Sunday, June 22, 2014

How Does Law And Gospel Work? Luther Explains

How does one now acquire this love? The human heart is so false that it cannot love unless it first sees the benefit of loving. When, in the Old Testament, God struck blows among the people as if among dogs, and he dealt severely and fearfully with them, they naturally had no love for him. Then God thought: I must show my love to you and be so affectionate that you cannot help but love me. Then he took his Son and sent him into our filth, sin and misery, pouring out his mercy so freely and fully that we had to boast of all his treasures as if they were our own. He thus became a loving Father, and he declared his mercy and caused it to go forth into all the world that whosoever believes this and lays hold of it with his heart shall have a gracious and merciful God, who never becomes angry nor deals blows, but who, instead, is kind and affectionate. Now, where a heart believes and experiences this, and gets glimpses of so much, then it must place all its confidence and affection in God, and deal with its neighbour as God has dealt with itself. As a result the Word of God goes forth out of the heart, and his commandments will be kept with pleasure. Thus, first, there is no other God; secondly, man calls upon the name of the Lord; and thirdly, he lets God reign--God can do as he will, and he possesses his soul in quiet and observes the Sabbath.

Law and Gospel by Sandra Bowden
In this way, the commandments of the First Table are fufilled. Henceforth, he is kindly and humbly disposed toward all persons, he honours his father and mother and serves his neighbour as his highest pleasure and with all the love of his heart. His thought is ever this: I will do to my neighbour, as God has done to me. Thus love alone is the fulfilment of the Law, as Paul says to the Romans (13, 10).

Now, no man can bring this love into the heart. Therefore, God struck in among the people with the Law that man might experience and feel that no human being could love the divine, righteous, just and holy Law. In view of this he gave us his Son, thus graciously poured out his greatest treasures, and sunk and drowned all our sins and filth in the great ocean of his love, so that this great love and blessing must draw man to love, and cheerfully be ready to fulfil the divine commandments with willing heart. In no other way can the heart love or have any love; it must be assured that it was first loved. Now, man cannot do this; therefore, Christ comes and takes the heart captive and says: Learn to know me. Then the heart replies: Aye, who art thou? I am Christ, who placed myself in your misery to drown your sins in my righteousness. This knowledge softens your heart, so that you must turn to him. Thus love is awakened when one learns who Christ is.

Taken from:
Sermon for the Day of Pentecost; John 14:23-31 (2nd sermon)
A Sermon by Martin Luther; taken from his Church Postil.

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