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 Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Luther's Commentary on Galatians 2:20

Galatians 2:20

Who loved me and gave himself for me. Here Paul shows us the true way of justification and a perfect example of the assurance of faith. Anyone who can with a firm and constant faith say with Paul, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me is happy indeed. With these words Paul takes away the whole righteousness of the law and works. We must therefore carefully consider these last words. It was not I who first loved the Son of God and gave myself for him. Wicked people who are puffed up with the wisdom of the flesh imagine they do what they can—they love God, they give themselves for Christ; but what they are doing is abolishing the Gospel and deriding Christ. They say he is a justifier and a Saviour, but in fact they take from him the power both to justify and to save, and they give it to their own actions, ceremonies, and devotions. This is to live in their own righteousness and actions, and not by faith in the Son of God.

Doing what we want is not the true way to attain justification. People say it is enough for us to do what any good person would approve of, for then the good God will reward us with grace. “God will not require us to do more than we are able,” they say. And this saying is good if it is applied properly and in the right place—for example, in politics and economics and family life. If I in the world of reason perform the role of a magistrate or head of family, doing what I can of myself, I am excused. This kingdom has its limits, to which belong such sayings as, “doing what we can.” But in the spiritual world we can do nothing but sin, for we are sold as slaves to sin (see Romans 7:14). It is wrong to apply to the church sayings that rightly belong to politics and economics and family life. The world of human reason must be kept apart from the world of the spirit.

Moreover, people say that nature is corrupt but that natural qualities remain sound and uncorrupt. They argue that human understanding and will are sound and uncorrupt too, and consequently all other natural qualities are pure and perfect. They infer from this that we are able of ourselves to fulfill the law and to love God with all our hearts, applying these qualities to the world of the spirit. But I make a distinction here between natural and spiritual qualities, which they mix and confuse. I say that the spiritual qualities are not sound but corrupt and utterly quenched through sin, so that they have nothing but corrupt understanding and a will that continually struggles against the will of God.

I agree that the natural qualities are uncorrupt, but what are they? That people who are drowned in sin, people who are slaves of Satan, nonetheless have will, reason, and power to perform the office of a magistrate or head of household, to guide a ship, to build a house, and to do such other things as are subject to mankind. I do not deny that these are found in the physical world. But if you wrest them to the world of the spirit, I utterly deny them, for there, as I said, we are overwhelmed by sin. Whatever is in our will is evil; whatever is in our understanding is error. Therefore, in spiritual matters we have nothing but darkness, error, ignorance, malice, and perverseness both of will and understanding. How then can we work well, fulfill the law, and love God?

That is why Paul says here that Christ loved me and gave himself for me. It is Christ who began our salvation, not us. This is like saying the good Lord found no goodwill or right understanding in me, but he had mercy on me. He saw I was nothing but wicked, going astray, regarding God with contempt and flying from him more and more. I was rebelling against God; I was captured by the devil. Thus God, mercifully cutting through my will and my reason, loved me so much that he gave himself for me, so that I might be freed from the law, sin, the devil, and death.

These words are great thunder and lightning from heaven against the righteousness of the law and all its works. There was such great and horrible wickedness, error, darkness, and ignorance in my will and understanding that it was impossible for me to be ransomed except by an inestimable price. Why do we then boast about the integrity of nature, the rule of reason, the ability of free will and of doing what we can? Why do we offer this rotten stubble and straw of our sins to pacify the wrath of God who, as Moses says, “is a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24)?

Luther, M. (1998). Galatians. The Crossway classic commentaries (109–110). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

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