Luther on Preaching About the Life of Christian Renewal
one should at the same time say yes and no about the same thing, unless he be an utter ignoramus or a desperate scoffer.
is what my Antinomians, too, are doing today, who are preaching
beautifully and (as I cannot but think) with real sincerity about
Christ’s grace, about the forgiveness of sin and whatever else can be
said about the doctrine of redemption. But they flee as if it were the
very devil the consequence that they should tell the people about the
third article, of sanctification, that is, of the new life in Christ.
They think one should not frighten or trouble the people, but rather
always preach comfortingly about grace and the forgiveness of sins in
Christ, and under no circumstances use these or similar words, "Listen!
You want to be a Christian and at the same time remain an adulterer, a
whoremonger, a drunken swine, arrogant, covetous, a usurer, envious,
vindictive, malicious, etc.!" Instead they say, "Listen! Though you are
an adulterer, a whoremonger, a miser, or other kind of sinner, if you
but believe, you are saved, and you need not fear the law. Christ has
fulfilled it all!"
me, my dear man, is that not granting the premise and denying the
conclusion? It is, indeed, taking away Christ and bringing him to
naught at the same time he is most beautifully proclaimed! And it is
saying yes and no to the same thing. For there is no such Christ that
died for sinners who do not, after the forgiveness of sins, desist from
sins and lead a new life. Thus they preach Christ nicely with Nestorian
and Eutychian logic that Christ is and yet is not Christ. They may be
fine Easter preachers, but they are very poor Pentecost preachers, for
they do not preach "about the sanctification by the Holy Spirit," but
solely about the redemption of Jesus Christ, although Christ (whom they
extoll so highly, and rightly so) is Christ, that is, he has purchased
redemption from sin and death so that the Holy Spirit might transform
us out of the old Adam into new men-we die unto sin and live unto
righteousness, beginning and growing here on earth and perfecting it
beyond, as St. Paul teaches (Rm 6- 7). Christ did not earn only
"grace," for us, but also "the gift of the Holy Spirit," so that we
might have not only forgiveness of, but also cessation of, sin. Now he
who does not abstain from sin, but persists in his evil life, must have
a different Christ, that of the Antinomians; the real Christ is not
there, even if all the angels would cry, "Christ! Christ!" He must be
damned with this, his new Christ.
Luther, Luther’s Works, 41:113-14