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“Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation” by Martin Luther

“The third incomparable benefit of faith is that it unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom. By this mystery, as the Apostle teaches, Christ and the soul become one flesh (Eph. 5:31–32).

And if they are one flesh and there is between them a true marriage– indeed the most perfect of all marriages, since human marriages are but poor examples of this one true marriage– it follows that everything they have they hold in common, the good as well as the evil.

Accordingly the believing soul can boast of and glory in whatever Christ has as though it were its own, and whatever the soul has Christ claims as his own. Let us compare these and we shall see inestimable benefits.

Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation.

Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s; for if Christ is a bridegroom, He must take upon Himself the things which are His bride’s and bestow upon her the things that are His.

If he gives her His body and very self, how shall He not give her all that is His? And if He takes the body of the bride, how shall He not take all that is hers?”

–Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), in Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 351.

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“His righteousness is greater than the sins of all men, His life stronger than death, His salvation more invincible than hell” by Martin Luther

“Christ is God and man in one person. He has neither sinned nor died, and is not condemned, and He cannot sin, die, or be condemned; His righteousness, life, and salvation are unconquerable, eternal, omnipotent.

By the wedding ring of faith He shares in the sins, death, and pains of hell which are His bride’s. As a matter of fact, He makes them His own and acts as if they were His own and as if He Himself had sinned; He suffered, died, and descended into hell that He might overcome them all.

Now since it was such a one who did all this, and death and hell could not swallow Him up, these were necessarily swallowed up by Him in a mighty duel; for His righteousness is greater than the sins of all men, His life stronger than death, His salvation more invincible than hell.

Thus the believing soul by means of the pledge of its faith is free in Christ, its bridegroom, free from all sins, secure against death and hell, and is endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of Christ its bridegroom.

So He takes to himself a glorious bride, “without spot or wrinkle, cleansing her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26–27) of life, that is, by faith in the Word of life, righteousness, and salvation. In this way He marries her in faith, steadfast love, and in mercies, righteousness, and justice, as Hos. 2:19–20 says.

Who then can fully appreciate what this royal marriage means? Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace?

Here this rich and divine bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all His goodness. Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by Him.

And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, “If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all His is mine and all mine is His,” as the bride in the Song of Solomon 2:16 says, “My beloved is mine and I am his.”

This is what Paul means when he says in 1 Cor. 15:57, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” that is, the victory over sin and death, as he also says there, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56).”

–Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), in Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 351–352.

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“True faith in Christ is a treasure beyond comparison” by Martin Luther

“It ought to be the first concern of every Christian to lay aside all confidence in works and increasingly to strengthen faith alone and through faith to grow in the knowledge, not of works, but of Christ Jesus, who suffered and rose for him, as Peter teaches in the last chapter of his first Epistle (1 Pet. 5:10).

No other work makes a Christian. Thus when the Jews asked Christ, as related in John 6:28, what they must do “to be doing the work of God,” He brushed aside the multitude of works which He saw they did in great profusion and suggested one work, saying, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29); “for on him has God the Father set his seal” (John 6:27).

Therefore true faith in Christ is a treasure beyond comparison which brings with it complete salvation and saves man from every evil.”

–Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), in Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 347.

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“You are justified by the merits of another, namely, of Christ alone” by Martin Luther

“The moment you begin to have faith you learn that all things in you are altogether blameworthy, sinful, and damnable, as the Apostle says in Rom. 3:23, “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and, “None is righteous, no, not one; all have turned aside, together they have gone wrong” (Rom. 3:10–12).

When you have learned this you will know that you need Christ, who suffered and rose again for you so that, if you believe in Him, you may through this faith become a new man in so far as your sins are forgiven and you are justified by the merits of another, namely, of Christ alone.”

–Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), in Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 346–347.

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“If the soul has the Word of God it is rich and lacks nothing since it is the Word of life, truth, light, peace, righteousness, salvation, joy, liberty, wisdom, power, grace, glory, and of every incalculable blessing” by Martin Luther

“One thing, and only one thing, is necessary for Christian life, righteousness, and freedom. That one thing is the most holy Word of God, the gospel of Christ, as Christ says, John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”; and John 8:36, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed”; and Matt. 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Let us then consider it certain and firmly established that the soul can do without anything except the Word of God and that where the Word of God is missing there is no help at all for the soul.

If it has the Word of God it is rich and lacks nothing since it is the Word of life, truth, light, peace, righteousness, salvation, joy, liberty, wisdom, power, grace, glory, and of every incalculable blessing. This is why the prophet in the entire Psalm 119 and in many other places yearns and sighs for the Word of God and uses so many names to describe it.

On the other hand, there is no more terrible disaster with which the wrath of God can afflict men than a famine of the hearing of his Word, as he says in Amos 8:11. Likewise there is no greater mercy than when he sends forth his Word, as we read in Psalm 107:20: “He sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction.”

Nor was Christ sent into the world for any other ministry except that of the Word. Moreover, the entire spiritual estate—all the apostles, bishops, and priests—has been called and instituted only for the ministry of the Word.

You may ask, “What then is the Word of God, and how shall it be used, since there are so many words of God?”

I answer: The Apostle explains this in Romans 1. The Word is the gospel of God concerning his Son, who was made flesh, suffered, rose from the dead, and was glorified through the Spirit who sanctifies.

To preach Christ means to feed the soul, make it righteous, set it free, and save it, provided it believes the preaching. Faith alone is the saving and efficacious use of the Word of God, according to Rom. 10:9: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Furthermore, “Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified” (Rom. 10:4). Again, in Rom. 1:17, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”

The Word of God cannot be received and cherished by any works whatever but only by faith. Therefore it is clear that, as the soul needs only the Word of God for its life and righteousness, so it is justified by faith alone and not any works; for if it could be justified by anything else, it would not need the Word, and consequently it would not need faith.”

–Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), in Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 345–346.

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“The freedom of the Christian” by Martin Luther

“Many people have considered Christian faith an easy thing, and not a few have given it a place among the virtues. They do this because they have not experienced it and have never tasted the great strength there is in faith.

It is impossible to write well about it or to understand what has been written about it unless one has at one time or another experienced the courage which faith gives a man when trials oppress him.

But he who has had even a faint taste of it can never write, speak, meditate, or hear enough concerning it. It is a living ‘spring of water welling up to eternal life,’ as Christ calls it in John 4:14.

As for me, although I have no wealth of faith to boast of and know how scant my supply is, I nevertheless hope that I have attained to a little faith, even though I have been assailed by great and various temptations; and I hope that I can discuss it, if not more elegantly, certainly more to the point, than those literalists and subtile disputants have previously done, who have not even understood what they have written.

To make the way smoother for the unlearned—for only them do I serve—I shall set down the following two propositions concerning the freedom and the bondage of the spirit:

A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.

These two theses seem to contradict each other. If, however, they should be found to fit together they would serve our purpose beautifully.

Both are Paul’s own statements, who says in 1 Cor. 9:19, ‘For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all,’ and in Rom. 13:8, ‘Owe no one anything, except to love one another.’ Love by its very nature is ready to serve and be subject to him who is loved.

So Christ, although He was Lord of all, was ‘born of woman, born under the law’ (Gal. 4:4), and therefore was at the same time a free man and a servant, ‘in the form of God’ and ‘of a servant’ (Phil. 2:6–7).”

–Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), in Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 343–344.

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“If nature had remained perfect, Paradise would have been the temple of the entire world” by Martin Luther

“About the word מִקֶּדֶם we said above that it denotes ‘toward the east’ or ‘toward the eastern region.’ Moreover, Moses implies that Paradise had a road or a gate toward the east through which there was an access to this garden.

Likewise, in connection with the temple structure in Ezekiel 40:6 mention is made of the gate of the sanctuary which faced toward the east, obviously to have us realize that the temple was a figure of Paradise; for if nature had remained perfect, Paradise would have been the temple of the entire world.

And so, on the road toward the east, which alone led to Paradise, cherubim or angels were placed, to guard that way so that neither Adam nor any of his descendants could enter Paradise. The Lord did this according to human fashion in order to inspire fear and provide a conspicuous reminder of their terrible fall.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 1: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5 (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 1; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 230. Luther is commenting on Genesis 3:23-24.

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