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Only acknowledge your guilt

Jeremiah 3:13 (ESV) 13 Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God …. that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD.

How difficult it is to acknowledge our guilt, to admit wrong. Why is it difficult, our sinful natures doesn’t want to realize that it needs a savior.

But God is looking for this.
Psalm 51:17 (ESV) 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Job 42:6 (ESV) 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

However, we can’t do it ourselves. Our sinful nature won’t let us, but God does not abandon us to death. So the Psalmist reminds us earlier:
Psalm 51:10 (ESV) 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

God does create a clear heart in us, God does renew us.

Then why do we still find it difficult to confess? Why do so many churches still omit any confession/absolution, when this is what God is looking for.

As the church celebrates Pentecost, it remembers that we need the Holy Spirit, not just on the day of our baptism but every day.

Psalm 51:12 (ESV) 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

The Psalmist notes that God upholds us (supports us) with the Spirit. The joy of being in Christ Jesus is sustained within us by the Holy Spirit. For without the Holy Spirit we would just give in to our sinful nature.

So our prayer continually needs to be
Psalm 51:11 (ESV) 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Come Holy Spirit, Come!

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Written by dballa

July 29, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Posted in Church, Confession, Study

Genesis Quotes from Luther

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 1: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 1). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

The first chapter is written in the simplest language; yet it contains matters of the utmost importance and very difficult to understand. It was for this reason, as St. Jerome asserts, that among the Hebrews it was forbidden for anyone under thirty to read the chapter or to expound it for others. They wanted one to have a good knowledge of the entire Scripture before getting to this chapter. p.3

Human reason cannot rise to a higher level than to conclude that the world is eternal and that countless men have gone before us and are coming after us; here it is forced to call a halt. But from this very conclusion there follows the most dangerous opinion that the soul is mortal, for philosophy knows no more than one infinite. (Aristotle, quotes by Luther) p.3-4

If, then, we do not understand the nature of the days or have no insight into why God wanted to make use of these intervals of time, let us confess our lack of understanding rather than distort the words, contrary to their context, into a foreign meaning. p.5

we assert that Moses spoke in the literal sense, not allegorically or figuratively, i.e., that the world, with all its creatures, was created within six days, as the words read. If we do not comprehend the reason for this, let us remain pupils and leave the job of teacher to the Holy Spirit. p.5

 

Genesis 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

So far as I can see, Moses until now makes no mention of the first day because later on those unordered masses of the crude heaven and earth were given shape, and, as it were, highly perfected and made separate entities. What he later calls the abyss and water—namely, the formless and crude mass of water, not yet arranged in an orderly manner and not yet graced with its specific shape—this he designates here as heaven. But if Moses had expressed himself differently and had stated: “In the beginning God said: ‘Let there be heaven, etc.,” there would later on have been no place for the repetition of the word “He said” when these formless waters were illuminated and light was created. The very simple meaning of what Moses says, therefore, is this: Everything that is, was created by God. p.6-7

Genesis 1:2 (ESV)  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

 

 

 

Written by dballa

September 3, 2016 at 6:58 pm

Posted in Study, Uncategorized

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EXPOSITION OF PSALM 127

EXPOSITION OF PSALM 127, FOR THE CHRISTIANS AT RIGA IN LIVONIA

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 45 : The Christian in Society II. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 45, p. 311). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Quotes from Luther:

I selected this psalm because it so beautifully turns the heart away from covetousness and concern for temporal livelihood and possessions toward faith in God, and in a few words teaches us how Christians are to act with respect to the accumulation and ownership of this world’s goods. p.317

Matthew 13:22 (ESV)  As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

I will not even mention the sums expended on spices, silks, gold, jewels, and similar vanities; yes, and what is squandered on beer and wine. When you lump all these together, such a town throws far more than a thousand gulden down the drain every year. p.319

But when they are asked to contribute one or two hundred gulden toward good schools and pulpits, they cry, “You would reduce us to rags and make beggars of us! We would have nothing left”; then covetousness and concern for livelihood take over, and the people think they will die of hunger. p.319

But what will God finally say about this?

Proverbs 10:24 (ESV) What the wicked dreads will come upon him,but the desire of the righteous will be granted.

Those whom we should be securing at whatever expense even from the ends of the earth, we are supporting about as well as the rich man supported poor Lazarus [Luke 16:19–21]. Now we find it impossible to support three upright, learned, married preachers p.320

Nobody can tell us anything. So God in turn will stop up his ears too and refuse to listen. p. 320

Psalm 127:1 (ESV) Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

First we must understand that “building the house” does not refer simply to the construction of walls and roof, rooms and chambers, out of wood and stone. It refers rather to everything that goes on inside the house, which in German we call “managing the household” p.322

Reason and the world think that married life and the making of a home ought to proceed as they intend; they try to determine things by their own decisions and actions, as if their work could take care of everything. To this Solomon says No! He points us instead to God, and teaches us with a firm faith to seek and expect all such things from God. p.323

This passage alone should be enough to attract people to marriage, comfort all who are now married, and sap the strength of covetousness. p.324

Why should we think it strange that it takes so much to make a home where God is not the head of the house? Because you do not see Him who is supposed to fill the house, naturally every corner must seem empty. But if you look upon Him, you will never notice whether a comer is bare; everything will appear to you to be full, and will indeed be full. And if it is not full, it is your vision which is at fault; just as it is the blind man’s fault if he fails to see the sun. p.324

All this is because God wants the glory, as the one who alone gives the growth. p.325

Solomon here wishes to sanction work, but to reject worry and covetousness. He does not say, “The Lord builds the house, so no one need labor at it.” He does say, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” p.325

Proverbs 10:4 (ESV) A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

God wills that man should work, and without work He will give him nothing. Conversely, God will not give him anything because of his labor, but solely out of His own goodness and blessing. p.326

Psalm 147:9 (ESV)  He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry.

Psalm 145:15–16 (ESV)  The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.  You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Similarly, man must necessarily work and busy himself at something. At the same time, however, he must know that it is something other than his labor which furnishes him sustenance; it is the divine blessing. p326

You labor in vain when you labor for the purpose of sustaining yourself and building your own house. Indeed, you make for yourself a lot of worry, and trouble. At the same time by such arrogance and wicked unbelief you kindle God’s wrath, so that you only become all the poorer and are mined completely because you undertook to do what is his alone to do. p.327

Psalm 127:1b (ESV)

Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

Now the blind world, because it does not know God and his work, concludes that it is owing to its own cleverness, reason, and strength that a community or dominion endures and thrives. p.328

Meanwhile, God sits above and watches how cleverly and boldly the children of men proceed, and he causes the psalmist to sing in his praise. p. 328

Psalm 33:10 (ESV)  The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.

Psalm 94:11 (ESV)  the Lord—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.

As they gained a brief ascendancy, through human wit and arrogance, so much the more quickly did they fall again; not because they lacked manpower, money, goods, and all manner of resources, but because the true watchman had ceased to uphold them, and caused them to see what human wit and power could accomplish without his watchful care and protection. p. 329

Soldiers, too. acknowledge that victory does not depend on the numbers or strength of the army, but, as they say, on luck. But Scripture says it depends on God. p. 329

Psalm 24:8 (ESV) Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!

Psalm 147:10–11 (ESV) His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 (ESV) 11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge…

Thus, by this verse Solomon would briefly instruct all kings, princes, councilmen, and everyone in authority how to conduct and maintain a good, peaceful, and blessed government which functions well.

  • In the first place, they should be watchful and diligent in the performance of their official duties.
  • In the second place, he wants them in faith to entrust such watchful care to God and let him worry about how the watching is to be done, so they do not arrogantly presume that their own solicitude and diligence preserves the city, but are assured that God will preserve the city and protect land and people. p. 330

One of two things must necessarily follow when we rely on our own watchfulness: either arrogance or worry. p.330

We should neither worry when we are insecure, nor be proud when we are secure, but in free and true faith do our watching and perform the duties of our calling. We should no more be anxious when things go wrong than be proud when things go well. p.330

Now none but a believing heart acts in this way. p.330

Psalm 3:6 (ESV) I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

Psalm 44:6–8 (ESV)  For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.

Why, then, does he urge us to labor and watch, and want us to have walls, armor, and all manner of supplies, just as he commanded the children of Israel to put on their armor and fight against the Canaanites? Are we to provide no supplies, leave our gates and windows open, make no effort to defend ourselves but allow ourselves to be pierced through and become lifeless corpses … By no means. p.331

 

In general, they should proceed as if there were no God and they had to rescue themselves and manage their own affairs; just as the head of a household is supposed to work as if he were trying to sustain himself by his own labors.

But he must watch out that his heart does not come to rely on these deeds of his, and get arrogant when things go well or worried when things go wrong.p.331

Psalm 127:2 (ESV)  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

 

This whole verse [Ps. 127:2] is directed against arrogance and anxiety, as if he were to say: It is futile for you to rise up early and go to bed late, and think that the more you labor the more you will have. p.332

Psalm 37:16 (ESV)  Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.

Proverbs 15:17 (ESV)  Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.

He who has faith in God, however, is not anxious about tomorrow but is content with today. p.332

Psalm 55:22 (ESV) Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

 

Psalm 127:3 (ESV)  Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

All of this is spoken in typical Hebrew fashion. “Heritage from the Lord” and “reward” are one and the same thing, just as “children” and “fruit of the womb” are one and the same thing. Thus it means to say: What good does it do you to be so deeply concerned and anxious about how to procure and protect your possessions? Why even children, and whatever is born of woman, are not within your power; although they are a part of household and city alike, for if there were no children and “fruit of the womb” neither household nor city would endure. So the very reward and “heritage from the Lord,” about which you are so terribly anxious, are actually the gift and boon of God. p.333

Matthew 6:25 (ESV) “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Psalm 127:4 (ESV) Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.

Thus, we also see how God deals with us. Just look at how amazingly he matches husband and wife, in a way no one would expect; and how they attain to extraordinary stations in life for which they have not striven, so that men marvel at it. Generally, things turn out quite differently from what father, and mother, and even the person himself, had envisioned.p.334

His whole purpose is to check and take from us the whole matter of our governing and caring for ourselves, in order that we may know it is he himself who alone rules over us and cares for us, and so lets us go about our business and do our work. p.335

 Psalm 127:5 (ESV)  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

He desires that such youth, given by God, and recognized as such, may be many, for then the world would be well off. That is very true. If all manner of problems are to be dealt with successfully, then the young people who are to live and govern on this earth after us must be trained and guided accordingly.p.336

Such a great blessing however, will not be without persecution, for where things go according to God’s will there must also be onslaughts of the devil. The unbelief and covetousness of this world cannot tolerate godly life and teaching; therefore, such householders and cities will not be without enemies to revile and abuse them. p.336

He mentions no armor or weapons but only the word, saying that “they will speak with their enemies in the gate,” as if to say: By their teaching they will stand, because it is true, no matter how sharply their opponents attack it. p.336

 

 

For if we are still so weak that we cannot leave off worrying about the needs of our bellies, how shall we be able to bear the world’s fury, death, opprobrium, and all other misfortune? Yes, how shall we stand firm when the false spirits come upon us, who just now are beginning to rise?

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 45 : The Christian in Society II. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 45, pp. 336–337). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

 

 

Written by dballa

July 9, 2016 at 8:00 am

Posted in Study

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THE ESTATE OF MARRIAGE

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THE ESTATE OF MARRIAGE

Summary from Dr. Martin Luther

My introduction:  I will begin a revew of Luther’s “The Estate if Marriage.” I figured that it is about time I review this document. August will be the 30th anniversary of my own wedding vows, so I guess it is about time that I learn what marrage is all about.

So here are some quotes from “The Estate of Marriage@ from Luther

Part One

Wow: Luther’s opening words, could he envision what we would be facing in today’s world:

In the first part we shall consider which persons may enter into marriage with one another. In order to proceed aright let us direct our attention to Genesis 1[:27], “So God created man … male and female he created them.” From this passage we may be assured that God divided mankind into two classes, namely, male and female, or a he and a she.

Therefore, each one of us must have the kind of body God has created for us. I cannot make myself a woman, nor can you make yourself a man; we do not have that power. But we are exactly as he created us: I a man and you a woman.

The man is not to despise or scoff at the woman or her body, nor the woman the man. But each should honor the other’s image and body as a divine and good creation that is well-pleasing unto God himself.

 

In the second place, after God had made man and woman he blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply” [Gen. 1:28]. From this passage we may be assured that man and woman should and must come together in order to multiply.

In the third place, from this ordinance of creation God has himself exempted three categories of men, saying in Matthew 19[:12], “There are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Apart from these three groups, let no man presume to be without a spouse. And whoever does not fail within one of these three categories should not consider anything except the estate of marriage.

There is a real tough part from Luther with a couple struggling with infertility.  I will by-pass this section for now, but return to it later.

In the fourth place, let us now consider which persons may enter into marriage with one another, so that you may see it is not my pleasure or desire that a marriage be broken and husband and wife separated.

The following Impediments, seems to be things that the Roman Church was advocating as grounds for annulment (at a cost, of course), that Luther discusses. I will only quote a few.

The first impediment is blood relationship. Here they have forbidden marriage up to the third and fourth degrees of consanguinity.

I will now list for you the persons whom God has forbidden, Leviticus 18[:6–13], namely, my mother, my stepmother; my sister, my stepsister; my child’s daughter or stepdaughter; my father’s sister; my mother’s sister. I am forbidden to marry any of these persons.

Further, I may marry the daughter of my brother or sister, just as Abraham married Sarah.

For Tamar, Absalom’s sister, thought she could have married her stepbrother Amnon, II Samuel 13[:13].

The second impediment is affinity or relationship through marriage. Here too they have set up four degrees, so that after my wife’s death I may not marry into her blood relationship, where my marriage extends up to the third and fourth degrees—unless money comes to my rescue! But God has forbidden only these persons, namely, my father’s brother’s wife; my son’s wife; my brother’s wife; my stepdaughter; the child of my stepson or stepdaughter; my wife’s sister while my wife is yet alive [Lev. 18:14–18]. I may not marry any of these persons; but I may marry any others, and without putting up any money for the privilege.

The ninth impediment is error, as if I had been wed to Catherine but Barbara lay down with me, as happened to Jacob with Leah and Rachel [Gen. 29:23–25].  Note: What did Jacob do?

 

The twelfth impediment is coercion, that is, when I have to take Grete to be my wife and am coerced into it either by parents or by governmental authority. That is to be sure no marriage in the sight of God.

There are still four more impediments, such as episcopal prohibition, restricted times, custom, and defective eyesight and hearing. It is needless to discuss them here. It is a dirty rotten business that a bishop should forbid me a wife or specify the times when I may marry, or that a blind and dumb person should not be allowed to enter into wedlock. So much then for this foolishness at present in the first part.

 

Part Two

In the second part, we shall consider which persons may be divorced. I know of three grounds for divorce. The first, which has just been mentioned and was discussed above, is the situation in which the husband or wife is not equipped for marriage because of bodily or natural deficiencies of any sort. Of this enough has already been said.

 

The second ground is adultery.

Thus it is that on the grounds of adultery one person may leave the other, as Solomon also says in Proverbs 18, “He that keepeth an adulteress is a fool.”31 We have an example of this in Joseph too. In Matthew 1[:19] the gospel writer praises him as just because he did not put his wife to shame when he found that she was with child, but was minded to divorce her quietly.

You may ask: What is to become of the other [the guilty party] if he too is perhaps unable to lead a chaste life? Answer: It was for this reason that God commanded in the law [Deut. 22:22–24] that adulterers be stoned, that they might not have to face this question.

 

The third case for divorce is that in which one of the parties deprives and avoids the other, refusing to fulfil the conjugal duty or to live with the other person.

For example, one finds many a stubborn wife like that who will not give in, and who cares not a whit whether her husband falls into the sin of unchastity ten times over. Here it is time for the husband to say, “If you will not, another will; the maid will come if the wife will not.”34 Only first the husband should admonish and warn his wife two or three times, and let the situation be known to others so that her stubbornness becomes a matter of common knowledge and is rebuked before the congregation. If she still refuses, get rid of her; take an Esther and let Vashti go, as King Ahasuerus did [Esther 1:12–2:17].

 

Solomon complains much in the Proverbs about such wives, and says he has found a woman more bitter than death [Eccles. 7:26]. One may also find a rude, brutal, and unbearable husband.

 

Here the proverb applies, “He who wants a fire must endure the smoke.”

What about a situation where one’s wife is an invalid and has therefore become incapable of fulfilling the conjugal duty? May he not take another to wife? By no means. Let him serve the Lord in the person of the invalid and await His good pleasure.

 

Part Three

In the third part, in order that we may say something about the estate of marriage which will be conducive toward the soul’s salvation, we shall now consider how to live a Christian and godly life in that estate.

 

That is what it means to find a wife. Many have wives, but few find wives. Why? They are blind; they fail to see that their life and conduct with their wives is the work of God and pleasing in his sight. Could they but find that

 

We err in that we judge the work of God according to our own feelings, and regard not his will but our own desire.

 

when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool—though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith—my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other? God, with all his angels and creatures, is smiling—not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.

I say these things in order that we may learn how honorable a thing it is to live in that estate which God has ordained.

Solomon even congratulates such a man and says in Proverbs 5[:18], “Rejoice in the wife of your youth,” and again in Ecclesiastes 11 [9:9], “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life.”

Small wonder that married folk for the most part experience little but bitterness and anguish. They have no knowledge of God’s word and will concerning their estate,

St. Paul tempers his words nicely when he says, I Corinthians 7[:28], “Those who marry will have worldly troubles,” that is, outward bitterness.

No one can have real happiness in marriage who does not recognize in firm faith that this estate together with all its works, however insignificant, is pleasing to God and precious in his sight.

The first reason is that fornication destroys not only the soul but also body, property, honor, and family as well.

 

Some, however, have given the matter thought and so learned from their own experience that they have coined an excellent proverb, “Early to rise and early to wed; that should no one ever regret.”

The estate of marriage, however, redounds to the benefit not alone of the body, property, honor, and soul of an individual, but also to the benefit of whole cities and countries, in that they remain exempt from the plagues imposed by God.

Many think they can evade marriage by having their fling  for a time, and then becoming righteous. My dear fellow, if one in a thousand succeeds in this, that would be doing very well. He who intends to lead a chaste life had better begin early, and attain it not with but without fornication, either by the grace of God or through marriage.

 

But the greatest good in married life, that which makes all suffering and labor worth while, is that God grants offspring and commands that they be brought up to worship and serve him.

Finally, we have before us one big, strong objection to answer. Yes, they say, it would be a fine thing to be married, but how will I support myself?

What shall I say to this objection? It shows lack of faith and doubt of God’s goodness and truth.

 

They want to be lazy, greedy rascals who do not need to work. Therefore, they will get married only if they can get wives who are rich, beautiful, pious, kind—indeed, wait, we’ll have a picture of them drawn for you.
Let such heathen go their way; we will not argue with them.

 

God has promised in Matthew 6[:25, 33], “Do not be anxious about what you shall eat, drink, and put on; seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”

To sum the matter up: whoever finds himself unsuited to the celibate life should see to it right away that he has something to do and to work at; then let him strike out in God’s name and get married.

Let God worry about how they and their children are to be fed. God makes children; he will surely also feed them.

Should he fail to exalt you and them here on earth, then take satisfaction in the fact that he has granted you a Christian marriage, and know that he will exalt you there; and be thankful to him for his gifts and favors.

Intercourse is never without sin; but God excuses it by his grace because the estate of marriage is his work, and he preserves in and through the sin all that good which he has implanted and blessed in marriage.

Written by dballa

July 2, 2016 at 7:52 am

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Study of: TEMPORAL AUTHORITY: TO WHAT EXTENT IT SHOULD BE OBEYED

Temporal Authority: to What Extent It Should be Obeyed

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 45 : The Christian in Society II. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 45, p. 81). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

http://ollc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Secular-Authority-To-What-Extent-It-Should-Be-Obeyed.pdf

Part One

  1. First, we must provide a sound basis for the civil law and sword so no one will doubt that it is in the world by God’s will and ordinance.
    • The passages which do this are the following: Romans 13, “Let every soul [seele] be subject to the governing authority, for there is no authority except from God; the authority which everywhere [allenthalben] exists has been ordained by God. He then who resists the governing authority resists the ordinance of God, and he who resists God’s ordinance will incur judgment.” Again, in I Peter 2[:13–14], “Be subject to every kind of human ordinance, whether it be to the king as supreme, or to governors, as those who have been sent by him to punish the wicked and to praise the righteous.”
    • The law of this temporal sword has existed from the beginning of the world. For when Cain slew his brother Abel, he was in such great terror of being killed in turn that God even placed a special prohibition on it and suspended the sword for his sake, so that no one was to slay him [Gen. 4:14–15].
    • When the soldiers asked him what they should do, he answered, “Do neither violence nor injustice to any one, and be content with your wages” [Luke 3:14]. If the sword were not a godly estate, he should have directed them to get out of it, since he was supposed to make the people perfect and instruct them in a proper Christian way. Hence, it is certain and clear enough that it is God’s will that the temporal sword and law be used for the punishment of the wicked and the protection of the upright.
  2. Second. There appear to be powerful arguments to the contrary.
    • Christ says in Matthew 5[:38–41], “You have heard that it was said to them of old: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist evil; but if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles,” etc. Likewise Paul in Romans 12[:19], “Beloved, defend not yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord.’ ” And in Matthew 5[:44], “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you.” And again, in I Peter 2 [3:9], “Do not return evil for evil, or reviling for reviling,” etc. These and similar passages would certainly make it appear as though in the New Testament Christians were to have no temporal sword. 
  3.  Third. Here we must divide the children of Adam and all mankind into two classes, the first belonging to the kingdom of God, the second to the kingdom of the world.
    • Those who belong to the kingdom of God are all the true believers who are in Christ and under Christ, for Christ is King and Lord in the kingdom of God, as Psalm 2[:6] and all of Scripture says.
    • these people need no temporal law or sword. If all the world were composed of real Christians, that is, true believers, there would be no need for or benefits from prince, king, lord, sword, or law. They would serve no purpose, since Christians have in their heart the Holy Spirit, who both teaches and makes them to do injustice to no one, to love everyone, and to suffer injustice and even death willingly and cheerfully at the hands of anyone
  4.  Fourth. All who are not Christians belong to the kingdom of the world and are under the law.
    • There are few true believers, and still fewer who live a Christian life, who do not resist evil and indeed themselves do no evil.
    • He has subjected them to the sword so that, even though they would like to, they are unable to practice their wickedness, and if they do practice it they cannot do so without fear or with success and impunity, In the same way a savage wild beast is bound with chains and ropes so that it cannot bite and tear as it would normally do, even though it would like to; whereas a tame and gentle animal needs no restraint, but is harmless despite the lack of chains and ropes.
  5. Fifth. But you say: if Christians then do not need the temporal sword or law, why does Paul say to all Christians in Romans 13[:1], “Let all souls be subject to the governing authority,” and St. Peter, “Be subject to every human ordinance” [I Pet. 2:13], etc., as quoted above?
    • Answer: I have just said that Christians, among themselves and by and for themselves, need no law or sword, since it is neither necessary nor useful for them. Since a true Christian lives and labors on earth not for himself alone but for his neighbor, he does by the very nature of his spirit even what he himself has no need of, but is needful and useful to his neighbor. Because the sword is most beneficial and necessary for the whole world in order to preserve peace, punish sin, and restrain the wicked, the Christian submits most willingly to the rule of the sword, pays his taxes, honors those in authority, serves, helps, and does all he can to assist the governing authority, that it may continue to function and be held in honor and fear.
  6. Sixth. You ask whether a Christian too may bear the temporal sword and punish the wicked, since Christ’s words, “Do not resist evil,” are so clear and definite that the sophists have had to make of them a “counsel.”
    • Why did not Christ and the apostles bear the sword? Answer: You tell me, why did Christ not take a wife, or become a cobbler or a tailor. If an office or vocation were to be regarded as disreputable on the ground that Christ did not pursue it himself, what would become of all the offices and vocations other than the ministry, the one occupation he did follow? Christ pursued his own office and vocation, but he did not thereby reject any other.
    • No Christian shall wield or invoke the sword for himself and his cause. In behalf of another, however, he may and should wield it and invoke it to restrain wickedness and to defend godliness.
    • You may ask, “Why may I not use the sword for myself and for my own cause, so long as it is my intention not to seek my own advantage but to punish evil?” Answer: Such a miracle is not impossible, but very rare and hazardous. Where the Spirit is so richly present it may well happen.

Part Two: How Far Temporal Authority Extends

Having learned that there must be temporal authority on earth, and how it is to be exercised in a Christian and salutary manner, we must now learn how far its arm extends and how widely its hand stretches, lest it extend too far and encroach upon God’s kingdom and government.

  •  For every kingdom must have its own laws and statutes; without law no kingdom or government can survive, as everyday experience amply shows.
  • The temporal government has laws which extend no further than to life and property and external affairs on earth,
  • for God cannot and will not permit anyone but himself to rule over the soul.
  •  When a man-made law is imposed upon the soul to make it believe this or that as its human author may prescribe, there is certainly no word of God for it.
  •  Matthew, “Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing that they can do; rather fear him who after he has killed the body, has power to condemn to hell.” I think it is clear enough here that the soul is taken out of all human hands and is placed under the authority of God alone.
  •  How can a mere man see, know, judge, condemn, and change hearts? That is reserved for God alone, as Psalm 7[:9] says, “God tries the hearts and reins”; and [v. 8], “The Lord judges the peoples.” And Acts 10 says, “God knows the hearts”; and Jeremiah 1 [17:9–10], “Wicked and unsearchable is the human heart; who can understand it? I the Lord, who search the heart and reins.”
  •  For faith is a free act, to which no one can be forced.
  • But, you say: Paul said in Romans 13[:1] that every soul [seele] should be subject to the governing authority; and Peter says that we should be subject to every human ordinance [I Pet. 2:13]. Answer: Now you are on the right track, for these passages are in my favor. St. Paul is speaking of the governing authority. Now you have just heard that no one but God can have authority over souls. Hence, St. Paul cannot possibly be speaking of any obedience except where there can be corresponding authority. From this it follows that he is not speaking of faith, to the effect that temporal authority should have the right to command faith. He is speaking rather of external things, that they should be ordered and governed on earth. His words too make this perfectly clear, where he prescribes limits for both authority and obedience, saying, “Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, honor to whom honor is due, respect to whom respect is due” [Rom. 13:7]. Temporal obedience and authority, you see, apply only externally to taxes, revenue, honor, and respect.
  • what St. Peter means by the phrase, “Human ordinance” [I Pet. 2:13]. A human ordinance cannot possibly extend its authority into heaven and over souls; it is limited to the earth, to external dealings men have with one another, where they can see, know, judge, evaluate, punish, and acquit.
  •  Christ himself made this distinction, and summed it all up very nicely when he said in Matthew 22[:21], “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
  •  You must know that since the beginning of the world a wise prince is a mighty rare bird, and an upright prince even rarer. They are generally the biggest fools or the worst scoundrels on earth; therefore, one must constantly expect the worst from them and look for little good, especially in divine matters which concern the salvation of souls.
  • If a prince should happen to be wise, upright, or a Christian, that is one of the great miracles, the most precious token of divine grace upon that land.
  • The world is too wicked, and does not deserve to have many wise and upright princes. Frogs must have their storks.
  • There certainly must be authority even among Christians.” Answer: Among Christians there shall and can be no authority; rather all are alike subject to one another, as Paul says in Romans 12: “Each shall consider the other his superior”; and Peter says in I Peter 5[:5], “All of you be subject to one another.” This is also what Christ means in Luke 14[:10], “When you are invited to a wedding, go and sit in the lowest place.” Among Christians there is no superior but Christ himself, and him alone.

Excursus:

Consider Today’s issues of Abortion.  All life is created by God, and humanity especially been redeemed by Christ.  How does a Christian deal with a government and the issue of abortion?  While we have the free to help influence the laws of the land, we may not always be successful.

  • Unfortunately Abortion is legal.
  • Unfortunately Abortion is promoted by government.
  • But we are not yet ( and I hope and pray never will be) forced into abortion.  If we ever  are consider the following Bible Passage:

15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” (Ex 1:15–22 ESV).

Please note that were was disobedience to the temporal authority (blessed by God), but not rebellion. The Temporal Authority cannot command the conscience and matters of the soul.

If there are consequences to our actions then bear them willingly.

16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (1 Pe 4:16 ESV).

Part Three

..how a prince should use it. We do this for the sake of those very few who would also like very much to be Christian princes and lords, and who desire to enter into the life in heaven.

  • He who would be a Christian prince must certainly lay aside any intent to exercise lordship or to proceed with force.
  • What, then, is a prince to do if he lacks the requisite wisdom and has to be guided by the jurists and the lawbooks? Answer: This is why I said that the princely estate is a perilous one. If he be not wise enough himself to master both his laws and his advisers, then the maxim of Solomon applies, “Woe to the land whose prince is a child” [Eccles 10:16].

First. He must give consideration and attention to his subjects, and really devote himself to it.

  • a prince in his heart empty himself of his power and authority, and take unto himself the needs of his subjects, dealing with them as though they were his own needs. For this is what Christ did to us [Phil. 2:7]; and these are the proper works of Christian love.
  • Now you will say, “Who would then want to be a prince? That would make the princely estate the worst on earth, full of trouble, labor, and sorrow. What would become of the princely amusements—dancing, hunting, racing, gaming, and similar worldly pleasures?” I answer: We are not here teaching how a temporal prince is to live, but how a temporal prince is to be a Christian, such that he may also reach heaven. Who is not aware that a prince is a rare prize in heaven?
  • Of this I am certain, that God’s word will neither turn nor bend for princes, but princes must bend themselves to God’s word.
  •  I am satisfied simply to point out that it is not impossible for a prince to be a Christian, although it is a rare thing and beset with difficulties.

Second. He must beware of the high and mighty and of his counselors, and so conduct himself toward them that he despises none, but also trusts none enough to leave everything to him

  •  He (God) once spoke through the mouth of an ass [Num. 22:28]; therefore, no man is to be despised, however humble he may be.
  • On the other hand, he permitted the highest angel to fall from heaven; therefore, no man is to be trusted, no matter how wise, holy, or great he may be.
  •  Therefore: One should rather give a hearing to all, and wait to see through which one of them God will speak and act. 

Now you will say, “If no one is to be trusted, how can land and people be governed?” Answer: You are to take the risk of entrusting matters to others, but you are yourself to trust and rely upon God alone.

 Third. He must take care to deal justly with evildoers.

  • A prince must punish the wicked in such a way that he does not step on the dish while picking up the spoon, and for the sake of one man’s head plunge country and people into want and fill the land with widows and orphans.
  • In short, here one must go by the proverb, “He cannot govern who cannot wink at faults.”
  • Let this be his rule: Where wrong cannot be punished without greater wrong, there let him waive his rights, however just they may be.
  •  In a war of this sort it is both Christian and an act of love to kill the enemy without hesitation, to plunder and burn and injure him by every method of warfare until he is conquered (except that one must beware of sin, and not violate wives and virgins). And when victory has been achieved, one should offer mercy and peace to those who surrender and humble themselves. In such a case let the proverb apply, “God helps the strongest.”

What if a prince is in the wrong? Are his people bound to follow him then too? Answer: No, for it is no one’s duty to do wrong; we must obey God (who desires the right) rather than men [Acts 5:29]. What if the subjects do not know whether their prince is in the right or not? Answer: So long as they do not know, and cannot with all possible diligence find out, they may obey him without peril to their souls.

Fourth. Here we come to what should really have been placed first, and of which we spoke above. A prince must act in a Christian way toward his God also; that is, he must subject himself to him in entire confidence and pray for wisdom to rule well, as Solomon did [I Kings 3:9].

Summary: We will close with this brief summation, that a prince’s duty is fourfold: First, toward God there must be true confidence and earnest prayer; second, toward his subjects there must be love and Christian service; third, with respect to his counselors and officials he must maintain an untrammeled reason and unfettered judgment; fourth, with respect to evildoers he must manifest a restrained severity and firmness. Then the prince’s job will be done right, both outwardly and inwardly; it will be pleasing to God and to the people. But he will have to expect much envy and sorrow on account of it; the cross will soon rest on the shoulders of such a prince.

 

 

 

 

Written by dballa

June 18, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Study

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