Friday, October 07, 2005

Der Heimweh an predigt Luthers

The sermons of Martin Luther -- what pleasure in reading! What a brace for the soul! Oh, that I were standing now in the pews of the Stadtkirche, running my hands along its dark wood pews, breathing its frosty Oktober air and drawing myself backward of almost 500 years. Is there a more theologically pleasant spot on earth? Isn’t its city, Lutherstadt-Wittenberg, made of rude bricks and cobblestones, wooden iron-jointed gates and ordinary dwellings a living and earthly forerunner of that very City of God?

Consider these two quotes from Luther’s sermon “The Twofold Use of the Law & Gospel.”

God promised of old, in Joel 2.28 and other passages, to give the Spirit through the new message, the Gospel. And he has verified his promise by public manifestations in connection with the preaching of that Gospel, as on the day of Pentecost and again later. When the apostles, Peter and others, began to preach, the Holy Spirit descended visibly from heaven upon their hearts. Up to that time, through the period the Law was preached, no one had heard or seen such manifestations. The fact could not but be grasped that this was a vastly different message more than what Paul declared: “Through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins, and by him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

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When the consolation of the Gospel has once been received and it has wrested the heart from death and the terrors of hell, the Spirit’s influence is felt. By its power God’s Law begins to live in man’s heart. He loves it, delights in it and enters upon its fulfillment. Thus eternal life begins here, being continued forever and perfected in the life to come.