Sola Publishing News and Feedback [Reading the Word with Luther series] http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/feed.html?series=9 News, devotions and feedback blog for Sola Publishing en-us Content with the Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/content-with-the-gospel/a1733.html Fri, 21 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man. 

Luke 2:50–52, RSV

From Luther

Some inquisitive people who are not satisfied with the information given in the Scriptures have desired to know what Christ did in his childhood, and have received their reward for their curiosity. Some fool or knave has fabricated a legendary book on the childhood of Christ, and has not been afraid to write down his lies and frauds, relating how Christ went to school and a great deal of absurd and blasphemous tomfoolery. Thus with his lies he jests at the expense of the Lord, whom all the angels adore and fear, and before whom all creatures tremble, so that this rascal would have deserved to have a millstone hanged about his neck and to have been sunk in the depths of the sea, because he did not esteem the Lord of all more than to make him an object of his buffoonery.

Christ never went to school, for no schools like ours existed at that time. He did not even have an elementary education. The Jews marveled, saying: “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” Yet they were astonished at his wisdom. They thought it strange that a layman and the son of a carpenter should have such great knowledge, having never studied. Therefore they were offended in him and thought that he must be possessed of an evil spirit. Let us then be satisfied with the narrative of the gospel, which tells us enough of his childhood. Luke writes that he “increased in wisdom and stature.” Later on he writes that he was subject to his parents. What else should he have related? He was brought up like other children, with the exception that, as some children excel others in ability, Christ was an extraordinary, clever child. Thus no more could be written concerning him than is recorded by Luke. The time for performing miracles had not yet come.

Some are perplexed by the words of Luke according to which Christ, although he was God, “increased in wisdom and stature.” We must understand the words of Luke as applying simply to the human nature of Christ, which was an instrument and temple of the Godhead. As he grew in stature his reason developed, and with the development of his reason he became stronger in the Spirit and filled with wisdom before God, in himself and before men.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 31–32.

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Love Is Not Vengeful http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/love-is-not-vengeful/a1732.html Thu, 20 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12, RSV

From Luther

Where hatred and enmity dwell in the heart, they must inevitably stir up strife and bring misfortune. Animosity cannot restrain itself. It either bursts out in pernicious language, clandestinely uttered against the object of enmity, or it openly demeans itself in a manner indicating its ill will. Hence follow reveling, cursing, quarreling and fighting, and, when wholly unrestrained, cruelty and murder. Hatred has but one desire, namely, that every one be an enemy to his neighbor and speak the worst about him, and if he hears aught in his neighbor’s favor, he puts upon it the very worst construction with the result that the other is embittered and in turn comes to hate, curse and revile. Thus the fire burns until only discord and mischief can obtain.

On the other hand love is virtue pure and precious. It neither utters, nor thinks any evil of its neighbor. It rather covers sin; not one sin, nor two, but a “multitude of sins.” Love has no desire to reflect itself in a neighbor’s sins and maliciously rejoice in them. It conducts itself as having neither seen, nor heard them. If they cannot be overlooked, it readily forgives, and as far as possible mends matters. Where nothing else can be done, it endures the sins of a neighbor without stirring up strife and making a bad matter worse. Where people dwell together there will be mutual transgressions; it cannot be otherwise. No one will always do what is pleasing to others, and each is liable to commit open wrong. Since men must live together in their respective stations of life, he who would live peaceably must so control himself as to be able to bear with others, to overlook their imperfections, to cover their transgressions and thus avert further resulting evil.

Now if you would live as a Christian and enjoy peace in the world, you must make every effort to restrain your anger and not to give way to revenge. You must suppress these passions, subduing your hatred by love, and be able to overlook and bear, even though you have to suffer great pain and injustice. So doing you will develop a noble character fitted to accomplish much good through patience and humility, to allay and abolish enmity and strife, and thereby to reform and convert others.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 30–31.

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Worship for Christ's Sake http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/worship-for-christs-sake/a1731.html Wed, 19 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanu-el, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, 37 and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 

Luke 2:36–38, RSV

From Luther

Anna lived with a husband seven years, and at this time was a widow of eighty-four years. The number seven is commonly taken to signify our temporal life, because all time is measured by the seven days of the week, which is the first and best standard for the measurement of time. God first created days and appointed seven of them as a definite period of time. Of weeks were made months, and of months years, into which our whole life is divided. These seven years therefore signify the whole course of the temporal life and conduct of the saints of old.

Paul explains that a husband signifies the law. As a woman is bound to her husband while he liveth, so all are bound to the law who live under it. Now the law has been given to no people on earth except this Anna, the Jewish people, who were entrusted with the oracles of God. Therefore Anna, who lived seven years with her husband, signifies the people of Israel under the law, in their outward conduct and temporal life.

According to Luke the Holy Spirit shows that this saintly Anna, the holy people of old, was not simply under the law and a bond-servant; she also walked in the freedom of faith and the Spirit. This is signified by the many years of her widowhood, meaning the spiritual life of faith led by the saints of old. For the widowhood signifies freedom from the law. Thus the life under the law and the life of faith existed side by side. As to their souls, the believers of old were justified without the works of the law, alone by faith, and in this respect they were truly widows; but as to their bodies and external conduct, they were subject to the law. They did not believe that they were justified by works, but having been justified by faith, they kept the law voluntarily, cheerfully and to the glory of God. He who lives in this manner may also do the works of the law, for Christ and the apostles also have kept the law. These are the people who at the same time live seven years with a husband and about four score years without a husband, who at the same time are free from the law and yet under the law.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 29–30.

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Dealing with Trouble http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/dealing-with-trouble/a1730.html Tue, 18 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; 43 and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him.

Luke 2:41–45, RSV

From Luther

Here you see what Mary experienced. Although she is the mother of a child in whom she might have gloried before all mothers, yet you perceive how God deprived her of all happiness. She had reason to fear that God was angry with her and would no longer have her to be the mother of his Son. Only those who have passed through similar experiences will understand what she suffered. Therefore we should apply this example to ourselves, for it was not recorded for her sake, but for our benefit. We should profit by her example and be prepared to bear our sorrow, should a like affliction of losing Christ befall us.

When God vouchsafes to us a strong faith and a firm trust in him, so that we are assured that he is our gracious God and we can depend upon him, then we are in paradise. But when God permits our hearts to be discouraged and we believe he takes from us Christ our Lord; when our conscience feels that we have lost him and amidst trembling and despair our confidence is gone, then we are truly in misery and distress. Even if we are not conscious of any special sin, yet in such a condition we tremble and doubt whether God still cares for us; just as Mary here doubts and knows not whether God still deems her worthy to be the mother of his Son. Only strong minds can endure such temptations, and there are not many people whom God tests to this degree.

God does this especially to guard his children against a twofold danger. First, being strong in their own mind and arrogant, they might ultimately depend upon themselves and believe they are able to accomplish everything in their own strength and become presumptuous and overconfident. Secondly, he wants to give us an example. For if we had no examples of saints who passed through the same experiences we should be unable to bear our trials and would imagine that we alone are thus afflicted. But when we see that Mary and other saints have also suffered we are comforted; for their example shows us that we should patiently wait until God strengthens 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), 27–28.

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The Offense of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-offense-of-faith/a1729.html Mon, 17 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” 

Luke 2:33–35, RSV

From Luther

Why does not Simeon say this to the father also? Because Jesus was her own child, and all that happened to him naturally happened also to her and caused her real pain. Simeon perhaps also addressed Mary alone for the reason that Joseph was not to live until the time of the suffering of Christ, which the mother would experience alone; and in addition to all this sorrow she was to be a poor and lonely widow, and Christ was to suffer as a poor orphan. Mary lived in all the three states of virginity, of matrimony, and of widowhood, the latter being the most pitiable, without any protection or aid. A virgin has her parents, a wife her husband, but the widow is alone.

Simeon declares that Christ is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel. Christ, however, is not the cause of the fall, but the presumption of the Jews is the cause. Christ came to be a light and Saviour of all the world, so that all might be justified and saved by faith in him. If this is to be brought about, all other righteousness in ourselves, sought outside of Christ with works, must be rejected. The Jews would not hear of this. Thus they take offense at faith, fall deeper into unbelief and become hardened in their own righteousness, so that they even persecuted with all their might all who believed. All who would be saved by their own righteousness do the same thing. They depend upon their works, and when faith in Christ is demanded they stumble and fall.

Christ had been promised only to the people of Israel by the prophets; and these had announced that many among that people would fall away on account of their self-righteousness. This is indeed a terrible example to us Gentiles, to whom nothing has been promised, but out of pure grace we have unexpectedly been brought into the Kingdom and have risen through Christ. The example of Israel’s fall should touch our hearts, that we may not also fall, or perhaps fall more grievously than the Jews and Turks, being seduced by Antichrist and bearing the name of Christ to the dishonor of God and to our own injury.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 26–27.

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Sober Judgment http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/sober-judgment/a1728.html Sun, 16 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.

Romans 12:1–3, RSV

From Luther

We must be careful to follow neither the customs of the world nor our own reason or plausible theories. We must constantly subdue our disposition and control our will, not obeying the dictates of reason and desire. We are always to conduct ourselves in a manner unlike the way of the world. Thus we shall be daily changed or renewed in our minds. That is, we come each day to place greater value on the things condemned by the world. The mind of the world is altogether unlike the Christian’s mind. It not only continues unchanged and unrenewed in its old disposition, but is obdurate and extremely stubborn.

God’s will is ever good and perfect, ever gracious; but it is not at all times so regarded of men. Indeed, human reason imagines it to be evil, unfriendly, abominable, because what reason esteems highest, best and holiest, God’s will regards as nothing, as worthy of death. Therefore, Christian experience must come to the rescue and decide. It must feel and prove, must test and ascertain, whether he is prompted by a sincere and gracious will. He who perseveres and learns to know himself in this way will go forward in his experience, finding God’s will so gracious and pleasing that he would not exchange it for all the world’s wealth. He will discover that acceptance of God’s will affords him more happiness, even in poverty, disgrace and adversity, than is the lot of any worldling in the midst of earthly honors and pleasures. He will finally arrive at a degree of perfection making him inclined to exchange life for death, and with Paul to desire to depart that sin may no more live in him, and that the will of God may be done perfectly in himself in every relation. Paul, however, does not consider the Christian absolutely free from sin. Where transformation and renewal are necessary, something of the old and sinful nature ever remains. This is not imputed to Christians, because they daily endeavor to effect transformation and renovation.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 25–26.

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Appearances http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/appearances/a1727.html Sat, 15 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” 

Luke 2:33–35, RSV

From Luther

This blessing means nothing except that he wished them happiness and joy, honor and all prosperity. This blessing seems to be a useless and trivial matter, for people generally do this and wish each other all that is good. But to bless Christ and his parents is a great and exceptional deed, for the reason that Christ and our nature are entirely opposed to each other. Christ condemns all that the world elects, gives us the cross to bear and to suffer all evil, deprives the world of its pleasures, possessions and honors, and teaches that men deal in those things which are altogether foolish and sinful. Then they begin to blaspheme and persecute Christ and his disciples; the whole world is full of those who curse him and wish him all evil, disgrace and misfortune, and there are only a few who really bless him.

There are indeed some who praise him, because he does what they desire and leaves them as they are. When, however, he begins to be Christ to them and they are required to forsake their works and to let him alone dwell within them, they flee and blaspheme. There are also some who believe that, if they were to see the infant Christ with his mother before them, as did Simeon, they would also joyously bless him. But they would certainly stumble at his childhood, poverty and contemptible appearance. They prove it by disregarding, hating and persecuting such poverty and humble appearance in Christ’s members, although they might still find Christ, their head, among them daily. If they then shun the cross and hate its contemptible appearance, they would certainly do the same thing if they were to see him with their eyes. But Simeon was of a different mind. Outward appearance did not cause him to stumble, and therefore he does not bless Christ alone, but also his father and mother.

Thus, in blessing the child, Simeon as a preacher and lover of the cross and an enemy of the world, gives a remarkable example of exalting and honoring Christ, who was then despised, cursed and rejected in his own person. He is even now treated in the same manner in his members, who for his sake endure poverty, disgrace, death and ignominy; yet no one will come to their relief, receive and bless them.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 24–25.

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Acceptable Sacrifice http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/acceptable-sacrifice/a1726.html Fri, 14 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

2 Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; 3 for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. 4 Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; 5 and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:2–5, RSV

From Luther

The whole world regards the priest’s office—his service and his dignity—as representing the acme of nobility and exaltation; and so it truly is. If any one would be a priest and exalted before God, let him set about the work of offering up his body to God; in other words, let him be humble, let him be nothing in the eyes of the world.

I will let every man decide for himself the difference between the outward priesthood of dazzling character and the internal, spiritual priesthood. The first is confined to a very few individuals; the second Christians commonly share. One was ordained of men, independently of the Word of God; the other was established through the Word, irrespective of human devices. In that, the skin is besmeared with material oil; in this, the heart is internally anointed with the Holy Spirit. That applauds and extols its works; this proclaims and magnifies the grace of God, and his glory. In fact, the two priesthoods accord about as well as Christ and Barabbas, as light and darkness, as God and the world. The Christian priesthood will not admit of appointment. The priest is not made. He must be born a priest and inherit his office. I refer to the new birth—the birth of water and the spirit. Thus all Christians become priests, children of God and co-heirs with Christ the Most High Priest.

Men generally consider the title of priest glorious and honorable; but the duties and the sacrifices of the office are rarely acceptable. The Christian priesthood costs life, property, honor, friends and all worldly things; all this is to be endured, not for the profit of oneself, but for the benefit of his neighbor and for the honor and glory of God. For so Christ offered up his body. This priesthood is glorious. The suffering and work of Christ is to be viewed as grace bestowed on us, a blessing conferred, requiring the exercise of faith and our acceptance of the salvation offered; then also, as an example for us to follow. We are to offer up ourselves for our neighbor’s benefit and for the honor of God. He who so does is a Christian. This is what Peter calls offering sacrifices acceptable to God by Christ.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 22–23.

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Faith in His Word http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/faith-in-his-word/a1725.html Thu, 13 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; 30 for mine eyes have seen thy salvation 31 which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.” 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him

Luke 2:25–33, RSV

From Luther

What are the marvelous things spoken of him? They are the things of which Simeon had spoken immediately before, when in the temple he took the child Jesus upon his arms, saying: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” They marveled that this aged and holy man stood there before them in the temple, took the child in his arms and spoke of him so exultingly, calling him the light of the world, a Saviour of all nations, a glory of all the people of Israel.

It must indeed excite wonder that such things were proclaimed openly by Simeon in that public and sacred place with reference to that poor and insignificant child, whose mother was so humble and lowly and whose father Joseph was not wealthy. How could such a child be considered the Saviour of all men, the light of the Gentiles, and the glory and honor of all Israel? At present, after we have had so many proofs of Christ’s greatness, these words no longer seem so wonderful; but then, when nothing as yet was known of Jesus, they were indeed marvelous. Joseph and Mary believed them nevertheless, and on that very account they marveled. If they had not believed them, the words of Simeon would have appeared insignificant to them and not at all wonderful.

If Joseph and Mary had judged according to the outward appearances, they would have considered Christ no more than any other poor child. But they disregard the outward appearance and cling to the words of Simeon with a firm faith, therefore they marvel at his speech. Thus we must also disregard all the senses when contemplating the works of God, and only cling to his words, that our eyes and our senses may not offend us. The fact that they marveled at the words of Simeon is also to teach us that the Word of God is never preached in vain. The Word of God must produce results, even if there are only a few who believe it. There are always some who receive it with joy and admiration.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 21–22.

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Bless http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/bless/a1724.html Wed, 12 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

Romans 12:14–21, RSV

From Luther

The apostle reminds us that we are to conduct ourselves in a Christian manner toward our persecutors, who, to a great extent, are to blame for the distress of the saints. It is well to observe that we are not merely advised, but commanded, to love our enemies, to do them good and to speak well of them; such is the fruit of the Spirit. To “bless” our persecutors means to desire only good for them in body and soul. It is inconsistent for a Christian to curse even his most bitter enemy or an evildoer; for he is commanded to bear the gospel upon his lips. The dove did not bring a poisonous branch or a thistle sprig to Noah in the ark; she brought an olive leaf in her mouth. So the gospel is simply a gracious, blessed, glad and healing word. It brings only blessing and grace to the whole world. No curse, only pure lips of blessing and not of cursing. If they curse they are not the lips of a Christian.

It is necessary, however, to distinguish between cursing and censuring or reproving. Reproof and punishment greatly differ from cursing and malediction. To curse means to invoke evil, while censuring carries the thought of displeasure at existing evil, and an effort to remove it. In fact, cursing and censuring are opposed to each other. Christ himself censured, or reproved. He called the Jews a generation of vipers, children of the devil, hypocrites, blind dolts, liars and the like. He did not curse them to perpetuate their evils; he rather desired the evils removed.

But the strong argument is urged that the saints of the Scriptures not only censured, but cursed. Jacob cursed his sons, Reuben, Simon and Levi. A great part of the Law of Moses is made up of curses. What shall we say to these things? We answer: Without the Spirit’s direction, no one can rightly understand and imitate such examples of cursing. When the devil, through his followers, resists and obstructs the Word of God—the channel of blessing—the blessing is impeded, and in God’s sight a curse rests upon the blessing. Then it is the office of faith to come out with a curse, desiring the removal of the obstruction that God’s blessing may be unhindered.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 20–21.

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Kept in Humble Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/kept-in-humble-faith/a1723.html Tue, 11 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; 43 and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; 47 and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” 49 And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. 
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man. 

Luke 2:41–52, RSV

From Luther

The holy Virgin was a real martyr for three days, and these days were harder for her than was the external pain of martyrdom to other saints. She had had such anxiety on her Son’s account that she could not have suffered any more bitter pain. For that is the greatest torture and woe, when the heart is attacked and tortured. That is only half-suffering when the body alone is afflicted, but when the heart is compelled to endure suffering, only great and noble spirits, with special grace and strength, are able to endure it. But why does God permit these afflictions to come upon his loved ones?

First, that he may guard his own against presumption; that great saints, who have received special grace and gifts from God, may not presume to depend upon themselves. For if they should at all times be strong in spirit and experience only joy and pleasure, they might finally fall into the fatal pride of the devil, which despises God and trusts in self. Thus God keeps them in humility, so that they do not become proud and carnally secure in regard to their faith and holiness, as Peter did, when he boasted his willingness to lay down his life for Christ.

Secondly, God permits his saints to suffer these trials as an example to others, to alarm the carnally secure and to comfort the timid and alarmed. The wicked and impenitent may learn from this how to amend their ways, keep themselves from sin, since they can see that God deals even with the saints in a way to produce anxiety. Such examples are intended to serve as a means of comfort to alarmed and anxious consciences, when they see that God has not only attacked them, but also the most exalted saints and permitted them to suffer the same trials and anxieties.

Thirdly, God does this that he may teach his saints to prepare themselves to find Christ and keep him. Mary and Joseph sought the child Jesus for three days without finding him either in Jerusalem or among their friends and acquaintances, until they came to the temple where he sat among the teachers and where the Scriptures and God’s Word are studied.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 18–19.

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Living Sacrifice http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/living-sacrifice/a1722.html Mon, 10 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

Romans 12:1–2, RSV

From Luther

Paul is preaching to those Christians already godly by faith, who are not to be restrained by commandment, but to be admonished. The object is to secure voluntary renunciation of their sinful nature. A preacher of grace persuades and incites by calling attention to the goodness and mercy of God. The latter does not desire works prompted by an unwilling spirit, nor service that is not the expression of a cheerful heart. He desires that a joyous and willing spirit shall incite to his service.

Paul makes use of three words, “living,” “holy,” “acceptable,” to teach that the sacrifices of the Old Testament are repealed. They consisted of bullocks, sheep and goats. The life of these was not spared. They were slain, burned and consumed. But the New Testament sacrifice is a wonderful offering. Though slain, it still lives.
The word “living” has reference to spiritual and not to temporal life. He who keeps his body in subjection and mortifies its lusts does not live to the world; he does not lead the life of the world. The Christian is bodily in the world, but he does not live after the flesh. Such a life is, before God, eternal and a true, living sacrifice. None of the Old Testament sacrifices were “holy,” except in an external and temporal sense, but the living sacrifice is holy before God, is designed for the service of God and employed in his honor. They who render this living, holy sacrifice are happy and assured of their acceptance with God.

This our reasonable service is rightly called a spiritual service of the heart, performed in the faith and knowledge of God. Paul rejects all service not performed in faith as entirely unreasonable, even if it has the appearance of spiritual life and of great holiness.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 17–18.

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Indebted to Love http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/indebted-to-love/a1721.html Sun, 09 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 

Romans 13:8, RSV

Legal obligations make us debtors to men, as, for example, when one individual has a claim upon another for debt. The duties and tribute, the obedience and honor we owe to political government are also of this legal character. Though personally these things are not essential to the Christian—they do not justify him or make him righteous—yet, because he must live here on earth, he is under obligation, so far as outward conduct is concerned, to put himself on a level with other men in these things, and generally help maintain temporal order and peace. Christ paid tribute money as a debt, notwithstanding he had told Peter he was under no obligation to do so.

Another obligation is love, when a Christian voluntarily makes himself a servant of all men. Paul says: “Though I was free from all men, I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.” This is not a requirement of human laws; no one who fails in this duty is censured or punished for neglect of the obligation to submit to and serve a fellow man. This fact is very apparent. Let one have wealth, and as long as he refrains from appropriating his neighbor’s goods, sullying his honor or injuring his person, he is, in the eyes of the law, righteous. Laws made for restraint of the outward conduct are directed only against evil works, which they prohibit and punish. Good works are left to voluntary performance. Civil law does not extort them by threats and punishments, but commends and rewards them, as does the Law of Moses.

Paul would teach Christians so to conduct themselves toward men and civil authority as to give no occasion for complaint. He would not have them fail to satisfy the claims of legal obligation, but rather to go beyond its requirements, making themselves debtors voluntarily to those who have no claim on them.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 16–17.

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Evidence of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/evidence-of-faith/a1720.html Sat, 08 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 

Romans 13:8–10, RSV

From Luther

We must properly distinguish between faith and love. Faith deals with the heart and love with works. Faith removes our sins, renders us acceptable, justifies us. Being accepted and justified in person, we have love imparted to us by the Holy Spirit, and we delight in doing good. It is the nature of the law to attack our person and demand good works; and it will not cease its demands until it gains its purpose. We cannot do good works without the spirit of love. The law constrains us to know our imperfections, and to recognize the necessity of becoming altogether different individuals, so that we may satisfy the law. The law does not exact so much of the heart as it does of works; in fact, it demands nothing but works and ignores the heart. It causes the individual to see that he must become an entirely different person. But faith, when it comes, creates a nature capable of accomplishing the works which the law demands.

It cannot in every case be said that faith fulfils the law. It, however, prepares the way and enables us to fulfil its demands. The law constrains us—teaches us that we must be changed before we can accomplish its works; it makes us conscious of our inability to fulfil it. On the other hand, love and works do not change or justify us. Our love and our works are evidence of justification and of a change, since these are impossible until the individual is free from sin and made righteous.

This explanation is given to enable us to perceive the true nature of the law, of faith and of love; to ascribe to each its own mission; and rightly to understand the Scripture declarations in their harmonious relations, namely, that while faith justifies, it does not fulfil the law, and that while love does not justify, it does fulfil the law.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 15–16.

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The Twofold Effect of the Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-twofold-effect-of-the-gospel/a1719.html Fri, 07 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 

Isaiah 60:1, RSV

From Luther

We learn from our text what the gospel is, and what is its message. It is the coming of light, the rising of divine glory. It speaks only of divine glory, divine honor and fame. It exalts only the work of God—his goodness and grace toward us. It teaches the necessity of our receiving God’s work for us, his grace and goodness, even God himself, if we would secure salvation. The gospel produces in us a twofold effect. First, it rejects our natural reason, our human light. Had we within ourselves light instead of darkness, it would not be necessary for God to send the light to rise upon us. This text forcibly expels and severely condemns all natural wisdom, all human reason; these are absolute darkness, therefore it is necessary for the light to come. So we should guard against all human doctrines and the conceits of reason as darkness, rejected and condemned of God; we should awake and arise to behold this light, and follow it alone.

The gospel casts down all the glory and pride of our own works. We cannot draw comfort nor derive honor from them. If there were in us anything worthy of honor and glory, the divine honor and glory would rise in us to no purpose. Men may, it is true, have their own nature and their self-righteousness, and from these derive temporal honor, praise and glory before their fellows as though they were no sinners. But before God they are sinful, destitute of glory and unable to boast of possessing him and his blessings.

No one can be saved unless he have within himself the glory of God and be able to comfort himself solely with God and his blessings and to glory in these. So the gospel condemns all our efforts and exalts only the goodness and the grace of God, and therefore God himself. It permits us to console ourselves only with him and to glory in no other.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 14–15.

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To Know Christ http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/to-know-christ/a1718.html Thu, 06 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: 6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’ ” 

Matthew 2:1–6, RSV

From Luther

How these wise men could see in this star a sign that unmistakably signified a new-born king, I do not know. Perhaps they read in their histories and chronicles that aforetime the birth of other kings had been signified in the heavens by a star. They knew very well that the Jews were the chosen people of God, who were and had been especially favored of God above all other people. As this was such a beautiful star they likely thought that God had given this people a new king. Perhaps they knew all by divine revelation.

At first these wise men did not regard this king as God, but took him for a temporal king. They came to Jerusalem, the capital city, hoping to find him amid the splendor of the king’s palace. For the star, which they saw over the country of the Jews at their home in the east, must have disappeared as they did not see it on their journey until they proceeded from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. So they also worshiped him after the manner of those eastern countries and not as though they considered him God. They did not concern themselves about what this king would be in the future, or what would happen to him. They only ask where he is to be found.

But, my dear hearer, it does not matter much whether you know all about the arts of nature and the wisdom of the world. Be satisfied with what your experience and common sense teach you. It is enough for you to know that in the summer other work must be done than in the winter; that you know how to attend to your farm, stock, home and children. Beyond this think only how you may know Christ. He will teach you how you may know yourself, who you are, and what power lieth in you. Then you will know God and yourself, which the masters of the arts of nature and the wisdom of this world do not learn.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 13–14.

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The Rising of the Light http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-rising-of-the-light/a1717.html Wed, 05 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. 3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1–3, RSV)

From Luther

We have frequently spoken of the little word glory. It means honor, brightness, splendor. The gospel is simply a grand report, a message, having its origin in a glorious reality; it is not a mere empty proclamation. A glorious being is to be compared to a sun or a light. The sun is a fountain of light, and its luster is its glory, the diffusion, the distinction of that light.

The gospel is God’s glory and our light. It is our light in that it is the medium whereby his work is proclaimed, extolled, recognized and honored throughout the whole world. The gospel is not the actual brightness of the light, nor is it the light itself. It is the rising of the brightness, the approaching of the light. It is simply a manifestation of the light and brightness which existed from eternity. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” The light did not arise, nor was it openly manifested, except through the gospel. Therefore the gospel is an expression of divine brightness and glory.

It is called gospel—good message—because it reveals and proclaims divine blessings, divine glory, and divine honor or brightness. What is the brightness but the great and glorious riches of his goodness and grace poured out upon us? How has grace appeared? Through the preaching of the gospel. The light and the glory are God himself. Christ says, “I am the light.” It is plain that Isaiah is not here speaking of the rising of Christ in the sense of his coming birth. He refers to the rising of the gospel after Christ’s ascension. Through the gospel Christ is spiritually risen and glorified in the hearts of believers, bringing them salvation.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 12–13.

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Through Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/through-faith/a1715.html Tue, 04 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

23 Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. 24 So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. 

Galatians 3:23–29, RSV

From Luther

He who is under the law and works unwillingly is a servant. But whosoever has faith and works cheerfully is a child; for he has received the Spirit of God through Christ. Now, the apostle names Christ, referring to the faith that believes and abides in Jesus Christ. No other faith is effective, no other faith is the right faith, let one believe in God as one will. Some there are, particularly among our modern high schoolmen, who say: Forgiveness of sins and justification depend altogether on the divine imputation of grace; God’s imputation is sufficient. He to whom God does not reckon sin, is justified; he to whom God reckons sin, is not justified.

Were their theory true the entire New Testament would be of no significance. Christ would have labored foolishly and to no purpose in suffering for sin. God would have unnecessarily wrought mere mockery and deception; for he might easily without Christ’s suffering have forgiven sins. Then, too, a faith other than faith in Christ might have justified and saved—a faith relying on God’s gracious mercy not to impute sin. In contrast to this deplorable theory and abominable error, it is the apostles practice to speak always of faith in Jesus Christ, and he makes mention of Jesus Christ with a frequency surprising to one unacquainted with the important doctrine of faith in him. Hence our learned university doctors no longer know Christ. They do not recognize the need of him and his benefits, nor understand the character of the gospel and the New Testament. They imagine Christ to be a mere Moses—a teacher who institutes laws and commandments showing how men may be righteous and lead a faultless life. Then they proceed with free will and the workings of human nature, designing thereby to fit themselves for grace, and basely storm heaven.

Let us guard against the hellish poison of this false doctrine and not lose Christ, the consoling Saviour. Grace is given us gratuitously—without cost to ourselves—and yet the gift to us did cost another much and was obtained with a priceless, an infinite treasure—the Son of God himself. It is supremely essential to possess him who has accomplished the purchase for us. Nor is it possible to obtain grace otherwise than through him.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 10–12.

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The Gift of God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-gift-of-god/a1713.html Sun, 02 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

Ephesians 2:1-10, RSV

From Luther

God does not condemn or save any individual on account of his works. This is not the fault of our works, but of our nature. The person, nature and entire existence are corrupt in us because of Adam’s fall. Therefore no work can be good in us, until our nature and personal life is changed and renewed. The tree is not good, therefore the fruits are bad. No one can become righteous by works or laws; all works and efforts to become righteous and be saved are in vain as long as the nature and the person are not renewed. God will have us clearly understand that the fault lies entirely in the state of our nature, that its birth and origin are corrupt and sinful. This is original sin, or the sin of the nature, or the sin of the person, the real, chief sin. If this sin did not exist there would be no actual sin. This sin is not committed like other sins; but it exists, lives, and commits all other sins, it is the essential sin, that sins not for an hour or a season, but wherever the person is and as long as he lives.

God looks at this sin of the nature alone. This can be eradicated by no law, by no punishment; the grace of God alone, which makes the nature pure and new, must purge it away. The law only makes it manifest and teaches how to recognize it, but does not save from it; the law only restrains the hand or member, it cannot restrain the person and nature from being sinful. Just as little as it lies in one’s power to be born and to receive natural existence, so little does it lie in his power to be without sin or to escape from it. He who created us must take it away. Therefore he first gives the law, by which man recognizes this sin and thirsts for grace; then he also gives the gospel and saves him.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 8–9.

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The Mark of God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-mark-of-god/a1712.html Sat, 01 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

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. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 

Luke 2:15–21, RSV

From Luther

Circumcision was an external mark of God’s people, by which they were distinguished from other nations. God has never left his people without a mark or a sign, by which the world may know where his people are to be found. The Jews were known by circumcision, that was their divine mark. Our mark is baptism and the body of Christ. Where there is baptism, there are Christians, be they where they will in the world.

All this is immeasurably above and contrary to reason. If Abraham had followed reason he would not have believed that it was God who demanded circumcision. To our (natural) eyes it is such a foolish thing that there can scarcely be anything more absurd. The Jews had to endure great infamy and disgrace on account of it. But such are all God’s works and commandments, in order that haughty reason, which would be clever and wise, may be put to shame, may surrender its self-conceit and submit to God, and believe that whatver he appoints is most useful, honorable and wise. Thus we have baptism in the New Testament in order that we should cling to it in faith and believe that we are thereby cleansed from sin and saved. So the works and words of God are contrary to reason, and this, in turn, is contrary to God and recoils at the signs that are spoken against. In all this God seeks to bring man’s reason into captivity and make it subject to divine truth.

It was customary to give the child its name in circumcision, as we see here and in the case of John the Baptist. His name is rightly called Jesus, that is, Saviour; “for he shall save his people from their sins.” This comes to pass through faith, so that the naming of children signifies that by faith they have a name and are known to God. We are called Christians from him, are God’s children and have the superabundant riches of his goodness, that our hearts may be free, joyous, peaceable and unterrified.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 7–8.

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The Mark of God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/the-mark-of-god/a1711.html Wed, 01 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

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. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 

Luke 2:15–21, RSV

Circumcision was an external mark of God’s people, by which they were distinguished from other nations. God has never left his people without a mark or a sign, by which the world may know where his people are to be found. The Jews were known by circumcision, that was their divine mark. Our mark is baptism and the body of Christ. Where there is baptism, there are Christians, be they where they will in the world.

All this is immeasurably above and contrary to reason. If Abraham had followed reason he would not have believed that it was God who demanded circumcision. To our (natural) eyes it is such a foolish thing that there can scarcely be anything more absurd. The Jews had to endure great infamy and disgrace on account of it. But such are all God’s works and commandments, in order that haughty reason, which would be clever and wise, may be put to shame, may surrender its self-conceit and submit to God, and believe that whatver he appoints is most useful, honorable and wise. Thus we have baptism in the New Testament in order that we should cling to it in faith and believe that we are thereby cleansed from sin and saved. So the works and words of God are contrary to reason, and this, in turn, is contrary to God and recoils at the signs that are spoken against. In all this God seeks to bring man’s reason into captivity and make it subject to divine truth.

It was customary to give the child its name in circumcision, as we see here and in the case of John the Baptist. His name is rightly called Jesus, that is, Saviour; “for he shall save his people from their sins.” This comes to pass through faith, so that the naming of children signifies that by faith they have a name and are known to God. We are called Christians from him, are God’s children and have the superabundant riches of his goodness, that our hearts may be free, joyous, peaceable and unterrified.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 7–8.

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