redeem us from sin and death, our salvation is not effected by our works, or holiness or devotion. The fact that we do not regard their faithless worship equal to Christ himself, but teach men to trust in the grace of God and not in their own worthiness, and to render him gratitude for his grace—this fact is intolerable to the world. No unity or harmony is to be hoped for; the world will not forsake its idolatry nor receive the faith.

So to understand the world as to know what we may expect from it is essential and valuable to the Christian. Thus armed he will not be dismayed and become impatient of suffering, nor permit its malice and ingratitude to mislead him to hate and desire for revenge. He will keep his faith and love, suffering the world to go its way if it refuse to hear his message. The Christian should expect nothing better from the world than its bitter persecution for his good works and love, Such knowledge is comforting to the godly little company of Christians. If they fare better, they thank God for it. But they are ever to abide in love toward God, whose love they have received and felt, and likewise toward men, their enemies not excepted.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 275–76.

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The Divine Reminder http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-divine-reminder/a1927.html Wed, 03 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Romans 6:15–16, RSV

From Luther

Necessarily your life must be obedient to some master. Either you obey sin, to continue in the service of which brings death and God’s wrath, or you obey God in grace unto a new manner of life. Reason teaches, through the law, good works and forbids evil, but it is unable to comprehend why its teachings are not fulfilled. It perceives, from the results which follow disrespect for the law, that it is best to honor it, that it is right and praiseworthy not to steal and commit crime. But it fails to understand why, after its teachings are given, they are not naturally fulfilled. With sword, rack and gallows the judge may restrain public crime, but he cannot punish more than what is known and witnessed to before court. Whatever is done secretly and does not come before him, he cannot punish or restain.

The Word of God, however, teaches how to crush the head of the serpent and to slay the evil, so that judge and executioner are no longer necessary. It tells us that a Christian has certain knowledge that through the grace of Christ his sins are forgiven, blotted out and deprived of condemning power. Because he has obtained and believes in such grace, he receives a heart abhorrent of sin. Although feeling within himself the presence of evil thoughts and lusts, yet his faith and the Holy Spirit are with him to remind him of his baptism. He says: Although time and opportunity permit me to do evil and I run no risk of being detected and punished, I will not do it, but will obey God and honor Christ my Lord, for I am baptized into Christ and as a Christian am dead unto sin, nor will I come again under its power.

So acted godly Joseph, who, when tempted by his master’s wife, “left his garment in her hand, fled and got him out.” He was but flesh and blood and naturally not insensible to her inducement, to the time and opportunity, to the friendship of the woman. But he restrained himself, not yielding even in thought to the temptation. Such obedience to God destroys, indeed, the source of sin and evil.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 274–75.

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Blind to Grace http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/blind-to-grace/a1926.html Tue, 02 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 For the word of the LORD is upright; and all his work is done in faithfulness. 5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. 

Psalm 33:4–5, RSV

From Luther

When a babe is born blind we see what a painful thing the lack of sight is, what a precious thing even one eye would be, and what a divine blessing a healthy, bright countenance is. The eye serves us our whole lifetime and without it one had rather be dead; and yet no one thanks God for it. The psalmist had pure eyes and could see far, that the whole world was full of the goodness and the lovingkindness of God. From whom does this goodness come? Have we deserved it? No, but it has pleased God to cast his gifts promiscuously into the world, which the unthankful receive almost as freely as the thankful. We are grieved when we are obliged to lose a few dollars, or to give them to the poor. How much of his goods does God daily cast into the world and no one thanks him for anything?

We may observe all God’s creatures and become convinced of his goodness in them. “He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and unjust.” He enlightens our eyes, but who acknowledges that it is God’s blessing? If some morning the sun should not rise, what distress and anxiety it would cause, but since it rises and shines daily at the appointed time, no one considers it a blessing. So it is with the rain from heaven, with the grain in the field and with all that God has created. They exist in such abundance and are daily bestowed upon us so plenteously that we fail to see them.

At times God permits some man to fall into anxiety, into pain and distress; he becomes blind, lame, dropsical. The disciples asked the Lord concerning the man blind from his birth, whether he or his parents had sinned. The Lord answered, “Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” God sees that the treasures of this world do not move us. In his grace he presents to us a blind person, so that, when we do not recognize his grace and kindness in our good fortune, we may at least do so in our misfortune.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 272–73.

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Stewards of the Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/stewards-of-the-gospel/a1925.html Mon, 01 Aug 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

1 Corinthians 4:1, RSV

From Luther

To serve Christ, or God, is defined by Paul as fulfilling an office ordained of God, the office of preaching. This office is a service or ministry proceeding from Christ to us and not from us to Christ. To make himself clearly understood in this matter of service or ministry, Paul carefully adds to the word “ministers” the explanatory word “stewards,” which cannot be understood otherwise than as referring to the office of the ministry.

He calls his office “service or ministry of Christ,” and himself “minister of Christ,” because he was ordained of God to the office of preaching. Thus all apostles and bishops are ministers of Christ; that is preachers, messengers, officers of Christ, sent to the people with his message. The meaning of the verse, then, is: Let every individual take heed not to institute another leader, to set up another Lord, to constitute another Christ. Rather be unanimously loyal to the one and only Christ. We apostles are not your lords, nor your masters; we do not preach our own interests, nor teach our own doctrines. We do not seek to have you obey us, or give us allegiance and accept our doctrine. We are messengers and ministers of him who is your Master, your Lord and Leader. We preach his word, enlist men to follow his commandments and lead only into his obedience.

He who so receives us, receives, not us, but Christ, whom we alone preach. But he who does not regard us, does us injustice, discards Christ, the one true Leader, sets up another in his stead and makes gods of us. Where more authority is assumed than God’s command grants, idolatry results and the leader assumes a new character. The Church has no other doctrine than that of Christ, no other obedience than to obey him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 271–72.

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The Righteous Man http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-righteous-man/a1924.html Sun, 31 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Genesis 6:8–10, RSV

From Luther

Noah is called “just” because of his faith in God, because he first believed the general promise with respect to the seed of the woman and then also the particular one respecting the destruction of the world through the flood and the saving of his own offspring. On the other hand he is called “perfect” (“upright”) because he walked in the fear of God and conscientiously avoided murder and other sins with which the wicked polluted themselves in defiance of conscience. Nor did he permit himself to be moved by the frequent offenses of men most illustrious, wise, and apparently holy.

Great was his courage. Today it appears to us impossible that one man should oppose himself to all mankind, condemning them as evil, while they despise the Church and God’s Word and worship, and maintain that he alone is a son of God and acceptable to him, therefore, is a marvelous man, and Moses commends this same greatness of mind when he plainly adds “in his generations,” or “in his age,” as if he desired to say that his age was, indeed, the most wicked and corrupt.

In the history of Enoch we explained what it means to “walk with God,” namely, to advocate the cause of God in public. To be just and upright bespeaks private virtue, but to walk with God is something public — to advocate the cause of God before the world, to wield his Word, to teach his worship. Noah was not only just and holy for himself, but he was also a confessor; he taught others the promises and threats of God, and performed and suffered all that behooves a public personage in an age so exceedingly wicked and corrupt.

Peter beautifully sets forth what it means to walk with God when he calls Noah a preacher, not of the righteousness of man, but of God — the righteousness which comes by faith in the promised seed. What reward Noah received from the ungodly for his message Moses does not indicate. The statement is sufficient that he preached righteousness, that he taught the true worship of God while the whole earth opposed him. What a noble example of patience and other virtues Noah is, who was just and irreproachable in that ungodly generation and walked with God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 270–71.

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A Friend of Sinners http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/a-friend-of-sinners/a1923.html Sat, 30 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 

Luke 15:1–2, ESV

From Luther

Luke freely and plainly tells us what kind of people Christ had about him, namely, those who openly lived as they should not live. Thus it would appear that the Pharisees had sufficient reason to blame him, because he pretended to be a pious and holy man and kept company with such low characters. At that time men called publicans were scattered through the land, to whom the Romans gave charge of a city and required of them a certain amount of revenue. Those who collected such revenue or tax managed matters so as to have a profit from it. As the sum appointed for each city or office was large, these officers extorted without let or hindrance, so that they might enjoy more as their own. Their masters were so close with them that they could not gain much for themselves, if they would act justly and take advantage of no one. Hence they were reported in all lands as extortioners in whom little good or honesty could be found.

So other great crowds in general were called “sinners,” who in other respects were worse people and publicly lived in a shameful and wild state, in covetousness, adultery and the like. Such drew near to Christ to hear him, since they had heard that in the light of his doctrine and his many miracles he was an excellent man. Now there was after all a spark or two of virtue and honesty in them, since they had a desire for Christ and gladly heard his doctrine and wished to see what he did. They had heard nothing but good of him, and they well knew that their doings did not harmonize with his life, yet they feel no enmity against him, but go to him, not to seek any evil in him, but to see and hear something good, and to hope that they might become better.

The scribes and Pharisees, who were held to be the most pious and holy, were such poisonous reptiles that they were not only enemies of Christ, but could not even suffer poor sinners to come to him and hear him that they might be made better. They called him a “wine-bibber and a glutton” and a “friend of publicans and sinners.” Such names he must bear from these holy people, not because he was given to gluttony and drunkenness, but because he permitted “publicans and sinners” to come to him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 269–70.

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Nothing To Do http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/nothing-to-do/a1922.html Fri, 29 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.

Luke 14:23, RSV

From Luther

This refers to the heathen, who have dwelt in no city, who were without any worship of the true God, but were idolatrous, and did not know what God was. Go thither, he says, and compel them to come in. For the world arrays itself against the gospel in every way, and cannot tolerate this doctrine, and yet this housefather wants his house full of guests; he has made preparations, and now must have people to eat, drink and be joyful, even if he had to make them of stones.

But how shall we compel, as God does not want any forced worship? He desires that we should preach thus: Dear friend, do not despair because you are a sinner and have such a terrible sentence of condemnation passed upon you; but do this, go forth and be baptized and hear the gospel. Here you will learn that Jesus Christ has died for your sakes and has made satisfaction for your sins. If you will believe this you will be safe against the wrath of God and eternal death, and you shall eat here at this glorious supper and live well, become hearty and strong. When a man feels his wretchedness and misery, then is the time to say to him: Sit down at the table of this rich Lord and eat, that is, be baptized and believe in Jesus Christ, that he has made satisfaction for your sins. There are no means to aid you, except you be baptized and believe. Thus wrath will cease and heaven will shine with pure grace and mercy, forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

These words are, therefore, lovely and comfortable for the poor, miserable multitude of those who are constrained to come in, who before were lost and condemned heathen. By these words God desires forcibly to portray and show unto us his unfathomable grace. Thus God shows that he is immeasurably more anxious to give and help us than we are or ever can be to receive and pray; and that he requires nothing more difficult from us than that we open our hearts and accept his grace. This is the way we are to come to this supper, that from Jews and Gentiles there may be one Christian Church.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 268–69.

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The Cares of the Church http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-cares-of-the-church/a1921.html Thu, 28 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. [Selah] 

Psalm 46:1–3, RSV

No power, might or protection which can comfort, or upon which one can rely, may be sought in the world. Wholly in God, and in God alone, must help be sought. By his divine power God must uphold the Church. He has always from the beginning wonderfully preserved it in the world, in the midst of great weakness, in disunion occasioned by schismatics and heretics, in persecution by tyrants. The government is wholly his, though he commits the office and service to men, whom he summons and uses to administer his Word and sacrament. Every Christian should be intent, in that whereunto God has called and appointed him, serving God faithfully and doing that which is commanded him. The anxiety respecting the Church’s continued existence and her preservation against the devil and the world can be left to the Lord. He has taken this upon himself and so has removed the burden from our shoulders that we might be certain of the permanence of the Church. Christians have regard for God’s Word and believe that God cares for them. They commend all things to him and at his word go on with courage. They have learned that they should not rely upon their own wisdom and reason and upon human help or comfort.

Let me illustrate from my own experience. What should I have done when I began to denounce the lies of the indulgence system, and later the errors of the papacy, if I had given heed to the terrible things all the world wrote and said would happen to me? How often I heard it said that if I wrote against such and such eminent persons I would provoke their displeasure, which would prove too severe for me and the whole German nation. But since I had not begun this work of myself, being driven and led thereto by reason of my office, I must continue. I commended the cause to God and let him bear the burden of care, both as to the result of the work and as to my own fate. Thus I advanced the cause more, despite tumultuous opposition, than I had ever before dared to think or hope. So let every Christian cast his heart and its anxieties upon God, who is strong and can easily carry the burden.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 267–68.

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The Cure for the Conscience http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-cure-for-the-conscience/a1920.html Wed, 27 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” 

John 3:14–15, RSV

From Luther

Here Christ uses the Scriptures to point to himself. He means to say, that just as the Jews in the desert, who were bitten by fiery serpents, were saved by looking upon the serpent of brass, which Moses set upon a standard, so it is also with regard to me. No one who looks upon me will perish; all those who have an evil conscience, are tormented by sin and death, should believe that I have come down from heaven for their sakes and have ascended again. Then neither sin, nor death shall harm them. Whoever would enter heaven and be saved, must be saved by this serpent, which is Christ. Thus this gospel condemns free will and every human accomplishment, and points only to this serpent.

The spiritual significance of the narrative in Numbers is this: The serpent, which bit and poisoned the Jews, is sin, death and an evil conscience. I know that I must die and that I am under the power of death; I cannot free myself and must remain in this state until a dead serpent is set up for me, one which can harm no one, but rather benefit, as did the serpent of Moses. Now, this is Christ. I see him hanging on the cross, not beautiful, nor greatly honored; but I see him hanging in disgrace, like a murderer and malefactor; thus, reason must say that he is cursed before God. The Jews believed this to be true and they could only consider him the most cursed of all men before God and the world.

Moses had to set up a serpent of brass, which looked like the fiery serpents, but did not bite, nor harm any one; it rather saved the people. Thus, Christ also has the form and the appearance of a sinner, but has become my salvation; his death is my life; he atones for my sins and takes away from me the wrath of the Father. If man believes that the death of Christ has taken away his sin, he becomes a new man. The carnal, natural man cannot believe that God will gratuitously take away and forgive us all our sins. Reason argues: You have sinned, you must also atone for your sin. The gospel of Christ says: You have sinned, another must atone for you. Our works are nothing; but faith in Christ does it all.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 265–66.

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The Golden Age http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-golden-age/a1919.html Tue, 26 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.

Genesis 7:1, RSV

From Luther

As soon as that extraordinary structure, the ark, was built, the Lord commanded Noah to enter it, because the time of the deluge, which the Lord announced one hundred and twenty years before, was now at hand. All this convinced Noah that God was taking care of him; it gave him ample and abundant word to support and confirm his faith in such great straits. Noah, being holy and just, a kind and merciful man, often struggled with his own heart, hearing with greatest agitation of mind the voice of the Lord, threatening certain destruction to all flesh. It was needful, then, that repeated declaration should confirm his agitated faith, lest he might doubt.

Could words be more appalling than these, that Noah alone was righteous before the Lord? It is a fearful thing to live in such an evil and godless world. By the goodness of God we are in the golden age, since we still have the light of God’s Word. The sacraments are rightly administered in our churches, pious preachers proclaim the pure Word, and though magistrates be weak, wickedness is not desperately rampant. If there had been more godly teachers in the days of Noah, there might have been more righteous people. The fact that Noah alone was proclaimed a righteous man makes it evident that the godly teachers had been either destroyed or corrupted, leaving Noah the sole preacher of righteousness.

Noah’s faith was truly great; he could rely upon God’s utterance. I realize what weight the whole world’s hostile and condemnatory judgment must carry. We are condemned in the judgment of the pope, the Sacramentarians, and the Anabaptists, but this is mere play and pleasure, compared to what the righteous Noah had to bear, who found not a single person in the whole world to approve of his religion or life, except his own sons and his pious grandfather. Therefore, Noah is a brilliant and admirable example of faith, who opposed the judgments of the world with an heroic steadfastness of mind in the assurance that he was righteous while all the rest of the world was wicked. It is helpful often to reflect upon such examples, since the prince of this world battles against us, endeavoring to kindle despair in us. It behooves us to be well armed.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 264–65.

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The Double Blessing http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-double-blessing/a1918.html Mon, 25 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Romans 6:20–23, RSV

From Luther

Paul here contrasts the experience of the Romans in the two forms of service. He leaves it to them to determine which has been productive of benefit and which of injury, and to choose accordingly as to future service and obedience. Recall your manner of life when you were free from righteousness, he would say, and obeyed only the desires and enticements of sin. What pleasure or gain had you in it? None, except that for which you are now ashamed. Had you remained in it you would at last have found death. Only these two grand results — shame and death. Munificent reward indeed for him who, choosing freedom from righteousness, lives to his own pleasure. He is deceived into thinking he has chosen a highly desirable life, for it gratifies the fleshly desires, and he thinks to go unpunished.

But gratification is succeeded by two punishments: First, shame, confession of disgrace before God and the world. Thus Adam and Eve in Paradise, when they chose to violate God’s command and, enticed by the devil, followed their desire for a forbidden thing, were made to feel the disgrace for sin; they were ashamed in their hearts to appear in the presence of God. The other punishment is death and the fires of hell.

Is it not better, then, to be free from the service of sin and to serve righteousness? So doing, you would never suffer shame or injury, but would receive a double blessing: First, a clear conscience before God and all creatures, proof in itself that you live a holy life and belong to God; second and chief, the rich and incorruptible reward of eternal life.

In these observations Paul is speaking after the manner of men, in a way comprehended and accepted by reason, even without knowledge of Christ. It is universally true in the world that evildoers, thieves, murderers and the like, are punished in addition to the public disgrace they feel. Similarly, they who do good receive, in addition to the honor of men, all manner of happy reward.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 263–64.

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Proof of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/proof-of-faith/a1917.html Sun, 24 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

13 Do not wonder, brethren, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

1 John 3:13–16, RSV

From Luther

How do we know we have passed from death unto life? Because we love the brethren. When we fully believe in our Saviour’s love, then our hearts respond with perfect love to God and our neighbor. The apostle directed this epistle especially against false Christians; many there are who extol Christ, and fail to bear the fruit of faith. It is not sufficient to boast of having passed from death into life; there must be evidence of the fact. Faith is not an inactive and lifeless thing. When there is faith in the heart, its power will be manifest. Where power is not in evidence, all boasting is false and vain. When the human heart is thrilled with spiritual comfort in its confidence of divine mercy and love, and also warmed into kindness, friendliness, humility, and patience toward the neighbor, envying and despising none, but cheerfully serving all and ministering unto necessity, even to hazarding body and life, then the fruits of faith are manifest.

Such fruits are proof that the believer has truly passed from death into life. Had he not true faith, but doubted God’s grace and love, his heart would not prompt him to manifest love for his neighbor by reason of his love and gratitude to God. This interpretation of God’s Word leaves in its integrity the foundation, justification, or deliverance from death through faith alone. Faith is the first element of Christian doctrine. The next question is whether the faith is real or simulated, being merely a deceptive show and unsupported claim. The clear information imparted by the apostles is that love does not deliver from death, but that deliverance from death and the presence of life become a matter of sight and knowledge in that love has been brought about. With true faith we must have come to the point where we no longer in our pride and conceit despise our neighbor; where we are not filled with envy, hatred, and bitterness; where we desire and promote the interest of our neighbor and do him good to the extent of our power. The reality of the inner life is known by the presence of love, which in turn attests the presence of faith in the heart.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 261–62.

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The Power of the Resurrection http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-power-of-the-resurrection/a1916.html Sat, 23 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” 

John 20:26–29, RSV

From Luther

This happened on the eighth day after the resurrection, when Thomas had maintained his unbelief in the face of the testimony of all the others, and no one had hoped that Christ would show himself in a special manner to Thomas. Just then Christ comes and shows him the same scars and wounds, as fresh as he had shown them to the other disciples eight days before, and tells him to reach hither his finger and hand and place them into the print of the nails and into his side.

Here you see that Christ is not satisfied to stop with the narrative; but he is concerned that Thomas becomes believing and is resurrected from his stubborn unbelief and sin. This is shown in a powerful way in that Thomas says, “My Lord and my God!” There is at once a different man, not the old Thomas as he was before, when he was so cold and stiff and dead in his unbelief. He commenced suddenly to deliver a glorious confession about Christ, the equal of which no apostle to that time had yet made, namely, that the person, the risen one, is true God and man. They are admirable words that he utters: “My Lord and my God!” He is not drunken, he is not jesting, nor mocking; he does not mean a false god; therefore he certainly does not tell a lie. Besides, he is not here chastised by Christ, but his faith is confirmed, and so it must be the truth and sincere.

It is by the power of the resurrection of Christ that Thomas, who was so deep and obdurate in unbelief, was so suddenly changed, became an entirely different man, who publicly and freely confesses that he not only believes that Christ is risen, but is also enlightened by the power of Christ’s resurrection so that he firmly believes and confesses that he, his Lord, is the true God and man; so he will also arise from the dead on the judgment day and live forever with him in indescribable glory and blessedness.

The leading thought for us to learn and retain from this passage is, that we believe that Christ’s resurrection is sure and that he works in us so that we be resurrected from sin and death. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 260–61.

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The Heavy Heart http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-heavy-heart/a1915.html Fri, 22 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 

John 20:24–25, RSV

From Luther

Here we see what a poor thing the human heart is when it becomes faint, that we cannot strengthen and comfort it again. The other disciples and Thomas did not only hear during the time they were with the Lord that he taught the people with great authority, and later saw how he confirmed his doctrine by the great miracles performed on the blind, lame, lepers and dumb, whom he cured; but also that he raised three persons from the dead, one of whom had been in the grave four days. Such weak characters were the disciples of Christ, and especially Thomas, that they could not believe that the Lord arose from the dead and was alive.

We see in the apostles that we are truly nothing when Christ withdraws his hand and we are left to ourselves. The women had announced it, and now the disciples themselves proclaim that they had seen the risen Lord. Yet Thomas is stubborn and will not believe it; he will not be satisfied even if he see him, unless it be that he sees the print of the nails in his hands and puts his fingers into the print of the nails and his hand into his side. The beloved disciple will thus himself be lost and condemned, in that he will not believe. For there can be no forgiveness of sins, nor salvation, if one believes not. And Thomas would have perished and been condemned in his unbelief, had not Christ rescued him from it by this revelation.

Thus the Holy Spirit illustrates in this example that without faith we are simply blind and completely hardened, as we see everywhere in the Holy Scriptures that the human heart is the hardest thing in the world, harder than steel and adamant. On the other hand, if it be bashful, despondent and soft, there is not water, nor oil so soft as the human heart. So soon had the apostles forgotten all the signs and words they had seen and heard from him, that the Lord had enough to do during the forty days after his resurrection in various appearances and revelations, besides eating and drinking with them — all for the purpose that they might be assured that he is risen.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 259–60.

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Preference http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/preference/a1914.html Thu, 21 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; 17 and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’

Luke 14:15–18, RSV

From Luther

The many who are bidden are the Jews and all the people of Israel, who from Abraham on, and especially through the prophets, had been invited. To the patriarch Abraham as the father of this people was this supper first announced. After that the prophets carried it further and directed the attention of the people to it, so that nothing was wanting on the part of the Lord our God, but all were diligently invited. When the hour came to go to the table, that is, when the time came for our Lord Christ to be born, to suffer and rise again from the dead, then the servants went out, John the Baptist and the apostles, and said to the people of Israel: Hitherto you have been invited, now is the time to come, now the supper is ready. Your Messiah is already born, has died, and is risen again, do not remain away any longer, come to the table, eat and be happy, that is, accept your promised treasure with joy, who has according to promise delivered you from the curse of sin and condemnation and has saved you.

The Jews excused themselves thus: We cannot accept the doctrine, for it is opposed to the priesthood and to the law, which God himself has given us through Moses. Besides, it also creates divisions in our kingdom which God has confirmed. We must see how to maintain our own affairs. Thus the first one excuses himself with his land, the second with his oxen, and both think they do well; the third does not even excuse himself at all, but simply says he cannot come.

These are the excuses of the Jews as well as our own, which we prefer against the gospel, for we are no better than they were. In the same manner our Papists excuse themselves and say: The doctrine is right of course, but we must still adhere to the Church and her orderly government. We must above all things maintain obedience to the worldly power, so that there be no disturbance and insurrection. But how will it end with them? Just as it did with the Jews. They held so long to their law, priesthood, kingdom and treasures, until they went to destruction and they lost one after the other. They desired not this supper, but preferred their priesthood to the gospel.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 258–59.

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Division http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/division/a1913.html Wed, 20 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you meet together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk. 

1 Corinthians 11:17–21, RSV

From Luther

Discord is a deplorable offense among Christians, putting them in the worst possible light, and making it impossible for them to steer clear of factions. Divisions are an offense to the world’s wisest and best, who cry out, “If the Christians’ doctrine were true, they would preserve unity among themselves, but as it is, they envy and slander and devour one another.” But we cannot altogether prevent discord in the Church. For wherever the Word of God has a foothold, there the devil will be. By the agency of his factions he will always build his taverns and kitchens by the side of God’s house. So he did at first in Paradise. He entrenched himself in the family of Adam, establishing there his church. Such has been his practice ever since, and doubtless ever will be. He who takes offense at differences in the Church, who when he sees any discord at once concludes there is no Church there, will in the end miss both Church and Christ. You will never find any congregation of such purity that all its members are unanimous on every point of belief and teaching and all live in perfect harmony.

Paul had experience in this matter in the case of the beautiful and famed Church of Corinth, which he himself had planted and taught two years. Soon after his departure they began to disagree about their preachers and to attach themselves to certain ones—some to Paul, some to Peter, some to Apollos. Though they had been unanimous in their doctrine, yet men would cleave to a certain one because he was more gifted than the others, could speak better, or was more attractive in personal appearance. And among the ministers of the Church, if one had a special gift or office, he thought he ought to be a little better and a little greater than the others. Necessarily, from such division and inharmony grew hatred, strife and jealousy, resulting in great injury and disorder to the Church. We must, as far as possible, guard against this fatal evil, though we cannot altogether keep it out of the Church.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 256–57.

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Every Christian http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/every-christian/a1912.html Tue, 19 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 

John 20:21–23, RSV

From Luther

The first and highest work of love a Christian ought to do when he has become a believer is to bring others also to believe in the way he himself came to believe. Here you notice Christ begins and institutes the office of the ministry of the external Word in every Christian; for he himself came with this office and the external Word. Let us lay hold of this, for we must admit that it was spoken to us. In this way the Lord says: You have now received from me peace and joy and all you should have; you need nothing more for your person. Therefore labor now and follow my example, as I have done, so do ye. My Father sent me into the world only for your sake, that I might serve you, not for my own benefit, but that I might serve you. I have finished the work, have died for you, and have given you all that I am and have; remember that ye do likewise, and henceforth serve and help everybody. By faith ye have enough of everything. Hence I send you into the world as my Father hath sent me; namely, that every Christian should instruct and teach his neighbor, that he may also come to Christ. By this no power is delegated exclusively to popes and bishops, but all Christians are commanded to profess their faith publicly and also to lead others to believe.

By faith you will accomplish this. It will make you righteous before God and save you. But this faith you are to show in love; not that you are to seek to merit anything by your works; for all in heaven and earth is yours beforehand; but that you serve your neighbor thereby. So then I obey the civil government, for I know that Christ was obedient to it, and yet he had no need to be; he did it only for our sakes. Therefore I will also do it for Christ’s sake and in behalf of my neighbor, and for the reason alone that I may prove my faith by my love. If you do not show such proofs of faith, it is certain that your faith is not right. In this manner the apostles also exhort us in their writings to do good works.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 255–56.

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Being Acceptable to God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/being-acceptable-to-god/a1911.html Mon, 18 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table

Luke 16:19–21, RSV

From Luther

We must not judge poor Lazarus in his sores, poverty and anxiety according to his outward appearance. Many persons suffer from affliction and want, and gain nothing from it. Poverty and suffering make no one acceptable to God; but if he is already acceptable to God, his poverty and suffering are precious in God’s eyes. Therefore we must look into the heart of Lazarus to seek the treasure, which make his sores so precious. This must surely have been his faith and love; for without faith it is impossible to please God. His heart must have confessed that even in the midst of poverty and misery he expected all good from God, and comfortably relied upon him, with whose blessings and grace he was so abundantly satisfied, and had such pleasure in them that he would have heartily and willingly suffered even more misery, if the will of his gracious God had so determined. A true and living faith softened his heart by the knowledge of the divine goodness, so that nothing was too heavy or too much to suffer or to do. Thus faith makes the heart clever and skillful, when it experiences the grace of God.

From this faith follows another virtue, namely, love to one’s neighbor, so that he is willing and ready to serve every one; but since Lazarus is poor and in misery himself, he had nothing with which he could serve others; therefore his good will is taken for the deed. But this lack of service in temporal things he abundantly makes good by his service in things spiritual. For even now, long after his death, he serves the whole world with his sores, hunger, and misery. His bodily hunger feeds our spiritual hunger; his bodily nakedness clothes our spiritual nakedness; his bodily sores heal our spiritual sores; by his example he comforts and teaches us how God is pleased with us, when we are not prosperous here on earth, if we believe; and warns us how God is angry with us, even if we are prosperous in our unbelief; just as God had pleasure in Lazarus in his misery, and was displeased with the rich man in his abundance.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 254–55.

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Dead and Alive http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/dead-and-alive/a1910.html Sun, 17 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For he who has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 

Romans 6:6–11, RSV

From Luther

Man is here called old, not because of his years; for it is possible for a man to be young and strong and vigorous and yet to be without faith or a religious spirit, to despise God, to be greedy and vainglorious, or to live in pride or the conceit of wisdom and power. But he is called “the old man” because he is unconverted, unchanged from his original condition as a sinful descendant of Adam. The child of a day is included as well as the man of eighty years; we are all thus from our mother’s womb. The more sins a man commits, the older and more unfit he is before God. This old man, says Paul, must be crucified — utterly condemned, executed, put out of the way, even here in this life. For where he still remains in his strength, faith and spirit cannot be; man remains in his sins, drowned under the wrath of God, troubled with an evil conscience which condemns him and keeps him out of God’s kingdom.

The “new man” is one who has turned to God in repentance, who has a new heart and understanding, and who, through the power of the Holy Spirit lives in accordance with the Word and will of God. It begins in baptism or in repentance and conversion. It resists and subdues the old man and its sinful lusts through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Although the “old man” is crucified in those who are new men, yet there remains in them in this life “the body of sin.” By this we understand the remaining lusts of the “old man,” which are still felt to be active in the flesh and blood, and which would fain resist the Spirit. But inasmuch as the head and life of sin are destroyed, these lusts cannot harm the Christian. Still he must take care not to become obedient to them, lest the “old man” come to power again. The new man must keep the upper hand; the remaining lusts must be weakened and subdued. And this body of ours must finally decay and turn to dust, thereby utterly annihilating sin in it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 253–54.

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Nagging Questions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/nagging-questions/a1909.html Sat, 16 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 

Romans 11:33–34, RSV

From Luther

Paul writes these words against those impudent questions of wise reason, why God punished and rejected the Jews, and allowed the condemned heathen to come into gospel grace; why he so administers justice as to exalt the godless and allow the godly to suffer and be oppressed; why he elected Judas as an apostle and afterwards rejected him; why he accepted a murderer and malefactor. With these words he would command these would-be wise to cease their impertinent strivings after the things of the hidden Majesty, and to confine themselves to the revelation he has given them. All such prying into the secrets of God are in vain and are harmful. If you were to search forever you would nowhere attain the secret purposes of God, but you would only jeopardize the welfare of your own soul.

If you wish to proceed wisely you can do no better than to be interested in God’s Word and works. In them he has revealed himself, and in them he may be comprehended. He presents you his Son on the cross—this is the work for your redemption. In it you may truly apprehend God, and learn that he will condemn you on account of your sins, but give you everlasting life, if you believe.

In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In this you will have enough to learn and ponder. You will marvel at the wonderful revelation of God, and you will be delighted with him and love him. It is a mine which can never be exhausted in this life, no matter how much we study. Even the angels never tire in its contemplation, but find unceasing joy and pleasure in it.

I say this so that we may be prepared to instruct those we may meet who, assailed and tormented by such thoughts of the devil, are led to tempt God. Such individuals must be reminded of these things, and reproved by them.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 252–53.

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The Comfort of Communion http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-comfort-of-communion/a1908.html Fri, 15 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word 

16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; 17 and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now ready.’

Luke 14:16–17, RSV

From Luther

The man who prepared this supper is our Lord God himself. He is a great and rich Lord who once prepared a feast in accordance with his glorious majesty and honor. It was a supper called great and glorious not only on account of the host, who is God himself, but on account of the food, which is beyond all measure great and costly, namely, the holy gospel, yea, Christ our Lord himself. He is himself the food, offered unto us through the gospel, in that he made satisfaction by his death for our sins, and has redeemed us from the misery of eternal death, of hell, of the wrath of God, sin and eternal condemnation.
The preaching of Christ is the great and glorious supper, which feeds his guests, satisfies them through holy baptism, and comforts and strengthens them through the sacrament of his body and blood, that nothing may be wanting, a great plenty be on hand, and all become satisfied. Thus it is justly called a great and glorious supper on account of the food so richly prepared, that no tongue can describe it and no heart fully grasp it.

It is an eternal food and drink by partaking of which a man shall never more thirst nor hunger, but be forever satisfied and become joyful. Nor is it only for one man, but for the whole wide world, even if it were ten times wider. It is an inexhaustible food. To believe in Christ our Lord means to eat and drink, from which the people become satisfied, strong and joyful forever.

To this you have been invited, now is the time to come, now the supper is ready. Your Lord Jesus Christ is already born, has died and risen again, therefore do not remain away any longer, accept your promised treasure with joy, come to the table, eat and be happy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 251–52.

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Scripture and a reading from Luther's sermons and devotional writings http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/scripture-and-a-reading-from-luthers-sermons-and-devotional-writings/a1907.html Thu, 14 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For he who has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 

Romans 6:3–11, RSV

From Luther

Christ’s death and resurrection and our baptism are intimately united with, and related to one another. Baptism is not to be regarded a mere empty sign, as the Anabaptists erroneously hold. In it is embodied the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. Through baptism he dedicates us to himself and imparts to us the power of his death and resurrection, to the end that both death and life may follow in us. Hence our sins are crucified through his death and taken away, that they may finally die in us and live no longer.

Being subjected to the water in baptism signifies that we die in Christ. Coming forth from the water teaches and imparts to us a new life in him, as Christ remained not in death, but was raised again to life. Such life should not and cannot be a life of sin, because sin was crucified before in us and we had to die to it. It must be a new life of righteousness and holiness, as through his resurrection Christ finally destroyed sin, on account of which he had to die, and instead he brought to himself the true life of righteousness and imparts it to us. Hence we are said to be planted together with Christ or united with him and become one, so that we have in us the power of his death and resurrection.

The Christian’s death and suffering on earth are not really death and harm, but a planting unto life; being redeemed from death and sin by the resurrection, we shall live eternally. For that which is planted is planted that it may sprout and grow. So Christ was planted through death unto life; for not until he was released from this mortal life and from the sin which rested on him and brought him into death on our account, did he come into his divine glory and power. Since this planting begins in baptism and by faith we possess life in Christ, it is evident that this life must strike root in us and bear fruit. For that which is planted is not planted without purpose; it is to grow and bear fruit. So we must prove by our new conversation and by our fruits that we are planted into Christ unto life.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 250–51.

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The Need of a Savior http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-need-of-a-savior/a1906.html Wed, 13 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” 

John 3:13–15, RSV

From Luther

It is thus that Christ pictures his own person. He is the promised Saviour come from heaven; he is the true Son of God from eternity. If he is come from heaven he must have been with God from eternity. He descended from heaven again, but he has taken upon himself the nature of man and has dwelt among us on earth. For this reason he here calls himself the Son of man, that is, actual man, having flesh and blood like we have. He divested himself of the form of God, and went about in the form of a servant, enduring suffering and death, until such time as he was delivered from this state and was exalted again and seated at the right hand of God, having now been made Lord over death and hell and all elements of his human nature. All this he has manifested by his visible ascension when he was taken up in the clouds before the eyes of his disciples.

Of these things the Pharisees were in utter ignorance. They could not at all conceive that their Messiah had to be sent from heaven that he might redeem and reconcile all the world and particularly his own Jewish people. Much less did they understand that he had to die on the cross, that he must be crucified and become a sacrifice for their sins and the sins of the world. The reason was because they failed to recognize that the whole nature of man in the sight of God merited only damnation and perdition, and were so bold as to imagine that they could atone for their own sins by their good works and consequently would need no Messiah.

All ability of men, no matter how wise, learned and holy they are, is of no avail. No man can enter heaven as he descended from Adam. There never was a saint who in his own merit could go to heaven, whether Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, John, or any other. Before man can enter the kingdom of heaven and receive eternal life, there must first come One who has eternal righteousness and life, who appeases God’s anger and abolishes sin and death.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 248–49.

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The Overthrow of Nature http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-overthrow-of-nature/a1905.html Tue, 12 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:4–8, RSV

From Luther

How a man is born again may easily be told in words. When, however, it is a matter of experience, as it was with Nicodemus, it is a hard matter to understand and it requires effort to attain the experience. To persevere in this, when it becomes a matter of experience and when we are really tested, requires pains and labor.

Now the beginning of this birth is in baptism. The water is baptism, the Spirit is that grace which is given to us in baptism. The result of this birth is clearly seen in the hour of death or in times of test by poverty and temptation. He who is born of the flesh fights to defend himself, looks hither and thither, employs his reason to make his living. But he who is born anew reasons thus: I am in God’s hands who has preserved and nourished me before in a wonderful manner; he will also feed and preserve me in the future and save me from all sorrow and misfortune.

When we are about to die we feel that we must depart and we know not whither; the house of shelter is not ready and we know not whether it will be white or black. Where there is flesh and blood there is still the old Adam, who knows not whither he shall go, nor on what he shall rest his soul. There is anxiety and misery in the nature of a real hell; for the torments of hell are nothing but fear, terror and despair. But if I believe in God and am born anew, I close my eyes and do not grope about. I am willing that the condition of the soul be changed entirely. I think: O God, my soul is in thy hands; thou hast preserved it during my life and I have never known where thou hast put it, neither do I wish to know to which place thou wilt assign it. I only know that it is in thy hands and thou wilt take care of it. Thus we must abandon the life of the flesh and enter into a new life, being dead to the old. There must be a real change and an entire transformation of nature; the state of nature and feeling must be completely overthrown.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 247–48.

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One God, One Mind http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/one-god-one-mind/a1904.html Mon, 11 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were heathen, you were led astray to dumb idols, however you may have been moved. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 

1 Corinthians 12:1–7, RSV

From Luther

Saint Augustine tells us that the city of Rome alone had more than four hundred gods, and that it erected a church for all the gods of the world — the Pantheon. Paul reminds the Corinthians of their manner of life before they became Christians, for he would have them pause to think that their gifts, past and present, are not of their own procuring, nor are any gifts bestowed upon them because of merit on their part. Recall, he would say, your manner of life before you came to Christ. What were you? Heathen in darkness, having no knowledge of God, but suffering yourselves blindly to be led by any one who would say aught to you of God. All your devotion was but a discordant worship. Each one — the child in the cradle, the infant at the mother’s breast — must have his own idol. These superstitions you accepted as you were taught; you followed after them, praying and sacrificing to them, setting your hearts upon dumb idols which could not teach nor advise you, could not comfort, relieve nor help you.

But now you have turned from that manifold idolatry to the one true worship and have been enlightened by God’s Word. More than that, great and glorious gifts have been bestowed upon you in Christ, as the discerning of the Scriptures, diversity of tongues, power to work miracles — things impossible to the world. It is unmistakably evident that you embrace the true God, who does not, like dumb idols, leave you to wander in the error of your speculations, uncounseled by the Word; a living God, who speaks to you that you may know what to expect from him, and works among you publicly and visibly. Therefore it is not for you to make divisions among yourselves after the manner of the heathen, where one runs to this idol and another to that, each claiming superiority for his own. Knowing that you all embrace the one true God and his Word, you are to hold together in one faith and one mind, not disagreeing as if you had a variety of gods, of faiths, of baptisms, spirits and salvations.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 246–47.

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The Bread of Life http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-bread-of-life/a1903.html Sun, 10 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 

John 6:48–51, RSV

From Luther

In these words the soul finds a well prepared table, at which it satisfies all hunger; for it knows of a certainty that he who speaks cannot lie. Therefore the soul falls upon the Word, clings to it, trusts in it, and builds its dwelling place in the strength of this well-prepared table. The living bread of which the Lord here speaks, is Christ himself. If in our hearts we lay hold of only a morsel of this bread, we shall have forever enough and can never be separated from God. The partaking of this bread is nothing but faith in Christ our Lord. He who eats of this food lives forever.

Notice that the Lord approaches us so lovingly and graciously, and offers himself to us in such gentle words that it should in all reason move the heart to believe on him; to believe that this bread, his flesh and blood, born of the Virgin Mary, was given because he had to pay the penalty of death and suffer in our stead the torments of hell, and besides suffer the guilt of sins he never committed, as if they were his own. This he did willingly and received us as brethren and sisters. If we believe this we do the will of the heavenly Father, which is nothing else than that we believe on the Son.

Therefore a Christian life is a life of bliss and joy. Christ’s yoke is easy and sweet. If we rightly appropriated the words of Christ, they would be of much greater comfort to us. But these words are not to be misconstrued and made to refer to the sacrament of the altar. There is not a letter of it that refers to the Lord’s Supper. The whole chapter from which the passage is taken speaks of nothing but the spiritual food, namely, faith. The sacrament of the altar is a testament and confirmation of this true supper, with which we should strengthen our faith and be assured that this body and this blood, which we receive in the sacrament, has rescued us from sin and death and all misery. It is now evident that whoever has faith in this bread of heaven, of which he here speaks, has already done the will of God and eaten of the heavenly manna.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 245–46.

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God Forbid! http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/god-forbid/a1902.html Sat, 09 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 

Romans 6:14–15, RSV

From Luther

When we preach the forgiveness of sins by pure grace without any merit of man, the perversity of the world claims that we either forbid good works, or else try to draw the conclusion that man may continue to live in sin and follow his own pleasure; the fact is, that people may be induced to do good works by our teaching to the praise, honor and glory of God. Our teaching, rightly apprehended, does not lead to pride and vice, but to humility and obedience.

In matters of temporal government, whether domestic or civil, it is understood that he who asks for pardon confesses himself guilty, acknowledges his error and promises to reform and transgress no more. When the judge extends mercy and pardon to the thief deserving the gallows, the law is canceled by grace. But though the law is indeed canceled for him and grace delivers him from the rope and the sword, life is not granted him that he may continue to steal and murder; he is rather supposed to become honest and virtuous. If he does not, the law will again overtake him and punish him as he deserves.

Every one can readily comprehend this principle in temporal things; no one is so stupid as to tolerate the idea of grace being granted to extend opportunity to do wrong. It is only the gospel doctrine concerning God’s grace and the forgiveness of sin that must suffer the slanderous misrepresentation that makes it abolish good works or give occasion for sin. We are told that God, in his unfathomable grace, has canceled the sentence of eternal death and hell-fire which, according to the law and divine judgment, we deserved, and has given us instead the freedom of life eternal; thus our life is purely of grace. Certainly we are not pardoned that we may live as before when, under condemnation and wrath, we incurred death. We are to conduct ourselves as men made alive and saved, that we fall not from grace and pass again under judgment and the sentence of eternal death.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 244–45.

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True Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/true-faith/a1901.html Fri, 08 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

Matthew 23:37, RSV

From Luther

The Lord has given us here a lovely picture and parable of what he does for the sake of faith and believers, so that I do not know of a more beautiful passage in all the Scriptures. The Lord here emphasizes his good will and favor to the Jews and says he would gladly be their mother hen, had they wished to be his little chickens. O man! In this picture you will see how you are to conduct yourself towards Christ, and to what end he is to benefit you, how you should make use of him and enjoy him.

It is certain that our souls are the chickens, and Satan and wicked spirits are the buzzards in the air, with only this exception that we are not as wise as the chickens which flee to the hen; while the spirits of Satan are more subtle to rob us of our souls than the buzzards are to steal the chickens. Faith, if it is true faith, is of such a nature that it does not rely upon itself, but holds to Christ, and takes refuge under his righteousness; he lets this righteousness be its shield and protection, just like the little chicken never trusts in its own efforts, but takes refuge under the body and wings of the hen.

It is not sufficient for one who is to stand before the judgment of God to say, I believe and have grace; for all that is within him is not able to protect him; but he proffers to this judgment Christ’s righteousness which he permits to plead for him at the judgment seat of God. Under this righteousness he creeps, crouches and stoops, he confides in it and believes without doubt that he will be sustained by that same faith, not for his sake, nor for the sake of such faith, but for the sake of Christ and his righteousness under which he takes refuge. A faith that does not do this is not true faith. Thus also the Psalmist says, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. He is my refuge and my fortress. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 242–43.

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Losing Faith in Self http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/losing-faith-in-self/a1900.html Thu, 07 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:44, RSV

From Luther

He must surely perish whom the Father does not draw. Thus it is decreed, that whoever does not come to this Son must be condemned forever. The Son is given us only to the end that he may save us; besides him, nothing saves us either in heaven or on earth. If he does not help us, nothing will. If the Father does not come first and draw men, they must forever perish. The Father must lay the first stone of the foundation in us, else we will never do anything. This is accomplished in the following way:

God sends his preachers, whom he has taught to preach to us his will. First he instructs us that our entire lives and characters, however holy and beautiful they may be, are nothing before him; this is called a preaching of the law. Then he offers us grace; he tells us that he will not utterly condemn and reject us, but makes us heirs of his kingdom, lords over all that is in heaven and upon earth. This is called preaching grace, or the gospel. But God is the origin of all; God first sends the preachers and constrains them to preach. Where the pure and plain Word of God goes, it breaks to pieces everything that is exalted of man, it makes valleys of all their mountains, and all their hills it makes low. Every heart that hears this Word must lose faith in itself, else it will not be able to come to Christ. God’s works do nothing but destroy and make alive, condemn and administer salvation.

Hence, a person who is thus smitten in his heart by God to confess that he is one who must be condemned on account of his sins, is like the righteous man whom with the words of this gospel God first wounds, and because of that wound fixes upon him the band of his divine grace, by which he draws him, so that he must seek help and counsel for his soul. Before he could not obtain any help or counsel from God, nor did he ever desire it; but now he finds the first comfort and promise of God. From such promise he will ever continue to gain courage as long as he lives and will ever win greater and greater confidence in God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 241–42.

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Scripture and a reading from Luther's sermons and devotional writings http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/scripture-and-a-reading-from-luthers-sermons-and-devotional-writings/a1899.html Wed, 06 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him.

Genesis 4:8, RSV

From Luther

Cain is the image and picture of all hypocrites and murderers, who kill under the show of godliness. Cain, possessed by Satan, hides his wrath, waiting the opportunity to slay his brother Abel; meanwhile he converses with him, as a brother beloved, that he might the sooner lay his hands on him unawares. Let us learn to know a Cain and to beware when he speaks kindly as a brother to brother. It is in this way that our adversaries talk with us in our day, while they pretend a desire for concord, and seek to bring about doctrinal harmony.

Our ministry at the present day deserves no blame. We teach, we exhort, we entreat, we rebuke, we turn ourselves every way, that we may recall the multitude from their self-security to the fear of God. But the world, like an untamed beast, goes on and follows not the Word, but its own lusts, which it tries to smooth over with a show of uprightness. The prophets and apostles are before us as examples, and our own experience is also instructive.

Learn then what a hypocrite is, namely, one who lays claim to the worship of God and to charity, and at the same time destroys the worship of God and kills his brother. All this semblance of good will is only intended to bring about better opportunities of doing harm. Light is cast here upon the bondage of Satan by which our nature, entangled in sins, is oppressed. Hence Paul speaks of the “children of wrath” and declares that such are taken captive by Satan. For nature, destitute of the Holy Spirit, is impelled by the same evil spirit which impelled wicked Cain. If, however, there were in any one those ample powers, or that free will, by which a man might defend himself against the assaults of Satan, these gifts would most assuredly have existed in Cain, to whom belonged the birthright and the promise of the blessed seed. All men are in that very same condition; unless our nature be helped by the Spirit of God, it cannot maintain itself.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 240–41.

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Temperance http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/temperance/a1898.html Tue, 05 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, 20 always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. 

Ephesians 5:15–20 ,RSV

From Luther

God having in his infinite goodness so richly shed upon us in these latter times the gospel of light, we ought in honor and gratitude to him try to reform ourselves in the matter of intemperance. We should fear lest through this evil, besides committing other sins, we draw upon us the wrath and punishment of God. For naught else can result from the pernicious life of intemperance but false security and contempt of God. Individuals continually dead in drunkenness, buried in excesses, living like swine, cannot fear God, cannot be occupied with divine things. Such are the excesses now to be seen in the courts of princes—banqueting and drinking — that one would think they meant to devour the resources of the country in a single hour. Lords, princes, and noblemen — the entire country — are ruined, reduced to beggary, for the reason that God’s gifts are so inhumanly wasted and destroyed.

The evil of drunkenness has, alas, gained such ascendancy as to be past restraint unless the Word of God may exert some controlling influence among the few, the individuals who are still human and who would be Christians. It is my opinion that if God does not sometime check the vice by a special judgment, even women and children will become inebriate, and when the last day arrives no Christian will be found, but all souls will descend drunken into the abyss of hell. Let all who desire to be Christians know that it is incumbent upon them to manifest the virtue of temperance; that drunken sots have no place among Christians, and cannot be saved until they amend their ways, until they reform from their evil habits.

Just as idolatry and adultery are sins excluding from heaven, so drunkenness is a sin which bars from the blessings of baptism, from remission of sins, faith in Christ, and personal salvation. Hence, if you would be a Christian and be saved, you must lead a sober and temperate life.

O God, how shameless and ungrateful we are, we so highly blessed of God in having his Word and in being liberated from the tyranny of the pope, who desired our sweat and blood—how ungrateful in the face of these things not to amend our lives in some measure in honor of the gospel, and in praise and gratitude to God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 239–40.

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The Two Kingdoms http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-two-kingdoms/a1897.html Mon, 04 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how to entangle him in his talk. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the money for the tax.” And they brought him a coin. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Matthew 22:15–21, RSV

From Luther

We must keep this truth before our eyes; it is our rule of conduct toward the two kingdoms, God’s and Caesar’s, so as to give to each the honor due him. In both there are many who abuse the charge and position committed to them, especially toward Christians. We must suffer this, but at the same time we maintain our right to punish them by word of mouth, telling them the truth and hurling back the accusations heaped upon us. In so doing we satisfy justice and fulfil our duty; the rest we commit to God.

The teaching of Christ is the doctrine we insist on, that the two powers, God’s and Caesar’s, or spiritual and temporal kingdoms, must be kept apart, as Christ does here in clear and brief declaration, making not only a distinction, but also finely illustrating how each is to be considered and administered. It is ordained of God that subjects shall give to their rulers what they need; when he commands them to give, it is implied that these may take; and where we are to give what is due, there we infer that we owe them something, so that the language might be “return” rather than simply “render” or “give.” This is something for subjects under civil authority.

On the other hand, there are restrictions placed upon rulers that they govern in the same spirit, and not take from their subjects what is not due them; that they remember to give and do also what they are in duty bound to do by virtue of their presiding over countries and nations, so that they may grow and prosper. That is why rulers are elevated by God to their respective positions of honor, not that they hold their positions as extortioners, doing what they like.

If this were emphasized it would be found that the world is full of real thieves and rogues, rulers as well as subjects, and the number would indeed be small, from the highest to the lowest, who obey and do what is right. Subjects are most generally disposed to cheat their ruler and appropriate to their own use what is his, to say nothing of giving cheerfully. Princes and officeholders wish to have the name of being Christians, yet they do only what suits them and would gladly usurp the places of their superiors.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 237–38.

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The Death of Sin http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-death-of-sin/a1896.html Sun, 03 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000 https://www.solapublishing.com/

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 

Romans 6:1–4, RSV

From Luther

The apostle speaks in his own Pauline style concerning the power of baptism, which derives its efficacy from the death of Christ. By his death he has paid for and taken away our sins; his death has been an actual strangling and putting to death of sin; it no longer has dominion over him. Through his death we have obtained forgiveness of sins; that sin may not condemn us, we die unto sin through that power which Christ — because we are baptized into him — imparts to and works in us.

He further declares that we are not only baptized into his death, but, by the same baptism, we are buried with him into death; for in his death he took our sins with him into the grave, burying them completely and leaving them there. To those who through baptism are in Christ, sin is completely destroyed and buried, and shall remain so; but we, through his resurrection — which, by faith, gives us the victory over sin and death and bestows upon us everlasting righteousness and life — should henceforth walk in newness of life.

Having these things through baptism, we dare no longer obey — live unto — the sin which still dwells in our flesh and blood in this life; we must daily strangle it so that it may have no power, nor life in us if we desire to be found in the estate and life of Christ. The fact that Christ himself had to die for sin is evidence of the severe wrath of God against sin. Sin had to be put to death and laid away in the grave in the body of Christ. Thereby God shows us that he will not countenance sin in us, but has given us Christ and baptism for the purpose of putting to death and burying sin in our bodies.

Thus Christ was buried that he might, through forgiveness, cover up and destroy our sin, whether actually committed or inherent in us. He was buried that he might, through the Holy Spirit, mortify this flesh and blood with its inherent sinful lusts; they must no longer have dominion over us, but must be subject to the Spirit until we are utterly free from them.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 236–37.

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Strong Medicine http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/strong-medicine/a1895.html Sat, 02 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Romans 5:20–21, RSV

From Luther

When we preach that grace is bestowed upon us and the forgiveness of sins without any merit on our part, people are disposed to regard themselves as free from obligation and will do no works except those to which their own desires prompt them. This was Paul’s experience when he so strongly commended the grace of Christ and its consolation. The rude crowd cried: Oh, is it true that great grace follows upon great sin? In that case we will cheerfully load ourselves with sin so that we may receive the greater grace.

Such argument Paul refutes. He says: It is not the intention of the gospel to teach sin or to allow it, but the very opposite—how we may escape from sin and from the awful wrath of God which it incurs. Paul does not teach that grace is acquired through sin, nor that sin brings grace, but on the contrary he says: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Escape is not effected by any doings of our own, but by the fact that God, out of pure grace, forgives us our sins for his Son’s sake; for in us God finds nothing but sin and condemnation.

But because the sins of men which are taken away are so grievous and numerous, the grace which drowns and destroys them must be mighty and abundant also. Where there is great thirst, a great draft is needed to quench it. Where there is a mighty conflagration, powerful streams of water are necessary to extinguish it. In cases of severe illness, strong medicine is essential to a cure. But these facts do not give us authority to say: Let us cheerfully drink to satiety that we may become more thirsty for good wine; or, let us injure ourselves and make ourselves ill that medicine may do us more good. Still less does it follow that we may heap up and multiply sins for the purpose of receiving more abundant grace. Grace does not give license to sin, but where there are many and great sins, there also reigns great, abundant and rich grace.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 235–36.

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Blessed Eyes http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/blessed-eyes/a1894.html Fri, 01 Jul 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. 22 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” 

Luke 10:21–24, RSV

From Luther

This hearing and seeing must be understood as simply external, namely, that they saw Christ, heard his preaching, and witnessed the miracles which he performed. Certainly the Jews also beheld these things with their natural eyes, and some of them indeed experienced them in part at least in their hearts; but in fact they did not recognize him as the Christ, like the apostles and like Peter, who, representing all the others, said, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.” Some of the Jews, indeed, like the apostles, recognized him as the Christ, but they were few.

In spirit, however, many prophets and kings saw Christ, as he himself says to the Jews concerning Abraham, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad.” The Jews thought he spoke of natural seeing, but he spoke of spiritual sight, as all pious hearts saw him before he was born, and still see him. If Abraham saw him, doubtless many prophets in whom the Holy Ghost dwells saw him; and though this seeing made the holy fathers and prophets blessed, still they had a heartfelt desire to behold Christ the Lord in the flesh, as is intimated time and again in the prophets.

Therefore the Lord here says to his disciples, who saw both with their natural and spiritual eyes, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see,” as though we would say, This is a blessed time, an acceptable year, a special season of grace. That which is now at hand is so precious that the eyes which see it are truly called blessed. In the past ages the gospel was never preached so publicly and clearly unto all men as at present. The Holy Spirit was not yet publicly poured out, but Christ had begun the work of the Holy Spirit, and afterwards the apostles continued it in great earnestness. Therefore he calls all those blessed who hear and see this grace in Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 234–35.

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Subject to Hope http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/subject-to-hope/a1893.html Thu, 30 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 ...for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:20–23, RSV

From Luther

Paul tells us the whole creation groans and travails with us, ungodly; “subject to vanity,” he phrases it. The blessed sun, most glorious of created things, serves the small minority of the godly. Where it shines on one godly man it must shine on thousands of knaves, enemies of God, blasphemers, persecutors, murderers, robbers, thieves, adulterers, with whom the world is filled. To these it must minister in all their ungodliness and wickedness, permitting its pure and glorious rays to benefit the most unworthy, most shameful and abandoned profligates. This subjection is truly painful, and were the sun a rational creature, obeying its own volition rather than the decree of the Lord who has subjected it to vanity against its will, it might deny every one of these wicked wretches even the least ray of light; that it is compelled to minister to them is its cross and pain, by reason of which it sighs and groans.

Paus tells us the whole creation groans and travails with us, as if desiring relief from anguish. The heavenly planets would gladly be free from serving; the earth would readily become unfruitful; all waters would voluntarily sink from sight and deny the wicked world a draught; the sheep would prefer to produce thorns for the ungodly instead of wool; the cow would rather yield them poison than milk. But they must perform their appointed work, Paul says, because of him who has subjected them in hope. God will finally answer the cry of creation; he has already determined that after the six thousand years of its existence now past, the world shall have its evening and end.

Since man has fallen in sin, we all — the whole creation — must suffer the consequence and be subject to vanity. All created things must be under the power of a condemned world, and compelled to serve with all their energies until God shall overthrow the entire world and for the elect's sake purify again and renew the creature.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 233–34.

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Exercising Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/exercising-faith/a1892.html Wed, 29 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; 2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

John 10:1–4, RSV

From Luther

This leading them out is Christian liberty. They are now free; no longer penned up and captive under anxious constraint and fear of the law and of divine judgment, but happily pastured and nourished in Christ’s sweet kingdom of grace. This liberty does not mean that the sheep, now without a fold and without a keeper, may run from their shepherd unrestrained into error; or that Christians can do whatsover the flesh lusteth. It means that now free from the terror of wolves, thieves, and murderers, they may live with their dear shepherd, in love and pleasure following where he leads and guides them; because they know that he defends and lovingly oversees them so that the law dare no longer accuse and condemn them, even though they are weak as to the flesh and have not perfectly fulfilled the law. For the Lord, God’s Son, is the shepherd, who takes the sheep under his grace, his shelter and protection; he who will accuse or condemn the sheep must first accuse or condemn the Lord himself.

This is the Christian’s life under their shepherd. Christ ever rules, leads and guides them. They remain with him in the liberty of faith, wherein they walk, following his example in obedience and good works. Christ’s kingdom was not instituted that we might indulge the lusts of our flesh; but that we, released from the captivity of the law, under which we could not in sincerity do anything good, follow Christ cheerfully and with a good conscience in our lives and works. Each responds as Christ calls him, a special instrument for Christ’s use.

To follow Christ means that our whole life and all our works be in the faith of Christ — a constant exercise of faith, wherein we are recognized and are assured that because of this dear shepherd we have favor with God. Thus our works and lives, weak and imperfect in obedience as they are, are also under the wings of the mother hen, and are pleasing to God because of the shepherd. In this confidence we now begin to be obedient, to call upon him in our temptations and needs, confess his Word, and serve our neighbors. To this end a Christian constantly needs the Word of Christ; he needs to learn from it and to exercise himself in it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 231–32.

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The Rest of Conscience http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-rest-of-conscience/a1891.html Tue, 28 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 

John 3:17–18, RSV

From Luther

With these words one can apprehend God as he is to be apprehended. You do not seek him; he rather seeks you and pictures his Son before you as a Saviour and not as a judge. It is a common practice to represent the gracious Saviour as a judge, and from this practice has sprung a dependence upon the merits of saints, causing us to turn away from Christ and take refuge in the saints. We fancy that the saints are more gracious and more kindly disposed to us than even God himself. Therefore, one says, St. Peter is my apostle; another says, St. Paul is my patron; and so on. But God cannot permit this; the glory must belong to him. My conscience must rest upon the foundation, the eternal, all-knowing truth. God alone is the truth, and the conscience must rest upon him and nothing else.

If I picture Christ as a judge, I shall fear him. The result will be that soon I am constrained before him, grow afraid of him and then hate him, and my heart becomes corrupt and blasphemous. But when I know him as the gospel pictures him, and long for him as the best friend that my heart can choose, then love soon follows. No friend can do as much for us as he has done. I forget father and mother, I have a strong confidence in him. But if one simply fears him, one falls back on his good works and does not recognize Christ as Mediator, thinking to run into the presence of God without him. In this way he works his own ruin.

Learn then from this lesson to know Christ aright and to hold him between yourself and the Father; let him be the sacrifice alone, which shall secure heaven and salvation. When this passage comes to mind in the hour of death, when the test comes, what comfort to meditate on its message — how the Lord came not to condemn the world, but to save it. He who believes cannot be lost, but will be saved, since it is true that naught accomplishes our salvation except Christ alone, who came to be our Saviour. Thus it follows that where faith is, there sin does no harm; for faith makes us Christ’s.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 230–31.

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The Humble Fear of God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-humble-fear-of-god/a1890.html Mon, 27 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

5 Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you.

1 Peter 5:5–6, RSV

From Luther

The heart, through knowledge of its sin, becomes terrified in the presence of God’s anger and anxiously seeks grace. Thus a humility is born, not merely external and before men, but of the heart and of God, from fear of God and knowledge of one’s own unworthiness and weakness. He who fears God and trembles at his word will surely not boast against any one. He will even manifest a gentle spirit toward his enemies. Therefore he finds favor with God and men.

The cause of this shall be “the mighty hand of God.” God’s hand is powerful and mighty in a twofold manner. It dashes down and overthrows the proud and self-secure, however hard and iron-like their heads and hearts may be. They must languish in dust and ashes; must lie despondent and desperate in the anguish and torments of hell, if he touch them but a little with the terrors of his anger. These are experiences through which the saints also pass, and concerning whose severity they lament.

In the second place God’s hand is mighty to raise, to comfort and strengthen the humble and fearful, and to exalt them. Those who have been cast down in terror should not despair, or flee before God, but rise again and be comforted in God. God wishes to have it preached and published that he never lays his hand upon us in order that we may perish and be damned. But he must pursue this course to lead us to repentance, else we would never inquire about his Word and will. If we seek his grace, he is ready to help us up again, to grant us forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit and eternal life.

So God will also “exalt you in due time.” Though his help be delayed, and the humble and suffering seem to lie oppressed all too long under his hand and to languish, let them hold to the promise Paul has given: God “will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able,” but will hear your cry, and will help at the proper time; and thus let us be comforted. God has already stretched forth his mighty hand, both to cast down the godless and to exalt the humble.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 229–30.

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God's Image in Our Neighbor http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/gods-image-in-our-neighbor/a1889.html Sun, 26 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

5 For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning; of every beast I will require it and of man; of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. 6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.

Genesis 9:5–6, RSV

From Luther

When God saw that the world was growing worse and worse, he finally enforced punishment against the wicked world by the flood. Here, however, God bestows a share of his authority upon man, giving him the power of life and death, that thus he may be the avenger of bloodshed. Whosoever takes life without due warrant, him God subjects not only to his own judgment, but also to the sword of man. But men have no authority to slay except where guilt is apparent and crime is proven. Hence courts have been established and a definite method of proceeding instituted for the purpose of investigating and proving the crime before the sentence of death is passed.

The importance of this text and its claim to attention consists in the fact that it records the establishment of civil authority by God with the sword as the sign of power, in order that licence may be curbed and anger and other sins prevented from growing beyond all bounds. God foresaw that wickedness would ever flourish, and established this external remedy to prevent the infinite spread of license. By this safeguard God protects life and property. We find here no less a proof of God’s great love toward man than his promise that the flood shall never rage again.

Man is a noble creature, who, unlike other living beings, has been fashioned according to the image of God. While it is true that he has lost this image through sin, it is capable of being restored through the Word and the Holy Spirit. This image God desires us to revere in each other; he forbids us to shed blood by the exercise of sheer force. But the life of him who refuses to respect this image of God in man, and gives way to anger and provocation, is surrendered to civil authority by God, in that God commands that also his blood shall be shed.

Thus the passage under consideration teaches the establishment of civil authority in the world, which did not exist before the flood, by which they who have the sword are commanded to use it against those who have shed blood. Therefore it is for us to render obedience to the divine order and to endure it, so that we are not disobedient to the will of God at the very point where we derive benefit in so many ways.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 228–29.

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Cain or Abel? http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/cain-or-abel/a1888.html Sat, 25 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

10 By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother. 
11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 and not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

1 John 3:10–12, RSV

From Luther

What offense had godly Abel committed against his brother to be so hated? He had regarded that brother as the first-born, had done him all honor and loved him as became a brother. He was easily satisfied, desiring simply the grace of God. He prayed for the future seed, for the salvation and happiness of his parents, his brother and the entire human race. How could Cain be so unmerciful and inhuman to murder his own flesh and blood?

The answer is found in the fact that the devil had filled Cain’s heart with pride and vanity over his birthright. He considered himself a man of distinction, whilst his brother was nothing. His heart is devoid of true brotherly love. He cannot endure God’s manifest favor toward his brother, and will not be moved by the injunction to humble himself and seek God’s grace. Anger and envy possess him so that he cannot tolerate his brother alive. He becomes a murderer, and then goes his way as if he had done right. This is what John means when he says that Cain had no other cause for his crime than that his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.

Similarly that obedient daughter of Saint Cain, the world, hates the Christians; and for no other reason than the latter’s love and goodness of heart. In this man Cain is pictured the world in its true characteristic colors; in him its true spirit stands reflected. On the other hand that poor, abject Abel well represents the obscure little brotherhood, the Church of Christ. She must yield to Cain, the lord, the distinction of being everything before God. He feels important in his imagined dignity and thinks that God cannot but favor and accept his offering rather than that of his brother.

Meanwhile pious Abel goes his way, meekly suffering his brother’s contempt. He yields him the honor and beholds no consolation for himself aside from the pure mercy and goodness of God. He believes in God and in such faith he performs his sacrifice as a confession of his gratitude.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, p. 227.

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The Only and True Light http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-only-and-true-light/a1887.html Fri, 24 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.

John 1:6–8, RSV

From Luther

O, what necessary repetition! First of all to show that this Light is not simply a man, but God himself; for the evangelist greatly desires to preach the divinity of Christ in all his words. If John, the great saint, be not that Light, but only a witness of it, then this Light must be something far different from everything that is holy, whether it be man or angel. If holiness could make such a light, it would have made one of John. In the second place, such a repetition is necessary to resist wicked preachers, who do not bear witness of Christ, the Light, but of themselves. All who preach the doctrines of men make man the light, lead men away from God to themselves, and set themselves up as the true Light, as the pope and his followers have done. He is, therefore, the Antichrist, that is, he is against Christ, the true Light.

This gospel text desires only to testify of Christ and lead men to him, who is the true Light, which lighteth every man coming into the world. Therefore these words, “He was not the Light,” are truly worthy to be capitalized and to be well remembered against the men who set themselves up as the light and give to men doctrines and laws of their own fabrication. They pretend to enlighten men, but lead them with themselves into the depths of hell; for they do not teach faith and are not willing to teach it. Who does not preach the gospel to you, him reject and refuse to hear. But he preaches the gospel who teaches you to believe and trust in Christ, the eternal Light. Therefore beware of everything told you which does not agree with the gospel, as for example eating and drinking, which are necessary for your body, but by no means to your salvation. For this purpose nothing is necessary or of use to you except this Light.

O, these abominable doctrines of men, which are now so prevalent and which have almost banished this Light! They all wish to be this Light themselves, but not to be witnesses of it. They advocate their own fancies, but are silent about this Light, or teach it in a way so as to preach themselves along with it. This is worse than to be entirely silent.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 225–26.

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Our Rock and Anchor http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/our-rock-and-anchor/a1886.html Thu, 23 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

John 3:16, RSV

From Luther

With these words Jesus leads us directly into the Father’s heart, that we may see and know that it was the great and wonderful counsel of God, resolved from eternity, that we should receive help through his Son. All had to be fulfilled, that God’s truth might stand, even as he had promised in the Scriptures. It is thus apparent that God does not intend to cast us out, and to condemn us on account of our sins, but that he wills that we should attain to eternal grace and life for the sake of the Saviour and Mediator, if we fear his wrath on account of our sins, and keep in mind this eternal divine life.

The Holy Spirit teaches everywhere that we do not possess the Father except through a mediator, and he will not allow us to approach the Father without one. Let us thank the Father for ordering it as he has and placing between us one who is God and equal with God, and also man, on a level with man; for we are human and he is God. Where God and man oppose each other, man meets with instant destruction, for he cannot stand against God. God has intervened by placing as mediator one who is alike true God and true man. Through him we are to come to the Father; with the price we can pay nothing is accomplished.

If there were another way to heaven, Jesus would doubtless have made it known to us. Therefore let us cling to the words, firmly pilot our hearts along this way and keep within it. If I had the merits of all the saints, the sanctity and purity of all virgins, and the piety of St. Peter besides, still I would not give a fig for all I call my own. I must have another foundation on which to build, namely, the words: God has given his Son, that whosoever believeth in him, whom the Father sent out of love, shall be saved. Let us fearlessly plant ourselves on these words, which neither Satan, hell, nor death can overthrow. Come what will, let us say: Here is God’s Word; that is my rock and anchor; to that I cling and that abides; and where that abides, there I abide also. God cannot lie.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 224–25.

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The Hope of Glory http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-hope-of-glory/a1885.html Wed, 22 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 

Romans 8:19–25, RSV

From Luther

Paul uses forcible language here. Creation is aware, he says, not only of its future deliverance from the bondage of corruption, but of its future grandeur. It hopes for the speedy coming of its glory, and waits with the eagerness of a maiden for the dance. Seeing the splendor reserved for itself, it groans and travails unceasingly. Similarly, we Christians groan and intensely desire to have done at once with the Turks, the Pope and the tyrannical world. Who would not weary of witnessing the present knavery, ungodliness and blasphemy against Christ and his gospel, even as Lot wearied of the ungodliness he beheld in Sodom? Thus Paul says that creation groaneth and travaileth while waiting for the revelation and the glorious liberty of the children of God.

He declares creation to be weary of present conditions of servitude, and as eager for liberation as a mother for deliverance in the hour of anguish. Truly it is with spiritual sight, with apostolic vision, that Paul discerns this fact in regard to creation. He turns away from this world, oblivious to the joys and sufferings of earthly life, and boasts alone of the future, eternal life, unseen and unexperienced. Thus he administers real and effectual comfort to Christians, pointing them to a future life for themselves and all created things after this sinful life shall have an end.

Therefore, believers in Christ are to be confident of eternal glory, and with sighs and groans to implore the Lord God to hasten the blessed day of the realization of their hopes. For so Christ has taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” Our faith is not to be exercised for the attainment of earthly riches; we are not baptized unto the present life, nor do we receive the gospel as ministering to our temporal good; these things are to point us to yonder eternal life. God grant the speedy coming of the glad day of our redemption, when we shall realize all these blessings, of which we now hear and in which we believe through the Word.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 223–24.

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Christ's Peace http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/christs-peace/a1884.html Tue, 21 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27, RSV

From Luther

This is bidding them a friendly good-night. Christ was willing and able to speak with his disciples in the most loving manner. I must away, he says, and cannot speak much more with you; let it be well with you. That is my last farewell. Ye shall suffer no hurt, nor want because of my departure. I will richly repay you, for ye shall have from me the best that you can wish, namely, that in my Father you have a merciful God, whose thoughts toward you are those of a father’s heart and love. In me you shall have a good, faithful Saviour, who will not forsake you in any need and will defend you against the devil, the world, and all wickedness, and will in addition send you the Holy Spirit, who shall so rule your hearts that you find in me true comfort, peace, and joy.

My peace is not given as the world gives peace. The world bases its peace only on transient things, as possessions, power, honor, friendship of men. When these are gone, then peace, confidence, and courage are gone. Though it were in the power of the world to give and preserve all these, yet it has not, nor can it have, true eternal peace, so that a heart enjoys God’s favor and is certain of his grace and of everlasting life. But since this is not the world’s peace, the holy cross is laid upon it; measured by reason and by our feelings, it means no peace, but dissensions, anguish, fear, and trembling. Christ says, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world;” this is to be your peace.

Thus Christ has assured and satisfied his Church with peace that abides in the midst of tribulation and temptation. Therefore, when the heart is oppressed, in anguish and terrified, as if a fugitive before God, this peace must be fixed by faith in the Word of Christ, that it may say: I know that I have God’s pledge and the witness of the Holy Spirit that he wants to be my Father and is not angry with me, but assures me of peace and all good through Christ, his Son.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 222–23.

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If You Love Me http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/if-you-love-me/a1883.html Mon, 20 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 

John 14:15–17, RSV

From Luther

Keep his Word or commandment — that is what the soul must do who loves Christ, who understands and appreciates what he gets from Christ. No one is a Christian unless he keeps Christ’s Word; and no one can keep it unless he first loves God. Where this love is not, all amounts to nothing, do as we will. If one were to take all the swords in the world in his hands, he would not bring a single heretic to the faith. The people may appear to accept the Word, but in their hearts there is no faith. Hence, he who wishes to be a true bishop arranges all his administrations to the end that he may win souls and develop a delight in God’s Word and a love for it.

How does one acquire love? The human heart is so false that it cannot love unless it first sees the benefit of loving. No man can bring this love into the heart. Therefore God gave us his Son, graciously poured out his greatest treasures and sunk and drowned all our sins and filth in the great ocean of his love, so that this great love and blessing must draw man to love and be ready to fulfil the divine commandments with a willing heart. In no other way can the heart love or have any love; it must be assured that it was first loved. Now man cannot do this; therefore Christ comes and takes the heart captive and says: Learn to know me. I am Christ, who placed myself in your misery to drown your sins in my righteousness. This knowledge softens your heart, so that you must turn to him.

This loyalty to Christ’s kingdom is now considered a simple thing by the presumptuous and inexperienced spirits who deem themselves so holy and so strong in the faith as to be able easily to do what they hear, and who think that the Word of God is something that is obeyed as soon as it is heard. But experience teaches how difficult it is to keep this Word, for the holy cross has been laid upon it. The Church upon earth must strive and contend with weakness, poverty, misery, fear, death, shame and disgrace, and our flesh and old nature prefer that which is easy and agreeable. But the Christian will love Christ, his Word and his kingdom more than all things of the earth.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 220–21.

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Leave http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/leave/a1882.html Sun, 19 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24, RSV

From Luther

This sentence of Adam is prophetic. For as yet there was no father or mother; nor consequently were there any children. Through the Holy Spirit Adam prophesies of that married life, which should be in the world, and predictively describes the separate dwelling of man and wife, and the separate domestic authorities and governments of the several families in all ages; that each family should have its own habitation, authority, and rule. Even heathen nations have discovered that there is nothing more appropriate for man, nor beneficial for kingdoms, than this oneness of the life of married persons.

Christ applies these words of Adam as a common rule or law for our marriages since the loss of original innocence. If Adam had remained in his original innocency, the children born to him would have married and, leaving the table and dwelling-place of their parents, would have had their own trees under which they would have lived separate from their parents. They would have come from time to time to their father Adam, sung a hymn, spoken gloriously of God, called upon him, and then returned to their own homes.

Though all other things are now changed, yet this close bond between married persons still remains firm; so that a man would leave his father and mother much sooner than he would leave his wife. Where we find the contrary, for married persons are found to leave and forsake each other, all this is not only contrary to the present divine command by the mouth of Adam, but such things are awful signs of that horrible corruption, which has come upon man through sin.

This “leaving father and mother,” however, is not to be understood as a command that the children of Adam, when married, should have nothing more to do with their parents. It only enjoins the children when married to have their own home. We often find that children are compelled to support their parents, when worn down with age. Had paradise and all its innocency continued, the state of life would have been inconceivably more exalted and blessed than our present fallen and sinful condition. Yet even then this same command would have been obeyed. The husband, through love of his wife, would have chosen his homestead with her, and would have left his father and mother for that purpose.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 219–20.

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Woman http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/woman/a1881.html Sat, 18 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; 22 and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 

Genesis 2:21–23, RSV

From Luther

This name which Adam gives to the woman contains in it a wonderful and sweet description of marriage, in which, as the lawyers express it, “The woman shines in the rays of her husband.” For whatever the husband possesses, is possessed and held by the wife also. Not only is all their wealth possessed by them in common, but their children also, their food, their bed and their habitation. Their wishes are also equal. So that the husband differs from the wife in no other thing than in sex. In every other respect, the woman is really a man. In a word the woman, as Paul remarks in his instructions to Timothy, is man-formed and man-made by her very origin; for Paul says to Timothy, Adam was first formed, then Eve from the man, and not the man from the woman.

Of this communion of all things in marriage we still possess some feeble remnants, though miserable indeed they be when compared with what they were in their original state. For even now the wife, if she be but an honorable, modest, and godly woman, participates in all the cares, wishes, desires, purposes, duties, and actions of her husband. And it was for this end indeed that she was created in the beginning, and for this end was called “woman,” that she might differ in sex only from the father of the family, since she was taken from man.

Although this name can apply in its strictest and fullest sense only to Eve, who, alone of all women, was created thus out of man, yet our Lord applies the whole sentence of Adam to all wives when he says that man and wife are one flesh. Although, therefore, the wife be not made of thy flesh and thy bones, yet, because she is thy wife, she is as much the mistress of the house, as thou art the master thereof, except that by the law of God, which was brought in after the fall, the woman is made subject to the man. That is the woman’s punishment, as are many other troubles also which come short of the glories of paradise. Had the innocency continued, the government of the man and the woman would have been equal and the same. Now the sweat of the brow rests upon the man; and the wife is commanded to be subject to her husband.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 218–19.

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Bless http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/bless/a1880.html Fri, 17 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. 9 Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing.

1 Peter 3:8–9, RSV

From Luther

Wonderful and glorious fact, that God has decreed and appropriated to you this blessing whereby all the riches of his grace and everything good are yours! And that he will abundantly give you his Spirit to remain with you, blessing body and soul, if only you hold fast his grace and do not allow yourselves to be deprived of it. What price would you not gladly pay for this blessing, were it purchasable, instead of being freely given, without any merit, and were you privileged to buy the assurance of heart which would say, “I know I am a child of God, who has received me into his grace, and I live in the sure hope that I will be eternally blessed and saved.” Think, what a vast difference God makes between you and others because you are a Christian. He has appointed you to be an heir of everlasting grace and blessing and of eternal life. But they who are not Christians — what have they but a terrible sentence like a weight about their necks? The sentence pronouncing them children of the curse and of eternal condemnation.

If men would take this to heart, it would be easy by teaching and persuasion to win them to friendship and kindness toward their fellow men; to induce them not to return evil or reviling from a motive of revenge, but when their own privileges and protection and the punishment of evil cannot be obtained, quietly and peaceably to suffer injury rather than lose their eternal comfort and joy. Christians have excellent reason and a powerful motive for being patient and not revengeful or bitter in the fact that they are so richly blessed of God and given that great glory whereof they cannot be deprived, nor suffer its loss, if only they abide in it. Only see that you keep a quiet conscience and a loving heart, not allowing yourself, on account of the devil and wicked men, to be disturbed and deprived of your good conscience, your peaceful heart and your God-given blessing.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 217–18.

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The Dawn of Glory http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-dawn-of-glory/a1879.html Thu, 16 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God

Romans 8:18–19, RSV

From Luther

Just as we Christians endure many kinds of injustice and consequently sigh for and implore help and deliverance in the Lord’s prayer, so do the creatures sigh. Although they have not human utterance, yet they have speech intelligible to God and the Holy Spirit, who mark the creatures’ sighs over their unjust abuse by the ungodly.

Nowhere else in the Holy Scriptures do we find anything like Paul’s declaration here concerning the earnest expectation and waiting of the creatures for the revelation or manifestation of the children of God; which waiting the apostle characterizes as a sighing in eager desire for man’s redemption. The sun, the moon, the stars, the heavens and earth, the bread we eat, the water or wine we drink, the cattle and sheep, in short, all things that minister to our comfort, cry out in accusation against the world, because they are subject to vanity and must suffer with Christ and his brethren. The accusing cry is beyond human power to express, for God’s created things are innumerable. Rightly was it said from the pulpit in former times that on the last day all creatures will utter an accusing cry against the ungodly who have shown them abuse here on earth, and will call them tyrants to whom they were unjustly subjected.

Paul presents this example of the creatures for the comfort of Christians. You are not alone in your tribulation and your complaint of injustice; the whole creation suffers with you and cries out against its subjection to the wicked world. This is the explanation of Paul’s wonderful declaration concerning the “earnest expectation of the creature.” The creature continually regards the end of service, and freedom from slavery to the ungodly. This will not take place before the revealing of the sons of God. Therefore the whole creation cries: “Oh, for a speedy end of this calamity, and the dawning of glory for the children of God!”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 216–17.

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Delusions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/delusions/a1878.html Wed, 15 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

O men, how long shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? 

Psalm 4:2

From Luther

To have vanity is not the greatest of evils, for every man is vain, and there is nothing new under the sun, and though it be an evil, it is bearable. For there is not one saint that does not hope, trust, desire, fear, love and hate, more or less, in a way and manner that he ought not. But this body of sin and death, these laws of sin, these vanities, he ought to hate, not to love, nor take pleasure in them. To use the comfort and help of a creature is not sin, nor wrong; but to love them and rest in them alone, and from a love of them, not to trust in God, is an ungodly sin.

Hence, nothing more pestilential and destructive can be taught a Christian than moral philosophy and the decrees of men, if they be so set before him as to make him believe that he can walk in and by them so as to please God. For by such instruction it will come to pass that, relying on this wisdom, he will judge, condemn, and persecute whatever he sees is against him, and will thereby reject the cross of Christ and utterly despise the way of God, which is in its best and most prosperous state when we are following, as through a desert and wilderness, Christ in a pillar of fire.

But all these things are better understood by experience in time of suffering and adversity than they can possibly be described in words, or imagined by the heart. If the affections and thoughts of men are without faith in God, they are without the Word of God; if they are without the Word of God, they are without truth. Thus all things which are without faith are vanities and lies; for faith is truth by the Word of truth in which it believes and to which it cleaves by believing. The true meaning of this verse then is, that all are ungodly idolaters and polluters of the glory of God who under any tribulation draw back from faith, hope and love, to a confidence and comfort in created things.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 214–15.

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Just Passing Through http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/just-passing-through/a1877.html Tue, 14 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

11 Beloved, I beseech you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul. 12 Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

1 Peter 2:11–12, RSV

From Luther

Peter admonishes Christians to Christlike lives and works in view of the fact that they are called to great glory, having become through Christ a royal priesthood, a people of God and citizens of heaven. He would have them occupy this temporal world as guests, striving after another and eternal kingdom; that is, to abstain from all carnal lusts and maintain a blameless walk, a life of good works. The apostle assigns two reasons for such self-denial: first, that we may not, through carnal, lustful habits, lose the spiritual and eternal; second, that God’s name and the glory we have in Christ may not be slandered among our heathen adversaries, but rather, because of our good works, be honored.

When Peter admonishes to “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” he implies that if we do not resist carnal inclinations, we shall lose our priceless eternal inheritance. To be a stranger on earth, striving after another and better life, is inconsistent with living in fleshly lusts as if one’s sole intent were to remain in the world forever. If you would have the things of one life, Peter says, you must forsake the things of the other. If you forget your fatherland and lie drunken in this carnal life, as does the heathen world in living in unbelief and without hope of eternal life, you will never reach yonder existence. It is necessary to strive if we are to withstand the lusts of the flesh; for these war against the soul—against faith and the good conscience of man. If lust triumphs, our hold on the Spirit and on faith is lost. If you would not be defeated, you must valiantly contend against carnal inclinations and maintain your spiritual, eternal good. Our own welfare demands the conquest.

But God’s honor also calls for it. God’s honor is affected by our manner of life here on earth. We are to avoid giving occasion for our enemies to open their mouths in calumniation of God’s name and his Word. Rather must we magnify the name of God by our confession and general conduct, and thus win others, who shall with us confess and honor him. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 213–14.

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A Revelation http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/a-revelation/a1876.html Mon, 13 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; 22 and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. 

Genesis 2:20–24, RSV

From Luther

As Adam was pure and holy the words of Adam may rightly be said to be divine words or the voice of God, for God spoke through him. All the words and the works of Adam in that state of innocency are divine, and therefore may truly be said to be the words and works of God. Eve is presented to Adam by God himself. And just in the same manner as the will of God is prepared to institute marriage, so Adam is prepared to receive Eve with all pleasure and holiness when brought unto him. So even now the affection of the intended husband toward his betrothed spouse is of a particular and elevated kind.

It is worthy of our greatest wonder and admiration that Adam, the moment he cast his eye on Eve, knew her to be a creature formed out of himself. He immediately said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” These are not the words of an ignorant one, nor of one who was a sinner; nor of one who was ignorant of the works and creation of God. They are the words of one righteous, wise and full of the Holy Spirit; of that Holy Spirit who reveals to the world, before ignorant of such high and holy wisdom, that God is the efficient cause of marriage and that the final cause of marriage is that the wife might be unto her husband a civil, moral and domestic habitation and cohabitation. This knowledge comes not from the five senses and reason merely. It is a revelation of the Holy Spirit.

That word “now” in this sentence most beautifully expresses the glad surprise and exulting joy of a noble spirit which had been seeking this delightful companion of life; a companionship full, not only of love, but of holiness. As if Adam had said, This woman is at length what and all I want. With her I desire to live, and with her to obey the will of God in the propagation of posterity.

Now, however, this true purity, innocence and holiness are lost. There still remains, indeed, a feeling of joy and affection in the intended husband toward his spouse; but it is impure and corrupt on account of sin. The affection of Adam, however, was most pure, most holy and grateful to God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 212–13.

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Prayer in Love http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/prayer-in-love/a1875.html Sun, 12 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. 

Philippians 1:8–11, RSV

From Luther

Paul says he thanks God for the fellowship of the Philippians in the gospel, and offers prayer in their behalf. It should be the joy of a Christian heart to see multitudes accept the offer of mercy, and praise and thank God with him. This desire for the participation of others in the gospel promotes the spirit of prayer. The Christian cannot be a misanthrope, wholly unconcerned whether his fellows believe or not. He should be interested in all men and unceasingly long and pray for their salvation; for the sanctification of God’s name, the coming of his kingdom, the fulfilment of his will; and for the exposure everywhere of the devil’s deceptions, the suppression of his murderous power over poor souls and the restraint of his authority.

This prayer should be the sincere, earnest outflow of the true Christian’s heart. Paul’s words indicate that his praise and prayer were inspired by a fervent spirit. He speaks in a way worthy of an apostle. He renders praise and prayer with keenest pleasure. He rejoices in his heart that he has somewhere a little band of Christians who love the gospel and with whom he may rejoice; that he may thank God for them and pray in their behalf. Was there not much more reason that all who had heard the gospel should rejoice and thank Paul in heart and expression for it, praying God in his behalf, should rejoice that they became worthy of the apostle’s favor, were delivered from their blindness and had now received from him the light transferring them from sin and death into the grace of God and eternal life?

But Paul does not wait for them to take the initiative, as they ought to have done to declare their joy and their gratitude to him. In his first utterance he pours out the joy of his heart, fervently thanking God for them. Well might they have blushed, and reproached themselves, when they received the epistle beginning with these words. Well might they have said: “We should not have permitted him to speak in this way; it was our place first to show him gratitude and joy.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 211–12.

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Journey on in Joy http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/journey-on-in-joy/a1874.html Sat, 11 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:12, RSV

From Luther

Let not your burden rest upon yourselves; for ye cannot bear it, and must finally perish beneath its weight. Confident and full of joy, cast it upon God, and say: Heavenly Father, thou art my Lord and God, who didst create me and hast redeemed me through thy Son. Now, thou hast committed to me and laid upon me this office or work; things do not go as well as I would like. There is so much to oppress and worry, that I can find neither counsel nor help. Therefore I commend everything to thee. Do thou supply counsel and help, and be thou, thyself, everything in these things. Such prayer is pleasing to God, as he tells us to throw upon him all anxiety as to the issue and what we shall accomplish.

No heathen, philosopher or jurist, if he have not God’s Word, can throw his care and complaint upon God. When trouble arises, he begins to murmur and argue against God and his government, as though God’s rule merited criticism. But such men receive their deserts when God permits their calculations and hopes to fail and lets the reverse prevail. They spend their lives in many vain, useless cares and projects and in the course of their experience must learn and confess that many a time the very opposite of their judgment is the truth.

The Christian has the rare faculty, above all other people on earth, of knowing where to place his cares. He commits his troubles to God and proceeds with vigor against all that opposes. In time of danger and in the hour of death, when, with all his worrying, he cannot discover where he is or whither he is journeying, he must, with eyes, senses and thoughts closed to the world, surrender himself in faith and confidence to God and cast himself upon his hand and protection, and say: God has permitted me to live until this hour without my solicitude. He has given me his beloved Son as a treasure and sure pledge of eternal life. Therefore, my dear soul, journey on in joy. Thou hast a faithful Father and Saviour, who has taken thee into his own hand, and will preserve thee.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 209–10.

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Open Ears http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/open-ears/a1873.html Fri, 10 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

10 For “He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; 11 let him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil.” 

1 Peter 3:10–12, RSV

From Luther

Inscribe this verse upon your heart in firm faith and see if it does not bring you peace and blessings. Try to believe that God sits above, sleepless and with his vigilant eye ever upon you. With watchful vision he beholds the righteous as they suffer violence and wrong. Why will you complain and become discouraged by reason of the harm and grief you experience, when the gracious eyes of God, the true Judge, are upon you with the intent to help you? All the wealth of the world would I give, if I could, to purchase that watchful care, or rather obtain the requisite faith; for surely the lack is not in God’s regarding, but in our faith.

More than this, God’s ears are open to the prayers of the righteous. As he looks upon you with gracious winning eyes, so also are his ears alert even to the faintest sound. He hears your complaint, your sighing and prayer, and hears them willingly and with pleasure; as soon as you open your mouth, your prayer is heard and answered.

But the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. God’s eyes are upon the righteous, but he sees also the others. In this case he beholds not with a friendly look or gracious countenance, but with a displeased and wrathful face. When a man is angry the forehead frowns, the nostrils dilate and the eyes flash. Such a manifestation of anger we are to understand when the Scripture here refers to “the face of the Lord.” On the contrary it illustrates the pleased and gracious aspect of God by “the eyes of the Lord.”

What is the effect of “the face of the Lord” upon evildoers? According to the words of the Psalm, it is “to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” This is a terrible sentence before which a heart may well be prostrate as from a thunderbolt. Ungodly hearts would be appalled were they not so hardened in despising God’s Word. Verily it is no jest with God. In contrast, the righteous, because they have feared God and abode in their piety, shall, even here upon earth, live to see blessing and prosperity upon their children’s children.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 208–09.

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Christ in You http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/christ-in-you/a1872.html Thu, 09 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

3 Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For admission has been secretly gained by some who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 

Jude 3–4, RSV

From Luther

The reason I wish to write unto you, says Jude, is that you may continue in the faith which you have heard. There are already preachers at hand which advocate other doctrines than that faith; by these the people are gently and unsuspectingly led astray from the true way. Upon these false teachers the sentence of judgment, he says, has already been pronounced long ago, namely, that they are condemned.

We now understand this quite well, since we have learned that no one can become righteous or be justified (before God) by his own works, but through faith in Christ alone; that he must rely upon the work of Christ as the chief good and only support. Then after faith is present, whatever man does should be done for the benefit of his neighbor. The grace of God, which holds Christ before us, that is offered and given unto us through the gospel with all that he has, these men use only for leading impure lives. They call themselves Christians, praise the gospel, but live in wantonness, in eating and drinking. They boast that they are not in a secular, but in a spiritual state, and on that account claim all good, honor and luxury.

The denying of the Lord God is not with the mouth, for they confess that God is Lord; but they deny Christ in their deeds and works, considering him not as their Lord, but being their own lords unto themselves. For when they preach that fasts, pilgrimages, church institutions (ceremonies), chastity (celibacy), obedience (to the rules of ecclesiastical orders) poverty and the like are the way to salvation, they lead people astray. They say nothing about Christ, as though he were not needed and his work of redemption of no value. Thus they deny Christ, who has bought them with his own blood. They know not that our salvation is founded upon faith and love. They are offended when we reject their works and preach that Christ alone must help us with his works.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 207–08.

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Spirit Fall http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/spirit-fall/a1871.html Wed, 08 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

44 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. 

Acts 10:44–48, RSV

From Luther

From this we should learn what is the office of the Holy Spirit in the Church, and how or by what means he is received in the heart and works there. It is through preaching Jesus Christ the Lord. The gospel is the message which God would have preached world-wide, declaring to every individual that since no man can be made righteous through the law, but must rather become more unrighteous, God sent his own beloved Son to shed his blood and die for our sins, from which we could not be released by our own effort. It is not enough simply that Christ be preached; the Word must be believed. Therefore, God sends the Holy Spirit to impress the preaching upon the heart, to make it inhere and live therein. Without doubt Christ accomplished all, enabling us to become, through him, lords over all things. But the treasure lies in a heap; it is not everywhere distributed and applied. Before we can enjoy it, the Holy Spirit comes and communicates it to the heart, enabling us to believe and say, “I too am one who shall have the blessing.” Now, with the belief that God has come to our rescue and given us his priceless blessing, inevitably the human heart must be filled with joy and gratitude to God, and exultingly cry: “Dear Father, since it is thy will to manifest inexpressible love and fidelity toward me, I will love thee sincerely, and willingly do what is pleasing to thee.”

But in one sense know that all is not accomplished when the Holy Spirit is received. The possessor of the Spirit is not made entirely perfect and pure in all respects at once. We do not preach the doctrine that the Spirit’s office is one of complete accomplishment, but rather that it is progressive. The Christian must, in some measure, still feel sin in his heart and experience the terrors of death; he is affected by whatever affects other sinners. But he is supported by the Holy Spirit, who consoles and strengthens him till the work is fully accomplished. As long as we live in the flesh, we cannot attain such a degree of perfection as to be wholly free from weakness and faults. The pious Christian is still flesh and blood, but he strives to resist evil lusts and all other sins.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 206–07.

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The Precondition of Kindness http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-precondition-of-kindness/a1870.html Tue, 07 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:5–6, RSV

From Luther

It is the nature of faith to expect all good from God, and to rely only on him. From this faith man knows God, how good and gracious he is, and by reason of such knowledge his heart becomes so tender and merciful that he wishes cheerfully to do to every one what he has experienced from God. Therefore he goes forth in acts of love and serves his neighbor with his whole heart, with his body and soul, with his means and honor, with his life and spirit, and makes him partake of all he has, just as God did to him. Therefore he does not look after the healthy, the high, the strong, the rich, the noble, the holy persons who do not need his care; but he looks after the sick, the weak, the poor, the despised, the sinful, to whom he can be of benefit, and among whom he can exercise his tender heart, and do to them as God has done to him.

But the nature of unbelief is that it does not expect any good from God. The heart is blinded so that it neither feels nor knows how good and gracious God is. Out of this blindness follows further that the heart becomes so hard, obdurate and unmerciful that the man has no desire to do any kindness to his fellow man. As he is insensible to the goodness of God, he takes no pleasure in doing good to his neighbor. Consequently it follows that he does not look after the sick, poor and despised, to whom he could and should be helpful and profitable; he sees only the high, rich and influential, from whom he himself may receive advantage, gain, pleasure and honor. Where unbelief reigns man is absorbed by vanities, seeks them and does not rest until he has acquired them, and after he possesses them he feeds and fattens on them as the swine, and finds his sole happiness in them. He never inquires how his heart stands with his God and what he possesses in God and may expect from him; his belly is his God; if he cannot get what he wants he thinks things are all going wrong. From this then follows the other sin, that he forgets to exercise love toward his neighbor. Thus we see that it is impossible to love, where no faith exists, and impossible to believe, where there is no love. Both must go together.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 204–05.

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The Inner Person http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-inner-person/a1869.html Mon, 06 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’ ” 

Luke 16:19–31, RSV

From Luther

We must not view the rich man according to his outward conduct; for he is in sheep’s clothing, his life glitters and shines beautifully, while he tactfully conceals the wolf. The text does not accuse him of adultery, of murder or robbery, or of anything that the world would censure. He had been as honorable and respectful in his life as that Pharisee who fasted twice a week and was not as other men. Had he committed glaring sins, the gospel would have mentioned them, since it examines him so minutely as to describe even the purple robe he wore and the food he ate, which are only external matters, and God does not judge according to them. Hence he must have led an outwardly exemplary life.

But we must look into his heart and judge his spirit. The gospel has penetrating eyes and looks deep into the secret recesses of the soul, reproves the works which reason cannot reprove and looks not at the sheep’s clothing, but at the true fruit of the tree to learn whether it is good or not. If we judge this rich man according to the fruits of faith, we will find a heart of unbelief. The gospel chastises him because he fares sumptuously every day and clothes himself so richly. He is not punished because he indulged in sumptuous fare and fine clothes; many saints, kings and queens in ancient times wore costly apparel; but because his heart was attached to them, sought them, trusted in them, and found in them all his joy and pleasure. He made them in fact his idols.

Where faith is, there is no anxiety for fine clothing and sumptuous living; there is no longing for riches, honor, pleasure and all that is not God himself. But there is a seeking and striving for God, the highest good. It is the same to the man of faith whether his food be dainty or plain, whether his clothing be fine or homespun. Though they even do wear costly clothes, possess great influence and honor, they esteem none of these things, but are forced to them, or come to them by accident, or they are compelled to use them in the service of others.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 203–04.

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Beware http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/beware/a1868.html Sun, 05 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed

Galatians 1:9, RSV

From Luther

God often in this life lays hold upon leaders of sects who blaspheme and slander him with their false doctrines. He inflicts upon them unusual punishments for the sake of warning others. All men must admit that God can have no pleasure in their doctrine, since he visits them with special marks of his displeasure, destroying them with severer punishment than ordinary befalls offenders.

History records that John the evangelist had as contemporary a heretic named Cerinthus, who first arose in opposition to the apostolic doctrine and in blasphemy against the Lord Jesus with the claim that Jesus is not God. This blasphemy spread to such an extent that John saw himself compelled to supplement the work of the other evangelists with this gospel, whose distinct purpose it is to defend and maintain the deity of Christ against Cerinthus and his rabble. Having on a certain occasion gone to a public bath with some of his disciples, John became aware that Cerinthus and his rabble were also there. Without hesitation he told his disciples to be up and away, and not abide among the blasphemers. The disciples followed his advice and departed. Immediately after their departure the building collapsed, and Cerinthus and his followers perished.

We also read concerning the heretic Arius, the chief foe of his time to the dogma of the deity of Christ. The injury done to the cause of Christ by this man occupied the Church for four centuries after his death; and to-day his heresy has not been entirely rooted out. With an oath Arius had impressed the emperor and his counsellors with the righteousness of his doctrine. The emperor commanded Alexander, the bishop, to restore him to the priestly office. The bishop resolved to seek help from God, where alone it is found in all things relating to God’s honor. He prayed all night long that God should preserve his name and honor, and Christendom against the heretics. In a pompous procession the following day Arius suddenly became ill, withdrew, and died. Thus we see that God has preserved this doctrine against the devil and his blasphemers, and he shall preserve it in the future, that we may believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 202–03.

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Harmony http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/harmony/a1867.html Sat, 04 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.

Romans 12:16, RSV

From Luther

Harmony is the imperative virtue for the Christian Church. Before other virtues can be manifest, there must first be concord and unity of heart among all. It is impossible that outward circumstances of human life be always the same; much dissimilarity in person, station, and occupation is inevitable. To this very unlikeness and to the natural depravity of flesh and blood is due the discord and disagreement of men in this world. Let one become conscious of personal superiority in point of uprightness, learning, skill or natural ability, or let him become aware of his loftier station in life, and he immediately grows self-complacent, thinks himself better than his fellows, demands honor and recognition from all men, is unwilling to yield or to serve an inferior and thinks himself entitled to such right and privilege because of his superiority and virtue.

This matter of harmony is the first and most necessary commandment enjoined by the doctrine of faith; this virtue is the first fruit which faith is to effect among Christians, who are called in one faith and one baptism. It is to be the beginning of their Christian love. For true faith necessarily creates in all believers the spirit that reasons: “We are all called by one Word, one baptism and Holy Spirit, to the same salvation; we are alike heirs of the grace and blessings of God. Although one has more and greater gifts than another, he is not on that account better before God. By grace alone, without any merit of ours, we are pleasing to God. Before him none can boast of himself.”

When one imagines himself better than his fellows, desiring to exalt and glorify himself above others, he is really no longer a Christian, because he is no longer in that unity of mind and faith essential to Christians. Christ with his grace is always the same, and cannot be divided or apportioned within himself. So long as unity of faith and oneness of mind survive, the true Church of God abides, notwithstanding there may be some weakness in other points. Of this fact the devil is well aware; hence his hostility to Christian unity. Christians should, therefore, be all the more careful to cherish the virtue of harmony, both in the Church and in secular government.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 201–02.

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Anger Management http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/anger-management/a1866.html Fri, 03 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

For “He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile."

1 Peter 3:10, RSV

From Luther

This injunction really applies to doctrine, meaning that we are to abide by the true Word of God and not to allow ourselves to be seduced by false teaching. On account of the faith and confession for which men are called Christians, they must suffer much; they are endangered, hated, persecuted, oppressed, and harrassed by the whole world. Christians might easily believe that they have cause to return evil, and being mortals of flesh and blood, they are inevitably moved to be angry and to curse, or to deny their confession and doctrine and with unbelievers to join the false church with its idolatrous teaching. According to the nature of flesh and blood they fret because they are compelled to witness the prosperity of the world in its ungodly life and wickedness, how it despises and persecutes them with pride and indolence. But they are not to allow themselves to be easily provoked; they should strive to keep wrong, displeasure, vexations and worry outside their inner life.

When one is prompted to anger and to complain about injury and wrong, in his impatience and irritation he cannot speak fairly concerning the matter of offense, but invariably exaggerates. The individual that suffers a single adverse word immediately proceeds to abuse and slander his opponent. An angry heart knows no moderation, but makes of a splinter, or even a mote, a great beam, or fans a tiny spark into a volcano of flame, by retaliating with reviling and cursing. If possible, he would even murder the offender and commit a greater wrong than he has suffered.

Thus Peter admonishes you to restrain your tongues, to curb them, lest they suddenly get beyond your control and you sin in wicked words, doing twice as much injury as you have received. Guard your lips that you utter no guile or falsehood through your anger, and that it may not calumniate, abuse and slander your neighbor in violation of the eighth commandment. Such conduct is, before God and man, unbecoming a Christian and leads to that most disgraceful vice of slander, which God supremely hates. Therefore be all the more diligent to do good, that your heart may retain its honor and joy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 199–200.

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Like God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/like-god/a1865.html Thu, 02 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 

1 John 3:1–3, RSV

From Luther

When our Lord Jesus Christ comes with his beloved angels and we are drawn up into the clouds to meet him in the air, he will bring to God’s children a glory consistent with their name. They will be far more splendidly arrayed than were the children of the world in their lifetime, who went about in purple and velvet and ornaments of gold, as the rich man, in silk. Then shall they wear their own livery and shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Such is the wonderful glory of the revelation, that the radiant beauty of poor Lazarus, who had lain in wretchedness at the rich man’s gate, surpasses all expectation.

The hope of this wonderful glory is ours, and that of all creation with us, for creation is to be purified and renewed for our sakes. Then will we be impressed with the grandeur of the sun, the majesty of the trees, and the beauty of the flowers. Having so much in prospect, we should, in the buoyancy of our hope, attach little importance to the slight suffering that may be our earthly lot. What is it compared with the glory to be revealed in us? Doubtless in yonder life we shall reproach ourselves with the thought: “How foolish I was! I am unworthy to be called the child of God, for I esteemed myself all too highly on earth and placed too little value upon this surpassing glory and happiness. Were I still in the world and with the knowledge I now have of the heavenly glory, I would, were it possible, suffer a thousand years of imprisonment, or endure illness, persecution or other misfortunes. Now I am truly convinced that all the sufferings of the world are nothing, measured by the glory to be manifested in the children of God.”

Here on earth men as a rule are dishonorable and wicked and obey not the will of the Lord God as it is done in heaven; but the day will come when only righteousness and holiness shall dwell on the earth — none but godly, righteous souls.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 198–99.

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Suffering http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/suffering/a1864.html Wed, 01 Jun 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us

Romans 8:18, RSV

From Luther

Notice how Paul turns his back to the world and his face to the future revelation, as if seeing no suffering anywhere, but all joy. “Even if it does go ill with us,” he would argue, “what indeed is our suffering in comparison with the unspeakable joy and glory to be revealed in us? It is too insignificant to be compared and unworthy to be called suffering.” We fail to realize the truth of these words because we do not see with our bodily eyes the supreme glory awaiting us, because we fail to grasp fully the fact that we shall never die, but shall have a body that cannot suffer, nor be ill. If one could conceive the nature of this reward, he would be compelled to say: “Were it possible for me to suffer ten deaths, by fire or flood, that would be nothing in comparison with the future life of glory.” What is temporal suffering, however protracted, contrasted with eternal life? It is not worthy to be called suffering or to be esteemed meritorious.

In this light Paul regards suffering, and he admonishes Christians to look upon it in a similar manner. Then shall they find the infinite beyond all comparison with the finite. The suffering of the world is always to be counted as nothing, measured by the glorious and eternal possessions yet to be ours. If you essay to be a joint heir with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not suffer with him, to be his brother and are not like unto him, Christ certainly will not at the last day acknowledge you as a brother and fellow-heir. Rather he will ask where are your crown of thorns, your cross, the nails and scourge; whether you have been, as he and his followers ever have from the beginning of time, an abomination to the world. If you cannot qualify in this respect, he cannot regard you as his brother. In short, we must all suffer with the Son of God and be made like unto him, or we shall not be exalted with him in glory.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 197–98.

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The Importance of Sanity http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-importance-of-sanity/a1863.html Tue, 31 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers.

1 Peter 4:7, RSV

From Luther

We have in the holy Scriptures and in the Creed sufficient information concerning the Holy Trinity, and all that is necessary for the instruction of ordinary Christians. That the simple Christian may recognize that there is but one divine essence and one God, who is tri-personal, a special work, peculiar to himself, is ascribed to each person. To the Father we ascribe the work of creation; to the Son the work of redemption; to the Holy Spirit the power to forgive sins, to gladden, to strengthen, to transport from death to life eternal.

The thought is not that the Father alone is Creator, the Son alone Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost alone Sanctifier. The creation and preservation of the universe, atonement for sin and its forgiveness, resurrection from the dead, and the gift of eternal life — all these are operations of the one Divine Majesty as such. Yet the Father is especially emphasized in the work of creation, which proceeds originally from him as the first person; the Son is emphasized in the redemption he has accomplished in his own person; and the Holy Spirit in the special work of sanctification, which is both his mission and revelation. Such distinction is made for the purpose of affording Christians the unqualified assurance that there is but one God and yet three persons in one divine essence — truths which the sainted fathers have faithfully gathered from the writings of Moses, the prophets, and the apostles, and which they have maintained against all heretics.

This faith has descended to us by inheritance, and by his power God has maintained it in the Church, against sects and adversaries, unto the present time. So we must abide by it in its simplicity and not attempt to be wise. Such articles of faith appear utterly foolish to reason. Paul aptly calls the gospel foolish preaching wherewith God saves such souls as do not depend on their own wisdom, but simply believe in the Word. Those who will follow reason in the things dealt with in these articles, and will reject the Word, shall be defeated and destroyed in their wisdom.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 195–96.

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One Divine Majesty http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/one-divine-majesty/a1862.html Mon, 30 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” 

Matthew 28:19–20, RSV

From Luther

We have in the holy Scriptures and in the Creed sufficient information concerning the Holy Trinity, and all that is necessary for the instruction of ordinary Christians. That the simple Christian may recognize that there is but one divine essence and one God, who is tri-personal, a special work, peculiar to himself, is ascribed to each person. To the Father we ascribe the work of creation; to the Son the work of redemption; to the Holy Spirit the power to forgive sins, to gladden, to strengthen, to transport from death to life eternal.

The thought is not that the Father alone is Creator, the Son alone Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost alone Sanctifier. The creation and preservation of the universe, atonement for sin and its forgiveness, resurrection from the dead, and the gift of eternal life — all these are operations of the one Divine Majesty as such. Yet the Father is especially emphasized in the work of creation, which proceeds originally from him as the first person; the Son is emphasized in the redemption he has accomplished in his own person; and the Holy Spirit in the special work of sanctification, which is both his mission and revelation. Such distinction is made for the purpose of affording Christians the unqualified assurance that there is but one God and yet three persons in one divine essence — truths which the sainted fathers have faithfully gathered from the writings of Moses, the prophets, and the apostles, and which they have maintained against all heretics.

This faith has descended to us by inheritance, and by his power God has maintained it in the Church, against sects and adversaries, unto the present time. So we must abide by it in its simplicity and not attempt to be wise. Such articles of faith appear utterly foolish to reason. Paul aptly calls the gospel foolish preaching wherewith God saves such souls as do not depend on their own wisdom, but simply believe in the Word. Those who will follow reason in the things dealt with in these articles, and will reject the Word, shall be defeated and destroyed in their wisdom.

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Be Watchful http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/be-watchful/a1861.html Sun, 29 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.

1 Peter 5:8, RSV

From Luther

Since you are a people called to contend with this powerful spirit, which is more intent on seizing your souls than is the wolf of seizing the sheep, it is essential that you should take thought how to withstand him. Resistance is effected only through faith and prayer. But soberness and vigilance are necessary to enable one to pray. With gormandizers and drunkards reason is dethroned and they are rendered incapable of respecting anything, or of performing any good work. The ability to pray and call upon God has been taken from them, and the devil overcomes and devours them at his will.

The diligence in prayer which characterized Christians of the primitive Church, even while undergoing great persecution, is apparent to us. They were more than willing to assemble daily for prayer, not only morning and evening, but also at certain other appointed hours; and frequently they watched and prayed entire nights. Their habit of devotion morning, evening and at all times is commendable. With the cessation of this practice in the congregations, there succeeded the wretched order of monks, who pretended to do the praying for others. We still retain from the ancient custom the observance of morning and evening prayers in schools for children. But the same practice should obtain in every Christian family. Every father is under obligation to train up his children to pray at least at the beginning and the close of day, commending to God every exigency of this earthly life, that God’s wrath may be averted, and deserved punishment withheld.

Under such conditions, we would be properly instructed and not have to be subjected to intolerable oppression and to prohibitions relative to eating, drinking, and dressing, being guided by nature’s demands and our own honor and pleasure. Yet we would not be inordinate and brutish in these things, nor shamefully dethrone reason. Drunkenness is a sin and a shame to any man, and would be even were there neither God, nor commandment; much less can it be tolerated among Christians. There is more virtue in this respect among the heathen and Turks. Our characters ought to be so noble as to give no chance of offense at our conduct, that the name of God be not defamed, but glorified.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 193–94.

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The Spirit's Work http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-spirits-work/a1860.html Sat, 28 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 

Acts 2:1–4, RSV

From Luther

When God was about to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, he permitted them to celebrate the Feast of the Passover on the night of their departure, and commanded them on every annual recurrence of the season to observe the same feast in commemoration of their liberation from bondage and their departure from Egypt. Fifty days later, in their journey through the wilderness, they arrived at Mount Sinai. There God gave them the law through Moses, and there they were commanded to observe annually, in commemoration of that giving of the law, the fiftieth day after the Feast of the Passover. Hence the name “Feast of Pentecost,” the word “Pentecost” coming from the Greek “Pentecoste,” or fiftieth day. So when the day of Pentecost was now “fully come”—when the Jews had properly commemorated the giving of the law of God on Mount Sinai—the Holy Spirit came, in accordance with Christ’s promise, and gave them a new law. We now celebrate this feast, not because of the old historical event, but because of the new one—the sending of the Holy Spirit.

The occasion of the Jewish observance was the giving of the literal law; but it is ours to celebrate the giving of the spiritual law. There is the written law, commanded of God and composed of written words. It is called “written” or “literal” because it goes no farther and does not enter the heart. With dead hearts men could not sincerely observe the commandments of God. Were every individual left to do as he pleased, uninfluenced by fear, not one would be found choosing to be controlled by the law. As long as the law consists merely of written words, it can make no one righteous, can enter no heart.

The spiritual law is not written with pen and ink, nor uttered by lips as Moses read from the tables of stone. We learn that the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and filled all the assembled multitude, and there appeared on each of them parting, fiery tongues and they preached so unlike they were wont to do that all men were filled with amazement. The Spirit came pouring into their hearts, making them different beings, making them creatures who loved and willingly obeyed God. This change was simply the manifestation of the Spirit himself, his work in the heart.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 192–93.

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The Guide http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-guide/a1859.html Fri, 27 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 16:13, RSV

From Luther

When the Holy Spirit comes he will enlighten your hearts, so that you will understand the truth, and will call to remembrance all things. But our doctors and highly learned men have made use of these words in a most frivolous manner and said that it was necessary to have something more than the Scriptures, that one ought also to hear what the councils and the pope decree. They endeavor to prove in this way that Christ says: Because he has not told them all things, it follows that he told them to the councils, popes, and bishops.

Now look at these fools, what they say. To whom does Christ speak? Without doubt to the apostles. Therefore, if Christ is not to lie, his Word must have been fulfilled at the time that the Holy Spirit came. The Holy Spirit must have said everything to the apostles and accomplished everything that the Lord here refers to, and, of course, led them into all the truth. Christ gives to understand that soon the Holy Spirit would tell and explain to them all things, and that afterwards the apostles should carry out everything, and through them should be made known to the world what they have learned from the Holy Spirit. But according to the councils and popes it depends upon what they say, teach, and command, even to the end of the world.

If what the councils teach be the truth, that one is to wear the tonsure, and the cap, and live a life of celibacy, then the apostles never came to the truth, since none of them ever entered a cloister, nor kept any of those foolish laws. Christ must have indeed betrayed us in this, when he said the Holy Spirit should guide us into all truth, when in reality he wished to teach us how we were to become priests and monks and not to eat meat on certain days, and like foolish things. To hear such things is exasperating and it should grieve our hearts to see how shamefully the people act against the precious Word of God, and that they make the Holy Spirit a liar. Should not this single passage be powerful enough against the pope and the councils, even if we had no other in the Scriptures?

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 191–92.

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The Freed Heart http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-freed-heart/a1858.html Thu, 26 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.

John 14:1, RSV

From Luther

I notice, says Jesus, that my departure [spoken of in the preceding chapter] makes you sad and causes anxiety. But there is no need of fear, I shall come again; before that time, however, you will see many things happen to me, at which you will be grieved. They will crucify and miserably misuse me; but let it not disturb you, there will soon be a change for the better. So is the Father’s will.

Here you can see how affectionately and faithfully the Lord Jesus deals with his dear disciples. He does not leave them comfortless, although he will be separated from them that very night and leave them in great danger, fear and terror. For the first misfortune experienced in tribulation is that not only is the body affected, but the heart is frightened and grieved. Since it is impossible to change flesh and blood, the Lord is especially eager that the heart be free and unmolested. He who in times of distress has a good conscience and a joyful heart is already more than half relieved of his troubles. Consequently Christ says: Be careful, that such suffering remain in the body, and by no means allow it to affect the heart.

As Christians, he would say, you are not like those who do not know God’s Word and who do not believe. You are much affected on account of my death, but what ye believe of God, ye ought also believe of me. None of you fear that God will die, or that he will be cast down from his throne. Why then should you fear on my account? Let death, the world, and the devil be as angry as they please, they will find nothing in me; for I am God. This believe and your hearts will be quieted and even find comfort in my death. For when death and I grapple with one another, death will be overcome; this shall be to your benefit. At present here on earth I am regarded as a poor, miserable, powerless man; but after I shall be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me. But just as the disciples could not understand such comfort, so we do not understand it, when grief comes over us. We are immediately seized with fear, impatience, and despair, and no one can persuade us that our sadness shall be turned to joy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 189–90.

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The Schoolmaster http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-schoolmaster/a1857.html Wed, 25 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

25 “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 14:25–26, RSV

From Luther

Note well this text, how Christ here binds the Holy Spirit to his Word, and fixes his limit and measure, so that the Spirit may not go further than his Word. He shall remind you of everything which I have said, publishing it further through you. Thereby he shows that in the future nothing else shall be taught in all Christendom through the Holy Spirit than what the apostles had heard from Christ, but which they did not understand until the Holy Spirit had taught them. So the teaching may always proceed from the mouth of Christ, then be transmitted from one mouth to another, and yet always remain the Word of Christ. The Holy Spirit is thus the schoolmaster who teaches these things and brings them to remembrance.

It is shown here that this Word precedes, or must be spoken beforehand, and afterwards the Holy Spirit works through the Word. One must not reverse the order and dream of a Holy Spirit who works without the Word and before the Word, but one who comes with and through the Word and goes no further than the Word goes. The example of the apostles shows also how Christ rules his Church in her weakness; the Holy Spirit does not dwell in Christians at all times, nor so soon as they have heard the Word does he come with such power and effectiveness as to enable them to believe it all and rightly to understand and grasp it. Although the apostles are so far advanced as to hear Christ’s Word willingly and to have begun to believe, yet even they cannot take these words of comfort to heart until the Holy Spirit teaches them after the departure of Christ.

So it is at present. We hear God’s Word, which is in fact the preaching of the Holy Spirit, who is at all times present with it, but it does not always reach the heart at once and is accepted by faith; even in those who are moved by the Holy Spirit and gladly receive the Word, it does not at once bear fruit. Therefore it must come to this: in need and danger we look about and sigh for comfort; then the Holy Spirit can perform his office of teaching the heart and bringing to remembrance the Word preached.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 188–89.

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The House Companion http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-house-companion/a1856.html Tue, 24 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 3:16, RSV

From Luther

What a glorious, noble, loving, and precious guest and house companion man receives, God the Father and the Son and certainly with them also the Holy Spirit. This is certainly a sublime, beautiful promise, and one of the precious and exceeding great promises granted unto us poor, miserable sinners, that we through them should become partakers of the divine nature, and should be so highly honored as not only to be loved of God through Christ Jesus and to enjoy his favor and grace, but should even have the Lord himself dwelling completely in us.

Where else should God dwell? Those self-constituted saints, in their own estimation excellent, high and great, are much too proud, much too high, wise and holy. They have passed up through and far above heaven, so that they could not be his habitation upon earth, although they boast of being the only Church and people of God. Though they appear in all the pomp and glory and ornament of their self-made holiness, yet God does not do them the honor to look at them. He is found in the humble huts of the poor and despised, who fear and believe the Word of Christ and would gladly become Christians, but who feel that they are very unholy and unworthy sinners. “They are a temple of the living God.”

These things are accomplished in this way: in addition to the grace by which a man begins to believe and to hold fast to the Word, God also rules in man through his divine power and agency, so that he constantly grows more and more enlightened, becomes richer and stronger in spiritual understanding and wisdom, and better fitted to understand all matters of doctrine and practice. He further makes daily progress in life and good works, becomes eventually a kind, gentle, patient man, ready to serve every one with doctrine, advice, comfort, and gifts; is useful to God and man; through him and because of him men and countries are benefited; in short, he is a man through whom God speaks, in whom he lives and works. His tongue is God’s tongue, his hand is God’s hand, and his word is God’s Word. His doctrine and confession as a Christian are not of men, but of Christ, whose Word he has and holds.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 187–88.

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Where God Dwells http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/where-god-dwells/a1855.html Mon, 23 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

John 14:23, RSV

From Luther

What mockery it must have been to the ears of the Jewish saints and priests and Pharisees when they heard the words that declare how God will make his habitation only with those who hear the words of this man! They were only a little handful of timid, poor, despised people. As if God did not have a better and more glorious habitation, becoming his majesty, in the saints and superior persons who were the bright lights and the eminent ones among God’s people, in the holy city of Jerusalem! And the glorious temple and divine worship—did not the Scriptures call them the holy city and dwelling place of God, the chosen place where he would rest and that forever? Of this they boasted very haughtily, and claimed that their kingdom, their priesthood and divine worship, should never fail.

But here Christ ignores all these things as if he were totally indifferent to them, and utters the remarkable saying that the place of his own and his Father’s abode—their habitation and their Church—is where a Christian is found, who keeps his Word. Thus he discards the old habitation of Judaism and the temple of Jerusalem and builds a new, holy, glorious Church and house of God, which is not Jerusalem or Judaism, but is spread abroad throughout the whole world, without distinction of person, place, or custom. Jews, Gentiles, priests or laymen — it matters not. This house of God is not of stone or wood, made by the hand of man, but newly created of God himself, namely a people that love Christ and keep his Word. Christ binds the Church to his Word and makes the distinguishing mark by which must be measured the teaching, the preaching, and rule of conduct. You have the warrant that God dwells therein and speaks and acts through that Church.

Observe now what a worthy being that man is who is a Christian, or who, as Christ says, keeps Christ’s Word. A wonderful man is he upon earth, who is of more value in the eyes of God than heaven and earth; he is a light and saviour of the world, in whom God is all in all, and who in God is able to do all things. But to the world he is hidden and unknown.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 186–87.

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Do Not Despair http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/do-not-despair/a1854.html Sun, 22 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

“I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you."

John 14:18, RSV

From Luther

We see many pious hearts that are always sad and downcast, tormenting and alarming themselves with their own thoughts, and being on the verge of despair because of the temptations of the devil. Where, say the world and our own flesh, do you find under these circumstances the Holy Spirit whom you Christians laud so much? A Christian should be wise here and not judge things according to his own thoughts and feelings; he should keep to the Word and the comfort of the preaching which the Holy Spirit gives to all poor and distressed hearts and consciences. God does not desire you to be sad or alarmed, but joyful and comforted with the certain promise of his grace, which the Holy Spirit offers you.

Of this promise and comfort to allay our feelings and fears, Christ assures us in the words, “I will not leave you comfortless.” The word translated “comfortless” literally means “orphans.” By the use of the word Christ would intimate the condition of the Church. In the eyes of the world, and even in our own estimation, she has not the appearance of a prosperous and well-ordered organization; rather she is a scattered group of poor, miserable orphans without leader, protection or help upon earth. Misery and fears grow upon one under the influence of the devil’s power, when he pierces the heart with his bitter, poisonous, and murderous thrusts. Then the heart feels that it is not only forsaken by all men, but also by God himself. So it altogether loses Christ and sees no end to its misery. To be left thus, to feel that all things have conspired to leave us comfortless and helpless, is to be left orphans indeed.

As Christ has told his Christians beforehand of suffering, so also does he wish to give them this comfort and consolation beforehand, and desires to teach us not to despair because of suffering, but only to hold to his Word, even if it does seem that help is being too long delayed. He reminds us of the promise that he will not leave us in misery, but will come to us, and desires that we should accord him the highest honor due to God, by holding him to be true and faithful.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 184–85.

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Teaching Our Hearts to Believe http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/teaching-our-hearts-to-believe/a1853.html Sat, 21 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me

John 15:26, RSV

From Luther

We have often heard that the gospel is the proclamation that no man can become just by means of the law; that God has sent his dear Son to shed his blood and die, since men cannot by their own power and works cancel their sins and get rid of them. But though I hear this preaching, I do not at once believe it. Therefore God adds his Holy Spirit, who impresses this preaching upon the heart, so that it abides there and lives. It is a faithful saying that Christ has accomplished everything, has removed sin and overcome every enemy, so that through him we are lords over all things. But the treasure lies in one pile; it is not yet distributed, nor invested. The Holy Spirit must come and teach our hearts to believe. When we feel that God has thus helped us and given us the treasure, everything goes well, and man’s heart rejoices in God. When the Holy Spirit has impressed upon the heart that God is kind and gracious toward it, it believes that God can no more be angry, and it grows so happy and so bold that, for God’s sake, it performs and suffers all things possible.

In this way you are to become acquainted with the Holy Spirit. You know to what purpose he is given and what his office is, namely, to invest the treasure — Christ and all he has; the Holy Spirit will enfold him in your heart so that he may be your own. But in all this we ought to exercise sense and understanding that a man receiving the Holy Spirit is not at once perfect, insensible to sin and pure in all respects. We do not preach that the Holy Spirit has completed and finished his work, but that he has only begun it and is now constantly engaged in it. Consequently you will not find a man who is without sin and sorrow, and full of righteousness and joy, and who serves everybody freely. The Scriptures indeed tell us that the office of the Holy Spirit is to redeem from sin and fear; but that does not say that this is altogether accomplished. The Christian at times feels his sin and the fear of death, but he has a helper, the Holy Spirit, who comforts and strengthens him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 183–84.

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The True Church of Christ http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-true-church-of-christ/a1852.html Fri, 20 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 “I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. 

John 16:1–4, RSV

From Luther

Christ tells what moves those who oppose the gospel to such hatred and persecution of Christians as to excommunicate them and even attempt to kill them. It is because they preach concerning Christ, whom they themselves do not know. That they do not know Christ is true without a doubt. Their own deeds prove it. They are blind and without the true knowledge of God and of Christ, opposing God and his Son with their acts of ban and murder under the very appearance and with the boast of thereby serving God. But Christ strengthens and comforts his own people that they fear not harsh judgment, nor are intimidated from preaching and confession, but say to their adversaries: “We must obey God rather than man.”

Here Christ also fixes the standard of judgment and points out the difference between the true and the false Church. The Church is not to be judged by name and external appearance. Human reason cannot furnish the necessary qualifications for the true Church. The actual test is in ascertaining who have the real knowledge of Christ and who have not. What does it mean to know Christ and the Father? The papists boast of such a knowledge, as the Jews boasted of being able to recognize the Messiah. But an intellectual knowledge of God is not sufficient. He who wishes to know God truly must know him in the Word and promises which the Scriptures set forth about Christ, that Christ is the Son of God, sent by the Father as a sacrifice and ransom for the sins of the world; that he might appease the wrath of God and effect reconciliation for us, redeeming us from sin and death and securing for us righteousness and everlasting life. Whenever, therefore, we have the knowledge of Christ, we must cease boasting and trusting in self-righteousness and in works. If Christ alone shall bear my sins I cannot at the same time atone for them by my own works and by my own pretended worthiness. This teaching points out the true Christ and the real knowledge of him. He who thus knows Christ, knows the Father also. This knowledge is the article of faith by which we become Christians, and is the foundation of our salvation.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 182–83.

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Suffering http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/suffering/a1851.html Thu, 19 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 

John 16:20, RSV

From Luther

This is said to all Christians, for every Christian must have temptations, trials, anxieties, adversities, sorrows, come what may. Therefore Christ mentions here no particular sorrow, nor trial, he simply says they shall weep, lament and be sorrowful, for the Christian has many persecutions. Some suffer loss of goods; there are others whose character suffers ignominy and scorn; some are drowned, others are burned; one perishes in this manner and another in that; it is the lot of the Christian constantly to suffer misfortune and adversity. This is the rod with which they are chastised. This is their court color by which the Christian is recognized, and if he wants to be a Christian, he dare not be ashamed of his livery.

No one need lay his cross upon himself, as some foolish persons have done and are still doing. They even court prison and death, saying: Since Christ of his own free will entered death, I will follow him in his example, as he commanded us to do. Such people do not understand divine things, they think they will suddenly enter death with Christ, whom they have never learned to know except in words. Thus was Peter also disposed, but he stood before Christ like a rabbit before one beating a drum. The old Adam lacks courage under the cross. The new man, however, can persevere through grace. Pious persons have no aim of their own in suffering, but if it be God’s will they bear good fruit like a tree planted by the streams of water. This is pleasing to God, since all presumption and show are condemned. He who battles heroically will receive joy for his suffering, the eternal in place of the temporal.

But why does God permit his own to be persecuted and hounded? In order to subdue the free will, that it may not seek an expedient in works; all serves to the end that we should accustom ourselves to build alone upon Christ, and to depend upon no other work, upon no other creature, whether in heaven or upon earth. But on this account we must suffer much. We must not only suffer shame and persecution, but the world rejoices at our great misfortunes. But this comfort we have that their joy shall not last long, and our sorrow shall be turned into eternal joy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 181–82.

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The Implanted Word http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-implanted-word/a1850.html Wed, 18 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls

James 1:21, RSV

From Luther

By filthiness, James means the impure life of the world—indulgence, voluptuousness, and knavery of every sort. These things, he says, should be far from you Christians who enjoy blessings so great and glorious. Could you rightly recognize and appreciate these blessings, you would regard all worldly pursuits and pleasures mere filth in comparison. Nor is this overdrawn; they are such when contrasted with the good and perfect heavenly gifts and treasures. You have the Word, says James, a Word which is yours, not by your own fancy or effort, but which God gave you and implanted in you by grace. It has free course, is preached, read and sung among you. It is of the utmost importance to receive it, to make profitable use of it, to handle it with meekness that we may hold it fast and not allow it to be effaced by anger under persecution or by the allurements of worldly lusts.

Meekness and patience are necessary to enable us to triumph over the devil and the world. Without them we shall not be able to hold fast the Word in our strife against those evil forces. We must fight and contend against sin, but if we essay to cool our wrath by grasping the devil and his followers by the hair and wreaking vengeance upon them, we will accomplish nothing and may thereby lose our treasure, the beloved Word. Therefore lay hold of the Word planted or grafted within you, that you may be able to retain it and have it bring forth its fruits in yourself. You have the Word; it is able to save you if you but steadfastly cling to it. Why then need you take any account of the world, and anything it may do? What injury can it render, what help even can it offer, as long as you hold the treasure of the Word?

The Word is implanted within you in a way to give you the certain comfort and sure hope of your salvation. Be careful not to permit yourselves to be wrested from it by the wrath or the filth of the world. Take heed to accept in purity and to maintain with patience the Word so graciously and richly given you by God without effort or merit on your part. Those, who are without the Word in their endeavor to attain heaven, accomplish nothing.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 179–80.

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The Spirit of a Lifetime http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-spirit-of-a-lifetime/a1849.html Tue, 17 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Then the LORD said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.” 

Genesis 6:3, RSV

From Luther

These are the words of a father who disinherits his son, for God simply fixes a hundred and twenty years as the time in which opportunity is granted for repentance. He threatens, should it not be improved, that his Spirit shall no longer reprove and strive, which means that henceforth he will not give his Word to men, since all teaching is in vain. This word pertains properly to the office of the ministry. For every preacher or servant of the Word is a man of strife and judgment, and is constrained, by reason of his office, to chide whatever is vicious, without considering the person or office of his hearer. When Jeremiah does this zealously, he incurs not only hate, but also the gravest dangers. For this reason Elijah is called by Ahab the godless king of Israel, the disturber of Israel.

When Noah, whom Peter calls a “preacher of righteousness,” and his ancestors had preached nearly a thousand years, and yet the world continued to degenerate more and more, they announced God’s decision to an ungrateful world and disclosed this as his thought: Why should I preach forever and permit my heralds to cry in vain? The more messengers I send, the longer I defer my wrath,—the worse they become. It is therefore necessary for preaching to cease, and for retribution to begin. I shall not permit my Spirit, that is, my Word, to bear witness forever. I am constrained to punish their sins. Man is flesh and is opposed to me. He continues in his carnal state, mocks at the Word, persecutes and hates my Spirit in the patriarchs, and the story is told to deaf ears.

This proclamation contains a public complaint, made by the Spirit through the patriarchs; but the flesh remained true to its nature. They despised faithful exhortation in their presumption and carnal security. God shows that he is displeased with the perversity of men, nevertheless, as a father would spare his son, but is compelled by his wickedness to be severe, so the Lord says, I do not gladly destroy the human race. I shall grant them one hundred and twenty years in which they may come to themselves, and during which I shall exercise mercy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 178–79.

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The Witness http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-witness/a1848.html Mon, 16 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth.

1 John 5:7, RSV

From Luther

John employs the word “witness” in connection with the thought of preaching; it is a word which he frequently uses. In the beginning of his gospel, where he speaks of John the Baptist, he says, “The same came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light.” So in the use of the words “witness” or “bearing witness,” we are to understand simply the public preaching of God’s Word. Christ says, that the Holy Spirit shall bear witness of him; that is, it shall publicly fill the ministerial office. This is God’s own witness to his Son.

This witness, Christ himself ordains, shall ever go forth, and remain in the Church. To this end Christ himself called and gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles and their successors, ministers, preachers, and teachers. For the sake of the uninstructed masses and the constantly rising young who, as yet in ignorance of the Word, need admonition — for the sake of these, the Spirit must bear public witness or administer the preaching office that they, too, may learn to know the grace of God manifest and given us through Christ, and that God’s wondrous works may be publicly recognized and extolled by us in opposition to the devil and the world.

Wherever such witness is borne, there certainly will be some fruit; the witness never fails of effect. Some surely will be reached; some will accept and believe it. Since it is the witness of the Holy Spirit, he will be effective, producing in us that to which John refers when he says we are the children of God, and have the victory and eternal life. The Word and faith are vitally related. They are inseparable. Without faith, preaching will be fruitless; and faith has origin in the Word alone. Therefore, we should gladly handle and hear the Word. Where it is, there is also the Holy Spirit; and where the Spirit is, there must be at least some believers. If you have already heard the Word and obtained faith, it will always continue to strengthen you as you hear it. For the Spirit, as Christ says, breathes where he will, and touches hearts when and where he knows them to be receptive.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 177–78.

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Asking Properly http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/asking-properly/a1847.html Sun, 15 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

John 16:23, RSV

From Luther

The Lord points out five things necessary to constitute true prayer. The first is God’s promise, which is the chief thing and is the foundation and power of all prayers. He promises that it shall be given if we ask. He promises that we may be sure of being heard in prayer; he even censures the disciples for being lazy and not having prayed. It is truly a great shame to us Christians that God should upbraid us for our slothfulness in prayer.

The second requisite in true prayer is faith. We must believe that the promise is true, and must not doubt that God will give what he promises. The words of promise require faith — a firm, undoubting confidence that God’s promise is true. Such faith and definite assurance the Holy Spirit must impart; without the Holy Spirit surely no prayer will be offered.

The third requisite of true prayer is that one must name something definitely for which he prays, as for strong faith, love, peace, and for the comfort of his neighbor. One must actually set forth petitions as in the Lord’s Prayer.

The fourth element in prayer is, that we must earnestly desire that the petition be granted, which is nothing but asking. It is an intercession of the Spirit that cannot be uttered. When Zacchaeus sought to see the Lord, he did not feel how strongly his heart wished that Christ might speak with him and come into his house.

The fifth requisite of prayer is that we ask in the name of Christ. This is nothing more than that we come before God in the faith of Christ and comfort ourselves with the sure confidence that he is our Mediator, through whom all things are given to us and without whom we merit nothing but wrath and disgrace. We pray aright in Christ’s name, when we thus trust in him that we will be received and heard for his sake and not for our own.
All these five requisites may be complied with in the heart without any utterance of the mouth. But oral prayer is necessary to kindle and encourage prayer inwardly in the heart. We must not specify to God the time, place, person, and measure, but leave all that to his own free will and cling only to asking.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 176–77.

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The Offense of the Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-offense-of-the-gospel/a1846.html Sat, 14 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.

John 16:2, RSV

From Luther

Christ pointed out clearly enough what would happen to his disciples as a result of their preaching. He mentions two sources of opposition to the gospel, than which none could be stronger: one that the preacher should be excommunicated and put to death; the other that the persecutors would regard this as rendering a service to God. He said that the Holy Spirit should testify of him and that they also should bear witness; and he assures them that their testimony shall not be effaced by this rage and persecution of the world. He gives them this assurance beforehand for the purpose that they may know and be prepared against these same abuses.

It is strange and almost incredible to hear that not only the world shall oppose, with its bitter hatred and rage, Christ, the Son of God and its Saviour, but that also the apostles themselves must be offended at such judgment of the world. Who could ever conceive that Christ and his gospel should be received in this manner among his own people, to whom he had been promised by God, and from whom they were to expect nothing but that which is good, which they also received from him? But here we are told that the gospel is a teaching which, according to human judgment, gives nothing but offense,—a thing unworthy to be heard or tolerated.

The kingdom of Christ on earth shall so come that it must be apparent to all that it is not an earthly kingdom after the manner of men. But the world shall refuse to recognize its nature. It shall not be called the kingdom of Christ or of God, but a destruction and subversion of all good government, both spiritual and temporal. It is well-nigh inconceivable that the Son of God should be so received by those who are called the people of God. For Christ speaks here not of open, malicious, wicked knaves and godless men, but of those who are regarded as the most eminent, the wisest, the most holy, even the servants of God. Who would ever think that God would introduce Christ’s kingdom upon earth in this way, establish his Word in all places and gather his Church.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 174–75.

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The Sign of a Christian http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-sign-of-a-christian/a1845.html Fri, 13 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 

Mark 16:17–18, RSV

From Luther

How shall we proceed here that we may preserve the truth of this passage? The Lord says all these signs shall accompany them. Now we know that the apostles did not present all the signs, and if the passage shall stand literally, then few believers will be cleared and few saints be entitled to heaven; for these signs, one and all, have not accompanied them, though they have had power to work signs, and have exhibited some of them. These words, therefore, do not refer to the Church as a whole, but to persons separately. If there is a Christian who has faith, he shall have power to do these accompanying miracles, and they shall follow him. Christ says, “He that believeth on me, the works that I shall do, shall he do also.” The Lord has given Christians power also against the unclean spirits. There was once a patriarch in the wilderness, who, when he met a serpent, took it in both hands and tore it in two, saying, What a fine thing it is to have a clear and guiltless conscience. So, where there is a Christian, there is still the power to work these signs if it is necessary.

But no one should attempt to exercise this power if it is not necessary. The apostles did not always exercise it, but only made use of it to prove the Word of God, to confirm it by miracles. “They went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following.” Since the gospel has now been spread abroad, and made known to all the world, there is no need of working miracles as in the apostles’ time. Then let no one without pressing need undertake to work wonders. I know not what I shall say about those who venture to do signs where they are not necessary. I know that it is a dangerous undertaking. The devil, indeed, lets himself be driven out, but he does not intend to suffer for it; he allows it only that he may strengthen the sign-worker in such error. I would not like to trust him. But wherever a Christian dies in Christ with cheerful heart, Satan has been truly cast out and deprived of his power and kingdom.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 173–74.

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The Mission of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-mission-of-faith/a1844.html Thu, 12 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.

Mark 16:15, RSV

From Luther

He that would preach the gospel must cast aside all works supposed to make one just, and allow nothing to remain but faith; I must believe that God, without any merit of mine and regardless of all works, has granted me his grace and eternal life. Therefore we must preach in a way that the glory and praise will be given to God and not to ourselves. Now there is no greater glory and praise that we can give to God than to confess that out of pure grace and mercy he takes away from us sin, death and hell, and that he gives his beloved Son and all his treasures to us.

Faith compels no one to accept the gospel, but leaves its acceptance free to every one and makes it a personal matter. Thus you see that the pope errs and does the people injustice when he ventures to drive them to faith by force. The Lord commanded the disciples to do nothing more than preach the gospel. This the disciples also did; they preached the gospel and left its acceptance to those who would take it. They did not say: Believe, or I will put you to death.

A question arises as to the words, “Go ye into all the world,” how it is to be understood, since the apostles certainly did not visit all the world? Their preaching went out into all the world, although it has not yet come into all the world. This going out has been begun and continues, although it is not yet completed; the gospel will be preached farther and wider until the judgment day. When this preaching shall have reached all parts of the world, and shall have been everywhere heard, then will the message be complete and its mission accomplished; then will the last day also be at hand.

The preaching of this message may be likened to a stone thrown into the water, producing ripples which circle outward from it, the waves rolling on and on, one driving the other, till they come to shore. The preaching was begun by the apostles, and it constantly goes forward, is pushed on farther and farther by the preachers, driven hither and thither into the world, always being made known by those who never heard it before, although it be arrested in the midst of its course and is condemned as heresy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 172–73.

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Knowing Christ http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/knowing-christ/a1843.html Wed, 11 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 

2 Peter 3:18, RSV

From Luther

What is it to know Christ but to look upon him as a gift and as an example? A gift given by God that becomes your own; so that when you see and hear him suffering or doing anything, you may not doubt that Christ himself in such suffering and works is yours, upon which you may depend as though you yourself had done them, and as though you yourself were Christ. This is what it means to know Christ aright: that he with all he has, out of pure divine goodness has been given unto us, that he has rendered satisfaction, obtained salvation and eternal life for us, and that all this is through him and for his sake, bestowed upon us without our merit.

If in this way you have Christ as the foundation and chief treasure of your salvation, then follows the other part of laying hold of him as your example, that you give yourself to the service of your neighbor as he has given himself for you. Then faith and love will be exercised, God’s commandment will be fulfilled, and man becomes happy and fearless to do and to suffer any and everything. Christ as a gift nourishes your faith and makes you a Christian; but Christ as an example moves you to do good works; these do not make you a Christian, but they go forth from you who have already become Christians. The pope, however, has changed this entirely; for he commands: If you would be saved, you must pray the rosary, fast, become a Carthusian, buy indulgences, build churches, and do innumerable things, not one of which Christ ever commanded. The worst of all is that when they have practiced such works, which benefit neither God, nor the world, for a time, they boast of them and say: I have fasted so many Fridays with bread and water, I have spent so many years in the cloister, I hope God will not leave me unrewarded for such service, but will on that account give me heaven. That certainly is denying Christ, and a terrible blasphemy of the great and unsurpassable grace of God manifested toward us in his Son, Jesus Christ. The true knowledge of Christ is to know why he came, and how we may appropriate him to ourselves.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 171–72.

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Two Kingdoms http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/two-kingdoms/a1842.html Tue, 10 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Romans 13:1–2, RSV

From Luther

We must understand that we have two kinds of authority: the secular that punishes with the sword, and the spiritual that exercises its office with the Word and by means of preaching. The secular power is ordained of God, as Paul clearly and beautifully declares to the Romans. Since there are few who heed the gospel, and most people remain rogues and knaves, they use the gospel for their own licentious liberty and wantonness; hence it is necessary to have a civil government, which we would not need if all men were Christian and evangelical. God has ordained and designed it, in order that the godly may live in peace; he has established the secular sword to the end that the public peace may be preserved, the wicked punished, and the just protected. On this account we must pay to the government rent and taxes and revenue by which it may be supported and administer its office.

In the gospel we find an entirely different, a spiritual government, one that exists alone in the Word, by which sinners are convicted and the gospel proclaimed to the terrified and alarmed consciences. When the bishops and their officials want to put one under the ban the transgression is published to the whole congregation, otherwise their ban would not be noticed, and the messengers would be shown the door. The secular government should see to it, whenever the clerical authority overreaches its sphere to the injury of souls, that it be restrained, and bishops and their officials be not permitted to excommunicate from the Church any one without his knowledge and will, whenever it pleases them.

It does not concern God very much as to how the secular government uses its power, for he is concerned only about the soul, and with this the secular power has nothing to do. It has received power to rule over the body and over property. Whether we govern well or not does not determine our salvation. But it were a matter of great concern if the spiritual authority were to say, Do this, and thou shalt be saved; omit this, and thou shalt be eternally lost, as though at certain times we must not eat eggs and meat and butter, but oil and fish. With Peter we must obey God rather than men.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 169–70.

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Hidden Strength http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/hidden-strength/a1841.html Mon, 09 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. 

Romans 14:1, RSV

From Luther

Some are found who know the gospel, but are offended at their own manner of life. They have a desire to walk in godliness, but they feel that they make no progress. They begin to despair and think that with them all is lost because they do not feel the strength they ought to have. They also earnestly desire Christ to be strong in them and manifest himself in mighty deeds. But in this God designs to humble us, that we may see and feel what feeble creatures we are, what wretched, lost, and condemned men, if Christ had not come and helped us.

But thereby we have no furlough to continue for all time in weakness, for we do not preach that any should be weak, but that we should know the weakness of Christians and bear with it. Christ did not hang upon the cross that he might appear as a murderer and evildoer, but that we might learn how deeply strength lies hidden under weakness, and might learn to know God’s strength in weakness. Thus our weakness is not to be praised, as though we should abide in it, but rather must we learn not to think that those who are weak are not Christians, nor yet despair when we feel our own weakness. Therefore it behooves us to know our own weaknesses and ever to seek to wax stronger, for Christ must not suffer always, nor remain in the grave, but must come forth again and live.

Hence, let no one say that to remain in ignorance is the true course and condition. It is only a beginning, out of which we must grow day by day, giving heed only that we turn not away and despair when we are weak, as though all were lost. Rather must we continue to exercise ourselves till we wax stronger and stronger, and endure and bear the weakness until God helps and takes it away. Hence, even though you see your neighbor so weak that he stumbles, think not that he is beyond hope. God will not have one judge another and be pleased with himself, in as much as we are all sinners, but that one bear the infirmity of the other. Christ also pleased not himself, hence we are to do as he did.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 168–69.

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Christians by Birth http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/christians-by-birth/a1840.html Sun, 08 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. 

James 1:18, RSV

From Luther

The best thing Christ has sent us from on high is sonship. He brought us forth, made us his children, or heirs. We are truly called children born of God. But how are we born? Through “the word of truth,” or the true Word. By this statement James makes a far-reaching thrust at all factions and sects. They also have a word and boast much of their doctrine, but theirs is not the Word of truth whereby men are made children of God. But we have a Word whereby, as we are assured, God makes us his beloved children and justifies us, if we believe in that Word. He justifies us not through works or laws. The Christian must derive his sonship from his birth. The disciples of Moses, and all work-mongers, would effect it by commandments, extorting a work here and a work there, effecting nothing.

The children of God, John tells us, are they who believe on the name of Christ; who sincerely cling to the Word. They are children who cleave to the message that through Christ God forgives their sins and receives them into his favor; who adhere to this promise in all temptations, afflictions, and trouble. The Word here on earth is the jewel which secures sonship. Since God has so greatly blessed you as to make you his own begotten children, shall he not also give you every other good?

Whence do we derive sonship? Not from your own will, not from your own powers or efforts. Were it so, I and other monks surely should have obtained it, independently of the Word; it would have been ours through the numerous works we performed in our monastic life. It is secured, says James, “of his will.” It never entered into the thought of man that we should in this way be made children of God. The idea did not grow in our gardens; it did not spring up in our wells. It came down from above, “from the Father of lights,” by Word and Spirit revealed to us and given into our hearts through the agency of the apostles and their successors, by whom the Word has been transmitted to us. Hence we did not secure it by our efforts or merits. Of his fatherly will and good pleasure was it conferred upon us; of pure grace and mercy he gave it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 167–68.

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Resurrection Blessings http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/resurrection-blessings/a1839.html Sat, 07 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 

James 1:17, RSV

From Luther

We shall designate the “good gifts” the blessings we enjoy here in this life; the “perfect gifts” those awaiting us in the life to come. In the words “good gifts” and “perfect gifts,” the apostle comprehends all our blessings, those we have already received in the present life and those to be ours in the life to come. I will not now speak particularly of earthly, transient, and changeable blessings, such as temporal goods, honor, a healthy body, and others. There are many individuals who would give thousands of dollars to have the sight of both eyes. So much do they prize the blessing of sight, they would willingly suffer a year’s illness or endure other great inconveniences to obtain it.

But we shall speak now particularly of the blessings we have in Christ’s resurrection, a subject appropriate to this Paschal season. God has begun the work of edifying us, of building us up, and will constitute us his own children, his heirs. The great, glorious gifts of the resurrection are these: the gospel, holy Baptism, the power of the Holy Spirit, and comfort in all adversity. What is a slight injury or the loss of some temporal blessing in comparison with these? What reason has any man to murmur and to rage when such divine blessings are his, even here in this life, blessings which none can take away or abridge? If you are called on to renounce money, possessions, honor, and men’s favor, remember you have a treasure more precious than all the honors and all the possessions of the world. When you see one living in great splendor, in pleasure and presumption, following his own inclinations, think: I have divine grace enabling me to know God’s will and the work he would have me do, and all in heaven and earth is mine.

But these do not represent the consummation of resurrection blessings. We must yet await the real, the perfect gifts. God has only commenced to work in us; he will not leave us in this state. If we continue in faith, God will bring us to the real, the eternal blessings, called “perfect gifts,” the possession of which excludes error, stumbling, anger, and any sin whatever. Look to this future life, when assailed by the world and enticed to anger or evil lust.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 165–67.

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Clinging Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/clinging-faith/a1838.html Fri, 06 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

1 John 5:4, RSV

From Luther

It is, indeed, saying very much for the Christian faith to attribute to it such power over the devil and the world — a power transcending all human ability. It requires an agency greater and higher than human strength to triumph over the devil, especially in the perplexing conflicts of conscience, when he vexes and tortures the heart with terror of God’s wrath in the attempt to drive us to despair. At such times all our works must immediately sink out of sight, leaving no help or victory except the faith that clings to the word of Christ the Lord, believing that, for the sake of his beloved Son, God will be merciful and will not condemn us for our sins and unworthiness, if we believe in him. Such faith as this stands fast and gains the victory; neither the devil, nor the gates of hell can prevail against it.

The same is true in all temptations. Before we can resist and overcome, we must have faith to believe that through Christ we have remission of sins and the favor of God; that God gives us help and strength to enable us to stand in the conflict and successfully resist the devil, the world, the flesh, and death; that we obtain the victory by the divine power of the Holy Spirit, lacking whose help we all would be far too weak to win. Without faith, we are under the power of the devil and sin, being subject to them by natural birth. We can be liberated in no other way than through faith in Christ.

The faith which believes Jesus is the Son of God is the true, triumphant sort. It is an invincible power wrought in the hearts of Christians by the Holy Spirit. It is a sure knowledge, that does not gaze and vacillate hither and thither according to its own thoughts. It apprehends God in Christ the Son sent from heaven, through whom God reveals his will and his love and transfers us from sin to grace, from death to a new, eternal life; a refuge and trust that relies, not upon its own merit and worthiness, but upon Christ the Son of God, and in his might and power battles against the world and the devil. It is a living, active power, ever followed by victories and other appropriate fruits.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 164–65.

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Election http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/election/a1837.html Thu, 05 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Romans 11:33, RSV

From Luther

These words show Christians that these sublime and divine mysteries — God’s actual divine essence and his will, administration and works — are absolutely beyond all human thought, human understanding or wisdom; that they are and ever will be incomprehensible, inscrutable, and altogether hidden to human reason. When reason presumptuously undertakes to solve, to teach and explain these matters, the result is worthless, yea, utter darkness and deception. If anything is to be ascertained, it must be through revelation alone; that is, the Word of God, which was sent from heaven.

We do not apply these words of Paul to the question of divine predestination—who will be saved and who will not. For into these things God would not have us curiously inquire. He has not given us any special revelation in regard to them, but refers all men here to the words of the gospel. By them they are to be guided. He would have them hear and learn the gospel, and believing in it they shall be saved. Therein have all the saints found comfort and assurance in regard to their election to eternal life; not in any special revelation in regard to their predestination, but in faith in Christ.

Paul speaks here of the marvelous ruling of God in the Church, according to which they who have the name and honor of being the people of God — the people of Israel — are rejected on account of their unbelief. On the other hand, those who formerly were not God’s people, but were unbelieving, are now become the true Church in the sight of God and are saved, since they have received the gospel and believe in Christ. Consequently it was on account of their own unbelief that the former were rejected. Such are God’s unsearchable judgments and ways past finding out. By “judgments” is meant that which is right or wrong, what pleases and what does not please him. By “his ways” is meant that which he will manifest unto men and how he will deal with them. These things men cannot and would not search out by their own intellect, and therefore should never oppose their judgments or speculations to God. It is not for them to say what is right or wrong, whether an act or ruling is divine.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 163–64.

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Apprehended through Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/apprehended-through-faith/a1836.html Wed, 04 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen. 

Romans 11:33–36, RSV

From Luther

Sublime are the thoughts and counsel of God, transcending by far the mind and comprehension of man, yea, of all creatures, when he so richly pours forth his goodness, and out of pure grace and mercy elects, as beneficiaries of that goodness, the poor, and wretched, and unworthy, who are concluded under sin — that is, those who acknowledge themselves guilty before God and deserving of everlasting wrath and perdition; when he does all this that they might know him in his real divine essence, and the sentiment of his heart — that through his Son he will give all who believe everlasting life. And, again, that they might know how he will reject those who, in pride and security, boast of their own gifts, that they are called the people of God in preference to all other nations; who boast that they have special promises; who think that God will acknowledge no nation on earth but themselves as his people and his Church. He will reject them on account of their unbelief, in which they are fettered by the pride and imagination of their own wisdom and holiness.

This is that rich, inexpressible, divine wisdom and knowledge which they possess who believe in Christ, and by which they are enabled to look into the depths and see what the purposes and thoughts of the divine heart are. True, in their weakness they cannot fully reach it; they can only apprehend it in the revealed Word by faith, as in a glass or image. It cannot be apprehended or comprehended otherwise.

Though the world will not do it, we will firmly believe that God is a true God and Lord, wise, just, gracious, whose riches and depth are ineffable. We will glorify him with our whole heart, as he ought justly to be praised and glorified by every creature, for the wonderful government of his Church, through his Word and revelation. He is to be glorified because he manifests such unutterable goodness to all who are in sin and under God’s wrath that he translates them, though they are unworthy, from the power of death and hell into the kingdom of eternal grace and life, if they will only seek grace and believe on Christ, his Son.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 162–63.

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The Poor Man http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-poor-man/a1835.html Tue, 03 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

But there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man.

Ecclesiastes 9:15, RSV

From Luther

Wherever we turn our eyes we see, in all conditions of life, a flood of terrible examples of ingratitude for the precious gospel. We see how kings, princes and lords quarrel and fight, envy and hate one another, oppressing their own people and destroying their own countries; they tax themselves with not so much as a single Christian thought about ameliorating the wretchedness of Germany. The noblemen rake and rend, robbing whom they can, prince or otherwise, and especially the poor Church. Townsmen and farmers are extremely avaricious, extortionate and treacherous; they fearlessly perpetrate every sort of insolence and wickedness, and without shame and punishment. The earth cries to heaven, unable longer to tolerate its oppression.

But why multiply words? It is in vain so far as the world is concerned; no admonition will avail. The world remains the devil’s own. Notwithstanding the world’s refusal to be influenced by the recognition of God’s goodness, and in spite of the fact that we are obliged daily to see, hear and suffer the world’s increasing ungratefulness the longer it stands, we must not allow ourselves to be led into error; for we will be unable to change it. We must preach against the evil of ingratitude wherever possible, severely censuring it, and faithfully admonish all men to guard against it. Although compelled to live among the ungrateful, we are not for that reason to fall into error, nor to cease from doing good.

But if your good works are wrought with the object of securing the thanks and applause of the world, your reward will justly be that of him who crushes with his teeth the hollow nut only to defile his mouth. If, when you meet with ingratitude, you angrily wish to pull down mountains, and resolve to give up doing good, you are no longer a Christian. You injure yourself and accomplish nothing. Let the God-fearing Christians give evidence of their willingness to hear the Word of God. Let them show by their lives a consciousness of the great blessing conferred by those from whom they received the gospel. Let their hearts and lips ever be ready with the happy declaration: “God be praised.” Such manifestation of gratitude assuredly must result when we comprehend what God has given us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 160–62.

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The Shepherd Calls http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-shepherd-calls/a1834.html Mon, 02 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:11, RSV

From Luther

“The good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep.” In this one virtue the Lord comprehends and exemplifies all others in the beautiful parable of the sheep. The sheep has this trait above all other animals, that it soon recognizes the shepherd’s voice and will follow no one but him. Though it cannot help and keep and heal itself, nor guard against the wolf, yet it always knows enough to keep close to the shepherd and look to him for help. Christ uses this trait of the animal as an illustration in explaining that he is the good Shepherd. In this manner he shows plainly what his kingdom is and in what it consists. It is to protect the sheep, that is, poor, needy, wretched men who realize that there is no other help or counsel for them. The kingdom of Christ is to be concerned about the weak, the sick, the broken, who need to be helped. This is a comforting declaration.

“A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.” The bruised reeds are the poor, tender consciences, which are easily distracted. But God deals gently with them. The smoking flax (dimly burning wick) he does not wholly quench, but lights it and trims it again and again. When a Christian is not only weak and infirm, but when he falls into such great temptations as to deny the gospel, as Peter when he denied Christ, even then you are not to cast him away, as though he no longer belonged to this kingdom. You must not rob Christ of this characteristic, that in his kingdom abounding grace and mercy alone prevail, and that his kingdom is wholly one of consolation, and that he is a comforting, friendly shepherd, who tenderly invites, and would induce all men to come unto him. All this is effected through the gospel alone, by means of which we are to strengthen the weak and heal the sick. It will give full consolation to all, so that no one, no matter how great a sinner he has been, need despair.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 159–60.

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Sure Hope http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/sure-hope/a1833.html Sun, 01 May 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith.

Galatians 3:24, RSV

From Luther

There are two divine proclamations which came from heaven. One is, “Thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, steal” and the like, and adds the threat that all who transgress these commandments shall die. Though they may compel a man outwardly to appear godly before men, inwardly the heart is left at enmity with the law. The other proclamation is that of the gospel. It tells us how we may meet the demands of the law. It does not drive nor threaten, but kindly invites us, Come, I will show you where you may find what you need to make you godly. Here is the Lord Jesus; he will give it you.

The two proclamations are as opposite to one another as taking and giving, and this distinction must ever be observed. With these two God has ever ruled the world, and still rules it. The law must be declared to coarse and rude persons, who are not influenced by the gospel, until they are driven to acknowledge their imperfections and are humbled. When this has been accomplished, the gospel is to be applied. There are other proclamations besides these two, which have been invented to frighten men’s consciences, but they are not from heaven and are mere human prattle. The proclamations of law and gospel are not of men, but of Christ, who sent them forth and put them into the heart of the apostles and their successors so that they understood them, and then into their mouths so that they spake and declared them.

If you believe that Christ died to save you from all evil, and you hold fast to that Word, you will find it so certain and sure that no creature can overthrow it. It is the power of God, and can and will save all who believe it. You will find refuge in the Word and attain everlasting, peace, joy and life. You will be a participant in all the power that is in the Word, which is so deeply hidden that none but they who believe realize that it is so effective and that it accomplishes such great things.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 158–59.

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The Risen Life http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-risen-life/a1832.html Sat, 30 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. 3 For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory. 5 Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;

Colossians 3:1–5, RSV

From Luther

Here is comfort for Christians in this earthly life, where their resurrection seems untrue to the world and to their own perceptions, though they receive the doctrine of Christ and apprehend him by faith; where they must contend with sin and infirmities and besides are subject to much affliction and adversity; and where consequently they are extremely sensible of death and terror when they should experience joy and life. In this verse Paul comforts them, showing where to seek and surely apprehend their life. Be of good cheer, he would say, for ye are dead to the worldly life. This life ye must renounce, but in so doing ye make a precious exchange. Dying unto the world is a blessed experience, for which ye will obtain a life far more glorious. Ye are now through Christ’s death redeemed from sin and from death eternal and are made imperishable. Upon you is conferred everlasting glory. But this risen life ye cannot yet perceive in yourselves; ye have it in Christ through faith.

Christ is spoken of as “our life.” This life is certain, though still unrevealed to you, insured to you beyond the power of any one to deprive you of it. By faith in Christ’s life, are ye to be preserved and to obtain victory over the terrors and torments of sin, death and the devil, until that life shall be revealed in you and made manifest to men. In Christ ye surely possess eternal life. Nothing is lacking to a perfect realization except that the veil whereby it is hidden as long as we are in mortal flesh and blood is yet to be removed. Then will eternal life be revealed. Then all worldly, terrestrial things, all sin and death, will be abolished. In every Christian shall be manifest only glory. Christians, believing in Christ and knowing him risen, should comfort themselves with the expectation of living with him in eternal glory.

Saints must, therefore, by a vigorous and unceasing warfare subdue their sinful lusts if they would not lose God’s grace and their faith. To retain the Spirit and the incipient divine life, the Christian must contend with himself. Positive mortification is necessary. And this is the way to mortify sin: it must be perceived with serious displeasure and repented of; and through faith Christ’s forgiveness must be sought and found.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 157–58.

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Faith Is the Victory http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/faith-is-the-victory/a1831.html Fri, 29 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 

1 John 5:4–5, RSV

From Luther

He who is born of God overcomes the world, John declares. Verily, this is a significant and forcible assertion which the Holy Spirit makes. It represents a tremendous power, a great work. The child of God must attempt and accomplish great things. The birth effected through the Word and faith makes men true sovereigns, above all earthly rulers. It gives them power even to overcome the world, something impossible to any Roman or Turkish potentate. They effect not their victory by physical force or temporal power, but by the spiritual birth through faith.

In order to understand the nature of the spiritual victory and how it is effected, we must know what John means by the term “world.” The reference is not to dominion over territory, to property, or money. He implies the existence of two kingdoms. By the heavenly kingdom we must understand not only spiritual life and godly people, but the Lord and Regent of that kingdom — Christ with his angels, and his saints, both living and dead. The kingdom of the world represents not only the earthly life with its worldly interests, but particularly its lord and regent — the devil and his angels, all unchristian, godless, wicked people on earth. So John means by “world” the devil and his whole earthly dominion.

The workings of these two kingdoms are plainly evident, though the leaders are not visible to mortal eyes. Christ rules effectually in his own power through the Word and the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers, through the angels who guard his followers, and through his people themselves who exercise authority over one another in loving service, each teaching, comforting and admonishing a noble band of godly, obedient, chaste, benevolent souls. The nature of the devil’s kingdom is easily apparent. This kingdom is simply a huge booth filled with faithless, shameless, wicked individuals, impelled by their god to every sort of disobedience and contempt of God and his Word; to false doctrine, the practice of wantonness, vice, and wickedness.

These two kingdoms are opposed. Christians are brought into the conflict to hold the field against God’s enemies, whose rule is one of falsehood and murder; they must contend with the enemy’s servants, factions, spirits, and wicked individuals, in an effort to restrain evil and promote good. Christians must know how to meet and successfully resist the enemy, how to carry the field unto victory and hold it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 155–57.

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Fellowship with the Weak http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/fellowship-with-the-weak/a1830.html Thu, 28 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

For many are called, but few are chosen.

Matthew 22:14, RSV

From Luther

Note what took place in Jerusalem, when the gospel was first heard. It is said, there were in the city at the feast of the Passover eleven hundred thousand men. How many were converted? When Peter stood up and preached, they made a mockery of it and considered the apostles drunken fools. After the apostles had preached the gospel a long time, they gathered together three thousand men and women. But what were they among so many? No one could discern that the gosped had accomplished anything. No change was seen, and scarcely any one knew that there were Christians there. Hence the gospel must not be measured by the multitude that hear, but by the small company that receive it. They appear as nothing, they are despised and persecuted, and yet God secretly works in them.

There is another thing that hinders the free movement of the gospel, namely, the infirmities of the believers. Thus Peter was filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, yet he stumbled and fell — he and all that were with him — when he walked not according to the gospel, so that Paul had to reprove him openly. Mark had journeyed with Paul, but afterward fell away and withdrew from him. Again, Paul and Barnabas strove together, and there arose a sharp contention between them. And before this, we read in the Gospels how often the apostles erred in weigthy matters, though they were the best of Christians.

These infirmities of Christians darken the gospel most of all, so that men who deem themselves wise and learned stumble and are offended in them. Few there are who can well reconcile these things so as to take no offense. It was thus even with the disciples. At first when Christ wrought great and excellent works, and gained great honors, they remained steadfast. The common people clung to him, because they saw that with great power he wrought such excellent works, and walked so as to be irreproachable. But when his sufferings began, they all turned away and forsook him. Why was this? Because they considered him not the strong, but a weak Christ. Therefore to bear with the weak Christ is the highest wisdom on earth, which is known to very few men.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 154–55.

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The Gentle Rebuke of the Greatest Sin http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-gentle-rebuke-of-the-greatest-sin/a1829.html Wed, 27 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

9 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. 12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 

Mark 16:9–14, RSV

From Luther

Christ upbraids the disciples with their unbelief and hardness of heart. He does not reject them, nor deal too severely with them, but reproves them. It is not an insignificant matter that the Lord rebuked his disciples; for unbelief is the greatest sin that can be named. Christ tells them the cause of their unbelief when he says that their hearts are hardened, still he deals mildly and gently with them. This is told us for our comfort, lest we despair, when, lacking in faith, we doubt, stumble and fall. It is to help us to rise again, to strengthen our faith and lift up our hearts to God, that we may grasp and hold fast the confidence of God, who does not deal severely with us, but can indeed bear with us and overlook much. If we believe him to be a merciful God, he will be found merciful and thus shows himself to us; but a bad conscience and an unbelieving heart have no such trust in God, but flee from him. So should we also deal with our neighbor. If we see him fall from the faith, or err and sin, we should not strengthen him in his wickedness, nor justify his cause, but admonish him and in meekness reprove his faults, yet not hold enmity, nor turn our love from him.

But let no one think that the apostles were altogether unbelieving; they believed what was written in the law and the prophets. There was a faith there, but they did not yet believe all things. Faith is a thing that always grows. Therefore the Lord shows wherein they lacked in faith; it was that they did not believe the resurrection of Christ from the dead. I hold that they believed that they had a gracious God, but this was not enough; they must believe also the resurrection of Christ. Thus the Lord upbraided them with their unbelief and said that in spite of all they had seen, they were not believing, they still lacked a certain article of faith, that on the resurrection. We should therefore expose and reprove what is wrong, but exercise truth and love toward everybody. We see that even the apostles were lacking in the chief things, yet they were corner stones, the foundation and the very best part of Christendom.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 153–54.

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Known by the Shepherd http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/known-by-the-shepherd/a1828.html Tue, 26 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me

John 10:14, RSV

From Luther

Christ here gives us the criterion by which we are to distinguish the true Church, or people of God, from that which has the name and reputation, but in truth is not the Church. The Church neither is, nor ought to be a society which must be organized with an external government, like the Jewish people under the law of Moses. It is not governed and preserved by outward human power; much less is it bound to a succession or government of bishops, as the papacy claims. It is a spiritual assembly, which hears the shepherd and believes in him, and is governed by him through the Holy Spirit. It is outwardly recognized by this alone, that it has his Word, the preaching of the gospel, and his sacraments. Inwardly it is known to him alone, as in turn it also knows him by faith and clings to him when it hears his Word, regardless of the fact that it may neither maintain, nor even know anything of that outward Jewish or papistical government, and may be scattered here and there in the world without any organized external government, as it was in the time of Christ and the apostles, who, apart from and in opposition to the regular power of the whole priesthood, believed in Christ and confessed him.

If you really wish to know what a Christian is you must not look to the law of Moses, the government of the pope, nor the life and sanctity of any man, however holy. A Christian is not one who leads a strict, severe, hermit life; nothing that is in us or can be done by us, makes a Christian. This alone, that one knows this Man, regards him and trusts him as he wishes to be considered, namely, the good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep and knows them. This knowledge is nothing else than faith, which arises from the ministry of the Word, which consists not of our own thoughts, nor does it come from men, but it was brought from heaven and was revealed by Christ himself. In this way and in no other does a man become a Christian. The Word and our faith must always come together. Here we have this comfort, that if any one knows Christ in this way, he is already known by him and certainly is one of his.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 152–53.

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Believing through the Spirit http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/believing-through-the-spirit/a1827.html Mon, 25 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child.

1 John 5:1, RSV

From Luther

Though John’s language is plain and simple, yet in the ears of men generally it is unusual and unintelligible. What, according to the world’s construction, is implied by the statement, “born of God?” To the world there is no birth but physical. Hence such doctrine as our text sets forth will ever be strange, unintelligible, incomprehensible, to all but Christians. But these speak with new tongues, as Christ says they shall, for they are taught and enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

When the Scriptures speak of being born of God, it is not in a human sense; the reference is not to the conditions of our temporal lives, but to those exalted ones of a future existence. To say we must be born of God is equivalent to saying that if a man is to be redeemed from sin and eternal death, to enter into the kingdom of God and into happiness, his physical birth will not suffice; all that nature, reason, free will and human endeavor may afford is inadequate. Physical, indeed, answers for everything in the way of temporal possession and achievement, every desirable and exalted thing of earth; but all such possession and achievement serves only the physical existence; it is swept away by death, to which event it is ever subject.

Hence there becomes necessary a new and different birth. The demand is for a divine birth, a birth in which parentage is wholly of God; a birth signifying the operation of God’s divine power in man, a power achieving something beyond the attainment of his natural capacities and effecting in him new understanding and a new heart. The process is this: when the individual hears the gospel message of Christ — a message revealed and proclaimed, not by the wisdom and will of man, but through the Holy Spirit — and sincerely believes it, he is justly recognized as conceived and born of God. Through that faith, for the sake of his Son, God accepts us as his children, pleasing to him and heirs of eternal life; and the Holy Spirit will be sent into our hearts.

This doctrine condemns those arrogant teachers who presumptuously expect to be justified before God by their own merits and works. The Scriptures clearly teach the very reverse. It is sheer human effort, and not being born of God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 150–51.

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Raised to New Life http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/raised-to-new-life/a1826.html Sun, 24 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

Colossians 3:1–4, RSV

From Luther

How is a dead man profited, however much life may be preached to him, if that preaching does not make him alive? Of what use is it to preach righteousness to a sinner, if he remain in sin? or to an erring, factious individual, if he forsake not his error and his darkness? Even so, it is not only useless but detrimental, even pernicious in effect, to listen to the glorious, comforting and saving doctrine of the resurrection, if the heart has no experience of its truth; if it means naught but a sound in the ears, a transitory word upon the tongue, with no more effect upon the hearer than if he had never heard.

According to the text, this nobly wrought and precious resurrection of Christ must essentially be, not an idle tale of fancy, futile as a dead hewn stone, or a painted paper image, but a powerful energy working in us a resurrection through faith — an experience which he calls being risen with Christ; in other words, it is dying unto sin, being snatched from the power of death and hell and having life and happiness in Christ. If ye, Paul says, have apprehended by faith the resurrection of Christ and have received its power and consolation, and so are risen with him, that resurrection will surely be manifest in you; you will feel its power, will be conscious of its working within you. The doctrine will be something more than words; it will be truth and life. For those who do not thus apprehend the resurrection, Christ is not yet risen, although his rising is none the less a fact; for there is not within them the power represented by the words “being risen with Christ,” the power which renders them truly dead and risen men.

The apostle, then, in this text is not referring to the future resurrection of the body, but to the spiritual rising which entails the former. He regards as one fact the resurrection of the Lord Christ, who brought his body again from the grave and entered into life eternal, and the resurrection of ourselves, who, by virtue of his rising, shall likewise be raised: the soul, from a trivial and guilty life shall rise into a true, divine and happy existence; from this sinful and mortal body shall rise out of the grave an immortal, glorious one.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 149–50.

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An Everlasting Covenant http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/an-everlasting-covenant/a1825.html Sat, 23 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 

Isaiah 55:3, RSV

From Luther

The prophet has reference to the promise made to David in the seventh chapter of second Samuel. In the preceding verses of the chapter, Isaiah most tenderly entreats and invites the whole world to receive the promises of salvation, for thereby shall the poor, the wretched and the afflicted obtain the great treasures of joy and salvation. Immediately following the verse quoted, he speaks of the Messiah, the promised seed of David, as given to the Levites for a “witness,” — a preacher sent by God — and for a “leader and commander to the people.” The thought is of a king and ruler differing from Moses and his priests and exponents of the law; a ruler differing from every other lord and king, from David and all worldly rulers whatever, subjecting everything to himself. Not that this leader should set up a new temporal government, or extend Jewish authority among the Gentiles, but that Jews and Gentiles should receive him and believe in him, and obtain the fulfilment of that promise he here terms a covenant of the sure mercies of David. This covenant God enters into and keeps, a divine, sure covenant; through Christ shall be given whatever blessings God’s mercy shall bestow, with remission of sins, redemption from death, and life eternal.

Now, if the Christ of this covenant is true man, and, as the promise to David is, of David’s flesh and blood; and if he is to bring eternal mercy, he must likewise be God, such gift being in the province and power of God alone. This being true, he cannot remain in death, although he may suffer death by reason of his human nature; he must of his own power rise from the dead. Only so can he raise others and give them everlasting life; only so can he truly be called eternal King of grace, righteousness and life, according to the sure promise of God. Whenever the Scriptures speak of Christ’s eternal kingdom, and of everlasting grace, they point out this article of the resurrection of Christ. God has promised to give us Christ, him who was to sit at his right hand — that is, to have the omnipotent, divine power possible only to an eternal Lord and King — and at the same time to have his kingdom on earth.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 148–49.

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Believing the Judgment http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/believing-the-judgment/a1824.html Fri, 22 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 

John 16:8–11, RSV

From Luther

The word “judgment” means the decision between two parties at variance to decide which is right or wrong. It embraces two elements, aid and punishment, that the innocent party be acquitted and helped to his rights; that the guilty be condemned and punished. The word, however, is generally used for the latter element, the legal sentence of condemnation and its consequence. In this sense Christ uses it here and he intends to indicate that when the Holy Spirit shall pursue the two themes of his preaching and shall reprove the world of sin and righteousness, it will not receive it, nor be willing to be reproved, nor be moved to allow the righteousness of Christ to be offered to it. It will set itself against this teaching and reproving of the Holy Spirit, and condemn and persecute it. Then arises the conflict, and one judgment runs contrary to the other.

But Christ says that the Holy Spirit shall retain the superior judgment and shall prevail in his reproving of the world until the last day. In consequence of this Christians get into straits, the cross and persecution begin. Because the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but spiritual and invisible, the power and might which the world has are directed against the Church by condemning, persecuting and torturing with sword and fire and other means. The world is also incited by the bitter hatred of the devil against Christ, who seeks to blot out and exterminate the Church. Against this hatred of judgment Christ gives comfort. The devil is already judged and the sentence of condemnation has already been pronounced upon him; the only thing wanting is its execution, that the punishment be inflicted upon him in eternal fire.

This judgment proceeds by power and might of the Lord Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Father; it is publicly proclaimed by the office of preaching, that the prince of the world with all his adherents is already under final condemnation and shall accomplish nothing against Christ. He must let him remain the Lord, under whose feet he shall eternally lie and suffer his head to be trodden upon. Christ makes his enemies his footstool. No one believes this except Christians, who take the Lord’s Word for truth and know his power and kingdom.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 146–48.

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The Righteousness of Christians http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-righteousness-of-christians/a1823.html Thu, 21 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more.

John 16:8–10, RSV

From Luther

The world is reproved not only because it has sin, but also because it does not know what righteousness is, and how to become pious. The righteousness of which he speaks here does not consist in observing civil or imperial laws and in doing what reason teaches, but the righteousness which is valid before God, or which he regards as righteousness. He says, “Because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more.” To the world this is strange and ridiculous language. “Because I go to the Father,” embraces the whole work of our redemption and salvation, for which God’s Son was sent from heaven, and which he performed for us and still performs until the end, namely, his passion, death and resurrection, and his whole reign in the Church. This going to the Father signifies nothing else than that he offers himself as a sacrifice by the shedding of his blood and by his death to pay for sin; afterwards he triumphs in his resurrection and brings sin, death and hell into subjection to himself, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, where he reigns invisibly over all things in heaven and earth, and gathers and extends his Church by the preaching of the gospel; as an external mediator and high priest he intercedes with the Father for those who believe, because they still have weaknesses and sins remaining in them, and gives the power and strength of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin, the devil and death.

This is the righteousness of Christians before God, that Christ goes to the Father, that is, suffers and rises for us, and thereby reconciles us to the Father, so that for his sake we have forgiveness of sin, and grace. This is the righteousness of another, for which we have done nothing and have merited nothing, freely given and appropriated to us to be our righteousness, whereby we please God and are his dear children and heirs. This freely bestowed righteousness comes by faith alone. It cannot be apprehended otherwise than with the heart, which clings to the departure of Christ and firmly believes that for his sake it has forgiveness and redemption from sin and death. This righteousness is not an external thing, but a hidden treasure, not seen with eyes nor comprehended by our senses.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 145–46.

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Contending for the Sheep http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/contending-for-the-sheep/a1822.html Wed, 20 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ho, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?

Ezekiel 34:1–2, RSV

From Luther

To be a shepherd is not to exercise great pomp and glory; but it is a service one is wont to render another, as a servant in a household, who does all in his power to please his master freely and without restraint, and is in all other respects faithful. Thus Christ did all in harmony with his office and his name. When he was here on earth he carefully tended his sheep and provided them with everything needful for body and soul, with good and honest teaching and deeds of mercy. Good shepherds are like the good Shepherd Christ, who tends the sheep, goes before them, cares for those who are sick; who does not flee when the wolves come, but “who giveth his life for the sheep.”

It is not enough that we preach correctly, which the hireling can also do; but we must watch over the sheep, that the wolves, the false teachers, may not break in, and we must contend for the sheep against the wolves with the Word of God, even to the sacrifice of our lives. Such are good shepherds, of whom few are found. They are the righteous apostles and preachers, who are but the mouthpieces of Christ, through whom Christ preaches. The hirelings do not care for the sheep, receive temporal wages, riches and honor and feed themselves. They are good to a certain extent, and Christ also preaches through them, but they are not true to the sheep. This may be seen in our shepherds to-day who almost entirely subvert their office. In times past the princes gave the bishops and priests great treasures, besides land and people, so that pious bishops did not want to accept the office, they even fled from it; but that is entirely changed at present and there is a running and racing after the best bishoprics. The greatest rush is for the offices which afford the best livings. They seek their own, not the things of Christ. This is a lamentable and miserable state of things. Thus Paul also warns the elders at Ephesus: Take heed unto yourselves and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. I know, after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 144–45.

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Be Certain http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/be-certain/a1821.html Tue, 19 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

10 As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 

1 Peter 4:10–11, RSV

From Luther

It is necessary that both preachers and hearers take heed to doctrine and have clear, unmistakable evidence that what they embrace is really the true Word of God revealed from heaven; the doctrine given to the holy and primitive fathers, prophets and apostles; the doctrine Christ himself confirmed and commanded to be taught. We are not permitted to employ the teachings dictated by any man’s pleasure or fancy. We are not allowed to adapt the Word to mere human knowledge and reason. We are not to trifle with the Scriptures, to juggle with the Word of God, as if it would admit of being explained to suit the people; of being twisted, distended and patched to effect peace and agreement among men. There would then be no sure, permanent foundation whereon the conscience might rely.

Still it is not enough that the office and commandment be God-appointed. We ministers should be conscious—and the people should be taught—that efficacy of office is not of human effort, but is God’s power and work. That which the office was designed to accomplish is not effective by virtue of our speech or action, but by virtue of God’s commandment and appointment. He it is who orders; and himself will effectively operate through that office which is obedient to his command. In baptism, the Lord’s Supper and absolution we are not to be concerned about the person administering the sacraments or pronouncing absolution,—who he is, how righteous, how holy, how worthy. Worthiness or unworthiness of either administering or receiving hand effects nothing; all the virtue lies in God’s command and ordinance.

The motive for all Christian effort is named in the words, “that in all things God may be glorified.” No one may seek or ascribe to himself power and honor because of his office or gifts. Power and glory belongs only to God. God himself calls his Church, rules, sanctifies and preserves it through his Word and his Spirit. To this end he bestows on us his gifts. All is done purely of grace, wholly for the sake of his beloved Son, Christ the Lord. Therefore, in return for the favor and ineffable goodness bestowed upon us regardless of our merits, we ought to thank and praise God, directing all our efforts to the recognition and glory of his name.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 143–44.

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No Trifling Matter http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/no-trifling-matter/a1820.html Mon, 18 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them.

Luke 24:36, RSV

From Luther

The disciples are gathered together in seclusion. They are afraid of the Jews and are in danger of their lives; they are fearful and faint-hearted and afraid of sin and death. Had they been strong and courageous, they would not have thus crept into a corner; later, when the Holy Spirit came, strengthened and comforted them, they were made so courageous that they stepped forth and preached publicly without fear. This is written for us, that we might learn that the gospel of Christ’s resurrection comforts only the faint-hearted. They are the poor, conscience-stricken ones, whose sins lie heavily upon them, who feel faint at heart, are loth to die and are well-nigh startled by the sound of a rustling leaf. To these contrite, poor, and needy souls the gospel offers comfort, to them it is a sweet savor.

This is also learned from the nature of the gospel, for the gospel is a message and a testimony, which declares how the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, that he might remove sin, death and all evil from all who believe in him. If I recognize him as such a Saviour, I have heard the gospel aright, and he has in truth revealed himself to me. If now the gospel teaches naught but that Christ has overcome sin and death by his resurrection, then we must indeed confess that it can be of service to none save those who feel sin and death. They who do not feel their sin, and are not dismayed, nor see their infirmities, profit not a whit by it, nor do they delight in it. Though they hear the gospel, it has no effect upon them, except that they learn the words, and speak of what they have heard. They do not treasure them in their hearts, and receive neither comfort nor joy from them.

It were well, if the gospel could be preached only where faint-hearted and conscience-stricken ones are found. But this cannot be, and for this reason it bears so little fruit. The fault is not in the gospel, but in the hearers. They hear it, but they do not feel their own affliction and misery, nor have they ever tried to feel it.

Hence none need marvel if the gospel does not everywhere bring forth fruit.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 141–42.

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The Mind of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-mind-of-faith/a1819.html Sun, 17 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 

Luke 24:26–27, RSV

From Luther

The Evangelist states that their heart burned within them while he opened to them the Scriptures, and the gospel following says that Christ opened their minds to understand the Scripture. Here is the point: Moses certainly writes concerning Christ, and Christ is found in the books of Moses; but it is necessary not only to read, but also to understand what is said. Therefore the Bible is a book that must not only be read and preached, but it also requires the true interpreter, that is, the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Not a single article of faith has ever been preached that was not more than once attacked and denied by heretics, though they read the same Scriptures that we have.

This revelation, therefore, requires pupils of the right kind, who are willing to learn and to be instructed, like these pious and simple-minded disciples, not wise and puffed up minds and self-made masters who reach beyond the very heavens with their knowledge. This is a doctrine that makes our wisdom foolishness and blinds our reason, before it can be believed and understood; for it is not born of man’s reason, like other sciences and arts, which have sprung from reason and can be grasped by means of reason. All heresies from the beginning have had their origin here; both Jews and Gentiles, and the Turks at present, grow foolishly violent in regard to our doctrine, because it does not agree with reason and human wisdom. Only pious, simple-minded people can grasp and understand it—they who say: “God hath said it, therefore I believe it.” Christ himself thanks the Father with a joyful heart that he hides these things from the wise and understanding and reveals them unto babes.

Thus poor, ignorant women came to the sepulcher without considering that the tomb was covered with a heavy stone; yet these foolish persons are the first to whom Christ reveals his resurrection and calls to be his preachers and witnesses. So he gives these disciples a knowledge of the Scriptures which all the learned scribes did not possess, so that now they view Moses with different eyes, and are forced to confess: I have read and heard this before, but never understood it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 140–41.

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Dear Brothers http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/dear-brothers/a1818.html Sat, 16 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” 

John 20:17, RSV

From Luther

The apostles were crouching behind barred doors, discouraged and cowed, as sheep without a shepherd, and troubled in conscience. Peter had denied his Lord with an oath, and the others had all fled and proved themselves disloyal. That was, indeed, a fall so deep and terrible that they might well think they would never be forgiven for denying the Son of God, and so shamefully forsaking their dear Lord and faithful Saviour. How could it ever enter their hearts that Christ would send such an affectionate greeting and such a kind good morning to them, and would not only forgive everything, but also call them dear brethren?

Consider what these words contain and offer. Go, my dear sister, and tell the denying and disloyal disciples that they are called and shall be my dear brethren. Is not this placing us with Christ into the complete tenure and inheritance of heaven and of everything Christ has? Rich and blessed indeed must be the brethren and sisters who can boast of this Brother, not now hanging on the cross, nor lying in the grave under the power of death, but a mighty Lord over sin, death, hell and the devil.

But who is he that has instituted this brotherhood? The only Son of God and almighty Lord of all creatures, so that on his own account he did not need to endure suffering and death. I have done all this, he tells us, for your sake as your dear Brother, who could not bear to see you eternally separated from God by the devil, sin and death, and miserably perish; hence I stepped into your place and took your misery upon myself, gave my body and life for you that you might be delivered; I have now risen again to proclaim and impart to you this victory and deliverance, and to receive you into my brotherhood, that you might possess and enjoy with me all that I have and hold. Thus you see, it is not enough for Christ that the historical fact has occurred, and that on his part everything is accomplished; he infuses it into us and creates a brotherhood from it, so that it may become the common possession of us all. He has done this not for himself and his own sake, but as our brother and for our good alone.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 139–40.

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Peace http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/peace/a1817.html Fri, 15 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

John 20:19, RSV

From Luther

Jesus finds his disciples sitting in fear and terror both from without because of the Jews and from within because of their consciences. They were slow of heart to believe what they had heard from the women and from some of the disciples, that he had risen from the dead. While they were talking about it with sad hearts, Christ appears and hails them with his friendly greeting, “Peace be unto you,” which means a wish for everything that is good.

The peace of Christ is hidden from our eyes and senses and is different from that which the world seeks. It is not a visible or tangible peace, consisting of bodily feeling, but an inner and spiritual peace, consisting of faith, which grasps and holds to nothing save what it hears in our text, namely, the gracious words of Christ, which he speaks to all frightened and troubled souls. A Christian, therefore, is contented and satisfied with having Christ as his friend and in him a gracious God who desires his constant welfare, even though, materially speaking, he has no peace in the world, but constant strife and contention. At another place Jesus says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye might have peace. In the world ye have tribulation.”

The disciples were not troubled by any one, yet their hearts were all aflutter, and were neither at rest nor at peace. While they are thus in fear and terror, the Lord brings them peace, not by removing any danger, but by quieting their hearts. The wickedness of the Jews is neither removed nor changed; they are as full of hatred and rage as before. Without there is no change whatever, but the disciples are changed within; they have become courageous and bold, and the hatred of the Jews is now of little concern to them. This is the true peace which is able to calm the heart even in the midst of trouble. It is well called a peace “which passeth all understanding;” it is abiding and invincible as long as the heart clings to Christ; for thereby it is certain that it has a merciful God and the forgiveness of sins.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 138–39.

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My Father and Your Father http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/my-father-and-your-father/a1816.html Thu, 14 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-boni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

John 20:16–17, RSV

From Luther

There are two things concerning the Lord’s resurrection that we ought to know and understand. First, the history which relates the events as they occurred, together with the different circumstances under which he revealed himself alive in various manifestations; so that we might have a sure record and testimony of everything as a foundation and support of our faith, inasmuch as this article of faith on the resurrection is the chief one upon which our salvation is finally based, and without which all others would be useless and entirely fruitless.

The second point, that is the more important and necessary, on account of which the narrative has been recorded and preached, is the power, benefit and comfort of the joyous resurrection of the Lord. Concerning this Paul and all the apostles and the entire Scriptures teach and preach richly and gloriously; but most gloriously of all did Christ the Lord himself preach, when he manifested himself first of all to the women. This is the first sermon our Lord delivered after his resurrection, and without doubt also the most comforting one. It was spoken first of all to his beloved Mary Magdalene, and through her also to his disciples after their deep woe, grief and sorrow caused by his departure and death, that he might comfort and gladden them by his resurrection.

But her joy is no higher than the mere bodily pleasure of having her Lord alive again as she had him before; she clung only to the fact of his return and thought that he would again be with them, eat and drink with them, preach and do miracles as he had done before. He does not permit himself to be touched, however, because he wants her to stand still and listen and learn what she does not know, namely: I am not risen to walk and remain with you bodily and temporally, but that I may ascend to my Father. It is not here that I intend to dwell and abide; but I would have you believe that I go to the Father, where I will rule and reign with him eternally, and whither I will also bring you out of your death and sorrow. There you shall have me tangibly, and you shall rejoice forever in eternal communion with me and the Father.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 136–37.

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On the Third Day http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/on-the-third-day/a1815.html Wed, 13 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures

1 Corinthians 15:3–4, RSV

From Luther

Here we must remember the custom of the Hebrews, for according to the Jewish reckoning the day began in the evening and lasted until the evening of the next day, as the first chapter of Genesis says: “And there was evening and there was morning, one day,” “a second day,” “a third day,” and so forth. Thus the first and greatest Sabbath began on the evening of the day when Christ was crucified, that is to say, at the time of sunset on Friday. In addition to this the Jews had seven full days which they celebrated, and all of which they called sabbaths. On these days they ate only wafers and unleavened bread, for which reason they are called the days of unleavened bread. Christ rose before sunrise.

How can we say then that he rose on the third day, since he lay in the grave only one day and two nights? According to the Jewish calculation it was only a day and one half; how shall we then persist in believing there were three days? To this we reply that he was in the state of death for at least a part of three days. For he died at about three o’clock on Friday and consequently was dead for about three hours on the first day. After that night he lay in the grave all day, which is the true Sabbath. On the third day, which we commemorate now, he rose from the dead and so remained in the state of death a part of this day, just as when we say that something occurred on Easter day, although it happens in the evening, only a portion of the day. In this sense Paul and the Evangelists say that he rose on the third day.

For this period and no longer Christ was to lie in the grave, so that we might suppose that his body remained naturally uncorrupted and that decomposition had not yet set in. He came forth from the grave so soon that we might presume that corruption had not yet taken place according to the course of nature; for a corpse can lie no longer than three days before it begins to decompose. Therefore Christ was to rise on the third day, before he saw corruption.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 135–36.

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Mercy, Not Merit http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/mercy-not-merit/a1814.html Tue, 12 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” 

Matthew 28:10, RSV

From Luther

These are the first words they heard from Christ after his resurrection from the dead, by which he confirmed all the former utterances and loving deeds he showed them, namely, that his resurrection avails in our behalf who believe, so that he anticipates and calls Christians his brethren, who believe it, and yet they do not, like the apostles, witness his resurrection. The risen Christ does not wait until we ask or call on him to become his brethren. Can we here speak of merit, by which we deserve anything? What did the apostles merit? Peter denied his Lord three times; the other disciples fled from him; they tarried with him like a rabbit does with her young. He should have called them deserters, betrayers, reprobates, anything but brethren. Therefore this word is sent to them through the women out of pure grace and mercy, as the apostles at the time keenly experienced, and we experience also when we are mired in our sins, temptations and condemnation.

These are words full of comfort that Christ receives desperate villains, as you and I are, and calls us his brethren. Is Christ really our brother, then indeed what more do we need? Brothers according to the flesh enjoy the same possessions, have the same father, the one inheritance; so we enjoy with Christ the same possessions, have in common one Father and one inheritance. He who has a part of this spiritual inheritance has it all.

If I believe on Christ, I become partaker with him of all his possessions. I obtain eternal righteousness, eternal wisdom, eternal strength, and become a lord and reign over all. The stomach will no longer hunger, sins will not oppress, I will no more fear death, nor be terror-stricken by Satan, but will be like Christ the Lord himself. The title of being Christ’s brethren is so high that the heart of man cannot understand it. The Holy Spirit must bestow this grace.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 134–35.

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Freedom through Word and Sacraments http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/freedom-through-word-and-sacraments/a1813.html Mon, 11 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. 

1 Corinthians 11:27–31, RSV

From Luther

Let me say in regard to the Lord’s Supper that when we have received it we ought to give heed to love, and in this way assure ourselves that we have received the sacrament profitably, and at the same time furnish evidence to others; we should not always continue to come and still be unchanged. Therefore we must turn from our devotions and thoughts to our conduct toward our neighbor, and examine ourselves in this mirror with all seriousness. The sacrament is to act upon us so that we may be transformed and become different people. For God’s word and work do not intend to be idle, but are bound to produce great things, to wit, to set us free from sin, death and the devil, and every kind of fear, and make us servants even of the least among men on earth, and this without the slightest complaint on our part, rejoicing rather to find some one in need of our help, and fearing only lest after receiving so much we may not apply it at all.

When the Lord’s Supper fails to produce this result there is reason to fear it has wrought injury. Nevertheless, even if the result is not great, we are not to reject those who are imperfect and weak, but those that are indolent and insolent, who imagine that they have done enough when they have partaken of the sacrament. A change must take place in you, and there must be evidence of it, then you will be able to perceive through the symbol that God is with you, and your faith will grow sure and strong. For you can easily feel whether you have grown more joyous and bold than you were before. Formerly the world seemed too narrow for us when we heard of death and thought of sin. If you feel different it is not because of your own strength, for in the past you could not do it. Thus you can discover whether the Lord’s Supper is producing any fruit in your own life. If you experience nothing, go to God and tell him of your shortcomings and troubles; we must all do the same thing as long as we live, for not one of us is perfect.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 133–34.

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The Word of Salvation http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-word-of-salvation/a1812.html Sun, 10 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

1 Corinthians 10:16–17, RSV

From Luther

While we live on earth we must bear with one another, as Christ also bore with us, seeing that none of us are perfect. Christ has shown this to us not only by his own example and by his Word, but he has also pictured it to us in the form of the Sacrament of the Altar, namely, by means of the bread and the wine. We believe that the true body and blood of Christ is under the bread and wine. Here we see one thing and believe another, which describes faith. For when we hear the Word and receive the Lord’s Supper we have merely a word and an act, yet by it we embrace life and every treasure, even God himself. Likewise love is pictured in these signs and elements. First of all in the bread. As long as the grains of wheat are in a pile before they are ground, each is a body separate for itself, and is not mingled with the others; but when they are ground they all become one body. The same thing takes place with the wine. As long as the berries are not crushed each retains its own form, but when they are crushed they all flow together and become one drink. You cannot say, this is the flour from this grain, or this is a drop from that berry; for each has entered the form of the other, and thus was formed one bread and one drink.

We receive the Lord by the faith of the Word which the soul consumes and enjoys. In this way my neighbor receives me; I give him my goods, body, and life and all that I have, and let him consume and use it in his want. Likewise, I also need my neighbor; I too am poor and afflicted, and suffer him to help and serve me in turn. Thus we are woven one into another, helping one another even as Christ helps us. Therefore when you have received the Lord’s Supper, you must be diligent to increase love, aid your neighbor in distress, and lend him a helping hand when he suffers affliction and requires assistance. When you fail to do this, you are not a Christian, or at best only a very weak one.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 130–31.

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Bread for Your Neighbor http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/bread-for-your-neighbor/a1811.html Sat, 09 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

1 Corinthians 10:16–17, RSV

From Luther

While we live on earth we must bear with one another, as Christ also bore with us, seeing that none of us are perfect. Christ has shown this to us not only by his own example and by his Word, but he has also pictured it to us in the form of the Sacrament of the Altar, namely, by means of the bread and the wine. We believe that the true body and blood of Christ is under the bread and wine. Here we see one thing and believe another, which describes faith. For when we hear the Word and receive the Lord’s Supper we have merely a word and an act, yet by it we embrace life and every treasure, even God himself. Likewise love is pictured in these signs and elements. First of all in the bread. As long as the grains of wheat are in a pile before they are ground, each is a body separate for itself, and is not mingled with the others; but when they are ground they all become one body. The same thing takes place with the wine. As long as the berries are not crushed each retains its own form, but when they are crushed they all flow together and become one drink. You cannot say, this is the flour from this grain, or this is a drop from that berry; for each has entered the form of the other, and thus was formed one bread and one drink.

We receive the Lord by the faith of the Word which the soul consumes and enjoys. In this way my neighbor receives me; I give him my goods, body, and life and all that I have, and let him consume and use it in his want. Likewise, I also need my neighbor; I too am poor and afflicted, and suffer him to help and serve me in turn. Thus we are woven one into another, helping one another even as Christ helps us. Therefore when you have received the Lord’s Supper, you must be diligent to increase love, aid your neighbor in distress, and lend him a helping hand when he suffers affliction and requires assistance. When you fail to do this, you are not a Christian, or at best only a very weak one.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 130–31.

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Enduring Witness http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/enduring-witness/a1810.html Fri, 08 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:20–21, RSV

From Luther

When the individual accepts Christ and begins to profess his faith in words and life, invariably the world, that eternal enemy of Christ and faithfully obedient servant of the devil, will be dissatisfied. The world regards it contemptible, disgraceful, to live any life but one pleasing to itself, to do and speak aught but as it desires. Its rage is excited toward the Christian and it proceeds to persecute, to torture, even to murder him when possible. We often hear the wiseacres and scoffers say that Christ could have enjoyed peace had he so desired. The same may be said of Christians; they could have peace and pleasure if they would but take advice and conform to the world.

What are we to do? It is a fact that to maintain and obey the truth is to stir up wrath and hatred. Even the heathen assert as much. But the fault lies not with the advocate of truth but with its rejecters. Is the truth not to be preached at all? Must we be silent and permit all mankind to go direct to hell? Who could or would heap upon himself the guilt of such negligence? The godly Christian, who looks for eternal life after the present one and who aims to help others to the same happy goal, assuredly must act the part he professes, must assert his belief and show the world how it travels the broad road to hell and eternal death. But to do so is to antagonize the world and incur the displeasure of the devil.

Since there is no escaping the fact that he who would confess Christ and make the world better must in return for his service and benefactions heap upon himself the enmity of the devil and his adherents, we must remember that it is incumbent upon us to have patience when the world manifests its bitterest, most hateful enmity toward our doctrine and toward our very lives; when it reviles and slanders and persecutes us to the utmost for our principles. Peter here admonishes and persuades Christians unto patience under these circumstances, and at the same time seeks to comfort them with tender and impressive words. If you would be a Christian, then be not so terribly alarmed and so extremely impatient at the torments of the world and the devil.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 129–30.

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A Testimony http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/a-testimony/a1809.html Thu, 07 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

1 Corinthians 11:23–25, RSV (cf: Matthew 26:26–28; Mark. 14:22–24; Luke 22:19, 20)

From Luther

These are the words which neither our opponents, nor Satan are able to deny; on them we must stand. Let them make whatever comments they please; we have the clear Word of God, saying, the bread is Christ’s body given for us; and the cup is his blood shed for us. This he bids us do in remembrance of him; but the pope commands that it be not done. They say, we are only erring laymen, we do not understand, nor are we able to explain the words. But we reply, It is for us to explain just as much as it is for them; for we are commanded to believe in Christ, to confess our faith, and to keep all the commandments of God, just as well as they are. How then are we to believe without knowing and understanding the Word? I must know the words if I am to believe; for how can I believe without words?

This is how you can stop their mouths and bring them to silence. My faith must be as good as yours, therefore I must have and must know the Word as well as you. These words are certainly clear enough; and there is no one so stupid that he cannot understand what is meant by, “Take, drink ye all of it; this cup is the New Testament in my blood.” Unless they prove to us that drinking here signifies something different from what all the world understands by the term, we shall adhere to the interpretation that we are all to drink of the cup. Let them bring forward what they please, customs or councils, we reply, God is older and greater than all things.

Thus you see how we are to understand the words of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and firmly hold to them. In them all the virtue is centered, we all must know them, understand them, and cling to them in faith. When you wish to go to the Lord’s Supper listen to the words spoken and be assured that they contain the whole treasure on which you are to rely. They are really spoken to you. My body is given, my blood is shed, Christ declares. Why? For the remission of sins. This is what strikes you, that your sins may be forgiven.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 128–29.

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A Fresh Lump http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/a-fresh-lump/a1808.html Wed, 06 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment 4 in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.

1 Corinthians 5:1–7, RSV

From Luther

Leaven is a common figure with the apostle, one he uses frequently, almost proverbially. Christ also gives us a Scripture parable of the leaven. It is the nature of leaven that a small quantity mixed with a lump of dough will pervade and fill the whole lump until its own acid nature has been imparted to it. This Paul makes a figure of spiritual things in doctrine and life. In the Epistle to the Galatians, he makes it more especially typify false doctrine. For the introduction of an error in an article of faith will soon work injury to the whole and result in the loss of Christ. Such innovation will pursue its course with destructive sweep until even the uncontaminated part becomes worthless; the once pure mass is wholly corrupted.

But in this text he has reference more particularly to an erroneous idea concerning life and conduct. Here it is likewise true that, once the flesh be allowed any license, and liberty be abused, and that under the name of the gospel, there is introduced a leaven which will speedily corrupt faith and conscience, and continue its work until Christ and the gospel are lost. Such would have been the fate of the Corinthians had not Paul saved them from it by this epistle, admonishing and urging them to purge out the leaven of license; for they had begun to practice great wantonness, and had given rise to sects and factions which tended to subvert the one gospel and the one faith.

Nor may we in our works and in our daily life tolerate the yielding to the wantonness of the flesh and at the same time boast the gospel of Christ, as did the Corinthians, who stirred up among themselves divisions and disorder, even to the extent of one marrying his stepmother. In such matters as these, Paul says, a little leaven leavens and ruins the whole lump—the entire Christian life. These two things are not consistent with each other: to hold to the Christian faith and to live after the wantonness of the flesh in sins and vices condemned by conscience. Paul elsewhere warns, “Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor drunkards, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 126–27.

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Drinking the Word http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/drinking-the-word/a1807.html Tue, 05 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same supernatural food 4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:1–4, RSV

From Luther

Among us one element (bread) alone is not to be offered to the communicant; he who wants the Lord’s Supper should receive the whole of it. We have preached and practiced this long enough and cannot assume that there should be any one unable to understand it; yet if there be one so dense, or claiming to be so weak that he cannot grasp the true meaning of it, we will excuse him; it is just as well that he remain away. For any one to hear God’s Word so long, to have himself coddled like a child, and after all to continue saying, I do not understand, is not a good sign. For it is impossible for you to hear so long and still be unenlightened; since then you remain blind it is better for you not to receive the Lord’s Supper. If you cannot grasp the Word that is plain, clear and certain, you can not grasp the sacrament; for the sacrament would be nothing, if there were no Word.

Moreover this Word has now resounded again and again throughout the world, so that even they who oppose it know it. These, however, are not weak but obdurate and hardened; they set their heads against the doctrine which they hear us prove from the Scriptures with such clearness that they are unable to reply or establish the contrary. Therefore it is out of the question for us any longer to yield or to endure them, since they defy us and maintain as their right what they teach and practice. We wish to receive both elements in the Lord’s Supper, just because they wish to prevent us from having them. The thought of causing offense no longer applies to them. The Roman bishops have forbidden both elements as contrary to God’s ordinance and command. If now we wish to confess Christ we must receive both elements, so that the people may know that we are Christians and abide by the Word of God. When we go to the Lord’s Supper people can see who they are that have heard the gospel; they can observe whether we lead Christian lives. So this is a distinct mark whereby we are recognized, whereby we also confess the name of God and show that we are not ashamed of his Word.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 125–26.

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Expatriates http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/expatriates/a1806.html Mon, 04 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. 

Philippians 3:20–21, RSV

From Luther

We who are baptized and believe in Christ do not base our works and our hope on the righteousness of this temporal life. Through faith in Christ, we have a righteousness that holds in heaven. It abides in Christ alone; otherwise it would avail naught before God. Our whole concern is to be eternally in Christ; to have our earthly existence culminate in yonder life when Christ shall come and change this life into another, altogether new, pure, holy and like unto his own. Therefore we are no longer citizens on earth. The baptized Christian is born a citizen of heaven through baptism. We should be mindful of this fact and walk here as if native there. We are to console ourselves with the fact that God thus accepts us and will transplant us there. Meanwhile we must await the coming again of the Saviour, who is to bring from heaven to us eternal righteousness, life, honor and glory.

With the believers in Christ, who have their righteousness in him, there should follow in this life on earth the fruits of upright living in obedience to God. These fruits constitute the good works acceptable to God, which being works of faith and wrought in Christ will be rewarded in the life to come. While we walk in the faith of his righteousness, God has patience with the poor, frail righteousness of this earthly life. He honors our human holiness by supporting and protecting it during the time we live on earth; just as we honor our corrupt, filthy bodies, adorning them with beautiful, costly garments and golden ornaments. Because God would confer eternal life upon man, he patiently endures the filthy righteousness of this life until the last day, and until the number is complete. When the time shall be fulfilled, the number completed, God will suddenly bring the world with its governments and conditions of life to an end; he will utterly abolish earthly righteousness, destroying physical appetites and all else. Yet for the sake of Christians, to whom eternal life is appointed, all these must be perpetuated until the last saint is born and has attained life everlasting. For God regards not the world nor has need of it, except for the sake of his Christians.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 124–25.

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Call on Him http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/call-on-him/a1805.html Sun, 03 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

6 “Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 

Isaiah 55:6–7, RSV

From Luther

Think not that you will find the Lord when he has once gone, though you traverse the world. But while he is near, you may seek and find him. For many years, while still in my cloister, I experienced the meaning of such disappointment. I sought God with great toil and with severe mortification of the body, fasting, watching, singing and praying. In this way I shamefully wasted my time and found not the Lord. No, God does not permit us to find him thus.

To find him, go to the Creed and the Ten Commandments. They will tell you. Regulate your life by them. Be helped by the Lord’s Prayer. Begin with yourself; then pray for the Church. Let it be your desire that God’s name be everywhere sanctified and that your life conform to his will. For the study and practice of these precepts will leave you no opportunity to do evil. God’s Word will soon teach you to sanctify his name, to extend his kingdom, to do your neighbor no injury in mind, body, or estate. Surely we ought supremely to thank God for the great blessings of his nearness to us. We have his presence in our homes. He is with us at our board, by our couch—anywhere we desire him. He offers us all assistance and grants all we may ask. So gracious a guest should indeed receive our high esteem.

There is too much slumbering everywhere in Germany. We cannot perceive how it is possible to preserve the gospel and fill the pulpits for ten years longer. No one for a moment thinks how God has signally, richly and graciously blessed us; how we are in possession of actual paradise, if we only recognized the fact. Yet we shamefully, ungratefully and unreasonably reject the kingdom; as if it were not enough for us to overstep the ten commandments in our disobedience, but must even trample under foot the mercy God offers in the gospel. Then why should we be surprised if he send down wrath upon us? Jerusalem and in fact the entire Jewish nation sinned unceasingly against all God’s commandments, and when he proclaimed grace and offered forgiveness of sins, they trampled upon his mercy. Should Christ not revenge himself when they shamed and mocked his precious blood?

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 123–24.

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Believing the Unbelievable http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/believing-the-unbelievable/a1804.html Sat, 02 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him.

Hebrews 11:5, RSV

From Luther

As among us we find many to whom such things are considered absurd, and not sufficiently worthy of faith, so there is no doubt that this account was deemed ridiculous by most people. For that reason these things have by divine authority been committed to writing and recorded for the saints and the faithful, that they might read, understand, believe and heed them. They present to our sight a manifest triumph over death and sin, and afford us a sure comfort in Enoch’s victory over the law, and the wrath and judgment of God. To the godly nothing can yield more grace and joy than these antediluvian records. What facts could inspire more wonder and admiration than that a man, born of flesh and blood, as we are, and defiled as we are by sin and corruption, so obtained the victory over death as not to die at all! Christ himself is a man, and righteous, yet our sins caused him to suffer the bitterest of all deaths; but he is delivered on the third day, and lifts himself unto life eternal. In Enoch is the singular fact that he died not at all, but was caught up, without death intervening, to the life spiritual and eternal.

This fact makes the narrative under consideration so memorable that God intended to use it for the purpose of setting before the old, primeval world the hope of a better life. Likewise, to the second world, which had the law, God gave the example of Elijah, who also was taken up into heaven and translated by the Lord before the very eyes of his own servant Elisha. We are now in the New Covenant, in a third world, as it were. We have Christ himself, our great deliverer, as our glorious example, who ascended into the heavens, taking with him many of his saints.

It was God’s will to establish in every age a testimonial of the resurrection of the dead, that he might allure our minds from this corrupt and in many ways wretched life, in which we gladly serve God as long as it shall please him by the faithful performance of all public and private duties, and especially by instructing others in holiness and in the knowledge of God. Here we have “no certain dwelling place.” Christ has gone to prepare a place for us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 121–22.

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Taken Up http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/taken-up/a1803.html Fri, 01 Apr 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

From the Word

Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Genesis 5:24, RSV

From Luther

For a man to walk with God is not to flee into a desert, or to conceal himself in some corner, but to go forth in his vocation, and to set himself against the iniquity and malice of Satan and the world, and to confess the seed of the woman; to condemn the religion and pursuits of the world, and to preach, through Christ, another life after this. This is the manner of life led for three hundred years by the greatest prophet and high priest of his generation. Moses, therefore, deservedly extols Enoch as a disciple of greatest eminence, taught and trained by many patriarchal masters, and so equipped with the Holy Spirit that he was the prophet of prophets and the saint of saints in that primeval world.

It was the will of God that he should be an example to the whole world in verifying and showing the comfort of the faith in the future life. He is to preach the life beyond this present life; to teach concerning the seed to come, concerning the serpent’s head that is to be bruised and the kingdom of Satan that is to be destroyed. Such was the preaching of Enoch, who was, nevertheless, a husband and the father of a family; who had a wife and children, who governed his household, and procured his subsistence by the labor of his own hands. This godly man lived, after the birth of Methuselah, 300 years in the truest religion, in faith, in patience, and in the midst of a thousand crosses, all of which he endured and overcame by faith in the blessed seed.

Enoch’s walking with God signifies that he was in this life a faithful witness of eternal life to be gained after this life through the promised seed. Inasmuch as Enoch constantly preached this doctrine, God verified and fulfilled this preaching in the patriarch himself, that we might fully and surely believe it; in that Enoch, a man like ourselves, born of flesh and blood, as we also are, of the seed of Adam, was taken up into heaven by God, and now lives the life of God, that is, an eternal life.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 120–21.

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The Rock http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-rock/a1802.html Thu, 31 Mar 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same supernatural food 4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 

1 Corinthians 10:1–4, RSV

From Luther

Christ has been typified by various signs and objects in the Old Testament, and the rock is one of them. Note first, that the material rock spoken of had a place independently of man’s labors and far from man’s domain, in the wilderness. So Christ is a truly insignificant object in the world, disregarded and unnoticed, nor is he indebted to human labor. Water flowing from the rock is contrary to nature; it is purely miraculous. The water typifies the quickening spirit of God, who proceeds from the condemned, crucified and dead Christ. Thus life is drawn from death, and this by the power of God. Christ’s death is our life, and if we would live we must die with him.

Moses strikes the rock at the command of God and points to it, thus prefiguring the ministerial office which by word of mouth strikes from the spiritual rock the Spirit. For God will give his Spirit to none without the instrumentality of the Word and the ministerial office instituted by him for this purpose, adding the command that nothing be preached but Christ. Had not Moses obeyed the command of God to smite the rock with his rod, no water would ever have flowed from it. His rod represents the rod of the mouth of which Isaiah speaks: “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

By this statement about the rock the apostle makes all the figures and signs granted to the people of Israel by the Word of God refer to Christ; for where the Word of God is, there Christ is. All the words and promises of God are concerning Christ. Christ himself makes the serpent of Moses refer to himself. We may truly say that the Israelites looked upon the same serpent we behold, for they saw the spiritual serpent that followed them, or Christ on the cross. The beholding was believing in the Word of God, with the serpent for a sign, even as their spiritual drinking was believing in the Word of God with the rock for a sign. We may say the same concerning the cloud. The children of Israel walked under the same cloud that shadows us; they walked under the spiritual cloud that followed them—Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 119–20.

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Our Boast http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/our-boast/a1801.html Wed, 30 Mar 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21b But whatever any one dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.

2 Corinthians 11:21b–22, RSV

From Luther

In whatever the false apostles can boast, Paul says, I can likewise glory. Here we are shown what is the ground of the false apostles’ boasting; their outward respectability — being of Abraham’s seed, children of Israel, Christ’s preachers. In these they think far to excel the Corinthians, claiming their doctrine and works to be of greater weight because they have Moses and the prophets for their teachers. But they failed to perceive that their boast is in mere externals, that render no one righteous or better before God. Names are of no consequence; they only make a fine show and serve to seduce the simple-minded. Paul boasts of his origin and yet derides his boasting, calling it fool’s work. His object is to destroy the boasting of the false prophets, that the people might not be deceived. Note how, even in Paul’s time, great men erred concerning the true sense of the gospel, and many noble preachers would have estimated Christian life by a merely external appearance and name. The true spiritual preachers must have been few. Should it be strange, then, that in our time sincere preachers are not numerous, and that the majority of ministers riot in what they themselves seem and do? It cannot and will not be otherwise. The thievish drones, which are prone to riot, let them riot! We will resist to the utmost of our power, commending the matter to God, who doubtless will grant us sufficient honor and profit, both temporal and eternal, though we must labor gratuitously, receiving injury and derision as our reward. Our adversaries will not long continue their persecutions, for, as Paul says just preceding our text, they will eventually receive their deserts.

Paul boasts of certain temporal afflictions in which he excels the false apostles, who suffer nothing for the sake either of the Word or of souls, but only boast of name and person. Among the afflictions he names having been a night and a day in the deep. Of other afflictions affecting not his own person, but distressing others, he mentions two: he is weak, if another is weak, and burns, if another is offended. Thereby he plainly portrays the ardor of his heart — the defects and sorrows of others pain him as his own.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 117–18.

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Faithful Dependence http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/faithful-dependence/a1800.html Tue, 29 Mar 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

42 And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” 

Acts 10:42–43, RSV

From Luther

This verse constitutes the principal theme of one of Peter’s sermons. It is one of the greatest in the writings of the apostles. It contains the vital element of the gospel message, teaching how we may appropriate its blessings, how obtain what it offers, namely, by faith; faith lays hold of what is offered us in the gospel. The message is preached that we may receive and retain it. Through the Word the blessing is pronounced our own—it is offered or given us; but by faith we receive it, make it our own, permit it to work in us.

This power and work in us is called by Peter “remission of sins.” This is the blessing conferred through the preaching of the doctrine of Christ, or articles of faith, particularly the article of the resurrection. The meaning of the new message of comfort, the new declaration, is that Christ, through his resurrection, has in himself conquered our sin and death, has turned away the wrath of God and procured grace and salvation; that he has commanded forgiveness to be preached unto us, desiring us to believe that he gives it and confidently to receive it through faith.

Faith must be of such a character as to apprehend and hold fast the truth Peter declares in this verse. It must say, “In his name.” That is, it must ascribe to Christ alone the entire agency, merit and power responsible for remission of sins; must believe we have forgiveness, not through our own worthiness, but for Christ’s sake alone; must believe that by virtue of Christ’s resurrection we obtain remission of sins, every namable element not from Christ being completely excluded, and the honor given to him alone. The efficacy of Christ’s death and blood alone God would have preached in all the world and accepted by mankind. Therein he rejects the boasting of the Jews and of all aspirers to holiness through their own works, teaching them that they cannot obtain his favor through the law, or by their own efforts. In Christ’s name alone is remission of sins received, and that through faith. We ought to be ashamed to doubt or question the fact of forgiveness of sins and justification before God through Christ alone, to which all Scripture testifies.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 116–17.

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Just Condemnation http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/just-condemnation/a1799.html Mon, 28 Mar 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me.

John 16:8–9, RSV

From Luther

This is the sin of the world that it does not believe in Christ. Not that there is no sin of the world besides this; but that this is the real chief sin, which condemns the whole world though it could be charged with no other sin. Thus this preaching of conviction is to begin if people are to be brought to a right knowledge and to salvation. The first thing shall be this, that it makes all men sinners, because they do not believe in Christ. Hence God’s wrath is declared and the judgment of eternal death is pronounced upon those who in the sight of the world are irreproachable, who even strive with earnestness to live according to the law, or the ten commandments. How is this? Is it sin to live according to the ten commandments? Surely not; but these are not kept. The world recognizes only public, external sins, such as murder, adultery, robbery and what the jurists call and punish as crime. But God’s law demands not merely outward form and compliance; it goes to the heart and demands its perfect obedience. Therefore it also judges man not only by his outward walk and conduct, but by the depths of his heart. The world does not know nor see the true offenses, such as contempt of God, impurity of the heart, and disobedience to God’s will, which things are and remain in all men who are not sanctified by Christ.

Because no man fulfils the commandments and can be without sin before God, God resolved to send his Son into the world that he might become a sacrifice for us and make satisfaction for our sins by the shedding of his blood in death, and take away from us the wrath of God, which no creature could reconcile, bring forgiveness of sins and bestow upon us the Holy Spirit, so that we might obtain all this, begin to become new men, and come out of sin and death to righteousness and eternal life. This God has now done and has commanded us to preach it through the gospel. He demands of all men repentance and faith. He that believes this preaching has by this faith forgiveness of sins and is in the grace of God. But if they will not accept this Saviour by faith, they are justly condemned in their sins.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 115–16.

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Hold Fast http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/hold-fast/a1798.html Sun, 27 Mar 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

“A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.” 

John 16:16, RSV

From Luther

“A little while,” Christ says, “and ye shall not see me,” for I shall be taken prisoner and they shall deliver me to death. But it will not last long, and during this short time ye shall be sorrowful, but only remain steadfast in me and follow me. Three days I will be in the grave; the world will rejoice as though it had gained a victory, and ye shall be sorrowful and shall weep and lament. Again a little while, and ye shall se me,” that is, on the third day I will rise again; then ye shall rejoice and your joy no man shall take from you; this will not be a joy of only three days, like the joy of the world, but an eternal joy.

An example is here given us which we should diligently take to heart; in suffering, anxiety and distress, we should also remember to be strong and to rejoice because Christ will rise again. We know that this has come to pass; but the disciples did not know what he meant by the resurrection, hence they were so sad and sorrowful. They heard, indeed, that they should see him, but they did not understand what it was, nor how it should come to pass. To such an extent had sadness and sorrow overcome them that they quite despaired.

But since they were unable to understand it, why does Christ relate it or why is it written? In order that we should not despair but hold fast to the Word, assured that it is indeed thus, and not otherwise, even though it seems to be different. We should take to heart and firmly hold fast to these words and keep them in mind when in sorrow and distress; it will not last long, and then we shall also have more constant joy, for as Christ and his elect had their “little while,” so you and I and every one will have his “little while.” Pilate and Herod will not crucify you, but in the same manner as the devil used them, so he will also use your persecutors. When your trials come, you must not immediately think how you are to be delivered out of them. God will help you in due time. Only wait. It is only for a little while, he will not delay long.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 113–14.

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Confess and Believe http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/confess-and-believe/a1797.html Sat, 26 Mar 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); 9 because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.

Romans 10:8–10, RSV

From Luther

Let it be said concerning confession that everything ought to be free, so that each person attends without restraint, of his own accord. But what ought one to confess? Here is where our preachers in the past have pounded a great deal into us by means of the five senses, the seven deadly sins, the ten commandments and the like, thereby perplexing our consciences. But it should be that you first of all feel that which weighs you down, and the sins that pain you most and burden your conscience. These you ought to declare and confess to your brother. You need not search long nor seek all kinds of sins; just take the ones that come to your mind, and say, This is how frail I am and how I have fallen; this is where I crave consolation and counsel. For confession ought to be brief. If you recall something that you have forgotten, it is not to trouble you; for you made confession, not as a good work, nor because you were compelled, but in order to be comforted by the word of absolution. Moreover, you can easily confess to God in secret what was forgotten, or you can hear the absolution for it during the communion service.

We are therefore not to worry, even if sins have been forgotten; though forgotten they are still forgiven; for God looks not to the excellence or completeness of your confession, but to his Word and how you believe it. So also the absolution does not state that some sins are forgiven and others not; it is a free proclamation declaring that God is merciful to you. But if God is merciful to you all your sins must be blotted out. Therefore hold fast to the absolution alone and not to your confession; whether or not you have forgotten anything makes no difference; to the extent that you believe you are forgiven. Therefore confession and absolution must be carefully distinguished, that you give attention chiefly to the absolution, and that you attend confession not to do a good work, thinking that because of this good work your sins are forgiven. We are to go only because we there hear God’s Word and by it receive consolation. This is confessing in the right way.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 112–13.

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Good for the Soul http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/good-for-the-soul/a1796.html Fri, 25 Mar 22 00:00:00 +0000

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 When I declared not my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. 5 I acknowledged my sin to thee, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.

Psalm 32:1–5, RSV

From Luther

The first kind of confession is that which is made to God and teaches us that we are all alike wicked sinners. If any one have special grace, let him thank God and refrain from boasting. Has any one fallen into sin, it is because of his flesh and blood, nor has any fallen so low but that another who now stands may fall even lower. This kind of confession is so highly necessary that it dare not cease for a moment, but must constitute the entire life of a Christian, so that without ceasing he praises the grace of God and reproaches his own life in his presence.

The second confession is that made to our neighbor, and is called the confession springing from love, as the former is called confession springing from faith. Of this confession we read, “Confess your faults one to another.” This kind of confession like the former is necessary and commanded; for God will be merciful to no one, nor forgive his sins, unless he also forgive his neighbor. Besides, faith cannot be true unless it produces this fruit, that you forgive your neighbor, and that you ask for forgiveness; otherwise a man dare not appear before God. If this fruit is absent, faith and the first kind of confession are not honest.

The third kind of confession is that ordered by the pope, which is privately spoken into the ears of the priest when sins are enumerated. This confession is not commanded of God; the pope has forced the people to it and consciences have been troubled and tortured in a manner that is pitiful and distressing. Hence we say of private confession, that no one is compelled to observe it. Still it is a commendable and good thing. When you go to private confession do not give heed so much to what you do, as to what the minister says, that in God’s stead he proclaims to you the forgiveness of sins. The word which he speaks is not his, but God’s Word; and God will keep it as surely as if he had spoken it himself. This is the way God has placed his Word into every corner of the world. Therefore you ought not to despise it, but receive it with heartfelt desire in true faith.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 111–12.

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Consider Him http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/consider-him/a1795.html Thu, 24 Mar 22 00:00:00 +0000