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More Luther for Trinity 25/Third-Last Sunday

by pastorjuhl ~ November 6th, 2008

So, what is the bottom line? Listen to what Christ says: See, I have told you beforehand. When they say to you, Lo, here is Christ, do not believe it. That’s what you should do. Pay no attention, don’t believe the false christs and the false prophets, even if they prophesy in the name of Christ, drive out devils, and do miracles.

One ought never accept such “signs,” once the gospel has gone out into the world and has been vindicated sufficiently by signs and miracles. Even if one were to see an apparently dead man resurrected, we must not believe it, for God has threatened to allow false and lying wonders to come unto the world through the devil, in punishment upon those who reject the truth. Therefore, we must not believe them, but be wise and listen to what Christ earnestly warns us, “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not; Behold, I have told you before.” And even though protest is made that these are pious people, prophets with sterling reputations and convincing powers, you should answer that it’s not a matter of signs, wonders, prophets, and christs that count, but Christ’s word here, When they say to you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, don’t believe it.

We simply have to be aware that before the devil’s wiles and power, no man is ever safe. If God permits, the devil can deceive even the most godly, and, in fact, others through the godly. We dare not be secure, but must continue humbly in the fear of God, petitioning him that we not be misled into temptation or succumb to trials.

All such false signs and wonders, even when they occur among the godly, must be evaluated and judged in line with Christ’s words here, that we should not believe them, even when they say, Lo, here is Christ, or, lo, there. We are to say, Yes, I see that they are fine, pious people, even prophets, who can perform wonders; but, no matter, that doesn’t count with me, since if one looks at the end result of such wonders, they end with a denial of Christ. The Christian faith instructs me to place my trust only in Christ and not in any false god. These signs and wonders seek to divert me, so that I believe my salvation lies in doing pious works and service. They make “christs” out of the saints and try to turn my heart away from Christ who alone is the true rock and fortress upon which my faith can build securely. For that I don’t need to go on pilgrimages or seek out holy shrines, but can stay at home, go to church, and pray to my God through Christ, who is able to help me far better than any saint or other holy person.

The Lord means, See to it that you do not wander off the right way, as I have preached and taught you; no matter who approaches, performing whatever miracles and signs, just pay no heed. If you hear something other than what you have heard from me, be it pope, church, fathers, or councils, don’t probe any farter or pay attention to them. Remember what I have told you, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

I believe that Bernard (of Clairvaux) was also saved. For when he was about to die, he said, I have lived and evil life and confess that I cannot obtain the kingdom of heaven by my own merits; however, my Lord Jesus Christ has a twofold jurisdiction as regards heaven. First, by inheritance from the Father, that he is the only begotten Son of God, born of the Father from eternity, and has inherited the kingdom of heaven. Second, through the merit of his sufferings, that he is the Virgin’s son, and has won the kingdom of heaven by his holy, innocent sufferings. The first right to the kingdom of heaven, that he is its natural, eternal heir, h e retains for himself. The second right, however, that he has won it through his sufferings, he grants to me. That very gift I take to myself, and I shall not perish. Through this word Bernard has been saved. For even though he had led an austere life and had so strenuously exerted himself in fasting and vigils that the air smelled foul to him, and he could no longer because of weakness, stand in the choir with his brothers, nevertheless, he did not die in that way but took comfort in Christ and in his suffering. This man was also one of the elect, an man who had been led into error but who did not remain in it. And there have been many more like him.

(All quotes from Luther’s House Postil, A.D. 1537)

1 Response to More Luther for Trinity 25/Third-Last Sunday

  1. Mark Preus

    This was very refreshing. Thank you.

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