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Ephesians
1:3-10


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (ESV)
The Author of Scripture
Monday in Lent 3
29 February 2016
Scripture certainly demands good works of Christian people. The doing of good works is not optional, even though we are justified before God alone by the merits of Christ and His work. Sometimes the passages demanding works of us appear to contradict justification through the work of Christ. Luther's advice in dealing with these contradictions is to make a distinction between Scripture and Scripture's Author.
 
One is Master, the other is maid. One is King, the other is servant. Scripture is maid and servant. Christ is Master and King. Scripture serves Christ. This is why passages extolling the work of the Son of God to offer His life as a ransom for many take priority over all other texts of Scripture. Scripture intends to extol Christ as center and Author of Scripture. Indeed, to read Scripture so as to find a contradiction between works and Christ is to read Scripture incorrectly; it is to extol the maid over the Master. Stay with Christ, the Author of Scripture.

 

Martin Luther

"'Here is Christ, and over there are the statements of Scripture about works. But Christ is Lord over Scripture and over all works. He is the Lord of heaven, earth, the Sabbath, the temple, righteousness, life, sin, death, and absolutely everything. Paul, His apostle, proclaims that He became sin and a curse for me. Therefore I hear that I could not be liberated from my sin, death, and curse through any other means than through His death and His blood. Therefore I conclude with all certainty and assurance that not my works but Christ had to conquer my sin, death, and curse. Even on natural grounds reason is obliged to agree and to say that Christ is not my work, that His blood and His death are not a cowl or a tonsure or a fast or a vow, and that in granting me His victory He was not a Carthusian [monk].
 
"Therefore if He Himself is the price of my redemption, if He Himself became sin and a curse in order to justify and bless me, I am not put off at all by passages of Scripture, even if you were to produce six hundred in support of the righteousness of works and against the righteousness of faith, and if you were to scream that Scripture contradicts itself. I have the Author and the Lord of Scripture, and I want to stand on His side rather than believe you. Nevertheless, it is impossible for Scripture to contradict itself except at the hands of senseless and stubborn hypocrites; at the hands of those who are godly and understanding it gives testimony to its Lord. Therefore see to it how you can reconcile Scripture, which, as you say, contradicts itself. I for my part shall stay with the Author of Scripture.'
 
"Therefore if someone is not sufficiently educated to be able to reconcile or resolve such passages of Scripture about works and is obliged nevertheless to listen to the insistence of our opponents as they vigorously press such passages, let such a person simply reply as follows: 'You are stressing the servant, that is, Scripture-and not all of it at that or even its more powerful part, but only a few passages concerning works. I leave this servant to you. I for my part stress the Lord, who is the King of Scripture. He has become my merit and the price of my righteousness and salvation. I hold to Him, I cling to Him, and I leave to you the works that you have never performed anyway.' Neither the devil nor any self-righteous person can rob you of this answer or refute it. You are also safe in the sight of God; for your heart is fixed on the object of faith, who is called Christ. He was crucified and accursed, not for Himself but for us."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.14
 
Prayer
Blessed Lord, since You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them that by patience and comfort of your holy Word we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
 
For Steve Emshoff, who is suffering from pneumonia, that the Lord would grant him health and healing
 
For all Christians as they prepare themselves for the Paschal feast, that the Lenten season might be a time of true and heartfelt repentance
 
For President Lawrence Rast and the faculty and staff of Concordia Theological Seminary, that the Spirit would lead them in into all truth

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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