Monday, April 14, 2014

Does God owe us?

Fred Meuser on Martin Luther's intolerance for righteousness based on a person's works:
Not only indulgences, pilgrimages, alms, repetitious prayers, and other so-called churchly good works felt Luther’s lash, but also every innate human impulse to make God somehow indebted to us. Luther knew not only the Scriptures; he also knew people. From the way in which, year after year, he glorified God’s undeserved grace despite our unworthiness, we can conclude that it was as hard for the Wittenbergers to say “Yes” to God’s judgment on their lives and “No” to the urge to bargain with God as it is for us today. The frequency and clarity of Luther’s words makes one wonder why he needed to say it so often, but they also give us a bit of comfort in our need to speak repeatedly to the perversions of the gospel in our day.

Luther himself said:
If you preach faith [and assurance] people become lax…But if you do not preach faith, hearts become frightened and dejected…Do as you please. Nothing seems to help. Yet faith in Christ should be preached, no matter what happens. I would much rather hear people say of me that I preach too sweetly…than not preach faith in Christ at all, for then there be no help for timid, frightened consciences…Therefore I should like to have the message of faith in Christ not forgotten but generally known. It is so sweet a message, full of sheer joy, comfort, mercy and grace. I must confess that I myself have as yet not fully grasped it. We shall have to let it happen that some turn the message into an occasion for security and presumption; others…slander us…and say [that by preaching so much of Christ] we make people lazy and thus keep them from perfection. Christ himself had to hear that he was a friend of publicans and sinners…We shall not fare any better.

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