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Psalm 3

 

O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.  But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!  (ESV)

Free Sons

Tuesday of Pentecost 18

14 October 2014

Justification and Christian freedom are inseparably joined together. If you lose one you will certainly lose the other. Christian freedom is, of course, freedom in the sight of God. If we are sons of the free woman (Gal 4:21-31), then we are not subject to the miserable elements of the world: "do, don't do, touch, don't touch, eat, don't eat, etc." The sons of the household have no master, they are the masters of all that their father has given to them. He even gives them the freedom to squander their freedom on unworthy objects (Lk 15). How vulnerable God remains to our abuse, because He declines to take us in hand through the school master of the law. We are sons and heirs and He has given all things that are His into our hands (Jn 15:16). We are kings in His kingdom. We are priests in His sanctuary. Who could call us to account? What mere servant will demand service of us? What minister will require obedience of us? None could. This would be to turn the world upside down.

 

Our pastors must remain servants in the household of God for the sake of the priests and princes who have been granted the Father's own freedom. We ministers chafe at our subjection to the needs of the bride of Christ, only because we forget whom we serve by being subject to the church. But we must remember that, although we are sons of the Father in communion with the other sons, we are not their overlords; for the precious freedom of the church would be jeopardized by pastoral overlordship. And if the church's freedom is lost, so will be the gift of divine righteousness. The last people who should be putting in danger the freedom of the sons of God are the rightly called servants in that household.

 

Luther recognized that the pastors would do precisely that, if they began to impose the demand for works upon the sons of the Father; whether those works are a matter of worship piety or service offered to the neighbor. Such an imposition must be resisted if the gospel is to remain among us. The life of holiness is a gift of God. Whether it is expressed in the piety of the divine service or the piety of social service, it remains a burden gladly taken on by the freed person, who is a son and king in His Father's household. The discipline necessary to have a fruitful life of service is offered by the sons of the King, not because they must, not because they are coerced, but because it is their delight. They are truly free. Giving themselves up to the needs of the church and the neighbor are what they do. And they will do it as long as they are free.

 

Martin Luther

"Paul found in the words 'the free woman and the slave woman' (Gal 4:22) an opportunity to argue in support of the doctrine of justification. He deliberately took hold of this word 'free' and urged and developed it also in what follows (Gal 5). From it he took the occasion to discuss Christian freedom, the knowledge of which is extremely necessary. For the pope has completely destroyed it and has subjected the church to a miserable and bitter slavery by means of human traditions and ceremonies. The liberty that has been granted to us through Christ is today our chief bulwark against the tyranny of the pope. Therefore the locus of Christian freedom must be carefully considered, both to support the locus of justification and to encourage and comfort our consciences against the many disturbances and offenses which, as our opponents claim, have arisen from the gospel. Now Christian freedom is a completely spiritual matter. The unspiritual man does not understand it (1Co 2:14). In fact, even those who have the first fruits of the Spirit (Rm 8:23) and who can discourse about it at great length have difficulty keeping it in their hearts. To reason it appears to be a matter of little importance. Therefore unless the Spirit magnifies it and adds weight to it, it will be despised." 

 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 4.31
 
Prayer

Lord Jesus, help us offer ourselves in service to others by freeing us through Your mercy. Amen.

 

For Sandy Leger, that the Lord Jesus would grant her strength and healing

 

For the people of the LCMS, that they would be strengthened in their faith and confession so that the world would know how free we Christians are

 

For all police officers and other public safety workers, that the Lord would give them joy in their calling and keep them safe in their labors
Art: Crucifixes  Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)

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