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Beware of aspiring to such purity that you will not wish to be looked upon as a sinner, or to be one. For Christ dwells only in sinners. On this account he descended from heaven, where he dwelt among the righteous, to dwell among sinners. Meditate on this love of his and you will see his sweet consolation. For why was it necessary for him to die if we can obtain a good conscience by our works and afflictions? Accordingly you will find peace only in him and only when you despair of yourself and your own works. Besides, you will learn from him that just as he has received you, so he has made your sins his own and has made his righteousness yours.
Luther’s Works(AE) v. 48:12-13
Pastor Dan Walters has written a great piece entitled, “Why Would Anyone Ever Want to Read the Catechism?” Currently, I’m teaching the Small Catechism to our 7th and 8th grade catechumens. It is a difficult process because they are, well, 7th and 8th graders. They don’t want to learn the Small Catechism (most of them). They are here because their parents make them come or that’s what you’re supposed to do in 7th and 8th grade. But he quotes the words of Martin Luther talking about the importance of the Small Catechism. Below is just a snippet of that quote:
…For myself I say this: I am also a doctor and preacher; yes, as learned and experienced as all the people who have such assumptions and contentment. Yet I act as a child who is being taught the catechism. Every morning – and whenever I have time – I read and say, word for word, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, and such. I must still read and study them daily. Yet I cannot master the catechism as I wish. But I must remain a child and pupil of the catechism, and am glad to remain so….
Go ahead, read his post. While you’re at it, go ahead and dust off your Small Catechism. If you’ve “lost” yours, it’s ok; CPH has lots of them for sale!
Since today is the day celebrating the Reformation, I thought that I would include Luther’s famous words from the Diet at Worms.
But someone might say, Are we to proclaim nothing but that Christ died for us? Isn’t it enough to preach about this one time only? I have heard it so often and know it so well. Answer: The Jews were required to hold the deliverance from Egypt in remembrance not only once, but always, year after year. But should we Christians trouble ourselves continually to repeat the remembrance of the deliverance Christ wrought for us from sin, death, devil, and hell? Are you among those who say, I have heard it all before; why must I hear it again? If so, your heart has become dull, satiated, and shameless, and this food does not taste good to you. This is the same thing that happened to the Jews in the wilderness when they grew tired of eating manna. But if you are a Christian, you will never grow weary, but will long to hear this message often and to speak about it forever.
Martin Luther, Sermon for Maundy Thursday, April 2, 1534. From Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. 5, page 463.
I’ve been bad…I haven’t been keeping up with the Treasury of Daily Prayer like I should have been. I have to say that I really enjoy the Writings for each day. Here are two writings from Martin Luther that should remain at the forefront of our minds. The first writing is about baptism and the value and importance and meaning of it. The second writing is about the office of holy ministry, something very important, as I am one who holds that office. Enjoy these snippets from Luther.
Wednesday After Easter
For just as the truth of this divine promise, once pronounced over us, continues until death, so our faith in it ought never to cease, but to be nourished and strengthened until death by the continual remembrance of this promise made to us in baptism. Therefore, when we rise from our sins or repent, we are merely returning to the power and the faith of baptism from which we fell, and finding our way back to the promise then made to us, which we deserted when we sinned. For the truth of the promise once made remains steadfast, always ready to receive us back with open arms when we return….
It will therefore be no small gain to a penitent to remember above all his baptism, and, confidently calling to mind the divine promise which he has forsaken, acknowledge that promise before his Lord, rejoicing that he is still within the fortress of salvation because he has been baptized, and abhorring his wicked ingratitude in falling away from its faith and truth. His heart will find wonderful comfort and will be encouraged to hope for mercy when he consideres that the promise which God made to him, which cannot possibly lie, is still unbroken and unchanged, and indeed, cannot be changed by sins, as Paul says (II Tim. 2[:13]): “If we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself.” This truth of God, I say, will sustain him, so that if all else should fail, this truth, if he believes in it, will not fail him. In it the penitent has a shield against all assaults of the scornful enemy, an answer to the sins that disturb his conscience, an antidote for the dread of death and judgment, and a comfort in every temptation–namely, this one truth–when he says: “God is faithful in his promises [Heb. 10:23; 11:11], and I received his sign in baptism. If God is for me, who is against me?” [Rom. 8:31].1
Thursday After Easter
This ministry [that is, the Word of God, Baptism, and Holy Communion] will endure and is not to be replaced by any other. But the incumbents of this ministry do not remain; they die. This necessitates an ever-new supply of preachers, which calls for the employment of certain means. [This ministry] came directly from Christ; but later Christ departed from this earth. Now a new way of sending was instituted, which works through man but is not of man. We were sent according to this method; according to it, we elect and send others, and we install them in their ministry to preach and to administer the Sacraments. This type of sending is also of God and commanded by God. Even though God resorts to our aid and to human agency, it is He Himself who sends laboreres into His vineyard.
There everyone [who preaches] must realize that he has been sent. That is, he must know that he has been called; he dare not venture to sneak into the office furtively and without authorization. It must be done in the open. The sending is done through man, for example, when a city, a prince, or a congregation calls someone into office. But at the same time this person is sent by God.2
1) Writing from Martin Luther, “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,” pp. 59-60 in vol. 36 of Luther’s Works, American Edition
2) Writing from Martin Luther’s sermons on the Gospel of St. John, p. 482 in vol. 22 of Luther’s Works