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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Friday, April 13, 2012

Martin Luther: Quote of the Day: The Law/Gospel Distinction

From Luther's commentary on Galatians 2:14,

14. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel. This is a wonderful example of such excellent men and pillars of the church. Only Paul has his eyes open and sees the offense of Peter, Barnabas, and the other Jews who were hypocrites along with Peter. On the other hand, they do not see their own offense; rather, they think they are right to bear with the weakness of the Jews. So it was very necessary for Paul to criticize them and not hide their offense. So he accuses Peter, Barnabas, and the others of swerving from the truth of the Gospel. It is significant that Peter is accused by Paul as someone who had fallen from the truth of the Gospel. He could not be more grievously reprehended, and yet he suffered it patiently and no doubt acknowledged his offense. Peter, Barnabas, and other Jews had the Gospel but were not walking uprightly according to it. They preached the Gospel but established the law, though this would abolish the Gospel.

Anyone who can judge rightly between the law and the Gospel should thank God and know that he is a true theologian. In times of temptation, I confess that I myself do not know how to do this as I ought. The way to discern the one from the other is to place the Gospel in heaven and the law on the earth, to call the righteousness of the Gospel heavenly and the righteousness of the law earthly, and to put as much difference between the righteousness of the Gospel and of the law as God has made between heaven and earth, between light and darkness, between day and night. If it is a question of faith or conscience, let us utterly exclude the law and leave it on the earth; but if we are dealing with works, let us light the lantern of works and of the righteousness of the law. The sun and light of the Gospel and grace should shine in the day, and the lantern of the law in the night.

So if your conscience is terrified with the sense of sin, remember that you are still on earth. Let the donkey labor there and carry the burden laid upon him; that is, let the body and its members be subject to the law. But when you climb up to heaven, leave the donkey with its burden on the earth, for the conscience has nothing to do with the law or its observance or earthly righteousness. Thus the donkey remains in the valley, but the conscience climbs the mountain with Isaac, knowing nothing at all of the law or its observance, but only looking to the remission of sins and pure righteousness offered and freely given to us in Christ.

Conversely, in civil matters obedience to the law must be severely required. There nothing must be known concerning the Gospel, conscience, grace, forgiveness of sins, heavenly righteousness, or Christ himself, but only Moses, with the law and its observance. If we keep this distinction carefully, neither the one nor the other will pass its bounds. The law will remain outside heaven—that is, outside the heart and conscience; and conversely, the liberty of the Gospel will remain outside the earth—that is, outside the body and its members. As soon as the law and sin come into heaven (that is, into the conscience), let them be thrown out straightaway, for the conscience, being terrified by God’s wrath and judgment, ought to know nothing of the law and sin, but only Christ. And on the other hand, when grace and liberty come into the earth (that is, into the body), then say, “You should not live in the dregs and garbage heap of this physical life; you belong to heaven.”

This distinction between law and Gospel was confused when Peter persuaded the believing Jews that they must be justified by the Gospel and the law together. Paul would not allow this, and so he reproved Peter, not so Peter might be reproached, but so he might again establish a clear distinction between the two—namely, that the Gospel justifies in heaven, and the law on earth.


Luther, M. (1998). Galatians. The Crossway classic commentaries (82–84). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

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