Quotations Pertaining to the Holy Scriptures
and the Lutheran Confessions

[1] The Holy Scripture is God’s Word, written and, so to speak, lettered and put into the form of letters, just as Christ, the eternal Word of God, is clothed in humanity. (Martin Luther, quoted in What Luther Says [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959], p. 71)

[2] The word of God is perfectly divine in its contents; but except where the divine form is as necessary as the divine fact, no book is more perfectly human in its form. It is inspired, for it comes from God; it is human, for it comes through man. But remember, we do not say that the human is without the divine. The Spirit is incarnate in the Word, as the Son was incarnate in Christ. There is deep significance in the fact, that the title of “the Word” is given both to Christ, the Revealer, and to the Bible, the revelation of God, so that in some passages great critics differ as to which is meant. As Christ without confusion of natures is truly human as well as divine, so is this Word. As the human in Christ, though distinct from the divine, was never separate from it, and his human acts were never those of a merely human being – his toils, his merits and his blood were those of God – so is the written word, though [the] most human of books – as Christ, “the Son of Man,” was [the] most human of men – truly divine. Its humanities are no accidents; they are divinely planned. It is essential to God’s conception of his Book, that it shall be written by these men and in this way. He created, reared, made and chose these men, and inspired them to do this thing in their way, because their way was his way. (Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Bible a Perfect Book [Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Henry C. Neinstedt, 1857], p. 10)

[3] is not surprising that men who 10 years ago were saying that the Bible cannot be perfect because it is a human book, today are ready to assert that the Lord Jesus too, since He was a true human being, was mistaken in many things. It is only another demonstration of the truth that, when men lose the Scriptures, they must eventually also lose Christ. For just as Christ is human and divine, so the Scriptures, too, are both human and divine. The words are human words spoken and written by men, but they are also divine words spoken and written by God through human agency. The holy writers were His scribes, His penmen, whom He used to produce the sacred Scriptures, just as the king of Assyria was the rod of His anger which He used to punish recalcitrant Israel. There is no warrant, therefore, for any attempt to separate the divine words from the human words, or to distinguish the divine message from the human assertions in this book. (Siegbert W. Becker, “The Inspiration of Scripture,” This Steadfast Word [Lutheran Free Conference Publications, 1965], p. 40)

[4] We do not interpret God’s word by the Creed, neither do we interpret the Creed by God’s word, but interpreting both independently, by the laws of language, and finding that they teach one and the same truth, we heartily acknowledge the Confession as a true exhibition of the faith of the Rule – a true witness to the one, pure, and unchanging faith of the Christian Church, and freely make it our own Confession, as truly as if it had been now first uttered by our lips, or had now first gone forth from our hands. (Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology [Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1871], p. 169)

[5] We do not claim that our Confessors were infallible. We do not say they could not fail. We only claim that they did not fail. (Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, p. 186)

[6] The Symbols of the orthodox Church of Christ are the matured fruits of the deepest devotion, experience and learning of its greatest and wisest members in its most trying ages; and as we may practically learn much from the biographies of the good, so we may learn much more from the Spirit-moved biography of the Church and the principles and testimonies which mark her life of faith. They are the sign-posts set up by the faithful along the King’s highway of salvation to designate the places of danger to those who come after them, to warn and admonish us where we would otherwise be liable to err and miss the goal of our high calling in Christ Jesus. They are not laws to rule our faith, for the Word of God alone is such a Rule; but they are helps and tokens to enable us the more surely to find the true import of the Rule, that we may be all the more thoroughly and sincerely conformed to that Rule. They are the human tracks which the best of the saints have left, by which we may the better detect the way which God has laid out and opened for the fallen and sinful children of men to travel, that they may fill their Christian vocation and come to everlasting life. (Joseph A. Seiss, “Our Confessions in English,” Lutheran Church Review, Vol. I, No. 3 [July 1882], p. 216)

Quotations from the Lutheran Confessions:
The Book of Concord, Edited by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert
(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000)

[7] ...we confess our adherence to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments, as to the pure, clear fountain of Israel, which alone is the one true guiding principle, according to which all teachers and teaching are to be judged and evaluated. (FC SD R&N: 3, K/W p. 527)

[8] ...we know that “the wisdom of this ‘perverted’ world is only foolishness in God’s sight” [cf. 1 Cor. 3:19] and that only on the basis of God’s Word can judgments on articles of faith be made. For, first of all, even though human reason or natural intellect may still have a dim spark of knowledge that a god exists (as Romans 1[:19-21,24,32] states) or of the teaching of the law, nevertheless it is ignorant, blind, and perverted so that even when the most skillful and learned people on earth read or hear the gospel of God’s Son and the promise of eternal salvation, they still cannot comprehend, grasp, understand, or believe it on the basis of their own powers; they cannot regard it as the truth. Instead, the more assiduously and diligently they exert themselves and want to comprehend these spiritual matters with their reason, the less they understand or believe. They regard all these matters as simply foolishness and fables, until the Holy Spirit enlightens and teaches them. 1 Corinthians 2[:14]: “Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 1[:21]: “Since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.” (FC SD II:8-9, K/W p. 545)

[9] Look, here you have the true honor and worship that please God, which God also commands under penalty of eternal wrath, namely, that the heart should know no other consolation or confidence than in him, nor let itself be torn from him, but for his sake should risk everything and disregard everything else on earth. On the other hand, you will easily see and judge how the world practices nothing but false worship and idolatry. There has never been a nation so wicked that it did not establish and maintain some sort of worship. All people have set up their own god, to whom they looked for blessings, help, and comfort. For example, the pagans, who put their trust in power and dominion, exalted Jupiter as their supreme god. Others, who strove for riches, happiness, pleasure, and the good life, venerated Hercules, Mercury, Venus, or others, while pregnant women worshiped Diana or Lucina, and so forth. They all made a god out of what their heart most desired. Even in the mind of all the pagans, therefore, to have a god means to trust and believe. The trouble is that their trust is false and wrong, for it is not placed in the one God, apart from whom there truly is no god in heaven or on earth. Accordingly the pagans actually fashion their own fancies and dreams about God into an idol and rely on an empty nothing. So it is with all idolatry. Idolatry does not consist merely of erecting an image and praying to it, but it is primarily a matter of the heart, which fixes its gaze upon other things and seeks help and consolation from creatures, saints, or devils. It neither cares for God nor expects good things from him sufficiently to trust that he wants to help, nor does it believe that whatever good it encounters comes from God. (LC I:16-21, p. 388)

[10] is impossible to love God until the forgiveness of sins is first grasped by faith. For the heart that truly believes that God is angry is unable to love God until he is shown to be reconciled. For as long as he terrifies us and appears to be casting us into eternal death, human nature cannot bring itself to love such a wrathful, judging, and punishing God. It is easy for complacent minds to fabricate some foolish dreams about love, namely, that a person guilty of mortal sin can love God above all things, because they themselves do not realize what the wrath or judgment of God is. But in its agony and its battles the conscience experiences the emptiness of such philosophical speculations. Paul says [Rom. 4:15]: “The law brings wrath.” He does not say that through the law people merit the forgiveness of sins. For the law always accuses and terrifies consciences. Therefore it does not justify since the conscience that is terrified by the law flees the judgment of God. (Ap IV:36-38, K/W p. 126)

[11] All Scripture should be divided into these two main topics: the law and the promises. In some places it communicates the law. In other places it communicates the promise concerning Christ, either when it promises that Christ will come and on account of him offers the forgiveness of sins, justification, and eternal life, or when in the gospel itself, Christ, after he appeared, promises the forgiveness of sins, justification, and eternal life. Now when we refer to the “law” in this discussion we mean the commandments of the Decalogue, wherever they appear in the Scriptures. ... Of these two topics, the opponents single out the law (because to some extent human reason naturally understands it since reason contains the same judgment divinely written on the mind), and through the law they seek the forgiveness of sins and justification. But the Decalogue requires not only outward civil works that reason can produce to some extent; it also requires other works that are placed far beyond the reach of reason, such as, truly to fear God, truly to love God, truly to call upon God, truly to be convinced that he hears us, and to expect help from God in death and all afflictions. Finally, it requires obedience to God in death and all afflictions so that we do not flee or avoid these things when God imposes them. (Ap IV:5-8, K/W p. 121)

[12] For because our nature, corrupted by sin, deserves God’s wrath and condemnation, God owes us neither his Word nor Spirit nor grace. When he gives us these things by grace, we often thrust his gifts away from us and make ourselves unworthy of eternal life (Acts 13[:46]). He lets his righteous, well-deserved judgment be seen in various lands, peoples, and individuals, so that when we compare ourselves to them and contrast our situation to theirs, we will learn the more diligently to recognize and praise God’s sheer, unmerited grace toward the “vessels of mercy” [Rom. 9:23; 11:5]. For it is not unjust when they are punished and receive the “wages of sin” [Rom. 6:23]. Concerning the others, however, to whom God gives and preserves his Word – enlightening, converting, and preserving them through it – God commends his unmerited, sheer grace and mercy apart from their merit. When we go this far in this article, we remain on the right path, as is written in Hosea 13[:9], “Israel, that you have gone to ruin is your own fault; that you have been helped rests alone on my grace.” When something in this discussion soars too high and goes beyond these boundaries, we should with Paul put our hand over our mouths, think, and say, “Who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God?” [Rom. 9:20]. For the great apostle Paul testifies that we neither can nor should inquire into everything or find a basis for everything in this article. After a lengthy discussion of this article on the basis of the revealed Word of God, as soon as he comes to the point where he indicates how much of this mystery God has reserved for his own hidden wisdom, Paul lowers his voice and cuts off the discussion with the following words, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord?’” [Rom. 11:33-34], that is, above and beyond what he has revealed to us in his Word. (FC SD XI:60-64, K/W p. 650)

[13] Here we must confess (as St. Paul says in Rom. 5[:12]) that sin comes from that one human being, Adam, through whose disobedience all people became sinners and subject to death and the devil. This is called the original sin, or the chief sin. The fruits of this sin are the subsequent evil works, which are forbidden in the Ten Commandments, such as unbelief, false belief, idolatry, being without the fear of God, presumption, despair, blindness, and, in short, not knowing or honoring God. Beyond that, there is lying, swearing [falsely] by God’s name, not praying or calling on God’s name, neglect of God’s Word, being disobedient to parents, murdering, behaving promiscuously, stealing, deceiving, etc. This inherited sin has caused such a deep, evil corruption of nature that reason does not comprehend it; rather, it must be believed on the basis of the revelation in the Scriptures (Ps. 51[:5] and Rom. 5[:12]; Exod. 33[:20]; Gen. 3[:6ff.]). (SA III, I:1-3, pp. 310-11)

[14] ...Paul...says, in Romans 1[:18]: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all” people. Also Romans 3[:19-20]: “So that...the whole world may be held accountable to God” and “no human being will be justified in his sight”; and Christ says in John 16[:8]: the Holy Spirit “will convict the world of sin.” Now this is the thunderbolt of God, by means of which he destroys both the open sinner and the false saint and allows no one to be right but drives the whole lot of them into terror and despair. This is the hammer of which Jeremiah speaks: “My word is a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces” [Jer. 23:29]. This is...true affliction of the heart, suffering, and the pain of death. This is really what it means to begin true repentance. Here a person must listen to a judgment such as this: “You are all of no account – whether you appear publicly to be sinners or saints. You must all become something different from what you are now and act in a different way, no matter who you are now and what you do. You may be as great, wise, powerful, and holy as you could want, but here no one is righteous, etc.” To this office of the law, however, the New Testament immediately adds the consoling promise of grace through the gospel. This we should believe. As Christ says in Mark 1[:15]: “Repent, and believe in the good news.” This is the same as, “Become and act otherwise, and believe my promise.” Even before Jesus, John the Baptizer was called a preacher of repentance – but for the purpose of the forgiveness of sins. That is, John was to convict them all and turn them into sinners, so that they would know how they stood before God and would recognize themselves as lost people. In this way they were to be prepared for the Lord to receive grace, to await and accept from him forgiveness of sins. Jesus himself says in Luke 24[:47]: “You must preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in my name to the whole world.” (SA III, III:1-6, K/W pp. 312-13)

[15] The distinction between law and gospel is a particularly glorious light. It serves to divide God’s Word properly [cf. 2 Tim. 2:15] and to explain correctly and make understandable the writings of the holy prophets and apostles. Therefore, we must diligently preserve this distinction, so as not to mix these two teachings together and make the gospel into a law. For this obscures the merit of Christ and robs troubled consciences of the comfort that they otherwise have in the holy gospel when it is preached clearly and purely. With the help of this distinction these consciences can sustain themselves in their greatest spiritual struggles against the terror of the law. (FC SD V:1, K/W p. 581)

[16] We believe, teach, and confess that the law is, strictly speaking, a divine teaching which gives instruction regarding what is right and God-pleasing and condemns everything that is sin and contrary to God’s will. Therefore, everything that condemns sin is and belongs to the proclamation of the law. However, the gospel is, strictly speaking, the kind of teaching that reveals what the human being, who has not kept the law and has been condemned by it, should believe: that Christ has atoned and paid for all sins and apart from any human merit has obtained and won for people the forgiveness of sins, “the righteousness which avails before God,” and eternal life. (FC Ep V:3-5, K/W p. 500)

[17] ...the eternal election of God should be considered in Christ and not apart from or outside of Christ. For in Christ, the holy apostle Paul testifies, we have been chosen “before the foundation of the world” [Eph. 1:4], as is written: “He has loved us in his Beloved” [Eph. 1:6]. This election is revealed from heaven through the proclaimed Word, as the Father said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” [Matt. 17:5]. And Christ says, “Come to me, all you who are...carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” [Matt. 11:28]. Christ said of the Holy Spirit, “He will declare to you” and remind you of everything that I have told you [John 16:12-15]. Thus, the entire Holy Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, directs all people to Christ as the Book of Life, in whom they should seek the Father’s eternal election. For the Father has decided from eternity that those whom he wanted to save, he willed to save through Christ, as Christ himself said, “No one comes to the Father except through me” [John 14:6]. And, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved” [John 10:9]. Christ, the “only begotten Son of God, who is close to the Father’s heart” [John 1:18], announced the Father’s will to us and thus also our eternal election to eternal life when he said, “Repent and believe the good news,” for the kingdom of God has come near [Mark 1:15]. Likewise, he said, “This is indeed the will of the one who sent me, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life” [John 6:40], and also, “For God so loved the world...” [John 3:16]. The Father wills that all people should hear this proclamation and come to Christ. And Christ will never thrust them away from himself, as it is written, “Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away” [John 6:37]. That we may come to Christ, the Holy Spirit creates true faith through the hearing of the Word, as the Apostle testifies when he says, “So faith comes from hearing God’s Word” [Rom. 10:17] when it is proclaimed purely and clearly. (FC SD XI:65-69, K/W pp. 650-51)

[18] But the faith that justifies is not only a knowledge of history; it is to assent to the promise of God, in which forgiveness of sins and justification are bestowed freely on account of Christ. To avoid the suspicion that it is merely knowledge, we will add further that to have faith is to desire and to receive the offered promise of the forgiveness of sins and justification. It is easy to determine the difference between this faith and the righteousness of the law. Faith is that worship which receives the benefits that God offers; the righteousness of the law is that worship which offers God our own merits. God wants to be honored by faith so that we receive from him those things that he promises and offers. But faith signifies not merely a knowledge of history but the faith which assents to the promise, as Paul clearly testifies when he says [Rom. 4:16] righteousness “depends on faith, in order that the promise guaranteed.” He realizes that the promise cannot be received in any other way than by faith. Therefore he compares how the promise and faith relate to one another and connects them together. It will be easy to determine what faith is if we consider the Creed where this article, “the forgiveness of sins,” is set forth. Thus it is not enough to believe that Christ was born, suffered, and was raised again unless we also add this article, which is the real purpose of the narrative: “the forgiveness of sins.” The rest must be referred back to this article, namely, that on account of Christ and not on account of our merits, the forgiveness of sins is given to us. (Ap IV:48-51, K/W p. 128)

[19] Neither you nor I could ever know anything about Christ, or believe in him and receive him as Lord, unless these were offered to us and bestowed on our hearts through the preaching of the gospel by the Holy Spirit. The work is finished and completed; Christ has acquired and won the treasure for us by his sufferings, death, and resurrection, etc. But if the work remained hidden so that no one knew of it, it would have been all in vain, all lost. In order that this treasure might not remain buried but be put to use and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to be published and proclaimed, in which he has given the Holy Spirit to offer and apply to us this treasure, this redemption. ...the Holy Spirit...has a unique community in the world, which is the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God, which the Holy Spirit reveals and proclaims, through which he illuminates and inflames hearts so that they grasp and accept it, cling to it, and persevere in it. ... I believe that there is on earth a holy little flock and community of pure saints under one head, Christ. It is called together by the Holy Spirit in one faith, mind, and understanding. It possesses a variety of gifts, and yet is united in love without sect or schism. Of this community I also am a part and member, a participant and co-partner in all the blessings it possesses. I was brought into it by the Holy Spirit and incorporated into it through the fact that I have heard and still hear God’s Word, which is the beginning point for entering it. Before we had come into this community, we were entirely of the devil, knowing nothing of God and of Christ. The Holy Spirit will remain with the holy community or Christian people until the Last Day. Through it he gathers us, using it to teach and preach the Word. By it he creates and increases holiness, causing it daily to grow and become strong in the faith and in its fruits, which the Spirit produces. Further we believe that in this Christian community we have the forgiveness of sins, which takes place through the holy sacraments and absolution as well as through all the comforting words of the entire gospel. (LC II:38,41-42,51-54, K/W pp. 436-38)

[20] But let us speak about the term “liturgy.” This word does not properly mean a sacrifice but rather public service. Thus, it agrees quite well with our position, namely, that the one minister who consecrates gives the body and blood of the Lord to the rest of the people, just as a minister who preaches sets forth the gospel to the people, as Paul says [1 Cor. 4:1], “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries,” that is, of the gospel and the sacraments. And 2 Corinthians 5:20, “So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. ...” Thus the term “liturgy” fits well with the ministry. (Ap XXIV:80-81, K/W p. 272)

[21] ...we have...spiritual fathers – not like those in the papacy who have had themselves called “father” but have not performed a fatherly function. For the name of spiritual father belongs only to those who govern and guide us by the Word of God. St. Paul boasts that he is such a father in 1 Corinthians 4[:15], where he says, “In Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” Because they are fathers, they are entitled to honor, even above all others. But they very seldom receive it, for the world’s way of honoring them is to chase them out of the country and to begrudge them even a piece of bread. In short, as St. Paul says [1 Cor. 4:13], they must be “the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things.” Yet it is necessary to impress upon the common people that they who would bear the name of Christian owe it to God to show “double honor” to those who watch over their souls and to treat them well and make provision for them. (LC I:158-61, K/W p. 408)

[22] ...we maintain that different rites instituted by human beings do not undermine the true unity of the church, although it pleases us when universal rites are kept for the sake of tranquillity. Thus, in our churches we willingly observe the order of the Mass, the Lord’s day, and other more important festival days. With a very grateful spirit we cherish the useful and ancient ordinances, especially when they contain a discipline by which it is profitable to educate and teach common folk and ignorant. (Ap VII/VIII:33, K/W p. 180)

[23] Ceremonies should be observed both so that people may learn the Scriptures and so that, admonished by the Word, they might experience faith and fear and finally even pray. For these are the purposes of the ceremonies. (Ap XXIV:3, K/W p. 258)

[24] In these matters, which concern the spoken, external Word, it must be firmly maintained that God gives no one his Spirit or grace apart from the external Word which goes before. We say this to protect ourselves from the enthusiasts, that is, the “spirits,” who boast that they have the Spirit apart from and before contact with the Word. On this basis, they judge, interpret, and twist the Scripture or oral Word according to their pleasure. Müntzer did this, and there are still many doing this today, who set themselves up as shrewd judges between the spirit and the letter without knowing what they say or teach. The papacy is also purely religious raving in that the pope boasts that “all laws are in the shrine of his heart” and that what he decides and commands in his churches is supposed to be Spirit and law – even when it is above or contrary to the Scriptures or the spoken Word. This is all the old devil and old snake, who also turned Adam and Eve into enthusiasts and led them from the external Word of God to “spirituality” and their own presumption... In short: enthusiasm clings to Adam and his children from the beginning to the end of the world – fed and spread among them as poison by the old dragon. It is the source, power, and might of all the heresies, even that of the papacy and Mohammed. Therefore we should and must insist that God does not want to deal with us human beings, except by means of his external Word and sacrament. Everything that boasts of being from the Spirit apart from such a Word and sacrament is of the devil. (SA III, VIII:3-5,9-10, pp. 322-23)

[25] ...“The one who believes and is baptized will be saved” [Mark 16:16], that is, faith alone makes the person worthy to receive the saving, divine water profitably. Because such blessings are offered and promised in the words that accompany the water, they cannot be received unless we believe them from the heart. Without faith baptism is of no use, although in itself it is an infinite, divine treasure. ... How dare we think that God’s Word and ordinance should be wrong and invalid because we use it wrongly? Therefore, I say, if you did not believe before, then believe now and confess, “The baptism indeed was right, but unfortunately I did not receive it rightly.” (LC IV:33-34,55-56, K/W pp. 460,463)

[26] In baptism we are given the grace, Spirit, and strength to suppress the old creature so that the new may come forth and grow strong. Therefore baptism remains forever. Even though someone falls from it and sins, we always have access to it so that we may again subdue the old creature. But we need not have the water poured over us again. Even if we were immersed in water a hundred times, it would nevertheless not be more than one baptism, and the effect and significance would continue and remain. Repentance, therefore, is nothing else than a return and approach to baptism, to resume and practice what has earlier been begun but abandoned. ... Thus we see what a great and excellent thing baptism is, which snatches us from the jaws of the devil and makes us God’s own, overcomes and takes away sin and daily strengthens the new person, and always endures and remains until we pass out of this misery into eternal glory. Therefore let all Christians regard their baptism as the daily garment that they are to wear all the time. Every day they should be found in faith and with its fruits, suppressing the old creature and growing up in the new. If we want to be Christians, we must practice the work that makes us Christians, and let those who fall away return to it. As Christ, the mercy seat, does not withdraw from us or forbid us to return to him even though we sin, so all his treasures and gifts remain. As we have once obtained forgiveness of sins in baptism, so forgiveness remains day by day as long as we live, that is, as long as we carry the old creature around our necks. (LC IV:76-79,83-86, K/W pp. 466-67)

[27] For in the first instance, we are born anew through baptism. However, our human flesh and blood, as I have said, have not lost their old skin. There are so many hindrances and attacks of the devil and the world that we often grow weary and faint and at times even stumble. Therefore the Lord’s Supper is given as a daily food and sustenance so that our faith may be refreshed and strengthened and that it may not succumb in the struggle but become stronger and stronger. For the new life should be one that continually develops and progresses. But it has to suffer a great deal of opposition. The devil is a furious enemy; when he sees that we resist him and attack the old creature, and when he cannot rout us by force, he sneaks and skulks about at every turn, trying all kinds of tricks, and does not stop until he has finally worn us out so that we either renounce our faith or lose heart and become indifferent or impatient. For times like these, when our heart feels too sorely pressed, this comfort of the Lord’s Supper is given to bring us new strength and refreshment. (LC V:23-27, K/W p. 469)

[28] ...we defend the position received in the entire church – that in the Lord’s Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present and are truly offered with those things that are seen, bread and wine. Moreover, we are talking about the presence of the living Christ, for we know that death no longer has dominion over him [Rom. 6:9]. (Ap X:4, K/W p. 185)

[29] ...this human being alone and no other human being can say in truth, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” [Matt. 18:20], and, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” [Matt. 28:20]. We do not understand these testimonies to mean that only the deity of Christ is present with us in the Christian church and community, and that this presence has nothing in any way at all to do with Christ according to his humanity. ... On the contrary, we hold that these words testify to the majesty of the human Christ; Christ received this majesty according to his humanity at the right hand of the majesty and power of God, so that he also can be and indeed is present where he wishes according to and with this same assumed human nature. He is present especially with his church and community on earth as mediator, head, king, and high priest. He is not halfway present, nor is just half of him present. The entire person of Christ is present, to which belong both natures, the divine and the human. He is present not only according to his deity, but also according to and with the assumed human nature, according to which he is our brother and we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone [Eph. 5:30 in the Vulgate; cf. Gen. 2:23]. He instituted his Holy Supper as a certain assurance and confirmation of this, that also in the nature according to which he has flesh and blood he wants to be with us, to dwell in us, to work in us, and to exert his power for us. (FC SD VIII:76-79, K/W p. 631)

[30] ...Christ is and remains for all eternity God and human being in one inseparable person, which is the highest mystery after the mystery of the Holy Trinity, as the Apostle testifies [1 Tim. 3:16]. In this mystery lie our only comfort, life, and salvation. (FC Ep VIII:18, K/W p. 512)

[31] For “a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” [Matt. 7:18], as it is also written in Romans 14[:23], “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” For a person must be acceptable to God beforehand (and that alone because of Christ), before that person’s works are at all pleasing to him. Therefore, faith must be the mother and the source of those truly good and God-pleasing works, which God wants to reward in this world and the next. For this reason St. Paul calls them true fruits of faith or of the Spirit [Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:9]. For, as Dr. Luther writes in the preface to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, “Faith is a divine work in us which changes us and makes us to be born anew of God [John 1:12-13]. It kills the old ‘Adam’ and makes us altogether different people, in heart and spirit and mind and all powers; and it brings with it the Holy Spirit. O, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good works incessantly. It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done them, and is constantly doing them. Whoever does not do such works, however, is an unbeliever, who gropes and looks around for faith and good works, but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. ... Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that the believer would stake life itself on it a thousand times. This knowledge of and confidence in God’s grace makes people glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and with all creatures. And this is the work which the Holy Spirit performs in faith. Because of it, without compulsion, a person is ready and glad to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, out of love and praise to God, who has shown this grace. Thus, it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from fire.” (FC SD IV:8-12, K/W pp. 575-76)

[32] I hold and believe that I am God’s creature, that is, that he has given me and constantly sustains my body, soul, and life, my members great and small, all my senses, my reason and understanding, and the like; my food and drink, clothing, nourishment, spouse and children, servants, house and farm, etc. Besides, he makes all creation help provide the benefits and necessities of life – sun, moon, and stars in the heavens; day and night; air, fire, water, the earth and all that it yields and brings forth; birds, fish, animals, grain, and all sorts of produce. Moreover, he gives all physical and temporal blessings – good government, peace, security. ...none of us has life – or anything else that has been mentioned here or can be mentioned – from ourselves, nor can we by ourselves preserve any of them, however small and unimportant. ... Moreover, we also confess that God the Father has given us not only all that we have and what we see before our eyes, but also that he daily guards and defends us against every evil and misfortune, warding off all sorts of danger and disaster. All this he does out of pure love and goodness, without our merit, as a kind father who cares for us so that no evil may befall us. (LC II:13-17, K/W pp. 432-33)

[33] Where in any history can one read of greater brazenness than that of our opponents? ...let the discriminating reader consider the effrontery of these good-for-nothings, who say that marriage produces disgrace and shame for the empire – as if the church were adorned by the public disgrace and the unnatural lusts of these holy Fathers... Modesty forbids even mentioning most of the things which these people do with the greatest license. ...Genesis [1:28] teaches that human beings were created to be fruitful and that one sex should desire the other sex in a proper way. Now we are not speaking about concupiscence, which is sin, but about that desire which was to have been in our uncorrupted nature, which they call natural affection. This love of one sex for the other is truly a divine ordinance. ...because this creation or divine ordinance in the human creature is a natural law, the jurists have accordingly spoken wisely and rightly that the union of male and female is a matter of natural law. ...the natural desire of one sex for the other sex is an ordinance of God in nature. For this reason it is right; otherwise why would both sexes have been created? As we said above, we are speaking not about concupiscence (which is sin), but about that desire which they call natural affection and which concupiscence has not removed from nature. Concupiscence inflames it so that now it rather needs an antidote. Marriage is necessary not only for the sake of procreation but also as a remedy. These things are so clear and well established that they can in no way be refuted. ... Paul says [1 Cor. 7:2], “But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife.” Now this is an express command pertaining to anyone who is not fit for celibacy. (Ap XXIII:2,7,9,12-14, K/W pp. 248-50)

[34] Now we maintain that God requires the righteousness of reason and that because of God’s command honorable works prescribed in the Decalogue are necessary according to [Gal. 3:24]: “The law was our disciplinarian”; and [1 Tim. 1:9]: “The law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient.” God wants those who live according to the flesh to be restrained by such civil discipline, and to preserve it he has given laws, learning, teaching, governments, and penalties. And to a certain extent, reason can produce this righteousness by its own powers, although it is often shackled by its natural weakness and by the devil, who drives it to shameful acts. Moreover, we willingly give this righteousness of reason the praises it deserves, for our corrupt nature has no greater good than this, as Aristotle rightly said: “Neither the evening star nor the morning star is more beautiful than righteousness.” God even honors it with temporal rewards. Still, it ought not be praised at Christ’s expense. For it is false that we merit the forgiveness of sins through our works. It is also false that people are accounted righteous before God because of the righteousness of reason. And it is furthermore false that reason by its own powers is able to love God above all things and to fulfill God’s law, namely, truly to fear God, truly to conclude that God hears prayer, willingly to obey God in death and in other visitations of God, and not to covet things that belong to others, etc. – although reason can produce civil works. (Ap IV:22-27, K/W pp. 124-25)

[35] Concerning public order and secular government it is taught that all political authority, orderly government, laws, and good order in the world are created and instituted by God and that Christians may without sin exercise political authority; be princes and judges; pass sentences and administer justice according to imperial and other existing laws; punish evildoers with the sword; wage just wars; serve as soldiers; buy and sell; take required oaths; possess property; be married; etc. Condemned here are the Anabaptists who teach that none of the things indicated above is Christian. Also condemned are those who teach that Christian perfection means physically leaving house and home, spouse and child, and refraining from the above-mentioned activities. In fact, the only true perfection is true fear of God and true faith in God. For the gospel teaches an internal, eternal reality and righteousness of the heart, not an external, temporal one. The gospel does not overthrow secular government, public order, and marriage but instead intends that a person keep all this as a true order of God and demonstrate in these walks of life Christian love and true good works according to each person’s calling. Christians, therefore, are obliged to be subject to political authority and to obey its commands and laws in all that may be done without sin. But if a command of the political authority cannot be followed without sin, one must obey God rather than any human beings (Acts 5[:29]). (AC-G XVI:1-7, K/W pp. 48,50)

[36] ...monastic vows were praised more highly than baptism. It was also said that one could obtain more merit through the monastic life than through all other walks of life, which had been ordered by God, such as the office of pastor or preacher, the office of ruler, prince, lord, and the like. (These all serve in their vocations according to God’s command, Word, and mandate without any contrived spiritual status.) (AC-G XXVII:13, K/W p. 82)

[37] ...Holy Scripture compares the unregenerated human heart to a hard stone [Ezek. 36:26; Jer. 5:3], which does not yield when touched but resists, or to an unhewn block of wood [Hos. 6:5], or to a wild, ferocious beast [Ps. 73:22]. That does not mean that the human being after the fall is no longer a rational creature, or that human beings can be converted to God without hearing and thinking about the divine Word, or that they cannot understand or freely do or refrain from doing what is good and evil in external, temporal matters. For, as Dr. Luther says, in comments on Psalm 90, “In temporal and external affairs, which concern nourishment and bodily needs, the human being is clever, intelligent, and up to a point industrious, but in spiritual and divine matters, which concern the soul’s salvation, the human being is like a pillar of salt, like Lot’s wife, indeed like a block of wood or a stone, like a lifeless statue, which needs neither eyes nor mouth, neither senses nor heart, inasmuch as this human being neither sees nor recognizes the dreadful, fierce wrath of God against sin and death but instead abides in a sense of security willingly and knowingly and as a result runs into a thousand dangers and finally into eternal death and damnation. No plea, no appeal, no admonition is of any help, nor are threats or scolding. Indeed, every bit of teaching or preaching is wasted here,” before the Holy Spirit enlightens, converts, and gives new birth to this creature. (FC SD II:19-21, K/W pp. 547-48)

[38] ...the devil...cannot bear to have anyone teach or believe rightly. It pains him beyond measure when his lies and abominations, honored under the most specious pretexts of God’s name, are disclosed and exposed in all their shame, when they are driven out of people’s hearts and a breach is made in his kingdom. Therefore, like a furious foe, he raves and rages with all his power and might, marshaling all his subjects and even enlisting the world and our own flesh as his allies. For our flesh is in itself vile and inclined to evil, even when we have accepted God’s Word and believe it. The world, too, is perverse and wicked. Here the devil stirs things up, feeding and fanning the flames, in order to impede us, put us to flight, cut us down, and bring us once again under his power. This is his only purpose, desire, and thought, and for this end he strives without rest day and night, using all the arts, tricks, methods, and approaches that he can devise. Therefore we who would be Christians must surely expect to have the devil with all his angels and the world as our enemies and must expect that they will inflict every possible misfortune and grief upon us. For where God’s Word is preached, accepted, or believed, and bears fruit, there the holy and precious cross will also not be far behind. And let no one think that we will have peace; rather, we must sacrifice all we have on earth – possessions, honor, house and farm, spouse and children, body and life. Now, this grieves our flesh and the old creature, for it means that we must remain steadfast, suffer patiently whatever befalls us, and let go whatever is taken from us. (LC III:62-66, K/W pp. 448-49)

[39] The third article of the Creed...enjoins us to believe that there is a “holy, catholic church.” ... This article has been presented for a very necessary reason. We see the endless dangers that threaten the destruction of the church. There is an infinite number of ungodly persons within the church itself who oppress it. This article in the Creed presents these consolations to us: so that we may not despair, but may know that the church will nevertheless remain; so that we may know that however great the multitude of the ungodly is, nevertheless the church exists and Christ bestows those gifts that he promised to the church: forgiveness of sins, answered prayer, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, it says “church catholic” so that we not understand the church to be an external government of certain nations. It consists rather of people scattered throughout the entire world who agree on the gospel and have the same Christ, the same Holy Spirit, and the same sacraments, whether or not they have the same human traditions. ... Therefore, although hypocrites and wicked people are indeed associated with this true church according to the external rites, nevertheless when the church is defined, it must be defined as that which is the living body of Christ and as that which is the church in fact as well as in name. (Ap VII/VIII:7,9-10,12, K/W p. 175)

[40] “Dear Father, we ask you first to give us your Word, so that the gospel may be properly preached throughout the world and then that it may also be received in faith and may work and dwell in us, so that your kingdom may pervade among us through the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit and the devil’s kingdom may be destroyed so that he may have no right or power over us until finally his kingdom is utterly eradicated and sin, death, and hell wiped out, that we may live forever in perfect righteousness and blessedness.” (LC III:54, K/W p. 447)

David Jay Webber
Worldview Seminar, June 21-27, 2003
Marvin M. Schwan Retreat & Conference Center, Trego, Wisconsin

Return to the Lutheran Theology Web Site Home Page