Posts tagged “Faith

How to Prepare for the Lord’s Supper

Posted on July 6th, 2017

The whole power of the mass consists in the words of Christ, in which he testifies that forgiveness of sins is bestowed on all those who believe that his body is given and his blood poured out for them. This is why nothing is more important for those who go to hear mass than to ponder these words diligently and in full faith.  Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 36: Word and Sacrament II, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 36 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 43.

Sermo Dei: Trinity 1, 2017

Posted on June 18th, 2017

God built fatherhood into man’s nature. God made man and blessed him for fatherhood. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1.28). Man was made for fatherhood. The man we call Abraham is—as you can see from today’s Old Testament reading (Gen. 15:1-6)—originally named Abram. Abram means “exalted father.” That refers to God, Our Father. Abram, named for the Father, wants to be a father himself. Abram wants a son. But he is old, and his wife is old. Some of you know how difficult it can be to conceive a child. And as the years go by, you feel worthless, and hopeless. That’s where Abram and his wife Sarai are. They didn’t have the many options that confront…

Faith and Good Works

Posted on April 15th, 2016

A gem from Luther on faith and good works:   Faith is something living, something active…. Faith is not an idle, loose thought…. There is something busy, active, and powerful about Faith, so that it is impossible for it not to do Good Works without ceasing. Faith does not ask if Good Works need to be done. It has already done them and is still doing them before even being asked. Luther Brevier, p122

Paying lip-service to the gospel

Posted on January 14th, 2015

In the following passage, Luther expounds on the words of 1 John 3:18, “My little children let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” The apostle is denouncing those false brothers and hypocritical Christians who only pay lip-service to the Gospel. They retain just the froth together with their presumption that faith and the Gospel are a mere matter of words … yet they believe that no-one else is as zealous as they are. You can see that their doctrines are mere husks and empty shells from the way these people conduct their lives. They have no intention of living in accordance with the Gospel nor do they intend to demonstrate Christian love to show that they…

Different understandings of faith

Posted on April 9th, 2014

How can you articulate the core difference between Eastern Orthodoxy and the theology of the West? Original sin is, of course, critical to the discussion. But there is something deeper, which I have often termed mysticism. I wonder if the difference is really as simple as what we mean by “faith.” Rod Dreher at The American Conservative (“Do You Really Want To Be Orthodox?”) shared a letter by the Orthodox nun Mother Thekla, in which she encourages the convert to the East not to embrace any knowing beyond faith. Crucial is the definition of faith which follows: Faith means accepting the Truth without proof. Faith and knowledge are the ultimate contradiction –and the ultimate absorption into each other. The classic Western definition of faith…

Consolation for troubled hearts

Posted on April 3rd, 2014

Troubled hearts should have a firm, sure consolation. Also, due honor should be given to Christ’s merit and God’s grace. Therefore, the Scriptures teach that the righteousness of faith before God stands only in the gracious reconciliation or the forgiveness of sins, which is presented to us out of pure grace, only for the sake of the merit of the Mediator, Christ. This is received through faith alone in the Gospel promise. In the same way also, in justification before God, faith relies neither on contrition nor on love or other virtues. Faith relies on Christ alone and on His complete obedience by which He has fulfilled the Law for us. This obedience is credited to believers for righteousness. SD III.30; Concordia: The Lutheran…

Luther on belief without works

Posted on January 16th, 2014

“My little children let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) Dr. Luther says that St. John is denouncing those who only pay lip-service to the Gospel. They retain just the froth together with their presumption that faith and the Gospel are a mere matter of words…. You can see that their doctrines are mere husks and empty shells from the way these people conduct their lives. They have no intention of living in accordance with the Gospel nor do they intend to demonstrate Christian love to show that they really do take the gospel seriously. That is why they become slothful and refuse to do any works, protesting that their field of action…

God is not joking

Posted on December 17th, 2013

More from our Confessions on faith and works, this time from the Large Catechism, Fourth Commandment: How can you lead a more blessed or holier life as far as your works are concerned? In God’s sight faith is what really makes a person holy and serves Him alone, but the works are for the service of people. (I.146f) Then Dr. Luther speaks about rewards for the pious and punishments for the rebellious. He then urges us toward godliness: Whoever will not be moved by this and lean toward godliness we hand over to the hangman and to the skeleton man. Therefore, let everyone who allows himself to be advised remember that God is not joking. Know that it is God who speaks with you and…

The Liturgy of Murdered Shepherds

Posted on August 14th, 2013

Sermon for Trinity 11, on Genesis 4:1-15 (1 Corinthians 15:1-10; Luke 18:9-14)   I returned home from vacation to discover that the storage closet in our condominium had flooded, and some items that were precious to me were damaged. I was angry and frustrated. Then I remembered: this entire world is now subject to the principle of corruption. All is vanity, everything breaks, everyone dies. My damaged things will surely be destroyed. I cannot keep them. That’s the result of the fall, the world whose beginnings we see today in Genesis 4. The fall brought death, corruption, the return of man to the dust, a world in bondage to decay. This principle of corruption is odious to us. Everything around us descends into madness,…

Faith without repentance

Posted on July 23rd, 2013

Last Sunday during Scripture Study we were discussing the nature of justifying faith. Paul Techau, a member of Immanuel, said something at once perfectly simple and deeply profound: “Faith without repentance is dead.” This is an excellent complement to St. James’ well-known saying, “Faith without works is dead.”